Sarah Clark, CSA
INT. CASTING OFFICE - DAY
Sarah welcomes an actor into the audition room, excited to hear about their recent booking.
Hey, congrats on the gig! Are you excited?
Yeah! I mean, it doesn't pay anything but whatever...
You mean you're working for copy, credit, meal...or...?
Well, I mean, they said the director's mom would have craft service but that's all.
Sarah stands, eye twitching with anger, trying to think of a polite response.
Stop working for free
Look, I get it. Sometimes actors do jobs that don't pay cash because you need footage. That's understandable. Working for free is very different than working for "Copy/Credit/Meals". Meaning you get your footage, you get credit for your work on IMDb and so on, and you get fed. That is the minimum that you should be agreeing to as a professional actor.
Everyone's going to do crappy jobs - I promise. Making sure you get compensated for your work - with cash or footage - shouldn't be up for negotiations. Get paid. Period.
Get it in writing
If no cash in exchange for footage is the agreement, I encourage actors to get that agreement in writing with a delivery date. When you work on any other production you sign a contract where they agree to pay you for your work. Why wouldn't you do the same thing for projects where you're getting paid in footage? Payment is usually due within 30-60 days - a film won't be done that quickly - but set a reasonable date to expect your footage.
Make sure it's worth your time
Does the project look like it'll be good for your reel? Is pushing your career in the right direction? Does the shoot look professional? Is the script good?
If the answer is yes to all of the above then have at it! Some things you do for the meal, some you do for the reel. Sometimes you do big commercials that aren't artistically fulfilling and pay your rent. Other times you get the weird indie that paid you next to nothing but it was fantastic for your reel and you grew your craft. Make sure there's a balance and please stop giving your work away for "free".
This is show business - not show charity work. Get paid.