Not so long ago, I wrote an article about why I was reluctant to work for free on film. Monday evening, I accessed an email sent to me earlier during the day. This was in response to an ad I placed on Gumtree.com entitled ‘Actor for Hire’. I had no idea what the results would be. I am a professional working Actor, times are hard, I have to use every door of opportunity that comes my way, more so now more than ever in these austere times. What I received as my only response to my Ad thus far, was surprising after all these years, as I thought I had passed the stage of dealing with a certain type of person you meet on your way up. Anyway, below is the transcript of the email I received regarding a work on a Commercial.
“You have received a reply to your ad: An Actor for Hire
We wanted to invite you to be an actor in our commercial. It features the band The Whiskey Jax and their song “No stopping”. The shoot is on Wednesday 7th of March from 9am-7pm.
It’s an unpaid experience, but will be a fantastic portfolio piece and the company have many upcoming paid projects for the future. This first initial project will be a gateway for more work.
Please get back to me a.s.a.p. with your contact details to go through the details. My phone number is 0208 345 8319 or you can email me back
Telephone: 0208 345 8319″
I read the email a few times because I could not believe what I was reading. I thought about it (for all of five seconds or less,) and then wrote a response advising them that I had an audition and a couple of meetings that day so could not be involved. I have an audition on that day and a couple of potential meetings. I relayed that via email and a personal ‘phone call, inviting them to return the call so I could talk to Luise on a person to person basis. The fact that neither my email was responded to nor my ‘phone call returned, proved a point I have made tirelessly over the last several years and in my article.
Their email was succinct to the point. What annoyed me was they were shooting a commercial. Someone has supplied a budget. It is a C-O-M-M-E-R-C-I-A-L!!! Who does a commercial or rather who works on a commercial for free??? I have been in this business for ten years and I have worked on film and in theatre for money and no money but I have never met anyone (myself included,) who ever worked on a commercial for no money at all!!!
Furthermore the hours I was expected to work (for nothing,) would be between the hours of 9am and 7pm! If my mathematics holds up, that would be a ten hour working day. Ten hours of my time, my skills, my expertise that I would be giving up for free. Now, anyone who knows me or has read my previous entries knows my view on working for free. Now these people clearly don’t appreciate actors. The were certainly disrespectful to me as they neither responded to my email or returned my ‘phone call. Okay I had other business on Wednesday of this week when the shoot would be done but they still could have responded one way or the other. A little professional courtesy for Christ’s sake!
Now I pose a question: ‘Why would I want to work for these people now or in the future?’ They claim this Commercial would lead to future paid work? Really??? This Commercial for some Band called ‘Whiskey Jax’ who I have never heard of but they clearly exist, should have been a paid job in the first place. Why wasn’t it? I have no idea but I can only speculate based on past experience that they were trying get something for nothing.
I remember some years ago spending a whole day working on a Viral promoting The Ministry of Sound’s brand of Vodka. I was only paid £50GBP a day for my efforts. It was suppose to a two day shoot wrapping around 6pm but went on to about 9pm and we weren’t needed the next day as we were played and weren’t paid any extra for our efforts. Needless to say I have never touched or bought anything with or connected with The Ministry of Sound. The only people paid on that job were the models. Clearly Baillee Roup was and still is a Top Model and she did it for more than £50GBP. I digress however.
It is interesting that these people didn’t do any research. Even googling my name throws up a wealth of information. I believe my ad even included my website – Clearly they thought by placing an ad on Gumtree.com that I was desperate so desperate I would be willing to work for nothing. I am desperate to work, to be in working, to be working my butt off but I am not that desperate to work for nothing. A ten hour working day for what? What exposure? The exposure would be on Whiskey Jax surely?
Anyway, I thought I would share another example and experience of how some will exploit others with empty promises of future paid work. My mantra is if they could not pay me for this Commercial, it is more than likely that there is no future work coming my way. From them at least. I learned this lesson the hard way. I lost out on working a couple of days on the New Bond Move ‘Skyfall’ because I had already lined up an interview for an ongoing film project that came to nothing, even though I was told I was in. Unreturned ‘phone call and an eventual email response proved the above. I passed up two days well-paid work on a dead cert for what turned out to be so much bullshit!!!
I value what I do and take what I do seriously. I love what I do! But I am not prepared to work a ten hour day with people I don’t know and who cannot be bothered to return ‘phone calls or respond to emails. All they proved to me was they were not worth working for in the first place.
“When you’re good at something, you don’t it for free.” ~ The Joker: The Dark Knight.
Something to consider. Feel free to call Luise and ask her what the deal was. You have her number as above.