What is a Background, and What is their Position on set? 

The Background is the crew that actively works in the background of major talent. They are commonly found in feature films but may be less common in smaller productions. Background crew members are also sometimes referred to as Extras. They are cast early in the production to ensure they have an understanding of what is expected of them, but their part is significantly less involved than a standard actor or talent.

Background talent makes up the atmosphere of the set. Whenever a film is portraying a restaurant, busy store, bar or similar scene, there are background actors or extras that fill the space and play various parts that bring the scene to life.

Background is generally a nonspeaking role in the film. They are often brought in to make the scene feel more realistic.

Background Responsibilities 

There are several responsibilities of the background talent, background actors, or extras in a film production.  Generally, the background talent is responsible for making a scene appear to have a realistic atmosphere.

They may sit in a restaurant and eat or at a bar consuming a drink. They may cheer for a football game in a crowd or hustle across a busy street as if in a major city. 

Background extras don’t play an essential part in the film and are not required to read the entire script like a traditional actor or major talent member would be required to.

To Become Background Talent

However, background talent does have to “try out” or audition for their part in the film. They must also sign appropriate release waivers and other documentations releasing liability to be on film.

Most background talent is required to register with a central casting agent but local casting calls also take place on occasion.

You may be asked to sign documentation such as i-9 form and other release documents before you audition or prior to taking an active background role in the production.

Background Skills 

BBP camera crew

The skills of the background actors will vary from one production to the next. Some sets may seek background actors that have a certain look or a certain style. Others may seek just men or just women.

Some seek children or teenagers or people of a certain age range. The casting crew will provide more details on their needs when you audition to be part of the background crew.

Skills required include:

  • Ability to follow directions.
  • Ability to arrive on set at a scheduled time.
  • Ability to remain prompt and ready to play the part.
  • Communication skills.
  • Strong verbal skills.

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