Monday, October 15, 2012

The Responsibility to be Irresponsible(?!!)

Sometimes I really hate being such a responsible person. You may be thinking "responsibility is good thing!" Yes, it is. But when it comes to juggling acting (what I love) and my day job (what the pays the bills for right now), I wish I didn't care so much about whether or not my manager sees me as a trouble maker. Especially since I know that I am anything but one.

I expected my next blog- which was to be written sometime this week- was going to be all about the joys of being SAG eligible, because I am as of today (hollah!!!!), but after a shoot for the feature film "Apex Rising" this past weekend, I am inspired to write about the inner turmoil that I face on a regular basis. I'm talking about the stress I face when trying to balance acting with my survival job.

The bottom line is that acting comes first. But it's not easy for me to call out or come in late. I hate to put myself in a position where I can be reprimanded in any way. When I do finally leave my day job I want it to be on good terms. I would never want to be fired. I never want to be written up. I can't stand confrontation and I don't like to disappoint anybody. So I can't even tell you how fast my heartbeats and tight my stomach gets when I have to pick up the phone and tell a manager that I wont be in for my shift that day. Just being late isn't as big a deal. But to be a few hours late does make me a little nervous.

Well, Saturday was my third shoot day for the upcoming horror film "Apex Rising" by Jim Terriaca. This was exciting for me because usually for these indie films all my scenes are shot in one day. We have been filming a few months now and with a longer shoot period such as this, an actor is able to develop and understand their character more deeply. And I can't explain how satisfying that is. That's why Saturday's shoot was so important to me. I began to understand my character in a way that I didn't experience the first two days of shooting. And the funny thing is I barely had any dialogue for this shoot.

But before I even get to a set I have to work out my schedule. I want to quickly say that my stressing out over being late/absent has nothing to do with money. I stress because of my sense of obligation. I don't care if my check is short next payday. That doesn't matter. (I can't afford to lose my job either but you know what I am trying to say.) And by the way, I am not getting paid for this film, but I believe in it. Anyways, this was a morning shoot so I had to switch my schedule with a co-worker so I could do a closing shift. No problem. I was told I would be done for sure with my scenes by early afternoon so I chose to go knowing I would probably be only an hour or two late for work. Again, that's not too big a deal. (And my manager was off that day, so that made things a just little easier:)) Of course, the set was an hour train ride away from my job and filming somehow never quite goes as planned.....

As the time that I was anticipating leaving was getting closer and closer (very quickly I might add), my last scene still had not been shot. This is when I start getting nervous. The director actually told me it would be okay for me leave since my shot for the next scene was really just going to be background shots to establish my character further in the film. But to me leaving would have been unprofessional. I mean, I made the choice to be there and I know that filming always runs longer planned. This is when the inner battle begins. Do I stay and miss half a day of work on a weekend then have to come up with something to tell my manager before she checks the clock-ins Monday?
Or do I leave since I probably won't have dialogue and make it to work at a decent hour?

Of course I decided to wait it out. Nothing beats the feeling of being on set. I would have been very sad if I left. But what really made the decision for me was my desire for the film to be the best it can be. And the desire for my character to be further developed and firmly established throughout the film.

Well, I ended up staying only a couple hours later but with an hour train ride ahead of me I would actually be more than half a day late. I realized though that by next week or so this wouldn't even be a memory for anyone. Not even my manager.

I guess for some people this type of decision isn't a big deal, but for someone who hates confrontation it is. I am always telling myself that I wish I were more brave when it comes to dealing with my job. But when I think about it, I guess I already am brave. When it matters, I make that phone call and do what I have to do despite all the nerves and queasiness. Then I let it go and focus completely on my role.

The fact is until I am consistently booking higher paying acting gigs this type of situation is going to be my reality. I am at the point where I am constantly trying make my work schedule fit my acting but I feel like I'm getting better at handling it. And with the holidays coming up and me working retail, I need to be strong.

The decision to put your art and dreams first can be so hard at times when you have other obligations and responsibilities. But you have to think about what it is that you really want. Sometimes you are going to have to let people down, take a smaller paycheck, and let your other responsibilities slide until tomorrow. Or next week. (Or next month!!) That's life. When you are finally living your dreams those moments won't matter any more and you will wonder why you ever worried about them in the first place. And the people who really matter will still be by your side cheering you on.

It's never easy but I can tell you one thing- as I sat on the train to Manhattan, about to be four hours late for work on a Saturday, I was smiling.

No comments:

Post a Comment