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Will Actors Actually Show Up if You Say No Pay? lol

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  • Will Actors Actually Show Up if You Say No Pay? lol

    I'm just curious if actors will show up to an audition if you say no pay. I mean I know they probably will either way, but is it really a hit or miss type of thing if the concept is interesting enough?

  • #2
    Concept doesn't matter. They will always show up.

    But, if you in any way come off as unprofessional they might not show up to the shoot.

    On my first movie, I paid LO LO LO salaries. I mean, if you worked at McDonalds you made 5 times more than I paid my actors. While that sounds awful. I seriously didn't have the money to pay them. I'm not cheap, just broke. But, everyone showed up. I never had to cancel a shooting date.

    On my second movie (never got finished) I couldn't afford to pay. I still managed to hire good young actors. Getting them to the set was a different story. They showed up when they wanted, and nothing went smoothly. It's the nothing in the end problem. Yes, they'll get a finished movie, which they all want. But, the thought of even $100 at the end of a few weeks worth of work (for someone who probably doesn't have 2 cents) is enough motivation that they'll always be there.

    You can always find actors, good and bad. But, without that little extra you're taking a chance that it can blow up in your face mid-stream.

    One last thing, I have a friend who creates the most awful pieces of crap. He pays everyone practically nothing, yet they've always shown up.


    • #3
      The trick when paying nothing, is to offer SOMETHING for their they feel like they're getting something in return. I've said this somewhere else here, but always tell them they'll be fed on set...honestly--it's the LEAST you can do. Pizza, chinese food--whatever. Make sandwiches at home if you need to.

      Offer a file of the finished project [a no-brainer]. Offer them their outtakes if they have any interest in them for their acting demo reel.

      Offer to help with their demo reel if they're not video savvy.

      Offer to pick them up--and drop them off back home if it's not too much trouble (this may also eliminate any late-to-the-set problems).

      Is there some kind of service you can trade? Maybe shoot their headshots? Help with their website? Anything that looks more like a fair trade and you'll get more loyalty.

      Your overall attitude should be that they're doing you the favor--not that they owe you for "making them a star." Be humble--and gracious.

      When you meet them or hire them, make sure they understand the commitment....don't oversell the opportunity and tell them it's gonna be easy or won't take long or any nonsense like that. Be up front and realistic in the expectations--ask if they can shoot around their job and family. Will it be a problem?

      Lastly, when working with freebie actors--don't demand too much of them. Shooting a feature film may be asking too much. If they get fed up in week 4 of a 7 week shoot and walk out--you are seriously screwed. Short films are better with freebie actors. A pal of mine made the mistake of creating a 3-feature trilogy [before I knew he was planning it]...and after the first one, none of the actors were available for parts 2 and 3. He was asking way too much from them. 3 features for free? C'mon! His project was doomed on the first day.

      Kurt Hathaway
      VikingDream7 Productions
      Video Production & Editing



      • #4
        I agree very much with Kurt^. I, for instance, am looking to build my reel, and therefore am not too picky when it comes to pay for acting work. I do tend to be more motivated if something is offered though. Food, drinks, etc. are all things that would be a good draw.


        • #5
          Great tips Kurt!


          • #6
            if actors are interested in your script, they can work for free, as long as you pay their travel expenses and cover food. At the same time, i had a few bad experiences (only with extras) who would say they show up, then won't and won't even let you know about it (one only texted me a day after saying sorry), so it is always good to have friends hanging out on the set, who could cover as extras.
            On the bright side, I haven't paid any of my actors, and film turned out okay, i hope :)


            • #7
              Other than a great script/story/concept, there are three things I find entice talent to sign onto a project with no pay.

              1. Credit - Must have if you're trying to get into this industry
              2. Copy - Got Talent? Here's how you prove it
              3. Demo Reel Work (Editing) - Most actors aren't editors, and good editors know what they can charge. Save your actor money and it's almost like he/she is getting paid.

              And it should go without saying... Feed your cast and crew. Real food, not granola bars and red bull.

              Get behind yourself! If you inspire passion for your project into others, they will want to do nothing else than be involved.


              • #8
                Offer food, DVD of the film, IMDB Credit, Help promote them, offer them a percentage if the film sells. There are some great actors out there that want to get their feet wet and will sacrifice to get that exposure. The one thing that you must do is, BE PROFESSIONAL. If you're serious about your craft, show it. They will want to work with you again if you show them respect and act in a professional manner. DO NOT belittle your talent and/or crew. If you have an issue, discuss that issue in private. Pretty common sense stuff, but you would be surprised at how many people let their egos take over. Lol. I hope that helps a little.


                • #9


                  • #10
                    LOL. Didn't even notice the date.