I just had a long chat with a friend and colleague and we talked about how our eagerness to get work can lead to negative situations. We may focus on the juicy role in a script, and not pay enough attention to the circumstances surrounding the shoot. Then we may discover we’re dealing with people or particular individuals who are less than professional with us.
Prematurely accepting the role before carefully measuring a situation is never in your interests as an actor. Even after you have accepted a role, you want to carefully conduct business in a professional way to do your best work and reduce any issues during pre-production and production. Here are 10 things to keep in mind, whether you’re working tomorrow on a low/no-pay set run by a novice director or you’re shooting a scene of a studio film.
10 Ways to Protect Yourself Professionally
1. Respond quickly to project-related communication. Set the tone for your working relationship with the director and all pertinent crew and cast members. Limit communication to only the important details. Adding jokes or other tangential comments is a waste of time.
2. Arrive early and come prepared. Your lines are memorized, your wardrobe options are ready to go, and you’re mentally present.
3. Avoid private settings for auditions, callbacks, and meetings. If a director invites you to a table read at his apartment, ask who else will be there and feel free to bring a friend as a safety measure. You can also suggest a public setting, such as a diner or a coffee shop.
4. Keep on set interaction about the project. Sharing personal details with people you barely know opens the door to more intimate interaction. The director doesn’t need to know you’re going through a divorce, but craft services should have a heads up that you’re a Vegan.
5. Discuss complaints privately. There’s no need to embarrass anyone in front of the cast and crew. Ask for a private meeting with the key people involved to explain your perspective and discuss potential resolutions.
6. Ask for permission before taking any photos or shooting video. This point is especially important on the set of a studio film or episodic series; some sets simply won’t allow it. Get in the habit of asking every time, even if it’s just a two-person crew and three other actors on set with you.
7. Return all “borrowed” items. Props and wardrobe are being loaned to you during the shoot. You must return them at the end, even that great pair of pants you wore in the commercial that fit you better than any pants ever.
8. Request footage only when appropriate. Getting you a clip is not a top priority for anyone making a film or commercial. Repeated requests likely will be ignored. Asking before the project gets underway is a smart decision, but plan to keep a careful watch for the release of any footage later on TV or online.
9. Edit your resume accurately. If you worked a day as a background actor, don’t imply you had a supporting role. If you’re planning to do more than background work, keep the extra credits off your resume altogether.
10. Use your social media to reflect your brand. Everything you post on Facebook, Twitter, Vine, LinkedIn, and anywhere online is part of your brand as an actor. Consider what you’re trying to accomplish as a professional actor and how every post reflects that goal.