Extras, the anonymous protagonists of this industry


What would a scene from a wedding, a funeral, a party, or simply a street map be without the extras? When one dreams of being an actor, he always does it in a big way, thinking of that leading role that he would love to play. But there are also those who decide to stay in the background and fill with life those scenes that would not be the same without them. The extras, that job that many come to by vocation, others by need of extra money or simply an income, however sporadic it may be, in times of scarcity.

The one with the figuration It is a sector, within the audiovisual world, marked by temporality, but also by little professionalization and precariousness. Those who decide to work on this live pending calls from the agencies, which mediate between them and the producers; of the telephone, to know if they have been selected for a new participation. In most cases that call comes a few hours in advance.

A job surrounded by questions

Fernando Carpintero, Luis Miguel Ramirez and Antonio Vega These are just three examples of the thousands of people who try to make a living as extras every day. They have been working in this world for years, as they call it. They began to try and little by little the bug for the interpretation grew. Now their jobs are more secure, but their salary at the end of the year depends on many conditions.

Forty-five euros gross on average for eight hours of work, the gross salary that an extra earns on average

Forty-five euros gross on average for eight hours of work plus one for food. It is the gross salary that an average helper receives and that can increase if you are lucky and they give you some more responsibility. Small parts, doubles for light or sound tests, a phrase in a scene. That’s one more step, better paid, but harder to get. As it is, in many cases, to be paid for holidays and nights.

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In addition, to this precariousness and uncertainty, the extras add the discrimination. The great forgotten ones of an audiovisual sector feel more classist than they would like. They denounce that there are filming sessions in which they even put them to eat apart from the cast of actors or they do not give them more than a sandwich. They demand that their work be recognized and that they are not treated as the last in the chainwithout space not even in the credit titles of the films or series in which they participate.

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An agreement that protects them

They attribute most of their ills to the lack of an agreement that protects them. The one that currently exists was signed in 2016, it was the first and it is very basic, although from the Union of actors they describe it as a success achieved at that time. Now, or rather when the pandemic allows it, it would be time to renew it, but at the moment there is no date on the horizon.

Waiting for this to arrive, they will continue to give meaning to the scenes of advertisements and series. You, close your eyes and imagine that sequence that you like so much in a movie and think. In addition to the protagonists, surely there was the odd extra.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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