Casting for Extras/Background Performers
Back Stage runs a lot of casting notices calling for extras/background performers every year for a wide variety of films and TV shows.
You’ll find calls for extras extras/background performers mixed in with our normal casting notices, in various categories.
For instance, sometimes near the end of a normal casting-notice character-breakdown (the second paragraph of every casting notice) you’ll see a boldfaced character/job-title that has a description that includes a phrase such as “Extras,” “Background Performers,” “Background Actors,” “Location Actors,” “Day Players,” or “Various Other Roles” – these catchall statements are usually in reference to the opportunities for extras and smaller roles for the project.
Other times, the entire casting notice will revolve around just extras/background performers. For instance, when a major feature film runs a casting notice in Back Stage, the roles they’re calling for often of the extra/background/location/day-player variety, even if it’s not specifically stated in the casting notice.
(Note: A real “day player” part is usually considered to be a bigger role than a typical “extra,” since day-players will often have at least one or two lines of dialogue, sometimes a lot more, whereas a typical extra will not, although sometimes extras are upgraded to day-player status on set.)
For major SAG films, the union contract provided for extra/background work (if any) is usually different from the normal SAG Theatrical Contract, so you’ll notice that the “SAG Background Actors Contract” is specified at the end of the casting notice if the project is using a particular casting notice to call for extras.
You might also want to apply for background performance work by sending your cover letter, headshot, and resume directly to the background/extras/location casting directors and casting companies/agencies working on a particular big-name project that you know is currently in production or about to go into production. Check out Back Stage’s weekly “Production Listings” to get the scoop on this kind of info for projects shooting in New York and Los Angeles; and also check sites like IMDb and then cross-reference the casting-department info listed there (in the for any given project) against the Call Sheet Online casting-director database (which contains contact info for most major casting directors and companies).
When background-extras companies such as Central Casting and Grant Wilfley Casting are looking for actors to audition or register – for multiple projects, a specific project, or just to be included in their internal talent files for possible future projects – they’ll usually run a casting notice in Back Stage.
However, you can also check out their websites and their info on Call Sheet Online (aka RossReports.com ) to see if you can submit to them at other times, even when a specific casting notice and/or production listing is not running for them in Back Stage.
And keep an eye on your local newspapers and message-boards -- when films need a LOT of extras, they sometimes release the information to the general public, and regional newspapers will often report on opportunities for their local readers to attend extra/background auditions taking place in the general vicinity. (If you find out about an upcoming audition of this nature but you don't see it listed in Back Stage, please send us a tip -- including any relevant links and info -- via our Casting Help form at http://backstage.com/castinghelp and we'll try to verify the information and create a detailed casting notice for you and your fellow readers.)
Some other websites, agents, and managers may also be able to help you find work as an extra/background performer in film, TV, and commercials. However, be very careful if anyone asks you to pay them fees in exchange for work -- it may not be a legal request. And remember that promises of "instant fame" are almost always false, and possibly indications of a scam. If any registration or participation fees or dues are required, all of the fees and obligations must be clearly stated in the Back Stage casting/job notice -- if you're asked to pay a fee that wasn't clearly stated in the text of a Back Stage notice, then please contact Back Stage via our Casting Help form at http://backstage.com/castinghelp before paying ANYTHING.
Some trustworthy sites for finding casting opportunities for background actors and extras include http://ExtrasAccess.com, http://home.CastingNetworks.com/Casting-Calls/Extras, and Back Stage (visit http://tinyurl.com/CastingBackgroundActors-Extras to view Back Stage's current calls for extras and background actors).
National Casting Editor