Think it would be fun to be in the movies?
You don’t have to move to Los Angeles to make it happen. Since 1912, Georgia has been happily welcoming film and TV production to our great state. More than 700 movies and TV shows have been shot in Georgia, including hits like “Forest Gump” and “The Blind Side,” along with popular television shows such as “The Vampire Diaries.”
A total of 89 Georgia communities have received the “Camera Ready Community Program” designation by Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Office, a division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD).
It's easier than you may think to be in the movies these days, especially in Georgia. It might surprise you to discover Georgia has become a frontrunner for film and TV production.
Thanks to the 2008 Georgia Entertainment Industry Act, an assortment of lucrative tax credits are offered to qualified production companies who use Georgia as their backdrop. Between July 2010 and April 2011, these tax incentives brought more than $598.2 million in jobs, investments and infrastructure to Georgia, making it one of the top five states in the nation for film and TV production.
If you’re not looking for a full-time career as a movie star, there are other outlets for your creative juices. Almost all movies and TV shows require “extras,” the living backdrop of what is being filmed. Often overlooked for their critical role in the believability of a scene, “extras” support the actions and dialogue of the principal actors through their movement and costumes. All the people milling about in the backgrounds of each scene are purposely put there in order to create the sense of reality and tension within the movie or TV show and help move the story forward.
An extra's job isn't easy by any means. Generally receiving minimum wage, you are expected to be available "on set" for a minimum number of hours at a time with the expectation you will be available should the “shoot" run over. You are expected to wear your own clothes and bring your own props unless it is a period piece where you will be asked to come early enough to be fitted by the wardrobe department and have makeup applied. While on set you will be housed in an area known as "Extra's Holding" where you will wait … wait … then wait some more.
While you are sometimes provided food and beverages while on set, you are usually kept separate from the main stars of the film. It is considered bad form to approach the main actors because it distracts them from the job they are there to do. There are enough extras to choose from that those who behave badly are usually removed from the set and blacklisted which prevents them from working other productions.
Sometimes you will wait long periods as scenes are being set up for shooting. Other times you wait long periods without ever being called to the set. If you are lucky enough to be called to the set you may end up shooting one scene multiple times because of unwanted background noises likely due to airplanes flying overhead or trucks driving by or simply because the director isn't satisfied with what has been filmed. Once done there is a good chance you won't be in the film or only a part of your body, like a head or a foot, will be seen in the final cut.
Most companies that cast extras will have you send them a current headshot, height/weight, age and phone number. Many companies do not charge to keep your information on file while some charge a nominal fee ($20) to be listed in their directory. Beware of the companies or people that require you to pay large sums of money to join their subscription service or agency or require a large investment for headshots or to build a portfolio. When in doubt, do your homework to make sure who you are working with is legitimate. Just remember, if it sounds to good to be true ... it usually is.
For more information on film and TV productions in Georgia visit Georgia Department of Economic Development - Georgia Industries - Entertainment. For information on what is being filmed in Georgia and current casting needs and deadlines visit Help Wanted Hotline.
For more information on casting for extras visit the following links:
- Become a Movie Extra or TV Extra (resource links)
- How to become an Extra
- Extras Casting Atlanta - be sure to read their "EXTRAS 101" in their Notes section
This story has been amended to reflect that, according to Georgia.org, there are now 89 camera ready communities in Georgia, not 73 as originally stated.