In a discussion with a young actor I mentor here in LA, he referred to the work he was getting as ” just these little movies…” and I stopped him.
Why do we do that?
Where did we learn that there are places that are big opportunities and places that are little, nothing, opportunities? It’s true isn’t it? Don’t we always qualify the size of the project? Our enthusiasm for the role can sometimes take a back seat to the size of the project, or our paycheck. The cancer in that is letting your ego know you don’t have to do your best work because the project is crap, or too low a budget for you to “really” do your best work. Hmm…does that sound at all like fear?
I have news for you, the artist in you only knows one honest way to create and express.
If you stifle it for whatever reason, your artist will start to hide. It will start to protect itself from the critic that lives in the same brain with it. So, know that you do damage to your real creative self when you qualify any opportunity with thoughts as subtle as “these little movies,” or, “some small student thing”…and the like. Just go act. Use your time on the set, or stage, to create and grow. What do you care how big the project ultimately becomes? The common thought is if it becomes a hit movie you could be set for life, right? Okay, well, how does the movie becoming a hit months later help your creative process on the set trying to deliver in a scene? Your artist doesn’t know the difference between big or low budget or church basement, only your ego does.
You cannot grow by trying to only be as good as the size of the project. You can only grow by going all out and learning about yourself every time.
2 quick stories…
Years ago a friend who was nervous directing his first movie (a short) asked me to play a silly role in one scene for him. I had to drive forever to the location and everything that could go wrong technically seemed to go wrong up to the point we actually rolled. He had limited film stock so takes were precious. I got to play a goofy store clerk that is outside the normal perception of me. I had a great time and now I have a bit on my reel that shows where I can be very broad and funny.
Years ago I subbed for an actor in a one act play who had to go out of town. It was bad play in a “crappy” black box theatre in Hollywood. In that play I had to act with an little known actor named Tobey Maguire. Did doing that play help him get Spiderman? Sure. Had to. Everything you do makes you better. Did the director cast him because he saw him in that play? No. He cast an actor with chops.
Those little theatres, little movies, little projects are places to act. Why you waste an opportunity to act with thoughts of little or big?
Acting is fun if you let it be.