Saturday, March 24, 2012

Realistic Expectations

Every so often I see a particular casting notice (due to repostings) and think "you're hoping to get actors to commit to what and for how much?"  The notice doesn't say much about the actual project.  Things like what it's about or a character breakdown.  But if I remember correctly, the filmmaker's last film was at some Brazilian film festival.  The film being cast might be a great movie.  I don't know.  But I think the filmmaker is hoping for a bigger commitment from actors than is realistic.

So what commitment do I refer to?  Four months of rehearsal before shooting for character development.  I think stage performances often have less rehearsal time!  I could understand this rehearsal time if the actors needed to be trained for wire work -by an expert!!- or several dance numbers needed to be learned, but the notice did not indicate this.  Any actor that needs four months rehearsal to find the character's motivation in the "John and his parents are at the kitchen table discussing his bad report card" scene doesn't deserve to be cast as himself in his family's home videos.

Does this mean my character better be dancing on wires if you want me to work on your "four months rehearsal" film?  No, had the pay been significantly higher than "no pay", I might have taken a closer look at it.  Sure, I'm available to rehearse the previously mentioned report card scene a few evenings next month for $$$.

I want to make clear that I'm not calling on actors to refuse to work on this project and I wish the filmmaker the best.  But I have serious doubts about professional actors replying to the notice.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Prize

Earlier today I was watching the season finale of Face/Off.  (I DVRed it.)  Wait!  Wait!  Don't tell me who won...I'm only part way through the episode.  At the beginning they listed some things the winner would receive.  Don't remember all the prizes but it included things like a car, cash - with a capital C, oh, and bragging rights.

The winner of some reality show is going to get a prize package not to be proverbially sneezed at.  So, what?  While watching the "winner receives" portion, I thought the most important prize is exposure.  Of course, the other contestants get exposure as well.  Those you, if you were a contestant, would want your work showcased in front of are watching.  They should be watching, at the very least, the latter episodes if they are doing their job.

I am referring to reality shows that target an industry related skill like Face/Off or American Idol.  And by exposure, I mean people becoming familiar with your work.  Thought I should point that out before anyone starts running around naked in hopes of getting on a police reality show.

So what are some things these people you hope see your work are looking for?  Here's some things I would look for:
  1. Their level of talent.  Do I think they can deliver on a consistent basis?
  2. Their ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines.  The pressures of winning a reality show is one thing, but what if you are working on a feature and your failure to deliver on time would mess up the production schedule?
  3. Their ability to follow direction.  "So&So missed the mark on this one" is a phrase that was often said by the judges on Face/Off.  Basically means that the assignment was to create X and the contestant delivered Y.  Might have done a great job on Y, but it's not X.
  4. Their ability to be creative and diverse.  Can they use the different tools and materials of the trade?  Can they come up with interesting stuff that fits within the parameters of the project?
  5. Their attitude.  Do they "need" to win?  I'm talking about their attitude about what will happen to their career if they're eliminated, not that they could really use the money.  How well did they work with others on team projects?  Are they confident in their abilities without the ego?
Hmm, think these things might be important considerations for any job in the industry?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Career Efforts

Based strictly on performance, are there actors whose projects you are more likely to watch? How about which musician's concert to attend? Or wanting your favorite sports team signing a particular player? Or...

It would probably be a safe bet that everyone on your list works hard at what they do. They put in hours perfecting their skills. They network with others in their industry. They make sure they are up-to-date with their knowledge and materials. They study others - in a good way - in their field.

Are you likely to end up on some one's "based on performance" list? Or are you settling for, at best, mediocrity?

Me? I have no interest in being Mr. Mediocre. That's why I practice various career related skills daily. And NOT for a grand total of five minutes! That's why I attend industry events even though socializing would not make my list of favorite activities. That's why I take the time to read all the articles I read.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Being Flexible

This past Sunday, during church services, my phone started buzzing. So, I answered it and started talking loudly in the middle of the congregation. Just kidding! Actually, I slipped it out of my pocket, glanced at the number, and put it away. Basically wanted to know if it was something I would want to check on after the meeting. No need to follow up on a pocket dial from the other end of the pew.

Turns out it was for a project I had booked earlier that was shooting that day with a call time that happened to be when the services had started. So I immediately called him back and told him it was the first I heard of it. And that I was available and could probably be there within the hour.

I had worked with him before, so he didn't think I would have just flaked on him. Shows the importance of developing a good reputation. If I didn't have a good track record, he might have just tried to get someone else instead of following up with me. Okay, he would probably have cast someone else in the first place, but that's beside the point.

Fortunately, as I mentioned, I was available and willing to rush to set. After the shoot, we looked into why I never got the shoot info. It turns out when he sent out the email, it was going to the same number of addresses as the number of people working on the project. But one was a child actor and another was her mother. He decided it would be best to follow up the night before in the future. Also shows why you're often asked to confirm.

Was I at all upset about the communication glitch? No. Although, I was a bit concerned and curious. Would having received the email been preferable? Absolutely. They had to wait for me. Okay, they did use the time to shoot some scenes I'm not in, but still. Also, I could have been...on another set and unavailable. What!? I could of.

I suppose I could have told him I was unavailable on such short notice. However, this is my career so the thought never even occurred to me. Things happen last minute. Sometimes by accident, as in this case. Sometimes because the opportunity didn't exist the day before.