BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Most locals know that from time to time, celebrities like Tom Hanks, Will Smith, or Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel are spotted in and around Louisiana’s capital area. 

But what most people aren’t privy to is exactly when Hollywood’s biggest stars are going to make an appearance in Baton Rouge. 

This changes with one simple decision, to sign up with local casting agencies as a background actor or “extra.” 

Becoming an extra often means working on a movie set alongside well-known directors, actors and producers who’ve flown in from “the other LA.”

It’s a serious job that typically involves keeping certain information about production schedules and movie plots to oneself. 

In other words, signing up to become a background actor may mean knowing some of the plot of the next Marvel film and which big stars are going to be in it, but signing a document that promises producers you’ll keep all such information to yourself until the film is released to the public.

What exactly is an Extra?

So, what exactly is a background actor, and how does a person from Louisiana sign up to become one? 

First of all, a background actor or extra is typically defined as a performer in a film, television show, or other production who doesn’t have a speaking role, but who acts silently so as to help the production’s background/scenery to appear realistic. 

For example, when Jurassic World was filmed in Louisiana during the summer of 2014, dozens of locals were hired as extras and assigned the role of “frightened tourist.” 

These extras were then filmed running away from “dinosaurs,” which were later edited into the film via CGI. 

But on most local movie sets, a lot less running is involved. 

In fact, there’s more of a “hurry up and wait” vibe during the ten to 12-hour-long day of waiting for one’s particular scene to be filmed amid the many scenes that are going to be shot that day. 

To illustrate, during the 2011 filming of the first Pitch Perfect in Baton Rouge, dozens of extras were assigned the roles of “audience member,” and asked to simply sit in a theater at the Baton Rouge River Center for about ten to 12 hours. 

Understandably, many brought books and snacks. 

How to Become an Extra

To become an extra, it helps to have at least two professional pictures of yourself ready to send to casting agencies. You’ll want to have a headshot and a full-length shot.

In addition to this, it helps to know your measurements, such as height, weight, shirt size, bust measurements, pant size, dress size, and shoe size. 

You may also take a moment to consider what skills you have that can be leveraged by producers, such as instruments that you play, other languages that you speak or sign fluently, and bartending/health care knowledge.  

These skills can be added to the information you send to casting agencies. 

When it comes to local agencies, some of the most trusted and widely used companies in south Louisiana are:

Central Casting

Coulon Casting 

Caballero Casting 

To apply, simply go to each website and sign up as an extra using the information and pictures you’ve compiled. 

After applying, you’ll begin receiving emails from each agency, asking if you’re available for certain upcoming films that require extras. 

It’s good to keep in mind that marking yourself as “Available” doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve been selected. It typically means that casting directors will look at your pictures and skill set to see if you’d be a good fit for the role, and a representative of the casting agency will text, call, or email you to let you know if you’ve been selected.  

As you make yourself available, it’s likely that it won’t be long before you’re on a movie set, working alongside some of the most famous people in the industry. 

It’s also likely that while there, you’ll get a lot of reading done.

So, be sure and bring a book or other quiet activity to enjoy while you’re on set, waiting for your big scene. 

Learn More about the Job

For more information about what it’s like to be an extra in Louisiana, visit Film Baton Rouge and read its in-depth information about the duties and responsibilities of a background actor.