Monday, December 20, 2010

Six degrees of..., not Kevin Bacon. Although this blog entry is based on the same concept of being interconnected. How networking, auditioning, marketing all work together.

Earlier this year I auditioned for a project - short film, web series pilot, I forget. Tonight I went to a film premiere. Not one I was in, but people I know and have worked with were in it. While there I bumped into the guy who had worked the camera at the project I auditioned for. He said he was surprised the filmmaker didn't cast me because he felt like my audition was one of the best. Turns out the filmmaker had cast his friend. I would probably have done the same thing, so I cannot be too upset about it. At any rate, he said he is working on his own project and there is a role he thinks I would be perfect for. So, we exchanged contact info. (Mental note to self: get business cards.)

Later, at this same film premiere, I bumped into someone else who recognized me from somewhere. I seem to have one of those "if you have seen me, you might not remember where, but you will remember having seen me" faces. Good thing I went with the acting career and not my other choice of undercover, secret agent career. In other words, I get the I know you from somewhere routine quite a bit. Turns out he knew me via my agency. He started to say something about wanting to get in contact with me or his having a project, but we got interrupted before he could finish his sentence. By his, now that I think about it, probable conspirator on the project, who introduced himself. Normally, not a conversation ending interruption, but the first guy had been headed to the business down the street to see if he left his card there. I am assuming he was referring to the card used to make financial transactions. Yes, that's right, he took a break from his find my credit/debit card to introduce himself. Would have been great if we had been able to finish the conversation, but he knows who my agent is and I have my headshot/profile on the site.

While there is no guarantee this will result in work, I would not be considered for the work if I had not taken some steps. In the first case, had I not auditioned for a minor role, he would not be familiar with my work. At least the audition delivery aspect of my work. In the second case, I suspect he had been looking at agency sites looking at actors' headshots and profiles, which I have up on my agent's site as part of my marketing effort. In both cases, had I not gone to the film premiere to be supportive of others in the industry and hopefully get some networking in, the conversations would not have happened.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Importance of Booking Out

Why do actors have issues with booking out with their agents? Actors that book out are really doing themselves a favor.

Think of it this way. If you were an agent and had several choices of who to call when you needed an actor, all other factors being equal, who would you go to first? The choices that are reliably available or the choices that may or may not be available. By reliably available, I do not mean available 364 days/year no matter what. I mean you know 99% of the time that you are not going to be wasting time contacting unavailable actors. The 1% is to allow for extenuating circumstances such as medical emergencies.

What is the proper way to book out? Depends on your agent, but most likely email, perhaps a phone call. Even without taking a survey, I feel confident in stating that no agent approves of a Twitter post or a Facebook update as a proper way to book out. Too easy to miss, assuming the agent even follows you in the first place.

Remember, consistently being unavailable is not a good thing either. Even if you religiously book out. Of course, if you are consistently unavailable because you are consistently on set that is an entirely different matter. Agents like representing actors who are consistently on set.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Time for New Headshots?

Signs it is time to get new headshots:

  1. The role is for the Biblical Sampson. Mr. Clean's fans mistakenly ask you for an autograph.
  2. The role is for a college age person. Your family threw you a surprise 50th birthday party four months ago.
  3. The role is for a ditsy blond. Your parents are concerned about your involvement in the goth scene.
  4. The role is for a horse jockey. Five different NFL teams have been trying to sign you as a linebacker.
  5. People who have recently come into your life ask "Who's this?" when looking at your headshot.
  6. When committing a crime, you purposely leave your headshot at the scene to throw the investigation off track.
  7. When asked to submit a photo of yourself from 30 years ago, you submit your headshot.
  8. When hand delivering your headshots to agents, casting directors, whoever, the receptionist asks you why the actor couldn't deliver his headshots himself.
  9. Your fan club is holding a fundraiser auction. You donate some autographed headshots. They send them back asking if you have any of known, recognizable actors.
  10. Your daughter asks you if you still have the shirt you wore when your headshots were taken because she is going to dress like Donna from the The 70s Show for a costume party.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Attitude is Important

Took my nephew to his soccer class. The class next to his took a water break. One kid came running out yelling "We won! We won!". They had been working on drills.

What's your enthusiasm like toward your entertainment career? Are you only excited about bookings and award nominations? Or are you like that kid who won soccer drills?

Look at anything that progresses your career as a success to be celebrated. Get current headshots? Great. Find a good class to work on an area your weak? Great.

Of course, booking a recurring role calls for bigger celebration than adding a comedic monologue to your acting bag. But if your not enjoying the journey, you will never arrive at the destination.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Moving my career to the next level

What to do when your acting career hits a plateau? Can't answer for you, but I take action to move up to the next plateau. After all, isn't progressing moving up to higher plateaus?

OK, OK...On to the answer. Reaching my next step includes:

  1. Develop a reel.
  2. Establish a Facebook account.
  3. Research local industry and market myself to them.
  4. Develop skills and take classes to improve my talent.
  5. Write a biography.
  6. Keep up to date on the industry.
  7. Get a business license - make my acting career legally official.
  8. Determine my type and get new headshots.
  9. Earn my SAG card.

Yes, that's right. The next step is taking a more career orientated approach to acting. Started into this acting stuff with career in mind. Time to be more serious about moving from just above hobby level to serious career level. It's what I pray for, hope for. Well, I believe God answers prayers by giving you opportunities to take action and dreams are not fulfilled by the wave of a magic wand.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Gay Dilemma in Ron Howard Film

There has been some controversy regarding a "that's gay" line in Ron Howard's film Dilemma. This is my take on the line and why.

The line should stay. Or, at least, it should not be removed based on it offends some people. Here's why:
  • Dilemma is, as far as I understand a comedy and the line is being used to portray the fallacy of a fictional character. Now if it was a drama based on real events/people and it was being portrayed that gays are more likely to commit a certain hideous crime, well, that would be different.
  • Part of GLAAD's concern with the line seems to be the fear that people will look at the line as an accurate descriptive of the gay community. How many of you actually believe that the IQ of blonds, on average, are lower than those of brunettes or redheads?
  • If every potentially offensive lyric, line and scene was removed from songs, books, plays, films, etc., well, there would not be much left.
  • I have seen a demographic I belong to lampooned for humors sake or inaccurately (purposely or ignorantly doesn't matter) portrayed. Am I offended by these instances? No, in fact it might evoke a chuckle. Why am I able to respond in such a manner? Because I am confident in who I am and do not need my beliefs, interests, whatever to be validated by others. Obviously, nothing to do with this specific issue, but I wanted to point out that I do have experience of being in the position the gay community is in regarding Dilemma and am coming from a position of knowledge.
  • The line is extremely unlikely to alter any one's opinions regarding homosexuality or its members. The same would be true if it was about blacks, Mormons, vegans, democrats or backward cap wearing teenagers.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Three Catagories of Actor

