If you’re an actress for hire, you’ve probably seen ads that include the term “local hire only.” For those who aren’t sure what that means, in simple terms a local hire refers to someone who can work as a local resident in the city where a project is shooting. In other words, an actor with a local address who lives close enough to get to a location easily either with their own transportation or local public transport.
Productions frequently give smaller roles to local-hire actresses and actors as it saves them when it comes to the total production costs, alleviating the need to pay for airfare and accommodation, while getting talent that can get to the set quickly. There are local-hires in many cities across the nation – with a total of nearly 43,500 employed in the U.S., according to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But what does it really mean to be a local-hire actress?
You Have to Have a Physical Local Address
Local-hire actresses can’t provide an address that’s a hotel, Airbnb or post office box. You’ll need to have a physical address which is where production will send your check, meaning either your own home or the home of a family member. What that also means is that you can’t look for a local-hire job in Chicago when you live in New York, unless perhaps you have a highly trusted friend or family there – even then, it can be a big risk as expenses won’t be covered, no transport, meals or lodging. If the job falls through, you’ll be stuck paying for those without getting a paycheck. Even if it doesn’t, there’s a possibility you could get called back after you fly back home – they might need to do a pickup or add you to another scene – 100 different things could happen so you’ll need to be available to production for the entire shoot date.
Independent productions may be filming in a state that offers tax incentives, and in order to qualify, every cast member from major speaking roles to paid extras must have an ID from that state. They’re only allowed a very small percentage of non-residents to qualify, which means those roles are typically given to bigger-name talent from places like Los Angeles.
Transportation is a Must
As a local hire, you won’t be picked up and taken to the set. You’ll have to have your own transportation or access to good public transport, none of which will be reimbursed. You may only have a day’s notice, or even less, to get to the set which would mean very pricey airfare if you’re hoping to come from a long distance.
You’ll Have to be Flexible
Because things can and often do change even with the best-laid plans, you’ll have to be as flexible as possible. Be prepared for the unexpected so that you’re not a burden to the production. You’ll need to know ahead of time that you’ll be available and ready at a moment’s notice, and not on some beach in Thailand throughout the shoot dates. This is why it’s so important for any working local hire to accept full responsibility for expenses and scheduling – the director won’t care if your car breaks down, they’ll expect you to honor your commitment in full or they’ll simply never hire you again.
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