As a casting director, I am often asked to work on spec. To help get a project into financing takes finesse, creativity, connections and a healthy dose of good luck and excellent timing. I am guilty of working for free, working for artists I believe in, and all too often I go the extra yard and keep churning away on a project without pay, because of my passion, my Jewish guilt, or a combination of these two things.
Recently I was inspired by an article in the New York Times by Tim Kreider entitled Slaves of the Internet, Unite! The Op-Ed piece urged artists to stop the madness and put an end to working for free as artists tempted by exposure and encouraged by a collective community spirit.
So what do we do? I think there needs to be give and take. Most importantly, I think as artists we are here to create and we must wear our passion on our sleeves and do everything we can to make it happen.
Ava DuVernay gave a groundbreaking speech about this at the Film Independent Forum. She urged aspiring filmmakers to stop making coffee plans to meet the next connection, sending out reels, scripts, and headshots in hopes of representation and told her audience to stop asking and start doing. Ava had a lot of great stuff to say and you can check out her speech here;
Now Genie’s point in all of this is, go out there and make something and if you can get away with doing your first web series or indie film on the cheap, all I ask is that you remember your merry band of collaborators and pay them the next opportunity you get.
This fall, I will try to move forwards and stay true to the artists I wholly believe in and set limits and boundaries to the freebies, so that I can hold my head high and appreciate the work I contribute. Know when to say enough, this one’s not on the house. We must – as artists make art for art’s sake. If we want to continue to support our families and put our kids through college, not to mention food on the table, then we must take a stand on how much we do for free. We must set limits, so we can “work” and make a living in the arts for generations to come. Fall forwards!