From Extra to PA

Kate writes in:

What do you think about someone who works as an extra (background) to network with crew? I laughingly find it easy to get a job as an extra (they call me pretty often), but harder to get a job as a PA, since that’s a “who you know” job versus a “what you look like” job.

The first couple of times on set, I wondered how I could network toward this goal, but felt awkward going about it. Recently, I was an extra on a miniseries for half a day, and I was wondering if it would be weird to call the production office and ask whether they needed a PA/day playing PA.

Basically: Is it weird to go from background extra to crew?

It’s unusual, but not totally weird.

Don’t think of it as “networking;” instead, think of “making friends.” So, don’t call out of the blue. Only call if you’ve already made friends.

Also, bring your PA resume with you whenever you go out on a background gig. At the end of the day, check with the 2nd AD or key PA that you’re now friends with: “If you ever need a day-player, keep me in mind. I already know everybody’s name! Here’s my resume, just in case.”

That’s actually good advice for everyone, always. Just keep a copy of your resume in your car. If you’re ever in a situation where someone might consider hiring you, you can hand it to them right away.

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6 Responses

  1. TAPA and everybody’s advice is fantastic. I’ve been catching up again on older posts, so I only just now saw my question was posted! Thanks!!! 🙂 (Yes, exclamation marks.) I don’t have the gumption (stupidity?) to ask random strangers for a job, because I love trees and don’t want my resume printed and trashed steps one to two….

    More films are hitting Louisiana, so maybe I can get lucky at the right time with the right person.

    Thanks all.

  2. Being background before a PA was the same route I went. But take note of the above advice to “make friends first.” There’s nothing more annoying than a crew member being asked at least three times a day, “How do I get a job?” by random strangers on the street and overly enthusiastic background.

    But I’ll help out any friend that seems competent enough to listen to a walkie.

  3. Yep, just be normal about it, and give your resume to the right person. I’m in wardrobe, not very high on the totem pole. Somebody once gave me their resume & I was like ‘great! Thank you!’ and threw it away immediately. I’m not going to help you take my job, random (probably annoying) stranger.

  4. If I’m not on a show, I’ll be an extra here and there.

    I worked on a Bollywood feature that converted some extras into PA’s as well.

  5. no it is not weird. I do P.A. stuff, but if i’m desperate for money i will do background gig.

  6. I went this path personally. Made friends with a lot of people on set and waited until someone called. I have a couple friends who did the same thing. Keep with it and go in it for the fun of being on set. Eventually you’ll get there.

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