In almost every film production background actors, or extras, are used to make the scenes look lively and realistic. For these roles no formal training is needed; it can be anyone.
For every day on set the extras get paid a fee.
As these people aren’t cast for specific skills or looks, we came to thinking: why don’t we use people who really need that fee?
Introducing: Homeless Extras. A brand-new casting agency for homeless men and women who can be cast for every film production.
Homeless Extras was set up together with De Volksbond, an Amsterdam-based charity organisation helping the homeless with activities and night shelter.
Half of the fee goes to the homeless and can be used for night shelter, food or to help them turn their lives around. The other half goes directly to De Volksbond, helping the wider homeless community.
2,000 euros on production, paid for by the agency.
Media spend: 0 euros.
The first shoots with homeless extras were documented for an introduction film. The film was made with the voluntary help of film companies and production houses.
We depicted reality: the homeless extras were immediately accepted by the whole crew and supported in doing their job. Crew, clients and the homeless extras were very happy and proved that the concept works.
We pushed the video and booking website with the voluntary help of a PR agency.
The project quickly got picked up by industry media as well as big Dutch and international media titles.
This way Homeless Extras was established and the first bookings were made.
After the introduction we kept on sending look books in DM and social media reminders to 150+ Amsterdam-based companies to keep reminding them to book our extras.
Seven months after launch, over 90 extras have been cast and one of our talents even became the main face for a telco campaign.
Bookings were made by ad agencies, casting agencies, brands and production companies that now see that supporting the homeless can be done by hiring them as extras.
The homeless involved in this project used the money they earned by acting on healthy food, guitar lessons, savings and enrolment fees at housing corporations, to name a few examples.
Homeless Extras generated over 10 million media impressions without any budget.
This positive buzz helped to establish the project, plus shift the negative image around the homeless.
With Homeless Extras we now run a new casting agency in the Amsterdam industry. One that sparks confidence in people and encourages rehabilitation.
Homeless Extras is a new casting agency that directly targets ad agencies and production companies in and around Amsterdam.
All media used focuses on reaching relevant decision makers within these companies: look books via direct mail, PR in relevant industry media and direct approach on social media.
To set up a structure for the service, we worked in close cooperation with professionals who work on a day-to-day basis with the homeless. Psychologists and mentors helped select homeless people that are most suitable for the job.
On every shoot a Volksbond volunteer accompanies the homeless to function as first contact for both the crew and the homeless extras.
We introduced the initiative as a new casting agency, with its own identity and online platform. This way we created a new ‘front door’ for De Volksbond, Amsterdam’s homeless charity.
The target audience: all Amsterdam-based ad and casting agencies and production companies, especially their main decision makers in production and planning.
With a compilation video of the first shoots and a PR push, we established the initiative in the Amsterdam industry. On the booking website homelessextras.com extras can be booked.
Support the homeless by hiring them as extras.