Don’t Quit Your Day Job

Interesting times, these.  I speak about this from the viewpoint of an actor/entertainer. These are the times when you have to take a look at what is really going on in our industry.  

                                                          sag-logo

 

Aside from having two brilliant personal managers, Bronson Page and Sam Page, I have a Talent Manager, Todd Justice ( The Marshack/Zachary Co., Beverly Hills). Justice was kind enough to pass along a letter written by an agent at CAA to their clients which puts the inner-workings/politics of current Film, TV and Commercial areas into laymen’s terms we each can wrap our head around.

The following are snips from the letter and my very subjective and colorful comments:

CAA:  SAG STALEMATE: Since the SAG contract expired on June 30,

2008, there have been few to no STUDIO feature films (this

does not include companies such as Lionsgate and the

Weinstein Company who are not in AMPTP and as such have

completion agreements). Some analysts say there are up to

200 feature films on hold. Around September, we started to

see a mass movement of film actors to TV projects. Many of

my “name” actors have done one-day guest stars

(this is very typical right now), and we are seeing a number

of Guest Star level actors doing CO-STAR roles. Remember

from November of 2007 to March of 2008, due to the

Writer’s Strike, again there were no feature films shot.

So for the film actor, there has only been 4 months of work

in the last 17 months. THE BOTTOM LINE: Due to the lack of

studio feature film production, BOTH film and TV actors are

now competing for a limited number of jobs in the episodic

and pilot environments.

cold-case-kathryn-john-and-connyCVD: This makes a lot of sense and I have personally experienced this phenomenon. I had a Guest Star role on Cold Case in October of last year.  I should say, “Fortunately for me…” because I had not even attempted to re-appear in TV or Film until my three managers triple-teamed me.  The part I like about this first snippet is where it says,”Many of my ‘name’  actors have done one-day guest stars….”.  I’m complimented.

CAA: PILOT SEASON: During the Writer’s Strike of 2007-2008,

Studios adapted and used the void to eliminate pilot season

as we know it. Gone are the days of hundreds of pilots. In

fact, this year, there are only 67 pilots to have registered

for production – of which only about 35 have been green

lit for production.

CVD: No Shit, Sherlock. Justice had me all set to go up for a recurring role on The Cleaner and then they go with Debbie Reynolds.  I don’t blame them.  But, I was up for another recurring role in a new series last year, Castle,and I heard that Debbie Reynolds was up for it.  

debbie-reynolds   jane-curtain

Okay, already!  So I go up for things that are right for Debbie Reynolds and Jane Curtin…great company. Please get each of these broads a series so that I have a fucking, fighting chance! ( I think the gloves are on.)

CAA: And this year, due again to a sagging economy, studios and

networks believe that by committing named stars to their

projects, they will receive more money from this year’s

up-fronts from ad agencies. They are banking on star power

to leverage better buys at the all important UPFRONTS. So,

stars and pop-stars like Richard Dreyfuss, Chevy Chase,

Brittany Snow, Elle McPherson, Rebecca Romijn, Ashley

Simpson, Scott Caan, Skeet Ulrich, and proven TV talents

like Kelsey Grammar, Eric McCormick, John McGinley, Joel

McHale, Jenna Elfman, Donald Faison, Maura Tierney, Peter

Krauss, Craig T. Nelson, Dax Shepherd, etc…. You do the

math, 37 pilots… top stars being sought… BOTTOM LINE:

the conflagration of the economy and a lack of roles being

cast, means that this pilot season may be even more

competitive than the concurrent regular TV market right now.

So those of you who have gotten auditions for series

regulars… feel great about that!

CVD: Conny Van Dyke, anyone? But, I get it. Supply and demand. I still consider myself lucky. It’s the “considering-myself-patient” part that I am beginning to have a little problem with. Okay…look around, Mama.  You ain’t alone. Moving right along…

CAA: ECONOMIC IMPACT I – THE EROSION OF QUOTES/RATES: There

are really three major impacts to actors during this

economic crunch. First, we are seeing the erosion of quotes.

Due to the availability of so many talented actors, CD’s

and Producers are in the driver’s seat in negotiations.

When they say, “well we got someone else who will do it

for less”, they ain’t kidding. I have spoken to a number

of my peers who have confirmed this erosion of pay for their

actors. In short, right now, quotes are eroding and for

many, the minimum has become the maximum pay.

student-hand-aCVD: Okay, now my hand is in the air, like the four-eyed bitch in 10th grade with all the answers in Mr. Antosiak’s Geometry class! “Cheap? Cheap? I can do cheap and more-than-adequate!” 

CAA: I believe that, even after the SAG stalemate is over, there

is probably not enough money for 50 Studio Feature Films to

be done right out of the gate. BOTTOM LINE: While this will

help us move towards normalcy, it will not be the cash cow

some people think it will be. One side note, is that I

expect that more formulaic projects will be down out the

gate as Studios will be less likely to take significant

risks since most of these

 projects will be financed by both the studio and their

investors. In short, you will see more Iron Mans, Animation,

and SAWs… they are money in the bank when you factor in

ratios, etc.

saw-2CVD: Nod to Smart Guy, again.  I can do Saw X;  I can skip a manicure…I can bleed!

CAA: TV and Film money is made, is being hit hard by the

erosion of the US Dollar. So these entities are not able to

recoup the costs they were in better days by the one-time

explosion of the foreign markets. BOTTOM LINE: The economic

conditions are forcing the industry to be as ‘thin’ as

possible.

eatwell-wehoCVD: I just lost 28 lbs on The Sam Page Zig-Zag Diet…I don’t know how much thinner I’m gonna get. Maybe I should  forget about it and wait tables two blocks up at EATWELL.

CAA: Many strong actors have made enough money on TV/FILM, etc so

that they have not had to do commercials in years. Due to

the last few years and the lack

 of work, many top actors are now back in the commercial

market; thus again, causing a logjam in casting. BOTTOMLINE:

The economic slowdown has caused a dramatic decrease in ad

sales and the lack of work has caused more actors to

re-enter the commercial market.

colon-cleanseCVD: I am definitely calling Justice to tell him that I am open to doing colon-cleanse commercials!

CAA:…The good news is that there are some paradigm shifts

occurring that make 2010 -2012 look like it might be one of

the most prolific times in Hollywood history….

kia-and-barnaby-cemetaryCVD: Can you hear me panting?  I could be DEAD by then.

CAA: . However, the consumer can choose the products they

want to see (let’s say you go retail clothing and watch a

Macy’s ad and love the jacket; you can immediately click

on the ad/jacket and go directly to their website where you

can buy it). Also, you earn points by watching the

commercials that you can use towards

 purchases. Furthermore, SONY and others are now selling

TVs that wirelessly connect to your computer, so you can

download TV/FILMS at anytime from your computer (websites

like Hula, Netflix, etc) directly to your TV. In short,

technology is making more platforms which will require more

content than ever. Also, Cablers are all embracing doing

scripted shows, some have up to 5 shows this year… again,

more content is needed and thus MORE ACTORS!

miracleCVD: I feel a wind-up coming…and you know what?  I’m just going to chant for a miracle. (And Kurt Russell is my kind of miracle! Hubba Hubba!)

CAA: BOTTOM LINE: More platforms = more content = more actors!

So as long as SAG/AFTRA can protect your rates and

jurisdictional issues, there will be more good compensated

work than ever in Hollywood by 2010-2012.

 

cold-case-honey-wagon-doorCVD: I have always taken “the next best thing” attitude.  That’s what I do.  That’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.  And THAT, My Friend, is NOT just some  more…tales from a broad!



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