Acting As a Profession – Proper Set Behavior For Principle and Extra Actors

Acting is a Job

Whether you are a Background (Extra) or Principle Actor, you must remember that Acting is a job. Unlike the average, everyday office cubicle position, in this profession you may be surrounded by cameras, lights, boom mikes, cables, crew members and famous actors like George Clooney, Brad Pitt or Cameron Diaz; but when you boil it down, the fact is, it’s still a job.

Regardless of whether you are cast to be on the set for one day or several, it is important to maintain a professional attitude. From day one, make a good impression, and keep yourself at that level or better.

Are You Available Tomorrow?

Your agent will call you to see if you are available for work on the day needed. Give them a simple Yes or No answer. Agents have lots of arrangements to make – they don’t have time to hear “I’ll ask my boss,” “I have a doctor’s appointment that day,” or “Gee, get paid for pictures of your body a friend of mine passed away and I was going to the viewing, but that’s okay, I’ll be available.” (All real answers that have been received by actual casting agents!) The agent will most likely say they’ll have more information for you once you are actually booked. They may verify your email address as well.

Do not call your agent back to ask them if you were booked or not. If you do not hear from them by the time they said they would call, chances are you did not get booked for that job. Do not take this personally. You may not have had the right look for this scene, that’s all. But it is important not to bug your agent about this. You either got the job, or you didn’t. Let it go and move on to the next audition. (Actually, I prefer to call these “Job Interviews” – and I treat each audition as if it were exactly that – a job interview.)

You Need to be On Set

Now the agent calls you back and states that you are verified for the shoot. Have a pen and paper by the phone at all times for notes, just in case the agent does not email you the pertinent information. (In this day and age, most agents will simply send you all of the pertinent information via email.) If they do not, Buy mdma however, you will need the following: Name of Project, Type of Work (Background? Day Player? etc.) Wardrobe? Props (Briefcase, Umbrella, etc.), Location, Call Time, and Directions. Note: if directions are offered, take them. Yes, you can check on line, but often these online directions are incorrect, or do not take construction or other issues into consideration.

Three to Get Ready


Wardrobe. Wardrobe can be a complicated issue. Depending upon whether you are Non-Union or Union, there may be different requirements. I’ll try to simplify these as I go along.

First, go through your wardrobe for two or three possible clothing changes, including shirts, jackets, hats, pants, shorts, skirts, dresses, shoes, purses and other accessories. Make a quick stop to the local resale shop if you need something but don’t have it – track mileage and save the receipt, as this is a deductible business expense. Make sure everything is clean and pressed (unless the wardrobe description calls for something else.) You should have a compact rolling bag with you, like an airplane carry-on size. Don’t fold your clothes – roll them up and store them in the carry-on (rolling decreases flat-line wrinkles). Place your cleaned and polished shoes in there too, in plastic bags so no missed dirt gets on your clothes.

Listen to what your agent says about color, pattern, etc. Pay attention to color restrictions when you are providing your own wardrobe. Most commonly, you won’t want black, white, anything with logos, or patterns. If someone tells you not to wear green, for example, there could be a scene where a green screen is used, and suddenly you won’t have a body on camera.

Basically, whatever your agent told you to wear, that’s what you wear to the set. This is considered your 1st Costume Change. The reason behind this is that on Union sets, actors are paid extra for costume changes, and for props they bring to set – but only if it is their prop, e-girlheaven and only if they are specifically told to use it. I have been on sets where actors come dressed in something totally wrong, claimed that their agent said that was what they should wear, and then they change into what they were told to wear to set in the first place. They do this because they are trying to get some extra money out of the day’s shoot – actors get paid $25+ for every time they are told to change costumes. People who do this on set are nickel-and-diming the production, but worse than that, they make a very bad name for themselves, the agency who sent them, and the location in which the film is being shot.

Additionally, you may be asked to go to Wardrobe. Here, the Costumers may enhance what you are already wearing with something from their collection of clothes – a scarf, perhaps, or a different blouse. You will sign for these items, which must be returned to Wardrobe at the end of the work day, in order for you to receive your acting Voucher, which is how you account for being on the set and which eventually lets you get paid for each day’s work.

Hair and Makeup. Prior to the day of the shoot, make sure you are shaved, manicured, plucked and look like your headshot. That being said, your big day has come! Sets will have hair and makeup artists, who are there to enhance your look, not to give you a full hair and face job. So, always come to the set with at least your base makeup (foundation and powder) as well as a light eyeshadow, mascara, blush and lip color. You may be Background in a huge scene with 200 actors; having your basic makeup on allows the Hair and Makeup crew to move you along faster and more conveniently.  Do your hair in your usual manner unless specifically told otherwise by your agent. The Hair & Makeup crew will call you in and will style you based on what you are already wearing. Also, bring your own makeup and hair spray with you.

Prepare to be Bored. A lot of acting is basically waiting to act. You spend a lot of time on set in between calls. The director wants to use you in as many different ways as possible, so that you can be in a variety of scenes without someone saying “Oh look, aniioki there’s that guy again!” So a well-supplied actor will bring a small book, magazine, book of crossword puzzles, deck of cards, crochet or knitting project – something they can pick up and put down quickly, but that will keep them occupied in between being called onto the set.



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