How to cast the perfect extras for your film

How to cast the perfect extras for your film

Casting is a lot like dating: you want to get the right person for the job, but you also want them to fit in with your vision and cast. When it comes to extras, finding the right people can be difficult. But if done correctly, your shoot will look amazing! Here are some tips on how we've been able to cast extras for our films over time:

Find a Casting Director who can read a room

The casting director is the person who will be responsible for finding and hiring extras, so you want to find a casting director who can read a room.

A good way to get an idea of whether your casting director can read a room is by asking them what they think about different types of people in their industry. If someone says they don't like tall people, then there's no chance that he or she would be able to cast extras in action movies!

Don’t forget about Body Doubles and Stand-Ins

One of the most important things to keep in mind when casting extras is that you should have a good number of body doubles, or actors who look like your main actor. Body doubles are used when there are scenes where two people appear on screen at the same time and they need to be very similar looking. For example, if your lead actor has long hair, then you'll probably want someone else with long hair as well—but not too long!

Another type of extra is an understudy or stand-in who's given specific instructions by directors while rehearsing with them during breaks between filming sessions. Stand-ins can also provide valuable assistance helping actors learn lines so they don't forget them when filming starts up again later on down the line; this role isn't necessary but it's always nice!

Look to your community for talent

  • Make a list of everyone you know who may be interested. This can be your friends, family members and colleagues. It could also be the local community center or church where you attend services regularly. A list of actors who are available is great to have on hand for those casting calls—it will help you narrow down who you should contact next and save time later when trying to find new talent.
  • Ask around town if there’s anyone in the area who might be interested in being an extra on your film! Many times people don't realize what opportunities exist until someone asks them directly about it.
  • Consider asking other local theaters, dance schools or music studios as well; these organizations often offer opportunities for people looking for extra work.

If possible, try contacting police departments or your local film commission (some municipalities have a special officer dedicated specifically toward casting extras).

Have no shame in your game!

  • Be honest about your needs. It's important to be clear with yourself and with the extras’ casting director about what you're looking for, so that they can help you find just the right people.
  • Respect the talent you are seeking. You know that there are many great actors out there, but it's also important to remember that these people have other lives and interests outside acting—and some of them might not feel like they have much time available in their schedule anyway! So don't be afraid to ask them if they'd be interested in being involved in your project; remember: No one owes anyone anything except food: Even if there's no paycheck, if you took care of their bellies, it's very probable they would come back again happy the next day.

Good extras are stealthy extras

Being an extra on a film is a lot like being in the military. You have to be ready to go whenever called upon, prepared for any situation and able to follow directions without hesitation. This can be especially true if you're not familiar with the world of acting or filmmaking. If you're new to either, it's important that your extra work is done well so that directors will want to hire you again; after all, good extras are stealthy extras!

The most important thing is flexibility: how well do they react under pressure? Are they creative? Do they improvise when given free reign over their character? Do they take direction well—or does their ego take over more often than not? These questions should be answered before selecting people from various backgrounds (like location shooting versus studio sets) as well as ethnicities/nationalities (locals vs foreigners).

Establish a budget and stick to it

When it comes to your budget, you want to be sure that you're not going over. It's important to establish a budget and stick with it throughout the shoot. Make sure that all of the extras who are working on set know what their job entails and how much they will be paid for their work.

Keep track of all expenses as they occur so that everything is accounted for when taxes need filed or receipts need submitted.

Utilize your resources

If you don't have the right people to do the job, find them. You'll want to make sure that you have enough extras on hand before shooting in case they go missing or can't make it due to a scheduling conflict. Also be prepared to pay for their services and supplies (if necessary), sometimes even their transportation.

The best way to find the right people for the job is to network. You can talk to other actors, producers and directors to see who they know that could fit a specific role. Another option is using social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, or even LinkedIn; then post a call-out asking for any extras who might be interested in being part of your project! If this isn't possible then try setting up a casting call at local theaters or acting schools - just make sure there aren't any restrictions on age or gender before sending out notices through those channels too!


Add a realistic touch to your scenes

Adding a realistic touch to your scenes is an easy way to make them more interesting and engaging. You can do this by using real people, or people who live in the area and have experience doing what you're looking for. For example: if you're looking for extras with military experience, then look for veterans who are willing to appear in front of the camera!

In a similar vein, if you're shooting a scene in a factory or school setting, then it's good to get real extras who work in these places. This can give your film an authentic feel, and it also helps with continuity issues. For example: if you're shooting a scene where people are working with an industrial air compressor, then make sure that those extras have experience using those devices!

Encourage creativity, but keep control of the situation

The most important thing is to be open to ideas. If you don’t want something, it shouldn’t be an issue. Don't let extras take over the shoot. And don't be afraid to say no if you think an idea isn't going anywhere or would interfere with your vision for the film.

You should also encourage creativity by giving people room and opportunity for improvisation during filming—for example, by holding up signs or pointing out interesting stuff happening in the background of shots that could provide inspiration for extras' ideas on how they should react in those situations.

Use the proper tools for handling the casting

If you only need a handful of extras, organizing everything manually might do the trick: Create a tidy folder in Google Drive and organize everything from your extras in folders. That way you can access all of their information, measurements, contact information and photos easily. But if you’re in need of a lot of extras, or want to speed up the process while also having the power of AI and Machine Learning helping you achieve more, choose better extras and discard the profiles that don’t fit your specifications, think about using a cloud-based tool like CastingHub. With CastingHub, you can handle your auditions completely online, from your computer, phone or tablet. You can try it for your next production with a 7-day free trial!


We hope this guide has given you some insight into how to cast extras for your next project. Remember, the best way to go about it is with an open mind and a willingness to work with other people. Don’t be afraid of being creative or trying something new—and most importantly, don’t forget about the actors! They are the ones who will make or break your film in terms of performance quality.

If you have any additional tips for working with extras, please share them with us, so I can add them to this list as well :)


Jane Horowitz

Jane Horowitz

Published November 12, 2022

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