three Saturdays ago I had a back to back shoot. one was a pro bono for a photography duo which had a Light and dark side theme, I was part of the light side. It was an interesting shoot because there was a director and photographer, there was none of that hold still a pose with minute adjustments it was more a scene and move in slow motion. This is a post photo shoot photo. I had my some qualms on the organisation and the presentation on the duo organisers, but thats just from my spoiled classy experiences and I always give people the benefit of doubt, this duo does deliver.
the second one was for a film project, they were in a rush for a competition and I had only got the script the afternoon before. Script said that it was to be shot without showing the face and only showing mouth and neck downwards made me a bit more relaxed with giving much of a performance, turns out that was not the case, they wanted a irish accent and of course I had to actually be seen in it. It was a fairly touching scene with me as a psychiatrist (serious this time) talking to a teen who had late speech development and has murdered some number of men (see I didn't even have time to read that part). I performed terribly, with none of my lines down and no time to think since i was fresh from the photo shoot, my co-star was really good and it seemed like she knew most of her lines but we were all reading the script out of frame because she had to run off in 2 hours to do some vox pops for some film launch. It was an opportunity to give an award winning performance between us but was met with unfortunate circumstances. On the bright side, this production proves to me that there are people out there writing nice pieces like this, the producer/DOP is a lady that also happens to come from a photography background and makeup before that, I was wondering if I'd ever encounter that combination, she wasn't too fussy though as it was her first film. Still I have failed to deliver on this and really feel I could not do justice with the time and conditions which is sad.
Performance Rating: 2/10 (lowest yet)
Could have stayed up learning lines or do it on photoshoot set.
Sorely disappointed in myself despite not being ideal conditions I did not do my part. Turns out that they recast the project the next week and I met my replacement on another set.
I been having fairly dry weeks, even for promo work, some extra and acting stuff has popped up but not enough occupation to break that unproductive discontent threshold that seems so impossible in Sydney. I can never truly relax because at the back of my mind I believe I should be making even a minor effort to better myself or make money or act in the interests of my career goals. What results are days where I'm not in my element, nor am I feeling down, I'm in this massive idle neutral zone where I am un-relaxed and unable to spoil myself with things like reading, playing games, watching movies, drawing or anything that I used to enjoy anymore (swimming seems to still work, at least distract me with the thought of trying not to drown in the most non threatening sense). This state of procrastination is fueled almost solely by the internet and I'm going to admit... Transformers. This week I bought 6, 3 locally from gumtree, one from Ebay and I'm still waiting for one from aliexpress from China or HK? and the final one from some 45 year old FB in singapore who I got a friend to meet and buy for me and get his friend to bring when she visits Sydney end of this month. Total $180, YES, it all is a bit obsessive. And to top that I've been reading the IDW comics, I'm 6 months behind and totally absorbed.
Back to the topic of acting though...
I came across this pap snap in a magazine that claims that Lohan (Lindsay I presume) was making $100 bucks a day on some production, that's odd considering that she is a big name. I don't really follow celebrities in general so I don't know what she has been going through or how reliable this source is (probably not). Regardless the thought of it just being possible for an A or ex-A list celebrity to work like that is a bit shocking.
I was looking through my usual Transformers news (incase you didn't know I am a classic Transformers fan and came across a call out for extras for the 4th movie, following the link took me to a facebook page of the casting agent and this is text copied and pasted:
"Minimum pay guarantee for extras is $58 for any shoot up to 8 hours. If past 8 hours, time and a half overtime pay kicks in (example: a 12 hour shoot day would be $101.52)
That works out to be at least $7.25 USD per hour to be an extra which is pretty damn low, and for a blockbuster Hollywood film!? Thing is, I still would have done it if I was in USA, not only cause I'm a TF fan (though I do hate Bayformers) or I kinda need to make money or because I'd do anything but I just plain love being on set.
Being an actor is not easy, at any point you will have to do some low ball jobs to get income, (I was dressed as a chef handing out fliers for restaurant deals last month and getting kids to sample juice over the weekend), but that kinda could happen with anyone with any job if you get sacked over night I guess, but I'd like to think that we actors are a lot more adaptable, positive, resilient and infallible with our down times and it's pretty much because we are much more susceptible to having nothing to do and getting attention. Throughout our careers we are told by people and occasionally ourselves that we are not good enough despite good intentions and best efforts (at first we have no idea what we are doing), so set-backs should just make us try harder and be more grateful for when we do land something worth some humble brag.
