Film Extras: What Movies Would Be Like Without Them?

When watching a film, we rarely get to notice the supporting artists or what we many call as “extras.” They are the background players in a TV show or a movie – usually with no spoken lines. Film extras can be seen standing, walking or sitting. Some may have short lines but really not important in the storyline.

They may seem of no use in the plot but imagine a movie without extras. Wouldn’t it look a bit sparse?

While they rarely get noticed in a movie, filmmakers and the whole film need these support cast to make the story appear real. After all, movies are supposed to be as realistic as possible. They set the ambience or atmosphere in a scene. Although these extras play very negligible roles, don’t even try to underestimate them. They are as professional as any A-list Hollywood actors. Any error or cause of trouble can get them booted out of the film set – or worse, being blacklisted forever. And for that reason, they have to toe the line and see to it that they do as instructed.

Once the camera starts rolling extras cannot talk with each other nor say a word, unless told to do so. They just get to follow the assistant director’s instructions. You may be asked to walk several steps or simply sit and watch or whatever act. Support actors usually have an earlier call time compared to the big time actors but they are also among the last to leave. That means, they have to vigil through the last take just in case the director wants several extras.

A lot of outsiders think that bit actors are very privileged because they can get close to famous stars. It’s true, but their contact is really just up to that. Extras sign a contract that specifically states that they cannot talk to any of the actors. There’s simply no interaction between extras and the actors.

Although support actors do get paid for their minor role, it’s not really a lucrative source of income. If you are looking for a second income source, this could be a nice gig but not really one that can give you a good life.

However, there are also perks of being an extra. Of course, you get to work and really close to Hollywood stars and production teams. Then there’s the great catering on set. Not only is the food sufficient, they are also delicious and carefully prepared and presented. You can see the caterers bringing with them a variety of kitchen equipment such as those reviewed at Sink HQ. Aside from food, there are also some acting contracts were extras can get added benefit such as free shave or haircut – just so you complement the scene.

Some support actors also get to do and earn from other odd jobs on the set like helping prepare the set and costumes, upkeep of tents, or even clean the pantry. Of course, these are easy jobs as you also get equipment. For instance, stick vacuums like the ones you’ll see here at, are readily available for cleaning the pantry.

Film-goers hardly ever give supporting actors the appreciation they deserve. Perhaps, it’s time we give them credits. I guess any movie would be dull without them!