So, you want to break into acting, do you? Well becoming an extra, or background actor, in Toronto is a great way to get started. It may not make you a star overnight, but it can be an exciting first step to being on set and gaining experience in front of the camera. As an extra, you get a glimpse into how TV shows and movies are really made – the waiting around, the multiple takes, the craft services tables piled high with snacks to keep everyone’s energy up! More importantly, you never know who you might meet on set or what connections you can make. Many famous actors got their start as extras. If you have the acting bug and are willing to work long hours for little pay, being an extra in Toronto could be your big break. In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to find work as an extra, what to expect on set, and how to stand out to get more screen time and speaking roles. The path to stardom starts here!
What Is a Film Extra?
A film extra, also known as a background actor, is a performer in a movie who appears in a non-speaking role. Typically, extras are used to fill out crowd scenes and make them appear more realistic. As an extra, your role is all about blending in and not distracting from the main action and dialog.
To become an extra in Toronto, the first step is to find an acting agency or background management company that provides extras for film and TV productions. Many of these agencies allow you to sign up on their website and build an online profile to help match you with work that suits your age, appearance, and skills.
Once signed with an agency, check their website or social media regularly for casting calls that match your profile. These will provide details on the production, the kinds of extras they need, and what is required for the role. If interested, submit a request to be considered for the part. If selected, you will receive additional details about your call time (when you need to arrive on set), wardrobe, parking, compensation, and more.
Being an extra typically requires long hours of waiting around for a few minutes of actual filming. But for many, the chance to be part of a real production and gain experience on an actual film or TV set makes it worthwhile. While the pay isn’t glamorous, it can be a exciting opportunity to break into the acting world and see what it’s really like from the inside. With enough experience, you may eventually find the chance to land bigger roles and speaking parts. The key is using each opportunity as a chance to network, learn, and work your way up in the industry.
Requirements to Become an Extra in Toronto
To land a gig as an extra on a film or TV set in Toronto, you’ll need to meet a few basic requirements.
Be at least 18 years of age.
Most productions require extras to be adults due to legal and logistical reasons. Some do allow 16 and 17-year-olds with parental consent, but 18 is the standard minimum age.
Have flexible availability.
As an extra, you’ll often be called on short notice to be on set for long hours. Make sure your day job or school schedule allows for variability and potential 12+ hour days.
Provide a headshot.
You’ll need a basic digital photo of yourself – a casual head and shoulders shot with a simple background and neutral, pleasant expression. No glamor shots or filters needed! Your headshot gives the casting team an idea of your look and helps them envision how you might appear on camera.
Create an online profile.
Sign up with an extras casting service like Casting Workbook or Facebook groups to build an online profile, upload your headshot, list your skills and experience. Check frequently for new postings and submit to anything you’re suited for. With some luck and persistence, you’ll start getting booked for background roles.
Becoming an extra takes some flexibility and patience, but following these steps can help turn your dreams of walking onto a real film set into reality. Keep at it – your big break into showbiz could be just one casting call away!
How to Find Film Extra Opportunities in Toronto
To break into acting as an extra in Toronto, you need to know where to look for opportunities. Several options can help you find extra work on TV shows, movies, commercials, and more.
Sites like Backstage, Talentville, and ACTRA Toronto host listings for background actors. You can create a free profile, add photos, and start applying to jobs that match your age, appearance, and experience level. Check these sites regularly and be ready to respond quickly to new postings.
Many casting directors and production companies post calls for extras on Facebook groups. Search for groups like “Toronto Extras Casting,” “ACTRA Extras,” and “Toronto Film Industry Classifieds.” Join some relevant groups and watch for posts about background actor calls. Comment on the posts or message the casting team directly to express your interest.
Several Toronto talent agencies represent background actors and can help match you with opportunities. Agencies like The Talent House, MAM, and H&M Talent scout new talent and maintain relationships with productions around the city. Signing with an agency allows them to pitch you as an extra for their upcoming projects. However, agencies do charge commission fees for the work they book on your behalf.
