My Other Life as a Movie Extra!

Everyone asks: “How did you get into doing movie work?”

OR rather what they really want to know: “How can I get into the movies?” Or, maybe it’s their son or daughter or someone they know. And then, you know they are looking you up and down and thinking – if SHE can do this, I can do this.

Cynical? Yeah, maybe, but I know that I am older, I’ve inherited the growing bags under my eyes of my English heritage and I’ve put on a few extra pounds in recent years.

So, why do I do it? Some people quilt. Some people walk through swamps hiding geocaches for fun (Ahem, my husband). But me? When I see a posting that extras are needed for a big scene in a movie being filmed locally, my skin starts to itch.

I look in the mirror and think I probably should take off a few pounds first. Probably should get my hair touched up. Probably should get my nails done and shop for a new outfit. (And JUST in case, I go nuts and submit my actor’s resume – which you need to know how to format and I did learn to do that and why waste what I’ve learned, ya know, I’d better shop for solid colors with no black, red or white or wild patterns that mess with the camera.)

And, then, it happens. Dang it. I open my gmail. I select “Compose.” In goes the email address for the recent project being filmed. And I pause. Am I really going to put myself out there again? Yes, my kids think it’s cool. Yes, my husband does not (or at least that’s what he says until I meet a co-worker who says, “So, you are the one in movies?” and I laugh and know my husband’s been outed.)

But, it takes a toll on my work time, my family time and whatever else I had planned for the week. Often you only learn 24-48 hours before going on set that you’ve been selected.

And, then I write a short note that yes, I am available for the days posted (which I know truly in my heart that I am really NOT available if everything and everyone else in my  life I know that depend on me are going to have their needs met). And, I attach my resume and headshot or a recent shot (neck up). And, I hit submit. This last one I added a “social media pledge” that I would not post on Facebook or Twitter about anything going on in the film since they ask you not to anyway and a quick search of my name would find me ALL over the Internet.

And, I wait. I go about my business and I start clearing my schedule. Thanks to recent activity on the casting site’s own Facebook page, I learn that SAG actors were called on Saturday this last week. And, I wonder. Did I submit too late? And, then I see another comment. Extras are being called on Monday (to be on set Tuesday – Thursday!).

Go on. Go about your daily routine. Try not to expect anything. You aren’t doing this full time like others who depend on this cash. In fact, you know you are losing money on other jobs you have carefully culled to allow you flexibility with kids and possibly movies. But, . . .  just in case, let’s forewarn the people who depend on you and who you will depend on to get your jobs done. Time to call in some favors.

And the call comes. And, you go nuts. It’s really going to happen. You are expected on set – every day, all day, until they wrap the day. And everyone else in your life has to standby while you are gone fulfilling your dream. Doing something you enjoy very much.

The days are long. Extras who are doing this for the first time are dropping like flies. They have no ideas what hours are expected of them once they say yes. New faces show up each day and you stay. You tell your family – just two more days. Just one more day. We can do this.

And, you know you can’t talk about the actors or actresses online who show up in the local news for charities you will probably post about in the future. {Hint. . Hint. . }

As you sit on set, you think, I really can’t do this again for awhile. Too much time out of the rest of my work, too much to do in life. It’s odd to  go sit on a set with mixed emotions of sorta wanting to be needed and sorta not because, honestly, you know you will never be a movie star and yet, everyone else seems to want to be noticed and needed there. And, you know you are needed – elsewhere.

And yet, the eye wanders back to the Facebook page, back to the website announcing new projects. And you know you will watch and wait.

But, yeah, I’ll be back. It’s in my blood now. And yes, believe me, you will know when this last movie comes out and whether I can see myself because that’s the fun of the reveal!

{Side Note: Did I tell you that The Last Airbender had a prop sale? A friend called and my whole costume was intact with my picture on it! My daughter got to be me for Halloween! What a hoot! Will add picture later along with pictures with Mandy Moore and Sarah Jessica Parker both of whom I met at events in NYC for their own promotional events – nothing filming related. I am just addicted to it all, sadly but true. And, I’m not the only one!}




  1. My fiance was an extra in the movie “The Relic” from 1997. He was doing an art project at the Field Museum, and someone walked up to him asked if he wanted to be in a movie. He said sure! They gave him a watch tux that zipped in the back like a flight suit, but looked like a real tux, hahaha!! He was in the scene where everyone was running out of the museum in their best dressed outfits..away from the monster thing.

  2. Jennifer Young says:

    Wow, this is neat! Beautifully written too. I love your new design and layout–very nice!

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