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What You Need to Know About Supporting Roles

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Being a supporting artist in a film, especially a blockbuster production, can be an especially valuable tool for your resume.  It’s also a great way to maintain a steady flow of cash in between larger opportunities while having less responsibility than these roles require.  Being willing to work in a support role could mean rubbing shoulders with big names and networking with important players behind the scenes.

While you may not rake in the same amount of pay as a featured player, supporting roles still compensate.  You will likely be offered an hourly or set day rate and bonuses if you can fulfill other requirements, such as having specialized training necessary for the role, providing an additional prop for the set, supplying your own wardrobe or vehicle, or having a friend also perfect for the cast tag along.

Supporting roles are important to making made-up realities believable.  No one would want to sit through a film for two hours if there was only one cast member.  Not only would the set be hard to believe, but there’s no way the plot would be attention-grabbing.  It would be flat and boring.

While you could easily make a steady paycheck playing in various supporting roles consistently or between projects, a difficulty you may face is an inability to match the requirements of every role available.  This would simply be physically impossible.  Some roles may be out of the range unless you’re willing to travel, during times in which you are booked in other gigs or have far-reaching requirements contract-wise that you’re not comfortable with.  Also, this type of role, like any other opportunity, can be particularly competitive.  You may match what the casting director is looking for perfectly – along with a dozen other actors.

Some supporting roles are easier than others, too, or more aligned with your personality, experience, and career goals.  You may be really excited to play the role of a college party goer but a lot less comfortable playing a that of a choir member if singing’s not really your thing.  You can obviously pick and choose which roles to take on, but if you’re too picky, it will be next to impossible to use supporting roles to pay the bills.  So, you may want to consider ahead of time what you’re truly willing and unwilling to do.

Production companies often seek out artists when films are being set on the outskirts of larger cities or in entertainment hotspots like Los Angeles or New York City.  If you happen to live near an area in which filming it taking place, you’ll likely come across an ad for added support.  Make sure you are checking online regularly for new opportunities and keep your marketing materials updated so you’re always ready to give it a try.

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