Protecting your brand

In a previous post, I touched on commercials and why you should be careful and always have a contract before going on set. Today I am going to expand a bit into film and TV.

There are thousands of amateur projects out there on casting sites and you can book work on them relatively easily.  You probably have friends or friends of friends with a script in the works right now.

Why are you doing this work?

If the answer is “because I love being on set and want to have fun” – then great go for it. But before you do, please read on and make sure you know what you are doing.

If your answer is that you are getting experience on set and a credit for your resume then, think again.

When an actor sends me a resume I scroll through for credits I recognize.  If there is something there – great.

If not I start researching – are any of the credits on IMDB?  Did any make it to festivals or into theaters?  Have the writers and directors done other work that has done well?

If the answer to any or all of these questions is no then as far as I am concerned the credit has no value.

And getting experience on set is only good if you are working with very experienced actors and film makers.  Other than that, it’s not useful experience either.

Sound unfair?

All that work and quite likely, expense on your part and it’s rejected as having no value.  Sorry but it is what it is. Anyone can make up credits and many do.  A credit on your resume has to be verifiable.

Then there’s the other side to it.

Yes, there is more and it’s all bad.

If you go on set, any set, without a contract you are essentially giving the producers all rights to your footage, your image, your brand forever.  They can do what they want with it.  The can, if they want, shoot you nude (if you agree) and then sell it on to who knows where, for inclusion in who knows what.

I am not saying they will, I am saying they can and some might?  The gossip magazines and papers pay good money for this material.

Let’s imagine for a minute it’s 5 years in the future and you are just starting to break out.  You have signed a major deal for a film or TV show and you are getting a lot of attention when suddenly the footage from this amateur project you shot 7 years ago for “friends” starts doing the rounds in the media.

It’s not fatal but as a manager, I could do without it and so could you.  Studios have got cold feet over less.

So never ever go on set without getting the advice of your manager or agent and never ever, ever go on set without a contract.

I am not saying all film makers will do this – most won’t. But you are your brand and you must protect it because as an actor it is all you have.