Sunday, August 13, 2006

Workin' Hard

I know I'm not the most compulsive blogger in the world, but my laptop's OS went AWOL this week, and I'm waiting for the disks to come in so I can be fully connected again. I'm borrowing a sibling's Mac for this post, which makes me feel like driving on the other side off the road.

The other reason for the delay in posting is, well, work, and lots of it. I'm starting a couple shows as a regular and recently completed standing in for a couple week for an A-lister. The turnarounds have been tight - last week I had one gig wrap at 2:30 AM only to be booked at another studio at 7:30 AM. Ouch is the operative word.

Working full-time like this is what background performers wish and hope for, and ironically is one of of the arguments against going union (i.e., joining SAG): With fewer union slots, albeit for higher pay and benefits, union roles are harder to get.

And this is what a friend of mine ran into several weeks ago. He earned his fourth SAG voucher and is therefore a "must join" background performer, if he wants to continue to receive SAG vouchers. Since he's been working for that moment for well over half a year, it was a happy day. That is, until one of the malcontents in holding cried out, "Don't join - you'll never work again!"

Upon hearing that, several of us wheeled around and announced that we had our busiest hiatus in years, much to this fellow's surprise. It's a common complaint heard on sets. I worked with one woman last week who hasn't worked since May.

Now, that is a surprise. But, when you pry deeper, you begin to pick out a few facts.

First and foremost: Acting is a business. You must sell yourself. You must get a good reputation among the casting directors and - most importantly - they have to know you are! A lot, probably most of the "complainers" I meet have never met the casting directors that book them, nor written them letters, thank you notes, or updates from the set. They don't make an effort to know the production team on set. And even with excellent training and looks, it takes a bit more to get steady work.

Think about it. If this were any other business, say sales, you wouldn't get much of an income by waiting for the phone to ring.

Just my two pennies off a borrowed iBook and the neighbor's WiFi.

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