Join 3,520 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


I like 30 Rock, I watch 30 Rock... how hard could it be to get ON 30 Rock?
January 28, 2011 5:07 PM   Subscribe

I like 30 Rock, I watch 30 Rock... how hard could it be to get ON 30 Rock?

Lately I've been focusing on too many of the little details of shows and movies. For example, the sheer number of extras one has to hire to do certain scenes with people walking around in the background.

Using my fuzzy logic, it seems that if I really wanted to be on a TV show such as my favorite... 30 Rock, it couldn't possibly be THAT hard... could it? Here are the details:

- I f'ing love 30 Rock. It's a national show that seemingly gets away with lots of jokes that only real New Yorkers would get. (And I'm a born and raised Manhattanite... which means that I was either born and raised here, or that being on this little island strips me of my super human powers.)

- I live in Manhattan, hell, I could walk from my office to 30 Rock in like 15 minutes.

- I would be willing to be there at ANY time.

- I have no shame, and would say anything (or hell, just walk in the background). A speaking line is probably too much to ask.

- I am a fairly handsome guy (27 years old, 5' 10" thin muscular build).

- I have zero intention of being an actor. I just want to be on this particular show once.

- I don't care about celebrities, I just enjoy the writing and frankly would love to have a screen grab of me on the show on facebook. (I work in a job where occasionally I have to interact with well known people and discretion is paramount).

So... how hard could it be, and how the hell would I accomplish this?
posted by darkgroove to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
You'd need to somehow come to the attention of a casting director. There aren't a lot of crowd scenes, and you might notice that the show is actually shot on a sound stage in Long Island City. I think the live episode was shot in Studio 8H, the SNL stage. In general, fans are more trouble than they're worth on episodic TV. If you want a speaking part, you'd need to be a SAG member.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:44 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have zero acting ability but love Law and Order and think I'd make an excellent dead body (see acting skills) - the few people I know who have either been extras or PAs for the show all say the same thing - get head shots made and send them to the casting agents. I would bet it's the same for 30 Rock. Good luck!
posted by cestmoi15 at 5:50 PM on January 28, 2011


Googling "how to be an extra in a tv show" led me to this, which led me to this casting info for 30 Rock. Good luck!
posted by Monsieur Caution at 5:51 PM on January 28, 2011


Have you seen this?
Extras Casting:

Barbara McNamara Casting
40 West 25th Street
6th Floor
New York NY 10010

Barbara McNamara Casting is seeking background actors for 30 Rock.
Click Here to register.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:52 PM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Become friends with someone who works at that casting agency. The process should be: submit an application, they might take a picture of you, you get put in a file with the thousands of other "actors" (though you don't classify yourself as one) who want to be extras.

If your schedule/description/appearance works out in the extras casting directors' favor, you get a call. Most of the time it's for a random show or movie. If you're lucky it's for a show or movie with actors/crew that you've actually heard of. If you are very lucky it'll be for the one show you want. I'm not sure how friendly the agency would be to someone who continually turns them down on the rare times they do call you, since you only want the one opportunity.

If you do end up getting the 30 Rock cattle call, congratulations! You've gotten your goal. Now you get to wake up at some ungodly hour and go to the set. If you're lucky, it'll be at their studios in Queens. If you're unlucky they'll be on location, which usually means outside. Generally the money shots in front of the landmarks (e.g. 30 Rock) are done with free background, meaning they are are careful that DOF is shallow enough to properly blur any randoms passing by. You might be expected to dress a certain way. You might even be lucky enough to hold a prop or two, like a glass of champagne.

Once you're there, have fun. Ideal extras are the ones who are subtly in the background. You might be expected to have a "conversation" with someone. That means you casually, unremarkably mouth animatedly (but not too animatedly) with another person. Mutely laughing. Extras are not directed, unless a 2nd 2nd assistant director cues you when to walk past. Unfortunately, you will not have any lines. That's for the SAG actors. You'll sign a waiver for X amount. When you're not shooting, you're expected to be in your holding area or otherwise absolutely silent on set.