I hear people complain all the time about being underpaid, specially in Singapore, it happens all the time even in western countries and in this case even for big budget hollywood production. Don't get me wrong, it sucks to perform and not get paid adequately but people think it's dangerous to take on gigs offering low pay because it will affect the economy of the industry and then cheap talent will always be expected. This may be true but if you look at it in a positive way: there will be a lot more work going on because people can afford more projects, therefore more opportunities for actors and newbies to learn. On the production side they just got to make it happen with whatever budget they have, I know it because I've been on that side myself. We are not A-list actors so who are we to demand a large pay-slip? maybe it's because I come from the other side of the camera that I think that talent rates are quite negotiable but to consolidate, we have to decide our own worth and how rigid it is on different types of productions and budgets and things like recurring roles as opposed to one-offs. Performing is a Service of time and not a product so there is a lot of room for negotiation on what it is worth and what is worth performing for.
There is no easy formula to it and I know myself to be too generous, I often do step down to work on less deserving productions, but I always have some sort of rationale to why I am doing it, although this process of reasoning is not always fool-proof, and I often end up with regrets.
some of the questions I ask are:
What is there to gain from doing this...
Have I done this before?
Do I have anything else better to do on the date?
Do I believe this project has potential?
does the crew or cast have potential?
Can I meet someone with potential? (yes, this could be for work or other)
You have to be on the ball and decide to do something or not, I have done things for free for charity like that time I was Jack frost for a hospital department for children with congenital heart disease and that was rewarding on it's own, despite meeting new people and not leading to anything else. And sometimes I have done productions that have given me nothing... that is until I have looked at them in positive light and found things like photo opportunities, travel even just an excuse to wake up early sometimes does the trick for me. In the productions that I have said no to, more often than not I have regretted it looking at the work that has come out or even the fun they have on set. I've definitely been through the mill now and don't feel as resourceful as some of the kids I meet on set these days, I noticed I'm a lot less compelled to help out the crew on set.
As an effect, if you want to play in this industry I think you should just play, find your own style and unique selling point. When it comes to getting paid better or even at all, there is always room for negotiation but I always think that if you are not acting, you're not an actor. So if you're an Actor, Act like one.
looking at the current economy as a big picture, Film making Technology is cheaper than ever these days and we can presume actors are more in numbers that ever before too due to the cheap inspiration and accessibility of media on the internet which is also responsible for making anyone a film-maker overnight with tutorials and pirate software. Now is that a bad thing? Not really, because that means there is a lot of opportunity, already the discourse of low budget productions demanding cheap talent, outputting mediocre material is quite mature. The old fashioned attitude of demanding pay for what you think you are worth and doing only what you are worth is arguably over, web series are a common production. You have to be honest with yourself with what you think you are worth and only by constantly practicing can you truly know, I have come a long way but I know there still is a long way to go... It is not terrible if you think about it, anyone can make anything happen in film now and if you are like me that means more opportunities to inspire, and is that not what we are on the planet for?
I remember when I was 20 or so years old, cheering on $21 p/hr or something on my first paid Gig ever for telstra Next G (I assume that's 2G at the time?) even though most of the time on set I was doing nothing as extra work goes. Presenting My first Televised video recorded Cameo appearance that I know of (I did some mock radio audio recordings for english class back in highschool). Recorded on a state of the art nokia bar phone at the time in what looks like 8fps, consider it a gift for you my reader.
This Site is the Official Records of discovery and ramblings of an Asian Australian actor's Performing adventures and his other talents and interests, when he gets round to writing them. It just may contain the secret to successful and or fulfilling performing life with all good intentions but makes no promises. Due to it's content it is not recommended or suitable for everyone although the author strives to cater for the world. All Stunts are performed within controlled conditions supervised and or by fully trained professionals or moderately experienced or self proclaimed proficient Amateurs. I hold no responsibility for injury or damage to anyone's physical, mental,environmental, financial, soul & spiritual, sexual well being or computing device. However I will assume full responsibility for any improvement experienced in the life and it's performances on the readers end (that's you!). Warning: journey will contain traces of nuts