Jennifer J. Lacelle
Oct 7, 2022
Tips & Tricks to Being a Background Actor
Working in film is purportedly a glamourous job. I'm here to tell you otherwise - don't let that red carpet fool you. People put their blood, sweat and tears into filming and what you see at the end, all comfy and cozy in your chair, only looks easy.
The average day on a film set is 12 hours - sometimes longer for crew. I have worked 16 hour shifts and it's tough to stay positive when you're that tired.
When it comes to background, there's a great deal of hurry and wait. Sometimes you're used all day and other times you're off to the side. Neither is bad! All of the ADs (Assistant Directors), Director and Producers (along with all the other departments) have a ton of work to do for each scene and set. It's important to remember that they're jobs are the toughest and they have to use a lot of mental and physical power to get the job done!
Of course, continuity is important. It's so important there's a job for it! But as a BG actor, you need to remember what you did and when otherwise you could ruin the shot (oh noooo). Most of the time, one of the ADs will tell you what they want you to do and when. But it helps to remember on your own as well.
Oh, let's not forget silence. Chatting and all that is generally okay in Holding (where they keep you when you're not on set) but sometimes it's still super close and the microphones are super powerful. They can pick up almost any noise. When you're on set, try to keep your ears peeled for what's going on around you. If you're talking, you can't hear and neither can the people working - which is distracting.
All in all, it's a pretty interesting gig but don't expect to walk that red carpet. ;)