Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Acting's The Ten Commandments

  1. NDA stands for Non-Disclosure Agreement. The production side takes these things very seriously...VERY SERIOUSLY. Mess this up and the rest of this blog might be moot to your dead career. Don't be the actor who ends up on a casting director's "do not bring in" list or a network's "do not approve for any show" list because of a NDA violation.
  2. Don't exaggerate or make up special skills. When casting asks if you can do X, they are not making conversation. Unless something like a major rewrite happens (You arriving to set and admitting you cannot do X is not considered a valid reason for a rewrite.), there is a 100% probability that whoever is cast will have to do X. Don't exaggerate or make up listings under the other headings either.
  3. Look like your headshot. Or make sure your headshot looks like you. If you were kidnapped and the only chance of rescue was searchers being able to identify you using just a single photograph how confident would you be if that photograph was your headshot? No, I'm not looking for you, the girl I'm looking for has long hair and it's blonde. No, I'm not looking for you, the guy I'm looking for is about 15 years younger and clean shaven.
  4. Training is career long. In other words, you have a career as long as you keep training. Classes directly related such as cold reading or improv are obvious options. But classes not directly connected such as the violin or judo are also good. Assuming you are a good learner, you can list it under your special skills. Take from the best teachers. I would qualify best as being up to date on the material and able to effectively teach it. Also, avoid gurus and classes that are demeaning. Being actors opportunities to work on our careers are endless. Even watching in production TV shows counts. Of course, there is not a TV shows watched section on a resume.
  5. Take care of your instrument. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Get an appropriate amount of sleep. Exercise. Don't smoke. Limit or cutout the alcohol. Of course, your instrument isn't limited to the physical. How many have gone off the deep end because the mental was not taken care of? Make sure you are mentally prepared to handle your career without relying on drugs. Actually, this one is a good idea for everyone.
  6. Remember, at the end of the day, it is a career not a mission from God. Where you place career when you prioritize the different areas of your life should be the same if you are an actor, doctor, plumber or car dealer. Take time to relax. Even a weekend trip can help rejuvenate you. With today's technology it is easy to keep in touch if being out of contact, even for a day, causes you to break out in a sweat.
  7. Have a well rounded life. There is life beyond the set/stage or getting on the next one. What that life consists of is up to you, but have one. Have interests outside of acting. In fact, outside of the entertainment industry. Yes, you might gain contacts or skills beneficial to your career, but that should be a happy coincidence. Other than the fact that this will make you a well rounded person and give you tools to add to your proverbial actor bag, it will help you avoid this thing known as burnout.
  8. DO NOT COMPROMISE YOUR PERSONAL MORALS. Feel free to mess up all the other numbers; it's only your acting career. Mess this one up and it's, well, personal. You need to know your personal morals to avoid compromising them. So, if you don't, I suggest figuring them out before it is decision making time. They are your morals, not society's so if there is something that is legal, popular and acceptable on your won't do list: perfectly acceptable. Obviously, the reverse is not true. Oh, this does not mean only accept roles in which the character's morals line up with yours, but feel free to factor it in to your decision making process.
  9. Network - this includes marketing. Both online and inperson. Celebrity wish lists and those you have the "hots" for aside, who would you want to work with? Bet the people on your list are professional, enjoyable to be around and most importantly, someone you actually know. Think others might use the same criteria when adding you to their list of want to work with? This is how the industry gets to know you. Make sure you become known for what you want to be known for.
  10. There is no "one" way to any aspect of an acting career. Any advice that comes your way, even from me, is through the filter of the giver. Should you do extra work? Are CD workshops a good idea? What type of paper should your headshots be printed on? You know where your career is at best. So don't just blindly follow the latest advice. But don't just outright dismiss it either. And allow others the same courtesy when deciding how adopting a particular piece of advice is best for their career.