Why The Business of Acting is Scarier Than Dating Taylor Swift

YOUNGEST CEO of MARX WORLD WIDEDon’t get me wrong, I LOVE Taylor Swift.

Love love love. She’s got beauty, talent, status, money, and brains. What a lot to measure up to! In the acting world, don’t fool yourself, you are running with the Taylor Swifts of the world on a daily basis. And she can (now) afford to hire an entourage. How can you compete?

Once you’ve trained and you’ve got the skills you need to succeed in Hollywood, you must begin to treat your career as a business. Many of my Act Now clients have balked when I speak about the business side of acting. But you know what, it’s show BUSINESS not show FRIENDS. So treat it like one if you want to succeed. This doesn’t mean you may not develop some of the best friends you have in the workplace, it just means you have to handle your moneymaking endeavors with discipline and professionalism.

Here are some basic tips for getting started on your business plan.

 

1. MISSION STATEMENT: Who are you and what do you want? Write down one or two sentences that describe your vision, be specific. Think about your dreams and your values and how you can work to create something that incorporates both. Where do you want to take that in the future? This should both challenge you but be realistic.

2. DESCRIPTION OF YOUR BUSINESS: How are you going to run it? Why do you think you will succeed? Who is your customer? What are the trends in your industry right now? Why are you profitable? What are your daily hours of operation? Include: financial goals, priorities for the year, timeline (ie: 5 yr. goal, 1 yr. goal, 6 month goal, 3 month goal, weekly goals, daily goals), and strategy. How will you get there?

3. SALES: Know your market– Agents, managers, executives, casting directors, production companies, Directors of Diversity Initiatives (if that applies to you) at every Network– this is who you are marketing yourself TO, and who will be marketing you to others (the audience). Who is the head of the network(s) you want to target? What do they like? Who do they hire? A great way to learn about the industry is to intern in various areas (at an agency, production company, casting office, etc.). You can meet casting directors and agents in workshops at places like Act Now (where I am a consultant). There are also many other places around town, you can find out about them all at a site called The Workshop Guru. Once you have some contacts you can call an office and ask if they need readers.

4. MARKETING : Learn to define yourself as a product. What are you selling? How do you see yourself? Do you have a clear idea of how Casting Directors see you? Who are those customers (Casting Directors)? Which ones have already hired you? What are they buying (ie: how have you been cast). How do you (as a product) differ from your competitors? Who are those competitors (ie: the actors who are booking your jobs!). What do they do better than you? Less than you? What do they get paid (can you do a better job for less money?). For marketing exercises see my post on MARKETING FOR ACTORS.

5. DEVELOPMENT: Having your own product– a web series, film script, etc. is the calling card of the contemporary actor. It’s not really optional anymore. If you can write, do it! Do stand up comedy, write a web series with friends, create a short film. Attach anyone with credits and/or credibility whom you can (this is called packaging) to help your product get attention. You can also look for material–books that are not yet optioned that have good characters for you. Create your own production company, option the film, get funding, get a script written, and get your career going!

6. ADMINISTRATION: Where do you do your business? Make a space dedicated to this. What skills will you need to develop? Are you PR savvy? Do you know about social media? Are there associations you should join? ie: SAG Foundation, AFI Conservatory, Women In Film? Investigate Backstage West, Samuel French Bookstore, Variety, Hollywood Reporter. Research Casting Directors on Casting About. Create your promotional materials: headshots, postcards, website, reel, business cards, and email blast list and maintain contact with your network every six weeks.

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