And thanks for reading! This is week 11, the final post in the series relating to the psychology of the business, particularly as it relates to auditions and booking work; And still…You’re not getting the f*&^ing job!
Just a reminder here that when I use the term “actor” I mean it to encompass all forms of acting including voice, stage, and screen. What follows applies relatively equally to all of these forms of acting.
Yeah, I know…
I missed a week. If you care about that, sorry! Between a sick grandchild, problems with the new RV and a bad back…I just couldn’t make it all work. Back at it this week though, so read on!
So here we are..
At the end of the series! My old boss, Rear Admiral (RET) Larry Creevy, after every “ALL HANDS” meeting would tell a Sea Story. You always knew he was getting ready to tell a Sea Story because he would say: “So there we were…”. Stories ranged from how he dropped anchor at 15 knots while headed directly for the pier in South America to turn the 17,000-ton ship and come to rest safely at his berth, or how he bought a million pallets of bottled water to fill his freshwater tanks so the crew could take a shower. Almost all were tall tales that had some grain of truth to them. All were at least somewhat humorous. I kind of miss that guy!
What follows here is not a Sea Story…but I thought what he did was fun, and I wanted to give him a shout out. But still…Here we are. At the end of a fairly long series of writings about acting and how difficult it is to book work. I’d like to use THIS post to remind you of a few important things from the series, just to wrap it up.
Acting is a tough profession to be in. It’s competitive to the extreme (although most actors are friendly and helpful), tough to break into and even tougher to be successful. It’s hard work, sometimes grueling hours and can have long periods of unemployment between gigs. It has been reported that only 2% of actors make a living by acting, and only .01% become famous. So, if you want to be an actor you have to ask yourself; WHY? If the answer to that question is anything but “I LOVE ACTING!” you are doing it for the wrong reasons.
They don’t “get” it
Odds are that as an actor you have people in your life who don’t get why you do what you do and encourage you to “get a real job”. Given that only 2% of actors can support themselves with acting it’s a safe bet you already have a “real job” to support yourself and your acting. As much as you can, try to distance yourself from, or completely remove, those people from your life. Believe it or not those people are taking away from your creativity, confidence, and your ability to book work! If you can’t remove them or distance yourself…you are gonna need to develop a pretty thick skin. Know your talent, understand you are good enough and then ignore those people.
While developing that thick skin or while busy cutting negative people out of your life you are also going to need to get familiar with technology. For VO you need a home recording setup, and for stage & screen acting you’ll need a small studio. Make sure you are getting familiar enough with the equipment and software you need to be able to produce a professional self-tape audition. Even if you are the GOAT, a self-tape where you can’t be seen and/or heard clearly is just going to be skipped. Make sure you have the right equipment for the job and know how to use it well enough to ensure they will at least listen/watch it!
Speaking of knowing how to operate your equipment, remember that YOU are also your equipment. I know I harp on this, but really…no kidding…I mean it…get the training you need to be competitive in the marketplace! Training can be expensive, I get it, but without training you are just not going to stand out in the crowd…even WITH training it is tough to stand out! You may book some work, but you will not book enough work, or work that pays well enough to live on. Seriously, get the training you need.
Confidence -vs- Desperation
They are not polar opposites, I know, but I can tell you that confidence is absolutely a vaccination against desperation. Training will help build your confidence while also giving you the tools you need to be a good actor. That combination will help to keep desperation at bay. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy: desperation as an actor KEEPS you from booking work you might otherwise have booked. Build your confidence and stiff-arm desperation. Remember, as Bryan Cranston says: You are not going to an audition to get a job! Present your character and walk away. Have the confidence to create a compelling character and then know the rest is out of your control.
No matter what you do, the numbers are just not on your side. For any given role, there can be upwards of 100 actors competing for it. And they are only going to hire ONE person for the role. The odds of that one person who is hired being YOU (in this example) are 1 in 100. Even worse if there are more than 100 submissions. Out of those submissions maybe 10 will get an audition request (for VO the submission IS the audition normally) so IF you get an audition request your odds are only 1 in 10. I’m no mathematician, but I recognize I am oversimplifying here to make a point. Hopefully you get it: Your odds of booking a role are low even before you submit for it!
Here’s the thing: so MUCH of casting is out of the actor’s control. Honestly, the ONLY things you can control are your ability (through training), preparation and your attitude. The simple truth is that nearly everything about casting decisions is out of the control of the actor. And much of the decision itself has absolutely nothing to do with how good (or bad) of an actor you are! A lot has to do with your essence, your look and how you appear with the other cast members. You may be too tall, too short, too young, too old, or just too “something” for a given role. Stop thinking you have control!
Control what you can control (which is not much) and let go of everything else. I realize that is much easier said than done, and I confess that, while I tell you to do it, I also still struggle with this myself. I had a coach who would tell me: “We audition for a living, and every now and then people give us money”. Try to remember that, for the most part, the audition IS the job. Do your best there and before long you will actually book some work.
You are not alone…
And actually, you are in pretty good company when you audition and don’t get cast. A quick Google search gets page after page of stars who wanted a role but didn’t get it for one reason or another. Take a look at the links and do a search yourself…odds are you’ll feel better knowing these famous people don’t always get cast either. You get the idea…it’s probably not YOU!
At the end of the day…
When all is said and done, even if you are doing everything you possibly can to be a great actor…the odds are not forever in your favor (to coin a phrase from Hunger Games). It’s a tough career, but don’t let it crush your spirits! You have the training (and continue training!), are on time, make connections and establish relationships…you do everything you possibly can…And Still…You’re Not Getting The F*&^ing Job! If you love acting…that just doesn’t matter!
I agree with that ‘not in your control’ situations. It’s part of life, and one needs to keep ‘moving forward’. That ‘big break’ may just be around the corner, so also need a dose of faith added too. 🙂
Gary Mason says
Yep, faith and hope are good…otherwise, why continue?
Dean Michaels says
All of this is so true. I have the full-time, soul-sucking job that allows for limited time and creativity, not to mention co-workers who are neither supportive nor understanding of my acting side. It comes down to having thick skin for me.
It’s also hard to remember that some of these well known/famous actors had to start somewhere too.
It’s a tough business, but as you pointed out, you have to love acting.
Gary Mason says
It sucks to be surrounded daily by people who neither understand nor care about your passion…it truly is souls sucking!
I recently read that the actress who played Pam on the office was ready to throw in the towel and quit acting she was struggling so much…and THEN…The Office happened to her. You just never know when/if your break is going to come!
Think about some of the iconic shows/movies you’ve seen…whose cast was unknown before that project. Just gotta keep plugging, not because you might “strike it rich”, but because acting drives your soul! Unsupportive uncaring co-workers (and family and friends for that matter) be damned!