Oy, I love this town. I really do. But the spin factor is something so hard to endure sometimes. Maybe not hard to endure. Difficult to understand. Because once you “get” the deal, it’s less annoying, but MAN is it a pain in the tuchus when you read “spin” and know the real deal, but don’t GET the agenda.
Here’s what I’m talking about.
It’s the “overnight sensation” myth. It’s the “she’s our first choice” casting lie. It’s the PR that makes the public think that anyone was born to play a role, that anyone landed in LA and stumbled into fame, that someone’s first agent was a “scout” who “discovered” someone at a mall.
I say this knowing full well that projects I’ve cast have been the subject of spin. I’ll cast a film with a teeny tiny budget and then see the film on IMDb-Pro listed with a budget ten times the size of what I was hired to cast. (And that’s important for two reasons: One, the actors are paid scale based on the overall budget. And two, so am I!) I’ll contact the production team to see whether we need to renegotiate salaries now that the post-production and distribution money is in place (salaries including the actors’ and mine — and this is hugely important when you’re talking going from a $100K budget to a $1M one) and hear, “Oh, no! Those numbers on IMDb aren’t real. That’s just spin to be sure we can get distribution. No one will take us seriously, if we’re only a $100K film.”
I’ve seen press in which screenwriters brag about how lead actors I suggested — and sometimes with much fervor — were actors they had in mind when they penned the script. And of course I know better, because it took huge, heavy-lifting meetings in which I presented a few dozen actors (including the ones we ended up casting) to convince the director, producers, and screenwriter that perhaps these guys might be right for the roles. If the writer had thought of those actors in the first place, those actors’ names would’ve been in the original breakdowns. Our first offers would’ve been made to those actors. There never would’ve even been a breakdown. Et. Cetera.
But instead, we put out the breakdown. We — and by “we” I mean “I” — entertained the pitch calls. And when “the perfect actor” (one whom I’d suggested months before) was pitched, the filmmakers scrambled to take a meeting, make an offer, and eventually tell the press this was the actor for whom the role was created. And that’s AFTER having made offers to three other actors who turned down the role and now *this* is our guy! Bullshit.
No offense, but just own it. Sometimes it’s just not true.
Sometimes, an actor everyone in the public believes has just shown up on the scene “made it” after a good decade of ass-busting. She may have changed her name. She may have shortened her Hollywood lifespan. She may make it look like she just got here and stumbled happily into the role of a lifetime, but the truth is that she worked her way up from crappy nonunion work to student films to that one-liner no one remembers to this huge opportunity everyone wants to say was her first gig.
My point is: People in this town lie about their stories every day. I just experienced my 38th birthday, and when I said, “Hey! I’m 38,” people corrected me and said, “No! You’re 33,” as if to buy me an extra five years to kick ass or something. I don’t get it. I don’t need it. But this town needs me to have it. That extra time. That different story. I don’t know why.
What I’ve learned in a decade or so of Hollywooding is that everyone here gestures at you with a wink and a nod about your SPIN. It’s sort of expected. Heck, I recommend that actors “be new in town” for as long as possible, since — once they’re established here — we all wonder what’s wrong with them that we haven’t met ’em yet. So, I get it.
Eventually, you’ll reach a point in your career at which your handlers are spinning you. Whether you buy the spin or not is up to you. Just keep in mind that there are consumers outside of Hollywood who probably know the real deal. So be open. Be ready to own the truth. Because there are folks out there whose mission in life is exposure. Good for them. And good for you for finally having those folks in your life.
It means you’ve arrived.
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000896.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.