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Extras provide a living, breathing backdrop during the filming of a television show or movie. They walk, gesture, drive, or die in the background, while the Actors play out their drama in front. When a shoot is small and only a few Extras are needed, an Assistant Director or Casting Director hires them. When the shoot is large, however, and many, many Extras are needed, an Extras Casting Director does the hiring.
When you’re an Extras Casting Director, the Director and Casting Director give you a very specific wish list for Extras, detailing how many are needed, how old they should be, and how they should be dressed. Your mission as an Extras Casting Director, should you choose to accept it, is to find the perfect people to fulfill the wish list.
Finding a large number of people takes planning. You contact Talent Agents and ask them for headshots and resumes of available Extras, and you place advertisements in newspapers and online to help you scout out new talent. Once you’ve selected a few Extras, you call them to schedule an audition. Sometimes, you hold large cattle-call auditions where hundreds of people show up for the chance to appear on film.
During the audition, you ask each Extra about his or her work experience and background. This interview allows you to observe how the person moves while talking. People with large, distinctive hand gestures will be too distracting on film, and you reject these Extras on the spot. At the end of the audition, you have a list of approved Extras for your project, and you send each person a letter detailing where and when the shoot will take place.