JOB SEARCH / DEC. 03, 2013
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Unusual Jobs: The TV Corpse

dead body csi

Welcome to my new series of blog posts which is completely focussed on the more unusual jobs on offer throughout the world. Each week, I’ll be delving into the world of work and unearthing some of the strangest, quirkiest and most fun jobs you could have. Some of the jobs will be short term or even complete one-offs lasting just a day, while others may be life long careers. So stay tuned each week for a new unusual job update.

First up is the TV corpse.

You’ll no doubt have seen a lot of bodies in film and tv; whether you’re watching a sitcom based in a hospital or an action flick. In fact, we see so many corpses on our screen that we don’t even bat an eyelid these days. However, have you ever thought about the person acting out being, well… Dead?

Believe it or not, playing an on screen body is an occupation for many people. It’s not quite the same as being an extra, although some extras will move on to the role, as it takes a bit of skill which not that many people can muster.

Skill? Yes, that’s right. It may sound easy lying on a gurney, in a morgue or if you’re an unfortunate murder victim in an alley, and keeping still. However, the reality is that it’s more work than it looks. If you fancy working as a TV corpse here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Audition. You don’t need any experience to get your foot in the door, but to be a TV corpse you’ll have to audition to prove you can pass yourself off as a dead person. So, start practising lying still for long periods of time and looking convincing. Yes, really.
  2. Lie still… for a very, very long time. It’s not just during filming scenes which requires you to lie completely still, you also need to factor in time spent in makeup. You may need to be painted white and grey, have wounds or injuries added or be painted with autopsy scars. You could well be in makeup for several hours before you go anywhere near the set.
  3. Have body confidence. Playing a TV corpse isn’t very dignified and in certain roles you may have to be fully or partially naked. If getting paid to lie down in a ditch wearing very little clothes sounds like a step too far, then this may not be the job for you. However, if you can deal with it then you’ll earn more for the more challenging or uncomfortable roles.
  4. Take short breaths. Nothing gives away a fake dead body more than being able to see its chest rise and fall as it breathes. To be able to get away with this, TV corpse actors need to take very shallow and very short breaths which don’t give the game away. It’s not something everyone can master, so if you want to be able to play dead without running out of air you may need to practice.

If you are tempted to act as a body for TV and film, then you can expect to earn the usual daily base rate for extras plus more for time spent in makeup, unpleasant situations such as lying in the wet or cold, wardrobe fittings and photographs of you as a living person for other scenes. Do you think you could work as a TV corpse? Let me know in the comments below!


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