How to Become a Background Actor – Casting Photo
Our How to Become a Background Actor series takes an in-depth look at everything you need to know to become a Background Actor with Central Casting. This article explains why your casting photo is important. For information on registering, updating, submitting, and more, check out our How to Become a Background Actor category.
What is a casting photo?
When you attend registration at one of our Central Casting offices, you’ll fill out paperwork and listen to an orientation. The registration team will also take two photos of you, a headshot and a full body shot. The headshot is the main picture Casting Directors see when they look up your file. Your casting photo should reflect what you look like on a day-to-day basis, but keep in mind that Casting Directors, Assistant Directors, and other members of production will see these photos during the casting process.
It’s important for your casting photo to always reflect what you currently look like so Casting Directors can be confident you can portray the roles they are casting. We recommend updating your photo every six months or any time your look changes. Check your location’s calendar to find when Updates are held in your office.
While the casting photo you take during registration or Updates is your main photo in the casting system, you can add additional pictures to your file. To add photos to your file you can either come in during Updates or submit a physical photo in person. Check the Updates section for submission requirements in your location.
Photos of you in different wardrobe
As a Background Actor, you’re often responsible for bringing your own wardrobe to set. Sometimes your outfit will consist of casual modern pieces and sometimes production will call for a special look. This type of wardrobe can range from common costumes like clowns or Santa Claus, or may refer to a business or formal look.
If you want to take additional photos during Updates there are two main things to remember: only take pictures in wardrobe that you own and only add distinct looks. It’s important to own the wardrobe you take photos with so when Casting Directors book you, they know you can show up to set with those clothes.
“Distinct looks and unique looks are really what we need,” said Casting Director Josh E. “A casual look and a business look are usually the two go-tos because that gives us the best of both worlds. If you have a specialized look like scrubs, a karate uniform, or a formal gown those kinds of photos are good too. Just make sure all the looks in your file are distinct.”
Casting Directors recommend having one photo per look. For example, if you have a homeless look, a business look, and a police uniform, you can take a photo with each, but you do not need to take multiple photos in different business wardrobe.
Photos of your car or pets
Central Casting often casts Background Actors with their cars. No matter what condition, make, model, or year your car is, it may be exactly what a Casting Director needs. If you own a car, have it insured, and are willing to work with it on set, add a photo of it to your file. Keep in mind you may be asked to drive in a scene, so if you’re willing to work with your car, you should be confident in your driving ability.
You can also add photos of pets you’re willing to work with. While we can’t take a casting photo of your pet in our office, you can submit the picture you want to add.
As a part of the submission instructions on job posts, Casting Directors may ask you to submit a photo via email. This may be because they want to see what you look like right now or if they need to see you in specific wardrobe. Like your casting photo, these pictures may be shown to Assistant Directors and other members of production.
“Have a gallery of commonly asked for looks on your phone ready for when it’s time to submit,” said Casting Director Claire B. “If you have a fancy dress, put a fancy dress on, do your hair and makeup and snap a picture. It doesn’t have to be professional at all.”
These photos will not be added to your file; they are only used for reference while Casting Directors are casting a specific scene. Only submit photos to Casting Directors when instructed to on a job post.
Want to know more about your casting photo? Be sure to read our article 7 Times You Should Update Your File. Stay tuned for our next installment of the How to Become a Background Actor series.