FAQ

Below you will find the answer to some of the more common questions we are asked as well as info on working as an extra. If you don’t see the answer here drop us a line. We will do our best to help you out.
WORKING AS AN EXTRA

(Please read this section carefully if you have been hired as an extra) 

Please take the time to read the following notes about working on a film or television production as a Background Performer (also known as an Extra).  Please note this is general information and you may be given more specific instructions for your particular day.

BOOKING AND CALL TIME

Call (when arrive on location) times and Wrap (finish) times are subject to change. We will do our best to give you an estimate of how long it will take, but generally YOU MUST BE AVAILABLE THE WHOLE DAY/EVENING.

Schedules can change frequently due to weather, script changes, or a host of other circumstances. Because of this, we are unable to guarantee work on a particular day. We strongly discourage taking time off work and risking loss of income.

Please make yourself available by phone and e-mail so we can keep in touch with you. Call time is often early, so get a good sleep the night before and give yourself plenty of time to find the location.

ILLNESS

As much as we hate last minute dropouts, we ask that you don’t come in if you are coughing badly or otherwise possibly contagious.

CHECK IN

When you arrive on set, say you are a Background Performer and ask where to go. There will be an "Extras Holding Area" designated.
Bring a pen. There are lots of forms to fill out.

We require proof of residency and proof of citizenship or permanent residency. Please bring:
SOCIAL INSURANCE NUMBER. YOU WILL NOT BE PAID WITHOUT IT.

Driver's licence OR a photocopy of a utility bill with your address on it (private info blacked out) AND A photocopy of your MCP OR birth certificate OR the first page of your passport. If you are not a citizen or permanent resident, you must bring a copy of your work visa/permit and social insurance number.

HOW MUCH DO EXTRAS GET PAID

Background Performers are generally paid $12.00 an hour.  This changes depending on the production. Please ASK the rate of pay when you are booked. There may be a one hour unpaid lunch break.

Please make sure your mailing address is clearly written on your contract, as your cheque will be mailed to you.It may take up to three weeks for your cheque to arrive.

MINORS

CHILDREN UNDER 16 ARE NOT PERMITTED TO WORK WITHOUT A CHAPERONE – a responsible person 21 years of age or older who is a parent or someone authorized by a parent to sign a paperwork on your behalf. If you are under 16 and do not have a S.I.N., write in "Child" and put your date of birth where the S.I.N. should be.

WARDROBE

If you have been asked to provide your own wardrobe there are a few things to remember.
Wear wardrobe as per instructions of the day and bring one other set of clothes for an option. Make sure they are clean and ready to wear. The wardrobe crew will take a look at you before you go before the camera.

Colours: most colours are fine. Neutrals are best. (See below for exceptions.)

BE PREPARED FOR THE SEASONS. If it is summer, bring sunscreen. In winter, coat, hats, boots and mitts are essential for in-between shooting, even if they're not what you wear on camera.

Things to avoid:

  • Logos of any kind.
  • Red, neons, grey, all black or all white (eg.  A white suit white shirt would not look great on camera but a white shirt with a grey suit would be okay).
  • Geometric designs or stripes.
  • Black suit jackets. (if possible).
  • Loud shoes. Soft-soled shoes are a must! Even flipflops are loud.  Closed-toed shoes are also important for safety.  No white or florescent sneakers.
HAIR AND MAKEUP

Please arrive with your hair and makeup done as you do on a normal work day. Don't overdo it. Keep it plain and natural. The Hair and Makeup Crew will take a quick look at you before you go on camera.

ALLERGIES
  • Please inform us of any food allergies.
  • Do not bring any nuts on set. We have severe allergies in cast and crew.
  • Do not wear perfumes or colognes.
ON SET
  • Turn off cell phones on and around set.
  • Cameras are also not permitted on set!  No pictures of the set or actors are allowed.
  • Please remain quiet on set. Sometime, when you're standing around for a long time, it's easy to slip into normal conversation. Remember to keep it down.
  • The crew and actors are very focused on their work. Please do not chit chat with the director, actors or crew, unless it's their initiative. Please don't ask for autographs from actors.
  • Background Performers are directed by the Assistant Director (A.D.) Your person on set will be the 1st, 2nd or 3rd AD. You may be signed in by the T.A.D. (Trainee Assistant Director) or a Production Assistant. You are not expected to know exactly what to do. Just follow the AD's directions and you will be fine.
SET LINGO
  • Rolling: Camera is rolling.
  • Background: cue for background action.
  • Action: cue for actors.
  • Cut: stop action.
  • First Position or First Mark: go back to where you started.
FOOD

There will be a separate snack table (Craft Services) provide for Background with coffee, juice and snacks. Lunch may be provided as well, depending on your arrival time. Union rules dictate that crew must be served first.

TRANSPORTATION

Parking for BG Performers may not be provided if the location is congested.

