5 Tips for a Great Self-Tape

By Aislinn Ní Uallacháin / Head of Casting

A necessary part of being a Performer is auditioning. Love it or hate it, it’s really the only way for a Production to find their ideal Cast unless they already have a name in mind. As an Actor myself for over 10 years, it’s one of the areas that Performers often ask for advice on, whether they’re new to the business or a seasoned pro. Over the past few years (and the last few months in particular), the world of auditions has been steadily changing. More and more Productions and Casting Directors are opting for self-tapes from Actors rather than meeting them in the room. Either they’ll cast purely based on those tapes or will select their favourites for a second round, either in-person or virtually. Based on my own experience as both an Actor and Head of Casting at Extras Ireland, here are some of my tips to make your self-tape great.

1. READ READ READ the instructions. Then read them again.

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The biggest piece of advice I have for self-tapes is to read all the instructions you’re given carefully. I can’t stress that enough. I know that when you get a request for a self-tape, especially if it’s a tight deadline, you want to tape as quickly as possible to get it over to your Agent or to the Casting Director in time. Whoever is sending you the instructions will give you all the information they can, telling you what to film, how to film it and how to send your video. However, many times I’ve seen people perform an incorrect part of the script, read in an incorrect accent or ignore an important directorial note – all due to not reading the instructions carefully enough. Make sure you’re not falling at the very first hurdle before you even film anything.

2. No Script in Hand.

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If you’re filming a self-taped audition, even if the deadline is tight, you must know the script off by heart. Firstly, it’s very difficult for you to play a role convincingly if you have a script in your hand – it’s always going to hinder the performance. Secondly, acting for screen is all about the eyes so we need to see them – these are what you need to master in order to succeed. If you’re constantly looking down at your piece of paper, eye contact is broken and the reality of your character and the scene is spoiled for whoever is watching you. Learning lines quickly is a central part of being an Actor and if it’s something you find difficult, you’ll need to practice to get better at it. Prep is so important so make the most of the time you have.

3. Pay Attention to Transitions.

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As an audience member, for me there’s nothing more satisfying than watching a character transform before my very eyes. For example, I recently re-watched Superman (1978) starring the wonderful Christopher Reeve. Despite the incredible special effects and storytelling in general, my absolute favourite part of the entire film is a moment towards the end (SPOILER ALERT!) where Superman has managed to save the day and is looking understandably proud of himself for saving millions of lives. Suddenly, the look across his face when he realises he’s forgotten to save Lois Lane is just magical. Crushing. Goosebumps. When preparing a script for a self-tape, pay close attention to moments of transition where you can make the audience feel like that and bring them on a ride.

4. Treat it as a Proper Performance.

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If you’re doing a self-tape, it’s important not to play it as if it’s an audition. Imagine that this is the actual shoot and you have the part already. Show off what you can do and be confident in the choices you make when performing. Based on the script, make clear and strong choices about who this character is, where they are, what their history is, what their relationship is to the other character(s) in the scene etc. Not always easy when you’re only receiving a short section of the script but you need to think about these things to make the scene feel real. That is your job – to make the audience feel that this is really happening. The best Actors are the ones who can make any scene feel real, whether it’s shot in Hollywood on a soundstage or in a kitchen on a mobile phone.

5. Take, Take, Take.

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Again, often when you’re given instructions for a self-tape, your inclination may be to get it filmed and sent off as quick as you can. You might do a couple of rehearsals and then get a take where you say all the lines perfectly. For a lot of Actors, this first take that they’re happy with is what they will send. But it’s not just about saying lines correctly. My advice is, once you get to a take that you think is good, do another couple of takes. Don’t just settle for the first good one that you do. Keep going because you may end up doing much better takes once you know you have one in the bag. Once you know you have a good take, a little bit of the pressure is off – and that’s often when performers do their very best work. Don’t just settle for second best.

So there we have it, just a few pointers on self-tapes based on my own experience of both filming and watching them. They are absolutely here to stay so if you want to act, you need to become skilled at doing them. Don’t just wait until you have to submit one for a role – always be practicing and getting better at doing them. Pick a scene from a TV show or film that you love and whip that camera out!

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If you’re in need of Extras, Actors or Models for your next Creative or Commercial Project, get in touch. We’d love to help. Simply email info@extrasireland.com or call us on (01) 634 3112 and let’s see how we can collaborate.

