Acting : Is working with a amateur filmmaker ever worth it, if you are a professional? by Talia Price

Talia Price

Is working with a amateur filmmaker ever worth it, if you are a professional?

It is pretty clear that money talks BS walks. I was approached the other day by some amateur filmmaker who wanted to cast me in his film. However he did not want to pay me. I told him that he would have to pay me, because I am an actor for hire. I have worked with amateur film makers and actors before and in the end I ended up getting screwed. I would to know from my fellow actors here, is working with a amateur filmmaker ever worth it, if you are a professional?

Chris Connell

Guess it depends on How do you define "Amateur"? If I like their reel/see potential in their work then I and most I know do it for A- a recent credit on our IMDB (which has real value) and B- for sake of networking with this hard working director (and his crew) (and other actors). Also depends on if I think movie will get distribution of some kind. If so, I'm more likely to do it. I did that this week in fact on a film called Follow http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4457852/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_1. A friend reached out and asked if I'd do a scene for her director friend. Does he make a full living as a director? But passed my other tests, so I did it. Even though it was no pay and we actually had to "steal the shot". So, thats a little on my 2 cents in evaluating such.

Andrew Bee

For me, it depends where you are in your career.Yes, we all need money, but the big picture is never, ever about one job. I did about twelve student films, obviously for free. The question I always ask myself, is, how will this help me move forward? Initially, I refused to work for free and then I had an aha moment. I wasn't getting auditions, which meant I wasn't spending enough time on sets, which meant I wasn't getting enough on camera time, which meant that the most valuable thing of all, time, was passing and I wasn't getting the one thing I needed, which was real experience. I shifted my entire attitude, did a ton of free work, and suddenly, this year, I got seen by the biggest casting agents in Toronto. I booked a day player role on a TV Series, two days on Suicide Squad, and now I'm up for the lead role in a fifteen million dollar movie. I actually do extra work, to keep my ego in check. I have to work really hard on myself because it is so easy to think I'm better than that. I have met actors at very high levels who are bitter and angry because they are not at the level of stardom they feel they should be. The words Professional and Amateur make me feel trapped, because I can't go anywhere with them. Doing what I love above all else and working on feeling gratitude frees me. I have no idea if all that free work I did meant anything. Every single job I took was because I went to different places of feeling in myself. What I do know is that I felt really good doing each role, and that good feeling always leads to more good feeling. I have a huge dream and I've learned that if it is not happening fast enough for me, the only place I look is in the mirror. Thank you for your post Talya. I feel this is one of the most important questions that actors have to work out for themselves.

Talia Price

Thank you for the comments. I have not seen this filmmaker's reel/demo. After talking with him, it seems that he is not making a living as a director. However, I have been in this situation before. When I have done free work and I have not seen any results from it; no film, no credit, nothing. And I feel that I do not want to be in that situation again. People have taken advantage of me for so long that not my motto has become : money talks BS walks. You want my time you pay for it, you want my performance, you pay for it, in some way. I have another meeting with him today, so I will find out more about this. Thanks again for the comments.

Charlie James

I'm not a professional actor, yet ;) so for me, personally, I'm happy to do un-paid work. Every time I'm on set somewhere new I set a task for myself so even though I'm not being paid, I know I'm gonna make some progress in some area by the end of the day. Even when I do start 'professionally' I'll probably still do short, indie films because I've done professional work before and its not nearly as much as fun! :'D

Talia Price

Professional is an attitude. Many people think is it all about money, it is not. It is how you approach things. I have a professional attitude towards my career and my passion.

Jorge J Prieto

I'm always learning and open and I welcome ALL opportunities, more those that come from fellow S32 family members.

Paul Walker

An OK camera costs $3,000 USD. One of my lights costs $1,000 USD so if a film maker has money for a camera, they have enough money at least to pay expenses. Where the question has to be asked is where an individual is in the arc of their career which is directly related to the amount they will command. The more value an actor adds to a production, the more money they command. Value means more than their talent and work ethic and relates to their social media profile, 'name' factor (if I am casting 'name' talent) and more. It's a great question and from a film maker's perspective, I personally believe all talent should be paid basic expenses. And I wish you all the very best in your career!

Doug Nelson

I’ve come from the other side of that equation; I was a “professional” in the industry for nearly four decades but now I’m retired and have returned to “amateur” status. I spend my time teaching/training new/young filmmakers as much as I can – all for free. You were an amateur at one time and I’d bet that someone encouraged you in your career quest (whether you knew it or not.) My advice is to be kind/helpful to those amateurs – some may become Titans in the burgeoning indie film world.

Jorge J Prieto

Thank you, Doug. Great advice.

Talia Price

Doug I am kind to amateurs, but this particular "amateur" filmmaker that I was dealing with had no confidence in himself nor the project that he was doing or trying to do. When someone approaches you with a project and they do not even have confidence to promote this project, do you trust them?

Debbie Croysdale

@Doug It's great people like you exist in the industries often, dog eat dog world, not only a bastion of hope to beginners but offering free on the table skilled advice.

Michael J Smyth

Lots of good points here Talya from various people and I recognise some similar scenarios. I too have taken on unpaid work to help get more time on set and to focus my mind on having to learn lines and get into character. Recently failed at an audition but they did offer me a mall extra part as a doorman for a scene. I took it because the director was someone who I hadn't worked for before and I wanted to see what they were like. Turns out its a great short and is being entered into quite few festivals. He even added in a couple of lines for me so I look on this one as a positive. He now knows me and perhaps he will remember me for some of his future projects which I know he has lined up. You're right though if you've had bad experiences in the past then you do think "I don't need this, I'm professional and so should they". As Paul says, a good few of these people have money for everything else but expect the actors to work for free. Food, expenses and even a small "tip" should be at the least provided :)

Paul Walker

Coincidentally, someone I know just called me up and asked if I'd do something for free (obviously food etc...)! In the past, he did something which brought on board my first, ever music video clients so will happily help out for a few hours and return the favour.

Doug Nelson

Talya – Absolutely, I trust everyone up front but you only burn me once. Filmmaking is a very complicated team effort in which everybody is a critical player. I see numerous new filmmakers who lack the confidence needed to “run the project.” I hold a few hands; provide encouragement and guidance where ever I can. You are a professional. I see it as your responsibility to assist others along the path. But that’s just my POV.

Talia Price

I understand what you mean Doug, but if right off the bat if the person has this self-defeat in their approach, how can you trust them? Despite the fact that whether you are an amateur or professional you still have to have confidence in yourself, because if you don't then who will? This is my point of view. Because even when I was amateur and was scared to death and still am sometimes now, I still carry myself with confidence, I believe in myself and my work. If I don't, then who will?

Doug Nelson

Part of your job as a professional is to foster confidence in others.

Talia Price

I am not sure if you read my comment fully and understood it fully. But I have stated my opinion about this topic. Thank you.

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