Unpaid jobs

  • Abi Blears

    Actor

    Hi all,

    The past year I have been involved in quite a lot of low paid and unpaid work. I have spoken to actors who state that they don't do unpaid work and their cv's tend to remain quite sparse. I wondered what the general consensus was on doing unpaid work. Do you only stop it when the paid work takes over? Do people get stuck doing unpaid work and are looked down upon by casting directors and agents for having done it. I find that it can be quite frustrating but also rewarding and you do learn and grow in confidence. I am not an actor for the money but I do wish to be successful. I was thinking of only applying for paid jobs come the New Year but fear I may then rarely work at all as I have yet to secure myself a new agent. Any Thoughts would be welcome.

    • 16th Feb 2013
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  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Good luck with your future work Abi. What I hope is that actors realise they have more value. They are worth a fee. It is costing you to do unpaid work. What is it costing you? Your fee that is unpaid. I know it's tough to get started, but if you have been cast, you have value.

    Best.

    • 26th Nov 2012
    • 20
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    @Jenna

    Should clarify that the project was Profit Share, but as it was a fringe production of a new musical (with expensive rights) and with a large cast I went into it not expecting to make any money and was/am willing to sacrifice my share to give it its second life if we are successful later in the year.

    I appreciate my perspective is perhaps different from some of yours by me being a new graduate this year, but I think there is a big difference between "unpaid/profit share" fringe theatre and low paid/unpaid commercials/short films. The very very bottom line against the "ruining the business" argument is brand new drama school graduates have to do work when they leave drama school otherwise they won't have a CV that's reputable in any sense and without that, we won't even get a foot in the door, leading to the corridor that leads to the reception of the building of the audition room to where the paid work is being offered.

    Whilst I agree with some of the arguments here, fringe theatre isn't going to make money (unless you are extremely fortunate) And yet has massive artistic and career benefits. You don't go to Edinburgh to make money. You do it/ go for the exposure and the artistic satisfaction. Would you rather these both died out because no-one wanted to work on a project that wasn't going to guarantee a cast iron return? These also offer the potential to be spotted by those who have the power to cast you in better paid productions. Sitting at your day job, hoping to be cast in something that pays you doesn't.

    A arguement for the fringe and its way of working is, like every other self employed business, we work at risk. To go back to the plumber analogy, no one pays a plumber until after he's done the work and if its rubbish, they don't get paid. The acting profession isn't one where you always have the security of a regular pay check and by engaging in profit share/fringe stuff you all work together to make the project a success and if noone comes and sees it then collectively the project has "failed" (economically if perhaps not always artistically) but that's the risk every self employed person takes.

    I wish every job was paid. I do. But I highly doubt it ever will be because there isn't enough money out there. There isn't enough government funding for it (or the political will yet) that they wouldn't rather direct towards services such as healthcare, policing etc or enough in proportion to the number of actors out there. And unless there's a mass philanthropic drive towards the arts coming, there aren't enough private investors out there who are willing to sink their money into the arts where the risk of getting back their investment is just too high.

    The result being that all the actors,directors, stage managers, writers and designers who can't get into the above two brackets will try and do it on their own. Using whatever limited resources they have because they love the art form and believe that that is more important than necessarily just making money. Sometimes these then become successes that make enough money to then be able to pay everyone a decent wage, but I don't believe you can just stamp down on this entrepreneur ship and liken it to am dram and boycott it. Well you can of course, but that won't stop them. I and many actors I know didn't get into this to make a fortune we did it because we couldn't imagine doing anything else. We all know we deserve to be paid but its not a question of that. Sometimes the art is more important than the money.

    Just my two cents.

    • 26th Nov 2012
    • 21
  • Jenna Sharpe

    Actor

    (Sorry there was some delay in my long post getting processed. Perhaps the asterisks meant it was in limbo getting moderated :p)

    I just think the whole industry would be better off if actors treated it a bit more like a business as opposed to a lifestyle choice.

