A Starter Guide to Background Work
We know that registration and orientation can be a whirlwind, after all there’s a lot to know about background work. We’ve got you covered with all the information you need to book a job and be successful at Central Casting.
Interested in registering your child with Central Casting? Background work for minors has different requirements than for adults; learn how to get your child on TV and movies.
How to find background work
You registered and got your photo taken for our casting system, now what? The good news is, you’re able to be cast in our productions the moment you finish registering and we’ve verified your legal eligibility.
Our Casting Directors have many tools available to cast their shows. You can find all the jobs we’re currently casting on our Jobs page. In these posts, Casting Directors will add information on the role they’re booking and leave submission instructions. We know you’re excited to start working, but please take the time to read the entire post before submitting. The Casting Directors are booking specific roles and it doesn’t help either of you if you submit for a role you don’t fit.
When you register, you should like our main Central Casting and your location’s job posts Facebook pages so you can receive notifications and stay up-to-date. All the posts that go to Facebook show up in an easier to read format on the job posts sections of our website.
Another way you can get background work is through text message. Casting Directors will send text messages out to Background Actors, often checking your availability for a future date. You may receive follow up questions and, in some cases, details through text message. Our article What to Do When You Get a Text from Central Casting walks you through some of the common questions we get about the texting system.
Los Angeles After Hours Availability List
If you’ve tried every other method to get work, but are still not booked by 7pm, you can add your name to the After Hours Availability List. Casting Directors use the After Hours Availability List when roles open up overnight, for replacements, and for rush calls.
You can access the After Hours Availability List submission form on our website in the How to Get Work section of the Talent page or by clicking the “after hours avail list” button on the Jobs page. This tool is only available in our Los Angeles office. If you work in New York, Georgia, or Louisiana, Casting Directors will reach out to you directly or post openings on our Jobs page.
If you submit your availability on Monday night, you will be added to the list for Tuesday. If you submit your availability on Friday night, your name will be added to the list for Monday, with the option of indicating your availability for Saturday and Sunday. Remember, by submitting your name to the After Hours Availability List, it means you are available without restrictions for the entire day the following day. Without restrictions means that there are no possible conflicts that would prevent you from working that day.
What to do once you’ve been cast
When you get booked, the Casting Director will tell you how to get your details. This will likely be in the form of a Details Blog accessed via our Details page. Be sure to write down the Details Blog show name and 4-digit passcode you are given. The How to Get Work section of the Talent page has important phone numbers and instructions on how to get details in your location.
The Casting Director will also tell you how to get any call time changes. You should check for call time changes before you go to bed, when you wake up, and before you leave for set. Keep in mind that your call time refers to the time you need to be checked in and ready for work, so factor in traffic, parking time, and any other delays that could make you late to set.
Know the lingo
There are a lot of terms used during casting and on set that you may not be familiar with. Here are some important ones, but you should check our guide for more terms Background Actors should know.
When you’re not filming, you’ll be taken to a holding area. You can bring items to Holding, like a book, to keep you busy when you’re not on set.
Back to One
When the director (or Assistant Director) says "back to one," you need to move back to your original position. Always pay attention to your movement in a scene so you can recreate it every take.
A cross is the movement of a Background Actor as they pass through the view of the camera. If an Assistant Director instructs you to do a cross, your path may take you directly in front of the camera.
How to be successful
Like with any job, your success as a Background Actor is tied to how much effort you put into it. There are steps you can take to ensure you’re prepared and to let Casting Directors know you’re available for background work.
Update your file and photo
Casting Directors use your casting photo and any additional photos they ask you to submit to determine if you’re right for a role. We recommend updating your casting photo every six months or right away if your look changes, like when you cut or dye your hair.
You should update your file right away if your contact information changes, if your sizes change, if your union status changes, or if you want to add or remove a car you have on file.
Take a Central Casting University class
You may be wondering, what is there to know about background work? A lot, actually. Our Central Casting University classes offer you the chance to learn from the industry’s leading experts in directing Background Actors and Stand-Ins. These are the people who will be directing you on set and have valuable insight into how you can be successful as a Background Actor.
Check your location’s calendar for the next Central Casting University class in your office.
Attend a Visiting session
During Visiting sessions, you can meet and ask questions to a panel of Casting Directors. This is a great time for you to get to know Casting Directors, for them to get to know you, and for you to ask questions about the casting process and being on set.
Keep an eye on your location’s calendar for upcoming Visiting sessions in your office.
Bookmark the Talent page
Your location’s Talent page is your go-to resource to find all the information you need to book jobs, contact Central Casting, and keep track of important dates. Be sure to look through the FAQ section for more information on being booked, getting on set, getting paid by Central Casting, and how to update your file.