Getting into film and TV may be a long and tiresome path, but it can be done for the select few that commit themselves to hard work. It is unrealistic to think you are going to walk into film and land a starring role your first week in the business, but by charting a steady course towards your goal will get you there faster in the long run.
The first step is to take any work that is available and make contacts with the producer and director. Often, repeat work will come from a job well done in a minor role and the production company would like to have you back for another shoot. They are looking for dependable, professional people that can get the job done and follow direction.
To get your foot in the door, try a casting agency that represents actors for work as extras. These agencies are booming with business and can offer the new actor a steady stream of weekly work. The key to finding a credible agency is to watch for red flags such as sign-up fees or monthly dues. The real agents, that have the power to put you to work, get paid on a percentage basis, and should never be asking their actors for money. The exception to the rule is when the agency needs to take portfolio pictures, which should be updated every 6 months. A modest fee may be attached for the photos, or you may wish to provide your own head shots from a trusted photographer.
When the agency sends you out on a job, the rules are that you must show up for the shoot. Some actors like to safeguard their income and will book through multiple agencies for a six day work week. Here's the problem: If you run overtime with one job and fail to show up for the next one, you are up for automatic dismissal from your agent. You need not land every job they send you to, but you must show up for the interview.
Actors working as extras can make a decent income and have plenty of room for advancement. If you are assigned a small speaking role, the set hourly wage goes up. If you are required to wear a uniform and can provide your own wardrobe, again your wage goes up. In addition, the industry is regulated for pay increase if you are asked to drive your own vehicle on camera, work in a scene where you or someone else is smoking, or working overtime for the day. To work as an extra, you will need to be available for full time hours, including weekends, and it won't be long before you are building a robust resume and earning good money. Extra work is fun and lucrative, and you never know when you will get your big break.