Headshots are crucial in the search for extras work. Casting directors choose their background based on selections of “applicants.” Clear headshots are mandatory to give them an idea of what you look like up close. It doesn’t have to be a professional headshot, but it should give casting a specific idea of your features (shape, skin tone, etc.).
Likewise, most casting companies will look for a full-bodied photo. As with headshots, these photos help weave out applicants who are simply not a match for what’s needed in a scene.
MyCastingFile contains spots to post both types of photos, along with images of your vehicle, if you have one, and pets, should they, too, wish to be part of Hollywood.
In addition to photos, though, the site allows you to fill out information on special skills and talents you have that could be useful and help you rise above others without said skills. If you know how to dance, swim, play certain sports, you can check-mark those slots on the “About Me” page of the site.
On the same tab, there’s a sub-page for “clothing.” This section is important. When it comes to wardrobe for background, it is background’s responsibility to provide outfits. Extras who desire a constant flow of work will find owning a varied personal wardrobe beneficial. Period outfits, costumes, military garb, etc. can all be valuable in this line of work. Given the number of extras needed on any one day, it’s not plausible for the wardrobe department to have all the necessary outfits on hand for each individual. Unless you’re cast as a featured extra with a specific wardrobe, or called in for a fitting, expect to carry a small duffle or garment bag to-and-from set with multiple options.
One helpful tip for wardrobe is to always have your size measurements on-hand (or memorized). Rare occasions save time by avoiding fittings altogether. Wardrobe crew will merely collect your sizes and have something ready and prepared for your first day on set. It’s advisable to take note of your measurements and keep them near the phone, or fill out that section of MyCastingFile.
MyCastingFile also lets you fill in detailed profile information about your appearance. This includes ‘ethnic appearance.’ It’s crucial to understand here the difference between what your ethnicity actually is, and what ethnicity you can pass off looking like. If you’re Caucasian, but have a Middle-Eastern skin tone and can pass for one given the right wardrobe, you can check the box for Middle-Eastern.
A final, key aspect of MyCastingFile is a recent feature added to the site: the calendar. This tool allows you to mark what days you are or are not available to work within a set period of time. It helps manage your schedule and make sure you don’t overbook. Once you confirm a role through the site, it automatically marks your calendar so you can’t accidentally select another role for the same date. It also gives the casting companies a head’s up on whether or not you’re free to be contacted for a role, so keep the calendar up to date.
Learning to navigate and manage the casting site (or your own personal applications to casting companies) is only the start of becoming a good/reliable/favoured extra. It’s also advisable to understand how things work on set. Know the etiquette and expected behaviour and your reputation will build to a point where you’ll be sought out for work.
What’s an extra?
How do background performers find work in New Orleans?
What to expect on film sets
Expected behaviour on film sets
Standing out and standing-in