by Casting Director, Laurie Records
A multi part series for the not-so-established actor, hoping to improve their career.
For any of you following this series from month to month, you may feel like I am beating a bit of a dead horse. Yet time and time again I am reminded of the importance of CONFLICTS, and the seemingly lack of understanding about them by new and veteran actors alike.
Commercial actors should NEVER give anything less than full disclosure in the realm of conflicts.
What are conflicts? The easiest way to explain conflicts is to give a basic example: If you shoot a Coca Cola commercial, you can’t do a Pepsi… or any other soft drink commercial until the contract is up and they don’t extend it. If they extend your Coca Cola contract, you will be paid a holding fee. You are paid a holding fee to HOLD THE CONFLICT. This is an easy example. The issues do get a little more difficult.
You may have shot a non-union car commercial. Can you shoot a SAG car commercial before the run is over? Well, the folks you shot the non-union commercial can’t tell you that you cannot shoot the SAG car commercial (unless they have written that in the contract, and are paying you for that, which is unlikely)…. BUT, you have to let the SAG car commercial people who are interested in you know that you have a car commercial running. Callbacks would be the absolutely latest moment you should wait to disclose such a thing, and you would be letting the casting director know. I am going to be honest, most likely the client will no longer be interested in you for the job. But they need to know. And the mayhem that ensues if you decide to bring this fact to light much later in the process (booking time) is far beyond what you can imagine… but I will get to that later.
What if you did a fast food commercial for the Hispanic market only (holding a conflict for other fast food in the Hispanic market only) and you are being considered for a McDonalds commercial for the general market. Is that a conflict? Technically, no, but you want to let the casting director know about it anyway. Full disclosure will keep you out of a heap of trouble. Again, honestly, it is likely that the McDonalds folks will no longer consider you for the job. I am being truthful, and still encouraging you to be an open book when it comes to the conflicts you hold.
Who do you want to be honest about your conflicts with? Everyone! But communicate through your agent, of course. If you just got your first agent, but have booked jobs previously, make sure they know about all of them, even if you are non-union. Some of this information may be relevant for longer than you may think. Or sooner! If you have changed agents, make sure they know everything. I am also sure it is tempting to leave conflict issues totally in your agent’s hands once you have spilled your guts. You are paying them after all. They work for you, right? Well, yes, but we are all human and make mistakes. If you have been called in for a beer commercial and you know you booked and shot one about 6 months ago, remind your agent. Until you become a booking machine, you will probably be clear on the jobs you have booked. It is a little harder to remember the length of the contract, so when in doubt, ask. If you feel like you are holding a conflict for something you are going out for, for the love of God, say something, just to be sure.
Are you wondering what the big deal is… why all the hubbub about this conflict stuff? All I can say is the non-disclosure of conflicts have caused the biggest problems I have seen in casting. Jobs are threatened, reputations ruined, lawsuits arise, and heads roll. You wouldn’t believe the stories if I could tell them to you. There are plenty of things actors can fudge and get away with, in hopes of booking a job or being seen by the right people. Don’t mess with conflicts. You read this article. You are no longer ignorant about the issue. Be on your toes. Full disclosure about your conflicts, ALWAYS!