Background acting has been an extremely enlightening and fun experience, but I’m going to miss it.
I’ve decided that after I finish my job for the show Outlaw tomorrow, I will be taking an indefinite break from this cool little gig. But before I post the reasons why, here’s a quick list of what makes it so much fun.
It’s Not Hard Work: When compared to other jobs I could be working for minimum wage, this trumps them all. It’s about maybe 3 hours of work per day and the rest of the time is spent sitting around while they prepare the next scene.
Free Meals: I don’t think I need to say anything else other than I shouldn’t be eating this much. But it’s soooo good.
8 Hour Days A Rarity: Being on the set for 8 hours is definitely a rarity and you’re usually there a good 12 hours. This sounds good monetarily but again, it is a minimum wage job so at the end of the day, 12 hours gets me a little over $100 a day (on average, minus bumps).
It Shows EDD I’m Trying to Find Work: EDD likes to see that people receiving unemployment benefits are at least attempting to look for work, and this is one way I’m showing it to them. The downside is that I have to claim all of my income and it is then deducted from my unemployment checks.
In contrast to all that, here’s why I’m taking a break.
Unless You’re Union, Pay Is Minimal: Again, minimum wage. If I get on board with SAG or AFTRA then my rate would at least double. In that case, I would probably still be doing this but the chances of my becoming a member are slim and none (read: it costs money to join).
Locations Never Close: I’ve driven an average of 35 miles each way to every set I’ve been to, whether on a studio lot or on location. Because of this, I take the Fusion and not the Escape so as to save a little bit on gas. No, it’s not like I sacrificed everything and moved from Alabama to be here but even so, driving all those miles day after day, after being on the set for 12+ hours can start to take a toll.
Always Buying Wardrobe: I’m not exactly a glowing example of fashion nor do I care to be, so I have been buying wardrobe for all of these shows like mad. (Thank you, Savers!) In some cases wardrobe is provided but for the most part, you need to have your own. Combine that with the reasons listed above and this job starts to add up, even though I will be able to claim the clothing purchases on my taxes next year. Aside from all that, I don’t own a suit and many gigs require one.
Need Real Job: While fun, getting booked is sometimes a tricky proposition. There are days when you don’t match anything the Casting Directors are looking for or you submit for a job and you are turned down. While I could try to book myself for 4 or 5 days a week, being at each location for 12 hours, driving to a different location each day, and preparing wardrobe each night when I get home would be tiring and pretty stressful.
Need to Call EDD for Possible Extension: I need time to be home and do some calling to the EDD to see if I can get an extension on my benefits since my last check is due very soon. Speaking of calling…
Constant Calling: It wasn’t uncommon for me to be on the phone at least 2 hours trying to get through for a call that I thought I’d be a good match for. I almost burned up all of my 300 minutes last month and don’t want to do it again. And once you book a gig, there’s more calls to make the night before for location, wardrobe, etc. It’s a lot of last-minute preparation and call times can change overnight so even if you prepare for everything the night before, you wake up worried and wondering if anything changed–and you have to call the number again just in case.
So there you have it. No, it’s not like I’m giving up on my dreams to become a star in Hollywood because I never intended to do this in the first place. After giving you the reasons why, it’s plain to see that, after all that I have to do to get the jobs, I may only breaking even once the check it sent to me. Maybe once I get a regular part-time job I will continue to book myself to subsidize my income but for now, it’s just played it’s course and there are a lot of things that to get done at home.
Besides, Anthony starts school next week. And I need to be home for that.
Thanks, Hollywood, until we meet again.