    There is paid work out there. The perception that new graduates have to work for free to cut their teeth in the industry is just that, a perception. It does not have to be your reality and what is perhaps needed is some practical advice on how to go about accessing the paid work, how best to market yourself, who to approach etc. I would expect that to be part of a good drama course but it doesn't appear to be.

    Now of course it is your choice to work for free but here is my little dissertation on why I think it is particularly stupid thing to do for graduates/those who went to drama school.

    I assume you chose to train as an investment in your career. Because you believed that having formal training would give you access to a better calibre of job or perhaps agents and castings directors would look upon you more fondly. You may say you trained because you wanted to be a better actor but we all know you can do that in many different ways, not just by going to drama school. So really the added value of your qualification was that it would give you an advantage over the people who don't have one.

    Well sorry to break it to you but if you are not making any money it was a wasted investment. FACT.

    I don't mean you didn't get lots of enjoyment and satisfaction out of it or that you didn't learn anything because I am sure you did...but from a business perspective you've made a huge loss that may never be recouped. In which case why did you bother going to drama school?

    There are plenty of untrained people willing to work for free and they don't have huge student loans to pay off. They can actually AFFORD to work for free.

    Really people who have formal training and work for free are squandering the main advantage they have over the rest of us! Which is why I simply do not understand it and why graduates who perpetuate the working for free misnomer are seriously shooting themselves in the foot, undermining their training and devaluing their investment.

    You have tarnished your brand. If graduating from a reputable drama school does not give you access to paid work then it was an expensive, but hopefully enjoyable, waste of time.

    Whilst I am in a controversial sort of mood we should probably mention the elephant in the room in that some people cannot get paid work because they are not very good. Of course some people get lots of paid work and they aren't very good either but they are business savvy and you cannot expect others to value what you do if you don't value it yourself.

    • 26th Nov 2012
    • 22
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Great debate this, thanks Abi for opening up this can of worms again ;)

    I'm afraid Jenna that I must respectfully disagree.

    Firstly, your "fact". A waste of my investment would not be practicing my craft at every opportunity. A waste of my investment would ignore opportunities at the first incidence purely because it doesn't guarantee a financial return, instead of thinking the further opportunities that could come from it. A waste of my investment would be sitting and waiting for my agent to call with an audition or narrow my field of vision in these precious early years to only applying myself for jobs that pay.

    You also said that " Because you believed that having formal training would give you access to a better calibre of job or perhaps agents and castings directors would look upon you more fondly. You may say you trained because you wanted to be a better actor but we all know you can do that in many different ways, not just by going to drama school".

    Here I both agree and disagree. What other better ways will make you a better actor? Arguably drama school is the best preperation for a career in acting because it gives you consistent, highly specialised practical experience by experienced professionals. Going to classes for 10 hours a day for 3 years teaches vital skills such as the stamina you need to sustain a long running show that casual training once a week does not. In addition however, no longer is merely attending a drama school a VIP pass to acting work. It certainly helps weed out some people who perhaps are unlikely to succeed in the profession in the entrance audition stage but aside from that it is no guarantee to paving the way into the world of getting paid for acting for those who stick it out. It certainly helps yes, by giving you the practical experience and techniques to hone your craft which does give you an advantage over people with less experience, but all it really does is increase your odds of success if the favourable variables of random opportunity and preparation happen to meet. Not all paid work is good work and the prospect of money does not just make it worthwhile. You can increase the odds of opportunity just as much by being out there working in the fringe. You could also argue that the practical experience, which is a drama schools greatest asset to the aspiring performer, can also be gotten and continued by the on the job training of the fringe. No I don't mean am dram, I mean shows run by people who are professionally minded, putting on a professional looking show, to other professionals that invites profession scrutiny but who just don't have enough money to afford to pay everyone at the first instance for the priviledge. That's not to mean they won't i.e if the show makes enough/ when they employ you again on a bigger project because they know you're capable.

