Education + Careers
An accredited film school will help you discover your movie-making talents and acquaint you with the other important skills and prerequisites for a career in motion picture production. Contact these institutions offering studies in motion picture production for more information on the career path of your choice.
Take the Motion Picture Industry Orientation Course
This course is required for membership or permittee status in most unions. It is offered through the following educational institutions:
For further information, visit the Directors Guild of Canada – BC District Council Permittee Program at:
2 days – usually weekends, a pproximately $150.00
Do your research!
Get to know the industry organizations, production companies, and other resources in your area of interest.
Some places to look are:
Learn the language
Take a look at what’s going on
You may want to visit the Creative BC website and view the weekly updated In Production list of information on productions currently being worked on in British Columbia.
Get the right training
Once you know which area you’d like to work in, find out what the requirements are for those positions. Take a look at the union websites which often post r equirements for membership – including the training and education necessary for each position .
You’ll notice that some positions require a few courses, while others require more extensive education and certification. Take a look at what the labour unions in and around Vancouver require for membership and permittee status.
Get some experience
You’ll need a short resume outlining your education, training, volunteer and work experience. Some positions will also require a portfolio.
Being an extra/background performer is a good introduction to working on set.
Volunteer work is invaluable if you don’t have very much work experience to begin with – it helps build your resume and it provides important contacts that may lead to paid work in the future. Some places to find volunteer work:
- Student productions: Contact film schools or put a notice up at the schools explaining that you would like to volunteer.
- Get involved with Women in Film
- Visit the Cultural Human Resources Council website.
This is one of the best ways to catch a bit of the magic of filmmaking, and to share the glimmer of the spotlight. You will also learn a little about the hard work that’s part of the film industry. An extra is a person hired to provide a controllable background to the main action of the film. They come in all shapes and sizes, and it is fairly easy to become one.
You can register with an agency that provides background performers to film production companies.
Registration as an extra includes completing a form that asks you for a few vital statistics, when you are available to work, and what special skill you may have. Your special abilities may include equestrian skills, dancing or fencing, for example. The agency will also need a photo of you. If you don’t have one, the agency will take one for you.
There may be a small fee for the registration and photo, but small is the key word here (about $25 – $40 a year). For this fee you should be guaranteed at least one call.
BEWARE: Some disreputable agencies may try to convince you that you need an expensive photo portfolio to become an extra. This is false.
Agencies charge a small fee because their compensation comes from a percentage deducted from your wages. This is standard agency procedure and is incentive to them to find work for you. Extras generally earn only minimum wage and most agencies take 10 to 15 percent, depending upon the type of work.
For information on Talent Agencies, and a PDF list of all agencies, click below
For a list of talent agencies who deal primarily with background casting click here .
For information about employment standards of “Young People in Entertainment”, visit this Employment Standards web site:
Another way to obtain extra work is to approach each production individually. You can do this by submitting a resume and photo to the attention of EXTRAS CASTING .
DO NOT call the offices as they are extremely busy and will not take any information regarding extra work over the phone.
You can find the email addresses to these offices here:
Being an extra can be fun and exciting, but it is also hard work and requires commitment and a businesslike attitude. When you sign up with an agency you will be given information about etiquette on the set. Take it to heart if you want to be asked back. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll feel like an old pro. Break a leg!
Developed in partnership between Creative BC, MPPIA and industry labour organizations, this comprehensive, mandatory course provides you with the information you need to know before working on a film set.