Or: Am I really getting paid to hang out with my friends?
Let me level with you: Acting is a rough career path to choose. Though, like many industries, the amount of work you do in relation to those around you is generally inversely proportional to how much respect, money, and chance for advancement you get. Good acting, solid acting, is difficult… but it’s not brain surgery. You’re not curing cancer. You’re not risking your life to protect other human beings. You’re not educating a future generation of lazy, sugar-high rugrats who have been raised in an ‘I’m entitled to whatever I want because that’s how mommy, daddy, the nanny, and the internet raise me’ generation. You’re not organizing the life of an individual who probably could not tie their shoes or find their way to the nearest Starbucks if not for you. Still, it’s a career I chose a long time ago to abandon because I didn’t want to put up with all the baggage involved. I wasn’t passionate enough to dedicate my life to it, and I don’t think you can seriously expect to make it your true job if you’re not.
This isn’t the post for me to enter into the flawed system of filmmaking and the aforementioned disparity between what you do on a set versus how people treat you (and how you are expected to behave/be treated). Suffice to say it’s one of my eternal grudges against the industry (and really, most industries) that because you hold a certain title in one situation, one job, that either entitles you to special, sometimes over-pampered, treatment OR degrades you to one of the muck-soaked peasants in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. That scene pretty much explains my feelings regarding any type of ridiculous hierarchical structure.
Anywhooos, yesterday I took a turn around the other side of the camera during a well-crewed, enjoyable shoot of an international commercial. The whole situation was quite surreal, mostly because I’m not used to being ‘talent’ when on a set, but also because it took an inordinate amount of internal adjusting to come to terms with the facts that a) I wasn’t just talent, I was principal talent, b) this required allowing myself to not jump in and help the crew and c) I was getting paid to ‘act’ with three of my closest friends.
Granted, it wasn’t all fun and rainbows. During the multiple takes, I got my ‘box’ slammed into a few times… but, you know, I don’t want kids anyway. That’s what happens when you’re the rudder of an office rowing team and you have to stop, and it takes everyone else a few seconds to catch up to you.
All in all, it was an intriguing study in the structure of filmmaking. I have to give a shout out to the crew for their efficiency with set-ups and generally being very easy-going, on top of everyone’s needs, and professional… on top of having a good sense of humor. I hope someday to see the fruits of our labor on YouTube or some such bastion of crazy internet videos.
In the meantime, unless the casting overlords see fit to start placing me in filmic creations with my close compadres, don’t expect me to return to acting as my creative outlet anytime soon… though if I do, I promise to not turn into one of ‘those’ actors.