Extras agency until agent?

  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Hi,

    I've recently graduated and I am now starting to look for an agent, which has obviously not been very successful as of yet! Would anyone recommend signing with an extras agency whilst I build up my CV and then (hopefully!) sign with another agent?

    Thanks

    Kirsty

    • 1st Sep 2009
    • 13990
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  • Toni Brooks

    Actor

    Rapid Talent (used to be Lee's People I think) has categories for SA, walkons and featured artists so worth having a look at them.

    You could also try Ray Knight but I think it's quite difficult to get on their books.

    • 21st Aug 2009
    • 1
  • Peter Sheldrake

    Actor

    As an agent I would say it is certainly a way of earning money,while you are finding your own work and building up your CV. Keep checking the CCP page regarding agents with open books and when you are in something approach them and invite them to see your work.

    Good luck in the business and hope you find an agent soon.

    • 21st Aug 2009
    • 2
  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    I think it entirely depends on what you want to gain from the work. Some of the pros and cons of extras work as I see it:

    PROS:

    1. The money isn't bad for a day's work, you can sometimes claim overtime if you are held on set for a great length of time, and it is certainly less backbreaking to make money through extras work than it is through waiting tables, serving behind bars, working in call centres etc.

    2. If you are unfamiliar with the world of major film and TV production, then being an extra can help give you access to this world, and you can start to get a feel for what goes on on such sets, how the major actors behave on them, how the jargon of the set operates and so on. This can be invaluable preparation for when you are faced with the pressures of the set in the course of your own acting and you need to perform competently and professionally.

    CONS:

    1. If you want to make good *regular* money as an extra, you will need (as with anything else in the business) to become known to the agency as a 'reliable' client. Some work of this nature only comes sporadically itself - so making solid money from it is very difficult for the majority.

    2. Not all sets are as 'open access' as one would like, and the extras are deliberately relegated to one side for the majority of the shooting day in order to 'keep them out of the way'. This may mean that, rather than taking in the set and the filming process, you can end up spending many hours staring at the inside of the on - site coach.

    3. Some days as an extra are hardly rewarding: on occasion, you will be involved in mass crowd scenes that are themselves a lot of fun (a mass dance off, being the members of an invading army, part of a glitterring procession etc.) BUT other times the extras will not even be used in the scene they have been called to appear in because the director elects to disregard them on the spur of the moment. It can happen, because I've seen it happen. You will still be paid your money for the day, but the waiting around all day for nothing may also prove frustrating.

    4. It is perfectly true to say that many small roles for actors in commercials, music videos, and the like are *nearly* as thankless as an extras role - you will be asked to perform silently; or appear only fleetingly on screen; or deliver only the smallest part of a line etc. The crucial difference between them and extras roles is that you will have been cast in the role with the company's knowldege that you are an actor. This means two things: firstly, that you will be accorded better treatment on the film set than any extra because it is assumed that your contribution to the project is important, rather than something that should be taken for granted. Second, your performance will almost certainly get *some* air time, even if it is fairly brief. An extra will not be given either of these benefits, and given that you may be able to land actual jobs at this level even without an agent, they will make doing extras work seem limited by comparison.

    Finally, it is almost always suggested by industry professionals that you keep any records of extras work you do separate from the records of your 'bona fide' acting career. This is because the industry resents being presented with the CV's of people who have primarily worked as extras implying that these involvements have been tantamount to their actual 'performance' in something. Of course, this is false. It is rare for a 'background' performance to register at all with the viewer (the point about 'background'w work is that that is precisely where it is kept - in the 'background', where it adds depth to a scene's atmosphere but does not distract from the main action), and virtually no extras casting is ever auditioned for. 'Featured' roles are slightly different - they tend to go through an audition process and are correspondingly more respected. This doesn't mean you shouldn't have an up to date CV of extras work if you find you have a flair for landing the work, and it is making you good money - just that you don't mix and match with your actual actors' CV where you give the details of training and full performances.

    • 21st Aug 2009
    • 3
  • Nigel Peever

    Actor

    Having just worked with Lee over the last few days I'll have to agree with him :-)

    Extras work is frowned upon a lot. Because a large number of extras are people who just fancy having a go at TV, are not and never will be actors and frequently never ever learn to actually mime, often talking to the point of driving directors nuts, are reluctant to having their hair cut for period pieces etc they have developed a reputation for being quite difficult, an unruly mob and not individuals. But of course amongst that unruly mob are the professioanl actors who would love to be able to make regular money as actors on a film set instead of having to post messages on here about where the best place is to find temp work.

