Sh!tlist

SMhollywoodsign3

I just read the news about the outcome of a lawsuit that will most likely change the whole internship landscape in Hollywood. Here’s a link to an article in the Hollywood Reporter. Basically, the days of big companies ‘using’ (or if you prefer ‘hiring’) interns for no pay may be over. There’s a lot of debate about the pros and cons of this outcome and I’ll leave that to you. However, the whole subject of ‘taking advantage’ (by either side) did bring to mind something similar:

Willing victims, aka: Actors.

I’m not talking about diva actors who think they’re all that, or wanna-be movie stars that never even bother taking an acting class, or any other non-dedicated ‘actor’.

I’m talking about actors that are in it for the long haul. Actors that care. Actors that train, market themselves, pound the pavement, do the grunt work, show up for the auditions. Actors that love their job and can’t imagine doing anything else.

Us actors need to stick together, man! Just the other day a good friend of mine found out that the local commercial gig he booked was NOT going to pay…as he was about to drive long distance to the set for the shoot! He still went, because he’s a man of his word, but you can bet he won’t fall for that one again. When he went to look at the online post (which even had stated the amount of pay), it had since been removed from the social media page. I suggested to him to take a screenshot of the casting notice next time so he has proof that the post said it was a paying gig. I don’t know if it was an honest mistake on the producers’ part or if it was just a nasty little trick to get good actors to audition in the first place. Either way, it’s frustrating as hell and you can be damn sure that we take those names down and add them to our little ‘Shitlist‘!

It’s bad enough that so many actors are willing and/or desperate enough for work that they’ll accept gigs for very little or even no pay (to at least get footage for a demo reel or maybe an imdb credit). Sometimes we’re just too damn eager to please. What sucks is that people take advantage of it. Yeah, I know.. it’s all a business… capitalism…. survival of the fittest… yadayadayada. Still. Not cool!

Just because you have a fancy camera or a rich daddy, a talented filmmaker it makes you not! I’ve been to auditions where the ‘directors’ talked down to actors or made fun of their acting. Again, not cool. If this is going to be the way you’ll treat your actors on the set of your non-paying-but you get food-gas-credit-filmmaking ‘masterpiece’, then no thanks! I’ll pass.

Filmmakers who promise footage for a demo-reel once their project is finished, but fail to deliver – you too are on the shitlist!

Oh, and don’t lure actors to auditions with ‘supporting’ roles just for them to find out that they’re only featured extra roles. Not professional.

Just remember…people talk! Mistreatment, false promises, outright lies, dishonest behavior – word gets out about you! You better believe it! Those phrases about ‘cream rising to the top’ or ‘separating the wheat from the chaff’ don’t just apply to actors.

Having said that, on the flipside…if you’re good to us, keep your promises and are just an all around PRO, we remember that too. And we spread the good word!

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So, don’t wind up on our shitlist!

I also believe in Karma. And Voodoo. (Just kidding). Or maybe not… ;)

Sorry (not really) for the coarse language, but I’m mad! I’m having one of those days, mkaay?

Thanks for letting me rant. We cool?

Cool.

Three ways to make sure your acting life will go on!

The other day, on a film set, an actress recognized me from a blog I had written about packing an ‘actor bag’ for the set. She told me how much it helped her and that she bookmarked that page. True story! It totally made my day, so I thought I’d share some more of my practical advice – this time about how to survive (literally and figuratively) on a movie set.
So, here we go, kids!

1. Watch your step and always look where you’re going!

O..M..G, a film set is full of death traps! As klutzy as I am, it’s a miracle I survived the film shoot intact! I did stumble over a sandbag on day 3 (I think it was day 3…it’s all a blur now) and almost fell face-first on top of a glass table; but I was lucky and caught myself, barely! Moving from one room of the set to another was like running the gauntlet and I halfway expected Klingon spears to be tossed at me. Sometimes the set had to be darkened for night scenes. Goodie! Add long hours plus fatigue and – voilà!  You have a recipe for disaster! Also, never ever touch any of the lights on the set, because you will burn yourself worse than from a curling iron! Oh and last one: Never, ever touch the movie camera(s). Especially if it’s a RED. The DP, AC or AD will most likely kill you instantly!

