Extras in China’s Hollywood Face Long Hours and Low Pay

extrasThink you have it tough trying to make it as an actor in America? 

There is a long tradition of young actors in this country who want to make it in the movies moving out to Hollywood in the hopes of becoming an overnight sensation.  Curiously, in the rapidly-growing Chinese film industry a similar tradition is becoming established, though as American photographer Darcy Holdoff reveals to CNN, extras in America might seem to have it easy in comparison.

For the extras who work at Zhejiang’s Hengdian World Studios, one of the world’s largest film studios, the work might be exciting and gratifying but even more low-paying than their American counterparts.  The standard wage — 5 yuan (80 cents) an hour — is not only one of the lowest in the country but it also isn’t enough for most to live on, so many professional extras are fueled almost entirely by their passion for their work.  On set the extras aren’t surprised by twelve-hour days — in fact, they often welcome the long hours to make up for the weeks they went without work (which is often). 

Still, many flock to Hengdian — AKA Chinawood — which has become a major tourist destination since the studio opened in 1996.  Holdoff points out that it has almost become a rite of passage for young Chinese students looking for a brief escape, pointing out, “I was reminded of my youth, and there was an air of carefree optimism that I haven’t experienced anywhere else in China.”

Leave a Reply

William H. Macy: “This may sound pretentious, but I am getting better at what I do every day”
"I love the fact that I work every day." - William H. Macy
Luke Hemsworth on ‘Westworld’: “It was a no-brainer to me. I was absolutely going to jump onboard”
"As an actor, if you're given very little information about what's going on, then you're forced to make it up." - Luke Hemsworth
Khary Payton on His ‘Walking Dead’ Audition: “It was one of the more substantial auditions I’ve ever done”
"I always say I’m in the hope business. You’ve got to stay hopeful. You’ve got to get up off your behind and try again..." - Khary Payton
Hayley Atwell’s Best Career Advice: “I’d say the main thing is: show up. Show up and be professional”
Atwell reflects on her career and recounts why she wanted to become an actress since she was a child and what was the best career advice she ever received.
Mike Colter on Playing ‘Luke Cage’: “I was looking at it from the standpoint of an artist”
Colter says that it didn't take long for him to understand the importance of the character in comic book history.