So, I've wanted to write about negotiation and acting for a while now. I'm realizing that it's a giant topic with many facets and I've got a ton of opinions about it. My ultimate solution: bite sized chunks.
Here's one of them: independent of any project, be it indie film or outdoor Shakespeare or whatever, figure out what is non-negotiable for you as an artist.
It may be that you won't work for free. Or that you won't play characters who are ethnic stereotypes. Or that you won't take your clothes off. The things that you know in your heart of hearts you will never ever do, even if it meant you were guaranteed to be on the short list for an Oscar, or you got to work with a director you've idolized since you were 12, or you'd get to be onstage at the most respected LORT Theater in your region.
Identifying what is non-negotiable to you will help you look for work, and starts to establish your walk-away point. It means you know what information to look for when you start the audition process to know if you even want to audition for the project in the first place.
A quick example: let's say that one non-negotiable for Actor A is that she will not work on shows where she will be out of pocket on transportation costs in order to do the show. The audition notice says $100 stipend. It gives a 5 week rehearsal schedule, 5 nights a week, plus 3 performances/week for 6 weeks. It's a two character script, so she'd be called to all rehearsals. 25 rehearsals plus 18 performances means 43 round trips on public transit. At a cost of $3.50 per trip, this means a total of $150.50 for transit.
So, there's roughly $50 that Actor A will want to negotiate for. And that is a bite -sized chunk for another day.