Actors who play President Lincoln (or any other role) fall into three categories. Using the Gettysburg address as an example:

  1. This actor is just a step up from a high school student reciting the address in U.S. History class. Not sure how this actor even got considered, let alone cast. DO NOT be this actor! Excellent memorization skills might be all that is needed for the high school student, but the actor without the emotional commitment might as well botch the lines. The audience is going to be disconnected from the performance. (This is the performance unprepared actors deliver to casting directors at auditions.)
  2. This actor is at the intermediate level. This is the actor who embodies Lincoln so well that the audience walks away feeling as if they actually met Lincoln himself. While the audience might be drawn into the performance, be it stage or screen, they are still on the outside witnessing the life of the characters. (The he did a superb job pointing to the moon performance.)
  3. This is the best actor. BE THIS ACTOR! What sets this actor apart from the the second actor? His delivery. Both he and #2 embody Lincoln superbly. However, #3 draws the audience in emotionally. The audience walks away with the understanding of how those at who were actually at Gettysburg must of felt. The audience in this case is going to be drawn into the performance on a personal level. They will ponder how it must of been to be there hearing the address. (The when he pointed to the moon I had to refrain from turning around and looking performance.)

My goal is to always strive to fall into category #3. This is why the bulk of my acting time next week is going to be committed to going over my scenes for a film I am shooting next Saturday. (No, I am not playing Lincoln. Totally wrong body type.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dealing with Craigslist

Tips for dealing with online submissions whether you're looking for cast & crew to work on your film or you're looking for a film to work on. Most of my focus is on Craigslist because it is available everywhere (versus a site that only lists projects in a particular area). However, most of this can be applied to any online submission.

I'm not going to debate the merits of using Craigslist or compare it to other sites. Merely how to effectively use Craigslist.

For those looking for cast & crew:
  • Have contact info other than the Craigslist email. I personally do not have a problem with submitting this way, but it is possible some might be hesitant. You can create an email just for that project.
  • "Need males & females 25-40 for my awesome film" is an ineffective way to get actors. Maybe a been at it six months, desperate for anything actor, but I would simply move on to the next ad. Of course, if it went on to explain that it is for a crowd scene or included a link to a website, that would be different.
  • Have your ad at least give the appearance that you know English. If your casting call is essentially a run on paragraph, it will not instill confidence in your script writing skills.
  • The ad should contain a brief filmmaker bio, a tag line (what the film is about), and a character breakdown. Or a link with this and more detailed information.
  • Be upfront with who you are -without being apologetic- and what cast & crew can expect in payment. Promoting yourself from student filmmaker to top indy filmmaker in the area is the equivalent of an actor promoting his four days of extra work on a TV show to recurring.
  • Don't insult the intelligence of the acting community. Seriously! Don't put things like "Those cast will be required to sign release forms authorizing their image and voice to be used in the film." unless must never have been on a film set before is a requirement to being cast. Also, there is no need to dress up extra roles. Those who believe it would make great reel material would probably submit anyway. And no one is going to think the only thing better would be getting cast as the villain in Iron Man 3.

For those looking for projects to submit to:

  • Craigslist is not the place to submit for $2000/day on the next Tom Cruise film shooting in Bangladesh. Such ads are spam.
  • Casting opportunities for major features are not going to be advertised on Craigslist. At least not legitimate ads.
  • There is no such thing as a nationwide extras casting database. There is no such thing as a nationwide extras casting database. Do NOT pay to be considered for extra work (or even the lead for that matter.)
  • Anyone can advertise on Craigslist so listen to your "spidey-sense". This is especially important now that Craigslist no longer has an "adult" section.
  • The only reason a filmmaker will need your SSN is for tax purposes. Which means he is going to be reporting paying you wages. $20 cash is not a valid reason. Odds are such projects will not be found on Craigslist.
  • Also, do not put your home address. Unless being mailed your copy of the reel, the filmmaker does not need it. Better yet would be a PO Box.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Not Getting the Part

That audition I rocked? They cast someone else. (That's why one should always continue submitting for other projects, even when the audition could not have gone better.) Do I feel the slightest disappointment? Well, maybe the slightest since I would have preferred to be offered the role.

Why do I not feel that bad about what is often referred to in the industry as rejection? Because I did my job at the audition. I had read the script, gone over the sides, knew the lines, made strong choices, was in the moment reacting to the reader and made given adjustments for the second read.

Notice I wrote "at" not "in" the audition. That is because your waiting room behavior is just as important as your read. Not much of a waiting room in this case, but still...

If I had not done my job at the audition, I might be more frustrated. Mainly with myself. Since I did my job, I can move on knowing I simply wasn't right for the role, or some other factor beyond my control. Maybe they decided an older actor would be better for the role. Maybe an actor with a similar physical description was cast in another role and they do not want to confuse the audience.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Character Development

Things to keep in mind when taking on a character:

  • The character is as real to the character as you are to yourself. Keep your performance based in reality.
  • The character knows what is going to happen to him as much as you know what is going to happen to you. Genuinely respond as if experiencing that particular instance for the first time.
  • The character knows if his efforts are going to be successful as much as you know if your efforts are going to be successful. Try as if you believe you are going to succeed.
  • The character knows everything he is going to say in his life (at least the part covered in the film) as much as you know all your words. Say the words as if thinking of them for the first time.
  • What is happening around the character is as real to him as what is happening around you is to you. Believe in what is happening.
  • The character knows the hidden agendas, etc of the other characters as much as you know the hidden agendas, etc. of everyone in your life. Act as if the character knows only what the character should know at that point.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Final Scream Queen Observations

This week was the season finale of Scream Queens. Meaning final blog post on my acting observations of the show. (Will try to do recap of top observations over the season in later post.) What did I take away from the last episode?

Remember who the character is. And I do not mean calling yourself "Detective Smith" when your character is "Agent Jones". Although that is probably important. The next to last director's challenge involved the actresses:
  • Getting call from creepy guy
  • Getting grabbed by creepy guy
  • Being chased by creepy guy
  • Knocking creepy guy out
  • Telling creepy guy he called the wrong girl

The direction was "we want to see a survivor". One actress played the character as a victim. She was eliminated. The judges put it this way. Horror is to film what rock-n-roll is to music. The victim portrayal was classical music.

The technical aspect is important. While you do not want to do a slow-mo thing, you do not want to go as fast as you would if you were actually being chased by a creepy guy. The guy with the camera sets the pace. If the camera didn't catch it, it doesn't count.

Have confidence in yourself. One actress was just not sure how she did. When the other two actresses felt good about their performances, she was nervous. Turns out she should not have been. She was not eliminated. Should the one eliminated have been concerned about her performance? No. Her performance, per say, wasn't bad, just not what they were looking for in this case.

