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At this point you're probably trying to ask yourself, okay what is an extra? It's important to know what extras are in Houston when you get work as an extra on the side from whatever else you are doing at the time. You're simply supposed to be there to help make the scene being filmed at the time appear more natural and populated. You will see the need for extras quite often with various short films, independent films and some major feature films even.
When you're working as an extra you will not typically have any lines to recite or read and there are also extras that work as what they call “featured extras” in the entertainment industry. Featured extras tend to get more screen time and they also work in close proximity to the lead actors and they're also typically paid more as well. They may even have spoken lines if they are bumped by a “day player” and typically have a higher pay grade working as a featured extra. The actor may actually be eligible to join the acting Association SAG (Screen Actors Guild) if the film is in fact a SAG production at that time. Sometimes you will work on the sets of non SAG productions too. Just depends on the demand for extras.
When working as an extra you need to know and understand that there is a call time in which the extra must be ready to go on set when they are assigned to by the director or the assistant director in Houston and from time to time wardrobe fittings and wardrobe will be provided for the extra but typically they all wear their own clothing or outfit with maybe just a little bit of instruction from the director or assistant director. If the film is supposed to be set during a specific time period, wardrobe is automatically provided and you'll be fitted by the Wardrobe Department for the production in Houston.
When working as an extra in Houston it's usually generally advised that you avoid wearing white, red or anything that has a major brand logo on it. It's also good to know and understand that sometimes there will be a chance that the extra work that you do will not make it to the final cut of the production, oftentimes due to creative reasons.
Searching for Extra Work in Houston
Location can be everything, showing up around a shoot in Houston as a spectator may line you up to maybe even express your interest to someone actually working on the project about being an extra in the film or whatever movie is being filmed at that location. Though it can be a rare occurrence, from time to time the crew that is on set may actually invite the people that are spectating at the shoot to come on to the set as extras. Usually when an instance like this happens it is because other people have failed to show up as the original extra or if the director happens to see someone near the shoot that matches a look he has in mind.
Typically the companies that are working with Extras in the Houston area will keep record of the Extras that work with them by filing a photo of them away with their registration information. The photo they use is a headshot, this type of photo is normally an 8”x10” headshot with a resume attached and trimmed to fit the same size as the headshot, this will be taped on the back. However, do keep in mind that resumes are not all that necessary when working as an extra though they can help obtain work and should have a list of your physical attributes listed on there as well with any relevant experience you have had as an extra.
A good resume for an extra will not only have the previous experience that they have had as an extra listed but will also include a good list of physical attributes like height, weight, hair and eye color. The extra should also make sure to include their measurements for dress, shirt and pant size along with all the important contact information that they have. It doesn’t hurt to also include a small list of special skills, hobbies and sports that you do. Make sure you keep your resume updated, this can not be stressed enough. You could be looked over for a good job if the casting director is calling the wrong phone number for you.
Even Extras working in Houston should be well aware that there are many different scams out there in the entertainment industry, so they can avoid falling victim to one of these scams and worse off in their career for it as well. Sometimes one kind of scam you will see is the extra or actor being asked to pay fees or help fund the production. Anything that will be worth your time and effort will not ask for some kind of monetary donation before you can work for them or use their services to have headshots and resumes printed.
What to Expect As an Extra in Houston
When on set as an extra it is good to know what to expect as you are waiting for your moment of glory so to speak. On a normal day the extra will be back behind the scenes for some good time until the extra gets the cue to walk across a scene, always done in the same way and manner with the same timing; meanwhile this is done while the larger scene is actually shot several times. You may cross that set a good 50 times before the scene is finalized.
Extra work can be easy to come by and often you will get called up much more often if you have skills in juggling, martial arts, dancing etc. These special skills will make you stand out and sometimes the make or model of your car may get you called upon to work on a project. Sometimes your look can help too, as the director may feel like you create a certain atmosphere when placed on the set as a bystander. Even if you look cool, you should still be aware and plan for extra work ahead of time because you may find that the time needed for a project can be quite lengthy with you being on set in Houston for up to 18 hours and most of the time you may be standing around just waiting on that moment of on-screen time.
Since you are hanging around the set all of that time with directors, crew members and even other actors it is very important to remember your manners. Be polite and cordial at all times; with also being sure to also remember directors names and personal information that you are presented with. This can help expand your own network and it is always a plus to leave a good impression, which may lead to having even more work in Houston.
Houston Extra Pay
Pay can in fact be quite good for an extra working in Houston however on the other hand the frequency of extra jobs can leave much to be desired and serve as a bit of a challenge. You should also keep in mind that if you have union affiliation that can be a factor in your pay as well. The consistency of work in your area really depends on location and how often films are being shot near you. When you live in a place like Houston, your chances for getting extra work actually goes up quite a bit. The more experience you have the more often you will find yourself on set.
To Be Union or Not in Houston
Granted to be an extra you don’t really have to be part of a union like the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), they do provide good support to actors however, the ties to the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists better known as AFTRA could be very helpful if you are looking for extras work in Houston. Upon getting membership to any of these unions; you should keep a photo (headshot) and resume at the headquarters for AFTRA in their “extras” file. Producers tend to get in touch with AFTRA on a regular basis to look for extras that are also looking for work.
If you are seeking to join the Screen Actors Guild you should be aware that there are prerequisites to becoming a member, such as being a member with another performers union for at least one year prior. For example start out with a union like AFTRA. You would also need to work as a principal extra at least one time in that union's jurisdiction. Usually an extra will start their career in Houston as a non union member; though with that said there is a huge difference in pay for someone that is a member of SAG versus someone that is non union.
Now don’t lose hope though, you can be hired on as a SAG extra to help you obtain membership with the Screen Actors Union. When you are hired on as a SAG extra, you can work for just a minimum of three days to qualify for a SAG membership. In Houston all productions have a requirement placed on them to hire a small handful of SAG extras for every day that they are filming on set before they are allowed to hire non union extras. If a SAG extra does not show up for the shoot that day a non union extra can be handed a voucher to fill that slot for the day. When this occurs , the non union members pay for the day and it will only take three of these vouchers to get qualified to join SAG. If you want a SAG voucher as a non union member you will have to impress the assistant director, which is why it is important to be polite and remember their names and keep small talk courteous and sweet (while avoiding being a bother if the assistant director is busy). Be helpful if you want to empress however be sure that you do stay out of the way and be tactful with your performance; with patience and being easy to work with. A thank you note sent out to the assistant director after working on set can make a good impression as well. You can always find the assistant director’s mailing address online in the Director’s Guild of America (DGA), (