Hey actors! Tell me if this sounds familiar to you: “Hey, wanna be in this thing? There’s no pay, but we’re really going places and this could get you amazing exposure!”
Like many actors, I have a hard time turning down any kind of acting work for fear that I am going to miss out on an amazing opportunity (I mean, what if this director turns out to be the next J.J. Abrams?!). Thinking this way, however, could potentially lead me take jobs that don't feed me artistically, or in any way help my career (or my bank account).
In my acting class we talk about how there are only ever four reasons to accept work: You want to work with the people, you need the experience, you love the material, or you need the money. Let’s look a little closer at each of these. Oooh! Subsections!
I Want To Work With The PEOPLE
Getting to work with great people is one of the best reasons I can think of to accept work. I always want to work with people who feed my creativity, inspire me to do my best work, and are just plan fun to be around. So, whether it’s a project with talented friends, or people I don’t know personally, but whose work I admire (hey, Spielberg, whatcha doing? ;-) ), sign me up!
I Need The EXPERIENCE
When I was brand new to LA I did some extra work and student films because I literally had no clue how a set worked. Both were a great way for me to gain onset experience, and student films were an especially wonderful place for me to practice my craft in a “real world” environment. When I shot my TV debut, I remember looking around and thinking, “Wow, this is pretty much like all the student films I did except there are a few more people and everyone is getting paid." Those previous experiences ultimately helped me to relax and do my best work much more than had I just jumped in completely green and without any background at all.
I Love The MATERIAL
Is the script amazing or is the character something I can really sink my teeth into and have a blast playing? In other words, am I itching to do the work just for the sake of the work? Again, sign me up!
I Need The MONEY
Am I getting paid good money? Great, I can pay some bills, and eventually, save for my vacation home in The Bahamas. Check, please! (Literally :-) )
Summation (a fancy way of saying “recap”)
A project has to tick AT LEAST ONE of these boxes in order for me to accept it. So, if I don't like the people, I already have plenty of experience in the medium, the material is so-so, and there's no money, I’ll politely pass and move on knowing better things are on their way to me.
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See you next time! Bye!