More ponderings about acting...
I was cruising around the net looking through casting and audition notice websites, and I came across a forum for actors connected to a casting site. There was a thread on the forum discussing whether or not one should include "extra" or "background" work on one's CV.
The general consensus was yes, but only until you have a few better jobs to put down, then you remove the extras from the list. And you should put the title of a character - eg "restaurant patron", "sailor" - not just "extra".
However, some of the other responses really bothered me; they said "No. Background work is not acting." Simple as that.
Well, why not? What's the definition of acting? Isn't it something like portraying a character in an established scene to help create a story... or something... seems to me an extra is doing that. In a small way, yes, but not insignificant. The extra still needs to be "in character". It's not like you can just grab anyone and plop them into a scene without any explanation of who they could be, and expect it to turn out the same as when you give the extras characters and objectives (even if it's just "you're a customer, you want a coffee").
Okay, this is better. The Oxford Dictionary defines "act" as carry out (an incident or story) in mimicry, represent, perform a play or part; personate (character in a play or life); perform actions...
So, perhaps those objectors simply meant that extra work isn't skilled acting, and therefore not worth telling anyone about. After all, you don't need a whole bunch of training or experience to just act like a normal person in the background. (That, actually, kinda puts another hole in the argument because in a lot of instances the extras arent' normal people at all - they're mutant pirates or primitve cannibals or space-people from a different universe. Those things ouwld take at least a little bit of skill and effort.)
I suppose what it would boil down to is the opinion of each different casting person or director on the relevance of an actor's extra work. Some might appreciate that you're just starting out (hey, everyone starts out) and are at least doing something to get yourself out there. Others, I hear, can be quite snobby about "extra" actors, as if they're a whole different breed from "role" actors, and never the twain shall meet. That is sometimes true, of course, because plenty of people work as extras and have no desire for featured roles. So I guess, really, like so much of this silly business of ours... it's a lot about who you know, not what you know. You might be at an audition and come across a director who says "wow, you've been working hard on all these extras gigs, good to find someone who's happy to do the hard work, I like you." Or you might just get "only extra parts hey? Hmmm..... next!"
Fickle. That's what it is.
I love the word fickle. It sounds like one of my daughter's made-up words.
In related news... I've decided I won't sign up with that agency that does extra/commercial work. I'll put myself into Showcast etc, freelance it for a few more months and then, later in the financial year, do the rounds of the agents again. I'd still be happy to do some extra work or TVCs while I'm starting out but I don't want to give anyone the impression that I'll be happy to stick with that kind of work.
Right at the moment, though, anything that pays would be wonderful.