The Ultimate Guide To Becoming A Film and TV Extra
First things first, generally the term 'extras' isn't used professionally and instead supporting artists or SA's is preferred. It's not something of huge importance but there are the few people who will be (overly) offended at being called an extra, it's probably their way of feeling more important in their part of the process of movies download.
Don't get me wrong, SA's are very important, watching a film with empty streets and customer-less cafés would obviously look a little silly and break the illusion of reality, but as a supporting artist you are basically at the bottom rung of the film production ladder. If you have a problem with authority or taking orders then this definitely is not for you.
A good place to start then, would be to inform you of the pros and cons of SA work, then you can make an educated decision as to whether you think you can tough it out.
You will get treated like a second class citizen, it's just the way it works, there is a hierarchy on set that is almost always put into practice, especially on the bigger budget productions. The film set is a busy and high pressured place, the crew involved have so many important things to worry about it, the added hassle of having to look after 150 extras is seen as just that, a hassle.
You may even get some crew members being a little bit rude to you, so if you are a sensitive soul, again maybe this isn't for you.
However that doesn't mean to say you will necessarily have a horrible time, if you can handle being bossed around a little SA work can be a lot of fun. Last winter I worked as an SA on The Deep Blue Sea, starring Rachel Weisz which was probably the most fun I have had on a set.
Our scene in particular, took place in an old English boozer, where we had to spend the day singing wartime songs such as 'How you gonna keep 'em down on the farm'. Also what made the day so lovely was that director Terence Davies was so nice and friendly.
He got genuinely exited to see this old pub come to life with song, and was very appreciative of our help and made his way around the room to thank us individually and shaking each of our hands. It is not often that directors are so open and encouraging, but usually they are at least always polite.
A lot of the time you may not even see the director at all during filming, on very big budget shoots they are usually sitting by a monitor in some far off corner or in a different room completely. As was the case on the set of Hugo. My first day on set director Martin Scorsese was nowhere to be seen, partly as the scenes I were involved in were filmed in a studio room without the main cast and were using only green screen as a background.
On my second day however the scenes were a little more complex with bigger sets, one of which was a beautiful Victorian fairground, so Mr Scorsese made an appearance and came out to say hello to us all. Obviously he is a very busy man and he didn't greet us all individually (there were 300 SA's on Hugo), but it was a nice little extra to get to meet such an influential director, even if it wasn't personally tv series movies.
Something else you should be aware of is the hours. Most likely on studio films you will need to arrive as early as 6am and if you don't drive this can be tricky. Because the tube doesn't open until 5-5.30am I have had to get the night bus at 3.30am from North London to get the earliest train, as the main studios are quite far from central London.
Usually though there will be a shuttle bus from the train station from Shepperton or whichever studio you are located at, so they will pick you up if the start time is a very early one. Occasionally you will be asked to do a night shoot, these are not as common for SA's but be prepared to work some strange hours. Also days can be long, my longest being sixteen hours, most of which was outside in mid December.
Days can be hard work, long and cold, you might have to stand for long periods of time or sit around all day doing nothing. Which brings me to my next point, there is a lot of waiting around, in fact it's mostly waiting around. It can take hours to set up shots and for actors to go through hair and costume changes, then scenes often have to be blocked out before shooting even begins. The film business is not always as exiting as people think.
However if you're as big a movie geek as I am you probably will get as exited at the little things as I did. The first big film in which I did SA work, was last year on the film My Week With Marilyn, I literally spent the whole day walking up and down Charles Street in central London, mostly in the rain, but I had a brilliant day.
I was so fascinated to see the huge lights and camera cranes, I loved getting to see all the vintage vehicles they brought in, including an old double decker bus. What I was most exited about though was getting to spend most of the day standing next to the lead actor Eddie Redmayne (told you I'm a geek).
Another thing to mention, if you are hoping to make SA work your career, then you might want to think again, very rarely does anyone make a living from it. If you are lucky you might get a couple of jobs a month but you may only get a couple of jobs a year.
It is not a steady source of income (more on money later). Just think of it as a fun hobby where you can make a little extra money. It is extremely rare to get constant work, it happens only occasionally to very lucky people, I once met a woman who had been an SA on Casualty for fifteen years, but this almost never happens.
Also if you are an actor, hoping to get your big break from SA work then again, it almost never happens that way, on very rare occasions, you may get picked for a 'featured extra' role, which means a little more money and it's a little step up from the regular SA. The best thing you can gain as an actor from SA work is just learning how sets work, you can get to experience being a part of big productions and may even get to try out a little bit of acting, although mostly reacting though rather than actual lines.
