Titan Books 2002 , 144 pages , £6.99 , PB
So you’ve decided to be a big-shot movie star and live a life of luxury and adulation for the rest of your days? Wake up buddy, it ain’t happening! But that doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve a few seconds of celluloid glory and even get yourself some handy cash rewards too. How? By becoming an extra. You too can be slaughtered in ancient Carthage, cheer on your winning team in an intergalactic space arena or shop for shoes oblivious to the fact that Bruce Willis is rushing to defuse a terrorist bomb in that very same shopping centre.
You Can Be A Movie Extra provides (as its title so accurately suggests) all the facts you need to consider before rushing headlong onto a movie set. The life of an extra (or to use the preferred industry term Supporting Artiste – SA) can be exciting or dull, lucrative or a waste of time and money. You Can Be A Movie Extra provides the background information you need to break into the industry, from choosing an agent, casting and actually getting down to doing the job. Also of note is an indication as to how much money you can expect to make (not bad until you realise the amount of expenses you are probably going to have to fund from your own pocket) and how bizarre and occasionally uncomfortable the whole experience can be. Rob Martin pulls few punches when pointing out the shortcomings of a life in the background, but also is very encouraging when describing the rewards. Scattered throughout the book are a number of small asides and anecdotes from SAs themselves detailing their experiences. These make fascinating reading from the point of view of spotting potential pitfalls, as well as providing an insight into the film industry as a whole.
Aside from providing details on life as an SA there are also hints as to how to take things further by becoming a stuntman or progressing to walk-on roles. All in all this is a great little guide for anyone who’s considered the prospect of seeing themselves on the big screen either as a hobby, a second job or even a main job. A handy reference section is also provided with information as to where you can find an agency. The book’s bias towards film and television production in the UK is particularly helpful. It is also bang up-to-date so the information isn’t going to be stale if you get cracking – films covered include Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Die Another Day and The Two Towers.
Any Cop?: Never patronising and always interesting, You Can Be A Movie Extra comes recommended for all budding background thespians.