Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Tip Of The Iceberg.


This is the year things evolve.
I've thought about quitting more seriously than ever. Things have slowly phased out, I stopped doing on-camera work and focused on voice overs. While this choice wasn't mine, it happened, and I just kind of went with it. I was with an agency for 17 years, and was transferred to the adult department, to an agent who never sent me out and then disappeared for a few days, which led to him being fired for drugs. I left that agency to go with a manger, who, months in, started going blind from a medication, and quit to focus on a class action lawsuit.
I've lived in a state of frustration over my career since. While no job I ever had ever came easy, things definitely always worked out. Suddenly I found myself with an on-camera agent and with no means to get one.
I took the time to focus on myself, and to just breathe.
Now it feels like the year where I get busy doing it, or get busy doing something else.
Many people I know in "the business" are miserable.
I like to think that the business isn't directly responsible, but it is also undeniably engineered in a way that leaves you feeling unstable, undesired, and, most importantly, out of control.
I have 70 year old actor friends that have been acting 50 years, and cant get work. I have 35 year old actor friends who feel that their careers are over now that they're nearing 40, even though they work consistently.
Theres never a safety net, you never know when your next job will come, and theres nothing you can do about it. You could be the most beautiful, the most talented, and it just might not happen for you. You're too tall, you're too short, you're too fat, you're too thin, you gave the best audition, but you just happen to closely resemble the producers ex-wife, and for that reason, he just doesn't want to hire you.

There is no rhyme or reason.
Some are members of the "lucky sperm club", children of industry parents who show the slightest interest in acting and are granted an instant career, no talent required.
Sometimes its a blow job in the right place.
But more often its just luck, timing, and perseverance.

The industry is different. Its constantly changing. Its a common thing now for people to hear "offers only" or "name only" meaning that the role will only go to someone somewhat well known, although that in and of itself is very relative. Their are surprisingly few well known actors, the kind who can actually give a boost to a television show or film. So when a role is offer only, its usually goes to an offer who may have a lot of credits, but that almost none of the general public knows by name, or is even familiar with. This used to only happen for big roles, but now its for things so small you wouldn't believe it.
I can't help but believe this is nothing but producer ego.

Some of my discontentment has to do with the way I grew up. My parents raised me with a huge reverence for film, and I've seen a great deal. It frustrates me that my contemporaries have no idea who George Sanders is, and that they'd struggle to name one Bette Davis film, much less ten.
The film industry has one of the best histories around, and its an honor to be a part of that. The lack of care or respect to what came before you frankly disgusts me.

The other thing that turns me off is all the other shit that goes with it. If I stay away from Hollywood events long enough, and then go to one, it's the same way I feel when i revisit mushrooms. You kind of forget what they're like, until it kicks in, you're engulfed, and then its sort of an "Oh....right. THIS."
Its a lot of ass kissing, its a lot of big forced laughs, and a lot of not looking people in the eye because someone else might walk in.
And everyone is there for the same reason, and the desperation oozes.
I like to think that one of my defining characteristics is doing what I what, when I want, and not being beholden to other people. And this is one of the biggest industries, in which you just completely lack control.
If I could do my job without this dog and pony show, it would be ideal. But that seems less and less possible.
And I'm getting worse and worse at faking it.

Now here's the rub. As much as the business is designed to breed insecurity and unrest, its also designed to be the best fucking job on the PLANET when it works.
Theres nothing better. There's nothing better than being in a booth, than being on a lot, than feeling that communal creative energy.
Absolutely nothing.
It addictive. And a good hit of it can keep you going for awhile, and make you do anything, put up with anything, for the chance to feel that magic again.
I love my job so much I rarely talk about with anyone, ever. I'm just to close to it, and am far too vulnerable to it.
My heart bleeds for this industry. I love it with every fiber of my being.
But its just so brutal.

When people ask me about breaking into the business, my standard response for years has been "if you can imagine yourself doing anything else, do it, because it will be easier".

I'm currently considering my own advice.

The small business I'm about to get into (details I'm going to have to wait a month or so before disclosing), is an option out.
I'm still conflicted if I want that or not.
The beauty of it, is I can continue to do both.
I don't know if it will satisfy me.
I don't know if anything will again in that way. Its in my blood, its all I've ever done, its all I've ever known, its all Ive made money at, and even though I hate to say it, I'd be lying to say it wasn't part of my identity.

But that's just it. I don't know.

I do know that I don't want to wake up in 5 years and the most I have going for me is I might have a call-back for a yogurt commercial.
Because that's 90% of the town, and the older I get, I'm becoming less and less of a masochist.
Retiring? Nah, I hate that word, especially applied to a 27 year old.

Exploring my options.
Because sometimes its hard to remember that you have them.

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