Naomie Christensen: Acting in Utah: Plight of Hardship

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Acting in Utah: Plight of Hardship

The entertainment industry is growing in the United States. Movies and television shows are major exports and everyone dreams of becoming famous. Despite this booming industry many are left out. Living in Utah, I see the injustice all the time. As a "Right to Work State," we are also "the Price Shopper's Special."

California and New York have an abundance of paying jobs; however, if you cannot make it in your local market, making it in a larger market is impossible. A lot of people have talent and are attractive. A headshot and resume is required to audition. Working in a local market helps build a resume and offers valuable experience while protected by friends and family. With basic supplies and experience chances of working in California or New York is realistic. Directors want to know the actors they hire will perform at a professional level. A person can make a living in acting or modeling in New York; however, there is more competition. People who have been acting since they were twelve are competing for the same jobs.

It is difficult working as an actor in Utah. Playhouses offer steady work. Even then, it is barely a living. Many aspiring directors do not know if they will make money on their films. The Sundance Film Festival offers a creative outlet; however, the video has to be accepted to make money. Therefore, directors want people to volunteer time. It is a community effort.

Paying jobs in film are rare. Most jobs are nonpaid. At least some directors pay basic respect to talent and provide a free meal. One valuable experience is figuring out how to work at a regular job and go to auditions. Sometimes they throw in a copy of the DVD. It helps advertise independent films.

Many people are desperate to build resumes and will work for nothing. It created a decline in social graces between production and actor. When talented people realize they make more money working at a regular job, acting becomes secondary. Constantly talent is lost to realities of life. Secretly I was happy to hear fewer people are showing up to unpaid film shoots. Accidentally, they are protecting their basic rights.

Community effort is strong; however, it could be better. We need to work on marketing independent movies to ensure someone sees these movies. Communication is the greater point of all art. Despite various difficulties in local markets, I still recommend finding out if you can make it in your own market first. The idea of on your own in an area where the cost of living is higher and there is no support is insanity without previous acting experience.

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