My Reelity

Is this the reel life or is this just fantasy?

Too Good To Be True

Posted by Ruok On September - 1 - 2009

Every week Wednesday between 7p.m.-9p.m. we conduct an actors scene work session. These sessions only consist of between 6-8 actors that participate in scene work; ensuring there is sufficient time and takes to push performance and establish the makings of character in each scene.

We invite film directors with credits to conduct these sessions with us and this is supported by Sinema Old School which is an organisation that is the independent feature film hub of Singapore. They are most pro-active within the arts community here specifically related to film.

We are, for the first time – opening the portal up for other actors out there to join us in scene work. Spaces are strictly limited and the pre-requisite for attending is that this is NOT a session suitable for actors with no experience as it is not an acting 101 workshop. We focus on performance and character and working with real directors so our selection process is based on the work you have done as actors. We invite all those with short film, theatre, TV experience to find these sessions most beneficial.

When I first received the above email, I was quite excited. It’s not been a good year for me so far and I thought this was the best bit of news I’ve heard so far. I mean you kidding me? A scene work session? I know a lot of actors who would definitely want to be part of this.

So I applied and got in and this is an excerpt from the confirmation email that I got :

“You need a scene partner, and I will match you up with an actor that matches your acting calibre. Each session is $15 per actor as you get to work with a director and the actors attending also provide performance feedback.
Let me know if you will be attending next weeks session by Friday 27th August.
If you have confirmed your attendance and then pull out, you will forfeit the $15.
Please ensure if you are unable to make it that you provide at least 48 hours notice.”

Perhaps in my excitement, I’ve read the email wrongly. But did it just say I would get paid $15 to do this? Yeah, I know, it sounds too good to be true. I wasn’t expecting to pay for the session but was definitely not expecting to be paid as well.

Guess what, after rehearsing a scene with my partner for tomorrow’s session, I found out that it really was too good to be true.

It’s us, the actors, that would have to pay $15 for a 1/2 hour session.

Nowhere in the first email, and in the facebook group which they invited me to join, was there any mention or indication of us having to pay to be involved in this session.

So I asked why we had to pay for these sessions. My partner, who was one of the very first actors to be involved in this, explained that they were told it was for the rental of the place and for the director invited to these sessions. The funny thing was these sessions started out as a very casual thing between actors and it was free, and there was no director involved initially. Then they started charging $8, $10 and now $15 per actor and bringing in directors.

So, let’s see here… the director gets paid? Wow, and here I thought this was a mutually beneficial session between for directors and actors. So how come the burden of these sessions fall on the actors? We even have to come out with our own scripts for crying out loud. If we don’t want a director to be involve, can the price be lower?

To pay for rental of the premise is fair I suppose. If we assume everything goes to the rental, this would work out to be $120 over a two hour session. Which makes it $480 a day and $14,400 a month (8 hr day, 30 day month). When you look at it this way, it doesn’t seem cheap eh?

Needless to say, I am quite disappointed by all this. It’s not a matter of whether I can afford the $15 but more of a sense of actors being exploited again. I mean, they are not even being upfront about having to pay for these sessions at all! It is too late for me to pull out at this point, as it wouldn’t be fair to my partner.

But I will try to gather more facts tomorrow and see if the situation is really as bad as it seems.

Its a real pity though; I truly thought this was a good thing for us actors. Now it’s just leaving an awful taste in my mouth.

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