This is an open letter from a working actor to low-budget film directors and producers.
Dear Low Budget Film Director,
Thank you for offering me to be a part of your project. I take my role and any contributions to your project very seriously. Whether I have a few lines or I fill a lead role, I will come prepared to work hard, stay late, and remain professional on your set. I consider myself a team player and will do whatever I can to help you achieve the results you have in mind.
Acting is not a hobby for me. It is my profession. More importantly, it is my calling. I devote my life to auditioning and acting, and I rely on the income to support myself. I do not have an inheritance, a large savings, a working spouse, a steady income, or anything I can sell to pay my bills. At the same time, I am not expecting to make a fortune from acting.
I do have some important expectations to share with you as we begin this process. As you read them, please let me know if there’s anything on the list you feel you are unable to deliver. I’d like us to be on the same page from start to finish so we may reduce the chance for potential conflict along the way and celebrate each milestone of your production together.
Contracts: A contract tells me you’re so serious about the project you’re willing to put your agreements with talent in writing.
Paid Roles: Paying the actors playing the leads and supporting roles tells me you respect the time and talent of your actors.
Unpaid Roles: Inability to pay the actors tells me you did not create a business plan for the project or you were unable to raise funds or you could not pay out-of-pocket to cover the expense of the project. It’s not necessarily a deal-breaker, but could create other demands that must be met.
DVD Copy: Making a DVD copy of the film part of the initial agreement is a hefty promise that relies on variables sometimes outside of your control. I understand how delays can occur in this area. But if you cannot make good on the promise to deliver a copy of the finished film, consider offering a single scene within six months of your wrap on principal photography.
Communication: Good communication is essential in every aspect of filmmaking, whether you are telling me about a script change or moving a shoot date. I will be making multiple decisions based on your communication so keeping me informed in a timely manner is much appreciated.
Makeup Artist/Wardrobe: These are key crew members to have on any set and their absence is noticeable. Making sure these positions are filled with qualified people tells me you are setting high standards for your production.
Promotion/Marketing: I welcome you to use my photos and name to promote your project. It’s worthwhile to discuss which headshot should be used and ask if a photo credit is necessary.
I understand you have a lot of people to keep happy during pre-production, production, and post-production. I will do my best to help reduce any chance of issues regarding my involvement in your film, and will expect the best from every on set relationship. If a problem does arise, I will trust you or someone you designate to handle it in a timely and professional way.
The Working Actor