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Ways to Make Extra Money: Background Acting

Background Actors finding ways to make extra money on set

When you’re looking for ways to make extra money, it can be hard to know where to start. Whether you need a side hustle to supplement your income, are between jobs, or just want some extra cash, consider being paid to work as a Background Actor on movies, TV shows, and other productions.

What’s a Background Actor?

Even if you’re not sure what a Background Actor is, you’ve definitely seen them on screen before. Background Actors are the nonspeaking roles you see in scenes that help make movies and TV shows feel authentic. Without them, principal actors would be walking around empty sets only interacting with each other. While the term “Background Actor” is used most often in the entertainment industry, you may also know them as extras, atmosphere, or background talent.

Background acting is a great way to make extra money for a lot of reasons, like being able to choose your own schedule and getting the chance to work on the sets of your favorite movies and TV shows. Plus, when you register with Central Casting, there are no fees and no experience required.

Once you’re registered, you determine your own availability, so if you have another job or can’t work every day, you can choose not to pursue jobs on those dates. That said, once you accept a job offer and are given details, you are expected to show up to set on time and ready to work.

Other ways to make extra money on set


Stand-Ins take the place of principal actors for rehearsals, lighting, and camera setups. Depending on the type of production, like if it’s single camera or multi-cam, the duties and casting requirements for the role can differ. Single Camera Stand-Ins usually have to match the principal actor in build, height, hair color, and complexion, while Multi-Cam Stand-Ins are often hired for their experience and professionalism over how closely they resemble an actor.


Like with Stand-Ins, there are a variety of doubles used on set, with photo, body, hand, and minor doubles being the most common. In many cases, a double needs to match an actor as closely as possible, like they could be their twin. These photo doubles are usually used for scenes where an actor’s face is not clearly visible or for when an actor plays multiple characters in the same scene. Then there are doubles that are used for insert shots. If the principal actor cannot perform a certain skill, like playing the piano, production will often use a hand double in their place.

If you haven’t been on set before, it can be easy to confuse the two roles. You can find out more in our article What’s the Difference Between a Stand-In and Photo Double?

Why register with Central Casting

Central Casting is the leading background casting company in North America and has been providing Background Actors, Stand-Ins, doubles, and other roles for the entertainment industry since 1925. If you’re looking for ways to make extra money, Central Casting is a great place to start.

Follow these easy steps to register with one of our offices in Los Angeles, New York, Georgia, or Louisiana:

  1. Create a profile to use during the online registration process.
  2. After you’ve made a profile, you will be taken to the online portion of registration. Please fill out all of the necessary information. If you need stop and complete the online portion later, you can do so by logging in.
  3. Make a reservation to visit your local office with your required I-9 documentation to fill out paperwork, listen to an orientation, and take a photo for our casting system.

Once you’ve come into our office to complete registration and we’ve verified your eligibility, you’re ready to get on set. Find out how to get work through Central Casting by checking out our submission guide How to Become a Background Actor – Submitting.

Categories: Industry Essentials

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