Dressing the Part: Essential Wardrobe Tips for Background Actors

When stepping onto a film set as a background actor, your wardrobe is your ticket to blending seamlessly into the scene. Whether you’re strolling through a bustling city street or sipping coffee in a quaint café, your clothing choices can make or break the authenticity of the scene. That’s why we have compiled some essential tips to ensure your wardrobe is camera-ready!

Bring AT LEAST 3 Options

When packing for your role, we ask that you bring a variety of outfits. Aim for at least three main ensembles with additional pieces to mix and match. This variety allows the wardrobe team to choose the best look for each scene.

Having multiple outfit options is crucial because you may be used in more than one scene or script day. Additionally, you don’t want to unintentionally match the principal actors or wear something that doesn’t fit the scene’s requirements, as this can slow down production.

Solid black or white outfits should be avoided unless specifically requested by the wardrobe team. These colors can be challenging to capture on camera and may not blend well with the overall scene.

Keep it Clean and Simple

While we love a good brand name off-camera, on set, it’s best to avoid clothing with logos, slogans, or busy patterns, as they can be distracting on camera. Similarly, steer clear of ripped jeans unless specifically requested.

When preparing to come to set, spend some extra time ensuring that all your clothing is clean, neatly packed, and properly fitted. Wrinkles can be a distraction on camera, so consider steaming your clothes before packing them.

We also ask that you keep your personal style at home. While it’s okay to showcase your distinct fashion sense with individual items, try to avoid anything too unique or attention-grabbing. We are building a world and you are an important part of that! So we want to make sure that everyone blends in seamlessly with the background and the rest of the cast.

Shoes and Jewelry and Hats, Oh my!

In addition to your main clothing items, bring along some extra accessories to elevate your outfit. Pack a variety, such as purses, jewelry, and winter accessories (hats, gloves, scarves), to add depth to your looks. However, as mentioned above, avoid anything too flashy or attention-grabbing.

Comfortable footwear is also a must, especially since you may be on your feet for long periods of time. It also never hurts to bring extra shoes to accommodate different looks or to replace footwear that may get dirty or damaged on set.

Union Rules

If you’re a union background actor, familiarize yourself with the union rules regarding wardrobe changes and compensation. This includes compensation for additional wardrobe changes beyond the initial outfit. Check out ACTRA Ottawa for more information.

Makeup and Hair Tips

Finally, your makeup and hair can make or break your on-screen presence. So, make sure to follow these tips to ensure you’re always camera-ready.

Always arrive on set clean, with hair and makeup done beforehand. We ask that you keep the makeup and hair looks simple and natural, unless otherwise requested.

If you have longer hair, bring accessories like hair ties for different looks. Tattoos should be covered unless they’re required for your role, and you should bring your own makeup and wardrobe to cover them.

See You On Set!

Paying close attention to wardrobe, makeup, and hair is essential for background actors to make a lasting impression on set. Follow these rules, and you’ll be well-prepared for any scene!