Since this was a contest to be in Saw 3D, all the usual needs of the production came into play. Just replayed the final challenge for a fresh look and to see what the judges saw. I have to agree with their decision. While both actresses did well, one looked like she belonged in the role. I saw the character not the actress in her case.

Until the part is cast, you never know. When they announced the winner, the actress who won didn't respond at first. Then is was a genuinely surprised "Me?" Followed by words to the effect that she did not expect to win. The other actress, in the video diaries they keep, mentioned she was surprised she didn't win. The winner's comment about the contest was that it was so hard. All the other actresses were constantly saying she would be the next to go home. They were wrong.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Are you really an actor

If you can answer "yes" to the following, you are only an actor in the loosest sense of the word:

  1. Do you wait for your agent to call with projects to submit to?
  2. Do you ignore the business side of acting?
  3. Is your marketing material, if they exist, geared toward something other than acting?
  4. Are you only looking up IMDb info on big name Hollywood producers?
  5. Are you the acting version of the weekend warrior?
  6. Do you look at extra work as a major acting opportunity?

If you can answer "yes" to the following, you can call yourself an actor:

  1. Are you looking for projects to submit to?
  2. Do you put significant time toward the business side of acting?
  3. Is your marketing material, which does exist, geared toward acting and your place in it?
  4. Are you learning who the independent producers in your market are?
  5. Are you putting in the hours?
  6. Are you striving toward bigger roles?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Submitting Until Booking

The project I auditioned for (previous blog) is still in the deciding process. The filmmaker has not had a chance to review the auditions due to his day job. Guess I can understand that, but he should not take too long or he might find me unavailable.

It shoots toward the end of October/beginning of November. There are three projects I have in the queue for submission tomorrow. Two of which take place toward the end of October. Third doesn't say, but my point is until I get booked I keep looking.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Rocking auditions

The other day I went on a film audition I feel I rocked. In the moment, reacting to reader instead of waiting for my turn to speak? Check. Unplanned emotional responses, varying vocal levels, and natural pauses? Check. Able to incorporate adjustment for second read? Check. (The second read w/an adjustment was planned before the first read, so probably a can you follow direction and make an adjustment vs a this is how I see the character thing.) Different unplanned nuances to my second read not due to the adjustment? Check

How was i able to deliver such a performance? Many factors:

  • I read the script so I was familiar with the story and the character's place in it. Also, when I read the sides, I knew where it fell into the story timeline.
  • Years of audition experience. Your 150th time (random number - don't actually know how many auditions I've been on) is going to be better than your 5th time in any pursuit.
  • Improv training. Each month, schedule permitting, I attend a drop in improv get-together and participate. This accomplishes two things. 1. I can keep my acting chops fresh. 2. The experience allows me to be comfortable being in the moment.
  • Going over the sides, familiarizing myself with the script and making decisions regarding the character.
  • Trusting that my preparation will come through and not worrying about saying a line a certain way or whatever.
  • Not being desperate for the role. "I need to perform well" is going to come across differently than "I'm going to have fun with this".
  • Having confidence in myself as an actor. Knowing I can deliver.

Did I get the part? Said he would get back to people today and hadn't hear from him about 5pm, so I am thinking, no. Feel bad about it? No. Of course, I would prefer being offered the role, but I never feel bad about not getting it. Especially when I had my "A" game going on and the reason is likely nothing I can do anything about unless cosmetic surgery counts.

The filmmaker is playing the lead. (Case of writing script for self - good for him!) Probably safe to assume he wishes to showcase his acting. The character I auditioned for would be number two as far as scenes in/lines, etc. Could always decide to think not getting the part was due to my acting ability. Thinking my acting intimidated him and my level is so much higher than his that he is afraid I would upstage him is a lot bigger ego boost than thinking he probably went with an older looking actor.

At any rate, I know I delivered in the audition. As long as I feel I did my part in the room, I am satisfied. Booking is icing on the cake.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Scream Queen Observations.

This Scream Queen acting observations blog is about focus and confidence.

Last SQ blog mentioned an actress doing "actor mind games" and how the judges called her on her overacting. She was trying to figure out what had caused her to lose it (she had been getting top actress at the beginning of the competition) and realized it was because she was busy playing mind games. Didn't exactly phrase it that way, but...

In the ex-safe from elimination challenge the task was to play someone performing a seance and becoming possessed by the ghost of the town tramp. One actress decided to take it a different direction from playing sexy. She approached it as if it was not a deserved reputation, but was due to the lies of a spurned lover. Hers was the best. Make choices that are not the obvious choice, but not too far into left field. Playing the tramp sexy is an obvious choice and the majority will make said choice. The aforementioned actress made a choice which was not so obvious but still believable. If she had decided to make the town tramp a nun, I would think she got the wrong sides or something.

In the skills class, the task was to learn how to play drunk. Of course, actually being drunk on set is not a viable option. One of the things the actresses do is practice the new skill. One actress was so afraid of overdoing it that she played it too safe and lost her drunkenness. She was really upset with herself and was allowed to do it again. This upset another actress because she felt you should get one shot. (This actress had gone between the other actress' two times and they had been given the same scenario to play.) So the actress felt like "yeah let her go again after I show how to do it". The coach pointed out that it was her lack of confidence that was causing her to be upset. And he was more likely to remember her outburst than her performance - which was good.

In the director's challenge, the task was to play an insane person. One actress decided to just trust her instincts. In other words, she decided to just react to what was given her. This does not mean she had scanned the script a couple of times and was winging it. She still did all those things one should do when preparing to perform. But she let it all go (at least from her conscience, sure it was at work at the sub-conscience level) and allowed herself to be in the moment. The only adjustment she was given was to amp the emotions up. She got leading lady.

By the way, the preparing well and allowing myself to be in the moment is the approach I try to use whether it is at an audition or on set.

One actress made a choice - play the insane person quirky - and committed to it. However, quirky was not a good choice. Disturbing? Perhaps, but if I was a judge, I would not buy her insanity plea. Another actress had some good choices, but was so concerned with performing well that she was unable to commit. The unable to commit got the axe. Weak choice was at the bottom. The judges were impressed by her commitment to her choice. It showed confidence.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Using BCC

When sending an email, you probably have noticed three places you can list the recipient's email address. To, CC, and BCC. Of course, everyone knows the To is for sending to a single recipient. But what if you want to send to multiple recipients? Don't want to take the time to spend an individual email to each. That is what CC and BCC is for.

CC is carbon copy. BCC is blind carbon copy. Basically, in each case, a copy of your email is sent to each recipient. The difference: With CC everyone you send the email to gets the email address of everyone else. With BCC no one's email address is shown.

Have no idea why CC is even an option. Always use BCC. Most importantly, most people do not want their email address to be given to everyone on your email list. Think of it this way: Using CC is like sending a physical letter to several people and including a copy of every one's mailing addresses. Do not assume they are all friends with each other and already had each other's addresses.

