EXTRA WORK: WASTE OF TIME OR RIGHT OF PASSAGE?

  • User Deleted

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    Most actors do extra work at some point. Even Robert De niro and Tom Cruise. All the actors I know have also done it. However it doesn't help with an acting career but is good to be on a film set. I am just wondering everybodys opinion on extra work because I have had quite a few discussions with my friends about it!

    • 28th Jan 2021
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  • Kate Davies-Speak

    Actor

    I think that it doesn't hurt to get some extra work, its quick easy money and mild experience, I don't think it is always good to put it on your CV as you don't want to fall into the bracket of 'extra only' I suppose. I don't see how a little extra work could hurt.

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 1
  • User Deleted

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    My acting coach told me not to include extra work on my CV if I was serious about wanting to establish a professional acting career. He did say to include walk on 3s though. Unfortunately, anyone can walk in the background, so it doesn't have much credability.

    I've also been told by several people in the industry, that if you're seen too often as an extra by a director, then they won't take you seriously as a professional actor when you go for auditions

    I often do extra work when I'm in need of the money, and it is a good way of learning how things are done, but I try to avoid doing too much at once because then my face becomes familiar and I'm worried I'll just be known as an extra.

    It annoys me when I do extra work, how many people are there from various professions just wanting to earn a bit of extra cash but have no interest in the industry. I think it should only be open to people who want to work in the profession.

    I was sent to do a walk on 3 in Hollyoaks once, and the direcor decided I wasn't attractive enough for the role and gave the script to another girl before I'd even had the chance to read it. She'd never acted in her life and was training to be a nurse. What's more, she started ringing her family and friends on her mobile phone and making a big deal about it in front of everyone. She just didn't know how to behave. It's situations like that which really p### me off!

    With regards to your question (sorry I've got a bit a carried away) my advice is, just do a bit here and there when your strapped for cash and observe everything so you can at least learn something from the experience.

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 2
  • Mark Joseph

    Actor

    An extra is an extra, an actor is an actor.

    The only reason an actor should do extra work is for money, or to see how a film set runs. It does nothing for your career at all, and will not even be taken into consideration by agents/directrs etc.

    Mark.

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 3
  • Forbes KB

    Actor

    At the end of the day guys, the bills still need to be paid so if you are paying them drinking suger water and having to smoke 20 herbal cigarettes in 10 minutes in the background of The Tall Ship, the Queen Vic or The Rovers Return then fair play to you.

    I have done more than my fair share of extra work for precisely this reason and will continue to do so in between auditions for what the elitists call real acting.

    I'd rather be an extra paying my bills and holding my head high than an actor with mounting debts saying "I've been to Drama school and being an extra is beneath me".

    With no formal training I'm now auditioning right next to these types of people and getting probably more than my fair share of proper roles. Anyone who has been to drama school and thinks I shouldn't be at these auditions just because I didn't train can, as Bart says, "Eat my Shorts". This business is based on being able to deliver the goods and as long as I can, I will be there competing for the roles right right next to you.

    Next month I've already got three projects booked. One as a Specialist Extra (HGV precision driving and firearms work) for 5 days on a Feature Film down in London, One on a Radio Dramatisation and one on a LB Feature Film. 2 fully paid + expenses and 1 expenses only. All good roles and the bills get paid.

    My advise do as much as you can, actor or extra. Everyday you are on set is a learning experience so the more you do the better you will be...but write your CV with care.

    Regards,

    ForbesKB

    07749488764

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 4
  • Mark Joseph

    Actor

    I agree that bills have to be paid. That's a given, and how you make that money is up to the individual. Extra work is indeed a good source of money.

    However, it is detrimental to an actor's career. You will start to get labled as an extra, rather than an actor. I'm not saying extras are any less than actors, but they are a definite thing. A supporting artiste. They have a particular role in the industry. Also, like I've said, unless you're part of a supporting artiste's agency, extra roles are not even considered as roles on a CV, and should be completely ommitted.

    So I do not agree that doing more is always better. If you're an actor, wanting to further your career, then that's what you've gotta be. Ok, if you're a great schmoozer, being on set might be enough in itself, however, it's unlikely you'll be allowed to get 10 seconds to talk with the director, let alone schmooze.

    I'm not being all poncey, and getting into "suffering for the art"; I'm just saying that money aside, it won't push you forward career-wise, possibly even set you back. If that's ok with you, fine. If not, well....

    Mark.

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 5
  • User Deleted

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    I think that provided you view extra work as exactly what it is - an opportunity to earn a few pounds and gain a bit of experience - then go for it. Some people I have met, though, think that it's a way of breaking to the industry. It's not. Also beware becoming a 'serial extra'. If you are serious about getting a career as an actor, being seen regularly as a supporting artist is not a good idea.

