Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The Waiting Game

When you're self-employed, there's a whole lot of waiting going on. Of course, you try and do as much work as possible but ultimately, your ability to work lies in the hands of others. Hands that often have much better things to be doing and probably twiddle their thumbs for quite a considerable amount of time before they pick up a phone or laptop and decide they want to get in touch with you. I'm fairly sure that being self-employed means that you're meant to be your own boss but I feel like my career is at the mercy of others more than ever before.

I applied for a student film the other day and almost instantly received a reply back to say that they would send a script across within the next hour. Excellent. Suddenly my rather empty and bare looking day was starting to look like it was bearing unpaid and slightly unfulfilling fruit. So I waited. And then I waited some more. Finally I waited further to wait even more. And after all this waiting, still nothing appeared. Three days it took for the script to get to me. Now I'm a patient and understanding sort (unless public transport is involved) and I realise that things can crop up which can cause unforseen delays. I also understand that students need to learn and that if you put yourself up for a film made by university students who are still floudering somewhere in the depths of the learning curve then things may not always run smoothly. However, I'm pretty sure it doesn't take three days to attach a script to an email. Or have I been doing attachments all wrong? Because of this delay, I've been given 24 hours notice for the casting which is supposedly tomorrow. Now I'm totally free tomorrow but they don't know that. For all they know, I could be the busiest bee in the hive who has just received a massive honey order. Lucky for them that I only have tea drinking, cereal eating and general moping about in pyjamas pencilled in for tomorrow.

I should be used to the whole waiting thing by now. A few years ago I was contacted about a feature film which looked properly exciting. The director contacted me in the afternoon to see if I was available that evening for a casting. I said that I was and he said he was just arranging where to hold it and that he'd be in touch as soon as possible to let me know. Excellent. I hurriedly got myself ready, rifled through my wardrobe to get the perfect outfit and then I waited. Oh how I waited. I waited until it was impossible to wait anymore. By now it was nearly 9pm and it looked like I wasn't going to hear anything. I tried calling the director back but there was no answer. I texted and emailed to check that everyhing was ok but still nothing. Finally I de-make-upped myself, got back into my pyjamas and figured it just wasn't meant to be. Two days later I finally got an email from the director to say that they had found another actress who they felt was more suitable for the role so they would no longer be needing to see me. There was a brief 'sorry for not getting back to you the other evening' type sentence and then that was it. Apparently making someone wait around for hours until you click your fingers and beckon them across London is totally normal. However, I wasn't then aware that there was a further slap in the face to come. About four months later I get an email from the director out of the blue to say that a role had become available in the film and he wondered whether I could speak perfect 'Fusha' which is basically modern standard Arabic. As I've stated in this blog before, I don't know why directors think I would keep the fact that I speak another language a well-guarded secret. I explained that unfortunately I couldn't and I then received an email telling me how disappointing that news was and how I was almost definitely losing jobs because of it. And then on top of that, I received a full-on berating of my choice of headshot. Thanks. Thanks very much.

But at least most of this waiting was conducted in the comfort of my own home. Waiting at a casting is a million times worse. I went up for an advert casting a while ago and they'd asked people to turn up anytime between 2 and 5pm. Naturally, most people arrived at 2pm and there was already about 50 people there when I arrived. The casting was a pretty quick affair but unfortunately there was a powercut after the second or third person had gone in. The casting director halted proceedings, had a full-blown argument with the poor girl on reception and the builders outside who had caused the loss of power and while all this is going on, even more unsuspecting actors are arriving until the waiting room is just a sea of well-groomed bodies. It took two and a half hours to be seen, in that time we had all spoken, asked each other almost every question possible, discussed every topic available and exhausted conversation so much that a stony silence descended back on the room. When work is so scarce, walk-outs are a rarity at an audition. However, at this one, I'm pretty sure the god of acting work looked down on us that day for sticking around.

So, even after writing this blog, I'm still waiting to hear about this damn film. My bedroom has become a waiting room and Doctor Theatre does not have room for me today.

No comments:

Post a Comment