Top 5 Headshot Tips

By Aislinn Ní Uallacháin / Head of Casting

Entertainment is a tricky industry where your look is sometimes as important as (or more important than) your talent or ability. If a production company is casting a project, they’ll usually have a very clear vision in their mind of how they want the overall piece to look, including the Talent. If you’re a performer, your Headshot is the first thing a Caster will look at and if they like the look of you, then they’ll look further into your CV, credits, skills, showreels etc. Your Headshot is what will get their attention right off the bat so it needs to be great! At Extras Ireland, I’m sent Headshots every day from performers and I have some tips here to help you based on what I see.

1. Show Your True Colours

Always make sure your Headshot is in colour! Black & White is deemed extremely old-fashioned and is now pretty much obsolete in the industry. You don’t want to come across as though you don’t know what the current industry norm is. Yes, we all look glamorous in Black & White but the point of your Headshot isn’t to look glamorous or artsy. It’s to present yourself as YOU. As a real, living, breathing person. We want to see the colour of your hair, eyes, skin etc to get a real sense of who you are. If you have a portfolio, absolutely include it in there but it shouldn’t be your main Headshot on your CV or your online profile, the first thing that people see. Make it easy for whoever is casting to get a sense of the real you.

2. It’s All in the Eyes

What do all of these people have in common? They’re hiding their EYES. As they say, the eyes are the windows to the soul – they’re also your ticket to getting cast. As humans, eyes are mostly what we use to connect. I’m often sent Headshots of people wearing shades, turned away from the camera or with their eyes closed. You might think this makes you look artistic but again, we need to see the real you. If you have a portfolio of shots, include them but it should never be your main Headshot that people will see first. Make it easy for others to connect with you. If you’re someone with a visual impairment, we’d still love to see your eyes! If you wear dark glasses, always send some shots of you wearing those too. 

3. Be Yourself

Make sure your Headshot always reflects the CURRENT you, not a previous version. Don’t be ashamed of looking different or older than you used to and embrace the way you look now. Be honest with Casting Teams about how you look because they want to know YOU, not you from fifteen years ago. You from fifteen years ago doesn’t exist anymore. Also, in light of the tip about Black and White, you can see that fifteen years ago it was the norm. Not anymore – always use colour.

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4. Why So Serious?

Performers are sometimes so eager to come across as professional, ambitious and serious about their work that their Headshots end up looking angry and aggressive. If you were casting a project, who would you rather have on your set? Remember that your Headshot should reflect who you really are and encourage people to want to work with you. Don’t give them a reason to be put off.

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5. Ask for Advice

Finally, it can be hard to choose your Headshot yourself – you might like how you look in a photo but it’s not necessarily the best reflection of who you are as a person or an artist. Your main Headshot (the one that Casters will see first) should represent YOU, not the characters you intend to play. If you have a portfolio, include the others there to show potential character interpretations. Ask for advice from someone who KNOWS you. They’ll be able to tell you which one represents the real you. This is the one that should always be at the top of your CV and the profile pic for any of your online profiles.

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If you’re in need of Extras, Actors or Models for your next Creative or Commercial Project, get in touch. We’d love to help. Simply email info@extrasireland.com or call us on (01) 634 3112 and let’s see how we can collaborate.

5 Reasons I Love Working in Casting

By Aislinn Ní Uallacháin / Head of Casting

Over the last few uncertain and challenging weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about why I do what I do. As an Actor myself for years, I worked in various side jobs because they allowed me to support myself while still having the opportunity to attend auditions, rehearsals and shoots. Three years ago, I felt an overwhelming urge to step away from Acting into another area of the industry – Casting. I’d produced and directed projects in the past and it was always my favourite part of the process. Luckily for me, this led to a fantastic year with Ali Coffey Casting and two years in my current position as Head of Casting at Extras Ireland. Though it was a difficult decision to make, it’s one of the best I’ve ever made. Here are just 5 of the reasons why…

Been There, Done That
Having been an Actor myself for years and experiencing all the ups and downs of that both in terms of finance and self-esteem, I really do genuinely care about Extras, Actors and Models. I respect their ability to put themselves out there to be judged on the way they look, the way they talk, the way they walk, the way they behave – such personal things. I’m well aware from working with other agencies myself that you’re sometimes just treated as a number and not necessarily as a person, often very much pushed aside and kept in the dark about what’s going on. I want to be someone who is honest and open with Extras, Actors and Models so that they feel valued and respected. If you’re in need of some pearls of wisdom about being an Actor from my own experience, read my General Advice for Actors post – I hope it helps.

A Split Personality
My brain very much functions in two ways – very organised and logical on one side (loving a good spreadsheet!) and creative and thoughtful on the other. I feel like this kind of work caters to both sides of my brain and that my need for stability/routine is fulfilled as well as the chance to be creative, experimental and spontaneous. I don’t think I’ve experienced that in any other work I’ve done so I appreciate that hugely. Every project is a new adventure!

