Monday, March 01, 2010

You can put a price on some things

I'm always trying to figure out my "price." What I'll do or not do for money. I try not to take jobs that will be personally embarrassing or professionally damaging. Local commercials done on shoestring budgets with cheesy scripts, for instance.

Sad to say, when the pay is good, the decision gets a little tougher. I did turn down an audition once for a group trying to kill health reform. That was a no-brainer. On the other hand, I've auditioned for tobacco industry stuff. I'm anti-smoking and pretty intolerant of the habit, but it is legal for now. In fact, I think it's ridiculous to restrict advertising for a legal product.

But when the pay is terrible, it's kind of a relief. I don't have to worry about ethics or my reputation. Last week I got a call for a commercial audition that would have required two trips to Milwaukee (audition then callback with the client) plus a shoot in Madison, which is 3.5 hours away.

All for the princely sum of $540. Subtract three, quite possibly four, days of car rentals (about $200), gas (maybe another $100) and agency commission. Add in two half-days, at least another full day and maybe even an overnight away from home and work and you get yourself down to an hourly wage that's less than what a starting barista might make.

Maybe I'd get a hundred bucks of that back in reimbursed travel expenses if I booked it. On the other hand, maybe I'd go through two auditions and have nothing at all to show for $100-plus in expenditures.

That was a pretty easy call. I think even for someone who actually owns a car it would be a pretty bad deal. On the other hand, the script was kind of funny, which is pretty unusual for a low-budget production. But not nearly funny enough.

So I will not be taking the rural Missouri television market by storm. Not just yet anyway.

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