DAY 10 – WHY NOT!?!

 

Well it’s Day 10 of The 365 Day Project. Day 10! How did that happen? I really need to get on top of this blogging thing. A need to get into a rhythm. A routine. Hell, I just need to write.

So, 10 day hey? And what have you been up to? – I hear no one ask.

Well, funny you shouldn’t ask that. It’s been a reasonably random and somewhat eventful week – and a bit.

In the last 10 days I’ve made a total of $550. To put that into perspective that’s about half my normal day rate for big shot advertising stuff.

I’ve also spent far more than I’ve earned. Not hard when you live in the world’s second most expensive city. Plus it was my birthday week-ish. So I totally deserve the things I shouldn’t have bought myself.

So how did I come about this mountain of money? Strap yourself in people, particularly those of you who have any interest in pursuing an acting career – or just want to make a few extra bucks; students, entrepreneurs, homeless people maybe.

Having a current subscriber list that stretches as far as my immediate family, I’m guessing that will cover zero people. But I’m going to tell this story anyway.

It  was Day 2 of this Project and I headed off for an audition at PG’s Agency – an agency who represents TV Extras.

My girlfriend had signed up a few months ago and got some decent gigs out of it. The irony here of course is that I’m usually on the other side fence of this sort of thing. In my advertising life, we choose extras and ‘talent’ all the time. “Nah.” “Shit.” “What is wrong with this guy’s face?!” “Did she dress in the dark?!” You get the idea.

Now I was putting myself up to be chosen. And commented on.

So I head to my appointment. It was in some random room in one of those small office type places. The no-windows kind of vibe. Lovely. Of course there were no signs to guide you. No indication of where to go. So helpful.

Anyway, I managed to accidently stumble across the tiny room that had a bunch of nervous, yet rather good-looking people huddled around a shitty coffee table filling in their clipboard forms. Incidentally, why the fuck do forms still exist? Tablets people! Every ‘form’ should be on a Tablet! Here’s the big plus with those; it’s faster, you don’t have to read peoples’ scrawl and it’s input directly into your system! Seriously!?

I digress.

So a stupid paper form and a bunch of shitty small talk with our good-looking bunch later, I’m in the room for my chat. Now, apparently with these things you have to pay for headshots. I did not know this at the time. $300 was their asking price according I learnt from the clipboard small talk.

They’ll try to push you to pay for the headshots. Don’t. I didn’t. I told them I had someone doing shots for me and that I’d send them through. They seemed to buy that. I also name dropped my girlfriend. You can name drop my name if you want.

The tip with your headshots is apparently to do them on a plain white/light background. No shadows on your face. Easy!

Interview over. Talent clearly spotted. And I’m out the door.

By the afternoon I’d had a call for my first gig. Love Child. An Australian TV Series. Yeah, I’d not heard of it either. They asked if I’d shave my beard for the part – as barman. The show is set in the 70s. Beards weren’t big back then apparently. Bullshit.

Regardless, I freaked out. My beard is my trademark! I said I’d think about it. 10 minutes later they called back and said it was fine. Tomorrow was the fitting. Day 6 was the shoot. I didn’t ask about money. Idiot.

Day 6. On the set of Love Child.

At 10:30am (my call time) I arrive at ‘Unit Base’. This is apparently the place where we were to make ourselves look pretty – hair, makeup, wardrobe – before we’d be bused to wherever we needed to be. For the record TV shows have really got their shit together with production. It’s military.

Hair and makeup done and I’m on the Hot Bus Time Machine with the rest of the extras in the 70s scene, and we’re off! To Kings Cross. The Roosevelt Bar to be exact. I’ll spare you the boring details. But fuck me it was a hard day. I had a bigger roll than the actors I’m sure of it. Do this, this, this, land on this mark and then come back here for this. Rinse and repeat. For 4 hours. And at least 6 camera setups.

Sometimes it’s good to be shit.

I understood what they wanted in each scene and each take. I understood where the cameras were. I know what a barman does – believe me! Although I’m usually on the other side of the bar. The only direction I had was from the Assistant Director. Just a couple of things for timing. “Try landing here at this point in the dialogue.” “No that didn’t work, back to the original mark.” No one really told me what I supposed to be doing so I just did what I figured I should be doing; pretend to do barman shit behind the bar, and don’t make a fucking sound! I clicked a glass accidently at one point. At which point I enjoyed some drama from the crew instead of the actors.

Otherwise, I was just pretending to be doing stuff below the shelf of the bar – where the camera couldn’t see my hands. Moving nothing. Cutting nothing. Shaking nothing. I’m quite certain that a various points throughout the takes I would have looked like I had my pants around my ankles in a frenzy of self-pleasuring. There’s probably a cocktail joke in there.

The point here is that I was clearly in the show. In the camera’s ‘frame’ as we say. I was interacting with the actors, ‘making drinks’ and on occasion masturbating furiously in the background.

I will no doubt get copious grief from anyone I know who sees this show. Because you do right? That’s what happens?! Plus I looked like a dickhead! Well, more than usual.

Let’s talk money

And so what did I earn for this Oscar worthy performance? Guess! $400 an hour? $200 an hour? Ladies and mum, I got $25 an hour!

That’s it! $25 an hour. What a joke. The people who sat at the back of the bar – a yeti-like blur of indistinguishablity (did I just make a word up?) – got exactly the same!

So, wannabe extras folk, here’s what I discovered: you get the same amount of money if you’re a blurred blob far off into the distance as you do if you totally fucking own the scene!

I would have much rather sat on my arse all day. At a table. Doing blurry stuff. And now I probably can’t be in anything else because I’m recognisable in the show! And it was a one off bit-part, so no scope for a spin-off show starring me! Bah!