  • GETTING DROPPED OFF IS YOUR BEST BET.
  • If you are taking a bus, make sure you have a way home in case your route is not running at wrap time.
  • If you are driving, allow yourself enough time to find a parking place and bring change for meters if necessary. Be forewarned that you might get trapped on set when your meter is due. Unfortunately:
  • PRODUCTION IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR PARKING TICKETS.
WAITING AROUND

There can be a lot of "hurry up and wait" in this business. Sitting around for hours and then rushing to be in the right place when you're needed. Bring a deck of cards or a book to keep yourself occupied. IPods are fine as long as they are not loud and you can still pay attention to what's going on around you.

 

WHY DO YOU NEED SO MUCH SIZE INFORMATION?
We use the size information we receive to sort people. We need stand ins for Actors and we aim for the stand ins to be the same height, weight and hair colour as the actor. Also in the case of extras we specifically need suit / dress sizes / waist and inseam to fit people into existing costumes.  If we need an officer in a scene and have a police uniform that is a 44R we will sort for an extra based on suit size.
WHY DO YOU NEED PROOF OF RESIDENCY IF YOU HAVE MY SIN?
A SIN is available to all Canadian citizens, the province of residency is used when determining tax credits for different projects.
I WAS IN A FEW TIMES BUT NOW I DON’T GET CALLED ANYMORE. WHY?
A lot of people want to be an extra - it is a great way to make money, you can meet fun people and it can be really interesting. We spread extra calls around to make sure everyone has a chance. 
We also have to be really careful about making sure that people do not get too much screen time.  If we are doing a movie and we have someone in a scene in a park, in a hospital and in a store it can look odd - especially if that person is very distinctive.  
Finally if you have been on set and were disruptive, bothered the cast or crew or did not take direction, we may get a note from the ADs not to bring you back in. This is a job, and though it can be a fun job at the end of the day we need you to be smart and professional about being an extra just as you would for any other job.
HOW CAN I GET AN AUDITION?
To be informed of current open audition opportunities please join the Casting By Maggie Facebook Group and / or sign up for the newsletter. Many people want the chance to audition, and we have a limited number of slots. We also go through the database and select people we think might suit a role and contact them directly - so for example if a client is looking for men with white beards we will email those in the database to see if they are interested. Also much of what we do is ACTRA based. All audition calls go to ACTRA members first. If they fill in the slots available we cannot open it to the general public.
WHY ARE THERE SO FEW JOBS FOR MINORS?
Actors and extras under 16 are limited by Union and Labour Laws to a specific number of work hours based on age. These requirements will limit the number of occasions we can call actors under 16.Actors and extras under 16 require a chaperone on set. The chaperone has to be a responsible adult- in general someone over 21 that can take responsibility for the actor. Usually it is a parent; older sibling or caretaker. This person will have to sign contracts on behalf of those under 16.
WHY DO CREW GET TO EAT FIRST?
Crew Unions have rules that state that lunch hour begins once the final person is through the lunch line - thus we need to get them through and seated as quickly as possible.
WHY ALL THE RULES AROUND WARDROBE?
All our rules around wardrobe exist for a reason. 
Logos of any kind.  - We have to be careful around copyright law - so best with no logos.
Red, neons, grey, all black or all white  - the camera picks up these colours weirdly Geometric designs or stripes. Again these jump on camera.
Black suit jackets. (if possible) The camera does not like large expanses of black
Loud shoes. Soft-soled shoes are a must! Even flip flops are loud.  Closed-toed shoes are also important for safety.  No white or florescent sneakers.
ARE YOU AN AGENT? WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CASTING DIRECTOR AND AN AGENT?

I am a Casting Director . The difference between agents and casting directors is that an agent works for the actors - the casting directors work for the producers.  An agent will work to get you auditions and do contracts for a percentage of your pay (usually 10%-20% ) . 
A casting director is hired by a producer to find background, actors or models for print film or television projects. They are paid a flat rate by the producer depending on the project.

Casting Directors keep profiles of actors, models and just regular folks available to fill any possible role that might appear - so when a producers says I need 15 school kids for a scene tomorrow they go through their database to find suitable people.

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Maggie’s website has been an invaluable tool for me to get my acting career off the ground. As someone starting out late in the business (41 years old!) I really had no connections or no way of knowing how to audition for roles, not to mention actually working in the industry. Since I have been in her data base I have been contacted numerous times. I have worked background on Seasons 1 & 2 of CBCs Little Dog, done background work on films such as Black Conflux & more recently the feature film Hammer. I have also had opportunities to work on short films & theatre work. I have made so many connections in the industry & it all stemmed from Maggie’s website. Maggie, Danielle & Alison are FANTASTIC to deal with. If it wasn’t for them I would never have gotten the opportunities I have been involved in! With their help I hope to become a full time Actra member and continue with my passion for acting. Thanks ladies! Michelle Williams

I can't believe how incredibly lucky we are to have Maggie and her Casting by Maggie site. I've gotten so many fun and worthwhile jobs through her posts and legwork. I've done commercials, print ads, films, TV shows... and worked with some pretty well-known NL talent - all thanks to Maggie's site. What an incredible service she is providing for us! Paula Morgan