How to Prepare for Your First Day on Set

JANUARY 29, 2024
Being a Background Actor for the first time means choosing your own wardrobe.

Were you recently booked as a Background Actor for the first time by Central Casting? Or maybe coming back to background work after some time off? If you’re wondering what to do after you’ve been booked, here’s everything you need to know to prep for your first day on set.

Be clear on your details

All the information you need for your workday will be included in your booking details, which you will receive as a details message from our casting platform. In some cases, your details message will include a Details Blog link or other resource with information related to your booking. It’s important to read all this information fully and carefully so you show up on time as expected.

Keep in mind, Casting Directors receive booking information from multiple departments within production and it’s likely you will not receive your details message until later in the evening before your work date. Don’t forget to respond to this message so we know you have received your details.

Know when and where you’re going

One of the best things you can do to show you’re a professional is to arrive to set on time. Due to production schedules, call times can, and often do, change. Call time changes can be sent as a message from our casting platform or your details may include instructions for how to obtain your call time changes.

Productions film at a variety of studio lots and locations, so make sure you’re clear on where you’re working. Many studios provide maps online that can help you find the gate, parking structure, and check-in location you’re supposed to report to. Having this information before you leave can help ensure you’re not delayed getting to set.

Create your look

A big part of working as a Background Actor is putting together camera ready looks for set. If you’re booked for the first time, this can seem a little daunting, but it’s also a really fun part of being a Background Actor. Your details will include any wardrobe, hair, and makeup information from production. Sometimes these notes will be general or will be very detailed for you to emulate a specific look.

If you need some inspiration, our wardrobe and hair & makeup article categories are full of guides to help you get started on the perfect looks for set.

Come prepared

Movie and TV sets can seem like a whole other world and knowing what to expect can help your first day go smoothly. While filming, Background Actors are given direction by Second Assistant Directors (2nd AD), Second Second Assistant Directors (2nd 2nd AD), or production assistants. They will instruct you where and when to move throughout a scene; pay attention to all instructions given so you can recreate your movements across multiple takes. While there are a lot of entertainment industry-related terms used on set, getting to know common production terms like cross, back to one, and second team will help you feel like a pro.

When you’re not filming, you’ll be taken to Holding. You can bring snacks and entertainment with you to Holding, just make sure you’re respectful of those around you and you have headphones so as not to disturb production or your fellow Background Actors.


If your minor is booked on a production, they must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who is not also working on the production. The guardian will accompany the minor everywhere they go, from wardrobe, to school, to Holding. Even during filming, the guardian will be on set, somewhere behind the scenes, but always within eyesight of the child. You can learn more about accompanying a minor to set and how to help them be successful in our article What to Do When Your Minor Books a Job.

Now that you know how to prepare for your first day on set, learn more about becoming a professional Background Actor in our guides 5 Key Background Acting Tips and Do’s and Don’ts for Optimizing Your Online Profile.

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By Meghan Dubitsky

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