Back Ground Acting

So in addition to personal training and teaching martial arts I also act. For the most part I act in independent films and student films. I’ve done low budget union films as well but few and far between. Last November I started doing back ground work for television. There’s not much money in it, but it is fun, I’m learning a lot, and meeting some really good people, some that I now call my friends.

Today I worked on Bl*e Bl**ds episode 18. Bl*e Bl**ds, is a police drama that airs on C*S, this will be my third time on the show. While on my way to set this morning I was thinking about the whole process. Through that thought process I wondered; why the hell do I do this? Why the hell does anyone who is non-union?

Here’s what I was thinking. The production companies spend millions of dollars on these shows. The stars of the shows make a lot of money, millions in some cases, and principal actors (those who are credited) make a good living. The union back ground actors make enough to call it a legit job (if they work steady). Then there’s the non-union back ground actors, like me. We make shit.

So here is how it went down today. Call time was at 10am; I checked in and went to wardrobe. Being a non-union actor, going to wardrobe means taking the clothes you brought to set with you and having someone approve what you’re wearing, if they don’t like what you have on they go through the extra clothes you brought to set with you and tell you what to put on.

After wardrobe I went to sit at a table to fill out my pay voucher. There were about 10 big round empty tables on one side of the room so I went and sat at one. The other side of the room was full, no free space. Upon sitting down I was told that those tables were for the crew. The crew was on set filming the show and didn’t need any tables, meanwhile there were still actors coming in and we had no place to sit. It was at that point I went outside and sat on the side walk. Thankfully it was a beautiful day.

Fast forward to 1pm; lunch break. Attention everyone, this table on the left is for crew and union actors, the table on the right is for the non-union. They even separated the food at lunch (first time I saw this by the way), non-union-dry chicken on a stick, potatoes, and roasted vegetables, salad with choice of 3 dressings. Union chicken parm, shrimp, spaghetti, roasted potatoes and vegetables, and salad with a nice fixin’s bar. Being vegan I didn’t care about the fancy food, but I had to sneak on to the union line to get some beets, olives, and artichoke hearts. I tried to get to the vegan dish but got shot down.

The thing that gets to me most is the fact that these productions need back ground actors to fill scenes and make the shows realistic. We are willing to work for minimal pay; the least they could do is treat us well on set. I guess I really shouldn’t group every show into this note because I have been on sets that treated us very good, but that’s not the norm.

I guess now you must be wondering why I do it. Well first of all, I know it’s just a small part of my acting career, and although the money isn’t much; it’s something. Secondly I love being on set, once the filming starts all the other crap is forgotten. And finally I’m learning a lot about the business from the production side and the acting side. I’ve improved my acting skills just by watching some of the seasoned professionals I’ve been on set with.

To Be Continued…

Bigger things are on the horizon…


P.S. I Love You…………….

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