Background Extras Photos

Film and television extras use a color 4"x6" snapshot with a white background, from the waist up. On the back of the photos, you should have the following listed:

Hair Color
Eye Color
Contact Phone Number
Shirt Size
Pant Size/Dress Size
Coat Size
Shoe Size
Hat Size

On the vast majority of open casting calls for extras, they will take your photo at the casting call. But it is best to be prepared and bring your own photo with several different "looks". One wearing something upscale such as a tuxedo or suit & tie, one wearing something casual such as jeans & t-shirt, and something specialized such as a police uniform. Keep in mind that you should own whatever clothes you wear in the photos in case they want you to wear the same outfit on the shoot. Just make sure that your photos are updated and actually represent what you currently look like.

Click Here for sample photos used for extra work (photos courtesy of Rich Hogan Photography).

Note About Extra Work From Casting Director Lana Veenker:

This is one thing you can do without acting experience, but keep in mind that you can only work as an extra in the region where you live. If there's a movie you want to be in and it's shooting halfway across the world, you need to either move there or have a place to stay for a few weeks (and even then, there's no guarantee you'll definitely be needed). Also, you need to be able to legally work in the country where the film is shooting. The production company won't hire you without a valid work permit or proof of citizenship. Unfortunately, those are the breaks!

Advice for working as a Background Extra

* Buy a Thomas Brothers Map Book. The casting people will give you these map coordinates when giving you your call time and location.

* Bring a small folding chair, something to read, sunscreen, a couple of light snacks, a notepad, and two pens.

* Follow the wardrobe instructions and requirements, as you will be checked by the wardrobe department when you arrive on the set. Bring an extra jacket (even if it’s summertime). It's always cold on a sound stage, where you might be working. Ladies, take a pair of flats to wear when not on the set (your feet will thank you).

* ALWAYS show up at least 1/2 hour early. NEVER be late. Allow plenty of time for traffic, etc.

* When arriving at the location, immediately check in with the AD (assistant director), or whoever you were told to check in with. Fill in your name and address on the payment voucher. Make sure to fill in the hours worked and have the AD sign it at the end of the day.

* Never bring cameras or pets unless asked to do so. Also do not bring friends.

* NEVER take photos on the set with your cell phone. If caught, you will be fired and will most likely never work for that casting director again.

* NEVER ask for autographs or bother the actors. This is a professional work environment and not an appearance.

* Network with other background actors. If you obtain one good tip or referral, it could lead to a lot more background acting jobs. More work gives you more opportunities to get the necessary vouchers (three) to qualify to join SAG (Screen Actors Guild). Being a member of SAG gives you benefits you would not have as a non-union extra, e.g. double your pay and medical, dental and vision benefits.

* Always remain alert and ready to go to the set when asked. Do not leave the set unless you are given specific permission from the AD. Do not listen to headphones, as you will not be able to hear the AD when calling you to the set.

* ALWAYS be prepared to stay and work long hours (unless you are a minor, there are child labor laws which prevent minors from working too many hours).

* Pay attention when you are on the set being given your "marks" and "blocking". "Marks" are the spots where you position yourself on the set during filming. "Blocking" is the exact movements you will be making so as to remain in or out of the view of the camera.

* And ALWAYS remain quiet when in a sound stage, especially when filming. "Quiet On The Set" means "QUIET ON THE SET"! The microphones can pick up even the slightest whisper. Also, when the crew is setting up for shots, they need to be focused and hear each other. It can be loud enough for themselves, let alone the chatter of extras on top of it. So do not make noise or talk loudly in between filming.

* NEVER talk badly about anyone on the set, including the actors REGARDLESS of how you may feel about someone. Use tact when speaking about others. It is extremely poor character when speaking badly or disrespectful of or to others. If you hear someone else talking badly, ignore it. If someone speaks badly to or about you, just turn your cheek and do not return the bad character behavior, as the AD may end up only hearing YOU speak badly. Take this advice to heart if you wish to go far in the entertainment industry.

* When being fed lunch or dinner, ALWAYS let the cast and crew members get their food first. This is not because extras are less important, as many people who work on a film set may treat you. This is because the cast and crew need to get back to work as soon as possible, where the extras usually have by far the most "down time".

