Let’s talk about how to make extras handling fast, simple, and pain-free.
Extras (also known as background actors or atmosphere actors) are an essential part of any film set or television set. They make the film feel real. Without extras, every film would have an eerie post-apocalyptic feel- which would just be weird. Really weird.
Thankfully, our filmmaking forefathers realized this and made background performing a standard practice.
So standard, in fact, that we have extras casting directors, extras casting agencies, and extras casting websites dedicated specifically to background performers!
But as necessary as extras are, they can pose a challenge. Sometimes there are hundreds of them on set at once. Each person represents more paperwork, more paychecks, more of your time, specific notes, and various call times. Some want to be there because they have their hopes set on a future in film, others are there because they were told by their friends and family that becoming an extra is the easiest paycheck they’ll get in their lives. The prior are the ones that make your job as “Extras Wrangler” not-so-bad and get to set on time, ready to go.The latter can leave you feeling more like an animal wrangler than a coordinator of humans. Handling extras requires special skills, namely: patience.
Have no fear, Topsheet’s here!
Depending on the size of your film production, the job of “Extras Wrangler” can be placed on the 1st AD (assistant director), 2nd AD, or production assistant. Y’all know you already have a lot to do, so we have taken it upon ourselves to turn this “extra” headache into something more like a piece of cake.
Not only does Topsheet offer payroll services, cast and crew management, time cards, and call sheets, but we are now the ONLY entertainment payroll company to offer in-app Extras Handling as well.
Some of our Extras Handling app features include:
Scheduling by groups
Access Controlled Call Sheets
Production Documents in App
Scheduling By Groups
Using Topsheet for Extras Handling, you can choose to schedule your extras by groups. This can be based on location, days, hours, SAG (Screen Actors Guild) extras, or nonunion extras. You can determine the groups however you wish.
Do you have an extra who needs special attention? A featured extra? Does your extra have lines? Or a wardrobe that requires more time than the others (hello period pieces)? Whatever the case, you can choose to schedule your extras individually as you need.
Save precious time on filming day with our GPS Check-in feature that is built into the app. When your extras are within 600 meters of the set, a “check-in” button will appear on the app. All they need to do is click on it. For any extra who doesn’t show up and check in, you can remove their time card with the tap of a button. When they do check-in, a timestamp will appear by their name.
The Topsheet Extras Handling App also includes a Group Check-in feature which allows you to select and check-in an entire group all at once.
For those “extra” special cases in which you need one (or a few) background actors to have an earlier call time for wardrobe or some other reason, you can simply select and check-in those individuals with ease. A timestamp will appear by their names.
Access Controlled Call Sheets
Film sets can be full of secrets. Sometimes there’s just stuff you’d rather your extras not know about. By using our Access Controlled call sheets, extras only receive the information they need.
Let’s say the weather report for one of the set days will be rainy, or your extras need to have sandals with them, or they need to park in a certain area; you can make these notes in the app and the extras will all receive an email with this information.
Production Documents in App
Documents such as W4s, W9s, direct deposit information, etc. are all in the app and they’re easy for all your cast and crew members and extras to fill out and update as needed. Nobody needs to stand in line to fill out paperwork at the end of a grueling eight-hour day in the film industry ever again.
When it comes time to leave the set, it’s just as easy as arriving to set. Prior to Topsheet’s existence, long lines at the end of the day to fill out time cards were the norm. But now, when you use Topsheet for time cards, you can choose to set parameters for an entire group, individual, or make a simple announcement about the clock-out times at the end of the day for each person to enter into their app. Whoever is in charge of the extras (assistant directors or personal assistants- usually) can look on the app and make sure all time cards are filled out correctly and approve or deny the time cards as needed. Nobody needs to wait around at the end of a long day.
A Union Extra is an extra who has gained valuable experience on set doing background work. In order to become SAG (SAG-AFTRA) eligible, a background actor needs to acquire three SAG vouchers. A SAG voucher is an original pay stub verifying that you worked in a SAG-AFTRA production. SAG actors tend to get paid more and have more benefits than non-union actors, but this can make your work more scarce as you will only be allowed to work on SAG projects from then on.
Through June 2022, SAG-AFTRA background actors will get a day rate of $182. July 2022- June 2023, SAG-AFTRA background actors will receive a day rate of $187. The rate may vary if you are considered a “special ability” background actor or if you get bumped up to “stand-in” or “photo double”. Special ability background actors will receive $192 as a daily rate through June 2022 and July 2022- June 2023 will receive a day rate of $197. Stand-ins and photo doubles will receive a day rate of $214 through June 2022 and the rate will increase to $219 per day from July 2022-June 2023.
As part of the SAG benefits for union extras, they are paid a minimum of an 8-hour day rate even though they may not be booked for the entire day. Union extras will always be on an 8-hour guarantee unless otherwise specified in the contract.
Non-union extras aren’t guaranteed the same types of things as union extras are guaranteed although, it’s fairly common for non-union extras to also receive an 8-hour guarantee (entire day) though it is not required by law for productions or production companies that are non union.
Non-union extras are allowed to work on any set, union or non union.
Download the Topsheet app
Downloading the Topsheet app is free and easy. Simply go to your App Store or Google Play Store, type in “Topsheet Inc” and click “download”. From there you’ll be prompted to create a free account and enter in some of your basic information. You can add a photo of yourself, fill out tax forms, and bank information for direct deposit if you so choose.
You’ll also notice, in your account settings, you can keep track of your pay stubs and even add an emergency contact.
The “Projects” tab will show you which projects you have been invited to collaborate on. Choose a project to open and you’ll find call sheets, time cards, pay stubs, etc. for that specific film or project.
Use Topsheet to Manage your Set
Whether you desire to use us for payroll or just our film set management features, Topsheet has been working hard to anticipate your every need. Our team is made up of people who have “been there” and know where those film and television industry-specific frustrations lie. We’ve done the work so you don’t have to. Use us for feature films, television, short films, and student films. When you choose Topsheet for your cast and crew management, payroll, and extras handling, you’re gaining peace of mind and time saved on shooting days and more!
Schedule a demo today!