There is a lot of hubbub right now in the seattle theater scene regarding the recent firing by voicemail!!!of a local actress on very questionable grounds. You might be able to see a bit of the story on the Facebook Page of the theater in question, but since this is a developing story, things - comments, posts, etc. - seem to be disappearing from the page. Here is an open letter to the company by Jon Luytens about the firing. The public outcry about the (alleged) mistreatment of the actress in question is heartening, because, as working actors, we are vulnerable, sometimes desperate, undervalued, and notoriously competitive. Seeing the community rally and come together to stand up for what is right has warmed the cockles of my heart and has inspired this post!
As the above story seems to suggest, a certain theater company did NOT act responsibly. Not in the least.
So, I ask, what are an actor's responsibilities, when it comes to the operating the "you as CEO of your actor business" enterprise?
Let's first assume you got the job:
Follow the guidelines set forth in your contact. Yes, this means you have to read the contract. ;-) "But, David, I am not working under a contract," I hear you say.
No contract? Why not? Especially when it comes to student/indie filmmaking where you (the actor) are often unpaid, having no contract which "guarantees" a copy of your footage, can be problematic. If you are not presented with a contract, and you are "volunteering" your time or working as an independent contractor (or employee), I suggest writing your own. Here is a sample of a low budget/student film contract.
Whether you are working under a contract or not, there are a handful of things you can do which will make you appreciated and increase your chances of future hirings/opportunities:
BE A PRO: What does that mean? Well, it just so happens that my friend Ben Hodge has blogged extensively on that topic. Have a peek! If you don't want to navigate away from this page yet, I will expound a bit on what I think it means to be professional, especially as it pertains to AUDITIONING, REHEARSING, AND PERFORMING:
Always be on time. And on time is early.
Know what is expected of you. Then exceed those expectations.
Always do your best. Seriously.
Be a generous actor. Give. Give them something to work off of.
Go above and beyond. Why not?
Be a good communicator.
Be respectful of other people's time. You aren't the center of attention all of the time.
Know where you are going, when you need to be there, and who is in the room (auditioning). Oh, and be prepared to shine. It's your audition.
Take care of your instrument. On the clock and after hours.
Strive to be the best possible collaborator, while working within the parameters set forth by the writer and director.
Well, there's a start! What would you add?
Thanks for reading!