The penniless actor

Us actors really can be treated badly sometimes… We spend a tonne of money in travel to get to auditions, which we have a very small chance of actually succeeding in, after spending ages learning the lines for the part, mostly that we know nothing about, only to be treated like crap, and all for an unpaid project that will take days more of our time and money to hope for some kind of usable footage for our showreels.

I’ve got to be honest, I’ve been very lucky so far with regards to the people I’ve gotten to work with, though some of the stories I hear from fellow actors, and indeed some of the people I’ve auditioned for have been interesting to say the least.

A friend (whom I shall not name for privacy concerns – it’s not Johnny Depp), turned up to an audition last week, after having to get up ridiculously early, and spend a tonne of money getting there only to be told that the date of the audition had changed to the next day. Maybe it was the fault of the casting director, or maybe the fault of their agent, but still, the actor dutifully turned up the next day, spent even more money, only for the previous day’s actions to be completely ignored. Oh, and this was all for an unpaid job too.

I myself had an interesting audition a couple of months back… being asked to learn a very unrelated and lengthy monologue, with very little information on the project to hand. After travelling for around 2 and a half hours during peak times (read expensive) I finally got to my audition, only to find out that the script hadn’t even been written yet, and they had no idea what they were looking for in actors. I performed up to my own standards, and was very happy with an improvisation, and a blind read of another sample script they presented to me. A week or so later, they contacted me to let me know that they had a really difficult decision and that I had not got the part.

Okay, it may sound like that last part wasn’t too bad, after all, not getting a part is part and parcel of the whole process. Yes, I was really happy to have heard back from them (even a no), since most people don’t even bother to let you know unless you have the part, but that wasn’t the end of the message.

According to the message (and I paraphrase), the casting decision was down to myself and another guy. They preferred my performance, but I lived too far away, and the budget wouldn’t cover the expense of my travel.

Why then did they invite me to an audition, when I informed them of my location right from the start? Wasting my time and money on a role I could never win, because of my home location? Sure, some castings can be very lucrative, but they are few and far between for the average actor. Most of which only do what they do because they love it so much.

That said, for all of the bad castings, a good one will come along and make your day, even if you don’t get the role. I had a really fun audition a few months back for an upcoming TV show, and the reason they didn’t give me the part? I wasn’t fat enough. As rejections go, that’s a pretty positive one!