    Also the exposure argument I mentioned before. May I direct you to Mark Shenton's blog this morning in which he talks about The Hatping, the show I was fortunate enough to be in:

    www.thestage.co.uk/columns/shenton/2012/11/throwing-the-net-wider-for-new-musicals/

    (it's a great article and worth reading anyway about the fight for new musicals whether you're interested in this argument or not). This show is being talked about all over the place (google it :) )and I would've had nothing to do with it if I'd turned it down just because it was profit share.

    You could argue of course that my argument is largely skewed towards the theatre side, but because of this show I've been seen by a lot of people, and met a lot of people who are interested in working on future projects with me. Plus they've actually seen me do it so know I can do it. They don't just have to take my word for it in a covering letter and the fake, out of context audition scenario. If you want to move up in the theatre scene, you need to start somewhere and, in response to your argument, the reality for most graduates is that that is in the more widely available and accessibly fringe.

    As I said before, there isn't enough money out there. We're still stuck in a recession in the worst financial crisis to date and every single other profession in the country is operating on reduced budgets and at higher risks. Acting is not exempt from that. Private investment is down because the arts are seen as a luxury and unfortunately not yet a neccessity. There are less paid jobs out there than ever before because there is not enough money to fund them. I'd rather keep acting in the mean time, keep developing and keep getting experience that means when that better paid job comes around and invites me in, I can nail it because I've still been working and kept up knowing how to do a job well, not be out of touch over having instead perfected my art of auditioning over the long months of applying for the narrow (and over subscribed)field of paid theatre.

    • 27th Nov 2012
    • 23
  • Catherine Stobbs

    Actor

    This is a difficult one. First of all I know fringe can be an excellent opportunity, but some fringe does pay the correct wage. I just don't understand how people can give up weeks and weeks of their time without any money, how is it physically possible? We all need to eat and pay rent!

    I think people see the opportunity and are excited about being up on stage and forget that there are minimum wage laws, and Fringe contracts provided by Equity. As for showing yourself off to agents etc isn't that what drama school is for in the first place? You could spend years doing this on amazing promises but get nothing in return. This is why reality tv programmes are so popular, the promise of the end result!

    It is harder but paid work is out there, and I've seen many paid fringe projects. If they have funding think how much better the are going to look!

    Also the less people work for free, the MORE paid work we'll all have, because everyone will have to pay a legal wage.

    Also I haven't taken any unpaid work on since last summer and I work very regularly. Better than having to sit at a day job I hate because someone who can't afford to pay me wants me everyday for rehearsals.

    Please don't take any of this personally Mark, I too am enjoying the debate.

    • 27th Nov 2012
    • 24
  • Jenna Sharpe

    Actor

    Hehe also love a good debate.

    "Arguably drama school is the best preperation for a career in acting because it gives you consistent, highly specialised practical experience by experienced professionals."

    Consistent yes, they teach a standardised syllibus that tends to teach the status quo. Practical...not so much and your next statement highlights why.

    "What other better ways will make you a better actor?" Well Drama school may have helped you but many of the actors on here that get regular work like Forbes and Mark K did not go. They somehow managed to learn to act, probably by doing short workshops, reading books and, well by acting. I studied Psychology and that helped me.

    I also use the example of that kid from ET that delivered a wonderful acting performance. He didn't train and somehow, he nailed it. Probably because he was introspective and used his own real life experiences rather than just pretending. Pretending can be fine of course and sometimes neccessary but any real life experience you can call upon will only enhance your performance.

    What many drama students lack, as well as business accumen, is life experience. Drama school is a sheltered existence where you surround yourself with young people just like you and where there is a pressure to fit in and conform with what that institution says is what a good actor looks like. Often the reverse is true, the best actors are those doing something different to the norm.

    "but all it really does is increase your odds of success "

    How are you defining success? My definition of success is getting regular paid work on projects I enjoy. By your own admission much of your work has been unpaid so how has drama school made you more successful than you could have been if you hadn't gone, particularly as you say you still need more "experience".