Even if you know for a fact that everyone you are sending the email to has each other's address, use BCC. Ever get a mass email sent CC? Annoying to scroll through every one's email to get to the text. And if you go to print... I suppose some email programs might work differently, but I have gone to print off mass CC emails with five lines of text and ended up with two printed pages. Yes, I could take steps to make sure just the text gets printed, but that means extra steps. And I do not print off such emails often enough to remember to take those steps in time. Usually remember part way through the print job.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Turning Down a Role

The other day, I went to a play audition. It is a new play so there was not much info on it. Actually, I think this will be the first performance other than stage readings. I am not going to go into the particulars about how the audition was conducted because it is not important for this discussion. Let's just say I feel genuinely good about my audition and honestly feel it would put me at the top of the consideration pile.

I turned it down. Why? At the audition, I learned the play has nudity. I do not do nudity. It is a religious issue. The director said to email her after the audition (but before the posting of the cast list) if we were to decide the play is not for us. Since the audition does not involve nudity, even if it is a nudity scene, and the director implied we were still free to audition even if we planned on passing due to the nudity issue, I stayed.

Why stay if I was not going to do it? First, I want to point out that right after the director brought up the nudity, she mentioned emailing her afterwards if we decided the play was not for us. This told me she was not expecting anyone with issues regarding nudity to leave the audition room. Otherwise, I would have politely bowed out at the start of the auditions. So, why did I spend the evening auditioning for a play I was going to turn down? Honestly, I had no real motivation for staying at the time other than I was there and no one had told me to leave.

Am I glad I stayed and spent the evening auditioning for a play I planned on turning down? Yes. I followed the director's directions regarding turning down the play. My audition rocked and I'm sure the playwright (who was there) will write other plays, the director will direct other plays etc.

Any bummer parts? The fact that I feel my audition rocked and I had a real chance at getting cast. It would be nice to do another play. While I have done film work, it has been awhile since I've done a play. And the fact that I will probably never know if I would have been cast.

Do I feel bad about turning down the play? No. After all, as I mentioned it is a religious issue with doing nudity. If you are putting plays, films, etc ahead of your beliefs, you probably have your priorities mixed up. Or you are a member of that religion in name only. Of course, if you are turning down a role because the character is a murderer and murder is against your religious beliefs...

Scream Queen Acting Observations

Time for another blog on acting tips I observed watching Scream Queens 2. This week we cover making strong, good acting choices; being organic; and mind games. Also a note on scene partners.

Strong, good acting choices: For this I will compare the performances of two actresses in the director's challenge. This week the actresses had to perform where they were attacked by a ghost. Actress one was told previously to stop playing it safe. She stepped it up. The only reason she was not named the week's leading actress was due to her work earlier in the week. Actress two had been told her acting choices were weak. This week was an example of weak acting and it resulted in the axe. (That means she was eliminated.) Being attacked by a ghost means being thrown around. The director had to bite his lip to keep from laughing at her being thrown around choreography. No pun intended but nothing will kill a horror film faster than the audience laughing. I suppose if the contest was for a remake of Beetlejuice...

Being organic: I will compare another two actresses in the director's challenge. The only mark they had to hit was ending at a particular spot. One actress overacted. She was making all sorts of facial expressions and hand gestures. The result was the actress putting on a performance. The other actress decided she was going to reach the mark organically and did not preplan the attack. She simply let the moment takeover. She was told her performance was completely believable. The result was the character being attacked by a ghost.

Mind games: Overact actress has a history of attacking organic actress (being organic example)verbally regarding her acting ability. After the director's challenge when the actresses were back at their house, overact said organic's performance was the worst. Overact would probably say that if organic's performance was Oscar level. Organic is taking overact's comments personally.

Remember my mentioning made the director laugh actress getting the axe? All previous weeks the decision had been unanimous. This week the decision was split. Guess who got that one descending vote for elimination. That's right, Miss Overact. I suspect next week's episode will involve some proverbial crow eating.

I already mentioned the ghost in the director's challenge. This meant the actresses had to use their imagination. The safe from elimination challenge which no longer guarantees a callback involved green screen work. Just the actress, the green screen and marks (in this case a floating ball) to help with eye line. While few of us are likely to have an opportunity to co-star with a ghost it is a safe bet any actor in the business long enough will end up in front of a green screen.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Updating Acting Sites

Working on updating the various acting sites I have a profile on. Was thinking I just needed to add my latest credit. Pretty good about keeping my personal resume, the version on my agent's site, and my profile on the casting site the major casting director in my area uses up-to-date. (Use personal resume for self submissions.)

Apparently I have not been so diligent with the other sites I am on. I updated two sites (in addition to the three mentioned above) Each had a different version of my resume. Never of them the most recent previous update.

Wonder what the rest of my profiles will look like.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Scream Queen Observations

This week's Scream Queen observations:

The further you get in the process, the better you need to be. The safe from elimination round is still taking place, but the winner is no longer safe from elimination. Your audition delivery might get you a callback, however, your audition delivery at the third round of callbacks probably will not be good enough. I don't mean totally change up your character choices. I mean have it polished.

Do not be safe...when making character choices. Making the safe choice only results in being safe from being cast. Make a strong choice and go for it. And don't worry about what choice the powers that be are hoping to see. As long as it is a strong choice that is appropriate for the character in that scene it will be what they are hoping to see. Even if it is a choice they had not thought of. Naturally, you should keep yourself flexible enough that if given more character info in the audition room or you are given an adjustment, you will be able to incorporate it.

There are two memorable performances: Strong and in the proverbial left field. At the no longer a safe from elimination challenge, the task was to be a zombie escaping from a coffin and going to a rock. What zombie movie style (Zombieland, 28 Days) the actress's zombie best fits was up to the actress. Left Field was so concerned about making a stand out choice she forgot the character. Her choice was a Wayne's World inspired rock musician. No zombie in her performance. Strong kept in mind the goal or intention of zombies. Find brains to eat. She visualized victims. The other actresses concentrated on how does a zombie walk.

Remember the character's intent. The person judging the contest in the contest mention in the previous paragraph was able to see the hunger in Strong's performance, but not the others. Her actions were basically the same as the others. There was no one actually playing a victim and she did not eat a pretend victims brains. She did not do "I am hungry" physicalities. Her intent on finding brains to eat and visualizing victims resulted in those watching seeing hungry.

There are multiple levels to you. Don't play the character at one level. If your character is a nerd, your character is not just a nerd. There's sexy nerd, introverted nerd...

Knowing how to do the technical things like hitting your mark is just as important as making a strong choice. One actress doing the now poorly named elimination safe challenge looked at the mark eight times. Any more she probably would have gotten whiplash. She was told it would be terrible if she turned out to be the best actress, but didn't get it because she did not know how to deal with the technical aspects.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Types of Reality Shows

Decided "reality" shows fall into four categories. In no particular order:

1. Those that can be truly called reality - Cops. Granted there is editing for time and entertainment, but what you see is unscripted life unfolding. Continuing with Cops as an example, you probably do not want to be "cast" unless you're law enforcement or go to jail on national TV is on your bucket list.

