Seven tips to working as a Film or TV extra
Whether you are a trained actor or simply looking for an interesting part time job, working as an extra (or supporting artiste, background artiste as they are also known), is certainly more interesting than working at your local fast food restaurant. With little or no experience, you could be on set with some of the world’s biggest actors!
Don’t think you need to be in London or a major city across the world either. Filming happens everywhere and there is always a need for background artists of all shapes and sizes. It really is an interesting way to make some extra money or even turn it into a career.
We know many actors that have worked as an extra in many big shows and films and always have some great stories to tell!
Here are our 7 tips to working as an extra in Film or TV. You will also find a list of UK based Extra Casting Agencies too.
1. You don’t need to be an experienced actor to work as an extra
To work as an extra in TV and Film, you don’t have to have any formal acting training. If you are flexible, willing and typically 16 or older, you can sign up to many agencies that exist (see list below). Their requirements are typically based on looks or a certain skill set. For crowd scenes, it may simply be the volume of people or for background artists in more intimate set ups, they will want someone that fits in to the environment.
2. You get paid to be an extra in the movies!
Pay can vary widely depending on the production but you can expect to earn from £85 – £95 per day for a day time shoot with often up to 50% extra for a night shoot. There are many other variables where you can add to this such as using your special skills, agreeing to have a haircut that is in keeping with the production or even getting wet!
3. Bring extra skills to get paid more
If you have any specialist skills such as horse riding, driving, dancing, fighting, firearms, etc you can earn extra money (c30%) on top of the standard day rate. Ensure you list as many skills as you can on your applications. Do be truthful here, you don’t want to get caught out!
4. You will need some headshots
As with all acting jobs, you will need to get photos (Headshots) that best represent you so any extras casting agency can get you work.
For extra work, you not only need a good head and shoulders shot but often a full-length image too. This can be against a plain background. These should be updated should you change your hair, lose or gain weight, etc.
Some agencies like to also have photos of you in outfits that you own and can bring to a shoot. If you have a Viking or World War 1 army outfit, it may just help you to get cast!
Don’t try and be ‘perfect’ either. Productions are after every shape and size from Willow to Hagrid and everyone in between!
Of course we can help with the headshots. Click HERE for more info.
5. Keep in touch with your agency.
Keep in touch with any agencies that you are registered with. Extra agencies may have thousands of people on their books and won’t necessarily know if you are available, have changed your look etc. Without bombarding them with calls and emails, just ensure that they know you are available and keen to get working.
6. Fill out your profile!!!
Most agencies will have an online form for you to fill out. The more you tell them (honestly) about you and your skills, the better chance you have of getting work. Spend the time completing as much information as possible so they can use you in as many roles as possible. I know that filling out forms is boring but it really helps. If you are applying for multiple agencies, create a Word or Google Doc so you can cut and paste the same info again and again.
7. Say Yes! (Within reason, of course)
Especially when you are starting, take the jobs that you are offered. Also say yes on set to requests, be willing to help, etc. We have a client that was simply a supporting artist on set for what became a very big TV show. As he was willing to come back the next day, and the day after, he became an ongoing featured character. If you are an aspiring actor as well as an extra, you never know who is watching and paying attention. A dull night shoot in the rain could turn out to be your big break!
Keep scrolling for a list of UK Extra Agencies
List of UK TV & Film Extra Agencies
Below is a list of UK-based Extra Casting Agencies (In no particular order). Some charge an annual fee and all will charge a commission for finding you the job. You will almost always be responsible for your own taxes as well.
England Address: Uni-versal Extras Ltd, Pinewood Studios, Pinewood Road, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, SL0 0NH
England Phone Number: 0345 0090 344
Welsh Address: Uni-versal Extras Ltd, Regus Cardiff Bay, Falcon Dr, Cardiff, CF10 4RU
Welsh Phone Number: 02921 052 944
Email: Use contact form on site: https://www.universalextras.co.uk/contact_us/
Fees: Listing Fee of £30 for 1 year, or £50 for 2 years
Agency Commission: A standard agency commission of 16% will be deducted from anything that you earn
What they Say: Uni-versalEXTRAS Ltd is the No. 1 Extras Agency for placing people in Feature Films and TV productions across the UK and Ireland. If you are looking to earn money working in flexible part-time roles, then you have come to the right place!
Mad Dog 2020
London Address: Mad Dog 2020, Ealing Studios, The Pavilion Building, Ealing Green, LondonW5 5EP
London Phone Number: 0207 269 7910
Cardiff Address: Mad Dog 2020, Creative Quarter, Room 114a, Cardiff, CF10 1AF
Cardiff Phone Number: 0292 198 0089
Manchester Address: Mad Dog 2020, The Greenhouse, Media City, The Quays, Salford, M50 2EQ
Manchester Phone Number: 0161 960 0035
Glasgow Address: Mad Dog 2020, Suite 423, The Pentagon Centre, 36 Washington Street, Glasgow, G3 8AZ
Glasgow Phone Number: 0141 899 2020
Fees: Mad Dog 2020 deduct 15% commission from all Artists on all bookings
Agency Commission: An annual booking fee (of £61.25 + VAT for those registered to our London book and £32.50 + VAT for those registered outside of London
What they Say: Mad Dog 2020 has been casting and coordinating Supporting Artists for over 20 years, giving us the know-how to bring any filming to life.
We have cast for many major, world-wide and independent films such as Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, The Favourite, Darkest Hour, Peterloo, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Dunkirk and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Sweeney Todd, and The Duchess, to name a few.
