A movie, or background extra is a non-speaking role in a movie, TV show or commercial, and depending on the size of the production there may be hundreds of them. In each production extras will be employed to create realism by filling the backgrounds of the scenes, whether it is crowds at a concert, soldiers in a war movie or guests in a restaurant. While most extras will be purely in the background, featured extras will also be used, such as a taxi driver dropping off a character, or a nurse administering care in a hospital. An extra’s level of experience as well as physical appearance is not as important for this work as the productions are looking to create a balanced look within a scene.


As an extra you will be playing a person going about their life in the world of the production. Most extras are not professional actors but normal people with an interest in the industry. After you are notified of gaining an extra’s role you will receive information about your call time, like a roster for work, and other information relating to the role. On the day of the shoot, ensure that you are there AT LEAST 30 minutes early, no exceptions. Once there extras will normally sign in then go through the wardrobe department, to get your costume, and then onto hair and makeup. As a general rule you will be there for the whole day’s shooting, normally a minimum call time will be 4 hours but can be in excess of 12 hours for a larger production. When a production has more complex makeup or costuming requirements it is possible that you may also have to attend at some point in advance for a fitting. While on set it is imperative to follow all of the instructions that are given to you by the crew but in the time between takes it’s a great opportunity to have a chat with the other extras on set and make some new friends.

So what does a ‘normal’ day on set look like and what should I expect?

This is just a general guide and will vary depending on the production, always refer to the information that you’ve been sent.


  • ARRIVE EARLY ALWAYS, at least half an hour, preferably closer to an hour for large productions, this allows extra time for traffic delays and any other delays with getting signed in. Once you’ve parked, head over to Base Camp, the fancy name for the general area that you may end up in, at the very least you will be there at the start and end of the day, and sign in. From there you’ll probably have some paperwork to do to start with, followed by a group briefing.
  • While with the wardrobe department they will normally offer one or two outfits for you to try, as a general rule the change rooms will be closed tents for each male and female. Treat the costumes carefully and with respect, head back over to the Wardrobe team so that they can check the look.
  • After that wait for hair and makeup, enjoy the pampering, and guys you may have to have basic makeup on too so you look better on camera.
  • Once you’ve signed in, been through Wardrobe, Hair & Makeup, wait around for further instructions from the crew for what to do next.


  • The key here is patience! Quite often you will be waiting while sets are reset or changes are made, most productions will allow you to bring a book but it’s a great chance to meet new people and get further insight into the industry.
  • Remember you are there to work, so while it may be awesome to see some of your favourite stars, they are working and so are you so please leave them be, on some productions if you approach the stars without direct request from the crew you will be asked to leave.
  • While filming you will have to repeat scenes, so that the director can get the footage that they need, try to be mindful of the actions that you were doing for each take so that you can maintain the continuity for the scene.
  • At some point, for a longer shoot (over 4 hours), it is likely that you may be offered some food. Be respectful, and follow the instructions. Normally the crew and main cast will be fed first, remember that catering has only allocated a certain amount for each person, don’t be greedy, and dispose of your rubbish carefully.
  • At some point the director will wrap shooting for the day, at this point it’s back to Base Camp.


  • Follow the instructions, chances are everyone’s tired and wants to go home.
  • Once you’re back at Base Camp you’ll change back into your own clothes.
  • Return all props, costumes and hair pieces to where you are directed.
  • Make sure you’ve left everything tidy, and have only your own belongings with you.
  • Sign out, and travel safe ready for the next job.


  • If it says a 4 hour call for a larger shoot, quite often this can go overtime, be prepared for a longer stay especially if you have children to take care of.
  • Don’t approach the stars unless you are directed to!
  • Don’t leave the set without permission! You may be refused entry back in, and could get banned from site.
  • Remember your NDAs (Non-Disclosure Allowance), DO NOT publish anything to Social Media EVER!!!
  • Have fun and be patient.




  • Sony
  • Marvel Studios
  • Universal Pictures
  • Paramount Pictures
  • MGM
  • Dreamworks 
  • 20th Century Fox
  • Warner Brothers
  • NBC
  • Touchstone Films
  • Showtime
  • CBS
  • Disney
  • Netflix
  • Stan
  • Foxtel
  • Showtime
  • SBS
  • Channel 9 AU
  • Channel 7 AU
  • Channel 10 AU
  • Channel 11 AU