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Secret Agent Man

Why Local Hire Means Local

Why Local Hire Means Local
Photo Source: Pete McDonnell

An actor’s brain is flawed.

On the plus side, your mind gets frustrated when your career isn’t moving forward. So it chugs along, day and night, desperately trying to come up with ideas that might help.

On the negative side, your brain has a damaged filter. It can’t tell the difference between a good idea and a bad one. That’s why so many of you waste precious time and money crafting schemes that go nowhere fast. For example…

GOOD IDEA: I have a meeting with an agent who is the perfect fit for me. So I’m going to do my research and come up with some common ground we can discuss during the meeting.

BAD IDEA: I have a meeting with an agent who is the perfect fit for me. So I’m going to put my face on a coffee mug. That will be the perfect gift. He’ll be very impressed.

Can you imagine if people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs had brains like that? We’d still be working with pocket calculators and electric typewriters.

That’s why you have to think things through. What seems like a good idea might be a ticking time bomb your flawed brain came up with in a moment of desperation.

And that brings up local hires.

Last week, we talked about the expenses production companies incur when they hire an actor to work on location. The four basic costs are transportation, ground transportation, accommodations, and per diem. That can add up to a lot of money. So to save their budgets, shows such as “The Walking Dead” hire local talent. I’m talking about actors who are already living in Atlanta and just dying to meet some zombies. 

Now here’s what happens in the brain of an L.A. actor when he or she reads that last paragraph: “Hey, wait a minute. My cousin lives in Atlanta. So I have to tell my agent I can be a local hire. That way I can put myself on tape for roles that would normally go to actors who already live there. And if I get the job, I’ll just buy a cheap airline ticket and I’m good to go!”

At this point a normal brain would start to notice a few holes in that plan. But as I said before, an actor’s mind is far from normal.

First, let me explain what local hire means. The production company will expect you to fly yourself in at your own expense. It will not send a car to meet you at the airport. There will be no per diem. And they will not put you up in a hotel. So even if you have a place to stay, you might end up spending more money than you make. Remember, last-minute airline tickets are expensive and you might have less than a week to buy yours.

Now, here’s one of the many ways a local hire can go wrong:

What if production has to change its schedule and now you have to be there the very next day? What will it cost to change your ticket? And what if there aren’t any other flights available? Or what if your flight is canceled because of bad weather?

The producers aren’t going to care about any of that. They expect you to honor your commitment. And if you don’t, then your agent will drop you, that casting office will never hire you again, and you might even be held liable for expenses incurred by production.

So fire up your brain after reading those last two paragraphs and ask yourself: Local hire? Good idea or bad idea?

Like this advice? Check out more from Secret Agent Man 


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