Craftspeople

I’ve spent the day on the phone. I got sent a list of tasks yesterday. “Source a load of actors to play soldiers, find 4 location managers, find a load of PAs.” So I did all that, and rang back with my findings only to be told they’d already found the most of the people I’d been sourcing. Now I understand why people go and work together in the same “office” room, despite the fact that those “office” places frequently turn into noxious hellholes.

Still I managed to get a bit of work for some friends – and some strangers. But I’m fuming about the strangers right now. We are doing WW2 reconstructions in an English Heritage site, filmed, but we can’t fuck around. They won’t let us have a Churchill impersonator. They want “historical accuracy” by which they essentially mean “a load of white dudes.” I managed to get one woman approved as a radio operator. And then I shouted out to actors who had seen active service.

I’ve ended up with some really interesting ex-services actors. The fee is just barely what I would accept for the work, so charm offensive played a part in me getting them interested. But now apparently the client wants people who can be PA’s on the shoot as well and just do the acting as part of it. I’m going to send them my guys and let them decide as it’s just cost cutting and I’ve got the quality. If they want actors and PAs I want more money for those actors, especially since the fee they’re offering includes a buyout. It’s good money for a days work but these things don’t just work for a day. They play and play. If they just want people dressed up as soldiers facilitating things who aren’t too concerned about image rights then so be it. I can find those people too and they’d be marvellous. But they aren’t the people I’ve been looking for. I’ve been talking to a load of soldiers who have become actors and have genuine skill and experience in both arenas. People with hard line military experience who now prance about in tutus. Or would if the money was right. I don’t want to have to phone round and and say “uh sorry guys you have to PA as well” – even though nothing is contracted yet – because every one of them could kill me with their little finger. But acting is a craft and these people are extremely skilled specialist journeymen and should be paid accordingly. It has also made me realise that I’ve come some distance from the version of me that would spend three weeks above a pub doing something I categorically didn’t believe in while paying my own transport for the privilege. At the time I felt it was my duty to my craft. I wanted to make things and put them out there, observe, learn, adapt, make more things better. I still do, but at the start I’d try anything so long as it would involve me learning audiences and skilling myself in front of them. I had some hits. I had some misses. I wasn’t concerned. You gain confidence by winning. You learn more by failing.

I’ve always held the old model in how I think of this craft. Apprentice to Journeyman (It’s an old model genderwise) to, one day, Master.  I currently put my self-identity into a skilled journeyman. I’ve met a few masters. I’ve met plenty of apprentices who think they’re masters, and many remarkable practitioners generally on all parts of the journey.

It’s nice to be able to offer work. But I’m not going to offer thankless work. “Be in my play that I writted. No money. Lots nice! Gropeygropey.” “This film will be submitted to high end festivals and will be a great experience! You’ll be working with *celebrity whose fee commanded the whole budget* It will be a great networking opportunity. The set is made out of gold. Tickets are £700. No fee.”

Bums. I’ll make some calls in the morning.

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Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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