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 6
  • Robert Dearle

    Actor

    Hi, I make my living as a Supporting atrist, and I love it. In the few years I have been doing this I have built up experience on set and regularly get walk on's in TV with minor dilaogue and features in commercials, and I am known to casting directors. I am also with several casting agengies who cast for commercials, and I attend many castings, I have two today. and I do character moddelling,I do this because I enjoy it and the rewards can (sometimes) be good. I have friends who are actors and also do extra work, but dont tell their agents. I have been to castings several times where I am up against extablished actors, and I remember being on a TV playing a reporter with an actor who was doing the same as me, and he was shocked how I came to be there with him.

    and only last week I was sent for an audition for a TV, it had no dilagogue but the character was central to the storyline, I got this because of my 'look', and nothing else. and recently I worked on a Corporate film which I played the lead, where I auditioned and got the job. I have said before on here I do not try for jobs that are out of my depth, and I could not do a stage play. But I can and do get small stuff that suits me witch and I value doing, not for the art, but for the enjoyment and cash. I agree that extra work is mosty not acting, but for actors it is better than working in a fast food shop, I think. Rob

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 7
  • Hayley Cartwright

    Actor

    Hi,

    I agree with most of your points everyone. You can get "branded" as an extra, so it isn't good to do this kind of work on too regular a basis. That's if you want to be taken seriously as an actor.

    If you are doing extra work once or twice a month to pay the bills then fair enough- as one of you said, it is better than working in a fast food shop!

    I have only worked as an extra once, and that was because I had been out of work for a while, and I wanted to get some experience on a screen set.

    An actor not being trained, well that's a difficult one... The way I see it is, you wouldn't practise as a solicitor without being qualified would you?

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 8
  • Forbes KB

    Actor

    Another elitist..."You would practice as a solicitor"??? I wouldn't have a go at being a bloody brain surgeon either, but it's hardly the same thing now is it.

    What we all do is a creative art form isn't it? Art is not about solving life or death situations and numerous artists in all mediums do very well without any formal training.

    I am an untrained actor and only audition for parts that I feel I am capable of playing. There are loads of these sorts of roles about in corporates, commercials, LB, Films, etc. and the more of these I do, the better I get at portraying what it is the director is looking for. One day I'll have a go at more substantial work but in the mean time I'll make my living doing stuff that is within my capability and that includes working a few days a month doing extra work.

    Regards,

    ForbesKB

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 9
  • User Deleted

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    This is always a good conversation in a room of actors. One casting director said 'Do it under an assumed name' So i think opinion is pretty divided. Thank you for all your answers

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 10
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    I would like to do some extra work. who are the good agencies and what do they normally pay.

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 11
  • Timo Gilbert

    Actor

    I just know I'm going to regret this, but here goes...

    The people who think they are "real" actors are usually snobby, untalented, self-important little pricks who are difficult to work with and make a bad job even worse because they mistakenly believe they worth much to the production and go around with some kind of chip on their shoulder, a bad attitude, and an aire of superiority. Get real. Actors are just about the lowest man on the totem pole as far as a production goes, they're certainly less important than the writers, directors, or any of the crew. An actor, if they're good at what they do, is basically a robot who does what they're told. Any monkey can do that. A REALLY GOOD actor is someone who can make you forget who they are when they take on the persona of whatever character they're portraying. Acting is make-believe, people. It's about fiction, lying, and being a lump of clay for someone else to mold into whatever they want.

    Yes, being an extra (oh excuse me, I mean a SUPPORTING ARTISTE) is nothing great and you get paid peanuts, but it certainly will not harm your nonexistent acting career in any way whatsoever and if you pay attention while on the job you certainly can learn how things are done on a film set, which is a hectic place because there are so many people all running around trying to do their jobs all over the place all at the same time and there are just certain ways that this works and ways that it doesn't. The moment you start throwing actors and extras into the already complicated works it can all break down pretty quickly if they don't know how to behave.

    I've been on some jobs that were made miserable because of the extras. Some of them are horrible little wannabes who think their two seconds in the background will shoot them into the celebrity culture they read about in crap magazines. No, it won't. You show up, do as you're told, make your seventy quid, and bugger off. End of story. By the time an extra is even told what job they're supposed to do next Thursday it's all been planed out ahead of time by the brains of the production and the last thing they want is troublesome extras trying to BE somebody. A good extra is worth their weight in gold to a director because nobody wants to have to babysit a bunch of ill mannered childish morons. Sure it doesn't pay a great deal, but then they aren't asking that much of you.

