How to Be an Extra in a Movie

JULY 19, 2018
Learn how to be an extra in a movie
Extras cast by Central Casting Georgia in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Sony Pictures)

Whether you’re looking for a way into the entertainment industry or you just want to see what it’s like on set, being an extra gives you the chance to see how your favorite movies and TV shows get made. Here’s everything you need to know on how to be an extra in a movie with Central Casting.

What is an extra?

An extra (also called Background Actor, background talent, and atmosphere) is someone who performs in a production in a nonspeaking role, usually in the background. Extras help make scenes look and feel more authentic. After all, restaurants, football games, and city streets would just look like movie sets without extras to give them life.

When working on a movie, you have the chance to share screen time with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. While films may tend to need extras for several weeks of their shoot (as opposed to the several months it takes to film entire seasons of TV shows), there are times when you may work multiple days because production is filming a big scene or you may be recalled after shooting has wrapped for pick-ups or reshoots.

Central Casting casts a variety of films, from global blockbusters like Avengers: Infinity War to Academy Award winners like I, Tonya. You can see some of the recent projects we’ve worked on by checking out our credits section.

Is there a difference between a Background Actor and an extra?

From the beginnings of the film industry until the early 1990s, background talent were most often referred to as extras. In 1992, when the primary extras union merged with the Screen Actors Guild, extras began to prefer the term Background Actor. Within the entertainment industry you’re more likely to hear Background Actor, though extras, background, and atmosphere may also be used on set.

How to be an extra in a movie

Central Casting has been the leading Background Actors company since we began casting in 1926. If you’re looking for how to be an extra in a movie, we’re the place to start. For the chance to be cast in our movies and TV shows, all you need to do is register at one of our offices in Los Angeles, New York, Georgia, or Louisiana. Registration is free and easy!

Required Documentation

Everyone who registers with Central Casting must present the required documentation to fill out the I-9 form. We cannot register you without these original unexpired documents, so be sure to read through the Lists of Acceptable Documents before coming to our office.

Here are some helpful resources on required I-9 documentation:


Central Casting also casts minors from 15 days old to 17 years old to work on our productions. In order to register, minors must meet the same I-9 requirements as adults. Our article How to Get Your Child on TV and Movies has all the detailed information you need to register and help your child get cast by Central Casting.

How to find work

Registered and ready to get on set? Great! There are a variety of ways to get work through Central Casting. You can find all the latest roles we’re casting on our Jobs page and may also receive a message or a phone call from our Casting Directors.

You may have started out only looking for how to be an extra in a movie, but we cast all kinds of roles in films, TV shows, and many other types of productions. In addition to working as a Background Actor, you may also be booked as a Stand-In or double or because you have a bookable car.

There’s more to being a Background Actor than just trying to get booked. Read through Assistant Director Luke Maxcy’s background acting advice and Assistant Director Michele Azenzer Bear’s Stand-In tips so you can learn how to be successful on set.

On what type of production do you want to work as a Background Actor?

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By Meghan Dubitsky

Article Category:

Industry Essentials