I am a happy dad. Love being father. Particularly because my beautiful girl, who makes life so much more fun, is the best child in the world beyond any shadow of a doubt. And so I have found a level of happiness. Not complete, but there are days in my life, when I want for nothing. xx

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But it wasn’t always this way..

In the Beginning.

I began my adult life one night in front of TV. I sat there and thought to myself what the bloody hell am I going to do with my life! My brother and our best mate had gone to bed and I was sitting up watching a movie. Can’t remember what it was but just that the TV was on. 

Headshot of Gil Balfas in his 20's.I kept thinking that I did not want to be a corporate go-getter as I thought I did at High School. I had tried that and hated all the politics. I knew even then, that everything was a shit-fight and that politics exist in every field you could possibly pursue. I said to myself if I am going to call something work, call something my career; I am going to have to deal with politics. I hated the sucking up, the backstabbing and the duplicity of the corporate scene. Found it all too fake and too shallow. What is the point of making all that money? Is that all there is?

I wanted to do something I enjoy, something I had endless passion for, so the politics or the competitiveness or the fakeness wouldn’t bother or effect me. It was then that I started to entertain other options. I remember thinking through high school that it would be great to work on a film set – you know, behind the camera – film crew. Then I realised I am totally not good with my hands! Quite the contrary. I am not handy, I am handi-capped.

Then something special happened. From no-where, something entered my being. I said to myself “I couldn’t be an actor? Could I?” And the answer inside was a resounding: YES, YES, YES!!! It was a religious moment. For people who have not had this kind of divine intervention, it could sound cliche, but I kid you not, it happened to me. And from that night onwards for about 2/3 years I would have tears in my eyes when I thought about the idea. This was my calling. This is what I was born to do.

 

Gil Balfas performing on stage.

Theatre heals the soul.

Years later I returned to my school and picked up a copy of a wish list I had written when I was 10. It said that my career ambition was to be an actor. Somehow from there I lost that idea and thought I wanted just to make money- lots of money- in the realm of business.

Having not done any performing as a kid except playing a chicken (brilliantly I might add) in a stage play, I was totally frozen as how to start. Then out of the blue an old girlfriend from high school rang me and told me she had just finished an acting course. A 3-year, fulltime acting course- in Theatre. I knew this is what I needed, because you did not have to audition to get in. You only had to apply and handle the criticism. Most dropped out. I didn’t. And 4 years and 10 plays later, I became a professional actor.

 

Real World

Gil Balfas looks over his left shoulder.

Where to…?

Just as I sipped on a drink after my graduation theatre show and I was meant to be circulating the room to mingle with potential agents, I knew that the tough times were about to begin. In drama school, I had classes in my favourite thing on earth each and every day, with my best friends in the whole world and with regular auditions for plays that it was mandatory for me to be cast in, at least in one of the parts. It was the best time of my life and will probably remain.

Outside, I would have to win every acting gig on my own merit, against the legions of wannabes out there. I was downcast at the prospect, not because I wondered wether I would make it, but because I knew that I was not guaranteed somewhere to go and act. Which is all I have ever wanted.

Perhaps this was a self-fulfilling policy, as the next ten years did not bring anywhere near the success I planned. I got my face rubbed in the dirt, year after year after year. ANYONE wants to be an actor; they should just not do it. It’s a soul-destroying, humiliated, painful journey into the land of poverty. DO IT, only if you cannot do anything else. In other words, only if your life depends on it.

 

Second Job

Picture of Gil Balfas reading the paper.

Money to act…?

I was spoilt as a kid. If I wanted something, I got it. So when it came to the survival second job, I was not good at it. I wanted to act and felt insulted at having to do anything else. But I found myself waiting on tables before long. I got good at it and worked the tables of 5 restaurants over 6 years. As this went along I knew I had to find a more dignified way to earn a living, as I didn’t want to be a 40 year old waiter. But worse, I had developed plantar fasciitis in my right foot from being on it every night trying to pay the bills. My partner came to the rescue. She said I should go back to University as a mature age and become a school teacher. This I did.

Teaching ticked a lot of boxes for me. It gave me a chance to inspire, which is the same reason I wanted to act. It gave me a chance to contribute more profoundly than serving arrogant businessmen over power lunches. It gave me a better hourly rate than waitering and I could do it casually – around my acting. I could use my brain and to some extent teaching is a performance. So great.

Alas though, I have found that teaching is still not the answer I have been looking for. Unless you are full-time, you still have to “WIN ” a days work – as a casual teacher. And this is too close to acting. Actual teaching is on your feet and I don’t want to stand up to make a living, unless its in character! Plus you use your voice too much trying to get kids to listen to you. But worse of all, in high school you only get to work in winter, when permanent teachers get sick. I needed a regular income year round. I would cash up on teaching and then go weeks, months, without teaching then spend all my savings again. Back to zero.

 

Digital Marketing

Gil Balfas in a Business Suit.

Here we go..

Just recently I discovered Misha Wilson & The SAN. What a fantastic opportunity to be taught and earn a business like digital marketing.

I think a lot of actors wanted Hollywood or perhaps the West End or Broadway. But only 97% of actors earn a living from it, and only 1% have the kind of career that we all dream about. But it’s a calling and everyone in the western world will turn on some entertainment on TV, on film or online – and they will watch a human performer recreating the human condition.

An actor needs a second job anywhere from 1 day to several months. And all the varieties of that range. Uncertainty is a way of life. This is easy when you are 25 and you can smoke cigarettes and sit in a café for hours on one purchase of a latte, but what about when you have to get married, have kids, get a mortgage…

It becomes tragic.

So how would a business sound that you can do online, with no offline commitments (stock, staff, and offices. etc), is perfectly scaleable – depending how busy you are, you can actually thrive not just earn a minimum wage, can teach you the business of acting by teaching you marketing, and can earn you income while you sleep!

Internet Marketing is the godsend to all actors and artists.

 

Why should actors be poor?

Headshot of Gil Balfas front on.The amount of suffering we endure, and yet still continue, makes it akin to priesthood. It is noble and self-sacrificing – if you do it for a lifetime. Just because we have chosen (or not in my case – it chose me) something artistic, why can’t we have a means to sustain ourselves when we are not performing? Because there is not enough roles for everyone to be working 7 nights a week. So we need an online business that we can earn $100,000 + per year and still have plenty of time to act. Because for the most of us, that acting employment is going to be short, lowly paid and will possibly be cancelled before you get to rehearsal.

 

We should earn and earn big. We should invest (if we choose to) our excess income into independent theatre and film projects of our choosing, that makes for more Art in this Western World.

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This is my journey. And, I think its going to be fantastic from here on!

Gil Balfas

 

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