Having talked about unpaid work with one of my friends who is an artist in NYC and my dear collaborator on our short film ‘A Cycle’, (for more info, click HERE.) I, once again, realized ONE CRUCIAL THING that has been bugging me for such a long time: The collective thought that it’s ok to NOT pay actors.
Many projects are out there and so many, many more actors applying for one role. That makes it easy to ‘save money by not paying the actors’, right? I mean, there are SO many actors out there!
It has become a collective brain, a collective belief, that it’s ok or ‘normal’ if/when actors don’t get paid for their work. That’s just how it is. Do the work for credits, for experience, for your resume. That might all be valid. Or it may not. I have done things for free, and I am still doing it, if I either really believe in and like the project, or if I really want to play that role, step into a certain character. I am guilty myself of accepting unpaid work. Because, hey, we are artists and want to express ourselves. But it still doesn’t make it right, in my eyes. All the other positions get paid, most of the time. Why not the actors? They have to prepare for the role, which takes up a lot of time, dedication and effort. Most of them are trained actors who put in a lot of money for classes etc. Why then, is it still such an incredible public and collective thought that actors just don’t get paid? We can change that! As filmmakers, as actors, as artists. Let’s turn that collective thought around, shall we?!
And: it is possible!
I am in post-production of said short film ‘A Cycle’ and my co-producer and I have managed to pay each and every position worked on the movie with a basically no-budget production. With app. 450$/min., it is considered a no-budget film. We paid ALL the actors, also our background actors. In fact, it was one of our priorities to do so. Exactly because of this collective idea. We wanted to make a point. We’ve had some ‘clever’ people tell us on the way to save money by not paying talent or PA’s. I’m SO glad we did NOT accept that and did not listen to, nor hire that person. So: if we could do it with our ‘no-budget’ production, so can everyone else. Even if it’s not much, pay talent! They deserve it!
Something needs to change here: the mindset, the mentality and collective brain, the collective thought and belief that it’s ok to NOT pay actors for their job. This is wrong! And it is to us filmmakers and artists to stop that. Let’s make a change! Pay your actors!
Until then… much love and light from a sunny NYC.