About Us

Contact Us



Hacktreks Travel

Hacktreks 2

First Chapters

Lifestyles: Acting: The Real Fast 48Hour Film Contest 2003

The Play’s the Thing
Colin James Haslett

A couple of weeks ago I got to play. Not be in a play, just play. I got a chance to participate in the Reel Fast Films 48 Hour Film Contest and I had an absolute blast. Our team was put together by the same buddy of mine who organized our 24HFC team last fall with a few of the same people, a couple of guys we both know from acting school and a few other people who came onboard through a variety of channels. Over the course of one weekend we put together a fairly decent, tongue in cheek, 70's style martial arts flick.

Our film didn’t make the top eleven that were screened last Saturday at the awards gala, but that too was a good night with cocktails, camaraderie and a little schmoozing for good measure. Near the end of that night one of the guys on our team who I didn’t know from before asked me how I felt about the way my part turned out. I thought he was referring to the fact that during early brainstorming I was going to be the hero’s comic relief sidekick but as the story was simplified I became just another one of the bad guys, and I chalked it up to the need for a simple story to play in the time allotted to our film. It turns out, however, that he was more curious if I was unhappy about a full day’s shooting turning into less than a minute and a half of screen time. It was an odd conversation, strained not just by our mutual consumption of alcohol or the loud music playing but by the fact that, while we were both speaking English, we just weren’t dealing in the same concepts. He couldn’t see how I could get any satisfaction from getting so little end product out of so much effort, and I had trouble figuring out why he thought I’d care.

I’m constantly surprised by the number of people who think that actors only care about fame and accolades, about getting their egos stroked and counting their close ups. I suppose that I shouldn’t be surprised, because there are some actors for whom it seems that is their only reason for going to work, and those are the type of actors who tend to spend the most time in the public eye. But to me it’s like saying that doctors are only in it for the money, or hockey players are only in it to get into fights. Fame is a really lousy reason to get into acting because very, very few actors become famous. In fact, more actors become wealthy than become famous and the average income from acting is something under five thousand dollars a year, to give you an idea of what the odds are of becoming wealthy. But I’ve sat in enough acting classes and listened to enough starry-eyed neophytes talk about their Oscar speeches to know that a lot of people who don’t know any better think fame and fortune are a lock. I should point out here that I can’t recall any of those starry-eyed neophytes making it past the fifth week of classes. Most of the actors I know, the ones who keep slogging away, just love acting. The reasons why they love it may be as varied and as individual as the actors themselves but, while I doubt any of them would turn it down, none of them are doing it to become rich and famous.

If screen time really mattered to me I’d probably have quit acting a long time ago. Heck, half of the lines on my resume are for projects that never aired. Most of the rest have resulted in well under that minute and a half of screen time. And my one brush with celebrity, for a well aired hamburger commercial that had people in my office building and the baristas at Starbucks and the clerks at the grocery store suddenly "recognizing" me, was actually kind of unsettling after a while. Without question, I like an attaboy just as much as the next person, but somebody actually asked in complete seriousness for my autograph because my face was on her television screen for about five seconds. Okay, for five seconds at a time possibly dozens of times, it was a very well aired commercial, but come on.

No, the paycheques are great when they come and it is pretty cool to see yourself on the tube during a break in Survivor and I like hearing that I’ve done a good job at the end of the day, but that isn’t why I act. I act because I too love acting. Simply put, it’s fun. Sometimes it’s a chore and often it can be hard and/or scary and I’d always rather be backpacking through Australia again, but if I’m going to earn a living I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do. If I’ve got a gig or an audition or even a class I’m happy to be getting up in the morning. Acting may not be my job yet, it doesn’t pay the rent, but I consider it my career because it’s what I want to do for the rest of my life. The test, for me, is to ask the question "If I didn’t need the money, would I still be doing this?" and the answer for acting is yes. I might not be following the same route, I might do more non-paying theatre and independent projects and I might do less commercial work but I’d still be acting. I’ll give you the reason again because it’s worth repeating: acting’s fun.

I’ve met a number of people since I started acting who’ve told me that they couldn’t do what I’m doing. That’s a bit of a wonder to me, because I’m pretty sure that just about anybody who really wanted to could act if they put their mind to it. But these people tell me they couldn’t handle the constant rejection, the competitiveness, the financial uncertainty or the paucity of actual product. I’m not certain if I can say that those things never bother me, but they just don’t bother me that much. They’re gnats in paradise. I meant it when I said that I got to play while doing the film contest. Maybe I’m just a big kid but I like to play a lot more than I like to work. The best days acting are like that. Frankly, almost every day of acting is like that and that’s what I love. It’s why I can have as great a time in a class or an audition room as on a big budget set. The process, the chance to play and have some fun, is the same and I’m not too worried about the product because even if nobody gets to see it I still got to do it.

Colin Haslett © September 2003

The Big Lie

Serfs Up

24 Hour Film Contest



© Hackwriters 2000-2003 all rights reserved