Extras casting shouldn't be a burnout career anymore
It’s about time extras casting is reflected upon as a creative career, full of visionaries who simply love what they do.
Extras casting shouldn’t be a burnout career anymore
If you read that and your immediate reaction was “Pft, sure” then you should know that you’re working in the wrong environment, for you. If you spend every day quizzing yourself and your colleagues why the job is so draining, or even implementing makeshift and experimental ways of using glitchy systems, then you’re the visionary - not your leaders. You probably have skills to harness that extend beyond your creative eye.
There’s always been a fad within extras casting circles to fall into a state of hysteria when 11pm rolls around and you’re still at your desk, staring down the same tunnel that’s never felt like it had a light at the end of it. At this point, there’s no way you’re not getting an Uber home (on the company).
You might even try and convince yourself that you “do it for the art” and to glam up your career at the next opportunity, but there’s 100% an expiration date when this is how you spend your days.
I know because scouting the people of London to put together the International Delegation of Witches and Wizards in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them remains, to this day, one of the most fulfilling tasks of my career. I was encouraged to use maximum creative freedom by my friend and AD, Candy Marlowe, and was loving every second of doing the part of the job that I’d signed up for 4 years previous - casting.
But when trapped between the four walls of my office, it definitely could have been made an easier task and that was the dominating factor in my experience by far. That scene is also, notably, the only one I ever talk about having cast with peers and colleagues without being plagued by the manual processes I went through - having cast tens-of-thousands of extras over a career spanning 5 years. For one scene, out of many, enjoyment of creativity ultimately prevailed & I remember knowing that was when I’d hit my own extras casting (very thick) glass ceiling.
Those that have a revolving door of assistants, and put humans through what technology can handle effortlessly (without the feelings, and while you’re asleep) will continue to experience an incredibly high staff turnover, simple.
I spend a lot of time around casting company owners in the US, and one thing is clear amongst those that haven’t yet found a way to embrace a smarter way of working - they’re just getting by. Can’t quite think beyond tomorrow, or at most the end of this current project.
Compare it to your diet: when you eat poorly (just because you need to eat), you wind up groggy, unproductive and lethargic. If you switch out the donut for an apple (and invest in your future), suddenly you’re thinking about the long-game and sustainability. Now consider applying the same mentality to your business.
I’m continuously finding that creativity, and the love for it, gets totally diminished amongst Extras Casting Directors and it sits heavy on my heart. Maybe it’s because I went through the hardship myself but I didn’t know then what I know now, and have since got myself heavily involved in the future of film production.
The time when extras casting can be reflected upon as a creative career, full of people who love what they do and get to have a life too, excites me.
I know that the future is here thanks to how technology is revolutionizing our world of work, because I consider myself a visionary.