Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bad Actor

I think if an objective observer were to tally the number of posts I've written under the headline "Bad Actor" they could easily draw the wrong conclusion.

It's not that I'm difficult or a diva or just one of those terrible, bitchy actors you hear about (and may know). I mean, I'm not like that in rehearsal or on the set. In my mind, though, I'm the biggest complainer.

I had a booking today that could have been a disaster. And as I retrace the steps I hearken back to an old saying a colleague and I had at Ogilvy whenever things went awry: "Now is not the time to point fingers; it's the time to thoughtfully apportion the blame among the various parties in percentage terms."

So going by that standard, I'm going to assign blame in almost equal parts between me, the client and my agent.

The heart of the problem is it was a low paying job. Straight hourly session rate (for only 1 or 2 hours max) with no buyout. That's not the kind of money that gets everyone's attention and makes them dot the i's three times just to be sure.

So we had three little problems when I showed up. First, the stylist said she thought I was supposed to shave. When I'm cast straight from my headshot I show up looking like the headshot unless specifically instructed.

Okay, the written instructions said "clean shaven," but believe it or not, that's ambiguous. I've asked about that before and they've said, "Oh, that's standard language -- we just want you to look neat and nice, with the well-trimmed growth like in your headshot." When they want me to shave it off, the client makes a point of telling my agent to tell me.

They didn't, so I didn't. Luckily, the head guy checked me out and said the look I had was perfect.

The second thing was makeup. Apparently I was supposed to do my own, which I have never, ever done for a shoot. They either make me up or we go without. Hell, I did a SAG commercial in a principal role with no makeup. And they had a makeup artist there. I was just that naturally handsome, I suppose.

Now I should say that the phrase "arrive made up" was indeed in the written instructions but, again, that's often just generic language left over from other projects.

Could I have been more curious about it? Enough to inquire and clarify? Probably, yes. Could my agent have done likewise? Probably, yes.

The final glitch was wardrobe. I was to show up with "clean white gym shoes." I brought my cleanest, whitest pair. Were they hospital clean? (I was playing a doctor in scrubs.) No. Am I supposed to keep a pair of pristine white tennis shoes around for the once-every-eight-years role like this? I say no.

If they were that concerned with how white they should be, should they have provided wardrobe? I say yes. But again, we're talking about a basic low-budget production.

Anyway, the stylist gave them a light wash with some Joy and they were plenty clean enough. Which I suppose I could have done, had I known just how clean they needed to be.

So at this point we haven't even started the job and at least three people probably hate my guts.

But then I get into wardrobe, go over to my mark and start doing my thing. Bing-bang-boom. I knocked it out and got the usual plentiful number of "perfects" and "beautifuls" and "greats." I gave them a ton of great shots in a short amount of time, took direction like a trained seal, and offered up some creative options of my own.

They loved the work, they loved me, I was nice, they were grateful, and we all lived happily ever after.

But I am going to insist on better communication in the future. And I'm going to do a little work on my positivity ...

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