Mad Dog 2020

As most actors will tell you, there are a variety of factors that contribute to an individual’s success – timing, luck, being in the right place at the right time etc. The truth is, there is no set path to a successful acting career. We’ve all heard the weird and wonderful stories of some of the top actor’s roads to stardom. Take a look at many top actors CVs and you’ll see: modelling, commercial appearances and perhaps a few things they might wish to forget (but no doubt feel comforted by an Academy award or Emmy on their mantle piece…)

Although Mad Dog 2020 is predominantly a background agency, (we frequently have featured-role briefs cross our desks) we have recently cast an artist for a lead role in a feature film. Being on the Mad Dog 2020 book opens up all sorts of opportunities and our profiles allow you to highlight your experiences and skills to give you the best chance.

Ultimately, Directors are very visual people and look for those who fit their vision. Many an actor has lost out on a role due to conflicting visions with a Director – take Ryan Gosling and Peter Jackson on The Lovely Bones. However, it is unlikely that a Director would remember Man in crowd number 23 and writes them off for it. Talent and vision should be seen as main components for casting a role, not a past, un-credited extra role.

The 3 main Harry Potter Characters (Harry, Ron and Hermione) being cast from open auditions in schools are a great example of a person’s background not being an issue, or even of much consequence. Whether you’ve been waitressing for the last few years, in drama school, never thought of acting before or even been an extra, it would be unlikely to affect your chances of being selected for a lead role. If Brad Pitt, Renee Zellweger or Clint Eastwood’s careers seem like something you’d like to emulate then you might be pleasantly surprised to learn that yes, you guessed it, they started out as extras.

Immersion and exposure are key factors, and there is no better way to learn about life on a film set than being on one. Learning the way a film is shot, and organised help one to understand the importance of the relationship between cast and crew. Extras are vital to a film set. No matter how good a lead actor their success very often relies on those around them. For example, Colin firth’s painful speech delivery in the ‘Kings Speech’ wouldn’t have had quite the Oscar winning effect had there had not been a crowd to awkwardly witness it.

The way a walk-on or a featured role (which more often than not are cast via background agencies) behaves and performs on set can be very memorable. When looking for enthusiastic, reliable people, you can bet an assistant director is going to remember that face. Extras can often be upgraded on set, as you learn that filming can face all sorts of challenges – but the show must go on! One day you might be a doorman and the next, you might be a swearing, drug taking nun acting opposite Uma Thurman.

All this is not to say you should compromise your dream of being a lead actor. Nor are those who say being an extra will ‘harm’ your acting career saying it to discourage you – there is a good deal of merit in advising you not to get side-tracked or lazy in pursuing your dream. However, everyone has to start somewhere. As much as you may be worthy of a great role, unless someone else can see that too, then a dream it may remain.

So don’t be put off by naysayers – take a leap. You never know who you’ll see…or who’ll see you!

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