An entertaining way to supplement income

An entertaining way to supplement income

16 June 2023

Collegian Kent Davidson (Hamilton 2016-2020) has found a fun and entertaining way to help pay his university fees. Currently attending the University of Canterbury and studying Industrial Project Design, Kent spends time each summer holiday appearing as an extra, or stand in on television shows.

After leaving St Paul’s Collegiate School at the end of 2020, Kent saw an advertisement for extras in the entertainment industry, more specifically ‘tall’ extras for The Lord of the Rings television series. Kent says, “Being 6 foot 8 inches tall, I knew it made sense to apply, so I signed up with the agency and started getting offers for a whole lot of different roles.”

So far Kent has appeared in television roles but has been too busy with university to take up the offers of movies, music videos and advertisements. Kent takes advantage of work in Auckland (where most of the work is) during the long summer break while he is back in Hamilton.

Kent enjoys doing shoots and describes a typical shoot as going with the other extras to listen to the Assistant Director’s brief for that day. “The Assistant Director will explain what they want you to do for the shot; it could be playing pool, pretending to chat (without talking so the mics don’t pick up sound) or buying something from a shop. Most directors let you know what to wear or bring. At some shoots we will get full hair, makeup and costume.” The scene is shot several times using different camera angles.

A highlight of his work has been The Lord of the Rings set. “In this role I was a stand-in instead of an extra and I was treated well. I was given a personal assistant and breakfast, lunch and snacks – but I did have to wait a long time in between shots,” says Kent. He also had to do exactly what the director wanted.

A stand-in is a person who takes the place of a principal actor when the crew prepares to film a scene, but who is not actually filmed. They are positioned on the set for cameras to focus the shot and set up the lights, sometimes they are filmed to make an actor look taller from a distance.

Another memorable role was Kent’s time on the Shortland Street set. “There was no waiting around and a lot more freedom to do what I wanted with the role rather than being directed.” He found that enjoyable but points out that he has enjoyed all of the work so far, “I certainly haven’t found any of it difficult.”

Although this work is for fun and to make some extra cash, he’s adamant acting isn’t his future. However, Kent’s Bachelor of Industrial Project Design study is a mix of engineering and business which can overlap into the film industry for set and prop design or for making rigs for films. “The industry is where you might find me in the future, not on the screen but behind the scenes. For now, it’s something fun to do.”

The agency Kent signed up with is BGT Actors Models and Talent, Auckland.