Terminology Tuesday: Background

A background actor is someone who performs in a nonspeaking role, usually in the background. Background actors (BG) help make movies, TV shows, and other productions look and feel more authentic. ⁠

Doing BG can give you a unique opportunity to see behind the scenes on a variety of productions. In some cases, you’ll be able to observe the actor/director dynamic and how an actor deals with blocking/marks during a scene. ⁠

Many actors make the decision to dabble in background work in hopes they may obtain 3 union vouchers. Getting these 3 vouchers makes you automatically eligible for the union. Sometimes this can take just a few BG jobs, other times it can even take years. ⁠

Actors get these vouchers when a union actor does not show up to set. A percentage of union actors must be fulfilled each day, so that voucher will go to a non-union actor. ⁠

There’s no protocol in place for why an AD may choose to bump someone up, but working hard, following directions properly, and being kind to everyone on set might help an AD notice your efforts and motivate them to give you that voucher. ⁠

By far our biggest question pertaining background work is how do casting offices feel about actors doing it?⁠

The answer is simple, as long as you show up for us and do the work when we send you an audition, what you do on your own time is up to you (𝘪𝘵’𝘴 𝘢𝘭𝘴𝘰 𝘯𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘣𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴). ⁠

As far as listing in on your resume goes, consider this:⁠

Your resume tells us your acting experience. That applies to any job you’ve auditioned for, won the role and worked on set with a director. ⁠

That doesn’t really apply to background work. ⁠

If you were lucky enough to be bumped up on set to a speaking role? Put it on the res!⁠

Just had one line and it got cut in post? Put it on the res! You still won the job and you STILL worked on set. ⁠

That’s experience. ⁠

#themoreyouknow #thecastingdirectorscut #terminologytuesday #actorlife

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