Movies and TV shows are always looking for “regular people” to fill in background shots, making the scene feel more real. The first time I was a movie extra was in 1999-ish for a movie called, ‘A Leonard Cohen’s Afterworld.’ It was shot at the Seattle Center, and the movie somehow revolved around Kurt Cobain’s death. I was in a few different scenes…one around the amusement park, and one by the fountain. My claim to fame was that Jared Leto knocked me upside the head as he was making his way through the crowd on the Seattle Center lawn.
Being a movie extra is pretty easy work to get. First, though, you have to live in an area that actually has filming going on. Every state has a film board that all filming projects go through. Simply contact your film board to find your local projects and the casting directors for those projects. Then contact the casting agencies and sign up as an extra. They’ll contact you when they’re in need of people.
Sometimes there will be a call for extras on Craigslist or your local film and acting websites. You don’t need to have any experience, you don’t need to have a head-shot, you don’t need to have an agent, and you don’t really need to worry about what you look like or sound like. You are hired to be background, that’s it.
Be prepared, it is a REALLY long day. You generally have to show up really early in the morning for makeup and hair, and you wait. Actually, it’s a lot of “hurry up and wait.” There’s always food, though, which is nice, and you get to meet a lot of cool people.
As far as I know, A Leonard Cohen’s Afterworld was never finished, so I’ll never know if I actually made it into the film, or was left on the cutting room floor. But, I got paid anyway, so it all worked out fine for me!