2. Those that are supposedly peeking into the regulars actually lives - The Real Desperate Housewives of... These have regulars that continue from season to season. The purpose of being on a show like this is marketing. The only thing to win is opportunities that come up because you are now a recognizable face/name.

3. Contests to win a prize - Survivor. The purpose of being on this type of reality show is to walk away with the big cash prize. The goal is to stab all other contestants in the back (proverbially speaking) and have them proclaim you one of the greatest people they know and that you deserve the big prize.

4. Contests to win a contract - American Idol. While winning the contract would be cool, the purpose is to get noticed by the powers that be by showcasing your talent. Guess that would be a recording studio for American Idol contestants. (Don't know how singing careers work.)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Improv to Overcome Nerves

Attended my bi-monthly improv get-together. Got in a lot of stage time. Did each improv game. Well, usually do, but think it was a smaller crowd then last few times. Seemed like I got up every other scene. Of course, when each game averages two scenes and you participate in each game...

Afterwards, one guy asked the MC about nerves. Said when he would think about getting up, he would get nervous. Wondered if it happened to everyone. MC said it does. I suppose he is right.

Do I get nervous? Yes. That is one of the whys I attend improv and participate. Not that nerves has ever been a major problem area for me. At least not as far as acting goes, as long as I keep things in perspective. Other areas of my life? Well...that's beyond the scope of this blog.

Nerves aside, doing improv builds up my acting arsenal. I am getting up and performing, making character choices, making adjustments... I've heard stories about basketball players practicing jump shots beyond what is required. And I don't mean half dozen shots in six different spots. These players are generally the score leaders.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Weekend Vacation

Spent the weekend at a resort. Did nothing acting related. OK, I caught up on my reading of BackStage newsletters. But otherwise, no checking emails, no checking acting sites, no doing my personal acting study stuff...nothing. Did not give acting a single thought; at least none that was entertained.

Was this good for my acting career. Yes, because it allowed me to step out of the daily grind of both my acting and non acting life. I was starting to feel overwhelmed. Now, I feel relaxed and ready to hit things anew.

Did I worry about missing out on an acting opportunity? Nope. Did I realize it was possible? Yeah. Does this mean I was leaning more toward the hobby side of the hobby/career? Nope. If I was so worried that I was unable to get way for the weekend, I do not have a proper perspective. It would be like a car salesman never taking a vacation because of the missed commissions.

And yes, I did book out.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Scream Queen Observations

This weeks Scream Queens was about sexuality.

The biggest tip was not to try to be sexy. I suppose if you are playing an incompetent prostitute... Sexual is not about arousal. It is about confidence. The actress who won the elimination challenge focus on the horror aspect. She said she tuned everything else out and visualized her victim. Other actresses concentrated on how to come across sexy.

One actress seems to be hot one day and cold the next when dealing with the technical aspects. She was called out on it and was basically told she was out of time. Wasn't eliminated, but suspect, baring elimination immunity or another actress majorly screwing up, she will be going home the next cold spell.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Scream Queen Acting Observations

Wasn't able to watch last week's Scream Queens due to DVRing issues until last night. Anyway, the acting observations I made deal with attitude and taking on the character.

The exercise for the week was crying on cue. First round, no tears. They were all trying to cry. Anyone ever try to cry? NO! Trying to cry because the script says your character cries does not count. The character wouldn't be trying to squeeze out a tear. The circumstances are what produces the tear. The character is crying because her puppy died or her long lost brother returned home. Second round, the actresses were given an emotional story to personalize. Personalize because, well, we have all driven past accident scenes. Probably glanced over out of curiosity, thought how terrible and went about our day. I highly doubt that would be the response if we realized that smashed up car belonged to a loved one.

One actress was in the bottom the first two weeks. This week she won both the elimination safe challenge and the performance challenge. Winning both for the week is a rarity. The difference? She incorporated what the judges told her and put herself into the character. The actress that went home was overacting. I don't mean broad gestures for a close-up overacting. I mean a watch my pieces of business to stand out overacting. The difference was the attitude of these two actresses. The first had an attitude of I am going to take what I've been told and I am going to improve myself. The result was the first delivering a performance that greatly exceeded what she was capable of delivering just the previous week. The second had an attitude of how can I stand out and deliver what they want. The result was the second putting off nervous energy.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Developing Good Sleep Habits

Need to work on my physical health. Not that I have major health issues or something. Just need to develop better habits in the department of eating, sleeping, exercising. Biggest motivation for getting to bed at a decent hour is an early audition or call time. (Filmmakers, help me out by casting me in your films. Prefer paid speaking roles.) Also need to remember that much of the things I stay up to work on can wait until tomorrow. The result of going to bed at a decent hour will probably be accomplishing what I do staying up and then some. While not fighting tiredness. It would also help my eating and exercising habits. Stay up late; get up late; miss breakfast... Also, hitting the gym is not very appealing when I am tired. The "going to bed" habit definitely needs to take top priority. The other things should then fall into place.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Voting for 48HFF Films

Recently blogged about attending the 48 Hour Film Festival Screenings. So, how do I decide who I think the top three are? Using a deck of playing cards, I randomly draw...kidding!

Obviously, if I was involved, beyond being in the pool of available actors, it's an automatic vote.

Things that count against you:
  • Turning film in late. Would need to totally blow all other films out of the water.
  • Major technical issues. Notice I said major. That 10 seconds of no picture or the 30 seconds of audio/visual being out of sync are not vote killers.
  • If the sexual content stops just short of porn or 50% of the dialogue is the F-bomb or other lettered word; vote killer.
  • Being in genre voted for at previous screening. If I already voted for a sci-fi, but not a drama and I am debating between the two, drama will probably get the vote. This is if I am debating between the two. If sci-fi was way better than drama, sci-fi gets the vote even thought I already voted for a sci-fi.
  • Using inanimate objects as actors. If credits listed several actors as the voices of X, Y, and Z, film would be weighed the same as actual actors. But usually Fred and Mary Hammersly do all the male & female voices, respectively. As well as being producer, director, writer, editor...

Things that count for you:

  • Having someone I know work on the project. Needless to say, the better I know said individual and the more respect I have for them, the more points. Would need to be able to somewhat justify voting for the film if the person was not involved, but their involvement will erase a lot of sins.
  • Drawing me into the film. If the actors are able to get me to care about and believe the characters; major points.
  • Also, major points for 1. moving me emotionally 2. coming up with an excellent storyline and 3. overall package: acting, script, cinematography, editing..all very important.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

48 Hour Film Festival

Watched the first two groups of the 48 Hour Film Festival. My film was in the first group. Of course I invited my family. And of course all the films that made gratuitous use of F bombs or was heavy in sexual content were in my group. It was pretty easy to vote for my three favorites or two since I am obviously going to vote for my film.

