Do You Have To Audition To Be An Extra?

Audition for a Movie Extra

To be an extra in a movie or TV show in Ireland, a person does not have to audition. There’s no need to prepare a self-tape, read a script, perform for the director, or display acting skills. You certainly don’t need to be an actor or part of a union.

Also known as background actors or supporting talent, extras do just that—pad out the background to create atmosphere in a movie. Usually all that’s required is to walk past the main actors in a scene, casually read a newspaper in a café, or mime a conversation in a pub with another background actor—all while the camera’s rolling. Just act natural!

You don’t even need professional headshots—a decent, clear head and shoulders photo in good lighting is more than enough. You can work full time as an extra or just treat it as a social hobby that you enjoy once or twice a month.

Do Semi-Featured and Featured Extras have to Audition?

A step up from a regular extra is a semi-featured extra, and then the dizzying heights of a featured-extra. A featured-extra might have to say one or two lines in a scene. Depending on the producer’s requirement, the candidate might have to send in a brief self-tape in advance. The tape is no more than videoing yourself on a smart phone speaking the lines. Obviously, the role will go to whoever’s look and delivery best matches the casting director’s ideal.

Being selected as a semi-featured extra in a commercial (e.g. a TV advert) doesn’t require a self-tape or an audition. It does, however, deliver a pay bonus, which can result in a decent wage for a day on set. The video below gives an example of a semi-featured extra in an Irish TV & movie advert. Note the man in the pink sweater in the background for the last two seconds of the advert. No audition was required to simply look like a person enjoying a family celebration while the camera rolled. That semi-featured extra received €430 for the advert.

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