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Location: Austin, TX, United States

Scholar, Writer, Mother, Dreamer. Editor of Luminarium, an online library for English Literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The (Un)Glamorous Life of an Actor-for-Hire

I hate doing industrial films, but I also hate not eating, soooo.... Yesterday morning I got up at 4 am, left at 5:15, and returned after 7pm. I had only had one hour of sleep the night before, so you can imagine I was in bed by 9pm.

Industrial films mean things like training videos or informational videos which are shown within a company or an industry - for example, a medical firm might make a video about how to market a new product, or how to interact with clients, or how a good boss manages his people, vs. how a bad one would. In short, they are films not seen by the general public, and are for informational or educational purpose, instead of an entertainment purpose.

While I'm making generalizations, I might as well say that most of them are poorly written, and few of them, at least here locally, are well made. But... generally they pay actors better than legit film work.

There were eleven of us yesterday. In the first scene we were restaurant patrons. The restaurant did not have heat, and we could see each other's breath in the frozen air. For more than an hour, we sat in summer clothes in this freezing restaurant, trying not to shake while cameras were rolling. In the second scene we were outside walking up and down a street as background, while they filmed; in the third, we were in a freezing cafe, and so on. In between the scenes we waited from a half hour to an hour and a half. And so went the whole day.

In industrial films, even more than in legits, actors are cattle. Often you work in sub par conditions, and directors see you as furniture. The one saving grace apart from the paycheck is that you often meet very nice people. The group of actors yesterday was a fun bunch, and we had a lot of time to chat and compare experiences, talk about movies, plays, etc. There were also a couple of nice crew members, who made the day bearable. One guy, whose name I never got to ask, lent me his jacket during a break between two shots in the restaurant, because he'd seen me shiver. It's people like that who give one hope for the industry.

I shouldn't have gone yesterday, because on Wednesday night my doctor diagnosed me with pneumonia, and now I feel like I gained a cold to boot. But I couldn't let my agent down — he wouldn't have had enough lead time to get a replacement for me. And I could use the paycheck.

Thanks for letting me whine a bit, I needed it :)

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Blogger madelineanne said...

On the bright side, you did get paid for it. I spent Wednesday in a basement room filled with mold and spiders fighting with lumber. Yay for un-paid internships. :)

January 12, 2007 2:18 PM  
Blogger Anniina said...

Ow. Yay for an actors' union, founded to protect actors from being misused and underpaid/not-paid. Oh yeah, there are such actors' unions, but these same unions make it so hard to get in, that we can be abused for years before they let us in their golden gates.

January 12, 2007 2:25 PM  
Blogger SzélsőFa said...

This segment of life is something I've never seen with my own eyes. Now you made me see it. Thanks. Get well from pneumonia!

January 12, 2007 3:13 PM  
Blogger onlyjokinglasse said...

Never mind the Unions, beware of the Father! Get well soon.

January 15, 2007 2:49 AM  
Blogger Anniina said...

Thanks :)

January 15, 2007 8:30 AM  

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