Monday, October 16, 2017

10 Things I've Learned About Being an Extra

CP & I with our new friends!
Note: I said being AN extra, not BEING extra. That has its own pumpkin spice and UGGs filled list.

I'm not claiming to be a professional "extra," but the first time I went I had to learn (most of) these lessons the hard way.  The following are ten things I wish I would have known for my first time, and glad I knew for my second time (and every time hereafter!)

  1. Wear the comfiest shoes you have (that fit the role you're playing). Avoid heels at all costs!  The girls I was standing next to one time were wearing heels and both had their shoes off halfway through the set because their feet hurt so bad.
  2. Bring a book (or something to do).  There will likely be a lot of down time.  You may not need it, but its best to be prepared.
  3. Remember your phone charger.  Bonus points if you have a cordless battery pack.  While phones are not allowed to be out during filming, and may not be allowed on set at all,  if you have a lot of time to spend in holding, it is nice to have your charger with in case you wear out your phone's battery life. (Especially if you didn't listen to #2!)
  4. Bring snacks!  They may provide snacks and feed you a meal, but it likely won't be on your eating schedule.  Plus its nice to have food and drinks that you like or that fit into whatever eating plan you may be on.
  5. Pack deodorant! And probably body spray too. When you're crowded in a room with a bunch of people it can get a little toasty.
  6. Bring layers.  Depending on whether you're shooting inside or out, the temperature of the set and holding area can vary. Bring a nice long sleeved jacket that matches your role in case you need it on set. It's also nice to have a hoodie to wear while you wait in holding, especially because it can double as a pillow to take a nap!
  7. Do not make other plans the same day!  Unless they say the shoot is guaranteed to be less than whatever time they specified, expect it to run long.
  8. Network! The extras crew is likely full of people of all ages and many walks of life.  Last time I went with my friend who is a make up artist and we ended up connecting with a photographer.  I also overheard a group of guys at a table who were filmographers, ranging from beginners to veterans, talking with and learning from each other.
  9. Don't expect to interact with the actors. This is their day (& sometimes night) job and just as you don't want people coming up to you all day at your job, they can't be held up talking to every person who wants their brush with fame. This is especially true when it's a late shoot and everyone just wants to go home to bed. That being said, it doesn't mean they won't acknowledge the crowd, just don't get your expectations up.
  10. There is a lot of hurry up and wait. I feel as if there is a much more efficient way of doing things, but since I have no education or experience in the TV/movie production world, I'm probably wrong. Once you're escorted to the production floor, you'll likely be told to stand/sit somewhere and then wait.....and wait.....and wait....until they finally REHEARSE. Then you'll wait some more as they change things. This is where #8 comes in. If you're there with a friend or have made new friends, it makes the waiting suck a little less by having someone to talk whisper very quietly to.

Sore feet and waiting aside, I've had really great experiences in extra-land so far. I've made new friends and got paid to catch up with one of my best friends who joined me on set this last time. Even if I'm only able to catch a glimpse of my blonde hair poking up in the crowd once the episodes actually air, the experience was definitely worth it.  If you're in the Nashville area and are interested in being an extra, shoot me an email at and I can hook you up!

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