I'm a regular on a forum called The Southern Casting Call which is a great, FREE resource for performers in the Southeast U.S. -- I've booked many a paid gig thanks to the site.
One of the most-frequently-asked-questions at TSCC involves how TV/film roles are "billed" (or credited) on a resume.
The helpful thing to do would be to provide a link to The Actors Voice -- a blog published by author, producer and casting director Bonnie Gillespie. In February 2005, Bonnie published this excellent blog post on the subject -- a list of billing terms explained in detail, followed by an equally-useful Q&A post about billing terms.
But when the question about billing was asked again recently at TSCC, after it was answered I thought I'd have some fun and provide my own definitions for billing terms:
Usually someone who works the least on set, but earns the most.
Something you put your drink on so your TV tray doesn't get wet.
Something even Superman can't see through.
Someone who gets to be first in line when filming breaks for lunch. (Not interchangeable with "Principle" or to be confused with the person whose office you get sent to when you've done something stupid at school.)
Actors cast so the stars will have someone to talk to during scenes.
An actor who prefers not to work nights.
Not tall enough or old enough to ride this ride or see this movie.
An actor appearing regularly who just hasn't been replaced yet.
Someone walking/sitting/standing in the background who has as much chance of actually being seen on camera as someone sitting at home watching TV. (* See "Human Prop.")
NAE -- "Not An Extra."
And on that last note, I'd like to share a related anecdote.
One time an extra on a film shoot -- who claimed she had worked on other productions -- told me, "I don't normally do this background stuff. I'm usually featured."
Here's a healthy dose of reality: unless you have a speaking line in a production, you are still just an extra. The actors' unions and casting directors do not acknowledge uncredited, non-speaking roles as "featured." There is no such thing as a "featured extra," in spite of what extras casting agencies claim. That's like saying a piece of lettuce is "featured" in a salad.
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