    Yes not all paid work will be enjoyable but guess what? Money can be exchanged for a variety of goods and services that are!

    "shows run by people who are professionally minded, putting on a professional looking show, to other professionals that invites profession scrutiny but who just don't have enough money to afford to pay everyone at the first instance for the priviledge."

    So once again we actors are asked to subsidise other people's creative endeveurs. The PROFESSIONAL thing for these companies to do would be to maybe do some fundraising or invest some of their captial in making the show a success and actually pay actors NMW. Nothing like the prospect of losing your own money to motivate you. And most start up businesses do have to make an initial loss before they start making a profit. It is the risk you take but if your product or service is good, you will make money. If you aren't making money, maybe your show is crap or maybe you need to invest some money into marketing your show. Better yet, why not get the actors to pay you a small fee so you can make pretty posters or place a nice big ad in the paper *sarcasm*

    You mention you "met a lot of people who are interested in working on future projects with me". I bet they are, because they see someone who is so desperate to act that they don't mind doing it for free. I am sure you are very talented too which makes it an even better deal for them.

    "There are less paid jobs out there than ever before because there is not enough money to fund them." No. There are less paid jobs out there because people are prepared to work for free. These people have spoiled the party for the rest of us. If we all remained steadfast and actually TURNED DOWN work that was not paying enough, let alone UNPAID work, the whole profession could turn around. You don't hear about the actors who are doing this and to those that are, I salute you. You only hear about the ones that are working for free because they are so evangelical about justifying why they do it. Methinks they doth protest too much.

    How would you feel knowing that a company had offered your role to 100 other people who all turned it down because they believed it was not paying enough? Congratulations, you were their 100th choice and you only got the part because you were cheapest, not because you were the most talented. But yay, at least you get to put something on your resume right?

    That is not how I want to get my roles. In fact it is embarassing and insulting.

    The whole 'I'm acting for free to get experience' amuses me. What was your degree for? Was that not experience? Experience does not automatically have to mean working for free but people who think it does perhaps need to develop confidence. Very difficult to develop confidence if you don't have self worth. Your degree and your training should have given you the confidence to go out there and start earning.

    You also seem to frown on the idea of the "out of context audition". Well get used to it. This is a skill in itself and it's how we get our work. If you aren't good at auditioning then don't be an actor. Auditions show you can deliver under pressure. Of course if you work for free all the time you may never have to audition which is great for those people who feel it is unfair that someone has given them a piece of paper they have not had the chance to read before and that they have not had a chance to research the character or write out 3 pages of fictional back story for. Welcome to the world of theatre and film. If this comes as a surprise to you, contact your drama school and ask for your money back.

    • 27th Nov 2012
    • 25
  • Catherine Stobbs

    Actor

    Yes it is really insulting when you have done a job you are really proud of and people ask is it paid? They thn either look shocked or like they don't believe you.

    All these attitudes need to change.

    • 27th Nov 2012
    • 26
  • Jenna Sharpe

    Actor

    BTW really I don't have anything against Drama School. I just like playing devil's advocate and think that

    different approaches will work for different people. I also think that the general state of our education system has resulted in the dumbing down of a lot of higher education across the board to the point where it only seems to have worth if you went to a top school and graduated top of your class. This is a real shame but you can thank a certain Tony Blair for wanting 50% of the population to go to university. That's a whole other debate though.

    Also the problem with Drama School (unless you were lucky enough to go to the top ones) is you can still graduate and not be a particularly good actor. They aren't going to say 'sorry, we have failed to make you a good actor' and refund your fees. They just want your money! This gives a lot of people false hope. You can also be a wonderful actor but not have a look that is going to get you much work. Again sad but true.

    Hmm sometimes when I write my cynical posts here I wonder why the hell I am an actor myself lol. Why do we do this to ourselves? Whyyyyyyyyyy?