    If you take extra work you will learn about TV but it will not be the equivalent of a degree, a diploma or even a 25 yards swimming certificate.

    You would need to get at least 4 days a week to earn a living wage (I have never met anyone who gets a regular four days a week).

    But having said that john mills started with extra work,

    It might help! or it might pigeon hole you! only time can tell...you'd best toss a coin.

    Hope you had a safe journey home lee, we had quite a bit of turbulence! very bouncy.

    • 21st Aug 2009
    • 4
  • Nathan Sussex

    Actor

    personally i think it is a bad idea to start extra work if you want to be taken serioulsy as a prof actor.

    if you have trained and want prof work then extra work isn't the way to go.

    you will never be taken seriously and frankly this discussion shouldnt be taking place on this board as there is an extras page for that.

    i dont think extra work will give you the experience you want. in my opinion working on student films and there are lots out there as well as paid ones which will give you the camera experience you are looking for and also the footage for potential showreels which will enable you to approach agents.

    i am realy starting to feel that this website is becoming more and more amateur by the day as prof actors dont realy need to ask these sort of questions surely

    • 22nd Aug 2009
    • 5
  • Forbes KB

    Actor

    I'm beginning to think that there must be a module at some drama schools on how to look down on anyone who isn't as high up the career ladder as themselves.

    Extra work is, providing it is properly paid at the agreed Equity/FAA/PACT rates a very VERY good way of keeping the bills paid. I fully agree with Lee and Dazzler that SA/Extra work is not acting but pulling pints, waiting tables or working in a call centre isn't acting either however looking at the hourly rates paid extra work generates against these other very common resting jobs I certainly know where I prefer to be and will continue to be until I can cut this very lucrative source of additional income out of my monthly budget and replace it with full time acting!

    Is there such a thing as full-time acting at the lower levels of this industry?

    Enough with the snobbery guys...we're all just trying to get by until someone somewhere notices we exist!!

    Forbes KB

    • 22nd Aug 2009
    • 6
  • Nathan Sussex

    Actor

    There is no snobbery intended in my post.

    I have been a prof actor for 11 years and yes it is very difficult to get noticed however, extra work will never increase your chances of being noticed for work and thats just the way it is.

    as for the drama school comment, training is there for actors to learn how to be actors and nothing else and actors who do engage with extra work only serve to reinforce the somewhat confused notion that we are extras. this is a hard enough prof to be taken seriously in as it is.

    all i am saying is if you want to be an extra, fine, be an extra if you want to be an actor fine, be an actor but the two dont work together and you will not be taken seriously as an actor if this is the case

    one final point i would like to make is, why are we discussing extra work on a prof actors forum?

    • 22nd Aug 2009
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  • Nigel Peever

    Actor

    I think it's because someone who has recently graduated has asked for the advice of those of us with some experience isn't it? and like a lot of advice it is often mixed in how consistent it is.

    • 22nd Aug 2009
    • 8
  • Toni Brooks

    Actor

    Forbes isn't saying that doing extra work will get you noticed - just that it can be better paid than waiting tables, or bar and office work. No one's suggesting doing extra work is a way in - it's obviously not - to reitterate - it's another way to make money and of course, no one would dream of putting any extra work they do on their acting CV - that's silly. Just as I wouldn't ever put my other work experiences (design, nursing etc) on my acting CV.

    • 22nd Aug 2009
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  • Forbes KB

    Actor

    You may not realise it Dazzler but your response just reenforced my point by stating that actors shouldn't be doing extra work!

    My point is that as an actor, in my humble opinion, there is nothing wrong with doing extra work if it is treated as just that "extra work" and an additional form of income we can use to keep the bills paid inbetween proper acting work! You can do both and certain agencies, Ray Knight being a case in point, are really keen on taking on trained actors as they are usually more reliable than the standard off the street extras that other agencies prefer.

    The actual word "extras" come from the closed shop days when you couldn't get onset unless you had an Equity card and theatre actors, cabaret and music hall performers who primarily worked in the evening in their own fields worked as background artists at the film studios to give themselves some extra income.

