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HOW MOVING TO A SMALLER MARKET CAN MEAN MORE AUDITIONS!

Maybe it’s better in Atlanta? Read on to find out how moving to a smaller market can mean more auditions. Guest Blog post from Hilary Pingle, a brave and talented actor who moved from Los Angeles to Atlanta and reports here on the ATL market and how to capitalize on it!

So you are thinking about moving to a smaller market, like Atlanta, for the MV5BMjIyMTA2NTAyM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTE2ODU1NjE@._V1_UX214_CR0,0,214,317_AL_ film and tv industry—great! The two big things I learned in my first year in the south is 1) Embrace the differences and 2) Be ready to travel!

Stop comparing ATL to LA—it’s different, it’s new, you’re new. The quicker you can accept this fact, the happier and more fulfilled you will be in the transition. However, since these differences help educate you on a possible location change—let’s chat! What are these differences? Let me give you a quick and brief rundown.

AUDITIONS: Since this is thing I’m asked most about, I’ll cover as much as I can here. You’ll get more of them! A lot more!

In LA, I was getting about 3-4 auditions (commercial and theatrical combined) a month. This was with some good credits, an agent and manager and a decade of actively networking with the casting community under my belt. In ATL, I average 2-3 a week! The most I have had in one week was 7. Auditions in the South East (SE = 13 states) market are mainly co-star roles, but tend to have more meat to them than your normal 1-2 line co-star. I’ve auditioned for guest stars and series regulars, as well as leads in films. However, SE actors for those roles tend to be seen as back-ups to LA/NY… but you are being seen.

Most SE states are right to work, meaning there is a lot of non-union work to be had, and an actor can do an unlimited about of Union work without being union.

The pool is a lot smaller here. In LA, casting directors quoted upwards to 4,000 submissions per role/per episode. In the SE it’s about 500. However—out of that number, they “see” and send off to producers about the same number of actors. You’ll notice “see” is quoted… that’s because 95% of auditions are self tape.

The great thing about self tape is you can do them anytime that works for you, prior to the deadline. You also have more control over the final product, because you choose what is sent to casting/production. However, you should always be off book, even if the audition sides can’t be seen! The downside, it’s very rare to get feedback—which we all crave! Also, unless you have an excellent home studio set up and actor friend who will read with you, you will be paying studios for this service. Depending on the location and needs of the audition, $10-$45 per self tape. 

REPRESENTATION: I’ve found that it’s a lot harder to be seen or get auditions without representation, but it’s a lot easier to get representation than in LA.

You still need a good headshot, training and business attitude—but they are not so concerned about a ton of credits, because it is still a new market. Most actors did not go to college for this, but are doctors, lawyers, police officers who train in their free time and simply love the craft. It’s also easy to get lost in the shuffle if you don’t work hard.

Your four big ATL agencies are: The People Store, AMT, Houghton and J Pervis. I am not with any of these, and very happy with my representation.

CASTING: There are about 15 must-know offices/CD’s in the SE: Alpha Tyler, Big Picture Casting, Coulon Casting, Erica Arvold, Feldstein/Paris, Fincannon and Associates, George Pierre, Jackie Burch, Jessica Fox, Matthew Sefick, Olubajo Sonubi, RPM Casting, Ryan Glorioso, and Shay Griffin.

And they are all pretty accessible. I am personally a huge advocate of casting director workshops in LA, when it’s done at the right time, with the right people, in the right way! I owe my career to them. However, most CD’s are open to generals, and often will do what is a traditional workshop for a group of actors through an agency connection for free. Yes, workshops happen here, but not as often and they are often geared to the beginner actor. Feldstein/Paris (Tara and Chase) do Twitter lunches about once a month, where they announce their lunch location and just hang out to answer any questions or touch base for a few hours. 

TRAINING: Because it’s still a new market, I found a lot of classes were targeted to beginners. Those actors that have extensive training, where I might be in a class with them back in LA, are now the teachers. My suggestion is to audit as many classes as you can.

Some great places to look at are: Drama Inc., The Company Acting Studio, The Alliance Theatre, and Get Scene Studio.

NETWORKING: Embrace the southern charm. Everyone is so willing to help you out here! There are some great Facebook groups that help you get connected like Georgia Film Tv + Casting, Atlanta Film Community, Atlanta Film Society and Film Bar Mondays. If you have a question—ask, people want the industry to stay here, so they are happy to point you in the right direction. Also, see my above comments about casting for more insights on networking with them. 