Our TV department has supplied artists for popular productions such as Peaky Blinders, Outlander, Eastenders, Silent Witness, Victoria, Holby City, Doctor Who, and Poldark, and the Commercials team continues to work across a range of ongoing advertising campaigns for O2, McDonald’s, Balenciaga, and the John Lewis Christmas advert, as well as music promos and corporate films.
Mad Dog 2020 has offices in London, Cardiff, Manchester, and Glasgow.
Address: The Casting Collective Limited. 89-90 Paul Street London, EC2A 4NE
Phone Number: 020 8962 0099
Fees: £75 (inc VAT) for Artistes registered in London and South East and £20 (inc VAT) for all other regions. This is only taken when you start to work!
Agency Commission: 15% (plus VAT) on all work
What they Say:
Your best choice for booking Supporting Artistes
Born in London but working all over the UK
We’re more than an extras agency in London. We’re 100% independent with over 40,000 different faces to choose from across England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. See our artistes
Proven track record
Trusted and dedicated, our extras and walk-ons have successfully featured within film, TV, commercial, photographic, corporate, pop promos, promotions, new media, and voice-overs for more than 20 years. Check out our credits
Expertise with relentless efficiency
Our powerful blend of experienced bookers and office support use knowledge and insight to consistently and quickly fulfill your crowd casting brief, no matter how tricky. Meet our team
Technically led, people driven
More than just the big screen
Our dedicated commercials team specialise in providing walk-on talent and featured artistes for commercials, photoshoots, idents, music videos, corporate films. PR, press, fashion, and editorials.
Bristol Address: The Bottleyard Studios, Whitchurch Lane, Bristol, BS14 0BH
Cardiff Address: Temple Court, 13a Cathedral Road, Cardiff, CF11 9HA
Phone Number: 0333 009 6261
Fees: £25+ VAT deducted from a day’s work
Agency Commission: TV and Film are subject to 15% commission +VAT., Commercials (Online and TV) Photographic, Voice-overs and Corporates are subject to 20% commission + VAT.
What they Say:
Established in 1995, Phoenix Casting Agency provides professional and hardworking supporting artistes, walk on’s, actors, models, presenters and voice-over artistes for the performing industry.
We have been in the business of casting for over 25 years and we are flaming good at it.
Rising up to a challenge we can supply crowd and walk-on artistes for the largest to smallest of television, film, and corporate productions.
We have other feathers in our cap too and can offer our services supplying Voice over artistes, Actors and Models for all of your casting needs.
Address: Studio Five, Stangate House, Penarth, CF64 2AA
Phone Number: 029 2010 7628
Fees: £30 per annum and deducted from the Artists first earnings received
Agency Commission: 15 % for Film/TV work and 20% for all other Bookings
What they Say:
Creative is one of the longest-established UK casting agencies.
Our friendly team are experienced film and television professionals with considerable knowledge of the casting industry. All have a background from either behind or in front of the camera and understand the challenges you face and the level of service you require.
Creative provides the media industry with supporting artists, stand-ins, walk-ons and doubles for TV shows, feature films, photo, modelling, and commercial shoots.
Our team strives to provide a service which goes above and beyond what you require. Creative will aid you in finding professional, quality supporting artists and the team at Creative will attend set and assist your team. Whether this is signing in a crowd of 400, ensuring all SA’s have signed NDA’s, or just make the day a little smoother on set.
Phone Number: 07597 363 958 or 07561 427 985
Agency Commission: 10%
What they Say:
Boasting 25 years combined industry experience our agents have skills and qualifications that grace both sides of the camera. Made up of a team of ex-Assistant Directors and Actors lends to KEY CASTING being one of the most knowledgeable casting agents in the UK.
“KEY deliver unrivalled dedication through production and beyond”
We know how integral the background is to a scene and we will leave no stone unturned to get you the best faces. So much so, we often travel the length and breadth of the country to get the most interesting and authentic people available for filming. We are proud to be known for our street castings… When it comes to casting your crowd you are in safe hands.
Agency Commission: 20%
What they Say:
We grew up loving movies, probably just like you…. so it was only natural that we ended up working in them! Our team have worked across a variety of sectors within Entertainment and have built up years of experience providing background artistes. It might be a Butler with a limp or a crowd of baying men in a miners strike…everyday is different.
We’re not some big multi-national sat in endless cubicles, we’re a few guys and girls who love giving you the boutique service you deserve. We work in a competitive market so we ensure our delivery has energy, expertise and a modern approach.
‘You’re only as good as the people on your books’
This is our office mantra. We carefully select ours so that who we send out on set, are the best in the business. Our artistes are experienced, professional and reliable.
No matter how big or small your project, our aim at Extra People is to supply the very best supporting artistes and walk-ons available…making your booking easy and your production slick.
If you need help on set then we also love getting out of the office and helping sign people in & out, manage crowd and add an extra pair of hands. Seriously…we really love getting out the office…so don’t hesitate to ask!
Piece of Cake
Address: 4 London Road, Hindhead, Surrey, GU26 6AF
Phone Number: 020 3633 0429
Fees: £65 + VAT annual fee
Agency Commission: 15%
What they Say:
- With over 20 years experience in the field of casting, we take pride in being able to deliver the unusual or source individuals with both specialist skills and looks.
- Offering a truly bespoke and personal service we listen to your requirements and deliver exactly your brief.
- Our flexiblilty and personal approach means that during each and every project we are on standby to assist you.
- We do not rest until your job is done.
Actor Headshot Photographers | only pay for the images you love!!!
Get in touch
If you have any questions, you can always call us on 07810 004451. We photograph in London (Chiswick), Bristol (Portishead), Birmingham, and across the UK.