Central Casting is a company that’s hiring extras for film and TV productions. Central Casting Los Angeles is their headquarters, but they also have offices for casting background performers in New York, Georgia and Louisiana.
You’ve all heard of background work on a film set before. People doing background work are known as background artists, or more commonly – extras.
Background work is something actors like to explore on the side. It’s similar to doing voice over work, which is what actors pursue when they have time.
However, becoming an extra for a short time can be beneficial, and I’ll talk more on this in the upcoming article.
I’ve myself recently registered with Central Casting Los Angeles – the main place for extras casting in LA. In this article, I’ll share my experience and walk you through the process of registering with Central Casting Los Angeles and getting your first background gig.
What Is Central Casting in Los Angeles and Do You Even Need Them?
Let’s start with a quick introduction of Central Casting (not Casting Central). This is their website for more information.
Central Casting is a legit casting company. They are the oldest place that’s been hiring extras for film and TV productions for over 90 years not just in Los Angeles, but all over the country. They’re also the largest extras agency and majority of background work is outsourced through them.
Central Casting’s main office is located in Burbank, California on Flower St (Google Maps).
Parking is on the street only, but if you arrive early enough to make the cut, you’ll find a spot on Flower St with no problems. If you arrive too late, however, and you can’t even find a spot to park, it’s a good sign that you won’t make the cut, but you can still try.
Although a lot of people who worked with Central Casting Los Angeles have their own beef with them, the company remains the most professional and busiest extras casting office you can find. You just have to play by their rules.
Basically, anybody wanting to become an extra in LA will have to register with Central Casting, and there’s no point looking at any other places, unless you’ve been fired/banned from using their services.
Bottom Line: Central Casting is the oldest and biggest extras casting company in LA.
How to register for Central Casting?
The worst part about Central Casting, in my opinion, is their old school method for registering new people. However, once you’ve gone through the process once, you don’t need to bother anymore (almost).
There is no online form or website that you can use to register with Central Casting Los Angeles. You literally have to drive to their office with your documents in hand, fill out an application and let them take a photo of you.
Sounds simple? If only… The problem is that a lot of people want to register with Central Casting, and the company has only three days with specific times when you can come in and register. As a result, there’s always long lines of folks wanting to start working as extras.
Currently, these are the days you can come and register at Central Casting LA:
- Mondays: 9.30 am
- Wednesdays: 9.30 am
- Fridays: 9.30 am
They may change the schedule, so before you go, check this page to make sure.
It’s best to come early. And I mean REALLY early. You’ll be surprised once you see the number of people that are already lined up, waiting to get in, at 7 am in the morning. You’d think they’re giving away free money or fame vaccines.
Be there early, because not everybody gets in.
Central Casting has a limited amount of seating inside, so usually it’s about 70 people that will be seen on the day. If you’re not in the first 80-90 group, most likely you won’t get in.
The set number is 70-ish (I asked) but some folks forget their documents or decide to leave before they get in, so you may get lucky even if you’re just a little past 70th person.
So bring a book to read, or have some music or podcasts ready on your phone to listen to.
Bottom Line: Registering with Central Casting is easy, but you need to arrive very early and be patient. There’s a lot of waiting.
Central Casting Los Angeles registration process
a) Arrive really early
b) Have enough patience
If you arrive early enough to be one of the first 70 people, then you’ll be standing in line for about 2-3 hours before you’ll get to sit down inside.
I actually had to do this three times, with the first two attempts failing because I arrived too late. So to give you a better perspective on this…
- First time I came to Central Casting Los Angeles office about 20 minutes before the opening (I can hear those who’ve been through this chuckling now). I couldn’t even see the beginning of the line.
- Second time I arrived about 1.5 hours before 9.30 am, and I missed the cut by 2 people. That was quite frustrating.
- Third time I got lucky, just about. I arrived 2 hours before, and I was in the group that got in last. Almost didn’t make it.
Once you survive the cut, you’re golden. All you have to do is follow the instructions of the people in charge and remain patient.
After the first 2-3 hours of standing outside, you’ll be invited inside to do more standing and sitting. Waiting isn’t over yet, and it’ll be another 2-4 hours, only now inside their office going through the orientation (at least you don’t have to worry about wasting time).
Time-wise, if you’re somewhere close to the first group registering (early arrivals), then you’ll be done by 1-2 pm.
If you’re closer to last group, then you’ll finish around 2-4 pm. Either way, you’ll do a lot of waiting on the day, so I suggest to free up your schedule.
Everything else about this is very easy and there are people who will tell you exactly what to do.
