"Mom, I'm the one in the T-shirt!"
Almost every actor has experienced being on a set with lots of downtime waiting . . . waiting. What happens too often? Lots of moaning, groaning, gossiping, spreading negativity, and staring out into space.
Look, you can't go running around town, or be in a workshop or otherwise do the myriad errands we always have to do. So what's the best solution? Turn lemons into lemonade, as the saying goes. Turn this "paid confinement" shoot to your advantage. So by the end of the day, you'll have a great sense of accomplishment, while given the opportunity (hopefully) to do some fun work and earn (somewhat of) a salary, too. Can't beat that!
(1) Bring your laptop - if you can keep it in a safe place when you're on set and if WiFi is available. Work on your career. Check out the casting notices, look at Actor's Access and your other online profiles. Visit some totally trashy website (set a time limit on this one!) Work on that long-overdue new monologue. See #2 below.
(2) Need to get a new or additional monologue? Now's the perfect time to work on it. It's recommended that actors have four monologues always at the ready for auditions. Two comedic (one classical) and two dramatic (one classical). This is also a good opportunity to time their length. If you need a one-minute monologue, make sure you have one that is! Nothing destroys an audition quicker than being called "TIME" during an actor's monologue and seeing the embarrassed offender slink off.
(3) Read the trades. The trades should also include Variety, The Hollywood Reporter - to set your acting aspirations higher (the "go to" people read them, the stars read them, shouldn't you?) and even Advertising Age - to get a feel for upcoming trends in commercials and print ads. Know who's doing the hiring and getting the jobs.
(4) Always had a hard time finding time to send out your headshots (with those pesky cover notes) or picture postcards? Not now! What better time to get that chore done.
(5) Watch the shoot! The big name actors and models you recognize know every detail about how a shoot is done. Now it's your turn. Think of it as paid education. And they put this who production on just so you can see how things work! And, be politely in front, if possible. Let the decision makers see you showing interest. When the time comes to think of who would be a good stand-in, photo double or upgrade, that face time of yours will come in pretty handy.
(6) Quality of Thought. Use this time to focus -- a clear channel of white light -- on your career and strategize on its future and how you're going to get there. Really have that inner dialogue with yourself - which is especially difficult for actors because they work mostly in the land of make believe. But, we all have to do it once in a while and this is as good a time as it gets.
With these options, you'll be amazed how fast the day goes, how much you have accomplished and even made a few bucks in the process. Now that's working smart!
What do you spend doing during your down time on set?