Lastly, be ready to travel, and usually on your own dime.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but a year ago, I could not tell you what southern state was where. Now I know. Because I’ve been to them or driven through them all!!  You will no longer complain about going to Santa Monica oN Friday at 5pm from the valley when you get a callback in Charlotte, NC from Atlanta, GA… 3 ½ hours away… one way. In person auditions or callbacks are rare, so when you get them—you go!  If you are booked on a SAG project outside of ATL, usually you will be a modified local hire, which means they can only afford $300 in travel pay. If you choose to fly in or rent a car, that’s on you, do not expect production to reimburse you over $300. If it’s a non-union project booking, you can negotiate, but it’s rare to get a travel reimbursement. But all auditions and callbacks are on you. The plus side, usually carpools are easy to find, books on tape or podcasts help pass the time, and the scenery in the SE is gorgeous and GREEN!!

Thanks for all your wisdom Hilary! Keep up the amazing work!

HEY! IF YOU ARE LIKEWISE AN ACTOR IN A SMALL MARKET (LIKE NOLA OR PORTLAND) AND HAVE TIPS TO SHARE ON YOUR COMMUNITY, PLEASE COMMENT BELOW!

 

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ARE YOU WRONG ABOUT YOUR ARCHETYPE?

When I began training as an actor I thought I could learn to become someone else—someone more glamorous, more exciting, more lovable. Someone MORE than whom I already was. I was wrong.

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It is possible of course for a skilled actor to inhabit the life of a character, but in order to do that with any authenticity, the actor must first be authentic as him or herself. That means being in touch with your own vibration, your own motivation—you must meet yourself where you are so that you can do the same for any role you wish you take on.

I learned that ultimately I must become me, my authentic self, more than anything else if I wanted to be successful as an actor, and as it turns out as a human.

This was not my own idea. The concept of psychological archetypes was advanced by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, c. 1919. In Jung’s psychological framework, archetypes are innate, universal prototypes for ideas and may be used to interpret observations, though they may vary a great deal in interpretation.  

Many actors continue to play the same role again and again, repeating the same story because it is their essential story—not one they’ve made up about themselves, but one that anyone can plainly see when that actor so much as walks into a room.

Those actors are not bad actors. Those are smart actors who have discovered their archetypes, and in turn the parts that mirror that archetypal story.

Those actors are WORKING actors.

I spent the first thirty two years of my life trying to be a sort of “Outlaw.” I wanted to be cool, an out of the box thinker, someone who didn’t care what others thought. But it seemed like I was always getting caught, I thought far too much and I cared tremendously what others thought.

I remember when casting director Tineka Becker gave me a part from SEX LIES AND VIDEOTAPE to perform in a workshop. I felt sure she’d handed me the wrong one.

“I would usually play the other sister,” I told her. The one who had been portrayed by Laura San Giacomo in the film. (You know, the cool sister, the brazen sister, the outlaw sister).

“I know that is who you think you are but this is how I would cast you.” As the Andie Macdowell sister. (Ugh the nice sister, the passionate sister, the one who sees the beauty in everything).

I was flabbergasted. Offended even. But now I can see, this is the sister who is full of love. And that is who I am. I am the “Lover,” not the imgres“Outlaw.”

Some are able to layer upon that archetype another role, another story, but if they do not know who they are and how to be comfortable in their archetypal self to begin with it will come off as false and forced.

And even so the roles the best actors are most recognized for are the ones that celebrate exaggerated versions of their true selves, their archetypal selves.  What we see in TV and Film is a heightened version of real life, but if it is any good, it is always based in truth.

Not only that, understanding your archetype makes you more castable because you are more universal. Audiences get to relate, identify with a character and a situation, both socially and culturally because they recognize the character, they “know” the protoype already.

But remember the personal is universal. You can’t imagine a feeling someone else (possibly everyone else) hasn’t already had. To think otherwise is arrogant and false. Conversely, how an “Outlaw” handles, say for example disappointment versus how a “Lover” handles it is completely different. Once I began to align with my authentic self and who that person is, what that person wants, how that person lives in the world, I began to have a much richer and more successful life both on and off screen.

So acting became my workshop for life. Slowly I let the parts that were not me drop away. And now when I step into a role I bring all of who I am and I can breathe life into a character with authenticity because I know myself. Do you?

If you’d like to know more about this idea and the process for discovering your archetype, look for more upcoming posts on ARCHETYPES FOR ACTORS!

