My first professional acting job for film or tv was in a shitty little indie movie called “Bystander”. I played the comic relief (quelle surpise). You can watch my big moment here:
Since then I’ve had the chance to work as everything from a background extra to a major player in mainstream film and tv, and the one thing I’ve enjoyed is the sheer professionalism you find on set. Everyone there is there to do a job. It’s work. It can be fun, it can be tedious, but its a job and at the end of the day you’re there to get paid.
Recently I have been working on an HBO project called “Mare of Easttown”. It has been an ordeal. On my first day, there were around 500 background actors on set, and it was truly a cattle herd situation that nobody had under control.
My second day was filmed in an abandoned hospital. There were about 30 actors on set. The wardrobe people were supposed to have an outfit for me as a doctor, but they were not provided large enough sizes to fit my body. As a result, I was downgraded to a generic hospital nurse. Except they didn’t have large enough sizes in scrubs for my body. I ended up being downgraded to a “visitor” at the hospital, and was on set for about 12 hours without being used on camera. The fun part is, they told me at the START of the day that they couldn’t imagine any visitors being needed because the scene took place in intensive care. They knew they didn’t need me (and three other actors provided as “visitors”.) None of us worked.
In addition, there were multiple accidents on set that day. I sat down in a chair provided for us in the holding area and it broke apart underneath my body. I fell flat on my back in front of 20 odd other actors, who were all horrified. Production did not seem interested. Later that day a petite woman walked face first into a GIANT rearview mirror on a truck that was parked in the pitch black darkness of a small area outside we were forced to use to leave set that night. She literally fell to the ground crying. Production did not seem interested.
My third day on set, I never made it to set. I took an Uber out to a little town in Pennsylvania no one has ever heard of, and waited in an empty parking lot for a shuttle that never came to pick me up. No one answered any phone numbers I had to reach anyone, so I just went home.
Now, I am roughly three weeks due on a paycheck from working November 19th, and it hasn’t arrived. I emailed the payroll company yesterday and they did not respond. I called them today and they said they were never notified by the production company that I had worked. I’d already emailed them my work voucher, so they dug into their email and found it, and said they’re going to have to touch base with production and investigate why I wasn’t reported as having worked.]
I am reluctant to continue doing work for this production based on all of these experiences. In my 20 odd years in this business, I have never seen such a shoddy, shifty production company, nor have I felt more neglected as a professional.