Carrying Background: What You Should Know

AUGUST 31, 2020
Background Actors in a New York City park in front of a camera.
A production filming in New York City

Throughout the entertainment industry, productions are taking measures to ensure the health and safety of everyone on set. As filming begins to return across the country, it’s important for Background Actors to understand the changes to the casting process and the new normal of working on set. One of these changes you may not be familiar with is carrying background.

What does “carrying background” mean?

Carrying background means that a production will hire and pay Background Actors for a consecutive number of days, whether they work all of the days or not. Shows that opt to carry will vary on how the process works, including the length of time background are carried. For example, a show may choose to hire you as a Background Actor for a five-day work week, but of those five days, you may only work Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You are “carried” and paid on Tuesday and Thursday even though you may not have worked or been on set. In another scenario, you may be booked for COVID-19 testing on a Monday to work Thursday. A production may decide to carry you on the Tuesday and Wednesday in between.

There are many reasons a show may decide to carry Background Actors, mainly in an effort to ensure the health and safety of the set. If you are being carried on a show, you are booked on that show for all the days you are being carried, regardless if you are scheduled to be on set or not. It’s up to all of us to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety of our co-workers on set; if you are carried on a show, please do not double book yourself on another project.

It’s important to note that not all productions will choose to carry background and some may only choose to carry a core amount. Your experience will likely differ from set to set.

Carrying background FAQs

Keep in mind that every production may have different or evolving methods around carrying Background Actors, but as filming has begun in some of our offices, we put together a list of common questions from our background.

If I’m carried on a show, do I have to remain available all day?

Yes, if you are carried on a show, there is expectation that, if needed, you are able to rush out to a test, fitting, or to set in a reasonable amount of time.

When will I be notified if I’m working the next day? Will I be notified if I’m not needed?

As with any job you book through Central Casting, you will be notified as information comes in from production, which may not be until the evening before the shoot. Our Casting Directors work diligently to ensure you get your booking details as soon as possible.

What do I do if I’m being carried on a show and need to cancel?

As always, if you’re booked and need to cancel, you must call Central Casting as soon as possible. The Casting Director will inform production and notify you if there are further details. In some cases, a production may decide to carry you for the duration of the original booking even if you had to cancel a day in between.

If I’m carried on a show, but not working every day, can I book other roles?

Remember, if you are carried on a show, you are booked, being paid throughout your carry dates, and expected to rush to set when needed. Please do not book other roles during this time. Carrying background is one of the ways productions are maintaining the health and safety of their sets; please do your part to keep exposure and risk as low as possible.

Will I be playing the same role throughout my time on set?

Depending on the production, you may play a variety of roles in addition to what you were originally booked for. For example, you may have been booked to play a doctor on Monday, carried on Tuesday and then play a pedestrian on Wednesday. Stand-Ins may also be asked to work in picture as various roles as well.

Has it been a while since you’ve been booked by Central Casting? Brush up on your background acting skills by reading our articles How to Prepare Your Makeup for Set and How to Take a Central Casting Selfie.

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By Meghan Dubitsky

Article Category:

Industry Essentials


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