Your in the middle of pre-production and the question arises…how many extras do we need and how are we casting them?
Counting the Extras
Often times the 1st AD or UPM will do a schedule with MMS with a rough breakdown of BG per scene. The 2nd AD can assist in figuring out how long these BG will work and how many can be re-used per day. This information will help when working with a tight budget. After this initial breakdown the 1st AD will often sit with the Director to check their notes against what he/she is envisioning. The 1st AD may think there should be 20 extras in scene 32 and the Director may envision 100 for this scene. Often times the 1st AD will take the wish list of extras from the Director and present this total number to the Line Producer or UPM and see if it fits within the budget. Nine times out of ten the director wants more than what is in the budget and it is essentially a discussion between the 1st AD and Line Producer/UPM to see where they can cut extras and can the budget increase if it really needs to.
Hire a Company
Whether your movie has 100 or 3000 extras, a “Background Casting Company” can be a critical asset in making a show run smoothly. If you have the budget and can afford the service it is worth every penny.
Hire a Person
The other solution to finding extras is to hire an Extras Casting Director that is dedicated to your film. The benefit of this is that this person’s sole job is focusing on casting extras for only your project.
Cast them Yourself
Often times if I am working on a low budget project where I only need a few extras I may cast it myself using LACasting, Craigslist in the talent section or the many Facebook groups dedicated to Actors and Extras. This is also a great opportunity to cast your friends who want to be in the movie.
When booking extras I typically send them a total of two emails and NEVER send out a Call Sheet to them. If you are using a BG Casting company or Extras Casting Director…they will essentially take care of this for you:
I make sure to give out details such as Date, Day or Night shoot, role, wardrobe and general location.
Thanks for accepting the role of the Nurse on “Project”. Just to confirm a few details with you.
Date: Saturday July 1st
Time: Day Shoot (times TBD)
Wardrobe: Scrubs will be provided. Do you have white tennis shoes?
Location: Hollywood (exact location TBD)
Production will be sending out a detailed email the night before with the exact Time, Location and Parking information. Please don’t hesistate to reach out if you have any questions.
In this email I give out the critical information such as their call time, location and parking info. I also might remind Sarah about the white tennis shoes.
Here are the details for tomorrow’s shoot. Please confirm “Got It” by 9pm tonight!
Date: Saturday July 1st
Call Time: 7AM
4650 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Please park in Parking Lot A, take the elevator to the 4th floor and check in at the BG Check-In table.
Wardrobe: Don’t forget to bring your white tennis shoes.