Making a Masterpiece
I know myself from experience that Casting can make or break a project and it’s a pity when it’s broken due to off Casting. One miscast performer can bring a whole production down even when everything else is absolutely perfect. I want to help people to make the best piece of art possible and to feel like I’ve had a part in bringing the whole thing together for them. I want to work with creative people and help to create wonderful things. Knowing that you’re a part of the Irish TV, Film and Commercial landscape is very special.

Job Satisfaction
I’ve had a LOT of jobs – admin, ushering, teaching, promotions, tourism … the list is endless! I’m an incredibly hard worker – it’s in my blood! So much so that I’ve sometimes felt unappreciated considering how much work I do on my own time and off my own bat. Not so with Extras Ireland – I feel very much appreciated by Colleagues, Clients and Talent. That’s a massive motivation for me so thank you! Also, I probably have a healthy work/life balance for the first time in my life – I spent my twenties absolutely working my fingers to the bone. While I still want to work hard, I want a life too.

Keeping it Positive
The thing that I like the most about the work I do is that essentially you’re doing a good thing and you’re making people happy – that gives me huge satisfaction. For Performers, they’re so delighted when you tell them they got a role – it’s not just about getting a job; you’re dealing with people’s hopes and dreams and that’s a very delicate thing. The best feeling in the world. And for Clients, I just love when I send over suggestions of people for their project and they come back with a response saying that the options are amazing. It makes me really happy to know that I’ve helped them find the right person and made their job that bit easier.

So there we have it – just 5 of the reasons I love working in Casting. Of course, it’s incredibly hard work and can be stressful at times trying to get everyone organised for shoots but it’s such a lovely job overall. I feel so extremely lucky to have a job I enjoy so much and I’m delighted I made the leap when I did. I’m living proof that you should never be afraid to go after what you want.

**************************************************************************************************************If you’re in need of Extras, Actors or Models for your next Creative or Commercial Project, get in touch. We’d love to help. Simply email info@extrasireland.com or call us on (01) 634 3112 and let’s see how we can collaborate.

5 Things I’ve Learned About Casting

By Alexia Macari-Skelly / Casting Assistant

It’s been about two months now since I started working with Extras Ireland and The Production People (read my previous blog about being a Digital Intern here) – and in that short space of time I’ve learned so much. Casting is certainly an exciting and fast-paced world – sometimes a little stressful working to such tight deadlines but a good, exciting kind of stress! No two days are the same which makes for really interesting work and it’s a wonderful feeling to be a part of creating a new Film, TV show, Commercial or Music Video. I’ve been having a think this week about what I’ve learned so far and I’d love to share my thoughts with you.

1. Gift of the Gab

Communication in any job is key but especially in Casting. There are so many people you may be in touch with just for one project – Directors, Producers, Wardrobe, Extras Co-Ordinators, Photographers, Casting Directors, Actors, Extras, Models… It’s incredibly important to make sure you pass information on correctly and in a timely manner to ensure everyone is ready and confident to rock and roll!

2. Best ’til Last

One thing that I find interesting (and surprising) is how Extras, Actors and Models are often the last people to be arranged for a shoot. If you’ve ever wondered why you might receive Availability Checks with “ASAP” in the subject line that is exactly the reason. There can be so many people involved in a project from Production to Crew to Cast and as this can take time to finalize and schedule, it can sometimes be a rush to the finish line when organizing Talent. Luckily, we have lots of reliable and enthusiastic Performers on our database who we know and trust so it’s easy for us to book them at the last minute as soon as we know who our clients need.

3. Tidy House, Tidy Mind

We have over 3,000 Extras, Actors and Models on our database – so as you can imagine, that is a lot of CVs, Headshots and Showreels. These all need to be organised and ready to go for when a job comes in so we can pinpoint the right people for it. Thankfully, our Head of Casting Aislinn’s incredible organisation (and love of spreadsheets!) helps ensure that we have all the accurate info in the correct place ready to go.

4. Stay Current

Let’s be honest, we all have that one photo that we took five years ago that we can’t seem to change on our profiles. Although it may seem the best and most flattering to you, old pictures in Casting are a no-no. One thing I’ve learned is just how much a person can change even in the space of a year. Production wants to know straight away what you currently look like – they don’t want to find out the day of the shoot! So embrace your ever-changing features and always keep us in the loop.

