This is one of the best ways to catch a bit of the magic of filmmaking, and to share the glimmer of the spotlight. You'll also learn a little about the hard work that's part of the film industry. An extra is a person hired to provide a controllable background to the main action of the film. They come in all shapes and sizes, and it's fairly easy to become one.
You can register with an agency that provides extras to film production companies. Registration as an extra includes completing a form that asks you for a few vital statistics, when you are available to work, and what special skill you may have. Your special abilities may include equestrian skills, dancing or fencing, for example. The agency will also need a photo of you. If you don't have one, the agency will take one for you. There may be a small fee for the registration and photo, but small is the key word here (about $25 - $40 a year). For this fee you should be guaranteed at least one call. (BEWARE: Some disreputable agencies may try to convince you that you need an expensive photo portfolio to become an extra. This is false.) Agencies charge a small fee because their compensation comes from a percentage deducted from your wages. This is standard agency procedure and is incentive to them to find work for you. Extras generally earn only minimum wage and most agencies take 10 to 15 percent, depending upon the type of work. For a list of Talent Agencies click here. For information about employment standards of "Young People in Entertainment", visit this Employment Standards web site or view this information brochure for parents.
Another way to obtain extra work is to approach each production individually. You can do this by submitting a resume and photo to the attention of EXTRAS CASTING. DO NOT call the offices as they are extremely busy and will not take any information regarding extra work over the phone. You can find the addresses to these offices on the BC Film Commission film list. To view the film list or download a PDF version click here.
Being an extra can be fun and exciting, but it is also hard work and requires commitment and a businesslike attitude. When you sign up with an agency you will be given information about etiquette on the set. Take it to heart if you want to be asked back. Once you get the hang of it, you'll feel like an old pro. Break a leg!