Matthew McConaughey. Shirtless. Passing out martinis. That's about what it'll take to get me to extra on another film. This girl had enough of long, often uncomfortable shifts paid at minimum wage in my teens and 20s, thank you very much. Of course, the moments when the cameras are rolling and celebs are strutting their stuff are pretty cool, if few and far between. The average extra experience simply features a lot of thumb-twiddling and sitting around, since production time is largely taken up by set and equipment changes.
Not everyone shares my sentiment, natch. I've met dozens of career extras on set who make full-time work out of the booming film and television industry in Atlanta, where I live. Many are aspiring actors, but plenty just enjoy the experience and ambiance, including my good friend Christina, who extras on big-budget films as her schedule permits. "For one major sequel film I walked outside in the snow for 14 hours in full and totally uncomfortable costume," Christina shares. "It was an overnight shoot and many of us ended up catching some shuteye on the floor of a CVS drugstore."
Pay for all this fun can vary from $50 a day for non-union extras to more than $100 for union extras; more money is added when your day runs beyond eight hours [source: TVTix.com].