Setting aside community theater and musical performances, I got into 'real' acting back in 1990 (best of my memory, anyway). Training films, commercials, movie work as a featured extra, that type of thing. Had to learn the ropes from scratch, which can run the gamut of incredible fun to incredible frustration and sadness. When people would say, "Oh, I'd LOVE to be an actor!", I along with most others doing this would chuckle and say "DON'T!!!"
At the very least you deal with 'rejection' on a steady basis, which, when you take yourself seriously, is not easy to deal with. The key is to not take yourself seriously, of course, and by that I mean to relax, have fun, give it your best, and move on. Let your ego fall by the wayside, as quickly as possible. Going on acting auditions is not unlike playing lottery scratch off tickets...lots of trash, and the occasional treasure.
Once you've been around a while, sometimes people will book you straight up without an audition. It's always something different, too, within the broad-brush stroke of acting. The 'good stuff' is the SAG work, union work, Screen Actors Guild sanctioned shoots. I got my SAG card back in 1991 with "Guarding Tess", but overall there isn't that much union work that comes around here in particular.
When it does, it's like the hounds of hell are unleashed at auditions as actors come in from far away for their chance at landing even a dayplayer role. Competition is staggering, but we do what we have to do and don't focus on the odds. Union work is lucrative, pays quickly, great perks on-set, and if you get enough of it in a year you get free insurance (elusive without a big gig). Only a precious few get the work, however.
We all go about pursuing acting in our own way. Work and pay from it is highly inconsistent, like hot and cold running water. I go about it with a lighthearted 'whattheheck' attitude and make sure I'm the best at my craft I can be, and let the chips fall where they may. I consider any acting-related income to be supplemental and not in the 'expected' column.
I say all of the above just to fill in some cracks. With the down-turned economy, businesses are cutting back on projects where they would hire actors. Monday morning I was in flute-making mode, ready to 'have at it' after an early morning meeting (and waiting for the record low temperatures to rise some!)
At 10:15a I had a message to call my NC agent ASAP...called, but had to leave a voice mail for her when she didn't answer. Went on my way to Costco and was pumping gas when she called back. Long story short, she had gotten an email time-stamped just after midnight about several of us chosen to come in to audition for roles in a SAG feature film later in the day...the same day. I was worried it was down in Wilmington, NC which would have simply been too long of a trip at the last second. Alas, it was going to be just under a 3-hour trip one way for the audition. Just a little drop-everything-and-hit-the-road trip out of the clear blue.
You can understand why a lot of people couldn't make such a crazy immediate shift in plans. I was fortunate enough to be able to drop groceries, let Mercy out, shower and dress, and check email to print the audition script to take with me. The biggest fear is forgetting to deal with something before hitting the road...so much to think about, so much to keep straight in your head, so much to plan, gather, and take with you. With my forgetfulness, that can be a scary proposition!
By 6:15p I was home again...with a tired butt and sore knees. I made the trip and did my best for the 4 minutes I was in the audition, which is a most unglorious and simple process, really. As always, I hit the road back with no expectations. You rarely hear that you don't get a job...and if I were to get a part they may call in a couple of days, or several weeks...no rhyme or reason. And the last thing you do is pester your agent. No, the best thing you can do is resume a 'normal' life (whatever that is!) and get right back to your other 'stuff'.
With today's warmer temperatures that will mean working with my outdoor power tools, creating inlays, and cutting some new flutes up. I've run into a higher than normal number of 'lefties' lately which require totally different finger holes on my hole-staggered models, so need to whack out a couple of new ones. May even get around to carving on the woodpecker flute which I've not touched since I featured it in an earlier blog post.
Anyway, the day is starting calm and simple...I know enough to know there is no guarantee as to how long THAT will last!