Arts & Entertainment
1 min

How to be a film extra in Ottawa

Infiltrating the city's growing film scene

Credit: Courtesy of Smyth Casting

Gays love films. We love eating popcorn, sipping on Cokes and staring starry-eyed at the actors on screen. We love film fests, we watch videos during winter and carry picnics to the parks for summer movies.

For diehard movie lovers — who harbour a desire to be a bigger part of the scene — this summer could be your chance to leap into the film world as an extra — or in film speak, a background actor.

Ottawa is becoming a popular location for film shoots, and Ilona Smyth, founder and head of Smyth Casting, is looking for extras — all kinds of extras.

“We are looking for anybody and everybody,” Smyth says. “I need elderly people, I need people of all ethnicities, I need people of every age group, and I need small people, fat people — I genuinely need everybody.”

“This past year was so busy, and I know that this upcoming year is going to be really busy,” she says. “We just need more people who are interested and who want to work. It’s not just a theatre town anymore. We have lots of stuff coming in.”

Smyth is currently casting for a CBC program called Michael, Tuesdays and Thursdays, which is due to premiere this year. The comedy is set in Ottawa, will be shot on site and will, hopefully, star a lot of Ottawa locals as extras.

Auditions are not generally required to be a background actor. As long as you can look natural as the camera pans past you, you’re golden.

“To be an extra you need no experience, and that’s how you get experience — to get on-set to see what it’s like. Sit there for the long hours and see if it is something you are actually interested in doing,” Smyth says.

Who knows what opportunity will come your way? Last year one lucky extra got to be pushed by Cuba Gooding Jr in the film Sacrifice. Also starring Lara Daans and Christian Slater, it was filmed in Ottawa and cast by… you got it — Smyth Casting.

For more information, go to