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Audra Berends: I Was an Extra on Stranger Things Season 4: Here’s How You Can Be One Too

A Bit About My Stardom

It all started with a Tik Tok. While scrolling, I stumbled onto a girl’s video explaining that Casting TaylorMade (CTM) was the agency that casted for Stranger Things. Of course I was intrigued. How could I pass up Stranger Things? When CTM finally started casting for Stranger Things Season 4, I applied as many times as I could. And I got a text! Was one of my call times 4:30 a.m.? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Being an extra was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had and I wanted to share how anyone can be part of the movie industry.

Day in the Life

Before I get into the specifics of applying, I wanted to give a basic rundown of my day on the Stranger Things set so you can determine whether or not this job would be a good fit for you. Casting TaylorMade, an Atlanta casting agency, feels strongly that being an extra is special and serious. “Background Acting is not just a part time job – it is a full time passion + way of life, and the first step towards your first speaking role on screen. Our extras get bumped up to principle all the time.”

Night before: Stay up late waiting for your call time and cry because your call time is literally so early. 

4:00 am: Wake up and get ready.

4:30 am: Leave because the location is an hour away.

5:30 am: Arrive at the shuttle location and get on a bus to set.

5:45 am: Get checked in at the extras holding tent and get a Covid test.

6:45 am: Get test results back and wait to go to hair and makeup!

8:00 am: Get your costume from wardrobe and get ready for your film debut.

8:15 am: Get breakfast from catering (I would recommend bringing your own food).

3:00 pm: Finally go to set.

5:00 pm: Start filming! 

6:00 pm: Beg one of the wardrobe ladies for a snack because they didn’t feed you lunch or dinner.

6:30 pm -12:00 am: Shoot the same thing over and over, but it’s AWESOME because you are watching Finn Wolfhard (Mike), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin), and Joseph Quinn (Eddie) act right in front of your eyes.

12:00 pm: Filming wrapped for the day! 

12:15 pm: Take off your costume and gather all of your stuff.

12:45 pm: Wait for a shuttle.

1:00 am: Get to your car and drive home. 

Now I took a sarcastic approach to this daily routine, but it is truly an amazing experience. I met some really cool people on set, got to see the behind the scenes of one of my favorite shows, and saw my face on the first episode of Stranger Things Season 4. It was all worth it to me, but it is not for everyone! I always think it’s worth a try, but if it’s not a fit, that’s okay too. 

Where Do I Even Start?

My personal favorite way to apply to castings is through Facebook. For Atlanta casting, there are quite a few agencies. You can find your local casting agencies by searching on Facebook or doing a Google search on “extras casting your city.” 

Agencies in Atlanta:

Start Applying! 

After finding your local casting agencies on Facebook, take a look at their posts and see if any match your description. Don’t be afraid to start applying! The casting agency will include what ages they need, dates, location, role, pay, and details about the role.

Decoding a Casting Post

Casting posts on Facebook can be hard to understand. Here is an example of a post you would see:

This post is looking for people who look like they could be high school students for the show “Found.” 

Casting dictionary:

Fresh face– you haven’t been seen on the show before

Test- covid test, multiple will probably be required 

18TLY- People 18+ (to look younger), look like a high schooler 

Bump: added pay, usually for covid tests or gas money 

Information to Have on Hand:

Once you have determined whether or not a post fits you, the casting agency will need some key information. 

They will need availability, vaccination status, whether you are a fresh face (booked on that show before), name, phone number, email, age, gender, ethic appearance, height, weight, city, state, clothing/ shoe sizes, appearance details, and a selfie.

Casting TaylorMade makes applying easy with a form, but many of the other agencies have you respond by email.  

Do’s and Don’ts for Pictures: 

Most casting agencies want a CURRENT selfie. They need to see what you look like right now. They DO NOT want a professional headshot, unless they specifically ask for it. Casting TaylorMade is very specific about this and has an area on their casting form where they address this requirement and allow you to take a picture. 

“Please make sure that it is a current selfie that you just took right now!” the Casting TaylorMade website states. “A well lit and in focus selfie, with a plain background is best. (If you use a filter 🚫 the director will not book you – as it shows you did not take the process seriously).”

Expectations and Tips

The film industry is different from most others and revolves around last minute plans and changes. 

  1. Last minute information: Your call time will probably come out late the night before and can be ANY time.  

  2. The exact location will not be revealed until the night/day before. The location could also be hours away from where you live. 

  3. While you may wait hours to go on set, being on time in the film industry is being LATE. Get there early!

  4. Always come in closed-toed shoes, unless otherwise specified. There are safety risks if you don’t.

  5. Expect chaos! You probably can’t predict anything that will happen on set on a given day, so be prepared to be flexible.

  6. If you participate in a period piece, there is a 90% chance they will cut your hair. Be prepared for that. On the ST4 application, they had a section where you had to consent to cut your hair or you wouldn’t be on the show. 

  7. You can be on set for HOURS or a short period of time. I had a 15 and 17 hour day for ST4.

Rodney Ho from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution explains the drawbacks of being an extra in his article.

“The hours are long and locations are unpredictable. Requests for work are often last second – sometimes the evening before. And it can be maddeningly tedious sitting in the extras holding room.”

Try it out! You will grow.

Being an extra really stretched me. I have a fear of the unknown and making the leap to be an extra allowed me to open up a new side of myself. Trying a new, different job like being an extra may change you as well. 

Get ready to see yourself on the big screen

Seeing myself on Stranger Things S4 was unreal. I don’t think it will ever really hit me that I am a part of something so special. The feeling of sharing your appearance with family and friends is truly amazing. I shared my experience on Tik Tok and hit 10k followers after the release of the ST4.

My appearances in Stranger Things Season 4, Episode 1.

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