    • 27th Nov 2012
    • 27
  • Mark Kempner

    Actor

    Jenna ...coz you love it, and have committed yourself to it!!!

    Mark, great post…..but with all respect, I heard it all before mate!

    I do not dispute a word you say, nor disagree with your reasoning etc….and in fairness, you are coming at this from a fringe theatre point of view I think. However, for every person who has been spotted in a fringe production, who has then been cast in something else more worthwhile and career boosting…..I'll introduce you to 1000's of fantastic actors who have not been noticed at all doing the same work! Probably 2000-1

    The one question I have, that I would like to ask of you and others is this:

    "What about your colleagues, your fellow actors and your union and your industry as a whole?" The reason the west end pays what it does, the reason Tours and the like pay what they do, is down to Equity and the many actors who refuse to work for zilch on such productions upholding these negotiated rates. Its getting harder and harder now…..not just because of the recession, its getting harder because those new to the game, and even far too many of those who have been around a long time as well, are choosing to work for nothing because "they want to" or because they can't get any other work. As for all the other reasons you list……like I say …heard it all before, year in …and year out.

    All we are trying to tell you is; there is no right to work within this industry, there is no other industry I know where a skilled worker would allow themselves to be used in this way! Now the day someone explains that to me?!!!

    …..but all the time you allow yourself to be "used" in this way, you will continue to perpetuate the whole cycle of Co's who actually do have a concealed budget, to undermine the going rates of pay. In the whole industry will collapse under the weight of those who are desperate to work…..and who fail to see the economical consequence. I see the jobs I am referring to on CCP's boards time and time again. It has as I suspected it would do, fast become the automatic norm.

    As it goes …I am not one of those who are as dogmatic about this as others. I have a new idea and a system which I believe i encompasses the needs of everyone. …and that is to define all jobs by payment received.

    This is because I believe, and recognise, you cannot inflict a blanket "every job" must pay money to it actor. I of course mean the genuine collaborations when there clearly is no money avail and that a group of like minded individuals totally believe in the project and wish to stage it and or film it and not one person is being paid. This allows Indie film makers setting out, Fringe productions and the like to breath their new lives and new writing. I don't want to see that creativity stemmed.

    However, there is something else you must not over look: The law on wages. If you are booked to do a show and you have been given a rhsl schedule you must stick to, then you are entitled to be paid, and anyone staging that show or film and not paying their staff…..is breaking the law. That is fact! On a student film, even the promise of a DVD is enough to say: You should be getting paid.

    Personally I think its become unworkable in certain cases, which is why I believe my graded idea, or something like it, is required.

    The problem with my idea as an idea, is nobody wants to bring it in, because it the "scardy cats" see that unpaid work as lesser work….and in reality …..that's because it is. You might object and protest that your musical was a fantatstic success and will go on to great things…and well it might! So list it as an unpaid project on your CV, and let the paid project that will certainly stem from such greatness, be listed and defined as such!!

    The idea being, not every actor would be quite so keen to show a CV stuffed with unpaid work….it would make many of you think twice…..but in no way would it kill the work, there will always be plenty of willing actors I dare say!!

    Would productions start to struggle to get actors working in productions which do have a budget and or a going rate as easily? No, not in the grand scheme of things, the physiology would be reversed at long last. More actors would say, I want to be taken more seriously as a proper, skilled, working professional, and not treated like a 10 a penny wannabe!! Or someone who has been brainwashed and got themselves locked into this instant self defeatist mindset, that it's the only way to get started! No it is not……if you feel that you cant get work….did you honestly think that coming into the hardest business in the world was going to be easy??? Or is it that you feel you are very good at what you do, and so the world will pick me up based on seeing my work? Really?!!! Very very wrong…..not in the real world they call show business!

