5 Pay Bumps EVERY Background Actor Should Know

Pay Bumps

Here are five pay bumps you should know about if you’re working as a background extra.

On every movie or TV show, some scenes include bars, parks, offices and even street corners. Producers hire background actors to make settings look more believable.

Many of today’s A-list actors started working as a background extra. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon both started their acting career as background extras before they made their critically acclaimed movie, Good Will Hunting. Sylvester Stallone worked alongside Woody Allen before landing his first ever speaking role. Brad Pitt also worked as a background extra before making it in Hollywood. It is a great way to make some extra cash between auditions and networking opportunities. That being said, the way to make some extra cash is with pay bumps.


Pay Bumps for Background Actors Summary:

  1. Atmosphere pay bump – $14/day 
  2. Make-Up Pay Bump – $18/day 
  3. Costume Pay Bump – $18 to $36/day 
  4. Car Pay Bumps – .30cents/mile round trip 
  5. General Props – $5.50 to $23 a prop

Background extras, background actors are all paid for their work on a movie or TV show. However, how much the average background actor gets paid depends upon their union status, what they do and most importantly pay bumps.

There are two types of background extras Union and Non-Union extras.

Background extras who are non-union tend to earn minimum wage for the state in which they perform. In 2012, the rate was $8 an hour, or $64 a day. Production companies tend to pay extras daily rates, even if they work for less than eight hours.

Productions pay Union background actors more money than non-union. Union rates for background extras, as of 2012, are about $145 per day, with weekly rates of five times the daily rate, according to Chron.com. Stand-ins make $160 a day and actors with unique talents such as dancing, playing golf or driving a car, earn $155 a day.

But, anyone that has worked as a background extra in California will tell you, extras make the most money in pay bumps.

Here are five pay bumps every extra should know

Pay Bumps Explained

Atmosphere pay bump – $14/day

Union background extras get a pay bump when appearing as general extras and performing everyday actions. Such as getting wet, being exposed to smoke

Make-Up Pay Bump – $18/day

When makeup is applied to over 50% of your body such as appearing as a zombie, union extras receive $18/day.

Costume Pay Bump – $18 to $36/day

When extras bring their wigs, costumes, clothing, outfits, etc. Producers pay between $18 to $36 extra a day. Also, every wardrobe change is $9 per day for the first change and $6.25 per day for each additional change.

Car Pay Bumps – .30cents/mile round trip

Cars that are used on set are paid .30cents/mile round trip plus cars earn $35, trailers earn $19, mopeds earn $15, motorcycles earn $35, police motorcycles earn $50.

General Props – $5.50 to $23 a prop

Pets, golf clubs, luggage, tennis racquets, and any other accessory allows for background extra to get a pay bump. Typically these pay bumps depend upon how large of a prop it is. For instance, a pet pay bump is $23/day while a purse pay bump is only $5.50.

While union background extras get paid for all of these pay bumps, it is also generally assumed that non-union background extras will receive pay bumps, but at a discounted rate.

Source: Chron.com

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