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5 THINGS EVERY ACTOR SHOULD KNOW ABOUT 2016’s PILOT SEASON

FASTER THAN A SPEEDING BULLETT! Pilot Season started earlier than ever this year and is moving like lightening. Don’t get lefPilot-Season-Logot behind, find out what you need to know here. 

1. WHAT IS A PILOT? The Pilot itself is a stand-alone episode of a series that is used to sell the series and will usually run as the first episode of the series, if picked up.

Over the summer the major networks all received short pitches for new shows from writers and producers. Then in the fall, each network requested scripts from about seventy of those pitches.

By January, the network has chosen twenty of those scripts from which to make pilots. Pilot season is the annual high-pressure race to the finish line. The race generally happens between January andApril, culminating at The Upfronts in May.

With more and more cable networks producing original content the start and end times of pilot season as blurred. This year pilots began casting as early as NOVEMBER! Whaaat? Yes. True.

During the coming months studios battle it out to cast, produce, and test the best new series.

Once they have been produced, those pilots are presented to studio and network executives (and sometimes to test audiences). Each network then chooses between 4 and 8 pilots to present at The Upfronts where they are added to network schedules for the following season.

2. HOW ARE PILOTS CAST? Most pilots have about 6 weeks to cast anywhere from 5-25 roles. In the TV world where you have 2 days to cast 12 roles, 6 weeks is A LOT of time, meaning A LOT of actors can get seen. However, because producers want to sell their idea, they usually jam pack that pilot with well known actors if they can.

First, lists are made up of first choice actors – the A-List – then second choice – the B list- (hence the term A-List, B-List etc.) Later in the season casting will pull from agent submissions. Often actors on the aforementioned lists will opt out of auditions for already-established TV programs during this time. The reasoning behind this strategy is that most actors (and their agents) would rather bet on booking a pilot that gets picked up, where they sign a multiple year contract, than take a week’s worth of work on a current show. Lessmoney upfront, but it could pay off with more money and work in the future if the pilot goes to series.

3. HOW CAN AN ACTOR PREPARE? If you have representation, follow up with them now and figure out a game plan.

This should include your own marketing plan of drop-offs, postcards and networking. Consider doing Casting Director Workshops with new casting offices, but also re-meets of people who like you (they have called you in before or booked you).

Additionally, don’t focus solely on pilots. Even with great training, reps, some credits and business relationships, you might not get any pilot auditions.  Keep in mind, pilot season is also the second half of 2014/2015 episodic season. REMEMBER all those actors who are opting out? They leave a chasm for YOU to fill. Also, shows that have a full season pick-up order are still very, very active in casting!!

+ Make sure that you are audition-ready no matter what stage you are at! Luck + preparation = opportunity!

+ If you do not have representation, you REALLY need to make sure you have a marketing plan in place for drop-offs, postcards, other updates (Mail Chimp anyone?) and networking. Actors without reps should not rely on pilot auditions. Most of the time casting goes to their industry list and then agent submissions.

+ If you are non-union, your first priority should be getting at least SAG/AFTRA-Eligible. No matter the season, your focus should be on commercials, films and a very, few, specific tv casting directors who are open to seeing non-union actors. Here is my post on EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO GET SAG-AFTRA. No excuses!

4. HOW ARE THINGS CHANGING?

Now that Amazon and Netflix are in the game, the landscape is more and more crowded. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m always telling actors to create their own work, weather it’s a webseries or a short film or stand up comedy.

This year’s trends include a lot of pilots based on webseries or even podcasts. Yes. Podcasts. Also there are a lot of the tried and true procedurals, medical dramas and crime dramas. See more here from the Hollywood Reporter on development trends. 

Fellow consultant, Mackenzie Marsh auditioned for lead roles in 9 pilots and tested on 3 last year, this year she has ALREADY tested for one and it’s only January.

Likewise Act Now consultant LJ Salerno had this to say:

“This was the first year I went in for series regulars on pilots since the first year I moved out here 12 years ago. I went in for two comedies. Both were in November and December.   And for a series regular on “Good Girls Revolt” in April-ish?..right after my guest star on the Middle aired. That was a Netflix series. “

5. WHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE?

TVLine writes super informational articles about each season, but it’s released late Janurary.

 Variety has a list of up-to-the-minute series and pilot orders.

 Deadline Hollywood is another great resource.

There is also The Hollywood Reporter. As things get moving and shaking, www.thefutoncritic.com and www.castingabout.com. are great ways to keep up with developments in addition to who the casting office is attached to each project.

Any pilot season stories to tell? Comment below and help your fellow actors!