Why couldn't my film have played with the second group? While the occasional F bomb was dropped, they were more in line with what I would show my family. The second group was a bit harder to vote for. Could have gone several different ways.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Scream Queen Observations

This weeks Scream Queens acting observations: (Heavy on character choices.)

1. It is not necessary to play yourself. This week was playing the evil woman. I'm going to assume that all the contestants are actually very nice people. One actress was unable to commit to the character because she did not have the experience to draw on.'ve never attacked someone with a knife or questioned their right to exist to their face? I would hope not! Like the coach said during the class: "It doesn't have to be true."

2. Subsequent notes from observation #1: Drawing on personal experience is great, but it nor any other method is a catch all for all character development. Also, what is said during the acting exercise is not necessarily the speaker's true feelings. The recipient should realize this and leave it in the room. (Even if it is true and what!)

3. If the scene ends with you killing your date, don't start out psycho. No one is going to go home with psycho. I don't care what they are sexually into. The audience needs to believe that your date would be there. Start out as someone who is likely to get a date home. (That does not necessarily mean be sexy.)

4. If you have a strong accent or dialect, work on getting rid of it. It will draw the audience out of the scene. Granted, if it is clearly established that the character is from that area, the accent/dialect might work. But it would be limiting.

5. Just because you have consistently brought good acting to the table does not mean you can relax. You should be striving for great, to bring more to the table. Those actors not up to your level are working on improving their skills. If you're not doing likewise, you will soon be asking them for advice on taking your career to the next level.

6. Be bold in making character choices. It is better to make a wrong choice than no choice. Of course, a good choice is even better. One actress played the scene referenced in #3 in a way that made the judges think of the psycho as a Hannah Montana type. Bad acting choice. If it had been a Miley Cyrus type...Just kidding. Another did not commit to any choice. Guess who went home: consistently making bad character choices or doesn't make a choice. HINT: Refer to second sentence in paragraph.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Acting Observations from Scream Queens

Set the DVR to record VH1's Scream Queens. Why? Because it is great for picking up or reconfirming acting tips, etc. OK, I admit, watching scream princesses compete to become queen is on the enjoyable side. But that would be a if I happen to catch it scenario. And there are many reasons, all irrelevant to this blog, that I might miss the actual airing. For those unfamiliar w/the format, there is two challenges, the safe from elimination contest, and the challenge to see who gets eliminated and who is queen of the week. Also, an acting class. The contestants get to watch each other - either in the room or on monitors in another room.

Acting observations, etc. from the pilot episode:

1. Remember what the scene is about. If you wake up from a Freddy Kruger-ish dream and discover your significant other is not in bed, don't make where's my S.O. the main focus. Oh, you're being attacked by Freddy. I wonder where your lover is is probably not the audience reaction to go for.

2. As an actor you know what is going to happen. The character does not. Using the Freddy example, until Freddy actually reaches out, the character thinks it was a dream and they are awake. It is important to convey the character's knowledge, not the actor's.

3. Actors do play mind games with each other. I saw this in the safe from elimination challenge results. One actress decided to point out to the winner why her winning the challenge was a minor success (she was safe from elimination for the week after all) and not something to build up her acting confidence.

4. When you are on set, be on set. False starting several times is probably not a good thing. Hint: The correct start time is when the director says "action". Yes, that actually happened. It was the safe from elimination contestant. The judges pointed out that normally it would result in calls to get you replaced. Also, be able to register when the director explains the shot, gives adjustments, etc.

5. Leave the character some place to go. If the scene is you walking into a room looking for your S.O. and discovering that your S.O. is part of a Satanic cult, do not walk in like you are expecting to find something bad. One actress decided to enter like her boyfriend had run into the room wearing nothing but whip cream. She went into the room happy. Other actresses entered like they heard a noise and where looking for a prowler. Whip cream actress was named queen of the week. (I'm pretty sure this involves things other than bragging rights, but can't remember what.)

48 Hour Film Festival

This weekend I participated in the 48 Hour Film Festival. Have signed up to be on teams in previous years, but this is the first time I was cast. A very enjoyable experience. (Of course, that's almost a given for being on set.)

Admittedly, I probably have some bias, but I thought it was a great script. Everyone did a great job. We wrapped filming only an hour later then scheduled. This was doing multiple takes, medium shots, close-ups, angles etc.

Makes me realize that, as an actor, I have one of the easier on set jobs. Notice that I said easier, not easy or less important. I still have to make character choices and give production something to work with.

However, I am not coming up with a workable script, making sure all need shots are gotten or putting together the final edit. I just need to be concerned about my character and his scenes, not every character and every scene.

Production was developing the script, etc. well before my call time. After wrapping, production had to edit and do all that good stuff. Granted, the time line is greatly abbreviated for the 48 Hour contest, but it is the same format for other productions.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

High Speed

Spent the afternoon getting high speed hooked up. That's right, we've been on dial-up. Hopefully I will be able effectively utilize all the time saved. Instead of spending the evening loading one acting site, I can do several plus other stuff. For those of you who do not remember what dial-up is, think of dial-up as a riding lawn mower and high speed as a sports car.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I attend a bi-month drop in improv group when opportunity permits. Opportunity meaning I am not involved with a higher priority acting event such as being on set. Oh, I also participate. Yes, there are those that regularly come and never participate. Granted, two or three might just be providing rides, but...

Not really a format to get noticed, so why do I do it? It is an opportunity to keep my acting skills honed. And, let's face facts, CD's and the other powers that be like seeing "improv" on the ol' resume. Most importantly, I enjoy it.

Has it helped me. I think so. How? Putting in that performance time has helped me to relax and be in the moment. Booked as a result? Possibly, but it is impossible to know. Definitely would have moved me up the consideration list assuming no non-acting issues.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Casting Notice to Wrap

This month I booked a photoshoot which paid very well. How did I manage to get choosen over all the other actors/models that attended the go-see? Probably a lot of factors I will never be know about, but I did take steps to make myself more castable.

After getting the notice from my agent, I carefully read through the character breakdowns. Normally, I am clean shaven. However, in reading through the script, I felt that the characters would not have shaved. So, I let my facial hair grow. Notice did not call for facial hair, it was a personal choice. Since I got a call from the MUA few days before asking me not to shave, I figure it was a good choice.

When I went to the go-see, I dressed to suggest the overall feel of the general characters - don't remember exact wording, but basically unkempt, down on luck... Wore a plain T-shirt and old jeans. Also, did not comb my hair. Those at the go-see when I went were dressed a bit nicer with combed and styled hair.

During my go-see pictures, I relaxed and had fun with it. Yes, it is possible to do still photos without looking like you're standing at attention.

