ALL ACTING IN films have feature and star actors and have a great need for Extras. These are the people you see participating in battle scenes, athletic events, courtroom attendees, hospital scenes or just street people used as background. That's what Extras do. All Extras are given special attention as to what clothing to wear and are positioned on the set with instructions on when and what to do. One instruction that is very important is not to look or stare at the main actors of the scene, just do what you're told and forget what's going on around you. You might be called on to cheer, leer, stare, dance, fight, or crowd around something that's happening and many more instances showing a realistic scene.
At times Extras are asked to bring their cars for use in some scenes, for which they are paid extra. Las Vegas Extras are paid for non-union $54 for the first 8 hours and then overtime. SAG members get $126 for the 8 hours with overtime rates listed with the union. There is wardrobe pay time and meals and snacks are provided for all extras and crew.
Why do people work as Extras? It's the excitement of being a part of the film, but many never even get seen on the screen. It's some times a fun time and you meet interesting people that have migrated to Las Vegas and have the time to do the work. Call up time could be at 5 a.m. or10 p.m. or any time, but one thing is a given with a few exceptions, all meals are nicely prepared, sometimes 3 meals a day with drinks and snacks in-between meals.
I have worked as an Extra probably under every type of condition in making a film. Senior citizens really enjoy this work and pick up a few extra dollars, also so do students, hotel shift workers and Las Vegas newcomers.
At times Extras are chosen for a featured part, as they are well known to the director and casting agency because of their reliability and willingness to take instruction.
One such person is Francine Huffman, a tall, slender, attractive retired schoolteacher (she does substitute teaching) here from Colorado about 6 years ago. Since then she has worked on major films, TV shows and TV commercials. She is well received by the agencies because she knows the basic job requirements. They are: have a nice wardrobe, a good work ethic, and a positive attitude, be professional, punctual and don't whine. Be prepared to work on short notice, have a cell phone, reliable transportation and arrive on set camera ready. Be versatile, a flexible thinker, able to listen and follow instructions and be physically fit. Build your endurance because many "shoots" consist of 8 to12 hours or more, some of which involve working through the night. Both Francine and I have worked 20 hours on a shoot.
Don't be a "Camera Hog" and think the filming is about you. Remember you're a background player, a living prop, and not the star. Francine follows all these requirements and that is why she works a lot. But, don't give up your job, this is only part time work. Also remember if you leave before you're dismissed, you will not get paid. Currently she is taking acting lessons and is progressing nicely, resulting in more opportunities. She is up for a featured part in a film.
John Eikleberry and Carrie Collins are relatively newcomers to Las Vegas, starting their journey from small towns. Both are the same age and have the same ambitions of becoming actors and want the opportunity to watch and learn and work in many capacities in the film industry. So far neither has landed any speaking roles, but, they have worked on quite a few films as an Extra, or as John likes to refer to it a "background actor." His latest job was on Rocky Balboa and Carrie's was Oceans 13.
They feel that in this position they are just human "stage props." This also allows them the chance to observe the various functions the production crew undertakes. Between shoots, while background actors are in "holding" areas, having a cup of coffee and a bag of chips, stimulating conversations with new friends and acquaintances occur. Their experiences and hearing stories about actors, directors, producers, and everybody in between is a big plus for the job. John even had his mother sign up with an agency or two, and she loves it. Seeing the stars, making new friends and especially getting a little check for it, helps out a bit.
If you want to work as an Extra you can sign up with most NO FEE agencies. You need 2 snapshots or Polaroids of yourself, be legal to work in the United States and proof of eligibility like your SS Card and drivers license. If you're an alien resident or have a work permit bring copies when you register. After registering they will give you their hotline number to keep in contact. The Nevada State Movie Commission's hotline is 486-2727.
Every Monday in the Review Journal's Carol Cling's column, she will bring you up to date as to what "shoots" are going on or will be happening and who to contact for working as an Extra.
If you want excitement, some hard work, fun times, and meet friendly people, look into working as an Extra.