With social distanced filming seeming to be a mainstay on TV sets for some time to come, worries for the future of supporting artists have been voiced, as work as extras has dried up.
Soaps such as Coronation Street, Emmerdale and EastEnders regularly used supporting artists for crowded scenes but now that there are limits on how many people can be on set at one time, there is currently little way of regularly employing them.
Even main cast have found themselves being removed from planned scenes to keep the numbers low, as previously revealed by Tony Audenshaw.
Broadcasters BBC, ITV, Sky, Channel 4 and Channel 5 have come together to produce fresh guidelines as filming resumes, and they have called for as few people on set as possible due to social distancing restrictions.
Actor Ty Hurley – who has appeared in the likes of EastEnders and Call The Midwife – told the MailOnline: ‘It’s a distressing time for a lot of people and realistically, supporting artists are going to be the last people called back to work in the TV world.
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‘I may be forced to look for different work altogether. It feels like I’m starting all over again.’
It is believed that many supporting actors have turned to different lines of work or volunteering during the uncertain time.
Ray Knight Casting’s Tony Gerrard added: ‘Business literally stopped overnight, like someone had turned the tap off.
‘As filming gets going again, it will be very gradual with just the principal actors to begin with, using clever camera angles. I honestly don’t know how crowd shots are going to be filmed safely at this stage. Studios tend to be quite small.’
David Clayton – who provides supporting artists and police props to a number of shows – is hopeful for the future.
He explained: ‘Government grants initially helped with rate payments, but now we’re down to the last of our savings with rent and utility bills due. We’ve had a small booking come in, and we’re contacting all the productions we usually work with, but we’re looking at other avenues, such as renting out one of our offices.
‘I’m optimistic, but we’re not out of the woods yet, especially with fresh Covid outbreaks in Wakefield and Leicester.’
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