* And most importantly, HAVE FUN! There are huge egos on a film set. I mean gigantic monster stuck-up HUGE egos, and I'm not talking about just the actors! Take those people with a grain of salt... look at them as kind of like a cartoon character, then you can just smile at them. After all, isn't it pretty ridiculous to have a giant ego anyways? There are many people who will brag and brag about what they have done and what they are doing. There are long periods of standing and waiting. But hey, you are working on a movie or television set! How fun is that!! And you are learning about what happens on a set, becoming more and more comfortable in front of a camera. So enjoy the experience, as it can be VERY exciting.

* If you take my above advice to heart and give background acting your best shot, you'll enjoy it, make money at it and continue to work. And what's more fun than being with people, in the middle of the action and, later, seeing yourself on the silver screen?

Alan Baltes

Actors Headshots and Resumes


Unsolicited phone calls and personal visits to casting directors are prohibited in the entertainment industry. Not only does it display a huge level of non-professionalism, it is extremely inconsiderate of casting directors time. They receive hundreds, and even thousands of photos and resumes every week. They certainly can not accommodate being inundated with phone calls from actors, and aspiring actors. Talent Agents who know casting directors can call them if it is for a very important reason such as rescheduling a client for an audition.


I have been receiving some inquiries regarding what type of photos and resumes to send to a casting director or agent. Here is a sample of a professional actors resume and photo. The photo should not be a school photo, glamor shot, or a snapshot taken by a non-professional photographer. The photo should be color and professionally taken. Just remember that your photo is your calling card. It should represent the "real" you, the way you look in everyday life. If your hair is long in the photo, then your hair should be long when you walk in the casting office. If your skin is fair, then you should not come to the casting office with a dark tan. Always keep your photos up-to-date according to your look.

Also, there is no such thing as an "application" to fill out for acting jobs. Just the 8"X10" color photo and resume.

The photo can be taken either horizontal or vertical.

Sample Headshots

Actress Cheyenne Logan

This is child actor Marcus Calderon, and he landed a national Disneyland commercial with this photo.

Sample Resume

Click Here for a sample Beginners Resume.

One last note about your photos:

If you can't afford to pay a professional photographer to take your photos right now, you can try something else. If there is a school nearby that has a photography department, go there and see if you can do "testing". Testing is when you exchange your time posing for a photography student in exchange for them taking some theatrical headshots and giving you some prints.


After you get your photos done, get an original 8"x10" print from the photographer, then have that duplicated. Here is where I recommend (you can do it by mail):

Your name and any union affiliations should be printed on the bottom of the photo, either on the border or on the corner of the photo itself. Both the photo and resume should be exactly 8x10" and stapled back-to-back on all four corners. Do NOT paper clip the resume, but staple it on all four corners. That way if by some chance the photo does become detached from the resume, the casting director can match them up again. I use a light blue, light grey, or sand color parchment paper, it looks good and is stronger than regular thin printing paper. Paper clip your cover letter to the front of the photo and resume, and have that trimmed to 8x10 so they are all the same size. Send it out in a large manila envelope.

Include a very brief cover letter with your submission, stating that you are interested in auditioning for an acting role, or that you are seeking representation by an agent.


Click Here for sample photos used for extra work.
(photos courtesy of Rich Hogan Photography).

Actors Resume For Beginners

I am often asked about what to put on a resume when you have little or no experience. Well, we all have to start somewhere. When I first started acting, I only had some extra work that I had done. And I still landed an agent. Some people may say to lie. DO NOT lie! The business side of the entertainment industry is a tight knit community, and you will most likely be caught. You do not want to burn bridges in this business, especially when you are first starting out.

So here is a sample of what you should put down on a resume when you are starting out:

(NEVER list your home address or the school you attend if you are a minor for safety reasons)


Savannah Starlet
Date of Birth: 06/15/1998
Height: 4'11"
Weight: 92 lbs
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Green
(your email address here)
(your phone number here)

Acting & Modeling Objectives:

TV Shows
Commercial Print


Class Skits: Anne Frank-Mrs. & Mr. Van Dann.


High School Drama Club

Special Skills & Talents:


Sports & Hobbies:

Ballet, Soccer, Ice Skating, Basketball, Swimming, and Cheerleading. Like to hang out with friends, and volunteer for things to help people and animals.


That's it! You see, if a casting director really REALLY likes your photo and your look, they will call you in. Regardless of experience, or if you are in the Screen Actors Guild or AFTRA.