But hey, who cares! You got to be in a scene in 30 Rock. And who knows, they might not cut it and it'll end up in the show! Wouldn't that be awesome! Here's one extra's account of it. Good luck.
posted by therewolf at 5:59 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Speaking Parts is a movie exploring this theme.
posted by ovvl at 6:17 PM on January 28, 2011


The easiest route for someone not particularly interested in being a regularly working actor would be to register with Central Casting. I do a lot of work with and for Casting agents and the 30 Rock background parts are pretty widely distributed so its pretty public knowledge what they're casting for. I just sent my brothers kid for a part on the show recently. Oh - and when you say you'll be there anytime - you need to MEAN IT - one of my long time, regular models shot a scene yesterday for 30 Rock (her second time on the show) - despite the massive snowstorm. Good thing she had a snowday... Anyhow, if you're interested in more info get in touch by email and I might have some casting directors you can get in touch with in addition to registering with Central.
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:54 PM on January 28, 2011


Gary... Greg... GOOGLE? I was WAY off... (google-fu that is). Thank you all for contributing, especially therewolf who linked to an account of an extra on none other than 30 Rock (makes it sound pretty darn glamorous...)

Hopefully you will see me one day, laughing casually, for half a second ON 30 ROCK!
posted by darkgroove at 7:16 PM on January 28, 2011


I live in Manhattan, hell, I could walk from my office to 30 Rock in like 15 minutes.

You understand that 30 Rock isn't actually shot at Thirty Rockefeller Plaza, right? I believe they shoot the soundstage work at Silvercup, though it could be Silvercup East. Locations are shot all over the city - I've caught a lot of exteriors in Long Island City and Greenpoint, but that's par for the course for any TV show that shoots on New York stages. If you have a location slug line like EXT STREET, there's no reason to go to midtown to shoot it when it could just as easily take place three blocks from the stages, saving thousands in trucking and holding costs.

I would be willing to be there at ANY time.

If you are serious about this, what you want to do is to get in touch with an extras casting agency. You have as much chance as anyone else of being pulled for 30 Rock (I would strongly advise you NOT TO MENTION your specific love of 30 Rock - creepy stalkers are a very real thing that shows take very seriously). The community of extras in New York is actually pretty small, so there's a decent chance you could end up at 30 Rock one day (again, as long as you DON'T MENTION 30 ROCK TO THE CASTING AGENCY). The specific agency 30 Rock uses is probably in the credits for the show.

I have no shame, and would say anything (or hell, just walk in the background). A speaking line is probably too much to ask.

Unless you are a member of the Screen Actor's Guild, then yes. Actually, they might use only SAG extras, in which case you would be entirely SOL.

I am a fairly handsome guy (27 years old, 5' 10" thin muscular build).

They probably don't care about this. Extras come in all shapes and sizes. One thing I've noticed for 30 Rock, though, is that a HUGE proportion of each episode takes place at TGS or in Jack's office, which means that the extras they use are their regular extras - the folks that play That Stoner-Looking Grip, or Teamster #6. There is little or no chance of you getting a gig like that at this point, though.

I have zero intention of being an actor. I just want to be on this particular show once.

It doesn't really work that way. Even if you just want to be an extra, you have to be an "actor", so to speak. You need to get in touch with a casting agency, have a head shot, etc. While it's possible that you could luck into your one and only background gig being 30 Rock, from what I've said above it doesn't seem likely.

...and frankly would love to have a screen grab of me on the show on facebook. (I work in a job where occasionally I have to interact with well known people and discretion is paramount).

This would be highly unlikely to ever happen. Even on the off chance that you went through the process of becoming an extra, 30 Rock happened to use non-union extras sometimes, and they needed a bunch of different people who weren't their regulars, AND you lucked into one of these gigs, there'd be a strong chance that you wouldn't be in focus or that you'd end up on the cutting room floor. That's why they call them background actors, after all.
posted by Sara C. at 9:42 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have zero acting ability but love Law and Order and think I'd make an excellent dead body (see acting skills)

You've seen Law and Order, right? You get that you'd have to play a principal role in several key scenes in order to get to the part where you're a dead body? Right?

