Beneath, Between, Behind the Scenes: Trying to be an Actor

M. Francis Enright
3 min readApr 6, 2024
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

M. Francis Enright is a filmmaker. His first short film, HR, was accepted into zero of the 23 festivals to which it was submitted. His second short film, The Routine, was nominated for Best Dark Comedy at the Georgia Comedy Film Festival. His third short film, Say Your Name, won Best Drama and Best Director at the Top Shorts Films Festival and has been selected for the 2024 Boston International Film Festival.

“It is fuckin’ ridiculous. I just paid two grand for a new set of headshots. My agent said the old ones just weren’t professional enough.”

“I thought they looked great.” I told him. “I mean, how much better can they be?”

“I know, but there’s just this fraction of a difference that the really high end casting directors can see.”

Jeff and I were walking back to the studio from rehearsing the opening scene to Say Your Name. Jeff was playing one of the cops who chases Zair down and pushes him up against the wall and says, Jesus, you stink!

Jeff is very solid. I’ve worked with him on each of the short films I’ve done: HR, The Routine, and now Say Your Name. He acted in some short videos I did for social media. He is always on time, knows his lines, very professional.

Even though he is in SAG he never busts my balls over certain things I would normally have to do for union actors, like having a private dressing room for him or some shit. He is always really supportive of the project, very enthusiastic, appreciative, happy to be there. It feels good having him on set. Other actors see his professionalism and it helps me.

Some people forget that being a good person really helps. Even if someone is really talented, if they are an asshole and people do not like working with them, they are not going to do their careers any good.

The energy we project is a real thing.

Trying to become a professional actor is very tough. Jeff said that he would love to get on a show as a regular; I would think he could have landed on any number of shows by this time. He has been in some bigger budget projects as an extra, usually playing a cop, but has not been able to land anything regular.

Jeff puts a lot of effort into it. He stays in great shape. His hair was thinning in the front so he had some procedure done for that (a hair transplant or something). He puts money into updating his headshots, he auditions, makes videos for casting agents.

He even has a friend who lives in Manhattan and allows Jeff to use his address. Jeff told me that casting agents will not take him seriously if he gives a Massachusetts address.

He works in tech as his day job and also has a real estate license, though according to him he has not sold much of anything. He cold calls people who list their properties on Zillow and they tend to curse him out because they listed on Zillow specifically to not deal with an agent. It got so bad that he hired a guy in India to make the calls for him.

I feel for Jeff. I wish one of my projects would help out his career. It is frustrating when someone does everything right and still is not making it. What do you do? What is the problem? The headshots? The address? The hair?

When do you call it quits?



M. Francis Enright

Co-creator and cohost of The Working Experience Podcast. We explore what people do for work, how they do it and how they feel about it. Twice a week!