5 Reasons to Say “NO” to a Project

by Apr 3, 2018

In the industry of film and theater, there are many opportunities for actors and directors alike. One of the most difficult parts of this business can be making choices about which projects you choose to participate in.

What if you accept a role in one production, only to hear back about getting another role in a different production that you are way more excited about? At what point do you decide that you will no longer work for free to gain experience? How do you kindly and professionally decline an opportunity? What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

These and other questions are ones that CallBoard has set out to answer. Except for the swallow inquiry. You’ll have to consult King Arthur on that.


Do things you’re passionate about.  

Alright let’s be honest, you probably didn’t choose this path for its lucrative potential or its phenomenal stability. Working as an actor or director can be crazy! As such, it’s important to ensure that you are consistently involved in projects that make you excited, otherwise, why are you even here?

Now that does not mean you have to pass up opportunities to earn money. However, your interest and passion for something is important to consider when you’re deciding whether or not to accept an opportunity.

Maybe it will be really exciting to be on the set of a commercial for the first time. Maybe you’re invited to participate in a comedy improv troupe that doesn’t pay a ton, but you really love the company goals and sense of community. Let’s just sum it up to this: a total disinterest and/or hatred for a project is probably a valid reason to say “no”.


Do things that make you grow.

An increase in skills is an investment that will lend you dividends in the future. If you spend all your time doing things you already know how to do, your life will be a) boring, and b) stagnant.

When looking at the pros and cons of accepting a job, ask yourself this: will I learn something valuable from it? If the answer is yes, that should add a big bonus to your list of the positives. Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll start his own company and become a billionaire. Or something like that.

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No dreams no future.

We searched high and low for them most cliche statement to head this paragraph, and we succeeded. OUR dream was realized, what about yours? Ok but seriously, if you’re holding out for an opportunity that is something you’re really hoping for, it might be worth it to say “no” to other things.

Say you’ve auditioned for two plays, and are still waiting to hear back from one (warning: oversimplified example ahead). The one you’re still waiting on entails working in a dream role. The other production reaches out to you and says that they’d like you to play Tree #3. It pays really well, and it’s at a great theatre. What do you do? Well, think of this: if you accept the role of Tree #3, and then are offered the dream role two weeks after already committing to this other production, how much is that going to suck?

Alternatively, would you be ok missing out on playing Tree #3 for the chance of landing this dream role? Sometimes the answer might be no and that’s ok. Other times though, it may be worth the sacrifice, even though it constitutes some risk. The most important thing is that you sacrifice for things you really care about, and maybe compromise for things you don’t.


Opportunity always knocks.

There will always be other opportunities. Sometimes as artists it’s easy to think “Wow, I either take this opportunity OR I WILL NEVER BE INVOLVED IN ANYTHING EVER AGAIN.” And what do you know? That way of thinking is just not accurate!

Have enough respect for your time, your craft, and yourself to say “no” to opportunities that you’re not passionate about, that won’t help you grow, or that just generally do not have enough positives to outweigh their negatives. It’s not rude, conceited or self-aggrandizing. It’s simply intelligent.

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Keep it classy.

This is probably the most important guidepost of all. Whether you say “yes” or “no” to a project, it’s important to remember that someone has devoted their time and energy to create it in the first place. Even if you’re declining working on something because it is the worst script you have ever read in the history of eternity, it’s probably wise not to SAY that.

When declining an offer, thank them for considering you, explain that you are unable to accept the opportunity at this time, and wish them all the best. This allows you to keep doors open, and to also be a decent human being. Which, you know, is always nice.

And who knows? Maybe that crappy script will be picked up by Michael Bay, they’ll offer you a job working on it that pays thousands, and then the positives will overpower the negatives! Then again though, some possibilities are just too outlandish to come to fruition.

What do you think? What has helped you make decisions about accepting or declining opportunities? Let us know below!

Sources for this article
  • Images by: unsplash.com


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