What Is a Day Player In Acting Curious about the role of a “day player” in acting? A day player in acting refers to an actor who participates on a film or television set for a brief period, often just one or two days, and typically has a few lines of dialogue within one or two scenes. These actors are usually contracted for short-term engagements and are not part of the main cast or a long-term commitment. It’s worth noting that day players are distinct from background actors, who have no lines, and main characters, who appear in numerous scenes or multiple episodes.
This comprehensive guide will delve into the following aspects:
Insights into the day player experience Tips for securing acting opportunities as a day player Key terms to understand as you advance in your acting career.
If you’re interested in an extensive list of acting roles such as lead, supporting, co-star, etc., along with strategies for finding work in each category, I highly recommend consulting my guide: Types of Roles in Acting: A Comprehensive Overview. Defining a Day Player in Acting
To simplify, envision a day player as the individual portraying a character who responds to a few questions from law enforcement in a scene from “Law & Order,” or as a waiter taking an order at a restaurant from the main characters.
Experiencing Life as a Day Player
For most budding actors, gaining experience often involves working on student films for no pay. Whether playing a background role without lines or even getting a chance to lead, most actors begin their journey on smaller sets.
Subsequently, they might start securing background acting roles on professional productions, affording them real-world experience and networking opportunities. Occasionally, background actors might receive a boost to “featured extra” status, showcasing them prominently on camera alongside a speaking actor. Even though featured extras lack lines, they still contribute to the scene. Following this experience and the accumulation of credits on their resume, actors often venture into auditioning for speaking roles on professional sets as day players.
Here’s an overview of the day player experience:
Start by auditioning. Unlike background actors who usually don’t audition, aspiring day players typically need to audition for roles that involve lines. Memorize your lines, make clear character choices, and be open to following direction during the audition. For guidance on audition preparation, refer to my Ultimate Guide to Preparing for an Audition. If you’re unsure where to find auditions, my Ultimate Guide to Finding Auditions is a valuable resource. Securing a callback. If the casting director takes a liking to you, you might receive a callback—an invitation to audition again for closer consideration alongside other top candidates. Callbacks serve as opportunities to further impress and remind decision-makers of your capabilities. Be prepared for additional direction and feedback from the director. Callbacks might occur weeks after the initial audition or on the same day but later. Getting the role. Upon selection, you might receive a “pinned” status, indicating that the production is interested in your participation but requires a bit more time for a final decision. It’s important to note that productions often prioritize SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) actors over non-union or SAG-Eligible actors due to union regulations. Therefore, consider joining the union for enhanced opportunities. Signing contracts. Contracts for major television shows, films, and commercials are typically standardized and encompass pay rates, non-disclosure agreements, and model releases. Familiarize yourself with contract basics or consult a legal professional if necessary. If you have representation, your agent can assist with contract reviews. Receiving the full script. Study the entire script thoroughly and commit your lines and scenes to memory. Engage in character preparation, which might involve research into the historical context if it’s a period piece. Adapt your character’s objectives and goals as needed, accounting for potential direction from the director. Possibly attending a wardrobe fitting. Follow provided instructions to attend a wardrobe fitting, where you’ll select appropriate outfits for your scenes. Flexibility is essential, as this process might take longer than anticipated. A call sheet will offer comprehensive details about shooting dates, required items, and timings. On-set experience. Arrive on the shoot day well-rested and prepared for work. Makeup and wardrobe sessions are typically part of the process, followed by rehearsals while the crew sets up. Engage in rehearsals under the guidance of the Assistant Director and Director. Shooting commences from various angles, requiring consistent performance for seamless editing. Afterward, return props, wardrobe, and microphones. Building Relationships for Future Opportunities
As the shoot concludes, express gratitude to the team and consider maintaining contact with individuals you connected with. Networking is vital in the entertainment industry, and nurturing relationships can lead to more opportunities in the future. A sincere thank-you note to the casting director can leave a positive impression and increase the likelihood of future collaborations.
Securing Day Player Roles: Strategies
While obtaining representation by a talent agent is a prime approach to secure day player roles, alternative methods are available:
Self-submission through online casting platforms: Several reputable websites enable actors to create profiles and access audition opportunities regularly. These online platforms are efficient channels for finding auditions and submitting yourself for consideration. Leveraging social media connections: Engage with casting directors and industry professionals on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Social media interaction can lead to increased auditions and connections, although personal preferences play a role in its effectiveness. Unlocking hidden co-star and guest star auditions: This advanced strategy involves direct outreach to casting directors via email or in-person interactions. By offering value and fostering relationships, you increase the likelihood of audition invitations for significant projects. Networking through various avenues: Though often viewed negatively, networking is a valuable means of accessing higher-level auditions. Establishing direct contact with casting directors is instrumental in obtaining legitimate film, TV, and theater auditions. Creatively sourcing opportunities: Exploring options like reaching out to local film production offices, exploring local theater websites, or joining school casting lists can yield unique audition prospects.
For a comprehensive exploration of audition strategies, consult my Ultimate Guide to Finding Auditions. If acquiring representation aligns with your goals, refer to my Ultimate Guide to Getting a Talent Agent for actionable insights.
Understanding Roles in Front of the Camera
In addition to comprehending day player roles, familiarize yourself with various positions:
Background actor: Occupying background scenes to enhance a scene’s realism, background actors lack lines. Bit part: Involving direct interaction with main characters, bit parts usually entail only a few lines of dialogue. Cameo: A brief appearance by a famous individual, often for entertainment purposes. Featured extra: A non-speaking role with notable visibility in a scene. Lead actor/actress: Portraying the main protagonist and assuming a central role in the narrative. Photodouble: Resembling a main actor and performing on their behalf, especially for stunts. Principal actor: Any actor with lines in a role. Stand-in: Simulating a principal actor’s height, complexion, and stature for lighting and setup purposes. Stunt performer (or stunt double): Specialized actors performing stunts in place of main actors. Supporting actor/actress: A speaking role that falls between a lead and bit part. Understudy: A theater performer serving as a backup for main actors in case of illness or unavailability.