Funny story I can now tell because I no longer work there: I used to work on Criminal Intent. A certain one hit wonder lead singer of the 90's wanted to be a dead body on the show. He even came in to be photographed in corpse makeup on our morgue set. I had the photos on my work computer for years. However, it never came to pass for whatever reason.
posted by Sara C. at 9:45 PM on January 28, 2011


Sara C.: "You've seen Law and Order, right? You get that you'd have to play a principal role in several key scenes in order to get to the part where you're a dead body? Right?"

Don't 90% of Law and Order opening sequences consist of a random one-off character stumbling across the already-dead body?
posted by Rhaomi at 10:01 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not entirely sure - my knowledge comes from reading about 100 Criminal Intent scripts over the years. Where the stiff doesn't usually emerge until the last scene of the teaser (after at least one or two scenes that involve actual acting). I haven't watched a mothership episode in a while, but I always thought that was a similarity the two shows shared.

If nothing else, there's a typically a substantial amount of acting work involved in the supplementary materials that are needed. For instance if the victim appears in surveillance footage or video of some significant event, or flashback scenes. There are also photos that need to be taken in character (which is a lot harder than it seems - it's basically being an actor and a model at the same time).

Trust me from actual lived experience, it's just not as simple as "lie here and look dead for 20 minutes".
posted by Sara C. at 10:26 PM on January 28, 2011


I or my work has been on 2 high profile TV shows without really trying. I second all the info about casting, but I'd add just start/continue a blog that mentions the show a lot. People who work on the show also google around a lot. So don't neglect your internet presence. Contact me directly for more details. Good luck! Don't Lemon it!
posted by carlh at 4:16 AM on January 29, 2011


You get that you'd have to play a principal role in several key scenes in order to get to the part where you're a dead body?

Uh… you've seen Law and Order, right? Particularly the first 90 seconds? There have been countless parodies of the "dead body opening scene" that L&O made famous.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:37 AM on January 29, 2011


Uh… you've seen Law and Order, right? Particularly the first 90 seconds? There have been countless parodies of the "dead body opening scene" that L&O made famous.

Read what I wrote above. I worked on a series in the franchise and know exactly what goes into the production of the show. The dead body is not just a person who is willing to lie still for a few minutes. There is a lot of acting involved.

The way that the viewer experiences a television show has very little to do with the demands of making a television show. You see 20 seconds of lying still on the floor. I see a week or two of work to enable that to happen. An actor might see that as one of the biggest challenges they've ever faced, and almost certainly their closest brush with career success to date.
posted by Sara C. at 10:40 AM on January 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Read what I wrote above. I worked on a series in the franchise and know exactly what goes into the production of the show. The dead body is not just a person who is willing to lie still for a few minutes. There is a lot of acting involved.

Isn't Criminal Intent different in this respect than the original Law and Order? In CI you frequently saw the crime occur (and hence the victim alive), but this was usually not the case in the original series, at least early on.
posted by Jahaza at 3:41 PM on January 29, 2011


Yeah, I'll second what Sara C. is pointing out here. I've worked with a couple of those "dead bodies" and they're serious, talented SAG actors - not your typical background actor, for sure - even I have done background... no particular skill required there.
posted by blaneyphoto at 3:47 PM on January 29, 2011


Isn't Criminal Intent different in this respect than the original Law and Order? In CI you frequently saw the crime occur (and hence the victim alive), but this was usually not the case in the original series, at least early on.

I explained above. Several times, actually. In addition to maybe having a scene or two of acting before the murder, on any police procedural you will also need a lot of "supplementary" stuff, like video footage, photographs, etc. which definitely requires acting ability.

Whether a dead body is discovered cold or we see the crime happen, you still need to sell this person as a real character that the audience should care about. This is actually quite difficult to do while lying on the floor acting like a corpse, and generally there is a lot of other exposition written into the show about who this person was and why it matters. Said exposition needs to be backed up visually with something. This requires acting on the part of the person hired as the victim.

FWIW, in addition to working on a police procedural, I have a friend who was once one of our Dead Girls Of The Week. This is the biggest acting role she has earned to date - and she's someone who's done stage work all over the country, Shakespeare, Chekhov, and all the heavy stuff. Went to Julliard. The woman can ACT her ass off. It's not the same as being an extra. Period.
posted by Sara C. at 9:13 PM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


« Older How does the sudden departure ...   |  i'm looking for any info (webs... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.