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What to pack in your BG bag

Congratulations! You started down your path into the film industry and booked your first background role. Now what? It’s hard to know what’s going to happen on your first day, But rain, shine, or snow, here’s how to be prepared for a day on set. First things first. Check! Your! Email! You will get a lot of information the day before as well as the day of filming. This ranges from where and when you need to be on set, to how you should dress, and the things you should bring.

Now that you’re armed with all the information they just gave you, you’re gonna want to bring a bag full of whatever you might need on set and ensure you are prepared for whatever the day (or night) has in store for you.

1: Layers

Layers are essential no matter the occasion. For hot summer days, a thin cover will help with standing in the sun for hours. On colder nights make sure you bring some warm clothes, such as jackets and sweatpants (especially helpful if you’re costumed in shorts). However, make sure these layers are things you can throw on and off quickly, as film sets are oftentimes a fast-paced environment where you’ll only have a few minutes between your scenes. Check the weather before you leave. You could also bring a small blanket to keep on your chair if you know it will be cold.

2: Entertainment

Although film sets are often fast-paced, there will also be plenty of times when you are sitting for hours, just waiting until you are needed again on set. Most sets won’t allow you to have your phone out on set (For privacy reasons) So bringing some quiet entertainment is a must. Most people tend to bring a book, a safe choice. Some tend to opt for a hobby such as crocheting or writing. Occasionally the waiting area is further from where they are filming, so people can be a little louder, and that’s when you see people begin to pull out card games. when this happens feel free to join and make some friends! You can’t forget to grow your network.

3: Snacks

Action, cut, and reset. Action, cut, reset. Some scenes need to be shot over and over again, and then when they finally get the take, they have to do it again at a different camera angle. This can lead to long hours on set. If you’re anything like me, you’re going to need some snacks. Most sets will have crafty, which is essentially a snack zone! As awesome as that is, not all sets have the budget to provide snacks for background actors, as sometimes scenes require over a hundred extras. Keeping granola bars, pretzels, or your own mess-free snack in your bag will never be a bad idea.

4: Personal care

Sometimes the sun is beating down, and now you’re sweaty. The next day it’s raining down on your perfect makeup. With a job so unpredictable, we need to be prepared for everything. Keeping a personal care bag inside of your background bag can save you from disaster. You should bring things such as deodorant, makeup for touch-ups, and any products you need for your hair. Bonus points for a little first-aid kit! Most sets will have a medic, but it can’t hurt to have your own painkillers on hand if you need them.

Now crafting your perfect background bag is an art, and art that cannot be mastered in one day. I’ve provided you with the core to any great bag, but as you keep working, you’ll learn what you need for your perfect bag. A student might bring their homework to set, while others may not find it necessary to bring makeup with them.

Keep in mind!

-This bag is something you’ll have to carry around with you, so be picky with your packing!

-Your choice of entertainment should be something you can start and drop quickly. Most times you will not get a warning before being called on set.

So, there you have it! With these tips and tricks, you'll be well on your way to becoming a background actor pro. Remember, a well-packed background bag can make all the difference in your day on set. Don't forget to bring your layers, your entertainment, your snacks, and your personal care items (including sunscreen, of course!). And who knows, maybe you'll even make some new friends while waiting for your next scene. So go forth, have fun, and break a leg!

Daniel Ward is an actor, writer, and contestant finalist of Broadway Bound Live Season 2 and can be contacted on Twitter @wordsofward34 or Instagram @wardledorp

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