Originally posted on Friday, October 25, 2019 from RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Extras, extras, read all about it!
With 20 to 30 scripted TV and films typically in production at any given time in metro Atlanta, there is no shortage of work for extras from at least a dozen different casting agencies.
It’s not glamorous by any means.
“In the caste system of crew, the extras are the undesirables, the great unwashed,” said Jeanette Stout, who has done extra work for the past decade and has been on hundreds of productions from Netflix’s “Stranger Things” to AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” “You really have to love film to do this long term.”
>>RELATED: There’s a podcast I did with Heather Taylor of Casting Taylormade and extra extraordinaire Jeanette Stout right here.
The pay is minimum wage or not much above it, though if you endear yourself to the crew, you might be able to get extra pay by being a stand-in or photo double for one of the actors during rehearsals. Sometimes you get a “gas bump” if production is far away and you might get time-and-a-half overtime.
The hours are long and locations are unpredictable. Requests for work are often last second - sometimes the evening before. And it can be maddeningly tedious sitting in the extras holding room. (Needlepoint, crossword puzzles and books are useful.) On the bright side, it doesn’t take any real special skills besides taking direction well and being on time.
Obvious no no’s: approaching the cast or director unsolicited, taking photos on set and taking a cigarette, phone or bathroom break when they need you for a scene. (And don’t cut in line when getting snacks or a meal and then shove an employee, which allegedly happened recently on the set of “Madam Secretary.” It did not end well for the extra. The gory details are on TMZ. Of course, that is one side of the story. Stout said she read online on an extras board that witnesses thought the extra wasn’t necessarily in the wrong and a misunderstanding needlessly turned into a bloody mess. Craft people, she noted, aren’t always nice to background actors, who are often given significantly worse food than the crew and regular actors.)
While some extras use the work as a bridge between other jobs, others see it as a way to segue into other production-related work either on crew or in acting roles with dialogue or stunt work.
To maximize your chance of getting selected, you need to gather a variety of head shots. “They don’t even need to be professional,” said Heather Taylor, owner of Casting TaylorMade, which does work with “Stranger Things.” “Selfies are fantastic. Then I can see exactly what you look like.”
Taylor said if she solicits an extra directly for work, she expects a reasonably quick response, either yes or no. “Some people disappear if they’re busy,” she said.
And unless there is a genuine emergency, don’t cancel at the last second. “Treat this like a professional job,” Taylor said. “It’s a little different than a normal atmosphere, but I like a good professional attitude.”
Here is a sampling of Atlanta area casting agencies to get you started in alphabetical order with some of their recent clients and proper links to get started.
Background Artists Casting
Recent client: The CW’s “Black Lightning”
Recent clients: BET’s “Sistas,” BET’s “The Oval,” BET’s “Bigger”
Casting All Talent
Recent clients: the CW’s “Legacies,” Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow,” OWN’s “The Haves and the Have Nots,” OWN’s “If Loving You is Wrong”
Recent clients: “Richard Jewell” film, Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” DC’s “Stargirl,” Netflix’s “Haunting of Hill House” Netflix’s “Thunder Force” starring Melissa McCarthy
Recent clients: the CW’s “Dynasty,” YouTube’s “Cobra Kai,” Apple TV’s “Amazing Stories,” Disney+’s “WandaVision,” Fox’s “The Resident,” “Coming to America” sequel
Sometimes works with Rose Locke Casting
Recent clients: “The Conjuring 3,” HBO’s “Lovecraft Country”
Recent clients: “Dwight in Shining Armor” on BYUTV, “Alieu the Dreamer” BET film
Extras Casting Atlanta
This company has been around for more than a decade
Recent clients: AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” film “Fear Street,” Netflix’s “Sweet Magnolias,” AMC Shudder’s “Creepshow”
Recent clients: BET’s “American Soul” and “Boomerang,” Netflix’s “Teenage Bounty Hunters,” syndicated “Divorce Court,” syndicated “Couples with the Cutlers” and “Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court,” Starz’ “P Valley,” Comedy Central’s “Robbie”
Marinella Hume Casting
Recent clients: Netflix’s “Ozark,” the film “Greenland,” DC’s “Doom Patrol,” Amazon’s “The Underground”
Recent clients: HBO’s “Watchmen,” HBO’s “Lovecraft Country,” HBO’s “The Outsider,” film “The Conjuring 3,” film “Violence of Action” starring Chris Pine
Tammy Smith Casting
Recent clients: Chris Pratt film“Ghost Draft,” “The Suicide Squad,” Netflix’s “Insatiable,” Disney film “Jungle Cruise”
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