5. Don’t Give Up

Casting is extremely competitive and a large number of people are considered for every role. As we send on our recommendations to Production of suitable Talent, we always have in mind who we would think would best suit the role. However, as our Extras, Actors and Models know, we never get to decide who gets a part unfortunately – the final decision will always rest with Production (or the brand if it’s a Commercial). It’s easier said than done I know – but not getting a part should never be taken personally. Criteria and requirements can be so specific and change so quickly, so if one job doesn’t go your way it’s important to keep your chin up and move on to the next one!

So there we have it – just 5 of the many, many things I’ve learned over the last couple of months. Of course, there’s so much more for me to learn and I’m excited to find out what’s around the corner!

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If you’re in need of Cast for your next project, get in touch – we’d love to help. Simply email info@extrasireland.com or give us a call on (01) 634 3112 and let’s see how we can collaborate.

7 Ways Covid Has Changed Casting

By Aislinn Ní Uallacháin / Head of Casting

It’s been a tough couple of months. Our team and The Production People have been working remotely and haven’t been Back to the Office since March. Thankfully, most of my own work is done via email and over the phone so I’m lucky I’ve been able to continue to help productions cast their projects despite an unsettling time. Whether getting a head start on a project shooting a few months down the road or filming in innovative ways, the kinds of Talent requests coming my way have certainly changed.

Specifically, new factors have come into play when searching for the perfect Extra, Actor or Model for a job that wouldn’t necessarily have been considered before.

Some of these factors have included:
– sourcing Actors / Models in extremely specific locations due to travel restrictions
– sourcing Voiceover Artists with a professional home studio for remote recording
– sourcing Talent capable of filming themselves (perhaps living with a filmmaker)
– sourcing Extras who are happy to have their own home used as a shoot location

It’s certainly been a challenge but I’ve tried to take it all in my stride. Yesterday, as Phase 3 of re-opening commenced, Screen Producers Ireland released an updated set of Production Guidelines to help Production Companies, Agencies and Artists to stay safe and navigate their way through a new world of work. Of course, because Production has to change, Pre-Production has to change – and that’s where Casting fits in. Below are some of SPI’s guidelines in relation to Casting and how we can uphold them.

1 Cast members and their agents should be informed and in agreement on working protocols at the earliest opportunity.
Absolutely. For any request that has come my way since restrictions were announced on Thursday 12th March, I’ve been sure to find out what safety measures will be in place on set. The safety of Cast and Crew is paramount to me and I’ll always provide clear instruction on this to our Talent.

2 Casting will require physical distancing and limiting numbers at casting sessions.
Traditional in-person Casting Sessions will take a little while to return I think. Over the past few weeks, I’ve submitted a huge amount of self-tapes for projects and have organised various virtual meetings between Talent and Production in place of them. In terms of Meetings, I know that both Productions and Actors have actually quite enjoyed these – a very different experience to a panel of people sitting behind a table and an Actor walking into the room. A virtual meeting can feel much more balanced and like you’re on equal footing.

3 Casting tapes should be viewed remotely.
Over the past few years, with the development of incredible camera-phones and online platforms such as Youtube and Vimeo, self-tapes have become a normal part of the casting process, allowing Actors in far-flung locations to be considered for top roles. Self-tapes have never been so important as they are now so Actors really need to make sure they know how to submit a good tape. Top tip – we need to be able to see you and hear you clearly!

4 Working with minors, or those in vulnerable groups should be considered on a case by case basis and limited or curtailed where possible.
I’ve seen a definite drop in requests for children and older people, understandably. Saying that, I do have two babies out on a photoshoot today, incidentally, with very strict measures and staggered call times in place. Only the client, photographer, baby and parent will attend and only the parent will have contact with the baby.

5 Extras and background artists should be limited in numbers to allow for social distancing. Where possible block booking a small group of returning extras may be useful (i.e. a returning ensemble), or booking family units.
As productions try to reduce their numbers on set, Extras are the logical way to bring numbers down. Booking family units for Acting / Extras work is absolutely a trend I’ve seen develop over the last few weeks so if you’re an Acting couple or a family of Extras, you may have a bit of an edge. I’ve been working on various shoots that call for performers from the same household – because we’re not automated and I really do know the Talent on our books, it’s not so difficult for me to co-ordinate, thankfully.

6 Looks and number of costume changes may need to be reduced/ simplified to accommodate the schedule, shoot day requirements and minimise interaction with Cast and Extras.
Over the past few weeks, Casting has sometimes revolved around wardrobe and who out of our pool of Talent has the kind of natural style that the shoot requires. It’s not unusual for Talent to be asked to bring their own wardrobe options to a shoot, but in terms of deciding who will be cast, it has definitely been an unusual part of the criteria of late.

