Until a couple of weeks ago, I had never really thought about movie extras. I had seen hundreds of movies, but had never bothered to wonder about the crowds in the background and where they came from. I talked to some of my friends, and none of them knew either. We are not a very artistic group of people, you see, and no one had very much knowledge of film. I resolve to become a movie extra myself and investigate. It was one of the most interesting adventures I’ve had all year.
Becoming a movie extra is actually pretty easy, but it comes down to chance in many ways. You see, as an extra you still have to go to an open audition. Many times, there will be large crowds of people there, all willing to stand around all day doing nothing for pretty decent pay. The problem is you never know if you’ll get picked. They don’t audition all of the extras individually. They simply post an open casting call for people who want to become a movie extra, and then use some arbitrary method or other to thin the herd.
In my case, they had us all get there very early in the morning. At the time, I thought this was a bad idea. If they wanted us to work as movie extras in their film, why would they want us to look tired and haggard? In retrospect, I realize that the had us come there early so that only people who really wanted to become a movie extra would make it.
After that, they went through the crowd. They looked at us one at a time, deciding whether or not each person had the right look. It was pretty quick, and a little bit intimidating. The director would simply point and say “yes” or “no.” In my case, he said “yes.”
After that, I was in. I had become a movie extra – it was really that easy. Unfortunately, being a movie extra doesn’t guarantee you a spot in the movie. Crowds are used in all sorts of different scenes, and not all the scenes make it to the final cut. A lot of people think that becoming a movie extra is a good way to get in the movie so that you can show your friends. They’re right, but don’t get your hopes up too much. You might have to try a few times before the footage you are in actually makes it into the film