This past week I’ve begun auditions for a feature length independent film as well as a sitcom my production company shoots for a client out in Long Island. It’s important to me to mention that my company is growing in reputation and that everything we produce is seen as product. We always finish our projects and pump as many resources into them as we do with our client’s projects. This past series of auditions has been rewarding but it also has been eye-opening. For years I always had the mentality that a producer can waste an actor’s time by auditioning him or her for a role they clearly aren’t meant for, but what didn’t occur to me is how an actor can waste a producer’s time by using an independent film audition as practice for a big studio audition. In addition, some actors I’ve found to go to the audition, realizing it’s not a big film and bail after realizing it really is an indie film. I say “really is” because some big films disguise themselves as some indie projects to keep the lines down and some actors know this.
Good etiquette is to audition for producers if you’re truly serious, regardless of whether or not it’s an independent film or studio production. When it comes down to the REALLY talented actors that we wound up making offers, only 20% of them actually take the offers. Some of them wanted to negotiate the offer. Even though they’re starving out of work actors, for some reason, the remaining percentage decided that they’re now too busy. Which is absolutely BS and a little irritating. After some investigating, I had realized that many of them were still auditioning for various productions around the city, clearly looking for that “studio” project.
I have three theories: they end up not liking the script or they get intimidated. But the script theory isn’t really solid because most of the time, the breakdown of the story and plenty of sides are made available for the actor to gauge whether the script has legs. Intimidation gets nixed because they’ve already auditioned – that’s usually the hardest part for a performer.
Perhaps they are just using our small productions as a practice session for something bigger? They won’t admit what the real reason is and I’d very much like some input from actors on what the issues at hand are. Sometimes I do get honest responses. My favorite rejection to one of our offers came from a potential leading man: “My girlfriend doesn’t want me kissing another girl in a film unless I’m getting 1% above scale”. My goodness.