I have a thing for side-projects.
I volunteered with PRETOMA in Costa Rica because I care about endangered species.
I produced a video about it because I was taking TV pitch meetings and needed a visual teaser.
I bought a Canon 7D because I had $800 in rewards at CostCo and as of winter 2012, half of my film/tv auditions began requesting video submission for first calls.
I taught myself Final Cut Pro X because I was saving myself money by editing my own talent reels, and I’d outgrown iMovie.
I consider myself an actor, not a filmmaker, but look what I’m doing.
Content, concept, equipment and means. Technology has become so affordable, anyone can produce a short film, create a web series or film a full-length movie. Most of us are carrying around video cameras in our back pockets daily. I wonder why we all got into our arts in the first place. I’m particularly interested in why actors, specifically, use the industry to justify why they are, or aren’t, doing their art.
Dancers do not wait to get hired. Paid or not, they are dancing at the club, in their living room, in the Produce section. But actors, especially film/TV actors in LA, they spend all their time hoping their agent will get them an audition, hoping that audition will turn into a job, hoping that job has more than three lines so they can finally “get to” act.
It seems selfish to me, being an actor and holding back your art just because you aren’t getting paid. And it seems like self-abuse, keeping yourself from your passion because there is no money, set or crew.
I’m not saying work for free or accept less than you are worth.
Of course technology is no replacement for artistry. The trick is being an artist who knows how to use technology.
You can further your career just by doing the things you love to do. When you aren’t working, you are still an artist, and the tools of your artistry are at your fingertips. Nothing is stopping you from putting a scene on camera or documenting your work in Costa Rica. And because you are an artist, you probably have oodles of multidisciplinary ideas ready. Your downtime is the PERFECT time to work on your own stuff, instead of someone else’s.
Please enjoy this short about volunteering with the endangered sea turtles with Costa Rica’s PRETOMA organization—a concept this artist felt vital enough to learn the tools necessary to create it:
My whole Eco Tourist series is a good example of the evolution of technique you can learn in your so-called acting “down time.” Check it out. Then go make something to further your career, with or without the paycheck.
Photo from Tonyakay.com.