Archives for : business of acting

HOW TO GET AND KEEP THE RIGHT AGENT: DO’S AND DON’TS

imagesThe RIGHT agent and/or manager can make a world of difference in your career. But how do you find the right representative(s) and keep them?

First of all the RIGHT representative is one that is excited to work with you.

It’s kind of like dating, you don’t want someone who doesn’t want you, or whom you have to chase around all the time, who doesn’t call you back. Make sense?

So you know what you DON’T want, but what DO you want?

You want a representative who has great relationships with casting professionals and who has a positive reputation in the industry. You can research agents and managers on IMDB Pro (which you should have a membership to anyway so that you can have a more complete profile on IMDB). Look at who is on their roster: do they have anyone like you? Are their clients working? How many clients do they have?

If you have an agent do you need a manager?

That depends. If you agent is getting you out, you may still want a manager if you can find the kind of manager who will really add something to your team–someone who is doing MORE than just submitting, who is getting you general meetings with casting, who is helping you mold your brand, who is looking for projects for you. If you are meeting with a manger you want to be sure and ask them about this also, how do they work? How are they different from an agent? Do they know your agent already?

If you already have a manager, do you need an agent?

Possibly, it depends on the manager, again. Many managers work the same way agents do these days. If you have a manager like the one described above, yes, you do want an agent so that your manager can focus on these other developmental aspects of your career. And if you are just starting out, non union, very young, and are what is called a “developmental” actor, then the manager can help by setting up meetings with agents as well.

If you do a mailing to agents or managers…

Do your research first so you are not submitting blindly. Submit to agents that work with actors in your age range and whose actors (you can see their roster on IMDB Pro) are working. Mail to 3 at a time. The cover letter should be short and sweet, it is not likely to be read unless they really like the headshot, and even then it may not get read. What matters is the headshot and resume. Follow up by email after 3 days. If a number is listed, call after 5 days DURING OFF HOURS when you know you can just leave a message. 7 days after your first mailing, drop off another copy of the headshot and resume with a sticky note: “seeking reps” for the SPECIFIC agent you are targeting. After 7 days, move on to the next 3 until you have meetings set up.

If you do a showcase with agents or managers…

You must first of all be prepared to keep the contact information they provide. Don’t expect to be able to look it up later. Although if you find yourself in a bind most agent and manager emails are listed on IMDB Pro. They may give a private email in the workshop and the facility is most likely not permitted to repeat that information. If they ask to see a reel, send them a link (NOT an attachment) to the email address they have given. Most prefer this method. And most prefer an email to a phone call. If they specified another method to follow up with them, follow their instructions.
If they say “keep in touch” for possible future representation, follow up within 2-3 days with a postcard and/or email. Keep it brief. Just a reminder of who you are and that you are interested in meeting with them, and that you are following up “AS PER YOUR REQUEST.” Most reputable workshop companies will be doing these showcases in May and November when agents are looking. Then in the following weeks agents and managers are updating their roster and weeding out actors they no longer want to represent which leaves room for new ones. Do continue to stay on their radar!

If they say they would like to meet with you, follow up right away, in the fashion they indicated in the showcase. Always keep communications brief, positive, and professional.

I will say, I myself did 6 of these when I was looking for an agent about 10 years ago. At the time I had 1 co-star on my resume. I was 35 but I still looked late 20’s. I play white collar professionals, moms, basically I’m cut out for a series regular in a 1 hr. drama. I’m not a bombshell a la Pamela Anderson, but I’m not a character actor either. And I’m brunette. So there’s a lot of me. That means it’s not going to be so easy to get me auditions.

What I heard from agents at the time was a lot of this:
Send me your reel (and then they’d never get back to me)
Great job (but I have someone like you with better credits)
Check with me for future representation (when you have better credits)

BUT eventually the (very small boutique) agent I was with at the time moved to one of the (bigger, better) agencies I had showcased for. Because I had already seen the head of the agency she was allowed to take me with her and I ended up with a pretty good agent until the strike in 2007 closed them down. So, my point is that you never know how this is going to pan out for you, and it may not look the way you expect it to. Also, you are just starting out, so you might want to look for an agent who is too, or look to smaller more approachable agencies. But also, that you have to meet a lot of agents before you find the right one.

