Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Better'n Nothing, I Guess

Can't believe I haven't updated this in three weeks. It's actually been a busy time on a number of levels. First, Cherokee & I are in the process of moving. Second, my money job (for the first time ever) is in retail and I've gotten to experience firsthand the Christmas Rush. Third, I've been getting on-camera work. Sort of.

The gigs I've been getting are all jobs as background extras on commercial shoots. Three of them in about two weeks. I am, of course, the first to say that Chicago actors need to do any work that comes along (in order to qualify for health benefits, if nothing else), and I've mentioned earlier in this blog that actors in this market need to disabuse themselves of any notion that they are only fit for principal roles, but these gigs were particularly eye-opening.

The fact is that I've been in the minority in holding the opinions I just repeated above — most Chicago actors HAVE been accustomed to turning down extras/background work. Well, not any longer. Over the last three jobs, I saw long-established actors with tri-coastal careers, Second City mainstage actors, one casting director, and assorted other improvisers, voiceover talent, etc. working with me in the background. I swear, there was more talent employed as "atmosphere" on these shoots than the folks in the foreground.

The reason, of course, is the decline of the broadcast dollar. Less broadcast advertising means fewer spots being shot, meaning less work to go around. I'm hoping this trend ends up like the "technology bubble" of the 90s and that, sooner or later, advertisers realize that all the hype about product placements and Internet advertising just doesn't grab the same attention as their old reliable broadcast spots, but I'm not holding my breath.

And on that note, I'll invite everyone to take a hot bath, shake off these 2005 blues, and look forward to the hope of better things in 2006. Happy Holidays everyone!