First time being a background actor? We asked Drew from thinkfilm, inc to share some insider tips…

Tips for Background Actors on Set

Basic logistics. Know the directions to parking before you leave your home.

Be On Time.  “CALL” does NOT refer to the 
time you arrived.  It refers to the time you were told to arrive.

that you need to check in, so allow time for that too.

The Voucher. Do not write anything more than your personal information on the voucher – name, 
address, phone number, social, etc..

Are You Union? Ask about NDB (Non Deductible Breakfast) Ask about this as you check in.  You must check in first!!  If you are told to NDB please do so quickly and quietly.  Technically you receive 15 minutes, it helps everyone if you keep it to that.  Do not hang around the working trucks or wander off.  Get your breakfast and proceed to holding, or wardrobe, or where ever you were told to report to.

How Long Is The Day?  In production we do NOT work 8 hours.  The crew is on a “10 hour 
guarantee” and typically we work 12 or more hours a day.  Depending on what role you are in, you may not have to stay the entire day. But you should take the necessary steps in case you do.  Keep this in mind when you are thinking about what to bring:  something to read 
(book, paper, etc.) change of clothes, sunscreen, etc.

Can I Leave When I’m Done? No, you 
can NOT leave early.  If you leave early, you will not get paid.  You could be sitting around for 50{54eeef743696699ef8c658f0b72499113bc6907aab1bbe227dec6b5e418895ef} of the time.  This does NOT mean you can wander around – STAY IN THE HOLDING AREA UNTIL YOU ARE TOLD 

The PA Will Tell You What You Need to Do.  When a PA enters, listen to what they have to 
say.  They have a very limited amount of time and they give you JUST 
the information that is pertinent.  (Example:
PA enters and yells: “We need all the business types.  If you were
told that you are a business type please come down here, we are going 
to set.”)

It is not the PA’s job to know what you are supposed to be, it is yours.  Don’t ask the PA if they are referring to you b/c they will not know.
If you were told that you were a homeless person, or street vendor, or police, or a jogger, or anything else, you don’t need to go to set. You don’t need to ask about what you are to do.  Just sit quietly and let them do their job.  If anything, you need to help pass the word to everyone in holding that the business types need to go to set. Chances are that set is waiting for these people.

Yes, Union Eats First. Union rules: Union eats first.  We don’t control this, it is a union 
rule and we have to follow it.  This is not meant to be demeaning to those that are not in SAG or AFTRA.  Union eat first because, as
usual in this business, we time out the lunch – 30 minutes, no more.  
Many of these union actors have to be back at set with the crew. 
There is always plenty of food and you will be given ample time to 
finish your meal.

Keep Your Cool. If everything goes perfectly we could be done in 10.  If not, we 
typically keep going until we finish everything.  Yes, 18+  hour days happen.  No one wants this.  Please be patient with the crew.  As you 
can imagine, working long hours is tough on people’s nerves.  We are all working to the same end – get the day done.  If you come with an open mind and a good sense of humor the day will go better for 
everyone involved.