When you get a meeting with an agent what should you ask in a meeting?

Do you need to know thier favorite color? (no).
Do you want to ask some questions? (yes)
What do you need to know?

Here are a few of the questions you should be prepared to ask and answer.

Again, this is a lot like dating. Your job is to show them a good time. And your job is also to find out what you need to know to determine if this person is a good match for you. 

 

WHEN YOU HAVE A MEETING WITH A REPRESENTATIVE

– Do ask questions before you sign.

1. Are you union franchised?

2. Which Casting Directors do you know best?

3. What does the ideal actor/rep relationship look like to you? (In other words what are you doing for them and what are they doing for you – this is about expectations, be clear!).

– Do be prepared in an interview for what the Agent May Ask YOU!

1. Are you SAG-AFTRA? or eligible?

2. Which Casting Directors do you know best?

3. What do you hope to achieve through this relationship? (again this is about expectations, if you haven’t already asked they may ask this).

Of course they may not ask anything at all. Which to me is a red flag unless you’ve already answered all of their questions. You also want to just notice in the meeting if this person appears professional, ie: do they have an office, do they dress professionally, do they behave and speak like a business person, do they seem knowledgable about the industry?

Remember this is your REPRESENTATIVE and they must represent you in a way that is in alignment with your own values and in a way that helps you rather than hurts you.

At the end of the meeting be sure to ask how they would prefer you follow up with them, by phone? By email? And how much time they need to think it over IF they do not offer you representation right there on the spot.

 

ONCE YOU HAVE A REPRESENTATIVE

Once you have the right representative you must know the Do’s and Don’ts of etiquette in order to keep them.

 

DON’T

– Don’t go out of town without telling them in advance. If you go out of town- June and late December are your options, especially if you are not a well known actor yet.

– Don’t be unprofessional in auditions. For example, showing up late. Not cool.

– Don’t call your agent to complain about not getting any auditions. Do something to help them out or find a new agent.

– Don’t disappear. If they never hear from you they may forget you exist.

– Don’t take forever to respond to requests for new headshots, etc.

– Don’t ask for a different time for your audition, make it happen unless it is something huge and rare. Changing times makes your agent annoyed and can make everyone look bad. Make it happen, or someone else will!!

– Don’t take more than 30 minutes to respond to texts/emails/calls from them. They need to confirm quickly for auditions.

 

DO

– Do be on top of YOUR business. Give them the tools they need to get you in doors, aka have a reel AND clips up on your online profiles. Have updated headshots with different looks, update your resume constantly.

– Do Always “book out” if you are leaving town or otherwise engaged so your agent is not submitting you for work you can’t do!

– Do be ready to put something on tape should something perfect come along while you are out of town. You can use your phone’s video cam for this, no excuses!

– Do respond to any requests they make.

– Do reply quickly to their calls.

– Do be sure to keep them updated on casting directors you are meeting in workshops, how your audition went, if you are doing any live performance (stand up, plays, etc.) or your own projects (web series, one woman show, etc.) If you are planning to get new headshots, or print postcards, talk to your agent about it beforehand for suggestions, or at the very least let them know you are on top of it.

– Do create a connection. You want to have a relationship with this person, the better they know you, the better they will be at submitting you. Do you share a love of animals? Fitness? Cupcakes? Ryan Gosling?

 

Feel free to post follow up questions for me in the comments if I’ve left any of your questions unanswered.

 

 

 

 

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HOW TO GET YOUR SAG-AFTRA UNION CARD

imagesI remember when I arrived in LA and an agent told me “If you’ve been here for more than a year and you don’t have your SAG card you’re not doing your job.” Ouch. And yet… yeah. It’s not that hard, you just have to know what to do, and then do it.

