Being an extra is very exciting, you are on huge sets and beautiful locations in all sorts of incredible costumes (usually corsets if you are me, I must have a period look about me).
However, they can be very long and sometimes tedious days, especially if you are not being used in a particular scene. It’s usual to be waiting anywhere between 3-6 hours (and if you are very unlucky, sometimes you are not used at all), so I have put together a quick list of things to bring to help make your day a bit easier.
Whether you are allowed to take your phone set with you or not (some productions are relaxed whilst others will tell you to leave it with your other belongings) you will need a fully charged phone to keep you entertained while you are waiting or for when make your way home.
I once booked a coach for 10pm at night thinking this was plenty of time, having originally been told wrap time would be between 6-8pm as it was a Sunday, unfortunately it took a while to get all the scenes needed and we did not wrap until 10pm, cue frantic phone calls while the hair and make up lady was pulling out headpieces and about 1,000 Kirby grips trying to sort out another coach home.
Battery life dwindles so quickly these days, even if left with the rest of your things, so its worth the investment to make sure you are never stranded without communication. You can get some really handy phone case and charger combos these days which are ideal.
You’d think this is obvious, but it really is not on your list of priorities when you are trying to get across London to the location or pick up point, but you will be glad you brought something for in-between scenes or while you are getting hair and make up done (my last extra job took 4 and half hours to get into costume, make up and hair).
Just in case the production doesn’t let you take a bag to the location I would always advise buying a magazine as they do not usually have lockers or anywhere once you get there, and if you are in a costume where you can’t store things you will be at a bit of a loss, at least you won’t mind losing a magazine.
I can’t stress how important it is to make sure that you are not hungry during the day. Most productions will provide breakfast, but it is usually pretty basic, we are talking porridge or bacon butties, so if neither of them tickle your fancy then bring in cereal bars, bananas, but do make sure they are foods with a slow energy release which will keep you going until lunch, there is nothing worse than having to stand around waiting for a scene and getting increasingly HANGRY.
This might seem like a weird one, but believe me, you will be having some early mornings and late nights when you are doing extra work, and if like me you are a contact lens wearer you will need something to relieve the dry irritability they and being overly tired can cause. It’s amazing how much of a difference they can make to your mood.
OK it’s not something you can physically bring but I think I need to stress how important your attitude is on set, everyone on set will be tired and hungry at some stage, you are not special, treat everyone with respect and smile.
Some productions will pick out extras to be in more prominent spots in the scenes they are shooting, and they are more likely to pick someone amiable and easy to work with if the opportunity arises. No sulking!