If you’re in the process of joining the film industry, you’ll likely hear the term “day player” or “additional” thrown around from time to time. The name kind of gives it away, but FilmToolKit is here to give you a more formal definition. So what is a day player?
What Is a Day Player?
The term day player can refer to a couple different things in the film industry.
In Reference To Crew
A day player is a film industry crew member who is hired to work on a production on a day-by-day basis. You are hired a few days at a time, typically to fill in the slots for missing crew members, or to aid when additional help is required. Day players can work one day, two days, three days, or even get called back every day of an entire show. All the term really means is that your work schedule is never guaranteed.
The vast majority of crew members get their start as a day-player. It’s pretty difficult to land a full time job without ever having done it before. Day playing is a sort of “trial run” that allows the employers to test your performance before committing to working with you for a long time.
That is not to say, however, that being a day player implies you are inexperienced or bad at your job. Many people choose to work as day-players because of the increased freedom. Often times workers will choose to remain as day-players to supplement their income from other jobs. Sometimes day players come on a show as a favor, or to come work alongside other crew members they are friends with.
Of course, there are a few drawbacks to working as a day-player. Work will be much more inconsistent, and sometimes you might find yourself strapped for cash when nobody needs day players. You can increase the volume of your work by day playing multiple shows per week, but that assumes you have the skills and reputation to get hired consistently.
Why Day Players Are Hired
- Low commitment – If they don’t like you, they don’t have to fire you! When hiring day players, if you don’t like one of them, you can simply stop calling them! No confrontation, drama, or hurt feelings on any side. Although smarter workers will probably take a hint.
- Increasing Manpower when necessary – Sometimes a film production will have days that can be very intensive on certain departments. Some days require advanced lighting set ups, others may require additional PA’s to cover entrances when shooting in public. Day Players allow a production to increase work capacity without bringing on more permanent team members.
- People get sick – When someone has to call in sick, they’re going to need to be replaced by a day player. Some departments can wind up completely screwed if they are suddenly down a man, and a day player might find himself getting hired just hours before the call time.
Why Working As A Day Player Is Important
There are many ways to infiltrate the industry as a PA or crew member. No matter what path you take, working as a day player has incredible value. Day playing is an opportunity to meet important contacts and show them how hard you can work, and how positive your attitude is. I’ve seen day-hire PA’s completely replace full time workers when the day player is killing it and the full timer is screwing up.
Pretty much everyone in the film industry has worked as a day player at one point or another, and if you’re good at your job, you won’t have to do it very long!
In Reference To Actors
Throughout my career in the film industry, I had only heard of the term “day player” used in discussions regarding crew members. When it came time to put this article together however, I discovered that the term is also frequently used to refer to supporting actors.
Day players are television actors that are hired day by day without any long term contracts. If this is an episode where the main character meets a doctor, or talks to a cashier, that person is likely a day player.
As an actor, working as a day player is a vital step in your career, and will pay the bills a lot better than background work will.