7 If possible, all cast and crew should avoid public transport to get to work or to return home after work.
As well as specific locations, this has been a big change that I’ve seen over the last while. I’ve had a lot of requests in specifically for Talent who can drive themselves to and from shoots. Thankfully I have a huge amount of people on the books who can drive and don’t rely on trains and buses so it hasn’t been an issue.

These are just some of the ways that the Casting work I do has been affected by Covid-19 so far. It’s certainly meant additional time and research on my part into the lives of our Talent to make sure they fit new criteria for a shoot. This is never a chore, however – I adore talking to Extras, Actors and Models and finding out more about them! Extras Ireland is all about PEOPLE and I’ll always do my absolute best to help both Productions and Cast to get through this period of adjustment in any way I can. For now, we’ll all endeavour to uphold the guidelines set out by SPI to keep everyone safe on set and will hopefully be able to move forward into larger scale projects as the months go on.

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If you’re in need of Cast for your next Production, get in touch. We’d love to help.
Simply email info@extrasireland.com or call us on (01) 634 3112 and let’s see how we can collaborate.

Back to the Office

By Deirdre Ryan
CEO @ Extras Ireland

For the past three months, like most companies, our team have been working remotely and putting in trojan work under varying degrees of challenging circumstances to function effectively. All this while adjusting to a new work/life balance or probably more aptly, the new work/life integration. However, in taking baby steps back to ‘norm’ I popped into the offices of The Production People and Extras Ireland in Merrion Square yesterday, and although not sure what to expect, what I experienced was a very strange sensation of time standing still – a junction where the internal world of the past and the external world of the present converged.

The first thing greeting me was a pile of post in the communal hallway, and the familiar smell of the polished wood staircase leading to the top floor of number 11, where our offices are based. I didn’t see any other residents of the building on the way up but could hear some mumbled voices and keyboard activity behind closed office doors.

Just about to put the key into the latch to open up and I stop myself – realising that once I open the main door the alarm will go off. And I simply couldn’t remember the code. Panic moment as something I did automatically without thinking 3 months ago had been refiled into an internal ‘to be retrieved in the future folder’. Luckily, I had the code written into my phone so I unlocked the door and I dialled it into the keypad, still holding my breath however until the ‘disarmed’ sign appeared and the piercing screech of the expectant siren remained silent.

Beyond the door, the emptiness and silence scream louder than any alarm. Desks with no paperwork and chairs with no people. The usual banter of colleagues chatting, computers rattling, kettles boiling and phones ringing all eerily quiet, like a deserted village where all the inhabitants have left and only the buildings remain. I walk around the desks remembering the vibrancy and energy that resided here just a few short months ago. Time has stood still in our office as life and work relocated to our homes. Like our business and our industry, it had gone into unexpected hibernation.

The wall calendars display March, the office plants have dehydrated and withered (in stark contrast to the lush and vibrant greenery of the Merrion Square Park outside). I replace empty air fresheners with hand sanitisers and gel and turn on the TV to keep me company.Opening the post, I find a hidden gem among the usual utility bills, statements and reports. It’s a handwritten postcard for Aislinn in Extras Ireland from one of the people she placed in an advert earlier in the year and it was delightful to read the personal note and the sentiments expressed. A unique human touch among the throngs of standardised typed documents. Hunger hits me after a few hours of concentration and I venture outside to see if anywhere is open to grab a sandwich and a coffee. Cars are parked but the roads are still quiet.

Half empty buses zoom by but the line of tourist coaches that once graced Merrion Square North are no longer visible. Children still play in the playground but only a few. People still relax in the park but social distanced apart and Oscar Wilde still looks on from his perch with an amused grin and no doubt, a sharp-witted comment.Wandering around to a little coffee shop and restaurant called ‘il Caffe di Napoli’ beside the DART station on Pearse Street, and I’m the only one in a shop that once bragged a regular queue out the door. Today it’s four staff and one customer and the result is a leisurely chat, not possible in the past due to time and service demands.

Again, the human interaction is a welcome respite from the eerie quiet of a world taking its first tentative steps back to the ‘norm’. On my return once again to Number 11, to climb the familiar stairs, I wonder if the office could talk, what would it say to me, as the first person it has seen in three months, since forced to cocoon? In my head, I hear it say, “Welcome back, I’ve missed you. Where are all the others? I kept the fridge going, the kettle is on, the computers are ready to fire up and the phones are ready to ring …… but I’ve missed the humans. Without the humans, I’m only brick walls and infrastructure – a village with no inhabitants, a body with no soul.” No 11 Merrion Square is one office that certainly looks forward to welcoming back its humans, its management, its staff, its clients, and its candidates.

