Background talent is basically models and actors that are used in the production of a film or television show. Background talent is generally used as extras in the crowd scenes of a film or television show.

They can be seen walking down the street, standing at a bar, or sitting at the table with the main characters.

casting background talent

What Is casting background talent In Film?

Background talent is any non-speaking character or performer who is included in a production to work with the main cast members. These include extras, crew members and stunt people.

There are two primary types of background casting: extras casting, which is done on a local level, and network extras casting, which is done by large agencies who represent performers throughout the country.

Background actors are often used to fill out scenes set in busy locations where the primary characters cannot be filmed due to crowd control (i.e. sporting events or festivals) or an inability to secure permission from officials at certain locations (i.e. military bases).


What Are Casting Calls?

Casting directors are responsible for hiring actors for roles in films, television programs, commercials, and theater productions. Casting calls, also known as casting notices, are one of the most effective ways to find background talent.

These notices are posted on various websites, including Facebook, or a huge variety of other dedicated websites for this purpose, although mail notices are also not too uncommon. These sites help you to find the perfect participants that fit your exact descriptions.

On top of this, casting calls can save you time and resources. By making these posts public you can completely circumnavigate the long and treacherous work of interviewing every single person individually, especially if you require a lot of talent.

Now that you’ve read through this article on casting background talent, you might be interested in becoming a casting director yourself or furthering your current work. But it’s essential to understand what it means to be a casting director and what your responsibilities will be.

A Casting Director’s main function is to pre-select actors for roles, by auditioning them on film or tape. They may also pre-select or create extras for an upcoming movie or television show. In the case of voice casting, they might pre-select or create voice talent that will be used in the actual production.

Casting Directors often provide crew members with background information about each actor and extra, while also conducting research for an appropriate setting for filming to determine the precise type of crew and background talent that will be required.

Casting Directors are usually employed by production companies and studios, though they sometimes work on a freelance basis. Some independent producers also hire them to find actors for projects that don’t have large budgets. 

As an entry-level Casting Director, you may need to rely on your own business skills, emotional sensitivity, and interpersonal skills to achieve success in the field. They usually have many responsibilities throughout the movie or television production process, including:

  • Make sure everyone is informed of their roles and acting.
  • Communicating everyone’s script, (usually acting as a middle man between writers and actors).
  • Negotiate good deals for the productions.
  • Make appointments for a variety of different actors.
  • Finding a replacement, when needed.

But also a whole lot more which may not seem intuitive at first.

Long story short, as a casting director there are a lot of distinct tasks you need to keep track of, and keeping everyone informed is not always as easy as it seems on the surface.

What Is Central Casting?

Central Casting, Inc. is an American casting agency specializing in background actors, extras, stand-ins, photo doubles, and more. The company offers services to productions of all sizes and across all media, including film, television, commercials, print ads, and new media projects.


They’ve also been recognized as the casting leader for background actors since its inception in the early 20th century.

History of Central Casting

Central Casting, Inc. is a casting agency and production company founded in the early 20th century by Aline Bernstein. The company was initially based in New York City but later moved to Hollywood, California. 

The company works with both film and television productions, offering extras. The company also provides casting for reality television shows.

The first known person to be hired as a professional extra was Aline Bernstein themselves (1881–1960). She started as an extra in silent movies around 1910 and her career spanned from 1910 to 1932 and included work on over 300 movies.

Bernstein’s husband, Norman Nadel (1873–1944), was a theatrical agent who co-founded the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Nadel invested in the stock market prior to World War I and made enough money to live comfortably for the rest of his life.

He, along with Charles Eagan, founded Central Casting in 1925 as an alternative to the then-prevalent method of hiring extras by word of mouth or in newspaper ads. In addition to her work as a stage actress, Bernstein had also worked as a casting director for Thomas H. Ince Studios.

Direct Deposit For Background Actors

When you’re a background actor, you don’t always get paid when the shoot is over. Sometimes you have to wait for the production company to get paid by the studio or network. 

In these cases, it’s up to the production company to cut checks and mail them out. Wouldn’t it be simpler if you could just get paid right away?

Tara Vancil, President of AVC Casting, explains how they use direct deposit in this recent article. I’m going to give you her advice here as well, but add some key details you might want to know.

When you’re offered a job that pays with direct deposit, your first step is to call your bank and make sure they can do direct deposits. You’ll also need to give your bank your employer’s name and Routing Number.

This information should have been provided in your offer letter from the production company. If it was not provided, contact them immediately so you can sign up for direct deposit before the payroll department closes for the day.

Direct Deposit Sign-Up Tips

Find out if your bank offers direct deposit and make sure they can accept payroll deposits from entertainment industry employers, like producers and studios (they all should).