Blog I Extras – Increase Your Chances

Extras - Increase your Chances

By Aislinn Ní Uallacháin I Head of Casting @ Extras Ireland

I love working at Extras Ireland and have been here for almost two years now – how time flies! Having started out as an Extra myself and then working as a professional Actor/Model for ten years I always genuinely admire and respect people who do any kind of performance work because I’ve been there myself. I’ve been chatting to and thinking a lot about Extras this week so here are a few thoughts on how to increase your chances of being selected for projects. All very simple things that are in your control.

1. M
ake sure your details are always up to date.

If you’re a member of a Casting Website where you can log in and update your own photos and information, make sure you do this regularly. If you’re a member of a Casting Agency (like Extras Ireland) which works internally and personally, make sure you email us regularly with updated photos, credits etc so we can add them to your file. When a request comes in for a woman in her 30’s with blonde hair for example, the Casting Team will search the database for women in their 30’s with blonde hair and then see who is available. If you’ve dyed your hair blonde in recent months and nobody knows, you won’t receive an Availability Check. So make sure your information is up to date.

2. Your photo should be clear and simple.

I get sent photos every day of people wanting to register as an Extra. The best favour you can do for yourself is to make sure you have a clear, simple photo. A simple shot of you in colour, with no filters, hats or sunglasses. No pictures of you with other people, taken from very far away, from strange angles, or with a messy room in the background. A simple photo of YOU, the way you look on a normal day. It’s the main thing that productions will use to select their Extras so make it easy for them to pick you. You don’t necessarily need expensive professional photos – great pictures can be taken on phones these days.

3. Be honest.

It’s a running joke in acting circles that some performers are using the same head shots and photos for the last ten or twenty years. Don’t be ashamed of looking different or older than you used to and try to embrace the way you look now. Be honest with Casting Teams because if you are booked for a job, arrive to set and you don’t look like your photo they may not be able to use you and may in fact send you home. I’ve seen this happen numerous times on sets over the years. Don’t lie about how you look – people are going to find out in the end anyway. Make sure your current photo represents how you look now. We want to see the real you!

4. Respond quickly.

A lot of the time, Extras are the last thing to be organised for a shoot. I know Extras often feel like they’re the last to know anything – which is the truth. But it’s not because you’re not important, it’s because before you can be booked, everything else needs to be in place and ready to go. The Director, Wardrobe and Make-up departments, Locations and Crew all need to be organised so that a shoot day goes smoothly. They need to know what scenes they’re shooting and how they’re going to be shot, which takes a huge amount of preparation. Bear in mind that because Extras are often the last piece of the puzzle, you will often be asked very near to the shoot if you’re available. Production then need to get the extras booked in quickly so the faster you respond to our Availability Check the better your odds of being selected.

5. Be aware of how you present yourself.

At Extras Ireland, myself or the fantastic Rachel Barrett will usually be your point of contact. The ethos of EI as well as our sister company The Production People is that when Production Companies ask for our help, we’ll always send them the BEST options for the job. They want to make something great and we want to help them. We’ll never just throw a load of suggestions at the wall and hope something will stick. We recommend people personally based on what the client is looking for, who is available and also who we think they’ll like having on their set. Clients come to us because we correspond with members directly and personally so we know them – they’re not a number on a website. Think about it – you’re more likely to hire a plumber who has been recommended to you than someone you don’t know from Adam. We’ll always recommend people who come back to us quickly on things, are friendly and polite in correspondence and who we know will be on time, reliable and a great addition to the set. We want production companies to have the most talented and easiest people to work with so be sure to present yourself that way.

I hope these tips have been helpful and are food for thought – next time I’ll be giving some tips for being on set.
What tips do you have for extras out on sets from your own experience?

Casting I Actors for Short Film I Pulse College

🌞 Hope you all had a lovely Bank Holiday Weekend! We’re back to work today and would love to share a CASTING CALL with you from Pulse College. We’re always happy to support emerging artists. 🎬 As this is a SHORT STUDENT FILM, it is unpaid but a great opportunity to work with the next generation of Irish filmmakers. If interested, contact Ciara on with your CV, headshots, showreel etc. All info is below.

”We are looking for actors to audition for a Pulse College graduation film. Due to the current restrictions we do not know when this will be shot but we would love to be ready to go when things get back to normal. The hopes are to receive self tapes and then move on to online auditions.

The film is set in late 80’s Meath and is about a young girl trying to rebel and understand herself whilst caught in small town life. Most of the action takes place at an overnight religious camping retreat.”

The roles available are:

Molly – Our protagonist, aged 17
Shauna – Molly’s best friend, aged 17
Sorcha – Goth girl who is stuck at camp with the others, aged 15
Ted – Youth pastor in charge of the camp, aged 22
Tom – Molly’s father, aged 56
Mary – Molly’s mother, aged 53
Marianne – Ted’s assistant, aged 23
Richard – another camp attendee, aged 18

Blog I Audition Advice for Actors

Audition Advice for Actors

By Aislinn Ní Uallacháin
Former Actor & Head of Casting 

If you’re invited to audition for a project, the biggest thing I want you to know is that the casting team on the other side of the table are rooting for you. They would love for you to be great and are hoping you’ll get it. They won’t waste their time bringing in someone who has absolutely no chance of getting the role. So remember that getting asked into the room in the first place is a wonderful thing and a huge step above all the other actors who weren’t. Believe me – whoever is running the casting session wants to show the client / production team that they’ve done a great job of assembling the best options. It’s not a case of them sitting there just dying to judge talent all day for the sake of it. Somebody will get the job and they want it to be you!

