Are You "ACTING" Like a Professional? (Part 2)

Note: This is part 2 of 2 of Robert's article. Read part 1 here.

If you ask any voice over artist or actor, they will no doubt TELL you that they are a “professional” and that they act professionally at all times. But I know, from my own observation, many of these people are kidding themselves. I’ve lost count of how many actors and voice over artists I’ve seen repeatedly shoot themselves in their foot.

My playing a lead role in a short film recently gave me a chance also to play casting director. This came about because one of the main actors dropped out of the production, so the director asked if I could fill the role with one of my actor friends. That experience was more valuable to me than shooting the film itself!

I posted a notice on my Facebook account, requesting anyone who was experienced and interested to private message me. I cannot tell you how many people responded by PUBLICALLY posting that they were “interested.” That was already a strike against them, as I specifically asked that they message me. Narrowing the candidates down further, more than few of the responses were from people who were not “experienced.” In fact, they had never acted before!

Three responses in particular illustrate what I mean by “shooting yourself in the foot.” One said he would love to do the part but his “daughter had a playoff game that day.” Well, so did mine, and I missed hers. I know actors that have missed funerals for an acting role. The phrase “the show must go on” has long survived because it is so true.

A second response was referred from a very good friend of mine, who I know to be a very busy professional in the business. The candidate emailed me on a Wednesday morning, and right away I sent him the director’s contact information, as the new round of auditions were to happen the next day (via Skype), and shooting would be on Saturday and Sunday. The part was a great lead role in a 13-page short, which had seven pages of dialog. He said he would “get back to me” so I can send him the script. That night, he sends me an email saying that since it was a lead, he could not possibly memorize the lines and learn the character, etc., in only three days! Not only should a professional be able to do that, his lackadaisical response wasted an entire day.

A third dismaying response involved a casting director/acting teacher friend of mine. I had asked him to let me know if any of his students would be a good fit for the part. He told me he contacted one of his students who would be perfect, except that the student told him that his girlfriend was coming in from California and he would rather go out to dinner with her. I can’t imagine that this actor will be called in by this teacher for any future projects.

Three very unprofessional performances. Yet, I am sure that if you asked any of these three actors if they are professional, they would certainly say, “yes.” Well, I hope they never ask me to recommend them to my agent!

Robert is the author of Voice Over Legal, the essential ebook guide for voice actors and broadcasters to managing their business and legal issues. For more information about Robert or any other Edge Studio instructor, please call our office at 888-321-3343 or click here.

Pro projects make pro actors

Here in LA, actors are constantly doing small projects and short films. Many times - that is MOST of the time - there is little or no payment. Although I'm a "professional" - (SAG for 30 years), I am often asked by directors and producers to do these small projects. (I'm doing one today, actually.) The general rule is: if there is no money being paid then its really hard to call it a "Professional" job, even if it only pays "Copy, Credit, meals."
Mr. Sciglimpaglia doesn't mention whether these jobs actually pay anything. - Professionalism works both ways: If you want me to learn 13 pages of dialogue for your short film and you don't want to pay me for it, I might be more inclined to have dinner with my girlfriend, if such were the case, than do your short film project. If its a REAL job, its a PAYING job.
Most producers here in LA understand that if you agree to do their short film project for nothing - and then have a conflicting callback for a national Commercial or TV role, that you'll be bowing out legitimately. That being said, once one AGREES to do the project, "professionalism" applies: showing up prepared, on time, and ready to rock.

Pro actors not acting like pros

Robert hits it on the head - as a SAG-AFTRA actor (and even before becoming a union member), I was taught the meaning of the word 'opportunity' in the acting world. A professional would work around personal commitments, burn the 'midnight oil' to learn those lines, and show they can step up to the plate and make a good impression on a director or producer, as that relationship might be your opening into a lifetime of acting work. Sad that most of the 'professionals' that contacted Robert didn't understand that.

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