I submitted for a film a few weeks ago and was called in to audition. I was given the filming dates up front and said, “Wait, I can’t do the first two days because that’s Yom Kippur. Should I still audition?” He assured me I should and that they could work around the conflict. I went in, had an awesome audition, then last week got an email saying: “We really want you for the role, but we are filming on those days you said you weren’t available. I guess that counts you out, right?” Um, yes, it does! He really thought that I would take his film over the most religious of Jewish holidays. I responded back politely thanking him but saying that I was sorry, however I still intend to be in services. Should they change filming dates, to please keep me in mind.
What makes me upset is that I said up front that I was unavailable those two days. If that was a problem, I was not going to audition. He said it was fine, so I went. THEN he dangled this carrot in front of me, as if I would give up my “conflict” for the role. You know, since all actors want roles, right? I’ve had a situation like this before where they actually asked me if my religion was “really that important” that I’d turn down a perfect role.
What is the proper way to handle situations like these? I know I can’t expect the business to shut down on those holidays, but I hate to keep losing work because things keep getting scheduled for those specific days. Am I supposed to give up my religion for the sake of work? I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.
What a frustrating situation! My short answer regarding the most recent experience with this offered film role is this: it’s the same as all of the other “know your NO line” type stuff. You played by the rules, you shared your NO with the decision-makers, and they toyed with you by coming back with an offer after they knew you’d already shared a NO line with them.
It’s manipulative and it’s exactly true that one of the things that happens in this biz is people assume they have the deal that’s going to make everything different for you. That they can change your values in some way.
You stand by that NO and you trust that if they really want you — if you’re really that important to them for this role, they will push the shoot dates in order to accommodate you.
And if they don’t, fine. Let ’em move on to the next actor and you move on to the next project, knowing you wouldn’t want to work with people who would ask for that level of compromise on your behalf. I mean, really… if they’d ask you to make that compromise, imagine what other compromises they could come up with on the set — and once they had you in a contract of some sort… then what? Better to know now these aren’t people who respect you and your limits enough to choose to work with them.
The hardest part of this, I would imagine, is the fact that you set your limits up front and weren’t respected for that (or weren’t taken seriously or weren’t believed or whatever). You played by the rules with the best of intentions and you got this as a thank you. Yikes.
Be frustrated, be angry with them, but don’t you dare feel bad about how you’ve handled everything. You set your NO line, you communicated openly, and they still didn’t respect the rules. Their loss. And now you know how much they’ll respect something that’s vital to who you are. Good lesson.
As for the rest of your questions — no, you can’t expect the industry to shut down on any day. There will always be someone, somewhere who wants to shoot on the most improbable of days. So, keep doing what you know is right to do: book out with your agent and manager, communicate openly when you self-submit, set your NO line as soon as you can, and let go when the bastards still screw with you!
I really do hope that this helps. Keep me posted, okay?
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000295.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.