Karim explains why and how actors can make great money, and I mean BIG money (in the hundreds of thousands) by acting in commercials. He explains how to find jobs and what to look out for. Here is the transcript of the interview:
INTERVIEW WITH KARIM MANHATTAN:
Me: How would you compare acting in commercials to acting in films?
Karim: Acting in commercials is usually a one or two day thing, but I was fortunate enough to get an epic commercial, sort of like a reality show/commercial webisode. Mine took a little bit longer, about two-and-a-half or three weeks. It was a very big movie-like production. Acting in films, you have to memorize lines and there's a lot of improvisation. It takes a whole lot of energy for it, whereas in a commercial you can show up the same day, be handed a script, and they'll put you in a monkey outfit, and say action. Movies take a lot of energy and time but it's a great experience. A commercial can take one or two days and then you'll never hear from them again. When you do a movie it's like you become a part of a family.
Me: What is the pay rate when comparing commercials to films? Would you say you get a lot more money doing commercials?
Karim: The thing about a commercial is you never really know how much you're going to make. Like me, I made over a hundred and fifty thousand dollars off of my Dodge commercial just off of residuals. They never can really tell you exactly how much you're going to make. It just depends on how popular the commercial is and how long they want to continue airing it. If you're lucky enough to get a very popular commercial, like I can't even imagine those guys who did the 5-Dollar Footlong commercial. They must've made tons of money if they signed a contract that wasn't a buyout. A buyout is when they hand you over a certain amount of money up front and say, "Hey, we're going to play this commercial for as long as we want." If they got residuals off of that commercial, I can't even imagine those construction workers, forget it man, they're no longer construction workers… Actually they're actors. But they made TONS of money. I always think about that because my commercial played a lot but that commercial played a LOT. Movies… the thing about that, if you're a Denzel Washington or a Brad Pitt you can get a multi-million dollar check right there, and that's ridiculous. But for someone just starting out to get handed a twenty thousand dollar check is very, very, very nice. You can receive the money [from movies] all in one lump sum, which is a great feeling.
Me: What would you say to actors who are constantly looking for films and plays to act in… do you think it's a good idea for them to also be looking for commercials?
Karim: Definitely. That's why you see a lot of famous actors sometimes falling back onto commercials because when there's a break in-between, it's a great way to earn a great check. Sometimes it can be even more than what they would earn doing a movie. Also, when you see a famous actor in a series of commercials that means that they've signed a big contract which is probably in the millions, you know what I mean? They're doing a series of commercials for a certain company. But I definitely suggest that all actors go for commercials because that's where the money is. I'm driving a convertible right now through the streets of New York, I'm on 125th street, all due to the fact that I did a commercial. A freakin' commercial, you know what I mean? People wouldn't know that. So when I did it, I found that Dodge commercial on Craigslist. Nowawdays you look on Craigslist and all they advertise is "National Commercial" but they're fake. It's ridiculous because they know that most actors want a national commercial and so you see a lot of fake ads on Craigslist saying "National Commercial" because they know it's what we as actors want.
Me: So how do you know when an ad is fake or real?
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