    And yes, "real" actors can be equally troublesome. I've also been on jobs where the main actor was the biggest baby on the set and caused unnecessary problems because they thought they were so special. Go around acting like that and see how many directors remember you as someone they don't want to have to work with ever again.

    As far as being trained, well in my opinion it's a waste of time and money and anybody who has been to acting school probably wasn't cut out for the job in the first place. I don't think anybody can be taught to be a good actor any more than they can be taught to be a good songwriter or a good artist. Sure people can be taught what it is that makes great people great at what they do, but to use an analogy (not the brain surgeon one) no amount of training will ever turn someone into an Eric Clapton or Rembrandt if they just don't have what it takes in the first place. I can see being trained for things like stunt work and dancing, but I have yet to meet any actor who was good because they were trained to act. I'm sorry, but everyone I've ever met who went to acting school is still rubbish. It doesn't work, save your money.

    If you want to see real acting go sit in the park and watch the little kids playing. When a kid picks up a stick and turns into a pirate with a sword he REALLY turns into a pirate with a sword. That's what acting should be. You should be able to completely put aside whoever you are and totally take on the persona of your character while being aware of what it is that you're expected to do as told by the director. Forget who you are and take orders. That's what "real" acting is all about. If you want to make a stand and be an individual and get noticed for who you are then go down to Speaker's Corner and waffle on to people who care, because a film set is no place for quirky individuals or attention seekers. And yes, if you have to learn lines and be seen and do a lot of stuff then it's only right and fair that you should get paid more for it.

    The fact is that most jobs you get hired for as either an extra or an actor are 90% about what you LOOK like. It's pretty much all down to that whether it's an advert or a big budget feature film. But there's absolutely nothing wrong with being an extra and it won't harm your career or get you branded as a nobody or anything like that, it just doesn't pay all that well and extras agencies aren't in the least bit interested in your career. They're there to make money farming out bodies to fill up space. If you want to get real acting jobs then don't bother signing up with extras agencies, go jonesing around for personal management but nobody will be likely to give you the time of day unless you can show them a load of showreel stuff and you can pretty much only get that in the beginning by doing low paid or freebie work because casting directors are, like most people, simply lazy and they can't be bothered to search out new faces and give new talent a shot so they stick to what and who they know.

    Face it, people, you will not "be discovered", you will have to work hard to get anywhere and unfortunately it's often not well paid along the way and sometimes not very much fun. But you can get somewhere if you just try, and don't pay any attention to all the "advice" that abounds from every quarter about how you should go about it. Remember, most people who give out their wisdom and advice, especially friends and agents, aren't actually doing the job you're trying to do so don't even listen to them. Directors are probably the most important people for you as an actor and basically most of them couldn't care less whether you were a cab driver yesterday or a famous name as long as you can do the job the way they want it done.

    Acting and extra work are same thing and as far as I'm concerned there shouldn't even be a distinction between the two. We're all acting and should be paid for what we do and the quality of how we do it. The more you do and the better you do it, the better you should get paid. Anybody who sits around whinging about only wanting featured roles isn't an actor, they're a whinger. And there's too many of those in this game already.

    Now, where did I put that scalpel...

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 12
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    C'mon Timo, what do you really think ?

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 13
  • Mark Joseph

    Actor

    "Actors are just about the lowest man on the totem pole as far as a production goes, they're certainly less important than the writers, directors, or any of the crew."

    What sets have you worked on??? Without actors, there's no film!!! It's good to be cynical, and not see yourself as above crewmembers, but to see yourself as below is just bollocks. You do your job, they'll do theirs. As long as you don't interfere with their work (i.e. actors telling the DOP which shot it should be), everyone'll be fine.

    "An actor, if they're good at what they do, is basically a robot who does what they're told. Any monkey can do that."

    I think you mean if they're BAD at what they do? Did LAMDA teach you this stuff? I hope not.

    "A REALLY GOOD actor is someone who can make you forget who they are when they take on the persona of whatever character they're portraying."

    Nice contradiction there. You just said a good actor is a monkey-style robot. Oh, sorry, this is a REALLY good actor. Makes all the difference.

    "I've been on some jobs that were made miserable because of the extras. Some of them are horrible little wannabes who think their two seconds in the background will shoot them into the celebrity culture they read about in crap magazines."

    EXACTLY. Which is why extras should be professional supporting artists from extras agencies, and not actors. When actors do extra work, they think it'll get them somewhere, and it won't. Pro SA's know what the job entails, and don't expect any more. We agree on this point, kinda.

    "I've also been on jobs where the main actor was the biggest baby on the set and caused unnecessary problems because they thought they were so special. Go around acting like that and see how many directors remember you as someone they don't want to have to work with ever again."

