An Extra’s Story: Can you Really Make Money Being a Film and TV Extra?

Studying Time: 7 minutes

When MoneyMagpie founder Jasmine Birtles steered not too long ago that there used to be paintings to be made as an Additional in movie and TV, she used to be met by way of plenty of very unbelieving feedback. Some outright mentioned, “yeah as a result of that’s a factor” and others requested truthfully how this may well be finished. We now have lined this up to now on MoneyMagpie right here. However we requested filmmaker Miles Watts concerning the revel in.

Miles Watts

Miles on set

“You will have noticed the display Extras and concept, do these types of folks within the backgrounds of TV and movies receives a commission to be there? The solution is sure they do. Then chances are you’ll marvel, is the cash just right sufficient for me to believe making an attempt this? 

Now, in my view I’ve finished a little bit of additional paintings, and this used to be partially as a result of I had not anything higher to do one week a couple of years again, and likewise as a result of I used to be – filmmaker that I’m – to look what it used to be like from the opposite aspect of the digital camera: being changed into a duration movie further. The truth that the TV display and movie I signed as much as further in have been about, respectively, a serial killer (I’d simply made a film about one) and the opposite one starred Alan Rickman, I assumed why no longer? For me, being on a few movie units can be a useful revel in.”


Put merely, extras or SAs (Supporting Artists) are paid to fill out the backgrounds in TV displays or motion pictures that want crowd scenes, passers-by, pub regulars and so on. Typically an SA received’t have a featured or talking function: their task is to mix in and appear to be they’re a part of the scene unfolding within the foreground. That mentioned, you’ll be able to (and I’ve) received the atypical further function with a talking line, for which you receives a commission extra – and extra on that during a little bit. 


Have in mind I did each the extras jobs for a little bit of a laugh, no longer as a result of I in particular wanted the cash or wish to be a qualified SA or anything else. I will have to say despite the fact that, the glory I garnered for extras after being one skyrocketed immeasurably. 

For the primary task, the TV one concerning the serial killer, I used to be required for a funeral scene in a graveyard in a nice Yorkshire box, so I used to be pushed by way of my long-suffering spouse (I don’t pressure… but) to set very early within the morning, the place I used to be filled into the duration swimsuit I’d been fitted for every week previous (you receives a commission for that, too). That used to be a nice sufficient day, a little bit dull, with plenty of status round whilst the workforce arrange photographs (one thing I’m greater than conversant in, so I watched and waited patiently). 

The scene concerned me ushering mourners out of the church, nodding on the actor taking part in the vicar, who’d labored with Johnny Depp and on with regards to each TV display and movie I’d ever noticed, and closing the door. I did that about ten instances. The shot didn’t make it into the film, possibly no longer as a result of I used to be so terrible in it however almost certainly since the scene used to be too lengthy. The digital camera workforce gets numerous what they name ‘protection’, maximum of which they don’t want however which covers them within the edit. Come to think about it, that’s almost certainly some of the causes it’s known as protection. 


My 2d extras task, with the similar company, used to be no longer as delightful as it used to be in a dank, darkish, chilly, crumbling development, and I used to be a semi-featured further (I didn’t have a talking function however I needed to tip my hat on the handiest different further within the scene.) The principle actor within the scene used to be a now-very well-known British actor from TV and movie (together with a Spielberg film) and she or he used to be not anything however pleasant and courteous as we blocked out the scene and she or he ran her strains over and over.  

After a couple of is going during the blockading – which is the place the actors and extras determine who’s status and strolling the place – it used to be relayed to me that I wasn’t shifting speedy sufficient during the scene, then too speedy, then no longer tipping my hat accurately, after which they gave up the speculation of me doing any of the above, and made me take a seat in a quiet room at nighttime subsequent to a warmth lamp, possibly to take into consideration what I’d finished. Or hadn’t finished.

It then took about 5 hours for them to escort me from the set (you’ll be able to’t simply depart when you wish to have), take away my itchy pretend beard and set me unfastened into the wild, the place I met with my spouse to revel in a pleasant chilly beer. Oh and Alan Rickman didn’t display up, after which later I discovered the rationale used to be that unfortunately, he’d succumbed to most cancers. However, it used to be an revel in, I will be able to say that. 


I did after all receives a commission for the entire above: for my dress fittings and for my additional time on set, and it used to be paid once they mentioned it could be. However I wouldn’t say it used to be a very simple couple of days: early begins, random places, uncomfortable garments… on the other hand, we did get some great food and drinks all over the breaks. 

