Acting, or Acting Out?

Some of you know that I  often host tweet-up’s under #AGYST on Twitter. AGYST is an acronym for “Actors Get Your Shit Together.”

I had the opportunity to witness some very bad behavior on a recent project — classic AGYST. Anecdotes like these are why AGYST started. From these firsthand experiences, I devised this handy measurement of your on-set professionalism.

Acting, or Acting Out?

AGYST:  The Director has to get you out of bed 10 minutes before we roll film.

If you have to rely on the Director to get you out of bed like an elementary kid who doesn’t wanna go to school, you should probably still be living with your Mom.

Like a Boss: Be responsible with your time management.

You may be onscreen talent, but first and foremost, you’re part of a team.  The team has a job to do: make a movie. Honoring that ultimate goal shows gratitude for being a part of that process. You wouldn’t be late to a business meeting or audition, so don’t be late to call time.

AGYST:  You drink [to excess] while shooting.

We all have had “that” scene where a nip of the moonshine settled the nerves and made us ready for our big close up (in Keira Knightley’s case, getting spanked). But if 1) the crew worry behind your back how pleasant you’ll be that day without a drink in your hand and/or 2)  they have to give you a time-out to sober up, then we have a group for you:  Alcoholics Anonymous.

Like a Boss: Be present.

Unless you’re getting spanked by Michael Fassbender or have your Director’s blessing, apply yourself to your work with sobriety. Expressive acting asks that we maintain control of our instruments, stay mentally acute, and emotionally open. Substances may ruin that.

AGYST: You’re AWOL when they call “Action.”

The Director of Photography set up the shot with your entrance in mind. The Director walked you through the blocking. Be on your mark.

Like a Boss: You’re aware of expectations and primed for your entrance.

Time is money. Whether it’s an early call or a late shoot, everyone has to be on the ball. Don’t be a weak link, do your part to keep the machine that is a film set running smoothly. This is especially critical if you’re on a set where they’re shooting actual film. I really liked this description of Director Bennett Miller on working with Brad Pitt: “…he understands the frame like a painter, he knows how to enter it.” What a wonderful thing to aspire to!

AGYST: You tell anyone on the set, cast or crew, to “Fuck off.”

Rude. Unforgivable.

Like a Boss: Thanking everyone profusely.

Acting is the greatest gig in the world! There’s no better way to tell the Universe (and your Director) that you’d like more, than with gratitude. Besides; it’s the right thing to do. You are surrounded by professionals chosen for their talent and commitment. The ability to do your job relies completely on their jobs. They deserve your respect.

AGYST: You try to shock your fellow castmembers by not wearing anything below the waist.

Like a Boss: Respect for others.

Rule of thumb: if it only has one eye and isn’t a pirate, keep it in your pants.

AGYST: You pick up local girls at the bar and bring them back to the house where everyone’s staying at 3 a.m. to party.

Please engage in this extracurricular activity where it doesn’t impact your cast and crew members.

Like a Boss: Not doing that.

Tally Your Results!

I’m a Boss: Congratulations! Respectful, committed, grateful and talented … you are a pleasure to have on set!

This mugshot is found from http://www.perezhil...

Image via Wikipedia

I Need To Get My Shit Together: Well, the great thing is that you’re talented enough to be on set. But unless you get your shit together, you may not be asked back.


There are a million actors out there, and the way to differentiate ourselves is with acting talent, not with acting out. Problem actors on set are legendary, but there is absolutely no justification for that behavior.

Filmmaking is a team sport, and unselfishness is a key ingredient to making it work. Especially in the indie film world, you and I are replaceable. That’s a scary fact. We must make sure that everyone on set will have nothing but praise for working with us when all is said and done.

Talent opens the door. Commitment to the professionalism part of the profession ensures that the doors stay open.

Posted on September 28, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. My experience of inappropriate behavior from an “actor” who has a sense of entitlement to others’ film projects. Even though his message is not extreme rudeness but putting down fellow acting talent in my province to build oneself up is a no-no to me. Here is a Facebook message I received from the “actor” in March 2009:

    “As one of the hardest working grips around, I also work hard to improve my acting abilities. I’ve been seeking a dramatic film role for a long time. For the role of Kevin, I’m the right age, I’ve lost a lot of weight so I can pass as athletic, but as for the height, I know it’s cinematic pleasing to the eye if the man is taller than the leading lady, but what I’ve got going for me is that I know what you’re looking for in a performance and I know I would have on camera chemistry with Line.

    James Dean: “Can you measure talent in inches?” It’s nothing an apple box can’t fix hehe

    Love to be on the crew if not cast, but it would literally pain me to see a dumbass actor give only half the performance I’m capable of. With a theater background, I would know my lines inside out and could perform minor grip work (i.e carry/pack equipment for location changes). Two for the price of one!”

    The honest truth as told to me from other filmmakers who had this person audition for their casting calls is that he can’t remember lines consequently giving horrible auditions for lack of talent. I did see his performances in other short films (directed by his partying buddies hence why he was cast in the first place!) and he is unfortunately never going to be a talented or even a mediocre talented actor.

  2. I saw a photo from a recent table read of a screenplay and noticed one actor has his shirt unbuttoned too low so a suggestion is to avoid such displays.

  3. To me it is inappropriate since it was only for a table read and there was no need to dress or undress in that manner.

  1. Pingback: Actors! Get Your Shit Together! | Dilettante Douchebag

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