Respect for Time

This blog is inspired by Machelle Allman, AKA @venetianblonde on Twitter! Thank you, Machelle. Your comments on our previous post on directing actors sparked this idea.

ACTORS – Don’t waste the time of your fellow actors by asking stupid questions. Okay, okay. I know. There are no “stupid questions,” but we all know, especially when we are in a rehearsal for a play, actors who tend to dominate the conversation with all of their issues and problems (one of my favorite director-isms, thanks to Aimee Bruneau, is “come with solutions“). Now, don’t take this the wrong way. I am not saying that we actors should not discuss ideas, especially during table work sessions (please oh please tell me directors are still making time for this), but I am saying, take your other actors into consideration when you are passionately discussing your issue with the director on company time. Maybe some of your questions could be addressed privately, saving precious rehearsal time for more important things. Oh, and, needless to say (I hope), SHOW UP ON TIME. And, early is on time in my book.

DIRECTORS – Be prepared! Storyboarding comes to mind…If you know exactly how your day is going to go and which angles are being shot when, your shoot will go much smoother, saving us time and you production costs. And, if at all possible, rehearse! This will save time on set, as you won’t have to adjust us as often.

PRODUCTION – Take your actors’ time into consideration while shooting by hiring a top notch First Assistant Director (Rick Walters comes t0 mind, for local hires). If setting up a shot is going to take a lot of time, and perhaps you are too invested to notice the actors pining away, drifting into boredom, stewing in frustration, or shivering in the cold, your 1st AD can tell your actors to “Get back to your dressing room and chill. We’ll call you when we are ready.” I love an AD who does just that. Looking out for the “talent” (ugh, I really hate being called “the talent” – anyone else?) really pays dividends. Keeping your actors fresh is going to count when you get to the editing room and start watching your takes.
Also, we appreciate call sheets and daily breakdowns which include script. I want to know when I am expected on set and exactly what we are going to do. If I am shooting on Day 1 and Day 2, at the end of Day 1 I want to know when I am called the next day and what the agenda is. Making sure the director stays on schedule and within the bounds of the schedule is also key. And, don’t allow your director to push beyond the hours agreed upon for each day of shooting, unless overtime is paid and agreed upon before production starts.

7 thoughts on “Respect for Time

  1. Thanks David, this is great stuff. I’m a big fan of actors being responsible for their own issues and realizing part of the deal when you walk on set or into the rehearsal room, it’s time to collaborate, not isolate. Structure, care & feeding, setting expectations – all things that all parties can afford to be more vigilant about.

    RE: your last paragraph – Someday (perhaps on this blog) I’d love to discuss the concept of union membership and what in means in the context of what you’re talking about. As you might imagine, I have some thoughts… 😉

    • Thanks, B. Yes, I would love to talk union issues. I am not SAG or AFTRA, but have been lucky enough to work on SAG projects, so I have been treated kindly enough. I know that there are rules regarding breaks, etc. for AEA theaters, but I am not familiar with SAG “rules.”

  2. @ Basil (and all), I am a SAG and AFTRA member, have been for over 20 years :O I am not Equity but do a lot of the same process for all gigs. I couldn’t agree more with David, “on time” should be 15 minutes before your call time. That way you are settled in, production knows you have arrived and you are not runnoing to the bathroom or having a smoke when folks are looking to check you in. As for SAG/AFTRA gigs, the difference I have noticed is The Talent/Teh Principals are treated a bit more like “royalty” versus the extras. So as a union paid actor, you have your own space, craft services and are always seperate from the Extras. What I don’t like about this, being the social bug that I am, I feel like a Diva. It is nothing I am doing, jus following “orders” but I wouldn’t mind chatting with the Extras. Sometimes that is ok on a set but more often than not, the Extras are asked NOT to “bother” the Talent. Basil, I have had Union gigs that were NOT run according to Union guidelines/rules. When that has happened, I will admit it, I miss my craft services, my breaks in my dressing room and being the “Royalty”. Now, did I throw a fit and walk out when this job wasn’t going smoothly? No. BUT I made sure I didn’t fall back and start giving 50% work ethic just because they were not on top of things. It is always better to bring your A game, no matter ythe union status or gig. Film, Commercial or Theatre. Come in off-book and ready to qork with your Director. Not getting direction from the director and feeling lost? Do your homework and be ready to give something that you would be proud of. It’s YOU on that stage, it’s YOU on that huge silver screen and it’s YOU who will have to look back and say “That’s was me, job well done”. If you DON’T respect your time or others… you are going to look back and say “ohhhhhhh, I hope none of you saw that one”. ALSO, in those cases, I hate when an Actor will blame the Director or Script or Bad Weather. Lets Own Up! Yes, there are some bad scripts, bad Directors and yes, bad actors out there. But this is the career we have choosen and part of our craft, or talent, our use of time, needs to be how to DO THE WORK and DO IT WELL, no matter the circumstances. How do we each do that? I think it is different for each of us. BUT if we ALL respected one another’s time, I bet more and more gigs would have success 🙂

  3. On my first Equity show I learned that, if rehearsal started at 7, that meant you were ready to start speaking your lines AT 7. Not 5 minutes after, not once you gulped your coffee. So yes, get to rehearsal or the shoot, etc. early but also, do your prep (vocal warm-up, coffee, whatever) at home and in the car so if you’re running behind, you can just drop your stuff and launch right in. Directors are very appreciative of an Actor who, when asked if they need a minute, say “no. I’m ready, let’s go.”
    I’ve been SAG eligible for 7 years but have never been in the financial position to pay the dues without going into debt. While living in L.A. I learned the quality level and constantly changing styles of PR materials required of a “professional” Actor and the expense they entailed. While I don’t believe in Joining a union and immediately declaring FICORE (FiCORE was developed and is maintained for a specific purpose) I’ve been holding off joining until I knew I was ready to live up to those costs and expectations fully and on an ongoing basis. This doesn’t mean you can’t cut corners and still succeed but I tend to believe in a saying; “The quantity of your reward is determined by the quality of your involvement.”

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