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What is a Day Player in acting?

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What is known as a day player is an actor who has one line in a TV show or film. These types of

actors are not repeated characters. They are hired for one or two filming days hence the name

compared to a TV show's whole season. An example of a day actor can be a barista on a TV

show who calls out the main character's order. This type of actor is hired on a short-term contract

whose SAG-AFTRA rate is $1,056 per day.


A day player can also be used as a term for a crew member. If an extra grip is needed in the

lighting department they will hire a day player for one or two days. It will be through a

short-term contract as well instead of a whole season or a whole production.

What is the difference between a background extra and a day player?


It is important to know the difference between the types of actors there are on any given set. A

background extra is an actor that does not have any lines and is usually just placed in the

background of a scene. Examples of this are the actors who walk past the main character in a

busy street or the students in a classroom where the main character is sitting. A featured extra is

a step above this. A featured extra still does not have any lines but is sitting right next to the

main character. A featured extra can have a single shot of them and be highlighted on the show

compared to a background extra. An example of this is when the main character enters a bar and

glances at a featured extra sitting at the bar. Although there are no lines there is still special

attention given to the featured extra actor. The final stage of an actor is being cast as the main

character. The main characters are in multiple scenes and almost every episode or for the full

length of a film. The typical path to becoming a day player starts by becoming a background

extra then a featured extra then finally a day player.


Are you interested in becoming a day player?

A typical workday for a day player includes various parts. First, the actor has to arrive to set

early to get into wardrobe and makeup. Once the actor arrives they will be told where to go by a

production assistant, also known as a PA. In the wardrobe department, the actor will be given

their character's clothing to change into. Then the actor will be taken to makeup, where they can

recite their line. This process can take anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour. Then the actor

will either be taken into a green room which is a room where most actors hang out during set or

directly to set if they are ready for them. Before the camera begins rolling most directors will do

a practice round where they will give the actor notes. The notes can range from how the actor

delivered the lines, to their tone of voice or body movement. Once the director is satisfied with

their performance and the crew is ready to begin shooting, the camera will begin rolling. If the

actor has another scene to shoot for the day they will be brought to the green room. If that is the

actor's only scene for the day then they will return the wardrobe and then leave the set.


How to get the gig:


1. Audition Process

The start is at the audition process, because of the line the actor must audition.

This can be either done by a self-recorded tape that is submitted directly to the

casting director or by going to an in-person audition. In both forms, the actor must

remember their line and embody the character. If the actor is selected they will get

a call back from the casting director. This can require another audition with the

director. Only a select few are called back for a callback. If selected the actor

books the part and the pre-production process starts


2. Pre-Production

Pre-production is everything that happens before getting to the set. Most

productions will make you sign an NDA, a non-disclosure agreement, and a

model release, which allows them to use your face commercially. After these

documents are signed the script will be sent to you, this will help contextualize

your character. A wardrobe fitting will be next which will be on a day before the

set to fit your costume. Finally, you will be sent a call sheet with your call time to

arrive to set.


3. Production

You will arrive to set and be taken to makeup and wardrobe. Then rehearsals will

begin. Finally, you will shoot your scene then return your wardrobe and leave the

set.


From a writer's perspective, this type of actor is something that has to be deliberate from a

production standpoint. Although for a writer one line of dialogue by a character as a waiter does

not seem like a big deal it can add to the bottom line of a production. The bottom line is the cost

of a production handled by a line producer. This simple line can cost the production $1,056 when

it can be not completely necessary for a scene. It is important to think about these choices when

writing because they affect the budget which is the most important aspect to producers. The same

cost for one line can be used for crew, craft services, or even post-production which can be more

important for overall production. There are times of course when a day player line is essential

and can make a scene, it is up to the writer to decide if it is fitting for their exact story.

If you are looking for work as a day player there are multiple ways to begin. These can include

directly contacting casting directors, submitting through casting websites, or being represented

by an agent.

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