Induced by the numerous popular films produced at Hengdian World Studios in China, many people move to Hengdian themselves to experience the filming and, where possible, to become part of the production team. Previous studies have examined the behavior and experiences of tourists at film studios. However, little is known about the practices of those who immerse in these film tourism locations for a longer period of time, such as the extras. In order to understand their motivations and experiences, this study employs qualitative interviews with fifteen extras at Hengdian. Results show that most extras undergo a similar process consisting of three steps: people enlist themselves as extras based on dreams and high ambitions; during their first months these dreams and the ‘magic’ of filming are mostly demystified, especially when they are confronted with the multi-layered hierarchy of the film industry; finally, those who stay learn to live within the hierarchy, while making plans to move upwards. By shedding light on the meanings behind extras’ experiences, this chapter offers an original perspective on both the symbolical and practical power structure of the Chinese film industry.
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC)

Xu, M., & Reijnders, S. (2017). Inside the Chinese Film Industry: On the Motives and Experiences of Extras at Hengdian World Studios. In Film Tourism in Asia: Evolution, Transformation, and Trajectory (pp. 171–184). Retrieved from