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Dan Eggleston

26 Tips for Movie Extras (i.e. Comfort Survival Pointers) by Jack Ortman and Dan Eggleston
by Dan Eggleston

February 2001

1) Be on time (this assures maximum experience of that famous phrase, "hurry up and wait") and increases the chances that there will be breakfast foods still available. Remember, breakfast is the most important meal of the day (and lunch might not be till late afternoon!)

2) Hook up with a new buddy to help share info, save your seat, and watch your belongings while you search for the bathroom. This could lead to carpooling, joint lunches, and even marriage.

3) Avoid the port-o-potties if at all possible. Locate the nearest gym, restaurant, etc. and give thanks.

4) Wear the wardrobe they request and bring another change of clothes. This helps to avoid a lengthy return process at check out. Remember, you still have to do a voucher check out.

5) Avoid volunteering for any props! You will end up carrying them for hours, and then have to return them at the end of the day. The only thing you want to do when they release everyone is get your voucher signed and turned in.

6) Stay away from school bus transports, if possible. They are usually crowded and slow. Walk if you can help it. Busses CAN be handy later for naps though. They are also useful if the distance is too far to walk.

7) Get to know as many crew members as possible. They are generally the nicest people on the set (besides the extras, of course!)

8) Be ready for the possibility of utilizing that old saying "It's Who You Know."

9) Use a sun screen for outdoor scenes and avoid sitting in direct sun for any length of time if possible. During bleacher scenes, sit on the top row for back support and easy location of yourselves when the movie is released. If you're only concerned about location sit in the front row.

10) Bring playing cards, photos of loved ones, etc. for the inevitable "get to know your neighbor" section of the day. Also books, newspapers (unless you are out of doors on a windy day), etc. come in handy when you run out of things to say and show.

11) If a single, flirt liberally! For it is a virtual meat market. If married, please keep your wedding ring on.

12) Check to see if there is a lost and found

13) Check to see what the movie rating will be. You may end up not wanting to invite Granny and the kids when the film is released!

14) Don't watch your watch! It will make a 12 hour shoot seem to last forever. Breathe deeply. Practice relaxation exercises.

15) Network network network.

16) Seat pillows become more appreciated as a day goes on. Bring a cushy for your tushy. (As long as you don't mind dragging it around all day: make it a small one).

17) Learn the name of the director, producer, and stars; your friends will want to know.

18) Carry a bag for wardrobe, books, emergency supplies, and an empty bag for garbage.

19) Try to place yourself where you can spot yourself when your 3 seconds or less of camera time arrive. Be sure not to look directly into the camera, as they will either delete the scene or you will look like an amateur (if you get by the editing process.)

20) Be prepared and expect the unexpected. Shower, shave, apply makeup, brush teeth, etc. before coming to the set. You'll be glad you did.

21) Lunch is part of your pay. So enjoy, indulge, and be sure to thank the caterer. (Vegetarian with no options? Go immediately to the caterer and plead your case).

22) Don't count on being in the final cut. Many scenes end up on the cutting room floor. The main goal is either to work for pay, have a good time, or both. Anything else is gravy.

23) Pay attention to who is directing the extras (usually someone like the assistant to the assistant director). Often there are many chiefs on the set and this helps avoid possible confusion.

24) Ask someone involved with the film what the budget is. This could give you an idea whether or not your paycheck might be delayed or not. Also, if possible, find out when the release date is.

25) At the end of the day, be sure to exchange phone numbers or e-mails with your new friends. Thank everyone who was good to you. Have your vouchers completed before you get to the sign out table to assure rapid departure for all. Keep your copy.

26) Finally, remember to click your Ruby red shoes together three times and keep repeating the phrase "There's no place like home, there's no place like home."

Obviously, low budget films cannot afford to pay extras (except with food, perhaps) and will not have vouchers to fill out. They DO have release forms that you will need to complete. They also can be a lot of fun and sometimes you will have a much greater chance for screen time and sometimes may get some dialogue. Of course, few people may get to see these films, though you never know!!

3 web sites with info on this general topic of working as extras.

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