Sunday, January 13, 2008

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If you received my e-mail today from, the blog post " sister..." is the next one.

If You Were My Sister

Question: Recently a teenage girl asked me if I could be her agent. This was my answer to her.

I’m sorry to have to tell you that I’m not an agent. Maybe I will be in the future, but I’m not right now. I can tell you what I would do for example if you were my sister.

The best way I can help you is to give you information about what you should do. I can best do that through the website and through books. The website gives you information about an acting career. The book Acting Career Start-Up: Four Key Factors For Success give you the tools and resources to be able to put it all into practice in a very effective way. I can give you a step by step on how to find an agent, but you will need some training first.

If you were my sister, I would help you get into a good acting school with a good teacher first and tell you to stay there. After you have been in classes for about six months or so and start to have a base of preparation and skill, we would look for a print and a commercial agent for you.

Commercials are good, because you can earn what they call residuals. That means after the one or two day shoot of the commercial, you get paid for that and you get paid based on how many times the commercial is actually run/played. That means you could be getting checks for a few thousand dollars for several months into the future all from the commercial shoot you did once! National commercials can make you thousands of dollars not to mention the enormous exposure you can enjoy, which can be helpful to promoting your acting career.

If there would be time, I would have you take an improvisation class too maybe once a week. That would be really good for commercials, because in commercial auditions you are often asked to improvise a scene and make believe.

By this time we would have been hashing out what your strengths and weaknesses are and what kind of acting career you would really like to have. I would also be constantly observing you and your level of commitment to what it is you are doing. If I am going to be helping you, then I don’t want to waste my time helping someone whose heart isn’t in it and I don't want to waste their's either. If I would see that you don’t have the passion, the drive and the determination to do what’s necessary, I would no longer support you in this endeavour. I would want to be your coach and not your babysitter. If on the other hand I see that you are really into it, then I would give it my best to help you be successful.

Then I would try and find you a legit agent (for film, television, theatre if that's what you are interested in and where your strengths lie.) using a 12 step approach that I recommend. It's a step-by-step on how to get an agent.

Then, still as your brother, I would also help you set up a system to do mailings once every month or two in as much of an automated way as possible; targeted mailings to casting directors and agents and production companies with headshots, résumés, cover letters and post cards. At the time we do the first mailing, I would start prepping you for the meeting with the agent, teaching you the basics of effective communication, how to build rapport with the person you are talking to, how to read non-verbal communication and so forth. We would study what agents are looking for and what they expect from actors. We would also examine the business of being an agent, so that you can put yourself in his/her shoes, so you know how it feels, at least as much as possible to be on the other side interviewing the actor. We would also do simulations so that you would be ready for the meeting. We would study the industry together and be well informed about what the issues are that actors face, also what the trends are in the industry. We would know who the big players are in the industry, who the people are that we need to know to really help your career take off and who casts for the types of projects that you are interested in. And finally, we would go into the meeting having rehearsed a list of questions to ask the agent to make sure that we also are getting the kind of agent we want to represent us and who can give us the best chances for success.

And after all that, I would bet any amount of money I have, that you would get an agent! But we would still be active doing mailings and I would be doing many other things to help you promote your acting career.

That's it! That’s what I would do if you were my daughter and had time to represent you properly.

Question: Is it ok to take multiple classes and would your recommend it?

  • Hi there! Ive been a fan of your site and writing for a while now. I agree with you on the importance of being in acting classes. I just have one question. Is it okay to be enrolled in many at once and would you recommend it? I know lots of coaches offer multiple classes. I want to take classes from two seperate coaches at seperate facilities. One for private and the other for group. Do you think that could be offensive to either of them? What about combining three? Thanks for your time!

    I'm glad you like my website! That's always nice to hear.

    There are different schools of thought about taking multiple classes. There are for example schools that offer intensive programs like the one I went through a few years ago in New York. It can be a great experience. Before I did that program all at the same school, a year before that I had gone to New York and put together my own class schedule combining different schools and different teachers. My schedule was:

    Mon: Yoga!
    Tues: Technique (Method based)
    Wed: Audition technique, Sensory work (Method) and Scene Study (Method)
    Thurs: Improvisation, Yoga.
    Friday: Technique
    Saturdays: occaisionally there were specialty classes and forums with casting directors and agents that I attended.

    For me that worked out fine.

    I believe it is possible to successfully take different classes at once, but they should all be based in the same technique. For example if your acting class for technique is based in Meisner and your acting coach teaches Method, I wouldn't do that. It can be confusing to you. Any classes you take, you want them to complement each other. If on the other hand, your tecnique class is Meisner and your scene study class and your acting coach is also Meisner based, then I would say it's ok. Keep it all in the family, so to speak.

    Another thing you could do is, study technique, scene study, have an acting coach, take a class that helps you break down text for audition (all based in one technique and I wouldn't take any more of those all at the same time than you can handle) and at the same time take an on-camera commercial class or a day-time or prime-time primer class or a television hosting or industrial class or an improvisation class as they are all specialty classes that shouldn't interfere with or confuse you with your technique.

    Lastly, if you tell your teachers that you are taking other classes, you might find a teacher that doesn't like that and another who thinks it's ok. So be ready for that.

