A few years back I signed up to an agency to work as a film extra in the UK (aka supporting artist) on movies and tv series. I didn’t hear back from them for a while and then the pandemic hit us, but it also hit the movie industry quite hard. They paused productions or continued shooting under very hard rules.
Before that, I had filming experience in a few tv series and a movie back home in Bulgaria, but that was way back in 2012.
The industry is massive here and given that most Hollywood productions are actually filmed here for cost reasons, you can imagine how many extras they need. It’s a perfect student job as it can be part-time and it pays well.
Going back to my story, this year (2021) I finally heard back from that agency and got hired for a Netflix film called “The Swimmers” to appear as a Syrian refugee. It was two days of filming and I had to do two Covid tests before that.
I met a bunch of interesting people from all different backgrounds and life experiences. This truly opened my eyes and made me wanna be involved more and more.
I quickly asked around what other agencies there are and everyone had some different ones to add. When I got home I signed up for all of them!
In a few days, I start getting more and more requests.
What’s the pay as a film extra in the UK?
Pay definitely varies, but you can expect a minimum of 118£ for a few hours of filming.
Personally, the lowest I have received from a filming day so far has been £150, which is quite good given we didn’t even film much.
At the time of writing this blog post, I just wrapped a Disney production that I cannot name yet, but think “lightsaber”. For just four days of filming, I got over £1000, which is amazing given I barely did anything.
The pay varies on different factors as what time you started as you get extra money if you had an early start (6 am for example) or even if you had late lunch.
Even if you’re lunch was on time but they called you from the holding area before your hour lunch was finished – they pay you extra.
The production will also pay you for your travel costs a generous amount, if you have to bring your own clothes as a costume or if you drive to set instead of using their free shuttle.
All of these you can find on the FAA/PACT sheet, which states all the reasons when you should be paid extra.
For example, late lunch payment will kick in if you eat six hours or more after your call time.
If your call time is 7 am, you should eat lunch at the latest at 1 pm, otherwise, you will be given an extra £20.
Normally things add up to over 250£ for the day and even sometimes £300.
Can you be a full time film extra in the UK?
Yes, you can!
At first, you should build up your profiles at the different agencies and start it as a part-time thing, but once you do a few productions you will start getting more and more work.
They love reliable people, so make sure you don’t cancel any of your bookings. It’s very important!
I have been doing it a lot over the summer and I can tell you the money are very good and I could live comfortably just by doing this, however, I wouldn’t do it full time.
What agencies offer working as a film extra in the UK?
There are so many agencies and I can guarantee you they are all good.
To do this as often as possible, you’d have to sign up to all agencies and keep your personal diary of what you have been booked on to ensure you don’t double book.
I accept all jobs and put myself free as maybe 3/4 will not choose you and you will be left with empty days. They also quite often cancel days the day before.
Once something is booked you can either withdraw your availability from the production that clashes or wait and see closer to the date as days get moved or cancelled.
These are the agencies I’m signed on to and have been getting a lot of requests and jobs from.
They work with quite big productions and have their own app that you can use and sync with your calendar.
So far I’ve gotten two jobs from them, but I’m still pencilled for 4 more.
To sign up with them you have to pay £30 for 1-year membership or £50 for 2 years. If you are a student like me, you get it free for as long as you are a student.
They also take a 16% commission from your pay.
This is one agency, but once you make a profile with them you are automatically signed with another 20. The majority of the work I get as a film extra in the UK is from them.
Some of the agencies you will get requests from are ExtraPeople, Key Casting, Catnap Casting, Sabell Casting, Two10 and many others.
They do quite big productions as Marvel films, Netflix films and series and a lot of British TV.
Communication is a bit harder than with the other agencies and I’ve struggled to contact them regarding days I’ve said yes to months ago and they’ve only booked me two weeks before.
Sometimes I need to take days off and can’t do so last minute.
There is no sign-up fee, but they take a 20% commission.
This is the first agency I signed up for and I’ve got two feature films from them.
I did “The Swimmers” and I’m currently filming the film adaptation of the musical “Matilda”.
Communication is quite easy and I’ve found it very flexible and polite.
They don’t charge you a signup fee upfront, but they will deduct £65 once you get your first pay.
They also charge a 20% commission.
This is a big agency, which I have struggled to signup for as they require very specific pictures.
My friends who are signed up get movies like “The Flash”, “Captain Marvel 2” and other big productions.
I’d say I have to take these pictures ASAP! Haha
I don’t think there is any signup fee, but I definitely will update this post once I’m fully signed up.
This is probably the worst place to find work as a film extra in the UK, but not impossible.
I’ve gotten a few ad campaigns here, some extra work, influencer opportunities, short films and I appeared on “Eating with my ex” on BBC3 and iPlayer.
It’s a bit pricey – £39.99 for 6 months for the standard membership. If you have a good portfolio you can find very well paid campaigns and with no need for an agent.
In general, I do recommend having a browse on what they have before you actually sign up. All opportunities are fully visible to anyone.
I can’t sign up as they are full so I have no opinion about them yet.
All I know is they are not looking for people that live in London, so if you don’t live in London please check their website for info.
I have received a few requests from them and it’s mostly for reality TV. If you want to become a film extra in the UK it’s probably not the best option.
You have to fill out a form and then they add you to their WhatsApp group where they will provide you with information on castings happening.
You just follow the instructions on each casting call on how to apply. I’m not sure if they take any commission from you at this stage as I haven’t been cast for any.
Guys & Dolls is one of the big agencies for film extras in the UK, but it’s only casting twice a year. In November and in May.
You will have to undergo a DBS check for this agency and that would cost you about 23 pounds. Basic DBS lasts for a year and you can use it in all other agencies.
I’m currently in the process of applying – meaning I’ve completed my application, but I’m waiting for their November intake.
This website is paid and costs £10 a month to be able to apply to most castings.
They have quite a lot of brands working with them and are quite the popular “agency”.
I recently signed up and I don’t have any jobs yet booked, but I’ll give it a month and update you.
This is quite popular amongst actors and it has a lot of casting calls, however, they do have some extra work as well.
There is a monthly subscription, so unless you want to do quite a lot of extra work and acting jobs, I wouldn’t recommend it.
Top 5 tips for people working as film extra in the UK
- Bring your own water bottle – Cups could finish and you never know how long they’ll keep you on set before you can drink water again.
- Never rush to leave – You most likely were brought by a production bus and until everyone has changed and checked out, you won’t be leaving the set. Make the most of that overpay. Every 15 minutes count.
- Bring a book, a laptop or a Nintendo Switch – Days can be very long and there is no guarantee you will actually be used. Make sure you aren’t bored and be productive. You will be paid for your time exactly the same as those who get used even if you don’t film.
- Bring a pillow – Call times can be very early. My earlier time was 5:15am with a pickup from Euston station at 4am. You will need that pillow especially if they don’t need you on set straight away or at all.
- Read the FAA/PACT rates and educate yourself. – Make sure you request all the penalties straigh after receiving your chit. ( That is something like your payslip. It details your check in time and check out and what you are being paid for.)
Ultimately, you want to enjoy yourself, network and make new friends. Money is a great bonus and you can make this your full-time job.
Let me know in the comment section if you need to know anything extra. I’ll answer you directly, but I’ll also be able to curate a second blog post covering all the questions.