We hear from people who share their frustrations, joys and memories of working as extras.
I got fired from a movie for just going to the bathroom. I couldn’t believe it. I’ll never do extra work again – it was really humiliating. We had been sitting under a tent on a really hot day for about four hours doing absolutely nothing. All of the other people on the set had all kinds of snacks and drinks and the extras had water (and it was warm) and popcorn. I went to the bathroom that was actually a port-o-potty that was clear on the other side of a parking lot. When I got back, all of the extras were on the set and they were already filming. They told me that I left without telling anyone so I was fired. Has this happened to anyone else? – Rick L.
Catrine’s note: When you are working as an extra, you ALWAYS let one of the production people – an AD or a PA – know that you are going to the restroom. That is absolutely the protocol. It does seem a little harsh that you were fired, however.
When I was a little girl, I worked as a background actor on a movie called Trip to Bountiful with my grandma. She used to do a lot of extra work because she just loved the socializing and had a blast meeting new people. As it turned out, we were quite visible in the film. You can clearly see us as we walk down the street holding hands. My grandma has long since passed, and when I get nostalgic, I watch Trip to Bountiful. I feel like she is right next to me, holding my hand. It’s an experience that I will cherish forever. – Sarah P.
I joined ReelGuru.com when I found out that Catrine McGregor was the founder of the site. Many years ago, I was working at the front desk of a nice hotel in Cambria, California. Catrine and most of the rest of the crew members were staying there while filming the IMAX movie that is shown at the Hearst Castle visitor’s center. I always chatted with Catrine when she went in and out of the hotel, and one day, she asked me if I’d like to work as an extra on the movie. I had no idea what to expect, but it turned out to be incredibly cool. Because it took place in the days when Hearst lived there, we were dressed in beautiful period clothes. Our hair and make-up were done perfectly for the period. In one scene, we actually got to get in probably the most pretty of the Hearst Castle pools, and no one had had that privilege since Hearst lived there. It was a dream – like stepping back in time. – Amber J.
I work as an extra on movies and I’m proud of it. I love being on the set, seeing how things work, meeting the stars, meeting other extras, then seeing myself on screen! I’m not delusional. I know I’m not an actor. I don’t have the talent to be an actor and I don’t want to be an actor. What irritates me is that people always seem to put me down for ‘just’ being an extra. What’s wrong with that? – Tarique O.
Catrine’s note: There is NOTHING wrong with that! We each have our goals and everyone’s goal is a little different. In life, we should look to being happy and content rather than living up to what others think we should do. For those of you working as extras to hopefully work your way into acting, more power to you, and ReelGuru.com is here to help with that journey. But for those of you who want to work as extras, more power to you, too. Enjoy!
I think I can top anybody else’s extra gig. I got to be an extra on the movie Honeysuckle Rose, that was made in Austin and starred Willie Nelson. It was the BEST experience ever. The set was totally laid back and between takes, Willie and his guys would jam and hang out with the extras. In the movie, Slim Pickens was supposed to be a great guitar player–which he’s not–so when there were close-ups of his hands playing, it was actually Grady Martin, who WAS an ace guitarist. Listening to those guys was so amazing. It was like getting paid to hear the best jam session ever. If you want to be a background performer to meet stars, I recommend trying to get on an Adam Sandler movie. I have worked with a lot of actors who are jerks. I won’t name them, but Adam Sandler has to be one of the nicest ever. When they stopped to have lunch on the day I was working, there were probably fifty background performers there and he would not go eat until he had shaken hands/taken selfies/signed autographs for every single one of us. I wish that every actor out there could be like him. – Patrick C.
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Last modified: June 2, 2017