Monday, June 28, 2010

The Universe

I love a lot of the things found on Lesly Kahn's blog. This is just one of the many juicy tidbits...

With self-confidence, the world bows to greet you and coincidence becomes your partner. And self-confidence comes from loving yourself. And loving yourself comes from knowing that you are, still, exactly who I most want to be. And so I am.
- The Universe

Sunday, June 27, 2010

It's A Numbers Game

I went to a fabulous CD Workshop with one of my favorite CD's recently, who re-affirmed the comment that acting is "a numbers game". Yes, the entertainment industry is a numbers game, just like every industry out there. In the actors' case, the more we audition, chances are good we will book more.

But, we have to be strategic with this to be effective, which means we have to have a strong foundation - a sound business plan, have a focus, be strategic and tactical (Dallas Travers calls it having a "laser beam focus - being targeted with our marketing) combined with a healthy pursuit of our craft (classes and practice). Otherwise, we are just spinning our wheels.

Being strategic and doing the hustle will get you from point A to point B much faster than being without direction.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Changing Paradigms

Attached are some great articles about the Drama show runners and the Comedy show runners courtesy of THR.

It's interesting to point out that I had read another interview by a TV Executive Producer who indicated that, sometimes, casting is being taken out of the casting director's, and to an extent, the Producer's, hands so that even early-stage decision making is falling on the hands of the networks. Ultimately, the network does make the final decision on TV (or big-budget film) casting but at the early stages?

So, if this is in fact occurring should actors market and make themselves known to casting directors, producers and even studio executives?

This change is interesting in light of a recent Twitter discussion that occurred last week: some actors, agents and casting directors said that calling producers and agents was "dangerous". I don't know about being dangerous - I think walking alone in South Central LA might be considered "dangerous", but calling a producer?!

The sub-text of the comment I later found out was more of concern if the actor called a producer in hope of being hired, it would send a message of that actor being desperate and most definitely, being unprofessional. Also, if the actor did call the producer, what would the actor bring to the table to motivate the producer to speak with the actor? And, what if the actor wasn't ready to be seen or have a conversation with the producer?

These all are very valid points.

Ultimately, we as actors have this fear of somehow being "blacklisted" as a result of actions we might take that don't conform to the norm. The entertainment industry is just like any other industry, it is not some secret society. We make phone calls to follow-up on meetings, written communications that we send, and the like. However, developing relationships does take consistency (on the follow-up and follow-through), focus and professionalism to be effective.

But, what if the actor wants to develop a relationship with a producer and while they want to work with the producer in the future, they really just want to start developing a relationship with the producer?

My feeling is a lot of things have to occur prior to the phone call stage. But you shouldn't fear putting telephone calling in your marketing arsenal.

Consider these points prior to any contact - be it verbal or written...

1. The actor needs to develop a marketing plan so they are focused on their career. Do you want to focus on TV, film, stage, voice-over, commercial, etc.?

2. The actor needs to come up with a target list of TV shows and those individuals handling them. Are you interested in drama? If so is that procedural, drama, dramedy, etc.? Are you interested in comedy? If so, is that single-camera or multi-camera? What is your type? What shows frequently and consistently cast your type? Which casting directors and/or casting associates should you contact? Which producer(s) should you contact? How should you contact these people?

3. The actor must be professional in their communications. Be pleasant and gratuitous in your meetings with CDs and when you attend CD workshops. Send a thank-you note after meetings with CDs. Send letters to producers (don't send your headshot and resume, wait for them to ask you for it) addressing who you are, why you are contacting them and what you want. Be clear in your communications. Again, I suggest ONLY contacting producers to develop relationships.

4. Be consistent. Contact individuals at a frequency that you can commit to - that might be monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly for you. Only you can determine what is right for you.

5. Follow-up and Follow-Through. Commit and communicate on a regular basis (what you determined in #4). A telephone call could be a great follow-up to a letter you send.

My point is that any communication (self-submissions, post-cards, phone calls, etc.) is worth doing if you do it with focus and clarity.

Don't be afraid. Step out of your comfort zone.

Oh, and for the record, I have made some great connections via the telephone with producers and agents.

I want to know your thoughts. What do you think?


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Great Advice

Today was a day of some great advice.

What's the role of the guest star on episodic television? Elizabeth Banks considers the etiquette of a guest star to be "You're a guest in someone else's house and you have to act that way. I treat it as (if) I'm visiting someone's house for the weekend -- make the bed before you leave, be nice to everybody and know your place." Kristin Chenoweth, Gary Cole and Elizabeth Banks all chime in on the role of the guest star in this amazing article from The Hollywood Reporter.

I already posted the Emmy roundtable of drama actresses and here's the roundtable of the comedy actresses, courtesy of THR.

Great advice, indeed.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

If At First You Don't Succeed...

Great article at The Wrap about 8 actors who have been in several failed shows but keep getting called back and keep coming back. Persistence and Resilience pays off.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

RIP John Wooden

The great UCLA Head Basketball coach, John Wooden, died on Friday, June 4, 2010. He was 99 years old. I leave you with this quote that really tells you all you need to know about this class act:

"Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful."

RIP, Coach. 

Thursday, June 3, 2010


My favorite brands are: Apple, BMW, Coca Cola, Nordstrom, Shell.

Why? They stand out.

Why? They under-promise and over-deliver.

Here's a great article from Open Forum about how we can be the Apple Computer of our industry.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

RIP Dennis Hopper

Dennis Hopper died over the weekend. I loved him. Easy Rider. Hoosiers (in which he got an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor). Flashback. And many, many others. He was amazing and mesmerizing. Here's a scene from Flashback, one of my favorite films.

What's Ur Brand?

I was thinking about a dot-com I worked for in 1999-2001 and listening to the CEO talk about our company's brand is this and that. So I asked, being a newer employee, "what does the market say we are?" He didn't respond nor did he care. The marketplace determines your brand. Yes, you can help shape your brand through customer and vendor touchpoints, but the market still determines your brand.

If you start a new business, you may think you know what you want your brand to be, but it is the market who determines it and you adapt to meet the needs of the market.

As actors, we may know what we want to be, but it is the CDs, producers, directors, agents, etc. who perceive us as something else - something that will generate revenue, which is our bottom line.

So, how does one determine their brand? Through research. Just as companies go through a SWOT analysis (they determine their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) to come up with a brand, so do actors. We research our brand and we align with people who are a fit with our brand.


Here is a step by step list that has helped me as well as others.

-Know your type. Take a type class. Ask others what type you are. Keep a list of the words or phrases that keep coming up.

-Develop your pitch or tag line. This is developed based on words that came out of the typing exercise. Mine is "heroine with an edge who battles rough and tough terrain with perseverance and poise, while concealing her true feelings for the greater good".

-Determine shows based on your type. Using the words from your typing exercise and your pitch, which shows best match with them?

-Determine the right agents and managers. Look at the shows you picked. Then, look at the co-stars or guest-stars - depending on your level - for the most current season of that show. Look at the agencies and/or managers repping those actors or actresses. Then, see how your star-meter lines up with these agencies. Are these agencies or managers at or slightly above your level? Look for the trends. Those are the agencies and managers you should target.

-TARGET. Marketing research indicates that it takes at least seven touch-points for a target to remember you or want to even do business with you. I say the number is more like 12. Reach out to these people. There are so many options available to do so: social media, mailing submissions, drop-offs, CD workshops, meeting at events, having a web presence, emails, phone calls, etc.

I'd love to hear the tagline you came up with.

Good luck.