The luxury of giving

Jay Spivey’s Last Word for the May 2013 issue of Fete Greenville is complete and this seems as good a time as any to mention that it was produced, as were its predecessors, as a labor of love.

It’s easy to forget that being able to do such things with no prospect of compensation is a luxury. Most people who invest in the kind of video equipment necessary to operate at even my rather spartan professional level more than likely do so as a calculated risk. If they don’t turn a profit with the equipment they’ve bought, they take a hit, and the hit hurts.

I was reminded of these things in an oblique sort of way recently when I invited a fellow performer/videographer to work with me on a half-day project that I’m cooking up pro bono. I’d known for some time that he struggles financially, but his finances didn’t enter my mind until he wrote back to say that he was too busy to be involved with the shoot.

At first I was stung. Too busy? We’d talked about the project in general terms a number of times and he’d expressed what seemed like genuine enthusiasm about working together, but when the rubber met the road, when I actually invited him along for the ride, he was, all of a sudden, too busy.

Then I reread his email. He hadn’t said that he was too busy. Not exactly. He’d said that he was too busy looking for work.

As many times as I’ve climbed up on my soapbox demanding actor pay, you’d think that I’d be the first person to offer an actor money for acting, but somehow, the fact that the project is guaranteed to generate no income, coupled with the fact that I was essentially asking a friend, or a friendly acquaintance, to “hang out” for a few ours in a creatively productive way … It would have seemed almost like offering to pay somebody to join me for a beer, my treat.

And honestly, still kinda does.

But I’ve offered to pay him anyway because I’m more than half convinced that it’s the right thing to do.