    Absolutely agree with you.

    "I'm sorry, but everyone I've ever met who went to acting school is still rubbish. It doesn't work, save your money."

    I didn't train at drama school, so it wasn't my chosen path, but this statement is clearly crap. It works for some, not for others. For example, I don't ever really wanna be at the RSC, but if I wanted to, I'd need certain training (i.e. voice). You're talking about subtle naturalistic performance ONLY, and on that point I agree; it is innate and cannot be taught. Control over emotions is something you either have or don't have.

    "But there's absolutely nothing wrong with being an extra and it won't harm your career or get you branded as a nobody or anything like that"

    Not a nobody, an EXTRA!!!!!!! Why do you think that actors' agents don't like their clients to do extra work? Because their clients get known as supporting artists, not actors. It's nothing to do with being snobby and seeing yourself as better than an extra. They are different things.

    "Acting and extra work are same thing and as far as I'm concerned there shouldn't even be a distinction between the two."

    Jesus. Where the hell did you get this from? LAMDA? If so, drama school really is a waste of money. They are ENTIRELY different things, they just happen to be in the same place!

    "The more you do and the better you do it, the better you should get paid."

    How much better can you get at being an extra?

    Look, I'm not having a go, but you clearly have really jaded views about the business. I agree with you on many points. Acting is not something that can be taught, and is innate (just like your example with children). But then you say actors are just like robots, but also not etc etc.

    This rant should have had a lot more thought behind it.

    Mark.

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 14
  • Kate Davies-Speak

    Actor

    lol! these posts made me laugh!

    my only contribution is this:

    1) I worked with snobby-up-there-own-butt actors and I could see them annoying the directors etc and know this isn't the way to go. A little respect goes a long way.

    2) I dont mind if i get some extra work but i wont list it on my cv

    3) I dont like actors who critisize each others acting in a non-constructive way, it doesnt hurt to offer help.

    4) Actors shouldn't believe that they are God's Gift but they do deserve credit when they have done a good job too.

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 15
  • Mark Joseph

    Actor

    Why won't you list them on your CV?

    Mark.

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 16
  • User Deleted

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    Timo, extras are definately NOT the same as actors. You don't need any artistic talent to walk and talk in the background of a film ot tv set. If you did need training to be an extra then there would be courses for it.

    I don't know of anyone with a BA in extra work!

    Actors train and work hard for their profession, either by going to drama school or gaining practical experience through doing student films and small scale theatre productions etc.

    You say actors are the lowest of the low on a production set (or words to that effect) I'd like to ask, How many sets have you been on?

    Definately not any on this planet!

    I've always been treated well when working in tv and film and it's always been very much a team effort. Everyone has a job to do and no one is considered any better than anyone else.

    Actors play a crucial part in bringing a script to life and are vital to the production. Otherwise there wouldn't be one! The same can be said if there was no camera operator, etc.

    Like I said before, It's a team effort.

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 17
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    I agree with you Cait - I too wouldn't put extra work on my CV. The reason being is that I want to establish a professional acting career and I've been told by several professionals that I wouldn't be taken seriously as an actress.

    My acting teacher said, that instead of extra work I should be working in the theatre or on low budget films. I told him it was difficult getting regular work and his response to that was, "you have to be better than the competition and keep knocking on those doors".

    If all you are doing is extra work, it gives the impression to casting directors, that that is all you can do and therfore you haven't got the talent to progress into a professional actor.

    Also, if you've got a gap in your CV, that can have an effect on how casting directors percieve you.

    I had ME for three years and couldn't work because I was bedridden for most of the time due to severe fatigue (the doctors think the ME was brought on as a result of Anorexia I had two years earlier).

    I've only just started working again, but the last credits on my CV were in 2001. So I have a 2001 credit and then 2005.

    I'm finding it easy to get low budget film work but the theatre companies arn't taking me seriously.I can't say I had a severe illness because they always advertise for actors in good physical health.

    You have to be so careful what you put on your CV. I'm actually doing a bit of extra work because I need the money, but I'd never put it down on a CV for fear of being type cast as an extra.

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 18
  • chris timms

    Artistic Director

    Undertaking extra work at the start of a career is a good way to get into the industry, you can pick up valuable knowledge and experience about how the industry operates. It also offers a good opportunity to network with other actors and industry professional, in additional it usually comes with a paycheck, which never hurts.

    There is, however, an undeniable stigma attached to being an extra and listing too many extra positions on your CV can be detrimental to your chances of getting future auditions.

    At Casting Call Pro we allow you to list past extra work but would advise against making these credits visible if you are applying for non-extra positions.

    Chris

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 19