    Extra work is just a couple of rungs down the career ladder than acting work and is an honourable profession. Granted some SA's don't help their cause by thinking they are something special just 'cos they appeared on screen alongside some Hollywood A-Lister in a big budget film but let's be brutally honest with each other here, there's a lot of so called actors as well who think a damn sight better than they actually are...it's human nature!

    Just because an actor trained doesn't neccessarily make them any good either...you either have the talent or you don't!

    I was recently having a beer with a major casting director and he was telling me a scene in the film we'd just been to see was cut because a certain trained and well known actor had turned up on set and didn't have his lines sorted...they couldn't get a clean take of the complete scene so it ended up on the cutting room floor!

    It all about having a professional attitude and, obviously, the ability to deliver when the director calls "action" so lets stop looking down on certain areas of the industry and get on with looking up at where we want to get to with our own careers!

    • 22nd Aug 2009
    • 10
  • Nigel Peever

    Actor

    It's not the complete dead end that everyone is suggesting though.

    In my case I was one of the regular motorcycle despatch riders on Boon and because of the fact that I was a punctual well behaved etc supporting artiste I was given the part as a Burglar by Central TV casting, OK it's not Hamlet but a credited part nevertheless on a Galton and Simson play with a three minute scene all to myself. (and as for Boon if they offered it to me tomorrow with a bike hire fee for my bike, costume hire fee for my leathers, special skills to ride the bike on top of my days wages again I'd still bite their hand off)

    We all know about Big Ron on eastenders and of course Jack Duckworth. If you are in a situation where you are a regular on a TV series even as an SA you can still get noticed.

    You probably won't get noticed as an extra, but I can almost completely guarantee you won't get noticed in call centre (until of course the next series of "Stars in Our Call Centres"

    I claim intellectual property rights on that idea here and now as god help us all it's possible!)

    I would say beware of any agent who says "of course we'll put you forward for anything we think you suitable for"

    make sure you get a definition of what it is that they think you are suitable for. You can and possibly will get put in the extra's box and left there.

    The main thing is and I've said it before, keep fighting for yourself, keep looking for yourself, don't view agents as magical creatures who'll just mollycoddle you to fame and fortune.

    If you love acting do it, everything you can, if all you do is extra work then yes you're just an extra, but if you're doing panto one week, TIE the next, extra work the week after followed by a voice over and some rep, then a corporate job and a radio play that says "actor" to me far more than someone who works in a normal job all year and just does 2 days High profile work on a cinema film as King Goblin in Harry Potter and the Lost Goblins.

    • 22nd Aug 2009
    • 11
  • Forbes KB

    Actor

    Hear hear Nigel!

    • 22nd Aug 2009
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  • Nathan Sussex

    Actor

    I am not looking down on anyone at all forbes.

    I chose to go to drama school and expected this prof to be difficult and i am fortunate enough to have representation and i do some interesting work. I dont want to knock anyone for trying to get anywhere but as i was reminded by nigel that this discussion was started by a recent graduate and that we should be giving advice then surely a graduate would know the answer about extra/prof work?

    and i disagree with forbes i don't see it as "extra work" yes, it's there for people who might look at acting as a hobby or are interested in acting but surely extra work isn't something you can make a career out of. i hear what some of you are saying that its better than pulling pints or working in a call centre. i choose to temp and work with my agent to find the right roles and attend meetings for different projects. and i dont see anything wrong with having trained and having these opinions i didnt spend years at drama school to come out and consider SA work even though there's nothing wrong with it.

    I chose this prof because i love the work and the challenging jobs that come my way. i too have gone form TIE to corporate, voice over tv film theatre and radio.

    i am happy to share advice with people but all too often on this site people are asking such basic questions that to be honest they should know after all this is supposed to be a prof website isnt it?

    i know people do extra work and anything they can to make ends meet but please dont insult me by saying even if it is extra work then that says "actor" to me! anyone can walk past a camera.

    going back to the original question. my answer would be no. keep approaching agents it takes time and is hard and it is all about timing i wouldnt even consider extra work.

    this discussion could and probably will go on for some time i am not judging anyone at all just giving my opinion and as i said before at the top of this site there is a section for extras shouldn't this discussion be taking place on that page?

    • 22nd Aug 2009
    • 13
  • Forbes KB

    Actor

    You just don't get it do you Nathan? Good luck with your career!