At the shoot, I showed up at my appointed time, a few hours before my shoot time. Typical shoot schedule. They where also shooting other characters that day. My point is to bring a book or something - which won't disturb those around you - to keep yourself entertained. When it was time for my shoot, there was a bit of tech stuff. Making sure the lighting was right, arranging/rearranging the setting, making sure they got plenty of usable shots to choose from.

Lessons learned/reconfirmed:
1. Know the character breakdown and do not be afraid to take risks. My facial hair could have lost me the role.
2. Dress to suggest, but don't go overboard. Had I rolled around in the dirt for the go-see, that would have been going overboard.
3. It is important to be able to relax and have confidence in yourself. Nervous looking stiffs have a low booking percentage.
4. With all projects, be prepared for "hurry up and wait."
5. There are lots of tech issues to consider. Do not let these things throw you.
6. Be able to follow direction and make adjustments.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

GoSees, Bookings and Auditions

This past week I went to a Go See. While facial hair wasn't specifically mentioned, in reading the character breakdowns, I thought this guy probably wouldn't shave. At least not at this particular point in his life. So I decided to let my whiskers grow. I shoot next Tuesday. Would I have gotten the part if I had been clean shaved (& all other factors constant.)? It might have been the winning point between me and whoever came in second. Or facial hair might have been the biggest factor in considering going the other way. Facial hair or not, most at the Go See when I went were not dressed to suggest character.

This afternoon, I had an audition for a character who is more likely to be clean shaved. (My headshot is a clean shaved version.) Did I shave for the role figuring I would just grow my whiskers back for Tuesday's shoot? Considered it, but decided there would not be enough time - would have a couple days less growth then I had at the Go See. Was concerned about going in to audition not looking like my headshot. Decided I would audition anyway and just tell them the facial hair is for a shoot on Tuesday. They were understanding. But what production doesn't want to hear that those auditioning are working? Their main concern was verifying that I was flexible.

Open Cattle Calls

Couple weeks ago there was an open casting call for all types for a TV pilot. Debated on going because it was no pay. But I figured maybe it is an "if it gets picked up..." which I would be fine with. After a significant wait, I heard they are casting five very specific parts. They were running behind so started dismissing those that were obviously the wrong type. So glad I ended up not reading. What an amateurish operation! A cattle call for five specific roles? No excuse for it. Last one I attend. Wouldn't mind the wait (that's to be expected, like getting sand on yourself at the beach) but what they did is inexcusably lazy.

This afternoon, I auditioned for another TV pilot. This one offered pay. They put out a casting notice with character breakdown. This one worked like this: Actor submits, Production responds w/role(s) - if any - they want to consider Actor for, Actor confirms interest and audition time is scheduled. They could have easily gone the open casting route as well. (Would have needed a larger venue, but that's not relevant.) This group put forth the effort to bring in just those who would be right for the roles being cast.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Communicative Marketing

A few days ago I noticed a sign that had written on it "eyebrow wax $7". It was one of those cardboard signs on thin wire people stick in the ground. The sign caught my attention because the concept of an eyebrow wax is somewhat of an oddity to me. Then I realized; where would I go if I wanted one? There was no business name, contact info or address. Just the above mentioned offer. It was not even in front of a business which offers such services. I assume $7 is a good price for an eyebrow wax and the person performing the service would be adequately skilled. It is possible that I will pull out the phone book or do an online search but why make it more difficult for me to find you? Why risk losing the job because I don't know who you are or how to contact you? This marketing effort is a failure.

While extra effort might be made by CDs or others to contact you in order to offer you a role, the effort will be less for auditions or callbacks. No matter how much I want the $7 eyebrow wax, I can only contact so many businesses before it is more practical to make other arrangements. Same with the powers that be trying to book you. At some point they will either give up on you or because of production schedule be forced to move to the next choice. While it is recommended that you don't obsess about hearing back after auditioning, becoming Incommunicado Actor is going too far the other way. Unfortunately, from what I've read, I suspect a high percentage of CDs, agents, etc have had personal dealings with this actor.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Audition Nerves

Just saw part of an episode of America's Got Talent while I was doing the Wii. The last one was a girl - probably early twenties - singing and playing guitar. Something she had been doing since her mid teens. Talent wise she sounded pretty good. However, she apparently wore her nervousness on that proverbial sleeve some wear their emotions on - wasn't looking at the screen so don't know her facial expression. First time I saw the judges express concern about one of the contestants being able to handle performing at a big Vegas show. (The reward for passing this portion of the show.) In other words, first time I've seen the judges consider giving no votes for a reason other then lack of talent. She got two yes votes after saying she would do whatever is needed.

Some of the judges' comments:

"I'm going to have to vote no at this time." (Read you have talent, but I don't think you can perform at the level necessary.)

"The next stage is a performance in Las Vegas in front of a large audience. I'm not sure you could handle that level of a show." (Read I think you could handle a coffee house - under five - supporting, but not a major venue - series regular - principal)

"You were extremely nervous during your performance and that makes us nervous for you." (Read you were upstaging yourself.)

"Instead of nervousness I saw young talent gaining experience. It's a yes vote for me." (Read don't beat yourself up over any audition. You never know what they are thinking - OK, invites to Vegas or callbacks are pretty big clues.)

"Your performance was good, but you didn't own the room." (Read there are lots of actors up for the role that are good. You need to bring great if you want to stand out.)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Camera Presence

Awhile back I took a workshop from a CD on auditioning/cold reading. At the time he was casting a sitcom which is no longer airing. The first part was choosing - from a list of about six distinct supporting characters meeting at a support group the show's main character belonged to- the one we would cast ourselves as. He then went over which character he would cast each of us as. Don't remember what type (Yes, types was the point of this particular exercise.) he saw me or which I saw myself as.

I do remember a comment he made. He said he would be concerned about casting me because he felt I would draw focus from the regulars. He was referring to my camera presence. Great! Need to work on strong character choices? Doable. Need to work on line delivery? Doable. Camera presence draws focus from the regulars? How do you deal with that?

My approach: Dumb down my camera presence. Not! Wouldn't know how if I wanted to. Actually, I am doing what I would be doing had he not expressed his concerns. After all, it was just one person's opinion and it isn't something I can control. My focus is on things I can control such as developing my skills such as improv, script analysis, networking...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Film Contests

24 Hour film festival contest shooting this weekend. Signed up for one of the team's actor pools. Haven't heard back, so figure my level of acting is so far beyond the other actor's that the team leader is afraid I would upstage them just standing in the background. I'm kidding about the upstaging part. At least I hope that wasn't a deterrent. (Have been told in a workshop that there would be concern about my personality pulling focus from series regulars - but that is a blog for another day.) The rest - signing up to be on a team and not being cast, unless the team's rough schedule is majorly behind - is true.

