Menu Close

The Ultimate Guide to Background Acting in LA

A bustling film set in los angeles

Background acting, also known as extras work, is an essential part of the film and TV industry. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the world of background acting in Los Angeles (LA), providing you with everything you need to know to kickstart your career in this exciting field. From understanding the basics of background acting to navigating the LA acting scene, we’ve got you covered. So, let’s dive in and discover the ultimate guide to background acting in LA.

Understanding the Basics of Background Acting

Before we delve into the specifics, let’s first define what background acting is. Essentially, background actors are individuals who fill out the scenes in film and TV productions, creating a realistic and immersive environment. While they may not have speaking roles or receive extensive screen time, background actors play a crucial role in adding depth and authenticity to the story.

Now that we understand the importance of background actors, let’s explore their role in more detail. As a background actor, your main task is to portray a character in a particular setting or situation. This could involve being part of a crowd in a bustling city, dining in a restaurant, or simply walking down the street. Your presence helps bring the scene to life, making it believable and captivating for the viewers.

When it comes to background acting, attention to detail is key. You need to pay close attention to the director’s instructions and follow them precisely. This includes understanding your character’s backstory, motivations, and relationships with other characters in the scene. While you may not have lines to memorize, it’s important to fully embody your character and react authentically to the environment and other actors.

Background actors often have to adapt quickly to different situations and environments. You may be required to wear specific costumes, use props, or perform simple actions to enhance the scene. It’s essential to be flexible and open to direction, as the needs of the production may change at any given moment.

Working as a background actor also means being part of a team. You will collaborate with other actors, crew members, and production staff to create a cohesive and compelling visual narrative. Building positive relationships and maintaining a professional attitude on set is crucial for a successful background acting career.

While background acting may seem like a straightforward job, it requires patience, perseverance, and a genuine passion for the craft. It’s an opportunity to be part of the magic of filmmaking, even if you’re not in the spotlight. So, if you’re interested in pursuing a career in acting or simply want to experience the excitement of being on set, background acting can be a fulfilling and rewarding path to explore.

Preparing for Your Background Acting Career

Now that you have a grasp of what background acting entails, it’s time to prepare for your career in this field. Developing essential skills is crucial for success as a background actor. One such skill is the ability to take direction well. Background actors are often given specific instructions on how to move, where to stand, and how to interact with the principal actors. Being able to listen and execute these directions efficiently is essential.

But there’s more to being a background actor than just following directions. It’s important to understand the dynamics of a film or TV set. Familiarize yourself with the different roles and responsibilities of the crew members, such as the director, cinematographer, and production assistants. Knowing who does what will not only help you navigate the set more effectively but also demonstrate your professionalism and dedication to the craft.

In addition to honing your skills, building an acting resume tailored to background acting will greatly enhance your chances of getting hired. Even though background roles don’t typically require extensive acting experience, having a well-crafted resume that highlights any relevant training or previous work in the industry will make you stand out to casting directors.

When creating your resume, include any acting classes or workshops you’ve attended, as well as any special skills or talents you possess that could be valuable on set. For example, if you’re proficient in a foreign language or have experience in martial arts, make sure to mention it. These unique attributes can make you a more desirable candidate for certain roles.

Furthermore, consider joining an acting agency or casting service that specializes in background work. These organizations often have connections with casting directors and can help you find opportunities that align with your skills and interests. They can also provide valuable advice and guidance throughout your background acting journey.

Another crucial aspect of preparing for your background acting career is networking. Attend industry events, film festivals, and acting workshops to meet professionals in the field. Building relationships with casting directors, producers, and fellow actors can open doors to new opportunities and increase your visibility in the industry.

Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of perseverance. Background acting can be competitive, and it may take time before you land your first gig. Stay dedicated to your craft, continue improving your skills, and never give up on your dreams. With patience and persistence, you can carve out a successful career as a background actor.

Navigating the LA Acting Scene

Moving on to the next phase of your background acting journey, let’s explore the LA acting scene. Los Angeles is renowned for being the entertainment capital of the world, making it a prime location for pursuing a career in acting, including background acting.