    • 22nd Aug 2009
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  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    Well, without going into another long spiel about this, I would simply direct the critique back to the original post (which was pretty lucidly written and polite, in my opinion...)

    It simply asks 'Would anyone recommend joining an extras agency?' (until such time as a career kickstart is initiated). That seems a fairly innocuous question to me, to which the answer is clearly either yes (in the opinions of some actors) or no (in the opinions of others).

    Certainly, the basic reply has to be:

    1. You certainly cannot substitute joining an extras agency for pursuing your own work, networking, writing to agents to showcase your talent etc. if you wish to make yourself a career in professional acting.

    2. Joining an extras agency is not, by any means, a good inroads into getting placed onto the books of a 'standard' actors agency - although some do support both departments; generally, the clientele will be felt of completely differently, and it can be fairly said that, if an agency with both departments is prepared to take you on as an extra but not as an actor given the opportunity of representing you, then there must be something amiss.

    3. It can be a decent source of money to pursue extras work, but don't expect it to come regularly, unless you really put yourself out for it - so undoubtedly a regular temp job is more steady.

    4. There is obviously a certain fascination for actors in doing extras work, because you may get offered the opportunity to see remarkable sets, (briefly) watch highly skilled members of the industry create their performances and so on (though it can also be very, very boring and very, very disheartening at the same time). There is also more 'risk' for actors to do 'extras' work than anybody from any other walk of life - for the simple reason that what you are doing when you walk on set as an extra is implicitly confirming that you are not there in the capacity of an actor - and you don't want too many agents/casting directors to start making those associations about you, because it might impact on your (actual) career. It can also be more frustrating for you (being prevented from acting/performing whilst everyone else around you is allowed to do it), while for everyone else doing the background work there is something exciting about this break from the 'normal routine'.

    Doesn't seem the world's greatest issue to me - I agree that sometimes the discussions on these forums can be repetitive/anodyne, but then again, truly burning issues get discussed in depth of detail as well.

    • 22nd Aug 2009
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  • Joanne Dakin

    Actor

    My worry would be that I'd get a casting and the director or the producer would recognise me from being an extra on one of their sets a week earlier. I know this is probably unlikely but whilst it can happen it makes me avoid trying to get work as an extra.

    • 23rd Aug 2009
    • 16
  • Benedict Wolf

    Actor

    WOW! talk about wind your neck in!

    Yes join extra agencies, take the money and run. Don't put too many of the uncredited credits on your CV.

    Extra work is paid well, and can be fun, I've made very good and close friends through it and we had a ball!

    You get to see how it all works, big exciting sets, lights, cameras, action! Just divorce it from the acting work!

    The stigma about it being frowned upon, I think, is just that. Why should it hinder your acting career being seen as an extra a couple if times. And who says they would recognise you amongst 500 other people?! I also don't recall any casting directors being on set.

    So suck it up, be professional, show up the idiots who are mucking about, just there for a laugh, and ignore the jumped up, condescending, arrogant actors who look down up on it, because they aren't looking down from a great height!

    Oooooh! Back of the neck! *wink*

    • 23rd Aug 2009
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  • Joanne Dakin

    Actor

    Of course they wouldn't recognise you amongst 500 other people but not all extra work is crowd scenes. I've often been on set where there have been only 3 or 4 extras and all of the castings I've been to the director has auditioned me along side the casting director and the producer.

    I would love to do some extra work and I am not looking down on it at all, I think it's a great way of making money and as you say friends. Personally I just wouldn't want to take the risk thats all.

    • 23rd Aug 2009
    • 18
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    haha this thread is making me laugh.

    The question is, where do you want to take your career?

    If you want to stay small and low-no budget, go and do student films for your experience. (actually in my experience, I haven't got ANYTHING out of student films, no money, I've known more than them, and no showreel material because it's not good enough. Complete waste of time)

    If, however, you want to work on proffessional films and TV, do extra work. It's a great way to learn loads of things, terminolagy (sp??) the jobs of crew, and if you actually get to watch actors work, it can be brilliant. A great way to learn.

    Also, it is a real good laugh, most of my time has been spent laughing, which has to be a good thing.

    I'm not in a position to do it anymore, because of the short notice and the money, it's not really worth it for me anymore with childcare costs and organising etc., but if I didn't have the commitments I have now, I'd do it again in a heart beat.

    Sarah

    xx

    • 23rd Aug 2009
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