Did you get the role?

I don’t normally like to talk about my auditions or, if I do talk about them, I try to talk about them in non-specific terms, not naming anything or anyone, so that people won’t know which auditions I passed and which I didn’t.

One reason I don’t like to talk about auditions is because people always ask stupid questions like “Did you get the role?” on the very day of the audition.

I have news for everyone. Film auditions are just like job interviews. They don’t tell you on the spot whether they’re giving you the job, because

a) they still have more applicants to see after you, duh,

b) they need time to hire a PI to do a background check on you,

c) they want to go home and consult their dogs first. “Wag your tail if you like this girl.”

Or whatever.

This is not rocket science. It’s common sense.

Sometimes, they take months to decide. Gasp. Just like any other job interview, you don’t say, would you like fries with that?

Another reason I don’t like to talk about auditions is because people like to follow up, as early as a day later.

One day later…

“So, did you get the role?”

I get asked the same question every day for the next ten days by different people. Sometimes by the same people.

I don’t know if I got the role! I just auditioned for heaven’s sake!

What’s with this insatiable desire to know whether I got the role or not??

Who cares? If I got the role, you’ll read about it on my blog. You’ll see me on TV. You’ll see me on film, on YouTube, on the papers, wherever.

Making me go through the same conversation a million times will not enrich either of our lives.

“So, did you get the role?”

“Yes.”

“Congrats! I knew you could do it!”

“Thanks!”

“So, what’s for dinner?”

Or…

“So, did you get the role?”

“No.”

“Oh. Well, I’m sure you’ll get the next one.”

Yes of course I will get the next one! I just don’t need to go through this conversation two hundred times a month!!

Another thing is, it’s very unpleasant to talk about failure. In showbiz, they say that a 20% success rate is the standard.

You must understand that actors go for auditions all the time. Sometimes every day. Sometimes three or four times a day. And, sometimes, a thousand people are gunning for the same job.

So, a 20% success rate is pretty golden.

But, on the flip side, it means that you have to report failure 80% of the time.

And you’re reporting failure a lot because your friends won’t stop asking you, “Did you get the role?”

I repeat, it’s very unpleasant to talk about failure. Or be reminded of it.

I don’t want to have to say “No, I didn’t get it,” eight out of 10 times, you understand?

So, anyway, I haven’t gone for an audition in months because I’ve been busy with my new media work. But I went for one on Thursday and I will talk about it soon. Just don’t ask me whether I got the role.

Because I don’t know.

Ugly side of S’pore showbiz (Part 2)

An actor friend of mine just complained to me about getting screwed over by a production house.

He was offered $500 to act in a live event for a well-known MNC. The event is handled by a quite prominent production house run by a quite prominent individual. My friend accepted the offer and blocked the date for the job.

Three days later, the producer called to say that the fee has become $200.

Of course, my friend protested. How can $500 become $200??

The producer said he had thought he would be able to get that amount, but it turned out that he wasn’t able to.

A pretty lame excuse, if you ask me. My friend tried to negotiate. The producer said $250 tops, no higher.

Since my friend had already blocked the date and turned down other jobs for this job, he decided to take what he can get. He said he’d accept $250 on the condition that he’s paid on the day of the event.

The producer agreed.

Later, another phone call. The producer told my friend that he was going to hire someone else and that my friend wasn’t needed anymore, thank you.

WTF??????????????!!!!

I ask you. What are the little people to do?

The ugly side of Singapore showbiz

I was really annoyed yesterday.

I was so annoyed that I put this in my Facebook:

Demands! Woo...

This is an old recurring peeve, but I was annoyed because there was a casting call for actors/models for a print advertisement that was paying a pittance.

It’s reasonable enough to expect commercial work to pay commercial rates. But these people are offering rates much lower than non-commercial work rates. I get more money posing for photographers who are just practising. (I don’t do that anymore, though.) I even get more money acting in some student films. Duh.

But what’s worse is that there are people willing to do the job and will answer that casting call.

This affects the overall quality of work produced in Singapore. You see sub-standard actors and models appearing all over the place because many companies now prefer to hire untrained or untalented people because they’re cheaper.

So the rates just keep going lower and lower.

And the quality of creative work gets worse and worse.

I mean, have you seen actors and models who are so bad, you just want to shoot them to end everyone’s misery?

Have you seen commercials or TV shows that are so bad, you feel ashamed to admit you share a country with the people who produced them?

That’s because people aren’t freaking willing to pay for quality work!

Sometimes, I have no choice but to propagate the atrocity that is happening. I take a job even if the pay is sub-standard because, if not, I’m sitting at home not earning any income.

I try my best not to, but, once in a while, I feel compelled to cave in.

If I don’t take the job, someone else will and the production house won’t lose any sleep over it.

They know this and they’re exploiting the hell out of us.

Singapore needs an actors’ union. A models’ union. But I doubt that’s gonna happen in my lifetime because Singapore only cares about money. Companies have to be protected and allowed to exploit the little people so they can make even more money for the country.

Very sad lah.

Today, I received a call from a production house that produced a drama series I acted in.

I started work on it May 2007 but I haven’t gotten paid yet.

The payment terms had been made verbally with the project manager. There was no contract. It’s a big and reputable company. I had worked with them before, so I trusted that they would hold to their words.

