04 February 2009

Learnins

Bonnie Gillespie recently posted her end-of-2008 column, inviting readers to tell her what they learned about their craft in the past year. What I learned was that booking ten commercials in 12 months no longer means squat. A full 87% of my acting income last year came from one commercial, and I nearly called in sick for that one. I absolutely needed every single one of those other bookings just to get by until Capital One started running in the summer. I would be toast, right now, unhappy in another day job or busting ass from sun to sun creating whatever business I could to get by had I not booked that job. (It certainly seems that collecting Unemployment Insurance from the State of California is not a guaranteed proposition any more!)

We have commercial contracts to be renegotiated in a few months. Since the 2000 contracts, I believe, we have been royally buggered on the cable deal, and the internet buyout yields just enough cash to pay a month's rent and groceries, provided you have a STELLAR deal on rent/mortgage.

It was a conversation with Hans Howes that inspired me to shoot for double digit bookings. He told me his record was 11 commercials in a year. of course, that was a much different time and a few of those may have been from the Marlboro Man campaign. But giving yourself a ridiculous goal like that, as long as it's grounded in reality and you believe in it, is the first step in accomplishing a ridiculous goal.

How does one wind up still living one month or one car accident away from being flat broke after booking ten commercials? Here's how it breaks down.

Capital One: my meal ticket in '08. Thank you, squid.
Hormel/Lloyd's BBQ: My cold meal off the floor. Internet only, right here.
Advil: Excellent spot, stunt work, bruises, and special effects on the cheap. It showed apparently, so they kept it on the shelf and killed the campaign.
VW: Awesome experience, worked with Bobby Knight. Fartknocker improvs a scene without me and they use that take. See blog post below. Booked Advil and VW on the same day.
Sprint: Cutting room floor. Booked same week as Advil & VW, so imagine how rich I thought I'd be right now.
VisitLasVegas.com: Actually aired for a few weeks, but only good enough for cable money.
Bud Light: Removed from set and replaced with female moments before the master shot.
Epson: Hey, I survived one! This one is currently online, playing during internet series including The Office. Lots of people have told me they saw it, but at least I got a flat rate. Actors in The Office episode didn't get squat. Plus, I wound up buying two of the printers I was hawking, they are that good.
Apple: Specs were changed, no money for potential conflict was offered, so for the first time ever, I actually refused a job. Really hope that was the right decision.
KGB: Finished off the year with this late booking and this one is airing, of course, on cable only. Felt like I kinda snuck in on that one, a lot of established actors grace that campaign, and I'm pretty certain I was one of the only ones on that set working at scale. Still, I'll out-earn what I got for all but one of the other bookings.

And one more that I've forgotten. (Because like most of the others, it went nowhere.)

I have to be proud of myself for not counting on anything. There have been several times over the past few months when I coulda pulled the trigger...coulda walked out of CostCo with that 52-inch plasma and gotten myself hooked up to a lot of fun toys. Had I done that, I wouldn't be writing this. I'd be babysitting the yoots of LA under the guise of "substitute teaching." Or back to the back-breaking messenger biz, or carjacking. Had I done that, I would have had a much harder time replacing my car, which finally reached its breaking point at the end of the year. So what has I learnt? For one thing, I'd rather have quality than quantity. Two network ads trumps ten internet ads every time. And don't buy a lot of stupid shit because you need to pay rent six months from now.

So while I'd love to renew that goal of a dozen commercials, I'll be happier with two meal tickets. Oh, and I've also learned that if you are in the market for a new printer, do not hesitate to snap up the Epson Artisan 800. Highly highly recommend! Use your Capital One card if you have to.

1 comment:

Glen said...

As someone who's only had rat-race-8-5 jobs, I find what you are doing absolutely fascinating. I can't believe how much work you've done that never even gets out there. I'm glad you were able to keep afloat in '08. I wish you more success in '09. Keep the blog posts and fb updates coming.

Glen