There are several routes which I’ll outline below

The route that works best for you will depend on the resources you already have in place. That said, choose one and make it happen.

Before you can audition for any network TV (for the most part) you will need to at least be eligible. That is because the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists union will fine a television production for hiring a non union actor if the union feels that the production could just as well have hired someone already in the union.

So, unless you are a Vietnamese little person with trapeze skills who can speak Spanish with a German accent (an extreme example but you get my point ) or someone equally as rare, you are unlikely to be called in to audition for or Taft-Hartleyed by Prime Time Network Television. Taft-Hartley is the name of the law by which an actor is drafted into SAG-AFTRA. This is due to budget constraints. A production such as this does not have it in their budget to pay such fines.

However, a commercial production may. If a commercial is going to hire 1 or 2 actors for a 1 million dollar shoot that lasts 3 days and they can get all the ad executives and all the producers and the director to agree on one actor, who cares if they spend $2,000 on a Taft-Hartley? As compared to say, a 1 hr. drama that hires 20-25 co-stars and 6-8 guest stars PER EPISODE and has a budget of, say $35,000 per episode. Make sense?

For this reason many actors are Taft-Hartleyed on commercials or even films, which likewise have fewer budget constraints than TV. Occasionally on a network or cable TV show if the actor does have a special skill or an unusual attribute which makes them hard to find, (or if they just REALLY REALLY want a certain actor) a production will risk the fine and Taft-Hartley that actor.

Once you are ELIGIBLE for the union you may work several jobs without having to pay the full dues and join.

It’s wise to ride that fence for a while so that you can build credits and make money on both union and non-union jobs until the union tells you its time, you’re then called a “must join,” which is self-explanatory, no? You then must FOLLOW THE STEPS to join on the next union job you book.

You can find out more about all of this online at www.sagaftra.org or at the Los Angeles office:

National Headquarters

5757 Wilshire Blvd., 7th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90036-3600
Switchboard: (323) 954-1600
Toll free: (855) SAG-AFTRA / (855) 724-2387

 

HERE ARE THE TOP 4 WAYS AN ACTOR CAN BECOME ELIGIBLE: 

1. Book a union commercial, film, or (rarely) a part in a TV show and get Taft-Hartleyed. If you’re not sure if a production is union or not you can ask or check with SAG. Usually it will be in the breakdown.

2. Work 3 days as a background actor on a union production. You will be expected to provide proof of employment (such as a pay stub), so keep good records!

3. “Sister in” through an affiliated performers’ union (ACTRA, AEA, AGMA or AGVA). You must be a paid-up member in good standing for a period of one year and must have worked and been paid at least once as a principal performer in that union’s jurisdiction.

4. Produce and perform in your own New Media production and Taft-Hartley yourself. You must have existing union members in your production. You can find out more information at the SAG Website on how to become a signatory.

HINT: I strongly advocate for route #4 because it puts YOU in control and you end up with a piece of material for your reel, a new credit, and the satisfaction of knowing YOU made it happen for YOURSELF! For more on this read my FOLLOW UP POST ON EXACTLY HOW TO DO THAT! 

 

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How Actors Can Fight and Win the Battle Against Rejection

 

img_428661p3z9koSPECIAL GUEST POST FROM ONE OF DUFFLYN’S ACT NOW CLIENTS! 

Matt Marr aka “Mattie” holds a Masters in Clinical Psychology and is a trained therapist. Specializing in Narrative Therapy, Mattie teaches in a way to open up artistic roadblocks in his client’s lives. He is also a successful commercial actor, host, stand-up comedian, host of a weekly advice podcast THE DEAR MATTIE SHOW, and has appeared numerous times on network television as himself.  He truly believes getting the callback is not about how well you act, but how well you are you.

Right now as I’m writing this article, I have a national commercial running like it’s Kim Kardashian’s latest naked pic—it’s everywhere.

