So, You Want to Be an Extra On A Film?

Lights!  Camera!  Action!

Studio cities like Albuquerque, NM, are experiencing an explosion of filmmaking in their areas, and most films need a good supply of extras. Here are a few frequently asked questions:

Q: Do I need to be handsome/beautiful to be an extra?
A: No, movie extras come in all ages, sizes, shapes, colors, and looks.

Q: How much does an extra get paid?

A: Not much. Usually, minimum wage. If you are doing this to earn a living, you need to pick a different career.

Q: How long is a typical day’s work?
A: The movie industry works very long hours, and a 10 to 14 hour work-day is not uncommon.

Q: What if I can’t be available all day?

A: Don’t be an extra.

Q: I want to answer a cattle call for a western? What if I don’t have any livestock?
A: A cattle call refers to a mass casting call, where hundreds are seen in an afternoon for a very brief amount of time.

Q: How do I find out about when a movie needs extras?

A: There are several ways to find out about extras casting calls. You may hear about one on the radio, tv, or in the newspaper. A more effective way to get on as an extra is to be represented by an Extras Casting Director. Go to and for a listing of extras casting directors in the NM area (search the production services directory for others or go to two we know who have cast features here in Alamogordo: or respectively). Call or email them for more information.

Q: Does it cost money to be listed with an Extras Casting Director?

A: No, there should be no cost to be listed. The Casting Director may take a portion (10%) of your wages if you are selected.

Q: What is a head shot? Does it cost money?

A: Do not spend a lot of money on a head shot when you are just getting started. Have a friend take a digital picture of you, and now even a good ‘selfie’ will work. Make your own head shot, and create a page and embed it—then list your name, cell phone, sizes, previous experience on a set or in theatre, and any special talents you have. Keep it to one page only.

Q: I can juggle chain saws, should I list that?

A: Absolutely.

Q: I can’t swim, but they are looking for swimmers. Should I say I can in hopes of getting the part?

A: No, do not ever lie about abilities or offer anything you cannot do/or back up with action if needed.

Q: What is it like on a movie set?

A: Boring, generally. Bring a book to read, knitting, etc etc.

Q: Can I talk to the director?

A: Never. There is set etiquette to follow.

Q: The lead actor/actress/director is my hero. Can I ask her for an autograph?

A: Never. Talent should not be beleaguered when they are working and trying to learn their lines. Again-if you do not follow set-etiquette, you probably won’t be asked to work again there.