 

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Create the REEL that Gets You Noticed!

My mother once got Aaron Spelling to agree to look at my Reel just by calling him over and over and asking real nice.4267356010_d737f6cf79_m True story.

Did he watch it? What did he think? I’ll never know.

But I learned one thing. Be ready with a kick ass reel if someone DOES ask for it. And be up to date on how to present it.

Below are my own suggestions combined with the aggregate wisdom of the Act Now consultants.

 Ultimately when you are starting out, agents want to see what you look like on tape…. & hopefully see you have some talent as well.

If they haven’t met you before, Casting Directors are looking to see if you fit a certain role, or they may use the tape to pitch you to a director or producer.

So their needs are different, and that means you need to present the reel is several different ways.

BELOW ARE SUGGESTIONS FOR BEST PRACTICES to Create a Reel that Will Get You Noticed!

  • If you are looking for representation and will be going out for co-stars (very small supporting roles that can be filmed in 1 day) have a 1:30-2 min reel ready.
  • If you start going out for recurring guest stars and especially series regulars, have a 5 min reel ready.
  • In both cases, Put the BEST stuff FIRST. Odds are the whole thing won’t get watched anyway, so definitely open with your strongest work.
  • Also in both cases, the focus needs to be on you YOU; if another actor has a big chunk of dialogue, cut it if you can; it’s YOUR reel, so we want to see as much of you as possible- not some other rando actor! (or the series regular you had your scene with).
  • Act Now consultant Becca Leigh Gellman told me that recently a client sent a reel where he didn’t even speak until 18 seconds into it. It’s important that you are TALKING at the top of the reel; no need to open with some long, artsty fartsy, slow-motion shot, panning the skyline. A reel is not the place for that; you just want to show what you look and sound like on camera, so they get a sense of YOU.
  • Of course, the quality needs to be excellent and professional- well lit, good quality sound, writing, etc. If you aren’t sure what industry standards are like, ask someone you trust (a CD, your agent, your Act Now consultant) BEFORE you post it for all the world to see.
  • Once you have enough material you can do a comedy and drama reel, some people like it, I suggest it. If it is a theatrical reel I shy away from putting a commercial in it at all or at least not the first bit at the top of the reel. I actually have a completely separate reel for commercials as well as for comedy and drama.
  • Most importantly for Casting Directors you want to have each scene posted separately as a clip on Actors Acces NOT as a full length reel. (I also suggest posting this way on IMDB and on your own website). These can be just 5-20 seconds long and the point is to just show you has one particular character. For each scene label it with the genre and the character. For example: “DRAMA- Criminal Minds- Serial Killer.” This way, when you/your agent is submitting you, they can select the clip that is most appropriate for the specific role. I.E., if it’s the role of a killer, and you have a clips where you’re a killer, it’s much more effective to just submit that clip, rather than your whole reel, where the killer clip may not be until the end. It streamlines the process for casting.
  • When you do post your reels (and clips) make sure the thumbnail of the reel is also a clear shot of YOU (maybe even your headshot); but not a wide shot of you and someone else, or something else altogether. If it’s a clip for a particular character, make the headshot the one that matches!
  • If you need to get one made, Mackenzie Marsh, my fellow Act Now consultant recommends Relentless Filmworks. They have a consultation with you, you tell them what you want exactly (type of show, genre, etc), they write you scenes (so no one else has your reel), they can cast the other roles, do hair/makeup, then shoot, edit, done. Some scenes are indoor, some outdoor, they change up cameras to make it look like different projects. Awesome guys!!!

RESOURCES: 

 www.speedreels.com I’ve used them for years to edit my reel, the cost is affordable and they do good work. Various editors there will help you.

When you do have something airing you need an “aircheck” service. An Aircheck is the recording of a complete television show, provided on a DVD. An Aircheck + Upload is a recording of the program with your scenes extracted and uploaded to your Breakdown Express and Actors Access accounts.  Actors Access in partnership with Edit PLUS provides this service.

Casting Director Amy Jo Berman also does consultations on reels for $75, if you feel you need another opinion.

* Patrick Donahue is a great resource for both editing and airchecks. $20 per episode capture (cheaper than Actors Access below), $75 for reel consult AND edit in the same session. (cheaper than Amy Jo Berman + you get editing!). You can contact him at patrickdonahue@live.com *

I invite you to post your reels here, or a link to them. Comments on the reels as well as any additional suggestions are welcome. What did you find most helpful in this post? Let me know, I’m eager to hear from you!

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