Updated: Oct 24, 2019
If you would have told me in January of this year that I would do extra work on Home & Away I probably would have laughed in your face. The truth is it’s a pretty sweet gig, utilised mostly by students and foreigners to make extra cash on the side, shifts are only available once a week as they rotate the extras to make it look like Home & Away has more than 10 residents.
The best part about the job is that it's basically getting paid to have a day at the beach. Often they don't need all the extras on set in which case bring a nice book and make yourself a cuppa. At the palm beach location extras eat like kings as catering is provided for breakfast and lunch. Unfortunately the vibe is less welcoming in the Redfern studio where extras are crammed into a corner and given the leftover scraps from catering like dogs.
It’s not all bad at the studio, I usually help myself to the delicious loaf of sourdough and coffee machine in the kitchenette. If you’re considering being an extra on Home & Away at the studio I highly recommend using the bread, sandwich press and peanut butter to make a phenomenal toasty. Much like the catering it’s wise to assume this is probably not open to extras so if anyone looks at you strangely just smile and say your new.
Most extras get onto Home & Away through knowing someone, I was connected through my sister who as a musician has done odd jobs here and there. The casting agent is an elusive American woman based on the North Shore who to this day I’ve never met in person, nor have any other extras I’ve worked with who are on her books. Before my first shift she gave me a rundown of what was expected and asked if I was comfortable in a bikini on camera, in need of money I lied and said yes. I could deal with the bikini, it was just the thought of being basically naked on broadcast television that made me uncomfortable.
“Great!” she replied , “I’ll put you forward as a beach goer.” Before the shift my sister reassured me I probably wouldn’t have to strip down.
Unfortunately for me about an hour into my first shift the AD came to me and said, “loose the clothes, we need you walking down the beach in a bikini.” I tried to get out of it by putting a towel around my waist when he shouted at me through a megaphone, “loose the towel!” Tentatively I dropped the towel and struggled to look natural while my skin was turning blue from the cold.
After the scene was complete I walked back to the spot where all the extras were sitting on the beach and mourned the loss of my dignity. I had gotten off light, in the next scene two male extras were called to set to play surfers. The first guy was your typical surfer hotty, as if it were his life calling he confidently ripped his shirt off and walked straight down to set. The second guy was on the chubbier side and followed suit, tentatively removing his shirt to reveal his body. It was almost painful to watch as he seemed just as uncomfortable as I was. About two minutes later they sent him back with his shirt on, he looked at us blank faced and said, “I’m too fat, someone else has to go.” It was the most savage thing I'd ever seen, it would have been kinder to kick him in the nuts,
The best scenes are the ones were they give you a milkshake and you have to mime conversation. If you ever wonder what extras are talking about in the background the answer is varied. Some extras mime different types of pizzas, cuisines, car brands or simply gibberish. One of the funnier extras I worked with was a musician, when they called action he looked at the lifeguard frustrated and so I played along pretending to calm him down. After I asked what he imagined, he told me that he was a ghost trying to call out to the lifeguard and became frustrated the lifeguard couldn’t hear him. If you ask me that was a more interesting plot line than anything I've seen on Home & Away.