My actor life coaching class is picking up and I’m getting regular students. I joined SAG. Finally after eleven years, it looks like I will be able to quit my day/office job. My family and friends have never been more proud. Constantly I’m getting texts and tweets from friends, agents, other actors telling me how “funny I am” and how “I’m making it” and that “I’m inspiring”. The art is truly becoming a career and a dream is coming true.

But I’m still anxious.

There is still that nagging thought in my head of “What’s next, Matt?” or “You should be promoting your podcast more!” Or “Yeah, you’re booking commercials, but you haven’t got out for a co-star in over a year. Get with it!”  Basically, I’m telling myself that I’m not doing enough…over and over and over. I mean, it’s good to be driven, but I probably should enjoy the fruits of my labor more.

I know it sounds crazy, neurotic, and even ungrateful, but I’ve got a history folks. Like one of Pavlov’s dogs, I have been conditioned. Yes, I got THIS part but there have been so many other roles that have not come to me that I really worked to get. So many others where I have been into offices several times and I’ve gotten sooooo close and the CD says she loves me soooooo much, but ultimately—no thanks.

Rejection. Everyone faces it throughout his or her lifetime, but actors are immersed in it often like a ship lost in a fog.  And what’s worst rejection is the seed for our worst demon, Doubt.

I use the word Doubt some people use the Fear…whatever you want to call it, it’s taking your artistic muse to the chopping block.

One of my favorite books is the War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Get it. In it he describes all artists as having a Muse and the Resistance. The Muse and Resistance are, he believes, natural forces—such as gravity. In his book he writes, “Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

This makes sense to me. How long have we been trying to push away and avoid the fear or rejection? Instead, I want to use it as a signal to motivate me to try harder and dig emotionally deeper. The Muse and Resistance are the Yen and Yang of creativity and one cannot survive without the other.

In other words, it’s time for you to acknowledge that the Fear, the Doubt, and the What-ifs—these things are coming to get you and kill your creativity. They want it dead. Accept it.

So now when I prep for an audition, not only do I prepare my lines, do a little meditation or listen to some music that pumps me up, but I prepare for the Doubt and the Resistance.  I expect it like a wolf waiting to attack its prey. Yet instead of being blindsided, I find myself empowered by the knowing of Resistance. I’ve given it a face and voice and it’s not some scary Hitchcock scene taking place in the wings of my mind. I see what it tries to do to me.

The thing about Resistance, Doubt, Rejection—we often try not to think about. It’ll go away.  Well it doesn’t go away. It smacks us in the face everyday and we can change that. Very talented people don’t get parts, and there’s not a damn thing they can do about it.  I can tell you that “it’s not about you”—which is true. But it doesn’t matter, when we pour ourselves (and our gas money) into an audition, it hurts when we aren’t chosen.

So next time when you get SO close to that role you don’t get, here are some tips to build the muscles to let Rejection sift through you instead of attacking you.

Feel it.  Let it wash over you and even ruin your day. Let it be the thing that you can’t get your mind off of and just let your self replay the moment over and over till your just exhausted by it.

  • The next time it happens (because it will) let it infiltrate your mind and go ahead and have a bad afternoon.

  • After that, the NEXT time it happens (because it will), spend 30 minutes afterwards yelling and cursing the Gods and wondering why you chose this life for your self.

  • Once you’ve let it in and sat with the emotions for 30 minutes (or whatever length of time you’ve set) …STOP. Move on to something that gives you joy and fulfills you artistically and emotionally.  Go for a run, watch a favorite movie, play Xbox– Just do something that puts you in a different emotional state and literally change your physical space from where you were to someplace new.

  • This was my plan. Now you can use these simple steps to create your plan. How do you imagine yourself reacting to rejection? As you sit with your feelings and then interrupt the pattern, you can gradually begin to shift your reaction from the habitual one to the new, imagined, healthier one. This isn’t smoking. Cold turkey ain’t gonna cut it. So make a doable plan—no seriously get a pen right now and write this down, type it in your phone notes, text yourself. Create the PREFERRED way of being you want to live, not a paralyzed way of being that feels attacked. You have a choice don’t let Rejection take that from you!