    Here are some tips about choosing the right school. (same link as the one above.)

    I hope that helps and don't hesitate to contact me if you have other questions.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Question: I Really Need To Find An Agent, But I Don't Know How. Can You Help?

Answer: Here's How To Get A Talent Agent: Step By Step

If you have already started training and have at least that
to put on your résumé, then this is what I recommend with regard to how to get a talent agent. This information you will read below is based on what I was coached to do three years ago. I actually did it and it worked! In this way I got two agents and a personal manager in a short period of time. In addition, using this method, I also got casting directors and production companies to call me directly to come in and audition or to book me for jobs directly.

1) Try and figure out what your type is. If you don't know, take
a stab at it. Are you the tough guy, the nerd at school, the super
intelligent kid, the bully, the gang member, the super stud, the
jock, the class clown, a comedic type? What kind are you? A rapper?
Casting directors and agents need to know that. Movie executive? A lawyer?
If you don't know, ask a lot of people. Take a poll and try to narrow it
down. Ask the question: "If you were to see me in a film or in a
television series, what role do you think I would be best for?"
See what people say.

2) Find a couple of monologues that speak to that character and learn how to memorize it quickly and effectively and learn how to perform a monologue so that you can avoid common mistakes. If you need help choosing them, then ask your acting teacher, your monologue coach or go to your local Samuel French or Drama Book Shop in New York. Those stores have people who can help you choose a great monologue for you. If you are in New York and are looking for a Monologue coach, I can highly recommend Karen Kohlhaus of the Atlantic Acting School, Brian O’Neil, best-selling author (Acting As A Business: Strategies For Success) or Wendy Ward of the Ward Studio.

3) Carefully choose a headshot photographer and get some headshots that look as much like that character as possible. It must be natural though. Don't make yourself up.

If you really look like that character, then you shouldn't have to
do very much. Just wear the right clothes, make sure your expression
says the same thing. For example if you are a comedic type, you
won't have a blank stare on your face, but not a shot with your mouth
wide open either. Make sure your eyes have a look in them that makes
them pop off the picture.

4) Write a cover letter that communicates that you are that character
and that those are the kinds of roles you would be best for.

5) Have some good training to put on your résumé if you don't have
any work experience.

6) Find out which casting directors and agents and production companies
and extra casting companies (don't limit your mailings to only agents)
cast for the kinds of projects that speak to your type.

7) Do a mailing using the method on this page link.

8) Make sure you follow up with everyone you mail to about four weeks later making reference to your first mailing and reiterating the fact that you would like to audition for a casting director or to have a meeting with an agent or production company.

9) To follow up, you should have postcards made up with your headshot on them and your contact information.

10) You should have an answering service/machine for messages on your phone and you should keep your phone with you at all times so as to be able to return phone calls immediately.

11) Follow up every 6-8 weeks reporting progress that you are making in your career or at the very least, classes that you have attended and have finished or whatever. Make sure you have something to report, always using the post cards you had made up. Keep following up. every 6-8 weeks.

Also, see if you can make some of these 17 things happen to help get you work.

You will need to send out at least 150 - 250 of these kinds of mailings and not be surprised if you get around 5% responses back. Don’t be alarmed. It’s normal and if they don’t answer you, it doesn’t mean that they are not interested. It could just mean that they are inundated with mail and haven’t gotten to it. It could also mean that they aren’t interested in that moment. Once I met a producer at a forum one evening. He openly told me that he found my work very interesting and that I should keep in touch. I kept in touch every few months with updates on what I had been doing in the way of acting. His office called me in a year later for a job!

Yes my friend, it's hard work, but if you stick with it, it pays off. I don't remember if you are under aged or not. If so, just make sure your parents are involved in what you are doing.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Question: I was wondering what traits do actors possess?

Traits that successful actors possess?

Passion/love for acting more than anything else.
A certain degree of talent to start with.
Drive and determination.

Talent: You must have a certain degree of talent as a base.

Business smarts. (most actors don't realize that
if you want an acting career, you have to learn how
to run your own business. You have a product to
sell and that product is you!

Creativity: to come up with different ways to
promote yourself and get recognition.
Motivation: rejection can be a back breaker if you
are not prepared for it. You also need to keep yourself
motivated each and every day to do what's necessary
to succeed.

Planning ability: you need to be able to plan for your
success to make sure you stay on track towards
your success.

Knowledge of yourself: You must know yourself inside and out! Many actors
don't and that is why they make the wrong decisons
about their careers and consequently don't get a lot
of work.

Vision: You MUST have a clear idea of what kind of career you
want. It's crucial. Like I said in the page I sent
you to today (I hope you got the e-mail), if you are
specific about what you want, it will be a lot easier to
get it! Wanting to be an actor in itself is not specific

All these things are in my book Acting Career Start-Up.
The website has a lot of information on it that can help
an actor be successful. The book will teach you how
to apply those things and to optimize your efforts.
It will give you a personalized plan by the time you
finish it.

Oh! It helps if you have enough money coming in from
a passive or residual stream of income, that will allow
you the flexibility to focus as much as possible on
your career.

I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any
more questions. I'll do my best to be quicker at answering them.