Acting – On The Job

Many people think that acting is all about glamour and living the good life. Maybe you get some fancy limo and a ton of other perks and that’s all there is to it. Unfortunately, the real work of being an actor is not glamorous. There’s actual work involved. Here is a typical day on the set of a major motion picture.

You’re up at about 5:30 in the morning. Why? Because most likely you have a call time of 7 AM and the shoot is in Pasadena. You’re on your own as far as getting there so you have to shower and shave early and hop in your own car and drive to the shoot. Traffic in LA is awful so you better get an early start. After you arrive and park your own car, a teamster shuffles you off to the film set. At the set you check in with the second director and then get in line at the food truck for a quick breakfast. No fancy meals.

Before you even get a chance to finish your bagel, a girl from wardrobe comes over to you and says they need to measure you for a new jacket that they picked out for your scene. After you get fitted they then ship you off to makeup. After about an hour of having your face tortured you’re out of the makeup trailer with toilet paper stuck to your collar in order to keep makeup off your clothes. It’s now time to head to the set.

The director and the whole crew, lighting, cameras, etc., are already all there setting up the scene. At this point the director will have a brief chat with you to inform you of the change in your lines that you spent half the night studying and memorizing. At this time you’ll rehearse the new lines a couple of times on the set. Then they finish setting up the lights and whatever else is needed for the scene. This gives you some extra time to memorize your new lines. So you go to your trailer to do this. Yes, you actually get your own trailer. It’s also the size of a walk in closet.

After about 20 minutes or so, the production assistant knocks on your trailer door and calls you back to the set. At this time they remove the tissue paper from your collar and you go to your mark on the set to begin the scene.

The scene begins. Your co-star approaches you and begins to say her lines. You then say yours and suddenly you hear the director say “cut!” You wonder what you did wrong. Actually, nothing. One of the lights on the set went out. The gaffer runs over, replaces the bulb, and then you start again from the beginning. They do a few more takes of the same scene from different angles. In the final cutting they’ll decide which one to use.

You’ll get about 2 shots done before it’s time to change the set for the next scene. There’s no applause or fanfare. You might get a “nice job” from the director, but that’s about it. You then just sit around and wait for the next scene.

That is the truth about acting. Only about 10% of the time are you actually acting. The other 90% you spend waiting around for set changes and other things. So unless you have a major role that requires a lot of preparation, you better bring a deck of playing cards with you or you’re going to be bored out of your skin.

At around noon you break for lunch. An hour later you come back, maybe do another scene and then get your sheets for tomorrow’s shoot. You’re done for the day and go home.

Not very glamorous is it? No, but when the film is released and you get to see what they’ve done with what seemed like pretty dull stuff, it simply amazes you. And knowing that people all over the world are going to be seeing you, well, that’s what acting is all about.

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