  • Track your auditons. I write in a Google spread sheet, you can use whatever format works for you.  Note what project you auditioned for and what casting directors, producers, writers or directors you saw, but also note how you FELT. Did you accomplish artistically what you intended? What didn’t work? What did? (Notice I’m not using good/bad—those are the Resistance’s words, not the Muse’s. Good and bad help no one).

No good can come by ignoring anything; neglect breeds dysfunction. These steps truly will help you make the Resistance adapt to your time, not the other way around. I’ve become so adept with this now that when I don’t get the part, I let the Rejection in and it lasts for about a good five minutes. Tops.

By exercising the emotional muscle you exorcise the negative thoughts. It takes practice, time,  and love for yourself …but hang in there, because the rest of us are hanging with you.

Thanks Mattie! I had the most fun doing Matt’s podcast recently, check it out for more great information, or to find out more about his lifecoaching class for actors you can see: www.talktomattmarr.com

xo

Dufflyn 

 

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THE ONE SECRET TO BOOKING YOUR SERIES REGULAR

How can there be just one thing that’s going to (finally) get you that series regular role, or that breakout film part you’ve been working towards? Honestly, you’ve also got to be well-trained, persistent, castable, professional, camera-savvy, and hard-working. But if you aren’t confident, none of this will add up in the end.

I promise if you do the work to be the most CONFIDENT actor you can be, you’ll see a difference in your career!

And if you don’t? You could end up bragging to your friends about all the auditions you went on, how you once served pasta to some A-lister, and that time you rode the elevator with Stephen Spielberg whom you did not speak to because you were stupefied.

Imagine Matthew McConaughey or Jennifer Lawrence without Confidence. See what I mean?

But if you can develop this attitude you will have that “star quality” you need to move ahead.

I’m going to give you two exercises that will help you be more confident immediately and which you can use before any audition.

1. The Meditation: Sit or lie in a comfortable space. Beginning with your childhood, imagine times in your life when you felt confident— maybe you were the star of the school play, maybe you got a standing ovation at a talent show, or won a blue ribbon. Now go through your life, moment by moment, remembering all those times you felt certain of your ability to achieve your dreams. Pick out one moment, just let it come to you, and flesh out that scene. Bring in all your sense: smell, touch, taste, sound, sight. Really re-create that moment in your memory, like a snapshot. Feel the feelings you felt in that moment. Really notice how feeling the memory affects your body. Rest in the moment, with your snapshot, feeling the feelings for a few more seconds.

2. The Attitude Line: Come up stand and walk around your room. Continue to radiate the feeling you found in your snapshot memory. Notice how you walk when you feel confident. Now exaggerate that walk. Saunter! Swagger! Prance! Expand, intensify, and enlarge the walk. Really go for it. Now, begin to say the attitude line: “I’m confident” as you walk. Really believe the words. Say it louder and louder. On the final repetition yell the line as loud as you can and at the height of it, FREEZE! See how your body has manifested the feeling – notice your posture, your facial expression, are you relaxed? tense? smiling? frowning? How are you holding your hands?

3. The Visualization: Close your eyes and relax. Watch your breath coming in and out for 10 breaths. Focus on that. Now see a bold bright golden light shining from inside your core. Let it burst out of you, now see that light pouring like liquid gold from you and into the parking lot of the place you are going, through the door, up the stairs or elevator, into the waiting room, into the audition room, flowing over the casting director, writer, producer, director, everyone in the room, showering them with your special light. Feel your positive energy and confidence flowing out of you. 

You wouldn’t go in for an audition unprepared would you? NO! And your preparation should include a confidence booster like one of these. If you try out my suggestions (or develop one of your own) please return here and comment and let us know how it changed your audition experience! I can’t wait to hear what happens!

 

 

* Credit to Stephen Book, creator of The Attitude Line exercise, modified here by me

* Credit to Dawn Cartwright, creator of The Meditation exercise, modified here by me

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