Be a TV extra for a day- probably the easiest £100 you will ever make
Thursday 21st March 2013 | Megan
When I finished university, I was totally skint. I was never out of my overdraft, and after a long day sending out job applications I couldn’t even afford to go out for a drink afterwards. I needed money fast.
At this point, being unemployed, I was watching a lot of telly. One night I was half way through an episode of Peep Show when my mate Tom popped up on screen behind David Mitchell. He was only there for a moment, but it was definitely him. I’d had no idea Tom had joined an extra agency- when I asked him about it later he told me he’d got £83 for the split second he’d been on screen. That sounded alright to me, so I signed up.
A month later I got a text from the agency offering me a day’s work on a commercial. It was all very last minute- the shoot wasn’t confirmed until the night before, and only then was I told what to bring, where to go and at what time, leaving me frantically searching through my housemate’s wardrobe for the required ‘light-coloured smart clothes’.
The next morning I was on a commuter train to Waterloo, ready to play the role of ‘office-worker on bus’. I’d never actually had an office job at this point, so getting dressed up in a blazer jacket and heels was quite a novelty for me. Squashed in between the real office-workers, I wondered whether they would be able to spot me as a fake.
As the business men and women flooded out of the station and headed to their offices, I headed to a car park, empty except for a double-decker bus. This was to be my base for the day, and for the next couple of hours I sat there unneeded, reading my book and talking to the dozen or so other extras- a strange bunch, none of whom had ever had a day job.
Finally we were called up and moved to another bus where two women were sat on big green space hoppers. I had no idea what was going on- we weren’t told anything about the commercial except for our own small part. I was told to exit the bus just before the space-hopping women hopped out. I quickly practised looking business-like and important, but just as the cameras were about to roll, I was swapped with another guy. Apparently my dress clashed with the colour of the hoppers, and with that, my moment was taken away from me.
I did get a close-up later though- a reaction shot that had to be filmed five times over due to my smile being first too happy, then not happy enough. This was more than just extra work, I was basically an actor now.
I don’t know whether I made the final cut or not, but I was given £126 for my ‘work’, not bad for a day spent mostly reading and chatting. You could never rely solely on being an extra to make a living, the work isn't frequent enough, but if you’re able to be flexible and you need a bit of cash then sign up to Casting Collective, Mad Dog or Ray Knight. It could just be the easiest money you’ll ever make.