Depending on the job, production may provide you with a section of the script (known as sides) in advance of the audition. If you have the luxury of having sides beforehand, this is brilliant! Become as familiar with them as possible. When you think about it, there’s really so little you can control in an audition situation – whether they like you or not, who else is auditioning for the same role, what direction they’ll give you etc. When I was acting, I was very aware that the only thing I could really control was my own preparation. Yes, it’s challenging when you’re given a script at short notice but if you’re going to make this your career, you need to accept that it’s part of the job. Be delighted you have a script to work on and an opportunity to perform in front of a captive audience – enjoy it!
You’d be surprised at the amount of actors who come into the room and the first thing they say is something like ‘I’m sorry I haven’t had much time to prepare’, ‘ I didn’t get any sleep last night’, ‘I only just got the script now’ or ‘I’m not feeling well today’. What do people hope this will achieve? I’ve seen it happen quite a bit and it brings the whole room down immediately. All they’re doing is starting their audition off on a negative note and preparing the casting team for a poor quality performance. Never start off with excuses – if you’re not well, say nothing. If you haven’t had much time to prepare, say nothing. Just do your audition as best you can and let the team make up their own minds. Don’t set yourself up for a fall before you even get to do any acting for them!
As a Straight-A Student all through school, it would throw me off when I did an audition and instead of the team saying ‘Brilliant, well done’, they’d ask me to do it again in a different way. It seems so blatantly obvious to me now but as a youngster starting out I took this to mean that they didn’t like it and didn’t think I did it ‘right’. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this and letting it phase you! The casting team will more often than not ask you to try it a different way to see if you can take direction and are happy to experiment. Be prepared of course and know your script but don’t be so locked into your own interpretation that you can’t change it up when asked. They want to see how you think on your feet and how you collaborate to arrive at a great take – important if you’re going to be on set.
As I said above, if you have sides in advance make sure you’re as familiar with them as possible. As well as helping you to deliver a much better performance, the team will respect and admire the fact that you took the time to work on them. If there’s nothing to prepare in advance for the session, they’ll ask you to act out a scenario on the spot instead. Some actors love this, others don’t like it at all. In this instance, I think you need to be very on the ball so you can take in and then present what the team are asking you to do. Listen carefully. You also need to be unafraid to look silly and be willing to play around. They might ask you to do this because they’re not quite sure what they’re looking for yet – so it could be you. Enjoy having a chance to play and to use your imagination!

Blog I General Advice for Actors

Some Advice for Actors

By Aislinn Ní Uallacháin
Former Actor & Head of Casting 

Tip #1
Being an actor is hard work and requires dedication but don’t let it dictate your entire life. When I was acting, I’d rarely go on holiday in case a job came up, only took classes that would look good on my CV and had a tendency to put acting before family, friends and personal development. It’s easy to get so swept up in the world of acting that eventually it becomes your identity. Remember that being an actor is only one part of who you are and make the most of other opportunities to be happy. You are not your job – no one is.

Tip #2
I know it can be disheartening when an audition doesn’t go your way, especially when you thought it went well. If you don’t get a role it’s not necessarily because you didn’t do a good job, though of course sometimes that is the case – we all have off days! Put yourself in the shoes of a writer / director / producer who has been working on this project for weeks, months, maybe even years. It’s their baby and they want to make sure that the actors they choose fit into the world they’re trying to create. It’s like a big puzzle and sometimes you just don’t fit.
Tip #3
I get sent a lot of self-tapes from actors. Some for a particular job, some in place of a showreel. A big mistake that people often make (especially when starting out) is to choose a highly emotional scene. They’re so eager to show off their ‘powerful’ acting that what appears on the tape is three minutes of crying, three minutes of being angry etc. It’s boring and all it shows is that you can play that emotion for three minutes straight. Bring the character and the audience on a journey and keep us on our toes. It’s much more impressive and will greatly increase your chances.
Tip #4
In my experience, it can be overwhelming if another actor is trying to chat to you before an audition. Some people are happy to chat in the waiting room but don’t feel like you have to partake, even if it’s an actor you know. If you’d rather be quiet and focus on what you’re going to do in your audition, don’t be afraid to tell them that. Never jeopardise your own opportunity because someone you hardly even know wants to chat and you don’t want to appear rude. The audition room is much more important than the waiting room.
Tip #5
”So-and-So only got the part because they know So-and-So.” I used to hear this all the time on the acting scene. Look at it this way. If I was a filmmaker and I had a positive experience with an actor, why wouldn’t I hire them again? I know they’ll learn their lines, will be on time and I’ll enjoy working with them. Would you hire the same electrician again if they did a good job? Of course. Don’t get annoyed when actors get hired by someone they know – they’ve worked hard so that they’ll be re-hired. Work hard and hopefully the same thing will happen for you.