RULES FOR EXTRAS ON SET
1. NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY INTO THE CAMERA LENS!
2.SILENCE! Please keep quiet; it's easier and nicer to work when no one has to scream. If you're asked to talk while doing your action remember you must fake it. We shouldn't hear any sounds unless specified by an A.D. that they do need sound for a shot.
3.When you come in or leave ALWAYS check in/out with the 3rd AD or the person responsible for background performers. It's the only way for them to know where you are and to pay you for your hours.
4. Once on set, always listen carefully to the instructions given to you. There might be a few rehearsals first. Remember your action and position as well as those around you. You'll have to repeat that action many times exactly the same way. Be aware of what's going on around you, especially in relation with the actors and their dialogue.
5. Start your action on "ACTION" or "BACKGROUND ACTION" and stop on "CUT". Then get ready to go back to your "FIRST POSITION" and do the same action once again.
6. When shooting you'll hear "ROLL CAMERA". This cue is for crew only.
7. Sometimes you might be asked to "FREEZE", just stay in place until given further instructions.
8. Always try to act as natural as you can. It must look like real life.
9. If you are given props; take care of them and remember to give them back to the props person before leaving the set.
10. Avoid talking to the director and actors they need their concentration.
11. Be alert and set-wise. There are a lot of people working on set try not to be in their way.
12. At the end of the day, return your wardrobe, props etc... to those who gave them to you, and make sure to sign your time sheet.
13. Have Fun!
HEY, YOU IN THE BACK...QUIT ACTING! By Susan Davy
The definition of the background performer category (IPA) is "any performer other than a principal actor or an actor who is not required to give individual characterization, speak any words or line of dialogue."
So why do some actors avoid it like the plague? After talking to dozens of actors. I found several compelling reasons that were voiced again and again. "It's a step backward for an actor who is auditioning for speaking roles. I have enough trouble getting auditions", "extras are treated like cattle". "I don't want to be categorized as a background performer", and "my agent would drop me from the roster". Whether these are valid is a matter of debate, but it's up to individual actors to decide what they want to do. It's a great way for new actors to gain experience. Background work seems to be the "learning" ground for many actors. As a beginner, it is a paid opportunity to learn about "on camera" work (talking to other performers, watching the production, learning direction and developing patience).
"I have made valuable connections while doing a background job. Each time I work, more money goes into my RRSP's. I am comfortable". How many actors can say that?
Background work is also lucrative for senior actors who find it difficult to land satisfying and adequate employment outside of the business. For many it is an opportunity to continue working in a career that they love. And they can work in couples. And here's another tip: bring a thick book.