Monday 20 December 2010

New Zealand Actors' Guild Inc - Membership Drive

Now that the NZ Actors' Guild is all official and legal and such, they are starting to welcome their first official members. I just joined and it's all very exciting!

'What's the Guild all about?' I hear you say. Well,

'The NZ Actors Guild is an independent guild set up by New Zealanders to provide advice and advocacy for actors. The NZ Actors Guild seeks to actively involve our members in the decision making process and to empower them as self employed professionals through information and development opportunities.'

You can check out their values here.

There are three membership levels: Full, Associate and Supporting. You can find more info here or email nzactorsguild [at] gmail [dot] com if you have any further questions.

The interim Committee will be working very hard in the next few months to put everything in place that is needed to offer members services that will keep them informed about what's going on in the industry, enable them to grow as artists and as business people, and get them networking with other industry professionals.

The Guild has the potential to be a strong and meaningful voice for NZ actors. And it has the potential to offer great opportunities and services that will give you some more tangible value for your buck. To get the ball rolling the Guild needs your support!

So, to celebrate the Guild's arrival and to build their member base, they are offering an introductory price of $50+gst for 6 months for all levels of membership. Great value at a bargain price, and right in time for Christmas!

Thursday 9 December 2010

Working with actors

I recently had an experience working with an actor who I sincerely hope never to work with again, ever.

In my mind, there are two varieties of actors, with all sorts of shades of grey in between them of course. But essentially there are those who are courteous, always prepared and on time. They quietly do their work and then invest themselves fully in everything they are doing in rehearsal, on stage and on set. If such an actor also happens to be a generous performer, who isn't concerned with him- or herself but focuses on who and what is around him, I'm sure any director would agree that they have struck gold.

And then there is the other kind. The one that has no consideration for anyone else involved in a production, who doesn't care much about schedules. The actor who doesn't learn the lines, the one who doesn't do the work, the one who is disruptive and entirely focused on him- or herself.

I sincerely hope that I get to work a lot with those actors of the first kind because they are the ones that I want to learn from. I have met a lot of actor folk in Wellington theatre who are fantastic examples and I am getting seriously itchy thinking that I will have to wait for quite some more time before I can get stuck into theatre work again.

By now I've come across both kinds of actors and when I vented about the jerk variety, my partner said that, well, that's the difference between armature and professional productions. The likelihood of coming across and the number of the jerk variety of actors decreases the more professional the production. I hope he is right but still, does doing unpaid work really have to mean that we have to deal with inconsiderate jerks?

The other thing I am really annoyed about is that the jerk actor variety often seams to be what paints the public's picture of our profession. The amazing and generous work done by most actors goes largely unnoticed - unless they win an award for it. They are quiet, do their work, and make everyone else's job easier because they love what they do and know that without the collaboration of everyone else, their work would mean nothing.

But just as some actors, other creatives and technicians also seem to forget sometimes that the world doesn't revolve around them. In the case of the productions at the level I am working on at the moment, they forget that everyone who shows up for their project is doing so for the love of it, on their own time and dime. I have worked on productions that didn't have a call sheet or a shot list. I have been on set all day long, never knowing when my scenes were going to be shot - or if they would be shot at all. I have seen DOP's do the director's work because the director had no clue what they wanted. I have even had to help rewrite a script halfway through a production because the director was so stuck that it was impossible to continue the shoot. But I have also had the privilege to work with great people who were extremely organised, knowledgeable and focused. These are the people I would work for again in a heartbeat - unpaid and knee deep in snow in my undies.

So, maybe instead of complaining about each other, we should all take a step back and evaluate our own contributions to the productions we're involved in. Whether we are actors, creatives, techies, maybe we should start by being honest with ourselves, improve our attitude and work ethic where we can and lead our peers by example. And then maybe, it won't matter so much how inexperienced, under-funded and underpaid we are on those productions we do for the love of it, but can have the great time we all want to have, and walk away with something we can be proud of.

Monday 6 December 2010

Rough patch

Remember my last post? The one were I was on about how much I love summer and that there were so many opportunities coming up?

Well, part one is still true. This summer, so far, is truly glorious! I'm spending every free minute outside, eating some of our raspberries fresh off the bush every day, and even the infamous Wellington wind has become a good friend. Even on an overcast day like today, summer still feels on.

The other part, the one about opportunities on the other hand, has turned out to be more of a day dream than reality. That I have to pass on theatre work for the time being has cut my gig opportunity in half as it is but other auditions are so few and far in between that the thought of regular auditioning is simply laughable.

As far as auditions through my agency are concerned, either there are none or I'm not getting any. Or my agent isn't working for me. I am sending regular updates to them and to the last one the response was that they are hoping to get some paid work in for me soon and that it hasn't happened yet certainly wasn't for their lack of trying.

What am I supposed to make of that? Are there really no jobs or am I just a shit actor that no one wants to audition?

And don't even get me started on that day job that is supposed to be paying my bills.

It's a bit of a rough patch.

Luckily, just when I started feeling really sorry for myself, I got asked to do a workshop for a first-time director. I had worked with the producer of the film on two other shorts earlier this year and she asked if I could help out. It's a two hour workshop tomorrow night and an opportunity at the very least to have some fun! So, between my three hour class tonight and the workshop tomorrow that's five hours - plus preparation time - worth of acting this week. This week I actually am a lucky girl.

Why is it that I feel so down and frustrated then?

Are you stuck in a rough patch? Are the times when you're not auditioning doing your head in, too? Are you having trouble believing in yourself from time to time?

Lets get together here for some commiserating and then get off our sorry bums and do what we gotta do to stay sane in this crazy biz.

Chapman Trip Theater Awards

Sunday saw the 2010 Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards funsies being held again. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners! Can't wait to see your new works in 2011.

Check out the nominees and winners at Theatreview here.