5 Key Background Acting Tips

AUGUST 9, 2021
These background acting tips can get you on set
The Good Place (NBC)

Getting booked by Central Casting is exciting, but it can also be a little daunting if you’ve never worked as a Background Actor before. We’re here to help with some need-to-know background acting tips so you can have a successful day on set.

1. Know your details

Everything you need to know about your booking can be found in your details, which the Casting Director may send as a Details Blog, details message from our online self-service platform, or another type of communication. Read through your details fully and thoroughly so you’re clear on your wardrobe, hair, make-up, call time, and other booking information.

2. Be on time

One of the best ways to show you’re a professional is to show up on time. You are an important part of the production; being late can cause delays for everyone on set. Call time changes will be sent to your email via our online platform and can also be viewed in the inbox of your online profile. We recommend checking for call time changes before you go to sleep, when you wake up in the morning, and before you leave for set. If you are going to be late, even if it’s just a few minutes, call your Central Casting office immediately so we can inform production.

3. Understand production terms

TV and film sets have their own language, which can be confusing if you’re unfamiliar with industry terminology. To help, we made a list with some of the important production terms Background Actors should know. If you’re unfamiliar with a word, ask your fellow Background Actors when you’re not filming. Chances are you’re working with someone who can explain it to you.

Along that same line, you should know who you’re working with. While filming, Background Actors mainly interact with Assistant Directors (1st AD and 2nd AD), but throughout your time on set can work with crew from the hair, makeup, wardrobe, and other departments.

4. Follow directions

Following directions is a big part of being a Background Actor. Pay attention to all instructions given by the Assistant Director so you can perform in the scene and so you’re able to recreate your movements every take. 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.

5. Be respectful

Being a Background Actor on movies and TV shows is fun, but it’s also a work environment. Everyone on set is working hard to help create the best art they can. This is especially important as health and safety protocols continue to evolve. Please be respectful and follow instructions to do your part to ensure the safety of the set. Being present, alert, and patient shows everyone you’re a professional who is serious about their work.

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 stand out to Casting Directors and the wardrobe basics you need to put together the best looks.

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By Meghan Dubitsky

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