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Life & Times: The ups and downs of a Uni-Versal Extra


Posted by: Paul on Monday 29th November 2021

There are ups and downs with everything - and life is no different as a Uni-Versal Extra, but we think it is mostly good! Please do let us know if you disagree or want to add to the list in any way.


Some truths about life within, we think, the wonderful world of the Uni-Versal Extras family.

THE (SLIGHT) DOWNERS

Do you want the good news or the bad news first? How about the 'Not so great news' so we can finish on a high and a dramatic flourish?

YOUR WORKING DAY

There is no way around this, your working day can mean very early starts or working into the night. But not every day involves an early start with a late finish (in fact, few do - but when that happens, overtime kicks in!), so you might get either a lie-in before work or an afternoon off afterwards.

HANGING AROUND

Once on location you will often have to spend a lot of time waiting for your moment as a Supporting Extra. It's the same as many jobs, but at least you don't have to pretend to be busy. In fact, bring a book or study notes to use during your downtime.

FILMING LOCATIONS

Hopefully you won't ever have to travel too far or for too long to reach the production location - we work hard to match our Extras up with local work. There will be productions you will be suitable for in quite remote and difficult to reach places, and sometimes even abroad - we will always clear these with you first too! Thankfully it is always your choice to take a role or not, and if the production is somewhere very difficult to get to the production company will normally make the travel arrangements for you.

AVAILABILITY FOR DATES

Part of being a Supporting Artiste means you have to pretty much guarantee to be able to turn up to work on the dates agreed, and depending on the production that could mean just one day in the very near future or a few days spread over a week or so, and so on. Sometimes those dates will conflict with other things you have planned. The very important thing is that you do not accept work you cannot commit to. Read that last bit again, it's crucial. Letting the production down by not turning up, arriving late or leaving early without an allowable cause will most likely mean you are removed from the UVE list of Supporting Artistes.

THERE IS NO GUARANTEE YOU WILL GET PICKED FOR A PART

You've signed up, you've filled out endless bits of information on your profile, you've uploaded good photos, you're checking and applying (if you have activated your account) for roles and you are ready to go...and you are not getting picked. We do everything we can to make sure our fabulous family of Uni-versal Extras get roles in productions. Ultimately, and unfortunately, it is not our choice but that of the production itself who works - it's always about the 'look'. Don't despair, we will continue to put you forward for relevant roles - you can maximise your chances by making sure that your profile is accurate and up to date and if you have activated your account you also get the opportunity to upload up to 10 photos of yourself (see our article about photo types).

THE UPPERS

At last! It's not all grumbly-ness. There are lots of really good reasons to be a Uni-versal Extras Supporting Artiste, and here is just a taster...

ACCESS TO THE WONDERFUL, AND A LITTLE WEIRD, WORLD OF FILM & TV PRODUCTION

There are bona-fide genuine cases of UVE Supporting Artistes being spotted and elevated to the heights of stardom or ending up behind the cameras in full-time, non-performing roles. For others, it is an opportunity to 'just be a part of it'; to get on set, to have a go, to have some fun with it, to have something that is 'different' to do and that fits with their lives. Whatever your motivation, it can be hugely fulfilling and satisfying...and it is certainly not your normal day-to-day routine desk job.

GET CLOSE TO THE ACTION

Because of our standing in the industry, Uni-versal Extras gets to work on some of the best known film and TV productions in the UK. Just look at our productions pages to see what we mean. Whatever your role it is most likely that you are going to be close to the main action of the scene, so you should really get to feel as though you are playing your part.

NOBODY COULD CLAIM IT IS A NORMAL JOB!

If you embrace 'the different' and like to walk an alternative path then being a Uni-versal Extra Supporting Artiste could well be a great fit for you. Or you may simply want to embrace opportunities as they excite you - take or leave choosing roles as you find them. Either way, one thing it isn't is a nine-to-five clock watching desk job with miserable rainy commutes and office-gossip.

YOU GET TO MEET LOTS OF NEW PEOPLE

That's a good thing. Alright, it's not a dating agency (although we'd love to know if you did actually meet your partner as a result of being an Extra), but you are likely to have similar interests (being a Supporting Artiste for one) and as there is often a fair amount of time to wait for your scene it is a great opportunity to meet, socialise and compare your acting skills! Perhaps not that last one.

YOU WILL CERTAINLY GET TO TRAVEL TO DIFFERENT PLACES

Different productions plus different roles equals different places; and there will be a mix of studio, urban, rural, iconic and other locations to visit. On occasion, roles will require travel abroad.

DRESSING UP AND GETTING FED - WHO COULD ASK FOR MORE?

As you can tell, we are nearing peak excitement in the "UPPERS" section. Getting dressed up is very much part of the role of the Supporting Artiste. Depending on what is required you may be asked to go for costume fitting, which is why we need such up to date and accurate information on your profile (check out our blog on the importance of measurements) or you may be asked to bring your own clothes. Free food? Need we say more? Nope, thought not.

THE GRANDE FINALE - YOU GET PAID

Yes. If you take part in a production as a Supporting Artiste you will get paid. The amount you will get paid can vary by quite a bit, but it can take into account the early starts and late finishes, the times you have not got the role you wanted, the travel to awkward locations, the being part of something exciting and possibly very well known, and the hours you spend just doing nothing other than meeting a variety of interesting people for the very first time. Getting paid for all that? Sounds good, doesn't it?

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