Earning or Supplementing a living as an TV / Film Extra
Long days at a Studio, but the start of something big?
Having done some TV Extra work, I can see exactly the humour of Ricky Gervais's TV Comedy series.
There's a lot of sitting around waiting and mixing with the Stars.
All this is mixed in with some 'seasoned' types who are after that little oneupmanship and come prepared for every occasion in hope of that close up, or even a couple of words here and there.
The main joy of TV / Film Extra work is that you don't have to be a fashion mode; you apply as you are. If you haven't any teeth, if you're 85 years old, if you have a strange shaped nose - it doesn't matter. Some film or TV Show /Drama is being made in some location where they need a face or body like yours!
After all, they don't need the bees knees of good lookers for a general Charles Dickens street scene do they.
The word 'extra's' in fact is PR wise phased out. They are now known as 'Background Artistes', which I guess is more accurate.
The pay varies a lot. Basically, the more you do, or the more the face fits, the fee's can go upwards and beyond.
Two years ago I was an extra in the first series of 'Titty Titty Bang Bang', the BB2 female led comedy series.
My three days went as follows........
We arrived at Meridian Studio's, Maidstone at 6am. About 20 Extra's turned up. We were told to bring casual gear as we may be filming a picnic scene (this was cancelled). Most of the people know the game and brought along all sorts of clothing in large suitcases 'just in case' (as above!!).
I was found a shirt and tie and was all ready to be a background Doctor in a Hospital scene. This was cancelled as well and we went by Mini Bus to an old semi-derelict building which they had turned one room into a Hospital Ward.
Basically we then sat around til 5pm and didn't do anything
Same early start. We were sent by Mini Bus to a Social Men's Club for a 'Darts evening'.
This was my big moment and I sat at a table pretending to drink and talk for about 4 hours of the 9 hour day.
The rest of the time was spent sitting on the coach reading and chatting with, amongst others, John Fordham, the former World Darts Champion.
Sat on the Bus all day and wasn't asked (Did I look that bad the day before!!)
At that time, I got £65 for the day. Not much maybe, but they supplied us with full breakfast, a massive lunch and afternoon tea as well - which is usual.
There could be any number of jobs going in this 'occupation'. Many make a full time living out of TV Extra work. Jonathan Ross's Mum has been an Extra on 'Eastenders' for years, so it can be done.
The other joy of this kind of work is that you don't have to do it if you don't want to.
Often Casting Agencies are frantic for people. In fact, I found out about my first time through an appeal on BBC Radio Kent!
I know a chap who does this quite a lot. He's been abroad shooting a TV Play and appeared in films starring top Oscar nominated / winning Actors. And - I can assure you ladies - he's no looker!!!!!
Longer Term Work
It could be a long term film project. For instance, the Extra's used on the film Titanic were employed full time for over three month's!
I was employed for three days and appeared on Television for a total time of 3 minutes!