    What does the accountant do when he/she first starts, trains, or gets experience, and then says to themselves, I gotta earn a living to make ends meet in the real world. In fact, nobody would take them seriously if they did not charge something for their accountancy services….it's a skill and a service after all!!! What do people with businesses do when they can't get any work….they give up and go under and "do something else" they don't go I am married to someone with money, so that means I will work for nothing!!! The notion is ludicrous and crass beyond all common sense. Ahh I hear the war cry of: "but this business is different!" ……yes it is….but the reason this business is so disrespected, is because so many taking part don't respect themselves enough, they feel, I am not worth paying….if that is the case, why don't you give it up and leave it to those who do feel they are worth paying, and can prove it by their CV's! Do you think we didn't struggle hard when we first started or something?!! Jesus in my day, you had to earn at least 12 contracts at the proper rate of pay, before even gaining entry to Equity! There was no CCP websites and or technology to make your own showreel opportunities and put them on line to the industry in those days. Embrace that, and invest your partners cash in that, as opposed to talking unpaid work which could be paid "keep yourself going" and pay for some food and electric.

    I bet it would take me less than an hour to come up with some Jobs on the CCP site which have clients paying a budget to the project, but who are going to maximise their profits even further by gaining actors for nothing! Shame on CCP for advertising such work too…..though their reasons are clear and profit based. No paying members, and CCP and the like falls over!

    Like I say, its not straightforward and I recognise that. In business you take a punt or two, and you might negotiate to cover your costs if you can afford too here and there, but what you don't do in order to win the respect of the actual casting industry, and your agents, is pack your CV's with all this freebie work in order to show the world "look at me" I am keeping fresh!! Yes of course in certain cases it may just pay off……..but they are as rare as Rocking horse poo!

    If you are so desperate and burning with desire to act, there are plenty of avenues offering good standard of plays and musicals to take part in without rupturing the economics for those of us who have committed full belt into the risky life of a professional actor. Not all of us live under the false economy of rich mums and dads or partners to keep us going!

    Many many actors, and I am one of them, have struggled like hell to keep going as it is….without the added and avoidable adversity that the LOW/NO PAY situation has seen grow out of all proportion these last few years.

    Its complicated, and its hard to win paid work, but if you are good, and you are committed, you can do it. If you are only having a go, I don't wish to have to compete with you, because to me you are no better defined as a professional actor than the local am-dram club, who also love to act. ….and you might not wanna read that, and you might be a brilliant performer in a brilliant production. If you are, uphold your worth and your skills, commit yourself and your show…..and prove it! Those that do, I take my hat off to them, for it is they who are the "true" professionals of this industry, and that should at the very least, be clear and defined on ones CV.

    I don't wish to offend anybody starting out etc…..but I feel very strongly about this….as you will do when you see your industry going down the pan!

    • 27th Nov 2012
    • 28
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Not taking it personally at all Catherine :) It's very interesting to hear everyone's views.

    With regards to affording to go that long with out the money, it certainly is very difficult indeed and not something that perhaps can be done regularly, but I personally have operated on saving enough money during the time when I'm working full time to cushion me if I'm then called for full time rehearsals for a stretch of time. Then once the shows up, go back to working during the day and doing show in the evening and try not to collapse!

    As I said before though, I don't think simply boycotting productions that won't pay at the first instance will result in eventually everyone offering a minimum wage. I certainly hope that it might because then we'd all be a lot better off but I think that instead if, for one it was regularly enforced (Equity's current track record, available funding to create a new theatre police force as it were) it would likely lead to the fringe just going underground instead and resulting in a reduction of available jobs for actors. This would be because companies that cannot afford to legally employ outside actors, will reduce in size and scope and just employ their mates who don't mind clubbing in and performing creative roles (designing, writing) as well as acting roles which as a whole would damage the profession by reducing opportunities for new writers/directors/actors to break in because no-one would be able to afford to hire them! Surely we can all agree that those who went into this profession for the money are in the wrong profession?

    Indeed with regards to drama school one of the large benefits is the POTENTIAL to get an agent at the end but it isn't the be all and end all, much less a guarantee. I know many actors who didn't get signed but who have then consequently been signed off the fringe.

