----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire: Filmmaker Blog

The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire

Meet Astera (aka: me), a star in her own mind. Our plucky little heroine has embarked on not one but two difficult, low-paying career paths: writing and acting. Witness the menial jobs! The unreasonable demands! The quirky friends and family! And the glimmer of success just ahead! Through it all, Astera maintains her core beliefs: 1) She is destined to be fabulous 2) Everything is more fun with a cocktail.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Filmmaker Blog

Today, I came across Craig Weiler's blog. Apparently, he is a filmmaker here in the Bay Area--mostly short films, I believe. Many of his posts about actors are quite depressing. For instance, he discusses the well-known dearth of acting opportunities and then says this:

It is because of this huge imbalance between actors and available jobs that I can make short films at all. Actors are forced to take non-paying jobs to build their resumes and gain the experience they need in order to get an agent and the possibility of real paid acting work. That's why I can get away with not paying anyone.

If you're a woman especially, the window of opportunity to hit it big is particularly small. Even if you're drop dead gorgeous. A woman who is not an established actress in TV or film by her early twenties can pretty much kiss the idea of being a film star goodbye. The exception is comediennes. Comedy is recognized as a rare talent and the industry is more forgiving of these women.

To get the experience they need, actors compete for non-paying roles. The situation is bleak here as well. I posted an ad on Craig's List for my last shoot and received 12 responses for a minor role. Four of the actors had excellent resumes and they were the only people I considered. To understand this fully, you have to realize that all these people were competing for the "privilege" of working for free on a short film in a minor role. Their chances of having this short film help their career are remote at best. Yet this is the best opportunity available to even these experienced actors.

Okay, yes, there are few opportunities for actors, women have it worse than men, and most actors do have to work for free first to have any shot at getting paid. What rankles me is some comments from another post:

In one of the comments yesterday someone had the gall to suggest that artists will make movies and other art "for free because it's cathartic." Wow! I can't speak for the rest of the artists out there, but I'd like to get paid, whether it's planning and executing the creation of a short film for six weeks, or creating a painting for forty hours. Enough said on that.

So apparently Mr. Weiler believes that while his work is worthy of pay, that of actors is not. Interesting. I guess one could argue that he is providing a service by giving actors an opportunity to ply their craft, but as he admits, the reality of those actors getting any career benefit from a small role in an unpaid film is pretty slim. But actors need material for their reel before they can have much hope of booking bigger, paying parts. What to do? Maybe that's why so many actors ultimately want to produce. At least producers and filmmakers get paid!

Anyway, some of it is interesting reading, particularly for those who want to know more about the nuts and bolts of making a short film. I just wish the guy had a little more respect for actors, those people who make it possible for him to shoot the films.


  • At 10:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Astera,
    This is Craig Weiler and I ran into this old post of yours.

    When I wrote the article I didn't realize how some people might take it. (i.e. badly.) I was responding to some obnoxious moron. Of course I want actors to get paid! I'd love it. Be thrilled in fact.

    I guess the part that I forgot to write was that not only do I want to get paid, I want everyone to get paid. I don't want everyone to have to work for free forever. That sucks.

    I've had the acting dream too, but I'm just too old now for it to be serious. What I really wanted to do was give actors a realistic view of how brutally hard the game is. I was shocked by how pathetic my own attempts were. Good luck to you!
    Craig Weiler

    (if you want to reply, you can get my e-mail through my website www.vancat.com)


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