So, when you fancy having a cross at being an additional (and I’ve had many gives since), right here’s what to seem out for. 


First off, you want to enroll with an company, who would require pictures of you and a biography, with entrance, aspect and again photos of you without a make-up, simple sufficient garments and a transparent expression: kind of like taking a passport picture. This fashion, the ability company will be capable of see what you seem like. Be truthful together with your pictures, as a result of it’s possible you’ll simply have the precise glance they’re going for relying at the venture: being the dimensions and determine you might be with the coiffure you have got (despite the fact that from time to time you’ll be requested when you’re amenable to converting your look) may well be precisely what they want, so don’t cross converting.

Perform a little research into the most efficient UK ability companies. A few of these come with: 

  • Andrea Casting 
  • The Casting Collective 
  • The Casting Community 
  • Catnap Casting 
  • Euro Youngsters & Adults (EKA) 
  • Additional Other people (that is the only I’m a member of) 
  • The Extras Dept. 
  • Greenlight Casting 

Google round and ensure the company you practice to is authentic, and adheres to the regulations of ability paintings in the United Kingdom. As an company employee, you have got the similar rights as different staff and staff to: be paid a minimum of the Nationwide Minimal Salary or Nationwide Residing Salary, not to have any deductions out of your pay that don’t seem to be prison. To be paid on time and by way of the agreed way. 

When you’re signed as much as the company, you’ll must watch for alternatives to come back your means, which is the shaky a part of being an SA. I stayed signed on with my ability company, most commonly to stay monitor of the productions going down in my space, and prior to now six months for instance, I’ve had a number of emails every week asking me to take a look at out for a number of giant productions – we’re speaking BIG Hollywood motion pictures with massive stars, and new TV displays for Netflix and the BBC.  


The cash is lovely just right for an aspect task, as I say, however no longer as a chief occupation, as you’re on the mercy of no matter productions are working. Covid used to be disastrous for the movie and TV trade but it surely’s slowly coming again: at the moment you’ll HAVE to be Covid-compliant on set, in order that manner mask and hand san in addition to social distancing: it’s the legislation! 

You have to make up to £100 an afternoon being an additional, however as discussed earlier than, part of that would probably be spent for your go back and forth prices. Plus, the schedules are regularly mercilessly last-minute and rigid, so when you have an ordinary task or circle of relatives commitments, it’s very laborious to suit SA paintings into your per 30 days agenda. Should you fancy it despite the fact that, and also you preferably have your individual automotive, it’s possible you’ll wish to glance into it.  


Preferably you’ll want to pressure to the places, which can be normally near-ish the place you reside however continuously in the midst of nowhere, and the beginning and end instances regularly depart so much to be desired. The longest extras day I did myself began at 5am and ended at 3am, for which I used to be paid additional time, but it surely used to be an extended, uncomfortable day the place I needed to put on a false beard and tight swimsuit. You’re no longer allowed to have your telephone on set so you’ll be able to’t take a seat round texting, and there’ll regularly be lengthy classes of time the place you’re sitting on set or in a trailer with not anything to do. So for God’s sake take a small e book to have at hand, or strike up chats with different SAs: that’ll get you during the day. A lot of fascinating folks paintings as SAs!

You’ll be answerable to in the beginning the Gown and Make-up Departments, the place you’ll be messed up and buttoned into your outfit, then to an Assistant Director who’ll spend numerous time talking right into a radio and ushering you backward and forward from set to make sure to don’t get lost. And you’ll be able to’t make numerous noise on set between takes both, otherwise you’ll incur the wrath of the 1st AD, who’re frightening by way of nature as theirs is without doubt one of the toughest jobs on set. 

There’s the camaraderie of the opposite SAs on the other hand, and I made some just right friends on set. I used to be nipped and tucked and combed and stuck into my dress all day lengthy, and my legs have been killing me by way of the top of the day – and inquisitive about regularly no longer making it into the general reduce.  

And also you do receives a commission on time, extra when you labored additional time, and it’s a competent cost machine, if no longer a competent occupation

Did you Get any Additional Gives to be a Movie or TV Additional?

“Sure, after a silent patch because of the pandemic, I now get nearly day by day gives of labor at the present time, and over the last few months I’ve had more than one alternatives to turn out to be concerned at more than a few ranges of SA paintings on some primary TV and movie productions: no longer they all have compatibility round my different paintings, however each week my inbox buzzes with notifications about productions in or close to the place I reside.”


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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
FHSTS is dedicated to bringing you nothing but the best quality educational information on how to make money online, blogging tips, investment, banking and finance and any other tips to help you make it online.

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