5 Key Background Acting Tips
Once you have registered at Central Casting, you’re eligible to be cast in our movies, TV shows, and other productions. Whether you’ve been on set before or are trying to get booked for the first time, read through these background acting tips to make sure you’re prepared.
1. Know your details
Once you’re booked, everything you need to know can be found through your Details Blog and call time change box. It’s extremely important to read through your details thoroughly so you know where and when to report, what your wardrobe specifications are, and any other project information you need. As you heard in registration, it’s imperative that you show up to set on time and ready to work. You may often be asked to arrive camera ready, which means coming to set in your clean, unwrinkled wardrobe with your hair and make-up done. If you are asked to bring options or a change, please be sure those clothes are unwrinkled and camera ready.
2. Understand production terms
Production sets have their own language and some terms you hear may be familiar and others probably won’t make any sense. To help, we made a list with some of the important production terms Background Actors should know. If you hear a word you don’t know, ask your fellow Background Actors when you’re not filming. Chances are you’re working with someone who’s a veteran on set.
Along that same line, you should know who you’re working with. You may work mostly with the Assistant Director and production assistants, but you should know what other roles are to give you a better understanding about how films and TV shows are made.
3. Always be alert
This background acting tip may seem like a no brainer, but it’s important to pay attention at all times. The Assistant Director will direct you where and when to move in a scene. You should also be aware of the movements of the principal actors and other Background Actors to know how they may affect what you’re doing. If you want to work as a Stand-In, being a professional Background Actor who knows what is going on may catch the attention of an Assistant Director looking to promote someone on set.
Studio lots and locations are busy places where many different productions may be shooting. Make sure you pay attention to your details so you end up at the right check-in and Holding location. You wouldn’t want to end up on the wrong set!
4. Be respectful of production
Getting cast as a Background Actor and being on set is fun and exciting, but remember movie and TV sets are workplaces. You and your fellow Background Actors have been hired to do a job, just like the crew members and principal cast. Please be respectful on set by paying attention to where you’re supposed to be and staying quiet during filming and set-ups. You’ll have plenty of time to talk to your fellow Background Actors in Holding.
5. Know how to fill out your voucher
Background Actors get paid by filling out a voucher, which you’ll be given when you check-in. When you register with Central Casting, we become your employer and, for most projects, are responsible for paying you. There are times when Central Casting casts a show, but the Background Actors get paid by another payroll company. You’ll know you’re being paid by us when your voucher says Central Casting and/or Entertainment Partners.
In order for our paymasters to pay you correctly and on time, you need to fill out your voucher completely. This includes adding your full legal name, Social Security number (at least the last four digits), and your complete mailing address (including the apartment number). We payroll many people with the same name, so it’s important to write your Social Security number on each voucher. Even if your name is unique or if you work a lot on the same show, always add your Social Security number so payroll can make sure your check gets to the right person.
Vouchers often get passed to many people on set, so to ensure your personal information stays secure, you may want to wait to add your Social Security number and address at the end of the day. Just make sure you complete these fields before turning in your voucher. Read through our payroll guide for everything you need to know about filling out your voucher.
These are some background acting tips to get you started on set, but there’s a lot you can learn about being a Background Actor. Find out how to get booked by avoiding these submitting mistakes and the wardrobe basics you need to put together the best looks.