My first time turning down a SAG acting job.
It feels like yesterday I uttered the words, "I'm so desperate for work, I'd take almost anything!" In fact there is a great chance I did say that yesterday. Whatevs, we're all a little thirsty in the summer, ya dig?
Anyway. For the first time ever, I booked a real role and turned it down. Not because I'm too cool (see Thirsty comment above) but because it had a lot of red flags. And I don't want to bitch about anyone here, but I do want other actors to know 1) why I did what I did 2) what these red flags were, and 3) how they can have the same freedom to say no.
We need to nickname this project first, let's just call it Project Red. Project Red wasn't a typical audition situation. I had known some folks involved previously and sent straight to a chemistry read. The CD had us meet at their office...and was an hour late to said meeting. Myself and the other actor involved had to call the CD and notify them that the meeting was even happening (which they had set up themselves). When we finally got going, we were asked to perform a scene in which the male actor gives my character a shoulder massage almost immediately. We had not discussed touching yet (HOT TIP: always ask your scene partner if you can touch them before you so much as hold their hand, you just never know) and were given poor notes because we didn't "massage" in the scene correctly. Thank god my male counter-part was incredibly respectful and we talked it out, but we were both taken aback by the whole thing.
After finishing the 2 hour long session, I got a call in the car on the way home that I had booked the role. Cool! But not from my agent, from the producers themselves. Odd. Even more odd: I was asked to turn my car around and come back to have dinner and talk about the character. Hard pass.
This was the beginning of a week long process of the production team attempting to get us to rehearse without giving us contracts. I may have the skin of a 24 yr old but I sure as shit wasn't going for it. Then SAG called (never the start of a good sentence) to tell me they did not have their contracts in order and the production wasn't even union yet, therefore I was advised not to work on it.
The plot thickens...
Immediately after that call I was called again by the Project Red production team. They asked that I just come to a scheduled meeting regardless and ignore the union calls. (If I was marking RED FLAGS here, we'd be on about 4 now). I told the team that I did not feel comfortable with a rehearsal, but after chatting with my fellow actor that I would be ok with a short 30 min meeting. I was promised this was what we would do.
Can you see the storm on the horizon yet?
Before that meeting started, we were escorted into a managers office across the hall. Please note, this manager had NOTHING to do with Project Red. They were just literally in the office to hold us actors. This manager began to drill us on our "relationship" and "chemistry" because she had been asked to before we went into our meeting. (If you're confused yet, you're not alone! I was right there with you.) I got realllll sassy at this point and sat quietly to bite my tongue as to what this random human was doing schooling me on my acting work (that had not even begun yet, we'd only had ONE chemistry read!!!).
When we were finally in the real intended meeting with the Project Red crew, we walked into a room with 9 people (for our "small meeting that was NOT a rehearsal against SAG rules") and were handed scripts to FUCKING rehearse. Nope. Done.
A LOT went wrong here. I'm not even mentioning the fact that production had been pushed three different times a week before shooting, the hate speech we were given on SAG, the never before mentioned idea that I now needed to dye my hair for the role, the "oops" that fellow out of the CD's mouth right after she mentioned she has a girl she preferred for the role over me (I get it, thats the business, but not in a meeting ok?), or the follow up calls in which I was labeled a diva for my shock and awe of the promised non-rehearsal rehearsal (PS: we did not rehearse, my male counterpart stood up for us both on that and I really commend him a lot) and cheap dye job I was not agreeing to on the spot.
What's the damn point Sam!
Ok, guys. The point is be aware. Be honest. And don't do jobs that are so unclearly unprofessional after a certain point in your career. Yes, you will do some shitty jobs with people you are totally shocked were given money for them. But there comes a point and a limit in which you know the sacrifice is NOT worth the "potential reward". Take the opportunities of course, but respect yourself and your work. You're worth more than a shitty dye job.
*Steps off soap box*