Grant Wilfley Casting primarily casts background actors (also referred to as extras). A background role is any non-speaking role in a film or television show. Sometimes background roles are featured, and sometimes they are part of a large crowd scene.
Even though the background does not speak, they are still very important. They help define the tone, time period, and location of the scene. Different types of background performers can transform any city street. Hundreds of Japanese people can make it seem like downtown Tokyo. A dozen men and women in 1930s costumes suddenly take us back in time. And one lone extra in zombie make-up makes a horror film.
Background actors must be professional. They must show up on time to the correct location with the right wardrobe. This information will be given to the background actor via our voice mail messaging system or our web site. While on set, background actors must follow instructions and pay attention. They should not leave holding or set without notifying one of the assistant directors or a production assistant. Once a background actor has accepted a role, he or she is expected to be there at call and able to stay until filming has wrapped for the day.
Open registration is held the first Wednesday of every month for SAG and AFTRA members from 11am to 4pm at our New York office.
Check our web site and hotline frequently for open call notices. Or, mail in a headshot and resume.
Your height, weight and other body measurements help determine whether you will fit a specific costume or role as a photodouble or stand-in. Accurate size information is very important, and increases your chances of being cast. You should know your true measurements and clothing sizes. Do not go by the size tag in your clothing, as sizing varies by brand.
Neck: Measure around the neck just above the shoulders.
Chest: Measure just under the arms and across shoulder blades. Be sure to keep the tape level and your arms relaxed at your side.
Waist: Measure around the natural waistline at the top of your hip bone.
Neck-to-Waist: Measure from the bony protrusion at the back of neck, down the spine to the waist.
Sleeve: With your arm slightly bent to your side, measure from the center of your back at the base of the neck, over the point of the elbow, down the outside of the arm to the wrist.
Inseam: Measure from the height of the crotch seam to the desired pant length at the ankle. It is sometimes easier to take this measurement down the back of the leg, holding the top of the tape measure at the level of the crotch seam and measuring down to the back of the foot.
Bust: Measure around the fullest point of the bust, across the shoulder blades, keeping the tape level.
Waist: Measure around at the natural waistline
Hips: Stand with your heels together, and measure round the fullest part of your hips, keeping the tape parallel to the floor.
Hat Size: Use a tape measure (or a length of string that you will have to hold up to a tape measure) to determine the length. Place the string or tape around your head about 1/8” above your ear, across the mid-forehead, completely circling your head. Hold the tape firmly, but not too tightly. Basically you need to measure your head exactly where the hat will sit. If your measurement falls between sizes, choose the next largest size.
Register, email or mail a recent snapshot and contact information, and the casting associates will call you when you fit what they are casting. You can also submit for specific roles as posted at the following resources: Grant Wilfley Casting’s website, hotline (212 685 3168), Twitter or Facebook page, SAG, Backstage, Casting Networks, NY Castings, Craigslist, and Breakdown Services/Actors Access.
You fill out a voucher for payment when you get to set. ALWAYS keep a copy of your voucher. A check will be mailed to you in 2-3 weeks for film and television and about a month for commercials, as long as proper documentation has been provided.
Your employer is the payroll company listed on your voucher. ALWAYS keep a copy of your voucher.
If you have any questions or problems regarding payment, you should call the payroll company listed on your voucher. ALWAYS KEEP YOUR COPY OF THE VOUCHER. You should have the following before you make the call: your voucher, your Social Security #, work date, the name of the production, and a pen and paper. Production companies use various different payroll companies. Here is the contact information for the ones most commonly used:
CAPS UNIVERSAL - 310-845-9187 / 847-480-9752 / Extras@capspayroll.com
EMS - 212-837-7944 / 818-386-0905 / Sarah@emspayroll.com
ENTERTAINMENT PARTNERS - 800.562.2718
Background work is like any other job in that you must present ID to prove you are legally permitted to work in the United States. You can present an unexpired driver’s license and Social Security card OR an unexpired U.S. Passport. For a complete list and more information, click here.
