What is an Extra?
Background performers are a vital element to any production because they enhance and enrich the scenario being shot. Can you imagine a baseball scene with empty stands, or a crowd scene without a crowd? They are human set decoration and complete the picture, and are to be seen and heard only when necessary.
For some people it’s their career. For others it’s a hobby. But for everyone, it is considered a job for that day and they are a working entertainment professional.
Types of Background Performers for Commercial, New Media, Music Video, Industrials, Print:
GENERAL BACKGROUND EXTRA PERFORMER – They are recorded but they are NOT recognizable. They are not interacting with product or working directly with the On-Camera Principals (OCPs).
STAND-IN – They are used for blocking/lighting purposes only and NOT RECORDED.
FEATURED BACKGROUND EXTRA PERFORMER – Though the term “featured” is used, this is NOT talent who is considered an On-Camera Principal (OCP). A Featured Extra is someone who is still considered a background performer, but is potentially recognizable in the final product. They are recorded but they are NOT speaking, NOT featured in individual shots, and NOT interacting with product being shown (unless specifically stated).
BODY/PHOTO DOUBLE – Someone who is filling in for an OCP and doubling them, usually a body part or an over-the-shoulder type of shot. They are recorded, but not recognizable.
TALENT RATES/PAYMENT typically fall anywhere between $100.00 to $500.00 per day based on the type of performer that is needed and the amount of hours required on set.
Pay BUMPS – Potential additional pay for talent providing something extra such as a car, bike, animal, uniform, or doing a separate wardrobe fitting or makeup effect session.
On Set Protocol:
ARRIVE EARLY: By accepting the booking, you are agreeing that you will show up and be on time. On time means arriving 15 minutes early so you can give yourself enough time to find parking (only in the designated area) and get to the designated check-in area.
CHECK-IN: When you arrive, look for HOLDING which is where you will check in with the A.D. or Extras Coordinator, and spend most of your day. You will fill out a voucher in order to receive payment. Have your license or state ID AND a SSN card or passport handy. Minors need to bring their current work permit and a copy of their birth certificate. Minors are required to have one responsible and reliable parent or guardian present (18 years of age or older) with them on set. No other children are allowed on set.
TRANSPORTATION: We shoot all over the Chicago-land area. (if you have to take a plane to get to Chicago… you should not be submitting.). Transportation IS NOT provided, so do not submit yourself if you do not have your own reliable form of transportation. Make sure to park only where you are instructed. You will not have to pay for parking as long as you are parking in the designated Extras parking. It’s always a good idea to map out the route the night before. It is NOT the responsibility of production to supply you with transportation unless stated or an unusual circumstance occurs.
WARDROBE: You are responsible for providing your own wardrobe, unless otherwise specified. Please make sure your clothes are clean and pressed, and do not have any logos (i.e., Nike, Ralph Lauren, etc.) or Text (words). Make sure you bring a few options (don’t forget different types of shoes, accessories) and that they are appropriate for the season the scene takes place.
CAMERA READY: Please arrive on set camera ready. That basically means your hair and make-up are done. Unless instructed to wear your hair or make-up in a specific way, it’s usually best to keep make-up light and natural.
CARS: Sometimes a scene calls for vehicles. So we may ask to book you with your car. If your car is used in a scene, you will receive an additional pay bump! Make sure to have a full tank of gas. No need to get your car washed unless specifically asked by production.
TIME: Days on set can be long or short, though a typical shoot day lasts 8-12 hours. Make sure you clear your entire day and night. Some days you may only be needed for one scene; regardless of how long you are required to stay, you will be paid for a full day’s work and overtime!
MEALS: It’s always best to eat a full meal before arriving on set. A meal will be provided and is usually served about six hours after the crew call, and a second meal if staying late.
SAFETY: If you injure yourself while on set, please notify the A.D. or Extras Coordinator immediately. Also, inform the Extras Coordinator about any medical issues you have that they should know about prior to filming. Bring any medication you may need for the day/night.
OUT TIME: Never leave unless you are released by the Extras Coordinator. Make sure you return any props or wardrobe given to you by production. After you have officially been wrapped, you will sign out with the Extras Coordinator and hand them your voucher.
PAYMENT: Make sure you have filled out your pay voucher and complete the W-4 and i-9 correctly and sign it. If all information isn’t complete, it might delay your payment. OCC Extras is not the payroll service. So keep a copy of your voucher (take a photo of it, and do whatever you need to do to have a record) so if you have an issue with your paycheck, then you will have the contact information for the payroll company. You will need to call them directly. We, like you, are hired by the company and are paid by the company directly.
Dos & Don’ts:
• DO be professional on set and treat this like a job (even though it’s fun!).
• DO be flexible. Call times, wardrobe, location, etc. can change at the last minute so make sure you check YOUR EMAIL or however we have advised communication will occur before you leave.
• DO bring snacks to keep with you. Any snack food provided on set is for Cast and Crew ONLY.
• DO follow any of the directions that the crew gives you.
• DO stay in designated areas (“Extras Holding”) as a group. Do not wander off. If you need to leave the set to use the restroom you must ask the Extras Coordinator.
• DO remain quiet in or around the set at all times and make sure your cell phone is OFF.
• DO bring a book or something to do quietly, as you will most likely have a lot of down time.
• DO clean up after yourself and dispose of any garbage.
• DON’T speak to the actors, director, or assistant directors, unless they speak to you first. They are extremely busy. You are there to WORK and so are they!
• DON’T take photos or post anything on social media about what you are filming.
• DON’T look into the camera unless told to do so by the director or an assistant director.
• DON’T speak during a scene unless directed to do so by one of the directors.
• DON’T bring anyone to set with you who was not booked as an Extra, or is the one parent/guardian of a minor.
• DON’T BRING VALUABLES TO THE SET. The production company is not responsible for lost or stolen items.
• DON’T bring alcohol or drugs to set or show up under the influence.
• DON’T BRING FIREARMS into the extras holding area or on set.