Commercial, TV, and film productions often post notices around the city announcing casting calls for extras. Look for these notices at places like community centers, colleges, coffee shops, and Facebook groups. The notices will provide details on the production, the types of extras they need, and how to apply. This “on the ground” method takes more work but can uncover opportunities not advertised elsewhere.
With some persistence, you can find work as a background actor in Toronto. Check all available resources regularly, be ready to apply quickly, and don’t get discouraged if it takes time to book your first role. Building experience and relationships in the industry will lead to more and more opportunities down the road!
Tips for a Great Extra Audition
To land an acting gig as an extra, you’ll typically go through an audition. Here are some tips to ace your audition and get booked for roles.
Do your research
Learn as much as you can about the production you’re auditioning for. Know the director, actors involved, and plot or time period. The more you understand the overall project, the better you can determine if you’re a good fit for various extra roles.
Dress the part
Costume yourself in a way that matches the era and tone of the production. For a period piece, opt for timeless and neutral clothing that could pass for different decades. For a modern film, dress in typical everyday attire. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed, so if unsure, it’s best to look polished and professional.
Show your enthusiasm
Have a positive attitude and smile. Greet the casting staff enthusiastically. Your energy and passion for the work will make you memorable. Ask questions to show your interest and commitment to the role.
Highlight your skills
Be prepared to discuss any special skills you have that could be useful as an extra like dancing, swimming, or horseback riding. Mention experiences that could contribute to a realistic scene like attending a gala or riding public transit during rush hour.
Follow instructions carefully
Listen and follow all instructions from the casting staff carefully. How you take direction is very important. Ask clarifying questions if needed but be efficient and cooperative. Your ability to follow orders will determine if you get invited to return as an extra.
With the right preparation and a memorable audition, you’ll be on your way to landing background roles in Toronto’s bustling film and television industry. Breaking into acting often starts with small steps, so start by becoming an extra and work your way up from there!
What to Expect as a Film Extra on Set
As an extra, your day on set will involve a lot of waiting around, but also moments of excitement. Here’s what you can generally expect:
When you first arrive on set, you’ll check in with the extras casting director or assistant director. They will review the schedule for the day, your role, costume, and what’s expected of you. Be prepared for last minute changes.
Between shoots, extras are usually directed to a designated holding area. This could be a tent, room, or open area where you can relax, eat meals, read, or chat with other extras. But stay alert, as you may be called to set at any moment.
Being on camera
When the director calls for extras, you’ll be directed where to go and how to act. Follow all instructions carefully. Your role may require gestures, facial expressions, wardrobe changes, or simply blending into the background. Do multiple takes without complaint.
Hurry up and wait
Film production involves a lot of downtime while shots are being set up, cameras moved, or issues addressed. As an extra, you need to remain patient and flexible. Be prepared for long days (10 to 12 hours or more) with potentially boring periods of inactivity. But that also means short bursts of excitement when filming begins!
Extras are typically provided with snacks, meals, and beverages throughout the long days. Take advantage of any downtime to stay fueled, hydrated and avoid low blood sugar. However, be very careful not to spill anything on your costume!
The life of a film extra is not glamorous, but for many it’s an exciting glimpse into how movies and TV shows are made. Go in with patience and a positive attitude, follow directions well, and you’ll get to experience what it’s like behind the scenes. Who knows, you may even end up on the big screen!
So there you have it, the inside scoop on how to break into acting as an extra in Toronto. Now it’s up to you to take that first step and get your headshots done, build your resume, and start submitting to casting calls. It may seem daunting, but with some persistence you’ll land your first gig. Then you’ll get to experience what it’s like being on an actual film or TV set. Who knows, with some luck you might end up on the big screen or become a familiar face people recognize. At the very least, you’ll have some exciting stories to tell about your adventures as an aspiring actor in Tinseltown North. So go on, take a chance and dive into the entertainment industry. Your big break could be just around the corner!