It’s tempting for actors to work as local hires in areas where they don’t reside in order to capitalize on opportunities there. The concept may sound viable, but before actors decide to present themselves as local hires, there are a few more things to consider. Suzy Sachs, known for casting projects such as “Goosebumps” and “Miracle on 34th Street,” as well as producing projects such as “Yesterday Today” and “Askew,” weighs in on the risks actors run when traveling to work as local hires.
What would you tell actors who want to work as local hires?
“It’s important to be honest. If actors say they live locally, production is expecting that. If a local actor’s car broke down on the way to set, production could send a car to pick that person up. But if an actor’s car breaks down on the way to the airport to fly in to be a “local hire,” he or she may hold up shooting. And that could cost production thousands of dollars. But if actors are upfront in the beginning about being willing to work as local hires even though they aren’t local to the area, they could still have a chance, depending on production’s reasons for wanting local hires. If actors don’t divulge it, though, and cost production money because of it, they might end up blacklisted.”
Is there “wiggle room” for actors who want to work as local hires in other markets?
“It depends. If the project is calling for local hires due to budget constraints, sometimes casting can work with the actor, but they have to know upfront. Because if production is getting tax incentives for using local hires, there is no wiggle room for using talent that does not reside in the shooting area. In that case, it makes casting look bad if they pass along an actor who wasn’t truthful about being a local hire. So it can negatively affect actors’ relationships with casting too if they aren’t upfront from the beginning.”
If actors decide to work as a local hire, what should they expect?
“Firstly, they need a physical address where they can receive mail because that’s where their checks will be sent. And it can’t be a P.O. Box. Actors should also expect there won’t be any reimbursement for travel. There won’t be any plane ticket, ground transportation, lodging or per diem. And if actors are SAG-AFTRA, they’re forfeiting the rate they would’ve been paid for the day they travelled. All of these things add up, and sometimes actors end up taking a loss when they work as local hires outside of where they actually live. Actors may want to work as local hires because they think that by going outside of bigger markets with lots of competition and into smaller towns, they’re gaining an advantage. But there are lots of things to think about.”
With Sachs’ words in mind, actors can be aware of the potential repercussions of misrepresenting themselves as local hires. Sachs advises that honesty is the best policy when actors audition for local-hire roles. Even if they take themselves out of the running on that particular project, actors who are upfront will preserve their relationships with both production and casting rather than burn those bridges.