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?



  1. I certainly agree that professional behavior and following up with thank you notes when appropriate should be part of an actor's marketing plan (I have note cards with my headshot on one side and contact information and space for a written note on the other - enclosed in an envelope for privacy), but there has to be a specific reason for contacting someone in the business. Otherwise I wonder if it isn't just annoying, like tapping on a window and saying "Look at me!."

    I post updates on my bookings at websites that I know are frequented by CDs. Beyond that I try to meet people socially - without discussing work - and try to leave a positive impression. Michael Caine talks about hanging out at parties and wearing these huge, black-framed glasses, so that initially he became known as "that actor in the black glasses." There are hundreds of tall, blond attractive actors out there. People in the business remembered him because he made himself look different. When he got work, he made a point of being easy to work with, so then he became known as "that actor in the black glasses who's easy to work with." You get the picture. Hundreds of actors are trying to get work dropping postcards and headshots. Find a way to meet people in the business socially and make an impression - but don't ask for a job.

  2. Kay - thanks for the great comments.

    You are absolutely right - an actor must have a reason for connecting with anyone and that's where focus and brand come in. Focus - is the who, what, where and how and your brand is why - why should I do business with you? Any actor should make it compelling for people to do business with them. That is best accomplished by taking the spotlight of them and putting it onto the person they want to connect with - by asking them questions, finding out about them and getting to know them outside of the work environment, finding out how they can help them, etc. And, with so many actors out there, you have to separate yourself from the clutter. Ask yourself what makes you unique and compelling to work with.

    Thanks for reading! I appreciate it!!