Understanding the LA film and TV industry is crucial for success. Familiarize yourself with the major production companies, studios, and casting agencies in the area. Research the types of projects being filmed in LA, such as feature films, TV shows, commercials, and music videos. This knowledge will help you target the right opportunities and stay up-to-date with industry trends.

One of the major production companies in LA is Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Founded in 1923, Warner Bros. has been responsible for producing countless iconic films and TV shows. Some of their notable productions include “The Dark Knight Trilogy,” “Friends,” and “Harry Potter.” Being aware of such influential production companies can give you a sense of the scale and diversity of the LA acting scene.

Additionally, there are several renowned studios in LA where many productions take place. Paramount Pictures, located in Hollywood, is one of the oldest and most prestigious studios in the city. It has been the backdrop for numerous legendary films, including “The Godfather,” “Titanic,” and “Indiana Jones.” Other notable studios include Universal Studios and Sony Pictures Studios, both of which have contributed significantly to the LA acting scene.

When it comes to casting agencies, there are numerous options to choose from in LA. Some of the well-established agencies include Central Casting, which has been providing background actors for over 90 years, and Casting Networks Inc., a leading platform that connects actors with casting directors. Researching and familiarizing yourself with these agencies can help you navigate the casting process more effectively.

Networking is another key element of the LA acting scene. Building connections with fellow actors, industry professionals, and casting directors will open doors to potential roles and enhance your visibility within the community. Attend industry events, such as film festivals and acting showcases, where you can meet like-minded individuals and establish valuable connections. Joining acting workshops and classes not only allows you to improve your skills but also provides opportunities to network with industry insiders who may be scouting for talent.

Engaging in online platforms dedicated to actors is also a great way to expand your network. Websites like Backstage and Actors Access allow you to create profiles, upload your headshots and resumes, and apply for various acting opportunities. These platforms often feature forums and discussion boards where you can interact with other actors, share experiences, and gain valuable insights into the LA acting scene.

Remember, the more people you connect with, the greater your chances of finding exciting background acting opportunities. Building a strong network and staying informed about the industry will help you navigate the competitive and ever-evolving LA acting scene with confidence.

The Casting Process for Background Actors

Now that you have a solid understanding of the LA acting scene, let’s explore the casting process specifically for background actors. Finding casting calls in LA is crucial, and there are various resources available to assist you in this endeavor. Online platforms, such as, provide a convenient way to register and submit your information for auditions. These platforms allow casting directors to search for suitable background actors based on specific criteria, making it easier for you to be considered for roles.

When it comes to auditioning for background roles, it’s important to keep a few tips in mind. Firstly, be punctual and professional. Arrive on time and be prepared to follow instructions. Dress appropriately for the role and bring any required wardrobe items if specified. Additionally, remember that background auditions often do not require a monologue or specific preparation. However, be ready to showcase your ability to take direction and adapt to different on-set scenarios.

On-Set Etiquette and Expectations

Lastly, it’s vital to understand on-set etiquette and expectations as a background actor. Being professional and respectful on set is paramount. Follow the instructions given by the assistant directors and production team promptly and without question. Show respect towards the principal actors and crew, as well as fellow background actors. Maintaining a positive attitude and a strong work ethic will leave a lasting impression and increase your chances of being hired for future projects.

Another aspect of on-set etiquette is familiarizing yourself with the terminology commonly used by the film and TV industry. Understanding terms like “rolling,” “action,” and “cut” will help you navigate the set smoothly and communicate effectively with the production team.

In conclusion, background acting in LA offers an exciting opportunity to be part of the entertainment industry and gain valuable experience. By understanding the basics of background acting, preparing well for auditions, navigating the LA acting scene, and following on-set etiquette, you’ll be well on your way to a successful background acting career. So, embrace this unique role, seize the opportunities, and let your talent shine in the world of background acting in LA.

Ready to step into the world of background acting in LA? MyCastingFile is your gateway to connecting with top casting directors and landing roles that will let your talent shine on the big screen. With a decade of experience, MyCastingFile offers a seamless platform for actors to create profiles, get matched with daily casting notices, and work on some of the most exciting film and TV sets across the country. Don’t miss your chance to be part of this vibrant community and get paid for doing what you love. Submit your casting profile today and take the first step towards a successful background acting career!