The Production People and Extras Ireland are a people business, a company ‘Passionate about People’. The fact is, our people are our brand and we genuinely look forward to a full family reunion in the not too distant future – taking tentative but reassuring steps in the meantime to make it happen. We’ll continue to work remotely for the next little while, but our office is ready to welcome us back very soon.


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If you’re in need of Cast for your next Production, get in touch. We’d love to help.
Simply email info@extrasireland.com or call us on (01) 634 3112 and let’s see how we can collaborate.

10 Tips for Extras on Set

Starting out, I spent a lot of time working as an Extra – Fair City, Raw, Primeval, Vexed, Crimecall, Penny Dreadful, What Richard Did, Camelot, Triage, Albert Nobbs, The Apprentice and Ripper Street to name a few. Now working in Casting, I have experience on both sides which is so important I think – always love passing on some of my wisdom to help others! Here are some tips (and the reasons behind them) for those out working as an Extra to help you have the best experience possible and to increase the chances of being re-booked.

Know that you are important.
As I mentioned in my previous blog ‘Extras – Increase Your Chances’, I know Extras often feel like they’re the last to know anything but I want you to know that you are extremely important. We always get specific requests at Extras Ireland so we’re searching for the perfect person/people for a job. Production won’t say – ‘I need 20 extras, it doesn’t matter who, just book whoever.’ They’ll be very particular and if they pick you, they want and need you.

Be on time.
You MUST be on time for your shoot. Remember that whatever your call time is, you’ve been given that time for a reason. You might have a tricky costume so Wardrobe need time to get you into it or if you have lots of hair (like me!), Hair and Make-up may need longer with you than other Extras. Make everyone’s job easier and arrive at the time you’re asked to. If you’re late, a note is always made by Production and you may not be booked again.

Bring everything you need.
Depending on the shoot, costume will be provided or you’ll be asked to bring your own clothes. Always bring what you’re asked to. If you don’t have something you’re asked for (eg black jeans, white runners), that’s no problem – just make sure you tell someone so that Wardrobe know they have to pick something up for you. Never arrive without something you were asked to bring specifically. If you’re asked to bring a few options, bring a few options.

Respect props and costumes.
I think a general rule of thumb is to remember that everyone on a set has worked hard to get there and wants to create something fantastic. Whatever costumes or props you’re given, be careful with them. You don’t know how long someone spent making a dress or chair or how far someone had to drive to get a specific hat or cup because it’s important to the scene. Respect hard work and if something rips or breaks, report it so it can be repaired or replaced.

Don’t make changes.
On period dramas, prepare to look dishevelled and dirty. I can’t tell you the amount of times I saw people ‘fix themselves’ – tidy their hair, apply fresh make-up, adjust costume to make it less baggy etc. Of course they were always brought back to be re-done – so terrified of not looking their best on screen. Well, guess what? You’re a beggar in Victorian London – you’re not supposed to look good! And guess what else? They were never booked again.

Don’t expect too much.
I learned so much from watching Actors. I also learned that some Extras can get strangely annoyed if Actors aren’t chatty and being good craic. ‘So-and-so isn’t very friendly’. It’s not their job to be friendly! It’s their job to do a good job. They’re trying to remember lines, what’s coming next, the previous scenes so they’re constructing the story well, and for many, worrying if this is going to be a big success or a huge flop.

Take in as much as you can.
To be honest with you, Extras generally spend a lot more time on sets than actors. I learned so much as an Extra which really helped me when I was a working Actor. The language used on set, what jobs different people do, how a day is structured, how to work with the camera, etc. So if you’re someone who is starting off as an Extra and hoping to make Acting a career, drink it all in because you’ll probably never spend so much time on sets again!

No Social Media.
It’s a big no-no to post anything online – what you’re filming, where you are, what the Actors are doing etc. Anyone who worked on Game of Thrones knows what it’s like to be sworn to secrecy (figuratively and legally) – imagine the biggest TV show in the world being ruined because an Extra posted about it. You have a glimpse into scenes, characters, locations, storylines and sometimes huge twists in a plot – you cannot post anything online.

Be positive.
You never know what you’ll be doing – in a battle, eating in a cafe, escaping an explosion… You have to be up for anything and while daunting for a first timer, experienced Extras will usually take it in their stride and help newcomers. Be positive and adopt a Can-Do attitude, not a Do-I-Have-To? one. It’ll make for a more enjoyable experience and you’re more likely to be booked again. Also, remember ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ go a long way.

