"The label you give yourself cannot impact external forces that are not motivated by your own psychology or influenced by a third party's pre-existing consciousness of you. We are all presented with reasons to struggle which come from completely external forces; to pretend that one is not struggling is either arrogance or an admission of defeat. To admit that one is struggling is a sign and a source of strength." - Evan A. Baker

Sunday, July 26, 2009

You Will Be Taken Advantage Of

Struggling actresses are an easy mark. We are. We so want to believe anything people tell us regarding our careers, that it's hard for us to be really objective and cautious. When certain things are said or done and Jiminy Cricket is nowhere to guide us, (and we'd probably ignore him anyways) a lot of us do stupid things. Take for instance, Scientology. They prey on actors and musicians in LA because they start out saying, "You Can Be Famous! as long as you pay for our classes and never leave"
Take for instance, psychics. One day, as my guy was looking for parking, some random person comes up to his passenger side window telling him "You're going to have a great year, a great year! Psychic reading, $20! You're an actor, right?!" Ha. No, he's not. But I know I would have fallen for that ploy and spent my $20 listening to tall tales that I really want to believe.

And it's the same way on set. Actors are the easiest ones to take advantage of. Case number one: No pay.
Now, I've produced our film where our budget was so ridiculously tiny, we didn't pay our actors. We didn't pay ourselves, but we did pay our crew. Actors we can do this to, because they WILL work for free. And they did get great reel material, and they have imdb credit, and can have their families netflix the movie and see it. Them donating their time and talent got them all that. But it's rare for a film that you're not getting paid on to actually go somewhere or do something, and oftentimes, if they don't have the money to pay their actors, they probably don't have the money to finish the film.
But if our actors didn't want to do that film for no pay, we would have found thousands more who would have.
(But there are also productions who say they can't pay you, or will pay you a decent small sum, and then you get your check, and you're like, wait a second. This is MORE than what we agreed on. And they'll just put their finger to their lips and wink. )

There's also a time when all actors must sit back, take a look at their resume, a look at their reel, a look at their training and say, you know what? I'm done acting for free. If you want me, you have to pay me now. And I self assessed and came to that conclusion a few years ago. It's extremely rare that I do anything for free. Extremely rare. And I've probably become a little snotty about it, but my time and talent is important to me. And if you want a good project, you have to be willing to pay for it. You could write the most amazing movie in the world, but if you have untrained actors in it, who's going to watch it? You get what you pay for.

But as an actor, you have to fight a lot to get that.

For instance. There's a guy I know, I'll call him Douche Bag, and he called me up the yesterday about pick up shots. Now, I've heard other people talk about DB and none of it was really all that favorable, so I wanted to make sure I had my own back. "I'm getting my same day rate, right?" "Yeah, yeah," he said. "You'll be getting your $75." "You mean $100." "You guys made $100?" Yes, DB, you put down the breakdown, you knew the rates, don't kid me on this. "Oh, I thought you guys all made $75. I'll have to talk to the producer about this."
He calls me up less than 5 minutes later and leaves a voicemail. "Yeah, sorry, I just talked to the producer and he said that because it's only going to be shooting for 4 hours instead of 12, that they're only offering $75."

Oh really? REALLY? You're telling me that you just talked to the producer who deals with actor day rates all the time, and that you got him on a saturday evening at dinnertime? And that's what he told you? You are a liar, DB.

And I am pissed.

"Whether I'm there for 12 hours or half an hour, I get the same rate. It's written in my contract, you can check it, but if I don't get my same rate," (which is only $25 more to them, but a huge principle to me) "then why should I show up?" I also mentioned how they were only giving me 26 hour notice for pick ups. There's this thing I like to do, called having a life, that I have a lot of fun with.

So of course, he emails me less than an hour later (when I told him to call) saying he can "work something out with [the] budget." Of course you can.

Don't you dare try and screw me out of agreed upon money because you're too lazy to check the contracts or get a producer on the phone.

And what really angers me about this is that I know a lot of other struggling actresses out there would have agreed to it.

Always get a copy of your contracts. ALWAYS. And if they say they're going to reimburse you, get that in writing! Take care of yourself cause no one else will.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay happy. Stay acting. Stay Strong.

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