The thing about contests like this for actors is until the script is written it is not known if there will be a character for which they are the right type. Since the script is not written until the contest starts... Would I have preferred to get the "there's a part for you" call? Absolutely. Duh! I also realize that this is not a "write a script to showcase my acting" contest. Upon seeing the finished film, will I agree that script wise the casting choices they made? Possibly. It has happened before were I auditioned for a role and after seeing the film had to admit the actor cast was more the appropriate type. Not that I'm submitting for roles I'm obviously wrong for. (Another possible blog subject.)

Coming up in just over a month: The 48 hour film festival. I'm going to sign up to be on a team. Believe it will be my third time. Would have to look at my acting journals to be sure. (First year for the 24 hour.) At any rate, I haven't been cast yet. Hopefully the team I sign with will end up with a script which as a role I'm right for. Keeping fingers crossed more for lead than supporting, but will just as enthusiastically do either role.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Working for Peanuts

Attention filmmakers! "There will be food on set" is not an acceptable substitute for money. There seems to be a recent phenomenon of mentioning that there will be food on set. The food in mind is generally bags of chips, pretzels... Even if it was chicken enchiladas or crab stuffed salmon it would be somewhat insulting. Okay, I admit I would probably be open to a barter deal if the filmmaker is a butcher in his/her other life. Some nice cuts of meat for a day or two on set. Filmmakers seem to think actors will work for peanuts. Actually, filmmakers know they can get actors for less. As actors it is our fault. Seriously, how hard is it for filmmakers to fill roles for no pay or credit/copy projects? (Actors: Ever notice getting a copy seems to be easy when it is a minor role you wouldn't think of including in a demo reel but more difficult when it is reel worthy?) I admit I worked these type of projects first starting out to gain experience and build up my resume. A lot of projects with Art Institute students or Indy filmmakers on the first few films. Similar to interning at a law firm or doing residency at a hospital. The difference? Actors are the only ones that stay at this level. Probably why filmmakers consider food on set to be a pay increase from no pay.

This is why I have stopped doing no pay projects. Occasionally, I might take one just like a lawyer might take on the occasional case that cannot afford the normal fee. After all, it is not always about the money. And it is not about getting on set. Imagine a lawyer mainly doing "if you cannot afford a lawyer one will be appointed to you" cases just to get up in the courtroom. Despite the importance of everyone, regardless of economic means, having legal protection, it would be hard to take a lawyer that does these type of cases 90+% of the time seriously. The same is true for actors that spend their entire careers - I use the word loosely - doing no pay projects seriously.

This is why when I come across a no pay project that I am interested in I inquire about the possibility of pay. So much per day; deferred percentage. Any arrangement is satisfactory and I am not asking for break the bank 35% of the budget amounts. If the filmmaker is unable to move beyond the no pay I politely decline and wish them luck. It is as important for me to develop the habit of working for pay if I want to increase the level of my acting as it is for filmmakers to develop the habit of paying if they want to increase their level of film making. Acting is my career not my hobby. It is time to take it to the next level.

Monday, June 14, 2010


SAG and AFTRA have been going back and forth on the "merger" thing for some time. It can be easy to wonder why all the controversy - the heating up and cooling off of talks. Just merge and make it more convenient for actors. But it is more then deciding the merged union's name and figuring out how to combine two boards. The two have different requirements to join, different fees and benefits. There are actors who belong to both, and those who belong to one but not the other. Simply put, lots of issues to address. I am for dealing with these issues and merging the unions. Back when an actor either did TV or film, but not both and new media such as webisodes didn't exist, separate acting unions might have made sense. Today, actors are doing both. Series regulars do movies during hiatus. Actors knowing for film work showing up on TV episodes. Films are made out of TV shows shortly after the series wraps. During the recent period of time one of the unions had difficulty agreeing to a contract, most series signed to have actors from the other union cast. For most actors, the biggest issue in what union a series has a contract with is remembering which card to pull out of their wallet. Imagine how much stronger of a bargaining position actors would be in with just one union bargaining with producers instead of two competing for a contract.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

California Casting Director Workshop Law

This year a new law regarding casting director workshops went into effect in California. I know this because I try to keep updated on the industry. At least some aspects of it. From my understanding, these workshops need to be bonded and have some instruction planned. Collecting headshots and resumes is apparently highly discouraged but not a specific legal "Thou Shalt Not". Personally, I tend to favor such a law. Not to rein in the unscrupulous casting director, but to protect the naive and idiot actors. There are actors who will spend $200 to do a scene among 20 scenes instead of a free workshop in which the same casting director gives instruction of, for example, auditioning technique. Perhaps this is why some actors are upset by the headshot/resume thing. I would attend the free workshop. Why? Because I look at each workshop, seminar and class as an opportunity to learn new skills, not get on a casting director's "need to cast" list. Although, that would be a great bonus.

I took a Saturday workshop on the business of acting taught by the main local casting director a year or so ago. No monologues, scenes, etc. was specifically stated in the advertisement. I took this workshop because I felt she would probably know a thing or two about the business side of acting. (I still have the handout and refer to it.) If I felt would not be able to learn something noteworthy from this workshop, I would not have taken it. I know there are those that would disagree. One actor (who took a different session & shall remain nameless) actually told me that he hadn't bothered applying what he had learned and the only reason for taking the workshop was "face time". Which approach do you think will be more effective for a long term acting career?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Gays Playing Straight

Apparently there was as Newsweek article (haven't seen it) questioning the ability of gay actors to play straight characters. Might it be the viewer's perception? Is the viewer being pulled out of the show's world by thinking that actor's gay? There have been times that I've been watching a film starring a recently deceased actor and find myself thinking: He's dead. Kind of distracting. Imagine how unenjoyable Doubt would have been to watch if you spent the entire movie thinking She's a Baptist, he's a Jew, she's a whatever.

Ever have the experience of seeing a movie and then seeing it again after learning one of the actors is gay? Do you look at that actor's performance in a different light? Do you suddenly see "gayness" coming through? This has nothing to do with your views on homosexuality or the actor's abilities. It's your (the viewer's) ability to suspend reality and be drawn into the world of the show.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Acting Misconceptions & Getting Started

Acting had always been on the back burner, but I did not get into it until a few years ago. I had some misconceptions. First, it didn't completely register that supporting characters were played by actors. The grocery store clerk was played by an actual grocery story clerk. Wasn't (and still am not) quite sure how to start out doing the main characters. Second, I thought sex scenes were required. This is NOT reflective of the type of shows/movies my parents allowed me to watch. Think this was a result of adults talking about the quality of programing getting worse.

How did I finally get into acting? During a slow time in the market for what is now my day job, I researched some other possibilities and came across one of those "For $200 sign up fee, we'll send you casting notices" sites. Don't remember the site, but from it I was able to locate my agent. However, I think the particular casting notice might have been a little late. But, I was off and running with my acting career and haven't slowed down.