    Too many points to reply to in your post Jenna..!

    Yes, first of all it does depend on your idea of success. If yours is being regularly paid on projects you enjoy as you say then more power to you. Mine is merely projects I enjoy.

    With regards to Mark and Forbes, I have no doubt of their talent or success but for those wanting to start in this profession at my age (and who fit the casting for all the characters written for people of my age) then arguably the best way is to train. My reference to practical experience is the drama school's facilitation of putting you in shows with professional directors which teaches you how a) how to improve your acting, b) how to conduct yourself professionalyl and c) how to cope with the demands of a long running show where people are paying money to be entertained.

    I'm not disagreeing with you when you say that companies should "do some fundraising" as you suggest in order to have enough money to pay everyone, but in my experience it is not just the actors who are doing it for free, it is everyone in the fringe. Directors, designers, stage managers, everyone because the costs of hiring venues/rights/costumes/lights/marketing is too high for many companies to bare and then pay people on top of that too. I'm not defending them here, but I am saying the opportunity they provide to be seen and to hone your craft is worth it in my opinion.

    You could apply your 100 rule to every job, paid or otherwise.

    Yes my degree was for experience. But you are wrong if you think that training teaches everything you need to know. Perhaps you're not suggesting this, but yan actor of course keeps learning out of drama school by working outside of the bubble (which I agree with mostly) of actors of a similar age as themselves, by meeting people with more life experience, by getting life experience of their own, and by getting experience of working with other directors, on new material and the fringe is a great place for one to do that. It is not a question of confidence or self worth or "settling" for unpaid work because you don't think you're worth being paid for it. It's about taking opportunities.

    I'm not frowning on the process of auditioning at all and I don't really understand what you're getting at in the last few sentences of your final paragraph. Do you not think you have to audition for fringe shows? The point that I was making was I'd rather have the experience of also having and holding down long running jobs (which I have increased the odds of getting by applying for unpaid as well as paid work) as well as being able to audition excellently. My point was if all you've got to show in a period of 6 months to a year is you've gotten a bit better at auditioning but when you finally get a job you can't hold it down because you're unable to cope with the demands of acting in a show every night for 4-5 weeks+ because you've spent all your time working at a day job waiting for paid work to materialise.

    Auditioning may show you can deliver under pressure as you say but the point I was making is that it is seperate from actually acting in a show and is artificial in every sense as it doesn't show whether your capable of showing a character's journey or reacting/listening to your fellow actor. By actually doing a job and performing in a long running show (whether paid or not) shows you are castable, employable and whether you can act or not.

    Finally, not being evangelical as you seem to suggest or trying to persuade other people to come around to my opinion. I'm just discussing another point of view, in a thread on an acting forum, about that very topic. Not intending to cause offence.

    • 27th Nov 2012
    • 29
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Ha, last post was being created before I saw yours Mark. Will have a read over lunch and post back in a bit!

    • 27th Nov 2012
    • 30
  • Sue Parker-Nutley

    Actor

    Unpaid opportunities

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    Please note that we will not accept postings on Arts Jobs for unpaid internships unless they are part of a recognised further or higher education course.

    und on Arts Council job site :

    • 27th Nov 2012
    • 31
  • Sue Parker-Nutley

    Actor

    Sorry :

    Should read "found" !

    • 27th Nov 2012
    • 32
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Great post Mark. Certainly given me a lot to think about. Good debating with you all!

    • 27th Nov 2012
    • 33
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Hi

    Great reading this debate.

    I did an unpaid film this year for a film school. I have had to bug and bug for the film on DVD which I still havent got. They sent me a link to watch it online and to download and to be honest its not great footage.

    I got experience in using green screen and an IMDB credit out of it but even though I dont have a tonne of experience in film I am not doing unpaid again.

    In truth I cant afford it either.

    but the more people do it, the more jobs there will be.

