Networking Contamination


Rhym GuisseFortunately or unfortunately, our industry is one that depends on human relationships. Directors and filmmakers more often than not choose actors not only based on their talents and professionalism but also on their ability to get along well with others. That’s right, usually when it comes down to you and another actor, your ‘like-ability’is the deciding factor. After all it is long hours on set with, sometimes, not so nice crew members and somehow the “magic”is supposed to happen. The last thing they want is a diva actor who’s “too good”to be a team-player and is whining for 12 hours straight when everyone is just trying to get work done. I’m sure everyone has heard about how terrible certain celebrities are to work with, and should the filmmakers have the option they would rather work with the least annoying of the bunch. It’s very logical and we all know this fact walking into auditions or going to functions and networking events. Which brings me to my point: when networking we always try to be pleasant and friendly, sadly as women we have to be mindful that just like in the non-acting world – where there are men who cannot discern between politeness and romantic interest – the same can be said of industry events.

I can’t begin to explain how the fact that the shmoozing and socializing aspect of trying to network and connect with the ‘gate keepers’of this industry has been an uphill battle. Mostly, due to the fact that so many producers and filmmakers don’t know how to keep it 100% professional and want to mix business with pleasure, or should I say, contaminate business with pleasure. What that feels like is one of the most heartbreaking experiences that I can’t even begin to describe, although a feeling of betrayal would be an accurate description.

I’ve had so many situations where meeting at a networking event would go smoothly and staying in contact was purely professional-based. It’s not until we meet up later for lunch or coffee where the filmmaker interested in “working with me”and auditioning me for a role, leads to trying to get information on whether I’m dating someone and if I’d like to audition in their ‘bedroom.’How does one wiggle out of that situation? As terrible as it sounds to want to avoid burning the bridge with some despicable people, this town is too small. You never know who they know and what type of negative impact they could cause to your career. So, as much as it pains me to say – by the way the feminist in me is writhing in agony – you have to appease within reason, in order to not cause any ripples. I know, I know it shouldn’t be that way, but its the necessary evil one must deal with.

Sadly, just as quickly the word gets around town that an actor is difficult to work with, we almost never hear as much about the scummy director or producer that likes to have ‘auditions’ in his bedroom. Sure the union could get involved if its a union project, but that’s almost never the case. That’s why I strongly believe in female support, especially in this industry – it is cut-throat enough we don’t need to add to it. We are broken down and rejected on a daily basis due to any number of things, our cup size, our height/weight our background so on and so forth. So, the last thing we need to deal with is some sexual harassment! Hence, if you know of a shady filmmaker, PLEASE let your fellow female thespians know of your experience so that we at least know what we are walking into. I don’t believe in gossip, but it is not gossip if it’s happened first-hand and used as a forewarning to others. The community begins with your input and your involvement. Let’s band together and not only protect each other but the integrity of our craft!