Many look at commercial acting as an easy way to break into the acting scene. It is true; many commercials will cast people who have no formal training. This is especially accurate if the actor matches a certain type or look they are looking for. However, if you get serious about advancing in acting or if you want to be viable and score more jobs, having some training under your belt is important. The world of commercial extras is a very competitive field. There are also steps you must take in order to even be considered as one of the commercial extras for a part. If you just show up for a part like it is some job fair at the mall without meeting certain criteria or doing certain requirements, you will not even be considered. There is a process to casting commercial extras that still involves agents, registering, and scheduling.
This article will help give you information as to how you can prepare for a commercial extras casting call and where to look.
9 Tips to Score that Commercial Extras Part
Tip 1: Social Media
Social media has become a very useful tool not only for individuals but for companies and casting directors as well. Thus, if you are looking for commercial extras opportunities, you will want to be actively attentive to social media accounts. Agencies will use their accounts to advertise openings. Follow their streams or connect to their accounts so that you are one of the first to know when an opportunity pops up. Though they may not pick from the first people to inquire, they will give them preference since they have already proven that they want to work by jumping on the call right away. Even if you get in on the call late, be sure to throw your interest in since they will also be looking for people who fit a type or look, and that may be you.
Tip 2: Preliminary Registration and Online Casting Sites
Be sure you take the time to register with each casting company. Many agencies require this because it makes their job easier. You can find casting calls directly on their websites and register right away. Registering usually entails uploading your resume, headshot, and information so that they can get ahold of your directly. If they ask you for your availability and then go to their registry but you are not in there, they will pass you over for someone more prepared that they can get ahold of easily. It is a fast and simple process that should not be neglected and can help you get booked as well as make you look professional, prepared, and make you look like you really want the job.
Tip 3: Follow Directions
The competition is fierce and thick. To ensure you are not taken out of the running for a stupid reason, be sure to fill out any paperwork and follow any directions outlined in the casting notices to a “T.” Directors have to go through a ton of applicants quickly and it would be a shame to be tossed aside because you did not fill something out that was specifically asked for. It can be something as simple as correctly filling the subject line or including certain information. It also makes you look unprofessional and unable to follow directions. They will obviously not want someone on set that cannot follow simple direction.
Tip 4: Save Some Money and Keep an Eye on Professional Acting Sites
Many sites that cater to actors have a casting call section where you can look for current openings. Often these are free to peruse but some may require a membership fee.
You will find advice saying that professional headshots are a must for many bigger projects. However, when you apply for commercial extras positions, a casting director will more than likely want to see an everyday shot of what you really look like. One current, color, candid headshot and one full body are usually enough since, once again, they are looking for a specific type. Do not make yourself up a ton and keep distracting items, such as sunglasses, out of the pictures. So save your money and your professional shots for bigger productions.
Tip 5: Look at Online Want Ads and Think of Your Exposure
Another place you can look is in the back of newspapers or online want ads. If you end up in extra work on a series of commercials or a regular television show, think of how much camera time you really want. Sure, it may be exciting to have a great spot next to a lead character, but if you want to be reused in another scene or episode, you likely will not. To get more consistent and recurring work, you may consider being in the background so that you can be reused since it is less noticeable.
Tip 6: Again – Follow Directions
When casting directors send out notices, they will include information such as what wardrobe wants you to bring along with you. It may seem like no big deal if you forget an item or chose improperly. However, consider the fact that there may be 300 extras working with them. If 50 of those people forget or do not follow direction, it will hold up the shoot costing money and holding up the cast crew, and other extras. You also may not get a call back for further work.
Tip 7: Take it Seriously – Even Your Downtime
During the shoot, you will likely be waiting around for quite some time. Bring something to keep you occupied. You can also network a bit and make some new friends. Do not be loud or distracting and keep comments of annoyance and boredom to yourself. Waiting is just the nature of the beast and if you voice your opinion of it, it is extremely unprofessional. It may be a non-traditional line of work, but show your gratitude that you are there and able to partake. With that being said, treat it just like you would any job. Be patient, professional, and definitely be on time. Anything you would not do at any other job, do not do on a shoot.
Tip 8: Do not be Paparazzi
If you happen to be working on a project where there is a celebrity on set, remain professional. This is their career and they are there to work not chit-chat with the extras. Do not approach them for pictures or autographs. A good rule of thumb is to focus on the scene and network with other actors. Another good rule to follow is to only speak to actors if they approach you first, which may happen at craft services or off set. Then it is okay and proper to speak to them. Extras that impede production or annoy the actors usually do not have a job for long.
Tip 9: Do not Expect Too Much
Do not walk into an extras position thinking that people will discover and throw you into the spotlight. Sure, things happen and maybe they will pull you to the forefront because they need a fill in. However, chances are you are there to do the extra work they hired you for and not much more. If anything more comes of it, it is pure luck and the chances it will even happen at all are very slim. Be satisfied with your position and do your job well. If anything, that is the best way to make people notice you and can even get future work because of how professional you were on set.
Becoming a professional commercial extra still takes effort even though many think they can gain easy money without any effort. There are still preparations you need to take care of and some searching you need to do. If you have the look or type a casting director wants, you can even score some work without having a professional training as an actor. Treat the opportunity like any other job and take some time to network to make it easier to land future jobs.
Have you ever tried out for a production to be a commercial extra? Were there others who did not take it seriously and ended up paying the consequences? What suggestions do you have or experiences that you can share with others looking to enter this competitive field? Please leave any comments below.