Actors’ willingness to make outrageous statements to promote their new work never ceases to amaze me. The latest to jump on the bandwagon is Nick Moran of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels fame.
Moran has decided that young actors – as well as those behind the camera – are being paid too much. “No one’s available, they want a fortune and they don’t work hard,” he told the Daily Telegraph. Evidently they won’t work on his independent Britpop film and he’s blaming the big US streaming services. “Amazon and Netflix are killing British independent film,” he says. “I can’t get some 20-nothing-year-old kid out of bed because we’re not Amazon or Netflix.”
It’s great that Moran is passionate about his work and is turning out what he deems to be “a film everyone should want to be a part of”. However, some of us run our careers as a business and don’t wish to be constantly exploited because of a passion to act. Recently, the award-winning actor David Bedella announced an intention to stay away from the stage and pursue only television and film to earn more money. He may well be spending more time at home in the future, but I understand his reasons.
Netflix and Amazon have undoubtedly upped the level of fees an actor can hope for, but it has come at a cost. Residuals have gone and, increasingly, we have to relinquish other rights for this recompense. If we accept, we do it because we have mortgages to pay and families to feed.
For this reason, many of us will choose to reject lower-paid projects, although it may not please Mr Moran. He talks of production managers, line producers – “everybody” – now saying they won’t work on a film with a budget of less than £5 million. Believe me, I’ll throw back the duvet for a great deal less, but I have my limits.
Drama schools are churning out talented young actors by the score who would be thrilled to be part of such a film
Even so, he shouldn’t have to cast his net particularly wide to secure talented actors for his indie projects, even if the fee is low. Drama schools are churning out talented young actors by the score. They are not, as yet, burdened with many of the costs of life and would be thrilled to be part of such a film. Just as I’m sure Mr Moran was himself plucked from relative obscurity to lead Lock, Stock with some style.
He might even take the opportunity to search the ranks of the middle-aged, where he will find no less talented actors who may not have had the exposure they deserve and will do it for the fee he’s offering. As an aside, he should talk directly to the actors. It has been known for agents to take decisions for their clients not to accept low-paid projects.
Just because Moran has “one of the best film-makers of all time as executive producer” in Danny Boyle, it is not a reason for everyone to accept his level of fees. Some of us work to live – not live to work. Understandably, he is aggrieved, but why not turn this into a chance to put some new faces on the screen – just as someone did with him.
Paul Clayton is an actor, director and author. Read more of his columns at the thestage.co.uk/author/paul-clayton/