The less I’m being paid, the less I am willing and able to sacrifice other things for the project. Even if I’m really in love with it and I want to support my friend, there’s only so much I can realistically do. Ultimately, I can’t risk long-term damage to my career for something with very low monetary return and very low up-side (meaning potential re: getting seen by many people, making it into festivals, becoming a vehicle to advance my career).
So, yes, in that case, it absolutely affects how I feel. It would be really hard to prioritize a low/non-paying project for months because that doesn’t just affect me, it affects the people who are depending on my time, skills, and my face to make a % - my agent / manager. The harder I make it for them, the more likely I am to harm that relationship or maybe even get dropped. They won’t appreciate me refusing to cut my hair - or grow it out - or shave - or whatever - or worse miss auditions or important paying opportunities to preserve myself for low/non-paying gig. It could screw me over.
Maybe that’s not exactly a reality for many friends you work with - but they could have parallels. Maybe keeping up continuity for something prevents them for taking on other work on other passion projects - experience (and reel material, and connections) they need to build. Maybe it causes problems at their day job - money they need to survive.
So yeah, for low / non paying work, I’d rather have it done as quick as possible.
That may seem a little cold and too business-like, but as an actor, as I’m sure many people who are trying to make a living in creative industries, I’m constantly weighing risk vs. reward this way and doing tons of tiny cost-benefit analyses. To be clear - I don’t love that side of it. I don’t love that, as an artist, I’m in a uniquely difficult position in a capitalistic society that loves benefitting from my work but hates paying for it - that on one hand tells me to follow my dreams and on the other says that if I follow this one, maybe I don’t deserve financial security, a home bigger than one room, healthy food, mental health services, or even healthcare.
So sometimes, I’ll just say “fuck it” and do what I want, because I want to - and I need to.
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere - communicating and delivering on expectations is the most important thing. As long as I know what I’m signing up for at the start and that expectation is met throughout a production, then I’m happy.
If you really want to work with an actor and they can commit to the time but maybe not keeping their appearance unchanged for that long, then you’ve either got to work with someone else or find a creative solution - either by editing the script to make that work or by carefully planning the shooting schedule.
It is slightly beside the topic, but this gives me an opportunity to mention something, so I’m going to take it haha -
Back when I was doing a lot of unpaid student / indie work, I’d find myself frustrated a lot that people didn’t seem to realize or acknowledge that I was giving up a lot more than just my time. I had to pay hundreds of dollars to get my headshots, tens more to have them printed, as well as printing costs for my resumes that I’d staple to them, hundreds of dollars a year to pay for internet service and more for subscriptions to be on casting sites, hundreds a month for my phone bill and data plan so I wouldn’t miss notices or offers while I was out traveling to and from auditions or working day gigs, hundreds of dollars a month on transportation to and from auditions - most of which I would not book (get cast), hundreds a year on classes, and I’d also have to spend money going to and from set, usually I’d have to offer my own clothing as wardrobe - and risk it getting ruined and have to buy new clothes that I needed (sometimes specifically for auditions)…
I’ve been scoffed at for holding someone to compensating me for my gas driving 30+ miles to and from set multiple days. People have looked at me like a selfish jerk for saying, on principle, I no longer work for $0.00 - that even if they could only afford $10 a day, that I would be okay with that, but that I think it’s important to treat actors like valuable professionals who should be paid.
I’m sure I’m even forgetting things - I could continue that list for a long time. Point is, when an actor works for no pay - they’re not just working for free, they’ve actually spent money to be a part of your project. Even if you pay enough that they’ve effectively broken even, the time spent on set is time they may be giving up where they could be in class, auditioning, working a day gig for money - who knows?
All of that is why I think you should always pay actors something even if it’s only that $10 a day I mentioned. And if you can’t do that, then I think you have a responsibility to do everything possible to make it as easy and convenient as possible for them to do that project and work for you. If that means doing a lot more work on your end to meet scheduling needs - then I think that’s good to do. As always - it’s not possible to please all people in all ways at all times. Sometimes, you’ll just have to not work with someone that you’d really like to and be okay with that.