Mr. Hobo Millionaire

2nd Place – Movies, Actors, Auditioning, and Life

You’re probably wondering how in the world could Mr. Hobo Millionaire possibly have an opinion about actors and auditions. What you don’t know is I’ve  produced and cast a few independent movies in my lifetime. Seven (7) total movies/feature films in all. None of them have been super successful, but they have been good enough to air on Showtime, Starz, Lifetime, Amazon, and Netflix. In my movies I’ve worked with actors Lou Diamond Phillips, Mimi Rogers, Fisher Stevens, and Sean Patrick Flanery… just to name a few.

Actors and Auditioning is a “zero sum game”.

What is a “zero sum game”? Per Wikipedia:

In game theory and economic theory, a zero-sum game is a mathematical representation of a situation in which each participant’s gain or loss of utility is exactly balanced by the losses or gains of the utility of the other participants. If the total gains of the participants are added up and the total losses are subtracted, they will sum to zero. Thus, cutting a cake, where taking a larger piece reduces the amount of cake available for others, is a zero-sum game if all participants value each unit of cake equally (see marginal utility).

Short answer: There is only one winner, and everyone else is a loser.

2nd place your entire life…

I handled some of the casting and auditions for a number of these movies. In my limited casting experience (limited compared to Hollywood casting directors), I’ve reviewed and/or auditioned a few thousand actors. Something I figured out early on was an actor/actress could come in 2nd place for roles all their acting life. And of course, at some point, an actor who never gets a good role is forced to quit/give up (this is one of the rare times I think quitting is a good idea).

The thought of quitting after coming in 2nd place for so long kind of made me sad. Understand, in acting/auditioning, 2nd place is a big deal!!! You were REALLY GOOD… just not the right choice for that specific role. And unfortunately, only ONE PERSON gets the role (ie. a zero sum game).

Most actors don’t make that much money.

Very few actors and actresses make a lot of money. A lot of the “regular” faces you see on TV, that aren’t the stars, make relatively very little. The super stars like George Clooney and Julia Roberts make millions per movie. The smaller names make on average $1000-2000 per day for 10/20/30/60 days worth of work. Yes, that’s a lot for one day for most people, but the acting work/jobs are hard to come by. So those “character actors” you see in tons of movies and TV shows, they’re probably making 250K per year (not millions). And the ones you see once per year… they’re making 50K-100K per year. And the no-name actors you see in an independent film make $100/$200 or so per day. Some even work for free just for the experience.

What does this have to do with life/money/FIRE?

This: Be careful what you choose to pursue in life. Make sure it has a ton of upside (ie. you can make money at it). Acting, making movies, playing music, being in a band… all very fun stuff, but VERY HARD to make money at it.  These types of artistic choices are a zero sum game. There is one winner per role, and everyone else is a loser. And even for a large number of the people who “win”, they aren’t making much money.

Be careful following your “dreams”.

So many people talk about following your passions and your dreams. If your dream is to “be famous and make millions”, I’m sorry, but that’s not very wise. “Famous” movie stars, rock stars, and athletes make up about 1% of millionaires/multi-millionaires. You have much better odds trying to start a small business that you grow over 20 years. Yes, small business is hard, too, but the odds are 99% better than becoming famous.

With music, think about all the famous rock bands world-wide that have made it over the past 30 years… the list is not that big (considering how big the world is). And if you look at only American bands, it gets even smaller. It’s very hard to become famous and become rich.

Becoming famous and rich requires a lot of luck, too. If American Idol were never created, Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood may have remained waitresses that could sing pretty good. Yes, both are extremely talented, but both were very lucky to be cast for American Idol, and then they had to make it past other people’s opinions before the public could judge them. Oh, and they had to be the right age at that time to make it on the show, too. How many Kelly’s and Carrie’s never got a shot?

It is your choice what you choose to pursue in life (“choice what you choose” in kind of redundant I know — but it’s true). Life is hard, as I’ve posted many times. You don’t have a choice in how you start in life, but you make many choices that make a difference in where you end up.

Stardom isn’t a profession; it’s an accident.

Lauren Bacall

To increase your odds of success, stay away from zero sum games.

Mr. Hobo Millionaire