April 25, 2009

Getting work as an actor (A mini rant)

Some of you may know that from time to time (along with my friend and fellow blogger Algo) I have been known to spend a day or two acting in front of a camera in film, television, commercials and music videos.

It's a fun life - although it can get a little boring waiting around - which is why I have 'Pass the Pigs' to help keep me occupied.

One of the downsides to doing something like this is getting the work in the first place. It doesn't just fall magically into your lap. You have to go find it. Granted there are sites that can help you get these - and agencies who will work on your behalf (and take a commission) but it still takes hard work and effort.

One of my favourite is a site called Starnow. I have been on this site for a year or so and have had some interesting leads from it.

The problem I have, though, is that lately the level of expectation is starting to increase considerably with people who are casting.

As an example:

A shoot where a dozen men are required to be shot alongside a high profile female British Radio 1 DJ. The image is being used for a billboard advertisement promoting her club night in Ibiza this Summer 2009.

Nudity may be required

Payment details: No pay

In other words "We are the BBC. We want to promote ourselves in one of the hottest club locations on the planet. We want you to prance around naked in front of a well known female DJ. Oh, and we aren't going to pay your for it"

Or how about:

UK based breakfast show always on the look out for interesting and entertaining guests!

Quirky, fun, informative etc...people with a story to tell, something that will make our listeners go "wow!". This listing is purely to find people who will be entertaining to listen to for some reason

tell us what the reason is!

Payment details: no pay

In other words "We are a commercial company who want to be able to fill our timeslot without paying anyone for it"

Written by D***** B*****l and starring O*** D*****i, two of the UK’s premiere comic talents, this is a comedy about family and identity in the 21st century.

The film is shooting in May and June in locations around London and needs a wide variety of extras from all ethnic backgrounds, particularly Jewish and Muslim.

This is a Slingshot production and is partnered by MUJU theatre company, working with Charities Advisory Trust and partnering with Comic Relief

Payment details: expenses paid

In other words "We're using the funding for this to pay real actors for our feature film and anyone who wants to work with us will get their tube fare paid. If you're lucky"

Now don't get me wrong, there are loads and loads of casting applications out there for students and extreme low budget film-makers who just cannot afford to pay their actors. The actors use them as ways of gaining experience and entries for their show-reel. I understand this and have no problem with it. But when the likes of the BBC, nationwide breakfast broadcasters, and well known British comic talents start expecting people to work for free to help them make money I would suggest the situation has gone a little too far the the extreme.

Or am I being unreasonable?

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