How Background Actors Can Get Paid Audience Work in Los Angeles

Audience Actor Jobs Film Industry Los Angeles


As a Background Actor in the film/TV industry, you’ve probably heard your actors talking about doing audience work on days they’re not booked on set. Perhaps you’re new to background acting or perhaps you’re looking for ways to diversify your income streams. If you’re a non-union actor, doing audience work can be a simple way to supplement your income.


What Is Audience Work?

Sometimes non-union actors are hired to fill in the empty seating of shows that commonly tape in front of a live audience. For example, Beat Shazam or Friends both have live audiences.

Beat Shazam may need to hire its audience members because it’s still new, but Friends probably never saw an empty seat after its first season. Also, Friends is a sitcom, meaning the audience isn’t seen, and it may not be necessary to fill every seat. Beat Shazam, on the other hand, is a game show, and a full audience reaction is important for the at-home audience.


What To Expect From Audience Work?

A standard workday for non-union actors hired to fill in the audience typically looks like this:

  • At home: get your look right according to the instructions provided by the casting office.
  • Travel to the set: leave with plenty of time to spare to make sure you arrive on time.
  • Arrival to set: park and walk to the check-in location or look for a shuttle to bring you to the check-in location.
  • On Set: Check-in with the audience booking representative and follow their instructions, which usually means waiting anywhere from 1 - 2 hours.
  • Taping time: follow the Production Assistant into the studio stage and follow their seating instructions. Follow taping instructions from the producers and enjoy the show! Tapings of the show last approximately 2 - 4 hours.
  • End of day: check out by getting your non-union voucher signed, and don’t forget to get your phone.

Quick tip: It can be difficult to get all the information you need, such as wardrobe specifications, ideal parking locations, and arrival times. When you book audience work through Castifi it is super easy to receive wardrobe and appearance requirements, parking and transportation information, and timecard and payment information via our mobile app that is up-to-date.


Who Can Get Paid For Audience Work?

Sometimes an audience is filled with fans who love the show and are glad to watch for free. Friends, Ellen, and Jeopardy come to mind. Sometimes non-union actors are hired to fill seats. Apps like Castifi work with show producers and productions like America's Next Top Model to hire non-union actors as audience workers.

Notice we’ve only mentioned non-union actors. Members of SAG are typically not allowed to be hired for audience work under the SAG-AFTRA Basic Agreement. The agreement also states that audience workers who aren’t paid must be members of the general public who are only there to create atmosphere, don’t receive direction from the producer, aren’t requested to wear make-up or costumes, and don’t interact with performers, background actors or panel members.

However, the producers can make requests of paid audience workers to make sure they’re capturing the vibe they want to achieve creatively.


Cast & Audience Members for Germany's Next Top Model 

How Much Do Audiences Workers Get Paid?

Paid audience work is a minimum-wage gig. It’s standard to offer a half day’s wage for four hours, and then to be paid for each additional hour at the hourly minimum rate.

To get paid for audience work, upon arrival and check-in for the first time with the booking company, you’ll have to fill out each of the following forms:

  • I-9 Form
  • W-4 Form
  • EDD Form
  • Non-Union Talent Voucher

If you’ve been booked through Castifi, you’ll receive reminders through SMS and email notifications to bring the necessary documentation to complete these forms. If it's your first time using Castifi, you’ll have to Create a Profile and complete your start paperwork


How To Find Audiences Work?

If you’re interested in getting started doing audience work, there are many ways to book jobs. Casting directors and producers frequently turn to Castifi to source actors for these types of gigs. Other companies like Standing Room Only (SRO) and Background Talent Services (BTS) also work with show producers to find audience workers.


Tips: Once You've Booked An Audience Gig 

Following are a few helpful tips for audience workers:

  • Meet people. You’re surrounded by people you may be able to collaborate with on future projects. You never know.
  • Bring a book. You’ll usually have to turn in your cell phone for confidentiality purposes before you enter the filming area. Inform those who need to know you’ll be unreachable for 4 - 8 hours.
  • Bring a cardigan or light jacket/ Sometimes it can be quite cold on sound stages.
  • Bring two forms of ID. So you’re not at risk of being sent home.
  • Bring a great attitude! And be ready to follow directions. You’ll be helping out yourself and the show creators.
  • Show up on time!

Audience work can be an exciting way to supplement income as a non-union actor in Los Angeles. Have fun!

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