Moving on, I will now give you some pointers in how to get started in SA work. First of all you will need a head shot. It does not have to be professional, just a very clear photo with your own digital camera will be fine first of all. Use a white wall to stand in front of, make sure you are wearing a plain coloured top and take a picture of your head and shoulders only. You may be asked to give a full length photo too, in that case, stick again with plain clothing.
As a supporting artist, in the majority of cases, your role is to blend in to the background. Casting agents don't want to see someone with crazy hair and lots of make-up, most of the time they want someone who can easily be styled into whichever period the film is based, whether it's a period costume drama with plain make up and bonnets, or an eighties based production with bright make up and crimped hair.
Don't look like a character in your photo as it will limit what you get picked for. However if you are already someone with a different kind of style, i.e tattoos or pink hair then there is no reason why you can't get worked too, it may not be as often, but all different types of extras are needed. If you have naturally something different about you, i.e very tall or very small, agencies will be quite eager to add you to their books so they can have all bases covered, although like with everyone, work is never guaranteed Hollywood Movies.
What I'm basically saying is not to try and be something you're not in photos. Something else to say about photographs is that when you go for a registration day with an agency there will usually be a photographer there to take your picture, this may be free of charge or the price may be taken off your first booking, the agency may even insist that your head shot is one using their photographer, so there is really no point in getting professional pictures taken before joining agencies unless you can get them done for free.
Next is the waiting game. Sometimes you will be needed straight away, other times you may wait most of the day until you are called. When the time comes that you are needed, usually it will be a 3rd AD (3rd Assistant Director) who will be in charge of the SA's. You will have to follow the 3rd AD and listen very carefully to their instructions.
They will tell you where you will be sitting, or if you are in motion, they will tell you your starting point or first position and then which direction you will be walking in. When they are ready to go for a take, the will first say rolling, you do not need to begin your actions on rolling, this is just a cue to let everyone know the camera has started recording.
Next there will be a call for the background action, this is your cue to start, then there will be a simple action for the main cast to begin. If you are walking down a street for example and haven't been given an end point, you must keep on walking until a cut is called, camera lenses are very long so they will be able to see you even if you are very far away from the starting point Bollywood movies.
You will then be called back to your first position where you get to do it all over again, many many times usually.
There will be a lunch break, it may not be a long one. There will be a van serving food, in studios there will be a separate van for SA's and there will then be a specific area for SA's to eat lunch, this will be signed, but you can always ask. After lunch it will be more of the same, waiting around to be called or doing your thing on set.
At the end of the day the director will call 'that's a wrap', which will mean you are done for the day, but it's always best to double check with someone if you think you have finished. When you are back in your starting room you will have to get out of your costume and put all the items of your outfit back in the plastic bags or on the hangers you were given, then either leave it hanging on the rails or give it to someone from the costume department if they are collecting them.
Next you will need to get your hair unstyled, usually the hair team like to do this themselves so they can collect any hair grips, pins, accessories or extensions.
Then last of all you just need to hand in your form to whoever you signed in with or to whoever is in charge of signing out. Don't forget to take one of the copied pages of your form home as a receipt. Then you get to go home!
Now for the bit you have been waiting for, the money. The amount you will get paid for SA work differs from job to job. It can start at around £70 for a television production with ITV, up to around £120 for a studio feature film. These basic payments are for a specific amount of hours, then there are extras which can be added on top of this payment.
You can get extra money for very early starts, you will always get more money for overtime. You will get extra money if the job takes place on a public holiday., if you need to get your hair cut by one of the hair and make-up team, as well as extra money for stand-in or double work, providing your own costume, using your own car, using a skill such as horse riding and for any lines you may be given to say. You will also get around a half days pay for the dress fitting.
Now to whether or not you should ever work for free. It is not something that I ever considered doing, as being an SA can be hard work and long hours for very little respect. But in saying that there are a lot of low budget films who just cannot afford to pay for SA's. If there is a production happening near you and you think SA work would be a fun experience and something different to do with your free time, then why not Nollywood movies.
Directors who get SA's for free will often be a lot more grateful for your help and will try and make it a fun day for you. But if you wish to get into SA work regularly, you do not need to work for free. As an SA you do not need any experience to begin, being chosen all has to do with the way you look and if you will fit in with the production.
