So Bri and I kept chatting about this in private and I had a few more thoughts I wanted to share based on that talk (with her permission - thanks Bri!).
I honestly can’t remember hearing about social media requirements until today. She pointed out to me that this is maybe more common that I realized and also offered a producer’s perspective about how frustrating and disheartening it can be when actors don’t share links and things like that… and that’s understandable. I have some thoughts!
First, it sucks, but the reality is that it’s rare anyone other than you will ever be as excited and invested as you are in your project. It’s your baby, but for everyone else it’s a job, a stepping stone, a source of experience, etc. Especially for actors, once it’s over, they’re unemployed and looking for a new job again.
Again - let me stop here and bold this so that no one misses this caveat: it is absolutely part of an actor’s job to promote their own work and even when they aren’t being paid for it, generally in their best interest to share links, shoot off some tweets, etc. That’s not an unreasonable expectation.
But even big actors on talk shows are compensated for appearing. They are paid to do those promo tours and interviews for all the TV shows. So I think you have to scale expectations accordingly. If you don’t have a budget, I don’t think it’s fair to ask a lot.
And much like my comment about crowdfunding…
Be realistic about what they can do and what you hope the outcome will be. If an actor can convert 1% of their social media following into viewership, that’s pretty good. It’s a really, really hard thing to do. Will this really make or break your production? How important is this promotion and why? What are the goals? How much time and effort would an actor have to put in to get it there? Is that reasonable or fair to ask?
Honestly, if you haven’t paid the actors, and can’t pay for this additional work, I don’t think you can demand anything from them they aren’t willing to give freely. Whatever they agree to do, sure, get it in writing, (from a Producer’s POV, if you want it to happen, you absolutely need to put it in the contract because you can’t really expect or enforce anything that actors haven’t explicitly agreed to in writing), but I don’t think this should be a prerequisite for being involved in a production. If nothing else, you’re really going to limit the talent pool you can cast from.
I know low/no budget filmmaking is really hard if not borderline impossible, but so is being an actor - especially starting out - especially working for next to nothing. People don’t realize how much money actors spend just to start being actors - headshots, resume printing, travel to and from auditions, membership on multiple casting websites, union dues if we’re SAG-AFTRA, cutting reels, classes, workshops, showcases, etc. - not to speak of all the time we invest, all the years training and experience we bring with us. These things are rare and valuable and should be respected.
You don’t hire a freelance illustrator to design your logo and then expect them to also promote your food truck. You wouldn’t ask a contractor to build a patio but require them to tweet about your coffee shop on social media. If they’ve done good work, it’s in their interest to promote it, but they may also have many legitimate reasons why they’re unable to, including (but not limited to) a lack of time to dedicate to it. I know - it’s not a perfect analogy (also, see bolded above). I’m just drawing a parallel to make my point.
I believe that everyone should be paid for their work. And if a producer can’t pay, then they should be making content primarily with friends, calling in favors, and doing labor trades. Ask away - make reasonable, specific requests, but beyond that, I don’t think it’s reasonable to further burden actors without compensating them - when our skills are often so undervalued.