You’re on set. It’s been a great day – you’ve overcome the jitters and gotten a few good scenes behind you when suddenly the Director says, “Hey can you…” Your gut tells you “No, this isn’t right! Speak up!” But the director’s behind schedule and the camera crew is waiting for you.
What should you do? Speak up?
Yes, your Director has the final say, but you need to listen to your gut. Empower your gut! If you don’t – the quality of your performance will suffer. Your gut will hear, “Shut up.” Then you’ll either be fighting to push your instincts down or they will be silenced altogether. Either way – you will not be able to perform at your best when it matters most.
Ask yourself these questions before deciding if you should speak up:
1) Does it feel morally wrong? You know what is right or wrong. Ask yourself: was I told about this in the audition? Did we contractually agree to this? If not, stop before you go any further. This applies to adult and child actors. You have the right to be emotionally and physically safe as well as respected. Parents – it is your job to be on set and protect your child. And remember, you are the only one who can protect you or your child’s professional reputation.
2) Does it feel completely out of character? You’ve done your homework. You know your character and what she/he would do or not do. If you can’t make the adjustment work, then you need to ask for clarification and talk it out. Directors aren’t perfect and it’s possible they were so focused on one of the other million things they’re responsible for that they were unintentionally confusing to you.
3) Is it something that’s not in the script? Stunts, wardrobe, putting in extra time, and delaying a meal are just a few of the things that get asked of actors on the spot. SAG has rules, hotlines and a representative on set, so try to get clarity before moving forward. If it’s a non-union set they aren’t bound by the rules of SAG, but SAG rules still remain a good guideline for knowing what’s appropriate and what’s not. Know them before you go!
4) Is it a valid concern or is my ego driving the bus? It’s easy to get caught up in the attention of being on set, particularly if you’re the lead. Just remember that production is always a team effort. We all have to work together so stop, think, and be rigorously honest with your self. Are your feathers just ruffled or is this something that is truly concerning?
The most important guideline: You have to evaluate each incident on a case-by-case basis.
And finally: make sure to take time to THINK before you speak up!
Next Week: Decided to speak up? Here’s how…
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