Modern American Animation
In the mid 80's, the American animation industry fell into disgrace. Toy commercials masquerading as entertainment programs cartoons dominated the evening and the morning of Saturday, and the only experiment was carried out by independent developers.
Even animated films were projected in theaters at times, but the glory of the old days was gone. Even the animation giant Disney, which had fought a corporate acquisition in the 80's, was considering abandoning the production of animated feature films.
Both the enthusiastic audience, critics, and the animators were taken by surprise when the long-awaited renaissance of animation began in the oldest and most conservative corporation, Disney.
Disney had a drastic change in the 80, its new chief Michael Eisner the company relocated to his feet, returning to its roots and revitalizing their studies. With great fanfare, in 1988 the study worked with Steven Spielberg to produce the animated film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, directed by Robert Zemeckis. The film was a success, and gave to the animation industry awaited push for that time South African movies.
Roger Rabbit not only earned him a pile of money for Disney, but also sparked the popularity of the classic animation that continues to this day. The history of animation suddenly became an object of study (and their fans). Several directors, business legend, such as Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng were suddenly in the spotlight, being acclaimed after decades of being virtually ignored by audiences and industry professionals.
Disney continued the success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? with "The Little Mermaid", the first of a series of animated films that seemed to recapture the magic of the golden age of Walt Disney himself.
The studio invested heavily in new technology of computer animation for such purposes, but could do super-productions like "Beauty and the Beast" and "Aladdin," which attracted audiences that were not seen in decades, and Once provided a visual feast that has not been exceeded since the 40.
The peak of the hit Disney was in 1994 when his film "The Lion King" exceeded all expectations of the study to become one of the most successful of all time.
Even later Disney films as "Pocahontas," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", "Hercules," "Mulan" and "Tarzan" was blockbusters.
Disney has also made inroads into the neglected area of the animated TV series. With the success of shows like "The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh", "The Adventures of the Gummi Bears Disney" and "Duck adventures", the "new" Disney made his mark in TV pictures. Through association and repetition, Disney can provide high quality animation for TV.
A series of large diffusion was conducted in mid-nineties, with some critics designating "Gargoyles" as the Disney animation project for TV's most ambitious and best done artistically.
The soundtracks of each of these animated films were an important part of its success, because Disney was including in each of these projects a loud voice from the world of music, such as Elton John (The Lion King), Luis Miguel (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), Ricky Martin (Hercules), Christina Aguilera (Mulan), Celine Dion (Beauty and the Beast), Ricardo Montaner (Aladin), Jon Secada (Pocahontas), among others.
Spielberg and animation
Spielberg and Bluth
While Disney gave new life to animation, Steven Spielberg was making his own way. Animation amateur life, Spielberg was also interested in making high quality animation, and worked with his rival, Don Bluth animation producer to produce "Fievel and the New World." The box office success of this and Bluth's next film, "In The Land", Hollywood made him realize that Disney did not hold a monopoly on animated features.
The other Hollywood studios resumed production of its own animated features, but still falling into the trap of trying to imitate Disney's 1997 film Don Bluth, "Anastasia", produced by Fox, is mentioned as the one launched the Fox Animation Studios and Disney's rival, however, these studies failed to succeed after "Anastasia" and closed in 1999.
Like most successful productions of Disney, "Anastasia" was attended by Thalia, who played the central theme of the soundtrack in its versions in Spanish, English and Portuguese Korean movies.
The main reason for increasing the quality of American animation is the ability to outsource the heavy lifting to cheaper animation houses in the South and Southeast Asia gaining a large number of frames at low cost. The script, character design and storyboarding is done in American offices. The storyboard, models and color books are mailed abroad. Sometimes causes problems because no final product can be completed until the frames are mailed to the U.S..
Although budgets have been reduced, foreign productions houses are chosen per episode, or even per scene, depending on the amount of money available at that time. As a result there is a big difference in quality from one episode to another. This is particularly evident in shows like "Gargoyles" and "Batman": The Animated Series where, sometimes, the characters seem completely different from one episode to the dismay of its directors.
In the 90's came a new wave of animated series whose primary aim was the adults, after an absence in the genre over a decade. In 1989, "The Simpsons," an animated short based on the "The Tracey Ullman Show," became the first animated series in prime time since "The Flintstones" and captivated a large part of the audience.