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2. Find cover!

If you’re not a big movie star, celebrity or any other VIP actor that has a trailer in which to relax in between camera setups, you’re SOL when it comes to finding a quiet and serene little spot. Wanna go over your lines again in peace? Wanna get in that ‘mode’? Need to focus and meditate? Are you on a low budget little indie film set? Well, then, GOOD LUCK, mwuahaha! Best bet is wherever the make-up people are (ssshhhh, don’t tell them I said that, it’s our little secret, ok? Just don’t touch their stuff). In my case, it was a quiet little bedroom and I took every opportunity I had to hide in there and go over my script again. Or maybe even nap a little…

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3. Beware the live wireless mic!

Forgot about that tiny little mic that the sound guy put inside your blouse or under your collar? You know, that thing that comes with the transmitter tucked into the back of your pants? Oh yeah…this has potential embarrassment written all over it! Thankfully the sound dude had a sense of humor when he heard me make a joke at his expense to another actor – on the other, far side of the set! Ever wanted to disappear into a hole in the ground? Equally important to remember are two litte words when you’re ‘wired’: bathroom break!

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That’s it for today – I’m outta here! See you on a set somewhere!

Get a life!

As a committed actor, you spend a lot of time focusing on building your career, obviously. Between classes, networking, marketing yourself, auditioning and actually acting in film or on stage, you can easily slip into a familiar routine or stagnant rut. Sometimes it’s easy to forget the importance of your growth as a human being. Actually, it is vital to you as an actor.

So, what to do about it?

Go out there and do new things for the first time! Feel the excitement of learning something new! Do you have a hobby? Nurture it, don’t neglect it! If you’re not into your hobby anymore, find a new one. Meet people outside of your usual circles. Travel and see other parts of the world, observe other cultures. Volunteer! Always pick your brain with a new challenge, like learning a new language or just memorizing your friends’ actual phone numbers! (Personally, I don’t think I know anybody’s phone number by heart, except for my husband’s and parents’ over in Germany). Get out of your comfort zone! Get a life outside of acting! How else are you going to gain any experience for future roles?

I’ve heard all this preached quite a few times and said my ‘yeah, yeahs‘… Easier said than done, right? But with a little discipline and determination, you can do it and stop finding excuses not to. No money for traveling abroad? Well, we live in a beautifully versatile country. Make it a road trip and take a travel buddy with you. Plan a route and go for it. Mark a weekend in your calendar and commit to it! You’ll find the cash for gas and transportation. If there’s a will, there’s a way. Trust me! For example, I always wanted to see Mayan ruins in Mexico and it took me three years of online research, planning and saving money, but it was the most spectacular and exhilarating vacation I’ve ever had! Those memories will ‘feed’ me until my next big adventure.

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“What fear of heights? What dark cave below?” (Can you see the fear in my face?) *gulp*

If there’s a WILL, there’s a way. It’s as simple as that.

However, if your life gave you some seriously bitter lemons; or maybe your outlook at the moment doesn’t hold much promise for anything ‘fun’ – don’t despair! Even shitty experiences have their value! I worked at two seasonal jobs last year and at times it sucked so bad it made me cry. Seriously! Both jobs were in areas of expertise completely foreign to me. One dealt with lots of kids and the other with retail…in a mall…during the holidays. Yep. I took those gigs on to (hopefully) learn something new and to support my acting habit. I did my best, looked for the positive (wherever possible) and ‘endured’, but I was so glad when it was over. As bad as it was back then, I did gain some knowledge and learned lessons that I wouldn’t have otherwise. And guess what, those experiences also came in handy for some recent acting gigs!

So, what are you waiting for? Are you motivated? Good! Now let me get back to my online courses teaching me about my DSLR camera. I’m trying to have a life here ;)