To the Actor #10: Business DiscernmentDecember 13, 2016
I’ve worked with a lot of actors over the years. Male, female. Young, old. Numerous ethnicities and nationalities. One of the fundamental beliefs I have in acting is the idea of truthfulness and honesty. It’s a contradiction really because actors are human; they spend their lives putting on masks and hiding behind them when the world is looking and then for their craft they must be able to remove those masks to let the world see the brutal truth and honesty behind the story.
Some people think this concept is a sort of ‘act what you know’ (stolen from some writing philosophies that say ‘write what you know.) But this would be a mistake. If this were true than only someone who has actually murdered someone could ever play a murderer. Someone who has been in combat can only portray a combat veteran. Someone who has actually been raped could ever portray a victim of this heinous crime.
But it isn’t, that’s why it’s art. That’s why it’s not reality. Ever. No matter how much someone tries to convince you that it needs to be ‘real’ it’s still always going to be a step removed from ‘reality’ and should be because, well, read on.
Having worked with numerous actors (as stated above) many of them are young. Many are smart but not necessarily ‘wise’ yet. I see a lot of actors desperate for work and they lose a bit of discernment. In most cases this may only result in seeing a finished film and realizing there is no way in hell you can include it in your demo reel because of how bad it is. No big deal, chalk it up to experience, learn from it and move on.
However, what I caution many young actors is that the worst case scenario could look like this: Bertolucci
Please, and unfortunately this has to be said especially to the young woman in the craft, learn discernment. Do research on a director. Other actors. The production company. Just as they are interviewing you for a job, you are actually interviewing them for a job as well. Ask questions. Listen to your instincts.
Because frankly, you should never be put in a situation like this. Ever.