There’s so much to learn on set, from how every shot is set up to how the crew works together to bring the director’s vision to life. Being a Background Actor gives you the opportunity to learn from the people who make your favorite movies and TV shows. Keep these tips in mind to make the most of your time on set.
You heard it when you registered and you hear it from Casting Directors, but it really can’t be said enough: it’s imperative that you show up to set on time. Call times can, and often do, change throughout the night, so it’s important to check for changes before you go to bed, when you wake up in the morning, and before you leave for set. When you receive your details, your Casting Director will tell you how to get your call time changes.
Remember, on time means checked in and ready to work. When leaving for set, remember to factor in traffic, parking, or other delays that could make you late for your call time.
When you’re booked, you’re hired to do a job, so it’s important to pay attention to the Assistant Directors so you know what’s expected of you in the scene. You may be instructed to follow a specific path or cross in front of the camera. There are a lot of moving parts to a scene; you wouldn’t want to be the one who messes up a take because you weren’t paying attention to instructions.
Depending on the scene and the Assistant Director, you may be asked to recreate the exact same movements and timing for every take so the editors can match the different shots in post-production. In these cases, it’s especially important that you not only pay attention to the directions you’re given, but of your own action in a scene.
That said, there can be downtime for Background Actors between takes. This is a great time for you to learn how a set runs by watching how the crew, actors, and other members of the set operate. Just remember, while you may not be busy, the crew is always working to get the next shot ready. Be courteous by staying quiet and saving any questions until an appropriate time.
If you are part of a recurring group of background on a show or are a regular Stand-In, getting to know the names of the production crew members you work with every day will not only make your time on set run smoothly, but can help you make networking connections. You never know, the production assistant who’s checking you in may soon be an Assistant Director.
You should also take the time to get to know your fellow Background Actors. If you’re new, they are your greatest resource to learn more about Background Acting and the industry.
It doesn’t happen every day, but there are times when Background Actors are given a line or chosen to become Stand-Ins on set. Being engaged and present not only lets the Assistant Directors know you’re professional, but shows them that you can follow directions. Even the smallest task can make an impression and can give you experience for future bookings. Just remember, getting bumped on set is up to the needs of the production and Assistant Director. They will let you know if they’re looking to fill another role.
Now that you’re ready to make the most of your time on set, it’s time you get booked. Check out our Jobs page for all the latest jobs we’re casting and brush up on what to do when you get a text from Central Casting.
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