What I didn’t realise then was that the project manager and the producer weren’t even staff of the company. The whole drama series had been outsourced to freelancers.

During the negotiation, the freelance project manager, after getting verbal approval from the freelance producer, agreed to pay me an extra $400 allowance on top of my regular episodic rate.

Today, the boss of the production house called to say that my invoice has an extra amount quoted, can I explain it?

I explained about the $400 allowance.

“The producer didn’t submit that amount,” was the reply.

What’s worse, both producer and project manager have conveniently disappeared off the face of the earth. Attempts to contact them have failed for a month.

“I know it’s a very small amount,” said the boss. “But I’m sorry I can’t give it to you because we need the producer to sign the approval for that amount first. Otherwise, the auditors will start asking us questions.”

So I can’t get my $400 until the producer reappears and is willing to vouch that he did agree to give me that amount.

If he reappears and if he’s willing to vouch.

It’s very possible that, should either of them ever resurface, they will just conveniently forget that they’d made me that promise, just to make things easy and save on paperwork.

Yes, I have that much faith in the human condition right now.

No matter, you know. Just exploit the little people. It makes the economy grow.

Anyway, I’m taking a break from being exploited, for now. I’m not answering any casting calls and going for any auditions unless the terms are reasonable.

I guess I’d better start thinking about how to make money with my blog.

When violence is fun

I love, love, love doing short films.

They’re most of the time experimental, usually intense and always very creative. You have to be very creative to tell a good story under 15 minutes.

I almost didn’t accept this particular job because of the script. It was a double-edged sword, actually. I love the script but my role is scary. It involves a lot of violence. And I was afraid I’d get hurt because I have a tendency to throw caution to the wind and neglect my own well-being when filming.

During a shoot, nothing is more important than performance. Injuries can be worried about later. Injuries can heal. Whatever’s captured on screen is forever. You get the picture.

But I decided to accept the role because:

  1. I wanted to be part of this amazing script.
  2. Two of my favourite actor buddies are in it.
  3. Louis (actor) wouldn’t stop raving about Josiah (director).

Josiah preps Louis for a shot:

I’m glad I accepted the role because the shoot was fun despite being very tiring (emotionally demanding) and a little painful (violent scenes). But such an exhilarating experience it gave me.

That’s Louis on picture left and Fish (mosaic-ed to keep the ladies from hyperventilating) on picture right. Looks like a horror film, huh? But it’s not.

To prove it, here’s a happy pose.

Notice how I’ve brightened up the picture to make it look even happier? I’m such a cheat, aren’t I?

Louis “plays cheat” by doing push-ups just before a take to induce panting.

Yes, showbiz is a cheating business. Then again, you probably already know by watching Making Of programmes.

And here’s me pretending again to be in a horror film.

I think I miss being in one. Horror films are so cool to make.

Here, the crew is setting up for the next shot, in which Louis throws me on the floor.

The person on the floor is supposed to be me but, at this moment, someone else is there to test the shot because I’m resting. (Being thrown on the floor is very hard work, you know.)

Actually, I lied. I wasn’t resting. I was busy being the (unofficial) set photographer.

It’s fun taking pictures of men in compromising positions.

The sad thing about short films is that… they’re short. All too soon, production ends and all you’re left with is a memory. A very sweet memory of a talented crew and talented co-actors who gave nothing but their best to bring a vision to life.

Unfortunately, Fish isn’t in this picture because he left early, the bastard.

But he’s a lovable bastard (so don’t kill me).

I’m gonna miss people (once again).

Most tiring, tedious shoot of all time

I feel ready to keel over and die right now.

We did this scene like 40 times today. It’s a two-and-a-half-page scene, which translates to about 2.5 minutes of actual running time.

First, we did a wide shot with the camera capturing everyone. Because the director is a perfectionist, everything had to be perfect in the entire take or we had to redo the whole thing from scratch. Because it was 2.5 minutes long and involved many kids and many lines and a high energy level, it was very hard to get it perfect each time. We would play each take till the end and then start over again, hoping that the next take would be IT.

The kids were finally bribed with ice-cream if they could do it perfect. But after a few takes and the perfect take didn’t happen, the ice-cream didn’t happen either. Poor kids.

A long time later, when the wide shot was finally a good take, we went for close-ups on every single last one of us (six). For each close-up, we had to again act out the entire 2.5 minutes, for as many takes as it took for each person’s close-up to be perfect. Everyone else had to maintain the same energy level even if it wasn’t his/her close-up.

I only had three hours of very restless sleep last night (woke up every 15 minutes to toss and turn), so I was already ready to keel over and die without the added burden of having to act super energetic and happy 40 times 2.5 minutes. It was supposed to be a very lively scene with fast-paced bantering and lots of laughter.

It also didn’t help that it was a supremely hot and humid day and I was in uncomfortable clothing and we couldn’t turn on the fans in the room because it interfered with the sound. I also had blisters in my feet from wearing new shoes.

Can die.

If not for my indefatigable will to survive in showbiz, I would have just died on the spot. You don’t know what is hell until you try acting happy and excited 40 times in a row at a time when your body and mind are suffering major sleep deprivation.

I was on the set for over 12 hours, starting from 6.45 am, filming a total of four scenes.

It’s all over now!! Whheeee! My bed is looking very welcome.