Film Jobs Working in Spain
Posted by algrif
This article is about how Spain is very quickly becoming the new center for the film industry outside Hollywood, particularly Alicante, Barcelona, Madrid, and around the Marbella area. It is about how to enter the world of being a film extra, and how to work in Spain on the permanent list of extras with the companies who specialize in this field. Also, what it is like to work in films, what you can expect, and what would be expected of you.
Have you ever wanted to be in on the silver screen? Well, as a Spanish resident, now you have a very good chance of doing just that!
Spain is very quickly becoming the new centre for the film industry outside Hollywood, particularly Alicante, Barcelona ,Madrid, and around the Marbella area. This is due to various reasons, the main one being the climate. For those who remember the so called ‘Spaghetti Westerns’, wild west flicks made by Italian producers on a cheap budget. These were mostly filmed in Spain, usually in the semi desert region around Almeria. Those wonderful scenes of Clint Eastwood riding across the empty plains of New Mexico were in fact wonderful scenes of Clint on paid vacation in Southern Spain! The climate is ideal for the film makers.
Then the industry went flat. Until now. With the construction of the Ciudad De La Luz in Alicante, Spain has come to the attention of film producers and directors from all over the world. The light here is so good for filming. Plenty of cloudless days (better average than Hollywood). And the word is spreading due to the good results using a lower budget.
- How does this affect you?
- What happens at a casting?
- What happens on the film set?
- Interesting things that can happen.
- Are there any other jobs available?
How does this affect you?
It means that the film companies require ‘extras’ or figurantes to use the correct term. And as the industry here is growing, so too are the number of companies specialized in finding, contracting, and organising the figurantes. So if you want to get into the films, you need to go to the castings that these companies advertise from time to time. Look out for ads for castings in all the local papers, free rags, shop window posters, windscreen flyers, etc. When they need people, they need them quickly and will normally advertise all over the place for people to come to a casting session. Go to as many as you can, to get yourself on file with as many companies as possible.
It might surprise you to know that, as a foreign resident living in Spain, they will be looking for people like you. The film director informs the contracted company to get figurantes that fit certain characteristics for the film. If they need a Spanish looking person, they’ve already got thousands on file. But very often they need people who look north European, or American, or Asian, or African, etc. They need people with fair skin, dark skin, red heads, grey-haired middle-aged men (enter yours truly, stage left), etc. They will also be looking for people with an ‘unusual’ aspect; muscular, exceptionally long hair, very thin, etc. But tattoos are not normally welcome.
What happens at a casting?
You will stand in a long queue for a long time. One of the first things you learn in this game is ‘Patience’ with a capital ‘P’. Put your car in a good parking place. You won’t be able to run back to put more money in the meter once you are in the queue. Finally it will be your turn. The Company will want you to fill out a form and take your photo. So you need the following things (apart from patience and an MP3 to pass the time):
- A pen that works. They often hand out the forms before you even enter the place where they are holding the casting
- Your N.I.E. plus a photocopy
- Your social security card, or documentary proof. Plus photocopy
- Know your own height in metric, your weight in metric, your clothes size in Spanish numbering, including your shoes.
- Be ready to state your language ability. It’s not greatly important, but they need to know.
- Any other special abilities that might be useful in a film. Dancing. Swimming. Horse riding. etc. We are not talking hobbies here, we are thinking about being near professional standard.
- They will ask if you are prepared to have your hair cut in any style if necessary. Think carefully before answering. It doesn’t matter if you say ‘no’, but they need to know in advance
- They will want to know your availability. But this question usually is made at a later stage of the process
They will give you a number which you stick on your chest. The same number will be written on your form. The photographer is very quick and professional. He will take long and close shots of you, and it will be done literally in a flash. Make a note of your number somewhere safe. You will now be given quick instructions as to the next step. It will be about a meeting to inform everyone about the projected film and the process for those selected. They will probably now give you the proposed dates and ask you to confirm availability. They will explain what they mean by that term. It could be that you have to be available for a full month, or just a week, or just odd days. At the moment, if you have had your photo taken then you are ‘pre-selected’. It is only when they call you for ‘costume fitting’ that you know you have entered into the current list.