As an actor you get some seriously dubious request to do work that starts off as saying it is "The Opportunity of a lifetime" Sometimes it will read "Working with up and coming director" to give you the illusion that this will bump your career to a new level...while vaguely hinting that if you say no, you will never work in "Whatever town they are in" again.
That weird blind email. That email right under the electronic email bill from your Gas Company. The one asking you to work on a project.
The one that always...ALWAYS has the line "Unfortunately we do not have a talent budget"
Most actors seem like we are trained the moment we have dealt with any producer (which seems like being trained at birth) to write an email response back that makes it look like they are not a bunch of money hounding assholes and instead making you look like you are booked for the rest of your life...or look like a complete flake.
Actor emails (after we have screamed: ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?! LAST TIME I CHECKED YOUR COMPANY WAS LISTED AS MAKING A TWENTY MILLION DOLLAR PROFIT) reads like this:
Hi (Person who works for television production conglomerate)!
Thank you so much for the very kind email. I'm truly appreciative of you thinking of me for your project! I would love to audition/be a part of the production, but unfortunately I have committed myself to other projects during your time frame.
Thank you for considering me and please keep me in mind for future projects.
That is our template to not offend a soul and lay it all on us to get away from a production that is too whacked to even pay us for the gas money to get to set to do the craft we spent years learning while the head production asking you to not get paid...is getting paid.
Reality Television. The Creators of Free Talent
Reality Television Programming is the ultimate offender to the idea of "Give us your talent for free"
Why is this the case? Well, Reality Television works on the sheer premise of putting on television people and subjects who are not professionals in the world of entertainment, or their careers have taken an ugly downturn in the world of Entertainment.
Honey Boo Boo's Family. The Yuuup! Guy from Storage Wars. Actors with Cocaine/Heroin/Alcohol problems. Housewives with too much money and lots of time on their hands. Backwoods country folks with Ducks. People who are too bright a shade of Orange from Orange County bidding on houses and flipping them. Failing restaurant owners thinking a screaming military chef is going to finally solve their financial woes and chefs who will put up with living in quarters with each other just for a job with a swearing screaming Chef from hell.
Desperate Rich Guys wanting to date women who look like more popular women they can't have. They don't need to have much in common as long as they are Jewish to not upset their parents...and look like Sarah Silverman.
Where do these people come from? They come from some Casting Submission sites or a direct contact from a producer. They are offered "An Opportunity of a Lifetime" and surprisingly little to no pay.
We actors (digging through the Student Projects, The SAG waived Short Films and fifty dollar a day SAG New Contract Web series) also see these postings.
Why does this still happen, these posting looking for free to under minimum wage slave work? As mentioned Actors have been trained as though we were abused children at birth to take whatever we can, shut up and just be happy anyone wants us to work.
It's what reality television thrives on.
They get non actors to be on television as An Opportunity of A Lifetime
When those non actors (now thinking they are actors up for Emmy's) start making massive money for that production company and the network its on and they finally ask to be compensated? The truth comes out: "Your only talent is you being a natural freak. There are a million like you who would like to be on television. Shut up, or get out."
If they still complain? You can always find another dysfunctional family more than happy to be like Honey Boo Boo. Another chef who will look ridiculous trying to compete running down a grocery aisle and pray they are not the first people to get eliminated.
Producers for reality television are rolling in the cash of telling talent "It's an Opportunity of a lifetime" They are building houses on the even more dubious phrase: "We do not have a budget"
Sometimes when you see "We do not have a talent budget" its as though they would like you to imagine that they are on pre paid cell phone somewhere in the bedroom-turned-office of a sincere commune artist loft.
Most actors with any grain of salt will write the form letter above. Or just pull up the form letter and repeat it back on the phone.
They will in turn, find a non actor. Somewhere in the woods of the south and offer them a television show. They, being non actors...will be thrilled at "The Opportunity of a Lifetime"
Or they will find that actor that desperate to be on television. Or on television *again*
Now here is the tragedy of it all: Reality Television Producers have mistaken these non actors for actual actors, and in turn will start treating EVERY Artist this way.
