Thursday, June 10, 2010

Being Indispensable

If another actor can replace you, you are a commodity, like lumber or steel. In the marketplace your only competitive edge will be the rate you charge. Charge less than other actors, you'll book, charge more, you won't.

Some actors do this, offering low price point acting and must do a lot of it to pay their own bills (often non-union work falls into this category). Some offer higher price point acting and can live a little more comfortably. Other actors offer high price point acting and get paid far more (sometimes millions).

The difference can seem subtle. Sometimes it's having a built in audience you bring with you to every project, sometimes it's being the only person with a given skill/attribute/etc. Being a commodity is not a path to financial security, but is not "wrong" in any absolute sense; I know actors who like having day jobs and don't want acting to take over their lives and time. The difference between highly paid and not-so-highly paid can be summed up as a difference in how much value an actor brings (or is perceived to bring).

I had a college professor who did engineering consulting. A brand new office tower in Boston had a serious problem-there was a brown stain coming through the drywall, (all of the drywall) no matter how much stain killer they used. In a forty story building, if you have to rip out all the drywall, this is a multi-million dollar disaster. They had exhausted all possibilities and were a day away from tearing out everything and taking a loss. They hired Henry in a last-ditch effort to solve the problem. He looked at the walls and said, "I think I can work out a solution, but it will cost you $45,000 if I succeed." They instantly signed on, because if he succeeded, the project would be saved.
Henry asked for a pencil and paper and wrote the name of a common hardware store chemical and handed it to them. "Here, this will work." And then he billed them $45,000. That's quite an hourly wage. It's also quite a bargain

(quote from Seth Godin).

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this posted by David August at 4:00 PM 

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