the day to day of a professional actor in the San Francisco Bay Area

mostly the day to day of a professional actor in the San Francisco Bay Area, but also the home of the Counting Actors Project

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dear low-budget independent film-maker

I'm an actor.  I'm thinking of auditioning for your unpaid project.  The character description sounds great and I love the premise. I've worked on approximately 30 on-camera projects including independent shorts and features, industrials and commercials.  I'm always looking for quality footage since I'm still building a reel, and I know that some of what will move my career forward is building relationships with talented people.

However, before I commit to an audition that involves mileage, bridge toll, and commute time, I'd really like to see a script.  It doesn't need to be a whole script.  It could just be a sample.  I'd also feel better if you could point me towards your internet presence - do you have other projects online?  A website for your production company? An IMDB page?  I sent you a resume, a photo, my website address, where you can see some video of me acting.   Why don't you want me to know who you are and what you do?  That may not be your intent, but that's what it feels like over here.

You say you'd like people to read sides at the audition, but you won't be giving out those sides until we get to the audition.  I'd understand this if you were making the prequel to LOST or something, but (no offense) I don't think your project has a profile that high.  What you need on set is a well-prepared actor.  If you don't let me have sides in advance, how can you assess my skills at preparing? Also, I'm well acquainted w/the styles of Christopher Guest as well as Cassavetes and Mike Leigh and I know that sometimes people improvise to create a certain naturalistic style, and I'd love to do that on a film project someday.  So if you want to do that too, let me know upfront, and share your resume, so that I know you know what you're doing.

I wish your project the best.  I really do.  But with your secrecy (that I sometimes fear is hiding the fact that you actually haven't finished your script), I'm going to have to pass on the audition.  In my 15 year acting career, I've unfortunately encountered a few flakes who thought it would be fun to make a movie and didn't realize how much work there is, and the project doesn't get completed, and I've given up my time and gotten nothing in return.  And I've learned through experience that the flakes tend to be the ones who won't share their script or information prior to the audition.



  1. It's funny how many directors I've come across who don't seem to want to give actors a script before an audition. Like it's some kind of pop quiz. In fact, I actually had a casting director who told me that she doesn't like giving sides before the audition. I'm like "Really?"

    Anyway, good stuff, Valerie:)

  2. thanks for the compliments James!

    I would love to know if that casting director is in the Bay Area...

  3. haha this is soooo true!

  4. Brilliant post. Speak the truth!!! Gotta call people out on their B.S. sometimes. And I do not mean Bachelors of Science.

  5. thanks for appreciating the truth Virginia and Nina!