How to become a TV and film extra in Scotland

IS it your dream to appear on TV alongside some of the biggest stars? A brief shot at fame and fortune awaits if you follow these steps

Brad Pitt in World War Z, which was partially filmed in Glasgow with hundreds of extras taking part
Brad Pitt in World War Z, which was partially filmed in Glasgow with hundreds of extras taking part
Brad Pitt in World War Z, which was partially filmed in Glasgow with hundreds of extras taking part

Luckily you don’t have to look like Emma Stone or Ryan Gosling to have your five seconds of fame anymore. Most film and television productions needs people of all ages, shapes and sizes to fill the screen and, for most parts, no acting experience is required.

Get yourself a decent headshot

It’s a fickle world we live in and the sad reality is, if someone doesn’t like the way you look, you’re not going to get the part. Getting yourself a professional headshot can make you more attractive to potential employers and saves you having to crop your best friend out of your latest drunken selfie. There’s a whole host of places to get a headshot done around Scotland, including in Glasgow, Edinburghand Aberdeen.

Grab a copy of Contacts

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Contacts Handbook describes itself as “the essential tool for anyone working in the UK entertainment industry.” In its pages you’ll find a range of possible agents to facilitate your journey. It also gives a pretty extensive list of casting agencies that cater for a whole heap of production companies. You can buy a copy online or at your local Waterstones.

Join a drama club

If you’re interested in acting then it’s likely you will have already been part of a theatre or drama club but if not, then it’s time to join. Not only will it help your confidence and acting ability, but it will also look better on your CV. Casting crews for shows like River City might visit a theatre group in search for actors.

Get yourself an agent

There are loads of agencies around the country, easily found from a quick Google search. Most will take you on for free but ask for a percentage of your earnings. The vast majority will ask for a CV where you should highlight any previous experience or special talents you’ve got, and conduct a face-to-face interview to determine how suitable you are. An agency will do all the hard work on your behalf and find possible parts for you, saving you the majority of the hassle.

Sean Cassidy, who has been an extra in Waterloo Road and River City, said: “Agencies are like a supply company so the production team will contact them and say we need to hire 50 actors by Monday, for example. When they have an opportunity for steady business such as when Waterloo Road was on, they do a big advertisement to get people to join the agency so they have a bigger variety of actors to chose from. There are agencies around Scotland that will supply to River City and any local production.”

Be as flexible as possible

Not in a literal sense (well maybe, depending on the role). Given the amount of people who are looking to be extras, parts can be filled extremely quickly. If you’re not able to be completely flexible with your schedule, you will miss out on a lot of work. Shoots can often run for up to 10 hours so expect long days and probably a bit of waiting around.

Like agencies on Facebook

Some agencies reach out on Facebook to find people suitable for a role. This is extremely helpful if you don’t have an agent or don’t have the time to keep trawling the internet looking for jobs.