Before you make it big in Hollywood, you've got to start somewhere. For a lot of people, "somewhere" is the bottom, yes, the absolute bottom on a film or T.V. set, as an "extra." These are the people you see wandering about, usually out of focus, never talking, in the background of all of your favorite movies and television shows. This is why the more politically correct term for the profession is "Background Artist." Which is about as esteemable as "Sandwich Artist." Some people in showbiz prefer to call them "Atmosphere." No one knows why. Your guess is as good as mine.
AC/DC once said, "It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n' roll." Nothing more true has ever been said in the history of the known universe. Being an extra is about as unglamorous as it gets, and this list explains why.What's the worst thing about being a Hollywood Extra? Vote up the most terrible aspects of working as a Background Artist below.
You Never Know When You'll Have Work
You might work five days this week. You might work zero. No one knows. Have fun paying your rent!
You Are Instantly Replaceable
Job security? None. Nobody needs you around. They can get somebody else to fill your fake seat at that fake concert in a heartbeat.
Essentially, you have no worth. Hope you sleep well tonight!
This is when you are working on a show for a shot, or scene, that requires possibly hundreds of extras.
This means that you get to spend 14 hours crammed into a tight space with hundreds of people you don't know. Also, don't forget... this is Hollywood – there are some genuinely horrifying and/or certifiably insane people here trying to make it big.
You'll find ALL OF THEM doing background on cattle calls. And you get to be their friend all day!
Days on set can be long. 14 hours isn't uncommon. However, as a "Professional Extra," you don't just work one show, and you might have an overnight shoot on Monday followed by a morning call on Tuesday. You'll be racing from job to job with no sleep – but your job is essentially sleepwalking, so you've got that going for you at least.