Incidentally here’s some clarity on the money rule: if the director comes and speaks to you directly about what he or she wants you so do – not the Assistant Director (who incidentally passes on the messages from the Director and did on the day) – then you might get double; to $50 and hour.

Lesson learnt – TV extras work sucks

So that’s TV show extra work. Is it worth it? Not really. Actually not at all IMO. But I did get a couple of hundred dollars and I’ve now got a fun story to share with you peeps.

And what of TV commercial extras work?

This is where you can make some good coin. Be an extra in a TV commercial or online film for a brand and you can really rack up the dosh. Blurred yeti will get you about the same as TV, but if you’re able to be recognised (so anywhere from side profile to front on profile) then you start going up significantly! We’re talking north of $1000. Why? Because you’re brand (you) is basically ‘endorsing’ said product or service. You’ve essentially sold your soul.

Funny story (not really), two days later, a producer at my old agency needed a pair of feet for a TV ad where I’d be wearing bright socks against a green screen. $250 for 5 hours. Why not!? Right!? Much easier and better than that TV work.

What she failed to mention is that’s I’d be lying down in an awkward position for most of those 5 hours and have to keeps two kids entertained between setups. All good though. The kids were fun. And the gig was much easier and more relaxed than the Love Child. Plus I got to keep the socks. Here’s me without socks however.

Until next time peeps,

Ben

 

THE 365 DAY PROJECT

Money made to date: $550

Kilometres run to date: 0
(Although I did do a Spin class, a Pump class and a wine appreciation class.)

Day 1 – Let’s do this!

Today is my birthday. And 365 days from today I’ll be turning 40.

It’s kind of depressing really. How did that happen? And so quickly!?!

Perhaps this Whisky knows…

Nope. But I do feel a little better about things.

First things first; what is the point of this blog?

This, friends, is a public accountability diary – of sorts. I am going to share with you what I’ll be doing over the next 365 days before I turn Four Zero. Not every day, just every so often – because if I’m waxing lyrical on here telling you all the things I’m doing, then I’m not actually doing said things.

How did I get here?

For context, I’ve been an advertising copywriter for over 16 years.

And 6 weeks ago I quit my job as Creative Director.

It was two days before Christmas. I walked out the door with a gigantic card and a firm handshake. I’d only been at that particular agency for about 11 months mind you so you can’t really expect to be leaving with much else.

What’d I’d realised that I’d left behind though, was 11 months of my life.

I’m not talking about working there for 11 months.

I’m saying that in this instance I had physically sacrificed 11 months of my LIFE; for the job, the agency, the people, the clients, the daily running of the business.

It was everything.

10-to-12hour days were the norm. Weekend work was a regular occurrence. And if you’ve ever been a creative in this business you know that you don’t ever really switch off; you’ve got your note pad by the bed, your eyes always open and mind always on.

This is especially true when you’re trying to rapidly build an agency. And we did. In the time I was there we went from 10 people to 45. No small feat.

In the 11 months I was joint CD there I probably did some of the best work I’ve ever done with my long term Art Director and CD partner Brian Jefferson.

And we’d helped build a great agency.

It was hard. Exhausting. Emotionally debilitating. But we were and should be proud.

Problem is, that I for a long time – years in fact – I’ve had an itch that I need to scratch; things I’ve wanted to do that agency life simple doesn’t afford you the time or energy for. And, if I’m honest with myself, the business I’d loved for so long just didn’t fulfil me anymore.

So I’ve left the ad game.

And I’m terribly nervous, but ultimately happy about that decision.

So for the next 365 days, I’m going to publically scratch my itch.

I think that now is the best time for me to be doing this.

I’m not married. Have no kids. And no debt – if you don’t count the mortgage I have for an investment property in Tasmania, but that basically pays for itself (And for the record, I’ve never actually been to Tasmania but we’ll leave that for another post, shall we?)

Most importantly, thanks to 16 years of being a creative in the ad industry, I know a lot about a lot now.

That’s one of the advantages of working in advertising; you learn how to creatively solve problems, you constantly dive deep into a myriad of different businesses and industry sectors, and you can basically sell anything. All good skills to learn!

So here we are. A year before I turn 40.

And the question becomes; what can be achieved in a year?

12 months. 365 days. 8760 hours. 525,000 minutes.

A year which I begin as 100% unemployed.

Time to expose the itch.

Here’s the loose plan. This will obviously evolve and adapt, but initially the plan is that before I turn 40 I am going to:

Create an online t-shirt design business
I tried this last year but didn’t have the time to pursue it. Now, I have the time.

Launch a simple cleaning product.
I have the product in mind but have done little else about it.

Run marketing and branding classes for startups
Not sure how I’m going to do this yet, I just think it’d be great to help businesses who would otherwise never be able to afford to get close to me.

Get a rescue dog
This will require me moving out of the flat I’m in, but I really want a dog.

Launch an app
I have two in mind. They’re both big. Bigger than I could ever manage on my own. So I’ll need help here. I guess a feasibility study is first.

Get at least two other product ideas off the ground
I have ideas all the time. Ideas are the currency of the business I’m in. And it drives those around me nuts. “That’s an awesome idea, just fucking go out and do it!”, is what I’m often told. To those people, know that I’ve listened.

Run 365 kms
I know Mark Zuckerberg ran 365 miles but he’s a billionaire. Plus I don’t know what 365 miles is in kilometres.

Make $356,000 AUD
Yep. Fuck it. Why not?! That number works nicely. Not sure where the money’s going to come from mind you. I could always freelance. But hopefully the things above this, will lead to this.

So that’s the plan over the next 12 months.

And that plan will no doubt change. I’m going to learn a lot. I’m going to freak out. I’m going to fail. But at least I’ll be scratching that itch.

Right now though, I just want to go and enjoy my birthday.

Thanks for reading.