    • 27th Nov 2012
    • 34
  • David Vaughan Knight

    Actor

    Ultimately as Actors, we are responsible for our own careers. The decisions we make on camera, stage, for our marketing or the jobs we apply for are generally our own.

    It's probably true that if we all refused to even apply for unpaid jobs, those jobs would disappear and be replaced by paid work.

    But this has been advocated for many years and hasn't happened yet and probably never will. There is a word for a mass refusal to work due to specific working conditions.

    I feel it's slightly unfair to say to novices in the industry, that taking unpaid work is ruining it for the rest of us. The industry is how they find it. It's not their fault, and the vast majority of experienced CV's display unpaid credits anyway.

    Most unpaid work is offered by new or fledgling production companies trying to make a name in the industry. What is of far more concern is the increasingly large amount of established creative agencies and production companies, big time players, offering relatively insulting contracts and amounts of pay to actors.

    Not so long ago, if you asked someone outside the industry about how a jobbing actor they knew was getting on, they might have replied "It's difficult, but at least they have the commercials to get by on".

    Nowadays we are turning down commercial advertising work, I've done it myself. It sort of beggars belief.

    • 27th Nov 2012
    • 35
  • Stuart Hough

    Actor

    @ Jenna I disagree with nearly everything that you have posted

    "Well sorry to break it to you but if you are not making any money it was a wasted investment. FACT."

    "Really people who have formal training and work for free are squandering the main advantage they have over the rest of us! "

    "You have tarnished your brand. If graduating from a reputable drama school does not give you access to paid work then it was an expensive, but hopefully enjoyable, waste of time."

    "I also use the example of that kid from ET that delivered a wonderful acting performance. He didn't train and somehow, he nailed it."

    "How are you defining success? My definition of success is getting regular paid work on projects I enjoy. By your own admission much of your work has been unpaid so how has drama school made you more successful than you could have been if you hadn't gone, particularly as you say you still need more "experience"."

    @Mark and others have been far more tactful but you are talking ****. Have you ever thought about auditioning for the BBC Apprentice? Honestly I think you would do really well. You probably fly the audition since your auditioning technique is so hot.

    "If you aren't good at auditioning then don't be an actor. Auditions show you can deliver under pressure."

    Maybe you can use that psychology you gained to give you the upper hand!

    You clearly see yourself as a business which is completely rational but to demean other people and their experience by your very narrow point of view is both ignorant and insulting. And to question some peoples self worth! What planet are you on ?

    "The whole 'I'm acting for free to get experience' amuses me. What was your degree for? Was that not experience? Experience does not automatically have to mean working for free but people who think it does perhaps need to develop confidence. Very difficult to develop confidence if you don't have self worth. Your degree and your training should have given you the confidence to go out there and start earning. "

    What a delightfully nasty comment to make!

    Some people believe acting is a craft that doesn't have to fit within your goal of validation which you seem to have constructed for yourself, based on money.

    So no I don't feel that I need to fit into your view and other's of what I should and shouldn't go for as jobs. I see myself as an artist learning his craft with the available media and avenues open to him. And I do see it as a craft not in your E.T term's!

    • 28th Nov 2012
    • 36
  • Simeon Willis

    Actor

    I'm with @ Catherine Stobbs . The only time to consider expenses only is if you are asked personally to play a specific part in a wholly collaborative project where everyone is talented and have ambitions of creating something of a very high standard that has legs after completion.

    Most casting calls for unpaid work only exist because the people think they can get away with it due to the desperation of many amateur 'performers' - Thus continuing the cycle of unpaid opportunities!

    • 28th Nov 2012
    • 37
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    @ Mark Byles - I am really impressed with how you have handled yourself in this debate.

    I know you will go very far as you are a very Positive young man.

    • 28th Nov 2012
    • 38
  • Catherine Stobbs

    Actor

    Thanks Simeon, exactly what I've been trying to say but summed up in a few sentences ;)

    • 28th Nov 2012
    • 39