Thursday, December 13, 2012

Career vs. hobby

To me, part of the definintion of "career" (and my own term "feelancer") is earning money.  By money, I mean a fair wage for my time and product usage.  In this case, the product is me: my voice and/or image.

I see too many opportunities that are in perpetuity...meaning my product can be used forever in whatever media is specified in the job specs.  Often these are print jobs, perhaps stock images, but can be for any kind of acting work.  When media options were broadcast, local or national TV and/or print (either business to business or consumer), that was bad enough.  Then came cable.  With the advent of the Internet, your in perpetuity image, commercial or video could pop up anywhere at any time or stay on a site for decades, with no additional compensation or even a fair buyout fee.

So far, no IP gig I've seen has paid enough to justify them having the right to use my product year after year...along with possibility of keeping me from doing higher paying work in that product category.  The first job may say it's non-exclusive, but the next may ask what other jobs I've done in that category and not want to book me for theirs because of them.  One print job wanted to know if we'd ever done any jobs in that, albeit somewhat narrow, category. 

To some, $500 for a day, for example, or $150 for a half day, may seem like a lot of money.  It's far more than minimum wage.  But it's not industry standard, and without an additional, substantial usage fee, not worth it to me.  Some actors desperate for work or any credits will succumb, so IP jobs won't go away.  And many actors do student or indie films for free, hoping to build their demo reels, gain on-camera experience, and/or make connections with the next Spielberg.   

It's not always easy to quantify whether my time is better invested in, say, a non-paying Web series that might or might not go viral, or self-marketing to grow my paying client list or taking a class to improve my skills. 

Frequently, when it rains it pours.  If I've committed to a non-paying/very low paying gig, chances are I'll get an audition for or book a much higher paying/better for my career one.  Perhaps more actors will consider the long term vs. the short term and whether they're building a career or acting for a hobby when deciding whether or not to submit/be submitted for anything IP.      

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