Now here is the registration process in a nutshell:
- Print and prepare forms the night before
- Arrive early, wait in line
- Make the cut, get inside to do more waiting
- Sit down and listen to the introduction
- Fill out more forms they’ve given you
- Get a headshot done and leave
It’s all very straightforward. Their FAQ page is also very helpful.
There will be forms that you’ll need to fill out which you’ll be given once you’re inside, but there are also forms that you need to bring with you as well as your ID and other documentation. Let’s talk about those.
Bottom Line: Once you make the cut and get into the office, you’ll do more waiting, fill out forms, get a photo taken and then leave by 1-4 pm.
What documents you need to bring?
Central Casting makes it very easy. They have this list of all the documents you need to bring, so make sure you have all of these.
For more details, visit their “Registration” page.
After you’ve read the “Registration” page, make sure you take a look at the “Resources” page as well (hover over the “Registration” link).
On the “Resources” page you’ll see a list of documents. Yes, you need to print all the forms on that list that must be filled out, signed, dated and brought in on the day of registration.
Note that some of those are simply for informational purposes (e.g. Welcome Packet or Feature Credits) so do not print those and save paper and ink.
Here are the forms you need to print, sign and bring with you:
- Registration Form
- Attribute List
- W-4 Form
- Harassment Policy
- Anti-Piracy/Confidentiality Policy
- Heat Stress Training Acknowledgement
- Pence Form
- EEO-1 Government Reporting
- Photo Image Release
- I-9 Form
Make sure you’re sober when filling these out, and I suggest you do this a day before rather than on the day. Pay attention where you should NOT fill anything, as there are a lot of those.
Some of these forms will be given to you on the day during orientation, but it’s better to have everything filled out in advance, since the orientation is moving fast.
Most of the information you need to provide is straightforward. The one you really need prepare for is the “Attribute List” – that’s where all your measurements and skills go.
Yes, you DO have to provide ALL the requested numbers in the “Attribute List,” so if don’t know them, better get a measuring tape and have a friend measure you. Otherwise, you’ll need to be measured during the registration and it will take longer.
The rest of the forms are your usual bureaucracy.
You also need to bring your personal documents:
- Your driver’s license
- Birth certificate
- Social security card
- Green card (if you’re not a US citizen)
Don’t forget these! Honestly, bring as much documentation as you can just to be safe.
You’ll see quite a few people leaving without registering after having waited for 3 hours only because they forgot their social security card. Central Casting Los Angeles is very strict with their requirements.
Bottom Line: Download, print and fill out all the forms a day before. Make sure to input all your measures, and don’t forget to bring all your personal IDs and other documents.
Working with Central Casting Los Angeles
Once you’re done registering for Central Casting, you’ll know the process of how to get work with them, what’s it like working as an extra, what rules you need to follow and so forth. Everything is explained in great detail during the orientation (just pay attention).
This is to give you a quick recap on how people get extra work with Central Casting:
- Central Casting receives a project they need to cast extras for;
- They publish all the details on their Facebook Page;
- If you fit the part, then you either email, call or leave a comment (instructions are always provided within the Facebook post).
It’s as simple as that.
Then, if they pick you to work, they’ll call you with time(s), location(s) and any further instructions.
When submitting, make sure that you definitely can make the time. If you don’t show up, Central Casting will quickly ban you from working with them ever again. Because of their popularity, they can easily pick and choose.
That’s it. At this point, all you have to do is follow Central Casting’s updates on their Facebook page, continue submitting and be easily accessible over the phone and email.
There are agencies that can actually follow these updates from Central Casting for you and submit you without you having to do anything. They take a cut from your paycheck but make your life a lot easier. Some of those agencies are legit and others are scams. I’ll write a separate article on this topic in the future.
Bottom Line: To book extra jobs, all you have to do is follow Central Casting Facebook page and follow the instructions given in every casting post.
How do you get paid?
Central Casting is paid by the production for which you worked as an extra, and then they pay you.
They mail all their checks on Thursdays the latest, but can mail them earlier depending on the production.
Your check will be mailed on a Thursday after the week you worked, and you usually get them in about 2-4 days.
More questions and answers with regards to payments through Central Casting can be found on their payroll FAQ page.
Finally, here’s a good Q&A (or IAMA) on Reddit that you may find useful.
That’s pretty much everything you need to know about working with Central Casting Los Angeles.
Details on how to be an extra on a film set can be found in one of the documents listed on their resources page I linked to above, and you will also be given thorough instructions during your orientation at Central Casting. Remember to pay attention and really listen.
For those that are curious but aren’t in a position to become an extra yet I will write another article in the future on working as an extra on a film set just to give you an idea of what’s it like.
If you have any questions with regards to Central Casting, registration and booking jobs, let me know in the comments section and I’ll try to answer all of your queries.