How to become an Acting Extra. Read the full guide about becoming an extra in the UK.
Acting Extras are persons who perform in the background of films and TV programmes, or play small parts. Acting Extras may appear as minor characters in films, advertisements or factual pieces to educate, or may perform live as part of a play or pantomime. Acting Extras are generally expected to be confident, Dramatic, Artistic, talented and charismatic. The hours vary considerably depending on what you are acting. Being an Acting Extra is a good job for many people, but the key traits to have are a sociable personality, strong teamwork skills, and ability to work under direction, a good sense of humour, quick wit and showmanship.
Many Acting Extras start their career by attending an acting course at college or university, the entry requirements of which will vary depending on providers, but acting is not considered an academic subject, and usually you do not require a formal qualification in order to be an Acting Extra. Showing experience in the field will be beneficial to gaining education or employment, and many amateur dramatics societies will be happy to take on new members, and you can gain experience that way.
Responsibilities and duties
Standard duties for an Acting Extra include attending screenings or auditions to try and get employment. Learning of any lines or character briefs in order to understand what you are acting, why and how to deliver the role. Often extras are just required as background actors and you might not have a speaking part. You will also be expected to liaise with other Acting Extras in order to practice and develop the role in which you are to be acting. You may be required to attend many rehearsals and do some research about the role which you will be playing. IF it is education pieces you will be acting for you might be required to carry out more in depth research in order to fully understand the role, this might include speaking with professionals. You then have to carry out the acting piece as directed by your producer and ensure that the audience or your producer is happy.
These may vary depending on the duties and job you are doing. Most Acting Extras are expected to work until the piece they are creating is finished, so this will vary dependent on that. Some pieces are short and may be completed quickly; others may be longer and require filming over a period of time. You may be required to do scenes at night time, or in other countries, so be prepared to welcome unsociable hours or distance travelling.
Skills and Training Development
Acting Extras can expect to progress through their careers by appearing in as many pieces as possible and creating a name for themselves. The more diverse an Acting Extra the more likely they are to be offered work, so creating a varied and entertaining portfolio or showcase video is very important. By learning other languages, accents or skills you may be offered more work.
The average salary for an Acting Extra is £16,000 PA.