The Background Actor is one who participates in a motion picture, film or television commercial and has no speaking role. Films that depict large crowds and battle scenes often employ background actors in large numbers: some films have featured hundreds or even thousands of paid background actors as cast members (hence the term ‘cast of thousands’). On a film or TV set, background actors are usually referred to as “background talent”, “background performers”, “background artists”, “background cast members” or simply “background” while the term “extra” is rarely used.
Production companies do not ask Casting Directors for just anybody they can get to be booked as Background, but are rather quite specific as to their needs for a particular set or scene so that the most realistic environment and flavor can be most effectively captured. Background Actors are also called upon to be Stand-Ins for the main actors to enable the production crew to most effectively set appropriate lighting and camera movements prior to shooting the scene with the featured actors.
Background Actors almost always must have a specific look and sometimes specific skills to fulfill the requirement of the production. In some cases Background Actors must interview or meet with the Background Casting Director for a specific scene. Any type of unrealistic portrayal must include some form of imagination and acting. Punctuality, reliability and the ability to take direction also figure prominently for these cast members. Background actors are often selected on short notice, after all other preparations for the shoot have been finalized.
As no formal audition and in most cases, acting experience is required for the role of a Background Actor, the position carries very little weight regarding and acting Resume’, however, it can be used to depict a certain level of experience on professional sets.
At CAI, we take the role of the Background Actor quite seriously knowing that many well know actors started their careers by doing background work some of whom are on our client roster. Will this be you? Well, there are certainly no guarantee but if you do register with us for Background work, we do assure you that if you do your part and also abide by the do’s and don’ts that we will go over with you, you will be on the right track and we’ll do everything we can to assist you in the advancement of your career.