It was the first hit series for the fledgling Fox, caused little sensitivity, entering popular culture and gaining wide acceptance. In 2008, "The Simpsons" seem to show no signs of stopping, and could surpass "Gunsmoke" as the fiction program on the air longer the history of American television. In 2007 have released their first film, titled "The Simpsons: The Movie", dubbed in Spanish and Chinese Horror movies.
Ren and Stimpy
In 1991, Nickelodeon premiered "The Ren and Stimpy Show," "Ren and Stimpy" was a quirky series run riot violated all the traditional restrictions of correct drawings of Saturday morning and instead favored the quirky style of the short the golden era. Moreover, the series creator, John Kricfalusi, who had worked as an animator during the downturn of Saturday morning, was much influenced by the classic works of Bob Clampett.
Spike & Mike
Alongside mainstream animation nineties there was a strange and experimental movement. In a short animation festival in 1989, organized by Craig Decker and Mike Gribble Spike (known as "Spike & Mike") and originally located in San Diego. It all started with the representation of a collection of thematic short, known as the Classic Festival of Animation, in places of business meetings and trade throughout the country.
The collections were made mostly by Oscar-nominated short, works of students of the Institute of the Arts in California and experimental work of the National Film Board of Canada. The first festival included works by John Lasseter, Nick Park and Mike Judge. Judge's work, "Frog Baseball" marked the first appearance of their franchise characters Beavis and Butthead.
However, the festival gradually became a film program called Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation and turned into an underground movement of adult humor and subject matter.
In 1994, Cartoon Network gave consent to a new series called "Space Ghost" coast to coast with a particular postmodern turn, showed live interviews with celebrities, mixed with cartoon animations original "Space Ghost." The series made the leap with the production of Hanna-Barbera, now owned by Cartoon Network.
It was the beginning of a common practice used old Hanna-Barbera characters for new productions, as the surreal "Underwater Laboratory 2021", based on the cartoon short early 70's "Sealab 2020." Also, Harvey Birdman, attorney, on a mediocre superhero, Birdman which was originally the star of Birdman and Galaxy trio had become a lawyer. Its customers, like many of the characters in the series, came completely from old Hanna-Barbera characters.
In addition to large animation files old and cheap, independent animators also began to benefit from new digital technologies. An artist with sufficient technical skills could explore new styles and forms with much more freedom. The traditional animation skills of drawing and painting had given way to digital manipulation and aggressive use new techniques of animation.
Along with these new programs, the American audience, particularly in geographic areas influenced by fusion with the cultures of the Pacific coast, began to adopt Japanese cartoon, or anime, 80. This growing market for anime videos satisfy the public child and adolescent, with a large number of Japanese series translated into English.
Initially access was limited to videos, but the anime as it became a mainstream found its way into the film department stores throughout the U.S.. As the animation occupies a different place in Japanese culture, including a range of issues not addressed by the American animation.
"Adult Swim" is a block of animation for adults that is issued at the start of primetime on Cartoon Network, leads the adult industry and has the latest technology in animation. Adult Swim, which originally aired on Sunday night in 2006 was in the air until 5:00 AM, and was broadcast every night except Friday.
The series, which is produced exclusively for Adult Swim, as "The Brak Show," "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" and "Tom Goes to the Mayor", tend to be surreal and bizarre, but also considered fresh and original. Adult Swim reissued series "Futurama" and played an important role to avoid the cancellation of "Family Guy". In addition, it also issues numerous popular Anime series such as "FLCL", "Lupin III" and "Inuyasha."
Other drawings for adults
Other TV stations also experimented with animation for adults. MTV has produced several animated series especially for young and adult audiences, "Liquid Television" and "Beavis and Butthead". Even USA Network program found a cult following with his "Duckman show". But the adult animated series of the 90 most successful was "South Park" which premiered in 1996 as a cartoon pirate on the Internet.
The more fast-paced animation and disturbingly clandestine saw the light, the more dominant force in television animation was, led to an increasingly frenetic territory and perhaps eschatological, for example in "The Tick and Duckman."
In 2005, adult animation pioneer Ralph Bakshi said he would work on another film, "The Last Days of Coney Island" which he would finance and produce independently on latest action movies.
The decline of the Saturday Morning
After spending nearly a coma for over two decades, the American animation industry experienced a sudden growth in the 90. Several new studies appeared keen to take risks, and found a large number of markets to sell their talent. Along with the animated TV series, the animation used in television commercials, video games and music videos. The small animation studios challenged "Hanna-Barbera Productions" in the market for TV animation.