IT'S A DOUBLE EDGED COIN (AND ALSO SWORD)
By: Brian Gilleece
Let's chat about priorities and being choosey but also being greedy! Mu ha ha haaaa!!
Everyone is a at a different point in their career, with different needs and different expectations so let's chat about some Do's and Dont's with how you use your time, and its not just me saying it, this is from Casting, Agents and Managers, so listen up.
****YOU'RE NON-UNION AND HAVE LIMITED CREDITS**** -Good News! You get to / need to take EVERY opportunity that is given to you to be in front of a camera. Reenactment shows, shorts, deferred pay, no pay, delicious food pay, low budget comercials, your friend's short that's terrible, USC, LMU, UCLA, AFI, CHAPMAN shorts or features, directors sizzle reals, You need to do it all YAY! Have fun!
You need experience, you need to get footage and you need to work out some kinks that training from school or class or stage acting alone cannot figure out! So Go get em, Have fun and run these projects by your team to make sure they are legit and your safe!
But keep reading, because as you grow, things change!
****YOU'RE SAG-AFTRA or HAVE REAL CREDITS**** Have we all heard of the term "Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder?" It is scientifically proven that this is in fact true and this can apply in a professonal setting. Most folks on the team are at this stage and it is at this stage that it is critical for you to become EXTREAMLY choosey with who you give your talents and your time to.
Agents and Casting get very skittish when they start to see to much "junk" on someone's resume. They become untrustworthy of the quality of work you can provide OR can become skeptical of the work that is legitimately on your resume. Is it made up? Embellished? Jess Canty has chatted with many agents and casting people in town, same story over and over and when you sign on with a good agent, they will trim down and solidify your resume so you don't look desperate or like you're running around with your head cut off!!
So Lets go through some scenarios that come up in this world and perhaps how to approach them so as not to run the risk of over-exposing yourself, or exposing yourself on bad projects, 'cus they are all over the place and don't deserve you.
A Non-Union Film/Project is trying to cast me:
If a US-based production can't even drum up the professionalism to be SAG-New Media or ULB, (the lowest rung SAG tier production levels), it is not a real project, sorry. Cinterra created a TV show pilot, it was SAG, it's not hard and there is no excuse and again, nothing lost here because it's not real.
The Script Has Spelling, Grammar and Structural Problems:
Stay Away! If the director or writer tells you that does not matter, because they have a vision, they are WRONG! If the project is not good on the page it will be even worse on the screen and any REAL project takes structure, spelling and story very seriously because it is all that really matters, especially on limited budget.
Someone I know Is Making short:
Not everyone with a camera is created equal and just because you know them does not make them good, believe me, I know a bunch of people who are no good. Just because someone has an idea does not mean it should be explored on film and does not mean you need to be a part of it just because they ask. Take some time to consider some of these things before agreeing... and get your management team involved! We are here to read scripts and help you say no if you need to.
Is the person a legitimate film maker with prior credits or training?
Do they have a plan for the short distribution wise?
Do they have passion for the project, conviction, do they get excited about it when the talk to you?
Are they throwing some real capital behind it? Some shorts are really well done, Johnse is in a GREAT one that went Cannes this year and is opening up all kinds of doors for him and the filmmaker, BUT, the filmmaker has vision, passion and he put his money were his mouth is, and hired a great cast!
Nothing in this life is "free" and shorts are no exception, filling your resume up with a bunch of shorts is a huge mistake. It looks desperate and not pro, so make sure to run these by your team to advise you the best course of action.
SAG-Deferred Pay Projects:
These are essentially working for free, which is fine and the projects can be decent, BUT you need alot of info before you sign on for one of these because they can be a huge time suck and frustrate your reps, especially if they get you an opportunity you can't make......yikes....
SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER...How Many Days Does it Work? Are they Consecutive? Is There a per Diem? When Do you get the footage? Is Production willing to work around YOU, your auditions , your time?These questions should all be agreed to IN WRITING with Cinterra involved to avoid any issues as the production moves forward. If these questions can't be answered, again, it's a bunk production and you should stay away, your time is too valuable.
WRAP UP: We chatted about reputation a few weeks back, and this is your FILM reputation, your IMDb and your resume are your documented, permenent, professional reputation and you need to keep it clean and growing but, with the right growth.
Footage is not always good enough, wanting to go be on something because you haven't recently is not a good enough excuse to start to dirty up the work you know takes alot of blood sweat and tears to obtain!
Not all IMDb credits are created equal and they shouldn't be, a real movie or show with a real cast, real director that has a real budget is HARD to get made, really hard, so becoming a part of that is a huge accomplishment and you should be proud of it. You beat out many many people to have a credit on that project, don't drown that legit credit in a sea on 3 million movie meter shorts that will only sit on some half-wit director's hard drive so he has something to chat about while slinging widow makers at the Claim Jumper in Sun Valley.
Be Smart, It's your reputation and YOU ARE BETTER THAN SOME THINGS.
It's ok to say, you've worked hard for it!