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  • Should Actors Pay to Play?

    I got this very interesting question from an actor who prefers to remain anonymous due to the nature of the question:
    Dear Erin,
    You being in NYC but from the Left Coast (California) and all, and being well-versed in the mechanics of our fine industry…have you heard of this practice? A filmmaker (director/writer) collaborates with actors to write a film of any length, featuring said actors with characters based on their types. The director then collects money from the actors, in proportion to their screen-time—leads pay the most, day players the least—hires a professional crew and goes about shooting, editing, and finalizing the film for festival submissions.
    I’m told this is all the rage in Los Angeles. How say you?
    – Eager on the East Coast
    Well! What a contentious topic. I can see why you’d prefer to present the question in “Dear Abby” format! I have heard of this…it is very similar to theater “membership” companies who charge actors a monthly fee in exchange for having stage time. The actor’s membership dues pay for the actual production of their shows, and often pay for the salaries/stipends of the producers and crew members.
    The practice of paying to create work is

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