March 2, 2003
Industry Profile # 1 - Hans HernkeHans Hernke is a young man new to California starting out his journey as an actor. He came from Orlando Florida, where he graduated from a high school that supported his acting endeavors so much that they allowed him to miss school for auditions. It was during his sophomore year in high school when he first decided he wanted to pursue acting. His friends would tell him that he had the look and the personality for the job. He was voted class clown, and that is when Hans feels he finally earned his respect - goofing off, and being dramatic. His first on-camera job was in a Creed music video at the Hard Rock Cafe in Universal Studios, Florida.
After high school, Hans went to Vancouver Film School in Canada to study. There, he began to get work, but he had no work permit. So he decided to move back home, where he worked in a movie theatre to save up enough money to come out here to Burbank in August 2002. Once here, he studied with the New York Film Academy for two months, this time at Universal Studios, Hollywood. In this class, he learned fundamentals of directing and producing his own films, which he had to do every weekend. Now he works as an extra, stand-in, and featured player in TV and film projects. He is currently a featured player in American Pie 3. A typical day in the life of Hans Hernke can be very unpredictable. He has to try and keep an open schedule. He has applied to several casting companies that will call him when a job becomes available for him. He also has a calling service that will call these companies and book shows for him. This means that Hans must be flexible. Something may come up at the last minute, but also something may be rescheduled. For example, he is waiting to see when the shooting on the scene from American Pie 3 will resume, after it had to be postponed due to the rain we have been receiving lately.
It is this unpredictability that Hans considers his favorite part of the job. He likes never knowing what can happen, what project he will be working on next. He began on American Pie 3 as an extra, but was pulled from the crowd luckily. He enjoys meeting all the new people that he works with, and exchanging information with them. He likes the food he is provided on the set, and is treated very well. Another joy he treasures is the feeling of knowing he is working on a Hollywood set. This is something that many people dream about doing, but every day, Hans gets to be part of this industry's community.
Least of all in this business, Hans hates the burden of having to try and find work. I guess it's the flip side to the unpredictability. Every time he gets work, he considers it a blessing. "Hollywood doesn't care about your morals," he says. "At all." He is afraid of the day when he will be asked to sleep with someone to get a job. He says it does happen, and sometimes it in fact "who you know." He says that you have to know the right people to talk to, and credits his success to his faith in God, my parents and in himself. "We are our own business," he says. "Promote yourself in the most humble way you can."
Another negative he has observed: "People flake out here." And the people who tell you to be professional don't practice what they preach. "Hold onto what people say loosely. A lot of people let you down." Hans advises someone in this industry to be very open to ideas, but to beware. Don't trust anyone until you can go over it and question it. Then, come to your own conclusion. According to Hans, moving up in the acting world is all up to the actor. You can make it happen depending on who you talks to, who you knows, and how you present yourself. Image is very important. You must take care of yourself and be sure not to get pimples. "Pimples are a bad thing," he says. But at the same time, he says that you mustn't make a big deal over it. Everywhere you look it's pretty boys and pretty girls. Another equally important aspect is how you behave when you work. "Your reputation is on the line everyday." Disobedient people can still work, but the right attitude makes a whole lot of difference.
Some definite no-no's that Hans warns about are: goofing off, arguing with craft service people, bugging others for autographs or photos, being late, and allowing your cell phone to ring while on the set. He also says to stay away from sexual harassment, and don't whine or complain. He stresses that you should exercise politeness instead. Get to work early and sleep in your car in the parking lot if you have to. Bring an alarm to wake you before your call. But remember, there is a film camera right there recording everything, so they will have proof of any bad moves you make.
I asked him about the SAG and AFTRA merger, and he had not heard about it. Hans is a member of SAG, but not AFTRA. He says it would be a good thing if they merged, because he could save the $1000 membership fee for joining AFTRA if it became part of SAG. HE says that with SAG comes many benefits, including first chances to get bumps to higher pay and speaking parts. SAG members get higher pay than non-union actors, and get compensated faster for performing under special conditions, such as smoke or water. SAG will fight for its members to be treated fairly and looks after them if they are accused of sexual harassment, and keeps after studios to pay the proper bump compensations. He says that SAG representatives will do random sweeps, showing up to a set and talking to the SAG actor about the way they are being treated on that particular set with that particular crew.
Hans recommends going to an acting school instead of college. In an acting school, there are smaller classes and no pressure to do things that make you uncomfortable. If going to college, theatre is a good subject to study. I felt that Hans had some great insight into the industry for someone who has only been here for seven months. He has done a lot of work, and has met a lot of people. He seems to have the right attitude, and he believes he has what it takes. He did not come across as the person he says will tell you one thing then do another. He seemed deeply rooted in his morals and his faith. After interviewing him, it made me more interested to try and get the perspective of someone on the other end, one who has worked in this field for many years. I would like to compare and contrast the different views on the same types of situations that Hans shared with me so willingly. I think this will be my aim for the next Industry Profile assignment.