London: for fun, how would I go about getting cast in tv shows or movies
February 18, 2013 11:04 PM   Subscribe

I'm moving to London soon and I have a freelance job (totally unrelated to entertainment) which lets me schedule my week however I like. I think it might be fun to get cast as an extra or even get a speaking role in random tv shows or movies filmed in London. How would I go about doing this? Are there websites to register at or do I need to get an agent? I have zero acting experience.
posted by KimikoPi to Work & Money (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There are casting agencies that specialize in supplying extras. Register with one of those (it's probably a scam if they charge you a registration fee). It's a little bit like registering for temp work with a staffing agency, except the only "skills" they're interested in are your headshot, availability (your being available during regular workhours is a plus) and contact information. Don't expect more than a few hours notice for a gig.

Like temp work, being competent will set you apart from the herd. This means being punctual, available when the agency calls, and behaving on set. It's not good money, but hey, you're in show business!

Forget about landing a speaking role on a whim; plenty of actual actresses will be competing and auditioning for those.
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:09 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

Apply to Ray Knight Casting.
posted by roofus at 1:12 AM on February 19, 2013

I know somebody who got quite a lot of extra work through Star Now.

You won't get any small roles or speaking parts. It's hard for actresses to get those and hard to get an agent for them.
posted by tel3path at 2:01 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Your haircut can make a big difference if you're looking for extra work: for women in period dramas, long undyed hair is pretty much a must.
posted by Azara at 3:15 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Speaking of hair and period pieces, if you're a man, be OK with letting their barber go to town on you.

I used to work in the same building where HBO's Boardwalk Empire is shot (US-based, but this probably still holds true), and there were always signs up directing Male Background Actors to line up for their haircuts/facial hair grooming.

I never saw signs for women -- not sure if they only cast women with the right hair for the 1920's, used wigs, or they just had the women line up to get Bobbed somewhere else.
posted by Sara C. at 8:01 AM on February 19, 2013

ceribus peribus' info. is spot on.

I can't speak to the London part, but I do have a female relative working as an extra in New York City, including on Boardwalk Empire. I will second Azara that haircut does make a big difference, and if you are a woman you will have more options if your hair is not dyed. My relative stopped dying her hair in order to get work on Boardwalk Empire. You also are not likely to get any small roles or speaking parts. My relative was super excited once in the time she has been doing this to get to say a few words (but that scene was subsequently cut, so there you go.) It is not super great pay, even when you are in the Union, which she recently joined.

Another male relative did some extra work when he was living in Bulgaria on made for tv type English language movies, and in that case he did get a few lines now and then, but that was just because he was a native English speaker and they sometimes got stuck and needed someone who could legitimately sound American. Again, the pay was not great so he was mostly doing it for fun and because he was not working at that time.
posted by gudrun at 9:24 AM on February 19, 2013

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