Posted: Fri 30th Jan 2015
Brian Craik-Smith is an entrepreneur building his Popagami business. To keep the income flowing, Brian has a sideline of being an extra in films. He suggests it's the ideal way to earn, meet new contacts, gain camera confidence and keep the business running whilst on set.
My first experience as an extra was in LA where you get a paper stuck on a lamppost with a phone number you tear off to be in a commercial. I did a few of these. When I got back to the UK I enrolled on a part-time doctorate and heard about Universal Extras (based in Pinewood and to help students earn a bit of extra money). My first Job with them was a number of featured extras scenes in The Iron Lady. I've never been to AmDram so it shows you can do this without any training!
I've appeared in The Iron Lady, 360, Now is Good, Closed Circuit, C4's TV drama Southcliff, Cuban Fury, Muppets most Wanted, A Dark Reflection, The Theory of Everything and I also put myself through Dragons' Den, several news interviews and two News round ones! There is something to be gained here in terms of confidence in front of a camera, costume and makeup and wired up with mikes!
Mostly my roles are one day jobs but you might only be on set for a few hours in total so you can keep working - or least plenty of networking. I met lots of small business owners as being an extra is no longer a viable full time job. You have to be flexible though with rules of phones being switched off on set.
The rates are from over Â£100 a day to several Â£1000 per day. You get fed (usually ok), it can sometimes be very interesting and it's certainly something to talk about and a way to make new connections. The highest paid jobs are for adverts and you normally attend an unpaid audition to secure the job. If you want more jobs then you can join more casting agencies like Mad Dog Castings and Collective Castings.
Ones that ask for payments for photoshoot are best avoided. The successful casting agencies take a commission from your earnings and a small registration fee.
To get a role, open a log account and fill out your profile. The agencies need photos (good one but not necessarily professional ones) then you set up alerts to your phone and decide if you can do it and fit the requirements. You might then get a call to confirm your availability and that your details are up to date. You might have to attend a costume fitting and makeup date. Then you just have to show up for filming.
I use my author name for extras and you can search me on imdb.com under Philip Craik. Maybe I'll see you on set one day!