Enjoy yourself!
If you’re selected as an Extra for a job, make sure you enjoy it. I know the days can be long and tiring but sets are very exciting places to be. You meet fascinating people, all the star of their own story. As someone who’s naturally shy, meeting new people every day was great for me – in fact, I met my best friend on Camelot back in 2010 – so incredibly grateful. People make great friends and I know a few who’ve even met their other half. So make the most of it!

I hope this has been helpful! Do you have any stories from being on sets? Do you have other tips that aren’t in here? Let me know, always delighted to hear about your own experiences!

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If you’re in need of Extras, Actors or Models for your next Creative or Commercial Project, get in touch. We’d love to help. Simply email info@extrasireland.com or call us on (01) 634 3112 and let’s see how we can collaborate.

Extras – Increase Your Chances

By Aislinn Ní Uallacháin / Head of Casting

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. Make 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?

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If you’re in need of Extras, Actors or Models for your next Creative or Commercial Project, get in touch. We’d love to help. Simply email info@extrasireland.com or call us on (01) 634 3112 and let’s see how we can collaborate.

What Are Actors Up To?

By Aislinn Ní Uallacháin / Head of Casting

It’s a very tough time for us all at the moment. We’re missing loved ones, worried about our jobs and unsure of how the situation is going to be resolved. Having been an Actor for so long, I wonder how I would have coped had this happened a few years ago. Acting is a difficult path in terms of finance and self-worth at the best of times – let alone in the current climate. I’ve been reaching out to Actors to check how they’re getting on in the midst of it all.

1. Watching Classic Movies
Lots of Actors are watching classic films that they keep meaning to watch but just never get around to it. One Actor told me they’re working their way through all the Best Picture winners right back to the beginning of the Academy Awards as a study of great film-making and acting. If you want to learn, learn from the best! Recommendations from Actors include Planet of the Apes, On the Waterfront, All About Eve, To Kill a Mockingbird, Psycho, Rocky, The Godfather and Pretty Woman.

2. Doing their Day Job
As we know, most actors have a side job – teaching, tour guiding, retail, bartending and temping to name but a few. So for many it’s not only their primary job that has gone at the moment but their side one as well – that’s proving difficult for people. Thankfully, some actors are still able to work in their other job at the moment and are very grateful to have it – even if they’re usually dreaming of Hollywood. Jobs that actors are still doing include retail, admin, social media, content creation, electrician work and deliveries.

3. Caring for their Families
For some actors that I’ve spoken to, acting is the furthest thing from their minds at the moment. Like so many, their first priority is looking after their children and family members. Some are official carers for family members so making sure they’re okay is at the top of the list. One actor who cares for their mother told me that the situation has given them some perspective. They usually spend so much time worrying about their career. None of that really matters right now.

4. Feeling Incredibly Creative
In some cases, moments of difficulty can inspire great works of art. For some actors, the last few weeks have spurred them on to spend their time creating and developing their skills as an actor. They have been writing plays, making their own shorts, reading plays, recording voiceover from home, starting podcasts, learning more about how to use their camera and taking online acting classes and workshops. Not just in preparation for when all this passes but because they have the overwhelming urge to create.

5. Enjoying the Downtime
On the other hand, an awful lot of actors are feeling the opposite – not creative at all. In fact, one actor told me that in a strange way, it’s a nice feeling not being so caught up in worrying about auditions and jobs – because there aren’t any! It can be exhausting. When things are up and running again these actors will return to immersing themselves in their art but for now, they’re appreciating a slower pace of life, the chance to recharge their batteries and to reconnect with family and friends.

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If you’re in need of Extras, Actors or Models for your next Creative or Commercial Project, get in touch. We’d love to help. Simply email info@extrasireland.com or call us on (01) 634 3112 and let’s see how we can collaborate.

Audition Advice for Actors

By Aislinn Ní Uallacháin / 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 – very important if you’re going to be on their 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!

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If you’re in need of Extras, Actors or Models for your next Creative or Commercial Project, get in touch. We’d love to help. Simply email info@extrasireland.com or call us on (01) 634 3112 and let’s see how we can collaborate.

General Advice for Actors

By Aislinn Ní Uallacháin / Head of Casting

Being an Actor is hard 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 life. It’s easy to get so swept up in the world of acting that 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.

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.

I get sent lots of self-tapes from Actors. Some for a particular job, some in place of a showreel. A mistake that people 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. Bring the character and the audience on a journey and keep us on our toes.

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.

”So-and-So only got the part because they know So-and-So.” Look at it this way. If I was a filmmaker 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 to be re-hired. Work hard and the same thing will happen for you.

