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Extra, Extra! How to Get Your Face On Screen

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Everyone recognizes the stars of a movie, the people who take up the most screen time playing the big characters who drive the plot forward and make the action happen.

But how would it look if those characters were standing on an empty New York street, with no one walking by in the background? That's where the movie extras come in.

Extras help to make movies seem realistic by filling out the background of the scenes that make the movie great.

The great thing about movie extras is that they are everyday people, who are supposed to look normal, not like actors. Because of this, most movie extras are not professionals in the acting business, but rather just people who you would see on the street.

Everyone has the opportunity to become a movie extra, if they only know how.

If you and your friends have a spare weekend and want to get your face on screen, becoming a movie extra might just be the fun activity for you.

There are a few different ways to go about becoming a movie extra, but if you have a day to spare and the desire to be a part of your favorite film, none of them are too hard to accomplish.

The first step is to try to find a set to be an extra on. There are a number of different ways to do this.

Sometimes, filmmakers will put an ad in the local paper asking people to come to be extras in their film. Ads can also be found on Craigslist and other websites and social networks, or in trade journals and other destinations for people working in theater and film.

You can also register as an extra using websites like ActinglandMoviex and Backstage.

The sites ask you to enter information like age, gender, nationality and location which will help people determine whether or not you are the type of extra that they are looking for.

Filmmakers in your area can invite you to participate in shoots on the network, making it easier for you to find films that actually need someone of your type.

One thing that is also helpful for becoming an extra is to have a headshot. If you want to spend the extra cash, getting a professional to take it is helpful. Professional headshots are helpful for more than just being an extra, and it can't hurt to have them taken.

However, if you're looking to do this on the cheaper side, you can just have a friend take a picture of your face with a digital camera. Try to not wear too much makeup or use too much editing, as you want to look as much like you do in real life as possible.

Many filmmakers will request this to make sure that you fit the look that they are going for with the scene. Having a headshot will save you time, and ensure that you're not showing up at shoots that aren't looking for someone like you.

Don't be discouraged if you don't live in a big city like Los Angeles or New York. There are plenty of opportunities all over the country to become an extra, and you'd be surprised to find out the big movies that may be filming in your city -- I go to school in Cleveland, and I have friends who got to be extras on huge films like "The Avengers" and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." If you really want to be an extra, get online and start looking for opportunities!

When applying, remember that there are hundreds of people applying to be extras, but they only need a few.

Be sure to be helpful, considerate and courteous. Send them exactly what they ask for when applying, and, if picked, show up on set and act punctual and professional.

If asked, bring multiple outfits, because wardrobe might ask you to change if you don't fit the look. Try not to fangirl too hard when you see your favorite star, as this can get you kicked off set.

Film is a tough business, so always make sure to do everything that they ask.

Being an extra is a fun and rewarding job, but it can take up a lot of time. If you're picked to be an extra, be aware that you may be asked to spend upwards of 10 hours on set.

Filmmaking is a long and arduous process, and sometimes you'll be asked to do the same thing over and over again. Don't apply to be an extra if you have class or a test to study for, because it'll probably take up a good amount of time.

Being a movie extra is a wonderful opportunity that can give you the chance to work on some of your favorite films with some of your favorite actors and actresses.

If you're really committed to working as an extra, be sure to start looking for opportunities in your city.

By: Julia Bianco, Case Western