I never thought I’d have to ask this question, but I wound up booking two roles. Yay! But the problem is, they both shoot on the same day. What should I do? Will the casting office hate me if I cancel one of them, or are they understanding about this kind of thing?
First, congratulations! Bookings are always good news! Of course, you’re now in a bind and that’s a toughie, but a bit easier if you’ve developed a personal policy for how you’ll handle such things. In your situation, I’d have said, upon hearing the offer for the second job, “Oh, man! I’m already booked that day. I’m so sorry. Is there anything we could do to work out another schedule?” But that’s because I have a policy of honoring my commitment to the first project I accepted. I do that in casting. I let the folks making the second offer know that I am interested in casting their project, but that I won’t be available until the first one is wrapped.
Truly, this is always one of my favorite topics, when it comes to actors, because I find that people who work as actors — more than people who work in any other field — tend to cancel out on commitments they’ve made when something better comes along. It’s the legendary Flake Factor (a topic for a future column) and it’s hard-core.
Is it because actors are so frequently not working as actors at all that when two jobs come at once and one pays better, includes better billing, or is more prestigious in any way that the actors will choose the hotter job? Is it because they know they’re only ever as hot as their last project? Is it out of fear that they’ll never get an opportunity of that level again?
Whatever the cause, and whatever your choice in such matters, you need to be sure that you have a plan in place for when this happens in your career; because it will. So, rather than waiting until you’re stuck having to make a last-minute, stressful decision about which job you’re going to take, help yourself out by creating your own personal code. Do this in the hypothetical, as this will permit you to have an easier decision ahead of you, when the reality is in front of you.
What is your personal policy? Do you stick with the first job offered even if it pays less? That’s the first one you accepted. Should you keep your word to the first commitment and let the new offer go, trusting that the people involved will respect that you are a person of your word who would never screw them out of your booking, should the situation be reversed? If you believe that all bookings come from relationships, you should certainly invest in your reputation as someone who honors commitments in the order they are made, knowing you’re in this for the long haul. That could mean having to say no to the second offer the instant it is made. A scary prospect, I know.
Or, do you feel that it is more important to take the more lucrative offer, no matter what chaos it may cause on the set you’re abandoning? It’s absolutely fine, if that’s your choice, since this is your career. Just know that that may mean there are CDs who will NEVER cast you again, based on the situation you caused them, after they had cast you. Once they’ve had to recast an actor to fill a role you had already accepted, they may never be as happy to bring you in for an audition. And certainly they may not be interested in recommending you when a director is choosing between two actors: one who has never put them in a bind… and you.
I have found that people are much more likely to work with you when you approach a situation like this with candor. Let everyone involved know that you are facing a tough decision. You may be met with an angry response. You may be met with word that producers have pushed the production dates on one of the projects and you’re free to do both! You won’t know unless you discuss the situation. As for how people feel about sudden changes on set, changes always come up. Production is delayed, actors fall out, locations become unavailable, the weather changes, etc., so try not to get hung up on all of the imaginary scenarios your backing out is going to cause. Simply make your decision and make the call.
Tough situation, no matter how you look at it. Still, the most important element here, in my opinion, is that you have your mind made up in the hypothetical before you are faced with this situation in reality. If you have a policy for such things that you can live with, you can count on it as your source for the right answer, when you find yourself in this quandary.
As always, do good work and be your authentic self, whatever that may be!
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000049.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.