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Nice work if you can get it…or not.

June 13, 2013

I have recently been struggling a lot with the predicament of knowing which projects to work on and which to turn away. I suppose I have always struggled with this dilemma, but it seems to be more prevalent recently. When I was a kid, my Mom taught me to look for one of three key factors in every job. These factors were (in no particular order):

  1. Good pay.
  2. New reel material.
  3. New experience. (For example: Working with a green screen, ear prompter, etc.)

This seemed like a surefire way to pinpoint good jobs when I was a kid, because my Mom was basically managing the projects I didn’t get through my agents. Now, I am the one who manages the projects I take on when they are not found by my agents. I have tried to use the three guidelines to rule out the good from the bad, but I seem to keep failing. I am continually ending up in projects that just aren’t worth my time/energy.

For example, a little while ago- a woman I had briefly worked with contacted me about a short film she was doing. Considering it was a no-budget film, she would be playing the role of writer, director, lead actress, costumer, set designer, and visionary. She wanted me to play the supporting role. I have only worked with this woman for a very short period of time and never directly. She was a mere acquaintance- so I was not familiar with her ways or artistic history. When she initially called me to pitch the project, I was out doing some errands. I ended up speaking with her for over an hour- pacing back and forth in the pots and pans aisle of a store. I hung on her every word. The project sounded very interesting- something different! It was a genre I didn’t have a lot of experience in, and I felt it would open me up to a new world! I was already imagining the postcards I would make announcing the release of the film and the promo photos I would post on Facebook! I also felt I could make some beneficial contacts through this project, considering the genre. I decided to accept the role. What did I have to lose? It all started off well. She sent me the script in a timely fashion, and I was eagerly working on the material. In between highlighting and memorizing, I did try to do some research on the woman I would be working with. She said she had other projects online to view. I couldn’t find any of her past projects, but I assumed I was just missing them. “Perhaps, I’m looking in the wrong places or they’re not available to the public,” I thought. Soon, we had rehearsals scheduled for the project. After the first rehearsal, I was already beginning to have doubts. Not only did I find out this was the woman’s first film, but she was totally unorganized. I tried not to panic right away, but after months of planning to shoot the film, and constant problems do to her not having the set ready or having personal issues which were interfering with the progress of the film- I just couldn’t do it anymore. I called and told her my schedule was just becoming to hectic and she would just have to find another actress for the film. I hated to back out, and of course she wasn’t happy- but the project just wasn’t going anywhere.

I have had other instances such as this in the past, and it’s very frustrating. I try to follow the guidelines. Sometimes a project may seem like it falls under one of the categories, but in the end there is more than what meets the eye. When I think back over that project, I feel I should have seen the red flags early on! Somehow, I never do until it’s too late. The only thing I can think to do in order to change my destiny, is to slow down for a second and think about the project before I accept it. Maybe I need to be a bit more skeptical when analyzing whether a project is worth it or not.

Have any of you struggled with this? If so, have you found a solution?

The Growing Artist Signature

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 13, 2013 12:54 pm

    I feel like it takes like the process on gaining theatre/film experience, you need to gain experience in figuring out which jobs to take and which ones you shouldn’t. I’ve taken on jobs that I should’ve turned down (in one or two cases even dropped from as well), but if I didn’t do it, I wouldn’t have learned to pick out better projects from it. As long as you learn from the experience for moving forward that’s the just important thing for you.

    • June 17, 2013 8:52 pm

      I agree! Practice makes perfect. I definitely learned from the experience, and I hope to have grown from it as well. I know now to ask more questions before jumping into a project.

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  1. GUEST POST 2 BY EMMA J: How to Decide Which Roles to Accept | The Green Room

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