What is a background actor?
A Background Actor (aka: an Extra) is any performer in a TV, film, commercial, music video, or new media production who appears on screen in a non-speaking manner.

How much does a background actor get paid?
The minimum current pay rates for extras are as follows:
Union SAG
$170.00 for 8 hrs
(Time & a Half from 8- 12 hrs, Double time after 10 hours)
Union AFTRA 
$170.00 for 8 hrs
(Time & a Half from 8- 12 hrs, Double time after 10 hours)
$106.00 for 8 hrs
(Time and a Half from 8- 10 hrs, Double Time after 10 hrs)

$199.00 for 8 hrs
(Time and a Half from 8- 10 hrs, Double Time after 10 hrs)

Photo Double 
$199.00 for 8 hrs
(Time and a Half from 8- 10 hrs, Double Time after 10 hrs)

How do I register for background work?
Bill Dance Casting holds open registration on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 12:00 noon prompt. You need to appear in person in order to register. There is no Registration Fee. The process takes approximately 1 hour from start to finish.

What do I get for my registration fee?
You will need to provide your physical attributes including height, weight, and clothing sizes, in addition to all your contact information. A digital photo will be taken of you at this time.

Update: We DON’T CHARGE a REGISTRATION FEE any more at Bill Dance Casting..

NOTE: Please keep your information current with Bill Dance Casting. If your phone number, address, or physical attributes change please call us at (818)-754-6634.

What takes place during the registration process?
We meet everyone individually, and provide a group overview of our company. You will fill in your actor registration card and have a digital photo taken. The entire process requires about one hour.

Does my registration fee guarantee me work? Is it refundable?

Update: We don’t require a registration fee anymore.


Can I be a member of SAG/AFTRA and still do background work?
Yes, but we will only call you for Union productions.

What types of jobs will I be doing?
You could be hired as a Union (SAG only) or Non-Union Background Actor, a Featured Background Actor (requires an audition), or a Stand-in for a Principal Actor.

How long will the job last and what will my hours be?
Film days start early and run long, generally about 12 hours or so. Please make arrangements to take care of business in advance, babysitters, jobs, etc.

How will I be notified of a job opportunity?
You will be contacted by telephone by a Bill Dance Casting staff member when we get a project that matches your character type (example- men in their sixties with natural facial hair). In case we receive your voicemail, we will leave a message with follow up instructions.

Please do not call our business office and ask the casting directors if they have work for you. They are extremely busy and as long as you are in our computerized system you are being considered for all our projects. The casting directors will call you when they need you.

What important documents should I bring to the set with me?
You must bring a Drivers License and a Social Security card or a Passport. They will need to see these documents. It is permissible to bring photocopies of your Driver’s License and Social Security card, but the passport must be an original.

What should I not bring to the set with me?
Please do not bring anything of value to the set with you because you may be separated from your belongings.

What is a call time?
A Background Actor’s call time is the time he must be on set and ready to work. DO NOT BE LATE TO THE SET. Being early is always a good practice.

What paperwork will I be required to complete prior to beginning my shift?
Everyone will be given a voucher and an I-9 form when they are checked in. Please fill out the voucher and the I-9 completely and legibly (your paycheck depends on it). You must bring a Drivers License and a Social Security card or a Passport. They will need to see these documents. You must have proof of US Citizenship. If you are not an American citizen you must bring a valid Alien Registration or Green Card.

Will I be allowed lunch breaks?
You will be given lunch on the set, usually six hours after your report time. So, it’s a good idea to bring a snack and a book or magazine to keep you busy during down time.

Can I bring friends or family members to the set with me?
No. You cannot bring friends or family on the set with you. This is a job and you are being hired to work.

Is it appropriate to ask the leading actors for autographs?
Please do not ask the Director or Principal Actors for autographs. It is unprofessional and reflects badly on you.

Can I take pictures of the set, film crew, and actors?
No. Cameras and recording devices are forbidden on the set.

When my job is complete, which company do I list as my last employer on my EDD report?
The payroll company is your record of employment. The voucher you fill out on the set will have the payroll company address and phone number on it. You should also keep a duplicate copy of your voucher for your records. It is a backup in the event you don’t receive your payment.

NOTE: Please do not reference Bill Dance Casting for tax or unemployment purposes.

What is the difference between Union (SAG/AFTRA) and Non-Union background work?
The only difference between Union and Non-Union background work is the rate of pay. However, there are fewer jobs for Union Background Actors. In a feature film the production company must hire 58 SAG actors per day which includes Stand-ins. In a TV production it is the first 24 people who are SAG including Stand-ins. After we cast these quotas then the remaining Background Actors hired are Non-Union.

How do I join SAG?
A Background Artist can be SAG eligible if they acquire three SAG extra vouchers. This usually happens if you consistently do extra work. One way to acquire a union voucher is if you are recalled the next day as an extra and it is within the fifty count, you will be put on a SAG voucher. Once you get three vouchers the third one is the magical one. Thirty days from the third voucher you become SAG eligible. You then can join SAG which has a $3,099.00 fee which includes the first 6 months dues of $99.00. If you don’t have the money or don’t want to join SAG the three vouchers are still good in the future in the event you would still like to join. One important factor to remember is that you can never be put on a SAG voucher again until you have joined the union. If you violate this regulation, SAG can fine the production company. So, if you are SAG eligible you must work Non Union from then on until you come up with the money to join SAG.

What is a Taft-Hartley?
Taft-Hartley means you can do one SAG acting job and not have to join the union. In terms of extra work you can receive up to three SAG vouchers and not be forced to join the union. One important note to remember is that you must continue working Non-Union until you have joined SAG. SAG does not want union vouchers handed out to extras that are not current members. Strict penalties apply.