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If you’re in need of Extras, Actors or Models for your next Creative or Commercial Project, get in touch. We’d love to help. Simply email info@extrasireland.com or call us on (01) 634 3112 and let’s see how we can collaborate.

2019 – What a Year!

By Aislinn Ní Uallacháin / Head of Casting

Another year almost over at Extras Ireland and it’s been an absolute whopper! Thanks so much to all our Extras, Actors and Models – we’re delighted to work with each and every one of you. To all of our Clients, thank you for coming to us for help – every project is a new and exciting adventure for us!

Here’s a little look back at just ten of the projects we’ve collaborated on this year, each one a gem. We’re so very grateful for a prosperous 2019 and are looking forward to lots more exciting projects in 2020!
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I am Patrick: The Patron Saint of Ireland (Docudrama)

‘’I AM PATRICK peels back centuries of legend and myth to tell the true story of Saint Patrick. Through historical re-enactments, expert interviews and Patrick’s own writings, experience the journey from man to saint.’’

We were so delighted to be able to provide the extras and featured extras for this spectacular docudrama about the man himself. Our extras got the chance to travel way out west and by all accounts it was an amazing experience on Achill Island this summer.

Working on a period piece was both challenging and fun for us here in the office, thanks so much to all, definitely a 2019 highlight for us.

Check out the trailer here.
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Westlife ‘Better Man’ (Music Video)

Imagine our excitement when we were approached to source the extras for Westlife’s comeback music video – we really had to keep this one under wraps so that there wouldn’t be legions of screaming fans turning up to the shoot!

We booked lots of teens to play secondary school students, adults to play the teachers and Kyna, the gorgeous little girl who bounds in at the end to her Mum. Definitely one of our favourite projects this year.

Click here to watch the vid from the boys!
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Rugby World Cup (RTE Promo)

It was an absolute treat to source the Japanese extras for the RTE Rugby World Cup promo. We reached out to the Japanese community in Ireland and met some really wonderful people along the way. A really special one for us.

Aislinn was actually in Japan during the World Cup so it was a particularly exciting one for her to have worked on!

You can watch the promo here to catch a glimpse of our fab extras!

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Fota Island Resort (Live Events)

As well as extras, we of course have a huge pool of talented, professional actors on our books who are available for stage, screen and event work.

For both their Halloween and Christmas interactive events, we helped Fota to find actors who are game for lots of improvisation, full of creativity and who aren’t afraid to expect the unexpected!

Fota’s Christmas Experience is currently running in Cork until December 23rd, click here for more details.
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Smyths (Commercial)

We have a fab working relationship with Smyths and are always excited when they get in touch! Whether they’re looking for newborns for catalogue stills or older kids to present some unboxing vids, we’re always thrilled to collaborate with them. So many cuties! Check out little Danny in an ‘unboxing’ video here, a natural!

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To the Moon (Documentary)

During 2019 we’ve been busy sourcing voiceoverartists for ‘To the Moon’, a gorgeous documentary about the moon that’s in the works. We’ve helped to source speakers of various languages to take part in this project – Spanish, Albanian, Greek, Romanian… it’s going to be really fabulous and we’re so proud to be a part of it!

Read more about this beautiful documentary here.
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Crimecall (TV)

Our extras and featured extras have been out working on Crimecall for RTE as both suspects and victims this year.
Often a challenging job for us as they must look as similar as possible to the real people involved – some extremely specific requests come in but we’re always up to the task!

More info on Crimecall here.
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Avonmore Lactose Free Milk (Online Video)

We often get unique requests in – we just never know what’s going to come our way!

One of the more unusual projects we worked on this year was for Avonmore – sourcing people who are lactose intolerant. Nothing is impossible!

Check out their stories here.
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Ding.com (Video and Stills Campaign)

We’re very proud at Extras Ireland to have models of various nationalities and ethnicities on our books – check out some of our ladies on this Ding shoot earlier this year – just fabulous.

Great to have so many out on this shoot for St Patrick’s Day. Thanks Ding!
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Green Knight (Feature Film)

We had lots of our actors and extras on set during the summer for Green Knight, a fantasy re-telling of the medieval story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Lots of special requirements for various roles in this one – horse riding, screen combat, calligraphy, weaving, swimming…

Will be an interesting one when it hits cinemas next year, more info here on IMDB.

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If you’re in need of Extras, Actors or Models for your next Creative or Commercial Project, get in touch. We’d love to help. Simply email info@extrasireland.com or call us on (01) 634 3112 and let’s see how we can collaborate.