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Inside The Extras Dept.

20 Top Tips for 2020

30 January 2020

With January behind us, it’s time to look forward to the rest of 2020.  We put together 20 top tips for 2020.  Some will be things you already know, some will be new, but either way it’s always good to either refresh your mind or take on board a new way of thinking!

  1. Look after yourself physically.  Filming hours can be long.  Eat food when it’s available (you might be busy later in the day), get plenty of sleep the night before. Keep yourself hydrated; many productions are now moving towards getting rid of single use plastics so bring a reusable bottle with you.
  2. Look after your mental health.  In recent months the fragility of mental health is something that is very apparent to us and to the wider extras community.  Mental health isn’t always the same, it can fluctuate and change.  If someone is distressed, they need a compassionate human response.  Look out for your fellow extras while working together, together we are all stronger.  We are by no means experts on this subject, so if you feel you need more advice on how to deal with your own mental health please seek help.  Also, if you want to learn more about how to support others more, then there is plenty of advice out there to help you to do so.
  3. Take and interest and be mindful.  This follows on from the above, take an interest in your fellow extras, chat about your experiences, you might learn something or teach someone something.  Conversation is important.  So, while in your holding area, look up from your phone and engage.  Sets are busy places, with many people working together to make it all happen.  Watching what goes on and what people do can be fascinating.
  4. Be confident in your own ability.  You can do this!  You were chosen for the role and we have confidence in your ability, make sure you do too.
  5. Don’t get disheartened.  Got lots of availability checks but none have turned into bookings?  We get it, that can be frustrating and disheartening. Do remember that not every role is for every person, keep in mind that we are still continuing to put you forward for roles which means someone does see something great in you.  Haven’t got checked yet?  Hopefully that role will come up for you soon.
  6. Respect.  We know the pressures and strains that you can be put under at times as extras, it can be tough!  Do be respectful of your other extras and the crew also, if you are feeling it then they are too.  Chances are, we are feeling it in the office as well.
  7. Be organised.   Reading that all important call time email in full is very important!  Yes, we get it that most of the time the information is the same or very similar but always best to check that there isn’t something in there that you may have missed.  Call times are often early and especially in the winter months it means getting up and leaving the house in the dark.  The night before make sure you have your costume items ready and waiting, check the address and directions so you know where you are going and how long it will take you to get there.  Make sure you know who your person of contact is when you arrive.  Lastly, always double check your phone before you leave in case there has been any changes to the info you have been sent.  We always do our best to keep you as updated as possible.
  8. Be honest.  We have heard the rumours that circulate regarding our availability checks and that we don’t look favourably upon people who come back as unavailable for a job.  THIS IS NOT TRUE.  We would always rather you were honest with your availability. We totally understand that all jobs will not suit all people all the time.  We would rather you said no than give us a false yes, this causes us more work.  You will not be ruled out of future availability checks, that’s not how we work.
  9. Take responsibility.  Please don’t go AWOL.  Not responding to phone calls, texts and most importantly not showing up for your days’ work causes a lot of problems.  It can lead to delays on set (which cost a lot of money) it means our coordinators have to find a replacement for you.  This is by and far the hardest part of our job, just send us a quick text.  Before you turn your alarm off and knock your phone onto silent, have a thought for all the people you will inconvenience by this action.  We do keep a record of people who don’t show up.
  10. Be committed.  Being an extra is employment, so please treat it as a commitment. We understand that life happens; if you are sick, there's an emergency at your full-time job, or some other unforeseen circumstances, we understand! But please be responsible and let us know as soon as you can so we can find a suitable replacement in good time. 
  11. Be contactable.  If we had a superpower it would be to make people answer their phones. Save our numbers so you know it’s us calling and if you can answer please do so, it really does make a big difference.
  12. Confirm info as quickly as possible.  We only get confirmed info for your shoot day the day before and we do our upmost to get info to you as soon as we get it.  When you know you are expecting your call time email to come through, please keep an eye on your phone and don’t forget to click the big button at the bottom to confirm receipt. This really is an important thing to do.
  13. Ask questions.  Definitely ask questions, we’ll always do our best to answer them.  We do our best to give you as much information in an availability check as either have or are allowed to disclose. So do read the info carefully, your question may have already been answered.  E.G: When it states that call times are TBC in an availability check, this really is because we don’t know!
  14. Check your chit.  Haven’t received your chit check email?  We will get to it, but if you have 5 and want to double check then login to your profile it’s always there.  If you think it is incorrect, please say!  It’s easier to fix problems quickly.
  15. Take a new profile photo.  Changed your hair?  Beard got a bit longer?  New face tattoo?  Perfect time to upload a new photo to your profile.  Please don’t upload the same photo over and over to get your profile “noticed” this is another rumour that circulates that is simply untrue.
  16. Always upload a new selfie.  We ask for selfie for one reason, to see what you look like at the time of submitting your availability.  It needs to be recent and it doesn’t have to be Instagram worthy.  We just want to see what your hair colour and length is!
  17. Keep your sizes up to date.  Majority of our castings are based on costume requirements. The production will give us a set of sizes and we have to find an extra to fit, if your sizes are incorrect then you could miss out on a role or the worst case scenario you could turn up to a fitting and not fit into the costume.  It’s also really important to make us aware of any size changes if you realise after your booking.
  18. Update your skills.  Taken up a new hobby or have a bizarre skill?  Put it on your profile, you wouldn’t believe the requests we get from productions. Circus skills, culinary skills, medieval skills?  Let us know.
  19. Expect the unexpected.  The nature of this business is that it is unpredictable, the action that was planned for the day and you were prepped for could all change, the day may run on longer than expected.  Prepare to roll with the punches.
  20. Enjoy yourself.  Whatever the reason you decided to register with us, we hope that you have got what you wanted to out of this experience.  Don’t let it drag you down, do what you need to make your extra life an enjoyable one.  

We hope these tips will help you have a successful 2020.

The Extras Dept.