Working as a Local Hire

We’ve all seen the breakdown stating “local hire only” and have asked ourselves the question, “should I submit for this?” Let’s talk about the risks and rewards of working as a local hire.

For those who need clarification, a local hire is someone who can work as a local resident of the city where the project is shooting. This means you have a local address, local transportation, and live close enough so you can be on location quickly. There is also the modified local hire (which means you live within 500 miles and can expect mileage reimbursement, lodging, and per diem on for the days you work). Productions often offer smaller roles only to local hires because it saves them production costs because they are not paying for airfare and lodging and talent can be on set quickly. But should you consider working as a local hire? Let’s find out.

Working as a Local Hire

Be prepared to accept the risks before working as a local hire.

What Qualifies You for Working as a Local Hire

In order to sucessfuly work as a local hire, you need to have ALL of the following qualifications:

1) A Local Address
This is a physical home address where you can stay and receive mail. It can never a post office box, or hotel, or Airbnb address. This should be the address of your own home or the home of a family member or a very close friend. Unless they send it to your agent, this address is where production will send your check, so it needs to be with someone you trust. You can also expect your payment to be delayed reaching you at primary residence because they’ll have to forward it to you.

2) Local Transportation
Working as a local hire, you will be expected to transport yourself to the location. Production will not pick you up at the airport or hotel or friends house. Getting to the city and getting to set is all on you.

3) You Expect NO Reimbursement
Working a local hire means you will receive no reimbursement for any expenses such as transportation, lodging, or meals (unless you are working as a modified local hire).

4) You Can Be There Quickly
This means, you are close enough to set that you can be on set and ready to work quickly – often at a day’s notice (or less). Yes, this means you may have to shell out big bucks for a last minute plane ticket (or spend all night driving), so make sure you can handle it financially and from a time standpoint.

5) You Can Be Accommodating
Of course plans change and you need to be prepared to be flexible without causing a burden on the production. You should also plan you trip to give yourself flexibility — get there a few days before you shoot. Remember your flight might get cancelled due to weather or delayed, so you need to make sure you have a buffer in the event the unexpeced happens.

The Risks of Working as a Local Hire

1) You May Lose Money
Working as a local hire means that all of the expense is on you. Last minute airfare can be expensive. Lodging can add up if you don’t have a friend or family member to stay with. Eating out can be expensive. Before you take accept a job working as a local hire, you need to do the math. Can you afford it? Be prepared to lose money on the job.

2) You May Have to Change Plans Quickly
Productions are very fluid things and can change at the drop of a hat. You may have purchased airfare and lodging for your January 12th shoot date, only to discover your shoot date has been moved up to tomorrow. You have to be flexible enough to drop whatever plans you have and just get there on time and by any means possible. And you may have to cough up $900 for a last minute plane ticket.

3) You Can Damage Relationships
As Erica Arvold stated in a recent YouTube post, so much of this business is relationship driven. Your relationship and reputation with your agent, producers, directors, and casting directors is critical. So, if you agree to work as a local and end backing out of the job, missing a call time, or misrepresenting your status as a local, this will be incredibly damaging to your professional relationships. So, consider how committed you are before accepting local work.

4) You May Be Called Back
Sure, you may be scheduled to shoot for one day, but sometimes things happen later in production. They may need to add you to another scene or do a pickup. You may have to do some ADR. A hundred different things could happen, so you need to be available to production for the entire shoot date. This means, you may have to buy another plane ticket and go back at any time during the filming of the project.

Things You Should NEVER Do When Working as a Local Hire

1) Never Misrepresent Yourself
And this means never, ever, ever, fucking ever, tell someone you live in a city where you don’t live. Make sure the casting director knows you live full-time in Anytown, Georgia but you will be staying with your brother/father/cousin/whatever in Filmingtown, Louisiana during the filming.  Insert whatever cities you like, but you get the picture.

Transparency is EVERYTHNG!! Make sure your agent and casting know where you are. If you are in Los Angeles and you’re booked in Atlanta, you’ve got to make sure all parties involved know that you are out of town. For example, I reside full-time in Los Angeles, but I have businesses, family, and committments in Atlanta and I am there often and can be there within a day’s notice, so having me working as a local hire there is a safe for all parties involved. My address is clear on my resume, my SAG-AFTRA local is Los Angeles, and it is very clear on social media where I live. So, if my agent submits me for a project, and casting hires me, they all know where I live. Never ever misrepresent yourself, even if it means you get turned down for a job.

On a side note: Never submit yourself to an agent for representation and lie about where you live!  When they find out you are bullshitting, they’ll drop you like a hot potato (and agents talk to agents, so you’ll likely be blackballed in town).

2) Never Ask For Accommodations
If you are offered a job, you should have looked into airfare, transportation, and lodging BEFORE you accepted.  After you take a job is not the time to realize you can’t afford it and back out or try to negotiate.

3) Never Miss A Call Time
Again, if you accept a job working as a local hire, you have to be there — at whatever the cost and sacrifice! If you miss a call time and production has to find a replacement, you will have ruined your reputation with your agent, the production, and casting!

Think Before You Accept a Job

Working as a local hire is not a decision to take lightly!  Before working as a local hire, you have to accept full responsibility for scheduling and expenses. If your car breaks down or your flight gets cancelled or you lose money on the gig it is ALL ON YOU.  Producers don’t care about any of that. They expect you to fully honor your commitment and be flexible. If you don’t, you risk ruining relationships with your agent (who may drop you), the casting director (who will never hire you again), or the production (which may sue you for expenses incurred by having to accomodate/replace you).

Of course, sometimes you should welcome working as a local hire because it would be a great move for your career — a high-profile project, a challenging role, or the chance to work with an icon. I once lost money working as a local hire (in a city where my ex resides), but it gave me a great addition to the resume and some screen time with an Academy Award winning actor.  Totally worth losing money on the gig!

Again, before working as a local hire, you need to know the risks, be completely transparent, and be willing to fully commit, without fail, to any unexpected issues which may arise.  If you can’t do that, do everyone (including yourself) a favor, and turn down the offer!