Sunday, March 13, 2011


What's it worth?

When an opportunity for work crops up on one of the acting forums in Portland, I always know the first bulk response (because everyone responds to all, so that we can all benefit from the gets a bit much); what's the pay?

About every other month there is a huge strand of conversation devoted to being paid as an actor or not. For me, I'm starting out and building my reel. Turns out I need to have done stuff so I can do bigger stuff. Makes sense. For this reason I do check what's going on and if something interests me, I find out more information. I've found a few neat projects through this method. The question is, why is it okay for me to be expected to do work without pay? Do people expect this from plumbers? I graduated from a two-year professional actor training program, which is the metaphorical equivalent of trade school. Do you hire an electrician who just graduated and have him rewire your house so he can build his resume?

I think the issue is that every a) thinks they can act, and b) knows about acting. Everyone sees movies or watches TV, and they all have opinions about that. Few people watch house painters and say that looks so glamorous, I want to do that too. Is that what I'm saying? Market saturation? That sounds silly. Scratch that one.

I guess it is a big issue. It means being respected or not. If I am expected to work without compensation, then I must have very little intrinsic value. However, I can't demand pay when people can get someone else so easily (even if I am more qualified or not). This is a strange career to be in. I want to talk more about this, but I have to leave so I can drive for an hour and a half to get the the set where I am filming an unpaid student project.

I like the concept and I like the part. It's small, but it will look good in my reel. It's a new concept for me, to be building the foundation of my career on the cheapest bricks with plans of increasing the worth of every layer I add.


  1. This is the same problem new librarians are facing. You can't get a paid job until you have 2-3 years of experience, but you can't get experience without either financially being able to volunteer, which is not a reality for a lot of people, or being able to find one of the few jobs that will accept education over experience.

  2. It seems like the old system of apprenticeship is returning, except then they provided you with room and board.'s not personal, it's corporate, isn't it?