Sunday, 21 October 2012

Exit Stage .... ?

A few months ago I noted that I had not been blogging because I was too busy acting to do so. Happy Days! In the past few weeks I have blogged little because I have had little to blog about. After the commotion of producing the one-man plays in July, the time off in August and a flurry of filming in mid-September, I find myself twiddling my thespian thumbs and taking stock of my acting career.

I have two / three potential sources of work: Casting Call Pro, Spotlight and my agent. CCP offers mostly profitshare theatre and unpaid film work, although it occasionally comes up with jobs that offer real money (£150 a day for example). To be sent details of paid work, the monthly fee is £20.40. In the 10 months I have been on CCP, I have found perhaps a dozen jobs, mostly unpaid. Altogether, I have probably received about £70 worth of work through the site. So, yes, I'm paying out more than I get in, but since even the unpaid / profit-share jobs on offer are sometimes interesting, I don't mind the expense. But £20 a month is my limit, which means I will not spend more money on similar acting websites, especially since they do not offer the kind of work I want. (Starnow, for example, specialises in reality television and extras work, neither of which interest me.)

But while less than a year ago I was applying - and sometimes being auditioned - for many interesting theatre projects on CCP, such work seems to have dried up. There are always student / unpaid films, but I have come to the stage of been-there-done-that-and-I-don't-need-the-t-shirt so I no longer apply for them unless they look Really Interesting, which they haven't in recent weeks. The one exception was the GBH2 film, of which more below.

What about Spotlight? Well, I only joined them a few months ago. Much of the work that comes through is inappropriate for me (despite the fact they have my profile) - often including dancing and singing, which I am incapable of. When I first joined I did apply for the occasional job, and heard nothing; I wasn't surprised, but I appreciated the ability to contact casting directors directly. However, once an actor is taken on by an agent, s/he is no longer able to apply directly for work through Spotlight, but must "nudge" their agent to do so on their behalf. I have nudged several times but still have not been put up for any part.

Which brings me to my agent. Agents, in theory, deal directly with casting directors and get the paid work which does not come up on websites. It was a running joke among the semi-professional actors I met in the last year, that as soon as an actor gets an agent the work dries up. That has been my case as well. But it's early days and a four-figure contract would make up for four months of inactivity.

Perhaps the issue is not CCP or Spotlight or an agent but my own attitude. Acting is a vastly overcrowded profession and if I want to get ahead I have to push ahead. And that means Ambition. Dedication. Drive. None of which I am over-endowed with. I have neither the overconfidence nor the underconfidence to push myself in every possible direction - spending hours online looking for work, going to acting classes when I can afford them, calling friends to ask them what is happening, what do they know, schmoozing with previous contacts who have given me work or auditioned me. There are other things going on in my life which take up my time and give me satisfaction - the bookselling business, housework, family - and deflect me from pursuing acting as a full-time career.

Which brings me back to GBH2. As regular readers may remember, there was a well-paid role in a feature film there that I was shortlisted for audition for. The problem was I had to submit, via Youtube, a clip of myself acting the role. Which I never made. There were lots of reasons why - or more accurately, lots of rationales - including a number of previous engagements during the days that I could have made the film, but the truth was that I was not confident enough in my own acting and my ability to put together a good three-minute clip. A face-to-face audition I could handle; the hassle of putting together a film was too much. And so I let the application die.

Which makes me wonder: I've got this far in last eighteen months (when I took my first acting course). Do I want to go further? Do I decide I can't be bothered? Should I aim for centre stage or exit stage left?

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