Many young people who want to act believe that there is some fast track to fame and taking roles in Indie flicks somehow does not fit into that plan. 1000’s of wannabe actors sign up as extras and seek out extra roles on large projects. While being an extra in anything is great for networking and meeting fellow wannabe actors, it is not great for your resume.
Extra, means just that. It is a body to fill on set that pays minimum wage. Anyone can do it. Acting skill is not a requirement. Too many people shy away from even trying out for Independent film projects because they equate Indie productions with non-paying. That may be true, and many independents films have little capital to work with.
I see articles posted all over that tell new actors to not take non-paying roles. They state that “it’s a job and you get paid to work”. Unfortunately, thats really bad advice. Before anyone can work in any industry and demand payment, they must have experience. Graphic designers take on many free gigs to create a working portfolio. Doctors, lawyers, teachers and many other professions do internships just to get a foot in the door and experience to add to a resume. Why should acting be any different?
Indie films are great for new actors. They offer a chance to get experience and credit for their resumes. Most actors just starting can normally get speaking parts in indie film, student projects and other productions that do not have a budget to pay actors. Many of these projects are done for submission to film festivals. Young and beginning actors have a much greater chance getting seen and maybe getting an agent afterwards.
Acting is an art, just like painting, music, or animation. Most artists do it for their love of their craft and if they make some money along the way it’s a great bonus.
Now, with the above said, actors really need to choose their roles carefully when dealing with unpaid or student projects. Always keep in mind that the benefit is the experience and exposure gained and work from that. Look at the project from a “how will this help my career” point of view. Seek out speaking roles that can be added to your reel and roles that you believe you can shine in.
It’s your resume, make it great, even if there is no pay.