Today I filmed my first Public Service Announcement. For actors attempting to break into commercial film and TV, I think this must be part of the rite of passage.
Like the cheesy local car commercial (check) and the industrial training video (check)… they’re the acting gigs that get you screen time and experience on-set. Things you do to get paid.
As far as rites of passage go, you have to admit—it’s better than some kind of ritual burning situation.
To be fair, the PSA portion of our rite does have a singular advantage over the local commercial and even the highly sought (and often highly paid) industrial. Although it’s not usually a generous paycheck, PSAs have the potential to generate some significant Good Karma Currency. With a PSA, there’s a good chance you’ll actually make a positive statement and support a cause that genuinely interests you.
Case in point:
My First PSA today was a 30-second spot for the Seattle Public Library.
I was one of about 15 actors representing different kinds of library patrons and telling why the library is important to them. In fact, I was particularly recommended for the part by a director I’ve worked with before… she was positive I’d be a natural for a very specific need.
My role: A pregnant lady who uses the library to find books and videos on pre-natal nutrition and exercise, newborn care, and first-time parenting. Perfect!
This particular campaign is created and funded by the Friends of the Seattle Public Library, a volunteer organization dedicated to keeping SPL an active, vibrant piece of the community. They raise money by applying for grants, soliciting donations, and especially by hosting their huge, twice-yearly book sale. Most importantly, they work to raise awareness about all the services and resources available at all the branches.
Apparently, the Seattle Library is facing budget cuts up to $7 million this year. Yikes. This PSA will air locally this coming fall and is intended to help minimize or completely eliminate those cuts.
Books! Reading! Free Community Resources! Did I mention Books? Like I said, this is a campaign I was pleased to be requested for, and proud to be a part of.
Although I don’t know the back-story behind the proposed cuts (heck, I’m not even a King County resident), I really do think it’s so important for people to know how many resources their public libraries have… at tax time, I’m there to get my forms. Being unemployed this year, I went to the library for forms and seminars, information about job fairs, and I leafed through countless books about sprucing up my resume.
And yes, I have combed through the stacks for birthing books and pre-natal yoga and fitness DVDs.
I’m happy to say the whole thing was a really lovely experience. The director and crew knew exactly what they wanted, the Friends of the Library volunteer was helpful and chatty in the actor holding room, and everyone was just so nice. My single line was easy and straightforward, and the whole endeavor took about 2 hours from walking in with wardrobe options to walking out with my modest but conscientiously-earned check.
Bring on the hot coals… or the “interactive website host”… I’m ready!