Acting : What are actors worth to the indy film? by Tom Proctor

Tom Proctor

What are actors worth to the indy film?

Dear Indy Filmmakers, Let me break it down: I work out for 1 1/2 hour in the morning and one more hour most evenings so I will be in shape for your movie. I pay $125 a year to be on IMDB so you will know what I have done lately and that yes I am reason that Twelve Years a Slave won best picture and the reason True Detective is the number one cable show. I pay $450 a year to be on the casting sites and about $600 a year to keep my head shots current so you know what I look like today and I don't waste your time. I spend $150 a month for acting training, plus rehearsing scene workshops to keep the skills honed that I spent over 5 years at $350 a month mastering, ready for your movie. I've been a fighter and stunt player, stunt coordinated countless films, and spent thousands on stunt equipment and months in the hospital injured. I spend about $4 in gas and $2 in parking to do an audition for you. So when you want me to come make your movie for free or deferred, I think it is understandable that I might want to throw you out a window! You,re Welcome!

Andrea Thompson

I've watched your work in 12 Years a Slave, Django, True Detective and others and I can understand why you're at that point in your career. I respect where you are coming from and agree. You've put immense investment financially, physically and mentally in your craft. On the flipside, I see the opposite end of the spectrum. Actors who are just starting out would be willing to do it for the experience and the addition to their reel. Great post Tom! I enjoyed your blog, too.

Logan Scott Matthews

Putting your foot down is invaluable in this industry. I salute you sir!

Dan LaRoy

Could I have consent to repost this on a facebook group entitled "paid actors movement"? It's the perfect example of why actors should get paid. By the way, are you from utah? I saw you were in a couple productions filmed there.

Michael J Smyth

well said Tom, there's a great debate here in the UK as well regarding this. Eeveryone seems to want you to work for free or as you've said "deferred". At some stage we all need to say enough is enough, a credit won't buy you food or pay the bills ! Dan must look out for the FB group

Allan Gildea

Hear hear!

Simon © Simon

I think it's a bit convoluted when it comes to INDY and Amateur.. If there is no pay I would have to think it is Amateur. You are at a different level, in your journey. So you maybe seeing an ad for indy when THEY really should be putting up Amateur. However that is probably not going to happen due to the resonance of that word. So you have to consider 'deferred and no pay' as amateur although the one's putting it together could have degrees and experience, yet no track record or income to pay. Hence Amateur, not professional enough to compensate, as they do not even report an income it is so small or Nill. ( Not trying to insult or be trite.) I was asking about Amateur on a post prior I had started. "Where does one find an outlet as they seem to have mish mashed the two yet considerably different levels." My conclusion was enroll in a local college and work there for free. Paid gigs are pro. Indy is a loosely used word. When you have Martin Scorsese as an Indy and a nobody not paying on 32....calling themselves as an Indy... The only thing you forgot about in your rant is the uphill travel in the snow to your auditions....(wink and a smile) I feel the same when someone asks me to edit on my 5000 dollar computer for 500 bucks! The wear and tear, then there is the years of school and technique. At which point one needs to decide if they "like' the project and want to get involved.

JerryDean Raymond Smith

$1. One dollar

Roy Bergsholm


Tom Proctor

Andrea, I agree and that is what student films are for making peoples reel. That is a fair trade. I even help student films with stunts and coach their actors. SAG has made it so I can help a student film as an actor for free and I do. That is not who I am talking about.

Tom Proctor

Dan Young Yes and thank you. I only ask that you give my name and IMBD link as Author thank you

Tom Proctor

Simon what they should do is say up front that they have no money or not contact people that like me that make our living completely off of acting . I will help anyone that is up front and honest. But lets face it. They are investing in the film, paying crew or they're a student film. Even the short film I directed got distribution and made money. Now why shouldn't the actors make the money on that?

Georgia Hilton

We do broadcast and features... When we are doing a small project (read- limited/no budget ) I always provide a backend share to the actors that are doing me a - FAVOR -. If someone does you a favor , you make sure you give back. I respect actor and even when I can't pay them what we both know they are worth, I can al least make their stay on set a happy one and share in any return that might come for the project. I also agree, if you are asking for deferred, the say EXACTLY What the deal is up front so the actors understand the deal and agree, before dropping even a nickel in expense or time to "audition" or prep for your project.

Simon © Simon

Tom.. I see now, they are farming you for a no pay amateur gig. I thought you were applying like over at work section here. Unless there is a green badge and an amount... Or if there is just a few sentences about how there MAY be money.... Well..."If you like the project I guess?" You gotta ignore them. My GF says; "If you say, or state the truth, most cannot handle the truth. (Hail jack Nicholson) So posting on your page as a man who now is at a level who works for pay would be considered negative. Quagmire central. Putting that statement out there could be considered negative and may miss out on no pay movie like "Old School,' or NOT put it out there and go off on a rant about the frustrations of it all. Well on the brighter side it is only an email, where you can have in Notepad a 'canned' email on how much, how long, who is attached. To decide if you care to be involved. "Don't Jump" it will be Ok! LOL.

JC Young

Like the Joker said, 'If you do something good, never do it for free.' But, you've paid your dues. You're still paying some. And if you're getting pro gigs, you shouldn't feel bad about turning down pro bono work. They will get over it. You have to change your schedule, spend your own expenses, etc. in hopes of a credit and some craft service? And then what happens if the phone rings with a paid gig? If I was the amateur asking, I would not be offended. And thank you for showing folks here what it takes for a professional to keep themselves in the business.

Raffiel Newsome

Wow, we'll said Tom. That is definitely something to take into consideration.

Renate Morley

Tom, you forgot to mention all the requests we get from film students as well. You are right. If we are good at something never do it for free.

Nick Simons

It seems the top priority is to make the movie! However, the bottom line is, there wouldn't BE a movie without the actors! Hope you dn't have to replace too many windows. Nick Simons

Tom Proctor

yes dan on both questions you can re-post and I am from Utah

Tom Proctor

Renate. Student films are different. I will help out a student film any time. That is just giving back to the industry. I am talking about the filmmaker that make a film with the idea that that will profit from it and yet want to pay actors nothing. If you are a film maker then get funding and hire your talent.

Jeani DiCarlo

I don't understand why an indie filmmaker would be asking a professional actor to work on a film no one is being paid for, unless they are friends with the actor. That said there are many highly talented actors of all ages that have not a credit that an indie filmmakers can audition to get a film made and funded. It is a win win for all, and many careers are started this way.

Renate Morley

Tom, well said! 'If you are a film maker then get funding and hire your talent'. 2013 I was cast in two Indie films. In both cases the funding came from a baker plus savings from jobs in the industry. Both film makers wrote their own scripts, directed and produced. We were paid £25 per filming day, and the remaining £175 per filming day will be paid when the Initial Production Budget has been achieved. Both directors are highly sought after to work with, which clinched the deal for many of us who were offered the parts. I come to the conclusion that actors could take a cut if the script is brilliant and the director a genius. Otherwise no pay, no play!

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