Enter the people you don't see: The Musicians who perform music for these shows.
I have a huge respect for Musicians. An awe inspiring respect for them. Actors and musicians have a lot in common in one respect in the entertainment world: Producers trying to get the things we learned and honed for years...for free.
The difference between most actors and most musicians: Their emails are far more balls punching "Fuck you!" than the form emails from a professional actor. They don't keep possible doors open in case that producer decides to stop producing a reality show about something as ridiculous as a casting director for babies and the horrible parents who bring their babies in.
Actors think: You never know. One day they might be a show runner on a Showtime Series.
Actors feeling they should keep the door open is completely overrated to the point of being an antiquated term with Reality Television
Not musicians, tho'. They don't care what they might do in the future. It is what they are doing now. And right now they are sending an artist a fucked up email asking for their work and saying they have zero budget for it.
Enter NJ White. The savior of every Artist who has ever dealt with Reality Television Producers.
With him knowing it or not, his Fuck You Email can easily take out the word Musician and put in the word "Actor". It can even apply to the words "Voice Over Artist" "Graphic Designer" and in a lot of cases "Editor" and "Cameraman"
The base reality of reality shows: No one is getting paid except the producers and the network. There are few to zero Union Employee tech people on these sets. Background actors are getting copy and reel with PB&J Kraft Services if they are lucky...and if you listen to most of the music underscores in a LOT of reality based shows you will notice it all sounds familiar.
That is because they are buying stock music.
But more times than not, you are getting that Reality Show Producer who has big hopes and dreams balls. Huge ones. The ones that say: I'm going to get you the best actors and team without barely paying a dime and making you a house made of money! Why are we going to non actors and Stock Music when I can find a real actor or a professional musician for free?
Hold on. I did this when I was in college: Let me Internet stalk the biggest names in the scene and send out my basic form letter I like to call "Make it seem like we are doing a Food For The Homeless Charity Event and we don't have a budget" Email. I'm going to make you millions. Let me get a hold of fifty actors down on their luck and send out an email to the guy who did the music for Breaking Bad so...we can mention in our marketing: "From the team who brought you Breaking Bad!
I hate to say this to NJ White...but I'm sure the original email he got was Bcc'd to about fifty or so other musicians. I'm almost certain most of the language was changed and in turn this Reality Based Production Company in England also sent out blind emails to the most popular Actors, Voice Over Artists and Graphic Logo Artists too.
Send out enough emails and see which person is the most desperate to say yes. He might seem special in getting this blind email? But I can almost guess that he isn't. Just another artist emailed to see if they have that glimmer of desperation.
But here is the lovely thing about your email NJ: It should be copied as the new form letter for all of us artists. Not just musicians. But for us actors too.
Hell. How do we get this to form letter to every Chef/Homeowner/Kid Pageant Parent/Single Female looking for love/Rich Lonely Men/Former 90's Comedian with a Heroin Addiction/Anyone who has ever worked with a strange animal like a duck, snake or lizard?
It should be the new email for EVERYONE to send out to Reality Television Producers. It should also be said on the phone.
That is when they have not hung up on you roughly around this sentence:
"The culturally ingrained disdain for PEOPLE that riddles your profession leads you to fleece the (Whatever They Do) angle whenever possible"
That is when Reality becomes a little too real for a Reality Producer.
Of which maybe they could just go to their own offices and do a reality show based on this.
A lot of professional actors and artists will watch that to finally see you spin in your own hell of the public making a mockery of you. Reality Producers are just as filled with Freaks as the supposed freaks they wish to cast.
You have Honey Boo Boo's and people with a little too much orange pigmentation in the cubicle next to you, Reality Television.
It's an Opportunity of a Lifetime, reality producers. You don't even need a budget for it.
Causes Shaun Landry Supports
The Alzheimer's Foundation, NAACP, Breast Cancer Foundation, Gilda's Club.