Filming can begin early morning or late afternoon. When you are asked if you are available for a specific date, you must be available the entire day without conflicts.
Your call time is your start time or in time. You must be on set or holding and ready to work by this time.
Film and television productions are governed by various union regulations regarding working hours and turnaround time. This means we can never be sure of the start time for the next day of filming until the previous day of filming is finished. If filming wraps later than expected, they must start later the next day.
The holding area is the designated area where the background actors are instructed to report to or “check in” at the start of their workday. You usually stay in this area when you are not needed on set.
A pen and valid ID to fill out your payment voucher, any wardrobe or props you were instructed to wear or bring, and a book or magazine to keep you occupied if you have to wait in holding.
Most productions will not provide clothing for you to wear on set. They expect you to wear or bring your own. You should listen to wardrobe instructions carefully and be honest if you don’t own the type of clothing that the scene requires. Typically, you should not wear red or white, and avoid bright colors, busy patterns, and logos. All clothing should be clean and wrinkle-free (unless you are playing a homeless person). If you are not wearing your wardrobe to set, it should be transported in a garment bag, so it stays fresh and pressed looking. If you are supposed to be playing a high-powered attorney, you don’t want to show up with a rumpled suit and stained tie. Remember, the better you look the part, the better your placement in the scene.
You will receive the exact address, subway and driving directions the day before you work. If the location is not accessible by public transportation, the production company will provide a bus or van that will pick-up at a designated location (usually in Manhattan) and take you back and forth to set.
Filming could start very early in the morning or very late at night. You will be informed beforehand if it is a Day or Night shoot. A typical day of filming can last 12 to 15 hours, sometimes longer.
Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) were the labor unions that represented actors appearing in film, television, and/or radio programs. As of March 30, 2012, the two unions merged into SAG-AFTRA. Visit their website for more information.
There are two basic ways an actor can join SAG-AFTRA: an actor is given a principal (speaking) part or an actor has three approved SAG-AFTRA waivers as a background actor. Contact SAG-AFTRA. for more information.
All child performers under 18 need to obtain blanket, working permits through the New York State Department of Labor. First-time applicants may apply on-line or through the mail for the permit. Permits issued on-line expire in 15 days. The final permit, received through the mail, will expire in one year. Permits must be renewed 30 days prior to expiration. You must also open a locked trust account for your child. Fifteen percent of each paycheck will be deposited directly by the Payroll Company into your child’s trust account. The following guidelines will help you in obtaining your child’s permit.
1. First-time applicants can apply on-line for the child’s permit. You may also download the application and mail it to the New York Department of Labor’s Albany office. You will need the following when filling out the application.
2. You will also need to mail copies of the following documentation to the New York Department of Labor’s Albany office. (First-time applicants have 15 days to submit the paperwork after applying on-line.)
3. You must open a locked trust account for your child. You must supply account information to the production’s payroll company as well as the New York State Department of Labor. (You do not need to provide paper work regarding a trust account the first time you apply online.) The account should be able to receive direct deposits and should only be accessible to the child upon his or her 18th birthday. The following banks offer such an account.
4. When going to set, you must bring the following:
Contact Information for New York State Department of Labor.
New York State Department of Labor
Division of Labor Standards
Permit and Certificate Unit, Room 266A
State Office Campus, Bldg. 12
NJ permits are different from NY permits & CANNOT be done online. YOU must get the permit BEFORE YOU ARE SCHEDULED TO WORK. Please bring your child’s schoolwork to set (there will be a set tutor).
1. Complete & sign an A310 form in the three places marked with an X:
2. Have ALL OF THE FOLLOWING with you:
3. If you live in New Jersey: Bring all of the above with the A310 form to your school’s principal’s office. They will sign and stamp your permit.
4. If you do NOT live in New Jersey: Bring all of the above with A310 form to the office designated by the production.
5. Bring the stamped permit & ALL paperwork to set so copies can be made. It is valid in NJ for (3) MONTHS only