BE AN EXTRA
It’s obvious you want to be in pictures. Even if you are merely a face in a crowd. Someone who simply walks past the lead actor or actress on the street, or sits next to them in a restaurant scene. If you’re lucky, you may get an actual speaking role. Just as long as you can sit back with your friends, watch the movie and be able to say, “Hey, there I am!” To be immortalized in celluloid is a dream shared by many people.
The first thing you should know is that, as much as we would like to be of assistance, we are not directly involved in casting but we can help you find out what you need to do.
Here’s how it works.
When a production company decides to make a film here, they open up a production office. As soon as the company is settled, a casting director is hired by the production company to manage extras and small roles. If extras are needed for a film, the casting agency puts out an “open call” via the newspaper, radio and sometimes television, inviting the general public to come and audition. Usually, information about these casting calls are available on the Film Office’s website, but in some cases, the “open calls” are announced before the Film Office has any knowledge of them, so it’s important to keep your eyes and ears open.
When you go to an audition, be prepared to wait. Auditions such as these are not called “cattle calls” for nothing! Bring your knitting, IPOD, homework or a good book to read while you wait. Make sure you bring a recent photo of yourself. Don’t worry; it doesn’t have to be a professional headshot. It can be a snapshot, school picture or even a picture from a photo booth. Just make sure that it really looks like you. Also, it’s best to bring that’s a picture that just has you in it to prevent confusion. Once the picture is turned over to the casting agent, you will never see it again, so make sure that you have copies made prior to going to the open call. Attach your name, age, address, clothing sizes and all of your phone numbers to the picture. Make sure that you can be reached!! If you are selected to be an extra, and you are contacted, that is one phone call you do NOT want to miss!
One of the most important things you can do to be an extra is to keep current with information about what’s going on in the state’s film and video industry so you know when extras are needed. These are some of the most reliable sources of information:
- The Virginia Film Office website features an online hotline and more in-depth news
- Join the Virginia Production Alliance, an organization dedicated to the growth of Virginia’s film industry.
- Sign up for the free Virginia Production Alliance Listserve and share email information with those involved in the industry:
- Check Tales from the Grips a film and video informational website updated weekly
- Those interested in the Northern Virginia market should considering joining Women in Film and Video
- Read the entertainment section of your local newspaper which often lists casting calls in your area
- Contact one of Virginia’s talent agents for expert advice.