How to find work on a Film Set as an Extra or Runner
Updated: Aug 13
In this Covid-19 climate, many people have found themselves without a job due to company closures and layoffs. It is certainly a desperate situation to be in. But some industries are still operating and offer a way to make a side income.
The film industry is one such industry that is currently operational during the pandemic and partial lockdown. Getting some part-time work in this industry is highly accessible, provided you are prepared and equipped.
The easiest gigs to land are for film set extras (you need virtually no skills for this) and film set runners (you do need some skill for this). The daily rates you get paid for these jobs are quite good and can be a good supplement to another part-time gig you might have or could even be as good as a full-time job if you manage to get enough bookings in a month.
What is a Film Set Extra?
Film extras are the people you see in the background on films and commercials. They typically are diners in restaurants, people walking on sidewalks, in parks, etc. The 1st Assistant Director normally directs the background extras and informs everyone to be natural
and not look at the camera. You don’t have to have great acting skills to be an extra, but those who can act and who know their way around a movie set often land up with bigger roles, such as a featured extra. That means the camera may be more focused on them in certain scenes than on the background extras, and that also means a higher fee. If you’re
really ambitious and dedicated, joining the movie industry as a film set extra may be a good foot in the door to a successful career in acting.
What is a Film Set Runner?
Film Set Runners, on the other hand, are assistants on film sets and can work in a number of different departments. Mostly they require a driver's license and do a lot of driving around, but sometimes they can work on set without having to drive, all depending on the department they are working in. For this job you definitely need skills. There are many set protocols to follow and if you mess up you can cost the production a lot of money. Film companies will rarely hire Runners with no skills for this reason. To excel in this role you need to be able to take direction well, be an excellent team player and know and understand how
a film set works. If you pick up a few gigs a month, you can earn almost as much money as someone with a full-time job. You can either work on commercials or on feature films or documentaries. Your daily rate on a commercial will be higher than your daily rate on a documentary due to the difference in production budgets. If you land a job as a Runner on a feature
film, you will work 12 hour days, 6 days a week, and earn a weekly salary. All in all the rates are actually quite good. The benefit of starting out as a Runner is you can work your way up the ladder. Many successful directors and producers started off as Runners.
How do you get started?
Firstly we would highly recommend doing an orientation course so that you understand how to navigate your way around a film set. This will equip you with the necessary skills to work successfully on a film set. Once you are orientated, the next step is to find a good agent that can get you film jobs. There are literally hundreds of agents out there, but unfortunately also dozens of scam agencies who ask for a joining fee. You should never pay a joining fee. If you
see an ad asking for a joining fee, do not respond. Look to film and business directories for good agents and always check out their social media pages to see what they are up to. If their social media pages look amateurish, that is usually a sign that they are too. If they have zero social media presence, that is not a good sign. A good, strong agent will be active in the marketplace, and showcase some of their work. Always make sure to check out the agents carefully before signing up with them. Ask them how often their people get work and ask them to give you some examples of the commercials or films their people have worked on.
We hope this blog helped you gain a better understanding of what these two jobs entail.
If you want to become a Film Set Extra or Film Set Runner, then check out our Orientation Courses to help you get going. They are super affordable and come with mentorship from qualified filmmakers.
Click here - FILM-RELATED COURSES
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