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December 13, 2001

How Actors Define Commitment

I'm working on a set right now where a couple of our actors have had national commercials "come up" during the run of the shoot.

One of them told us the day before that he suddenly got the spot (I'm thinking... he must've been put on avail prior to this day... AND he must've known he was up for something that would conflict with our shooting schedule). We did everything possible to rearrange the day so that he could join us by 2pm (he was sure he'd be finished with the commercial shoot by then). So, at 4:30pm on a day we MUST wrap and vacate location by 6pm, thirty people are standing around waiting for this guy to park his car and get up to the set.

Totally unacceptable.

The other actor told us four days before that he was on avail for a national commercial and that he would accept it if offered the job. Knowing that, we were able to reschedule the shoot date on which he did not work that week into the slot of the day he may not be available. Granted, this did not come without inconvenience, but it was all done, in advance, and on the day of his job, he was not on our set, not trying to get to our set, and not holding up the cast and crew while making us think he could make it for a fraction of the day if everything went well.

Much better.

Now, here's another situation that came up with a third actor on this same shoot (all three guys are leads, BTW).

His agent had scheduled several auditions for an afternoon in which his scheduled out time was 2pm. He'd told the agent that he might not be out by then, but that he'd like to do the auditions, if at all possible. One of them was a producer call back for a series regular role. On the day of the call back, he was in touch with his agent every hour with status reports, and, when not wrapped by 2pm, he called with the sad news that he would not be able to make the audition. He never once even attemted to make a way out to the audition. The only reason I even knew about the call back was because he'd asked me to run lines with him. I was also there when he had to make the agent call at 2pm.

Now, he felt like crap for having to miss the auditions, and really felt bad that his agent had worked so hard and that he'd, by not going to the call back and potentially booking the role, cost his agency several thousand dollars on the deal. BUT... he stayed on set, did his job, and did it well, never once complaining.

Which one of these actors do you think works more?

Yup... it's actor number three. He's the "name" of the bunch, and the reason he works so much, besides the fact that he's talented and handsome and amazing to work with, is that he keeps his word. "You don't get anywhere breaking promises in this town," he said.

He already has tons of work lined up for after we wrap. The other guys? Back to temping. They are all very talented, so don't misunderstand me on that account. I just think that keeping a promise is far more respect-worthy than dumping on one project when another, "better" one comes along. Actor number three basically embraces where he is RIGHT NOW. The other two are looking toward where they'll be if they just get the RIGHT JOB.

The right job is the one you're commited to first. Then comes the next one. And so on.

Posted by bonnie at December 13, 2001 6:09 PM