You never know when it is going to happen!
If you are waiting for your success to come your way, keep in mind, you never know when your break through is going to happen!
When I was in my late twenties I missed a big opportunity, just because I was not ready. I was training as an actor. I worked as a featured extra on this commercial with the Finnish director Vesa Maninen and he came back to Thailand for a big, movie style commercial, to be shot for a week upcountry and he wanted me for the main part of that commercial!
All I had to do was go to the call back through Skype with this director that I already knew and that liked me.
I was nervous. And I stressed out about the budget as I felt the budget was too low for the part – which it was.
I stressed out so much that I couldn’t sleep. I got sick and had to take anti-biotics. I became my own worst enemy.
When I went to the call back, the casting director, P’Aoy, bless her soul, looked at me and she looked worried. She could see I wasn’t up to speed.
For the call back the director asked me to do some physical stuff, to play as being electrocuted. I come from a physical theatre background. That should have been easy-peasy for me.
I messed it up. The moment I did it, I knew I messed it up.
I was offered a featured part on the commercial. I went on this amazing shoot and was able to spend a lot of time with the main actor, whom they now hired from the UK. He looked the part of the British explorer. He was born for it. He was ready.
My ego tells me some parts I could have done better than him. But there was one big difference. He was ready. He was able to hold this big production and play his part and I may have faltered.
I had some featured parts in commercials, but that would have been by far the biggest part for me. The British actor had a lot of experience and his entire career and life focused on the Victorian age of the British Empire.
There is so much pressure on the main part. This was a huge production. With hundreds of people running around all the time. Elephants, shooting in a cave, stunts with people falling of elephants, the first stunt job of Alex Winters, people being heaved up into the air, explosions etc.
If I admit it to myself, I was not ready.
There are a lot of things going on set apart from the pressure of doing your job well. Gossip, peer pressure, envy, back biting which are part of it and you need to be able to fend it off and to let it fall off your hard shell.
I worked hard after that to get myself ready. To never let something like this happen again. I have had main parts in big commercials and speaking parts in movies. And every time I was ready. I learned from it and I improved myself.
I worked on short films to get more experience on set. To get used to the feeling of being a main.
Not stressing out is an important part of being ready.
Jason Stratham was a soccer player before. He got his first experience on set on commercials for Levi’s and some other fashion brands. He was cast in a supporting part in one movie, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. A role that he retrieved for the same director 4 years later in Snatch, which became a major hit. These two films launched his entire film career when he was in his late twenties / early thirties. He was ready and took the chance head on.
You never know when the opportunity strikes. You may be out of work for 6 months. Maybe a year. You can sit around during that time or you can work on yourself to get yourself to the point that you know you have to be at to compete.
Sometimes you may wonder why are you doing all this work and when will it finally come to pay off. The honest truth is, you’ll never know. But when the opportunity arises, you better be ready.
To me, not being ready for one of the biggest opportunities of my career was a big lesson and one mistake I will never do again.
As an actor all you have to work on is yourself. Don’t ever stop. You never know when the opportunity strikes and when it does, make sure that you are ready!
So what do I recommend you can do to get yourself ready?
- Join student / short film projects
A great way to create connections and gain experience
- Join acting classes
The best way to improve your skills in a save environment quickly
- Create your own short / featured films
The best way to get bigger exposure and recognition quickly. I am going to write another article about this subject next week.