Archives for : marketing for actors

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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Do you want to “Know stuff other actors don’t?”

Would you like to see behind the curtain at how breakdowns work and how CDs are working every day? Here’s your chance! Read the LA Actor’s Blog Interview with Blair Hickey & Brian Wold, founders of WWW.CASTINGABOUT.COM

CastingAbout is a marketing and research tool that actors can use to get to know the key players in town. It’s a list of all the projects casting in NY and LA– who is casting what and how to reach them. Casting About has a team of researchers updating that list every day- the project, the associate, the assistant, and the address. Here’s what they had to say…

“People do marketing backwards, it’s not, how can you help me, but how can I help you? This puts you in a better position so you can optimize your time, you might as well find the people who are most right for you to work with.”

“First of all people think they need to meet the CD and not the Associate, but frankly if you’re at the bottom of the ladder you have a much better chance of building a solid relationship with someone who is just starting their career. You can also use CastingAbout to follow and track the career of a Casting Director that you’ve already met. You can log in and see what they’re up to, so if they book a pilot or they get promoted, you can congratulate them.”

“And that can work for you in the room. A friend of mine went in for an Associate, and he says to her– hey I saw you were doing a film in Pittsburgh, you’ll love it, I grew up there. She asked if he could be a local hire. He ended up working on the film for 3 weeks.”

“And if you look at what someone has cast over a number of years you can usually see a through-line and that can help you to understand the tone and style and adjust accordingly.”

“The submission process is really about sales, trying to sell yourself for the role. Log in as a CD and you can see what 2,000 submission look like. If you are the CD who has to pick 30 out of these, who do you pick and why? Most CDs pick people they know and trust, they don’t have a lot of time and want to impress the producer. So how do you get to be one of those people?”

When they are talking with CDs about what they love and don’t love, lately they’ve been hearing that 75-80% of the actors they bring are people they already know. So getting the audition is secondary to creating the relationship.

“Actors feel like, why won’t anybody give me a job? If you want to be part of their community, you need to understand their needs and goals- what are they looking for? Put yourself in a position to make their life easier.”

“Actors who work have built relationships with these CDs who become fellow storytellers -so you are working peer to peer. The ones who tell the same stories you tell, they need you, to tell the story. Then it becomes a symbiotic relationship. When you take the time to learn about the CD and the project you realize they have a problem, which is that they need someone to fill a certain role. That effects your submission process–with a note, a demo clip, and the right headshot you can demonstrate that you can help them.”

“So it’s more, hey fellow storyteller, I know what you need, maybe we can help each other out.”

“And when we talk about story it’s about what’s your sweet spot? What’s the story that you’re born to tell? Especially when you’re building your career. As you get to know people you can push your boundaries and your edges. The CD doesn’t need you to be able to play “anything” they need you to know where you fit in the process, to be specific, and to help them fill a need.”

“CDs have to present 5 different versions of one story. So the way you can help the CD is to offer the most authentic version of your own telling, it’s going to be different from everyone else’s, and that will also leverage your strengths. If you don’t define yourself, others will define you. But if you can be a professional about it the performance will be good enough that even if it’s not a match and they can’t use that they’ll be thinking I wish I could.”

“You look at people who are super well respected and if you took the same role and gave it to each of those people you’d get a different story every time. Specific, Focused, Targeted marketing is way more successful.”

“I Heard a CD say, don’t just limit yourself to what headshot do I take, but pay attention to what books are on your bedside table, what songs make you cry, what movies can you not turn off, what poems do you remember from school, what scenes are you given in class and why. All that really starts to point toward some point of view, the way we look at the world is part of our own story.”

So once you figure out your story, the effect is fewer submissions, fewer auditions, and more bookings.

Sounds good to me! Thanks Blair and Brian!

Oh, and P.S. Act Now clients get a 10% discount on www.castingabout.com memberships! Woo hoo!

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8 Marketing Exercises to Pinpoint What An Actor Can Sell

How is one shampoo different from another?2

How do I know which one I want to buy?

Where do I find the answers to such epic questions? Easy.

The company selling the shampoo TELLS ME.

As an actor, part of your job (as the CEO of your company) is to tell your buyer what you are selling, to differentiate yourself from other actors, and go give them a reason to “buy,” or hire you. Not just because you are talented. You MUST be talented. Beyond that, marketing savvy will help you get that talent HIRED. 

It is wise to take the path of least resistance. What is in front of you? This is what the universe is offering. Why dismiss it? Embrace your strengths rather than struggling against your weaknesses. Last night at Act Now I did several exercises with my clients to help them pinpoint how others see them. How others see us is not always the same as how we see ourselves. But we must know how others see us, how casting directors, producers, writers, and directors see us, in order to know how we are likely to be cast.

Those roles in which you most naturally and effortlessly fit are the roles in which you can most effectively contribute to the production, the audience, and the world. 

You don’t have to be all things to all people! You’ve got to be YOU.

Rather than limiting you, this appraoch will help you get your foot in the door more quickly. Later, you can branch out to other roles, but you will have your niche.

Here are the 8 BEST marketing exercises to pinpoint your niche.

1. Who are your top five competitors? What can you learn from watching them work? Who is casting them? 

2. List your ASSESTS and LIABILITIES. Ie: beauty, sex appeal, business sense, great agent, great cold reading skills, supportive community, age, contacts, etc. 

3. Choose 5 TV shows or films (preferably currently casting) and find out all you can about them. Do your research.

4. One Minute Pitch: You’re in a elevator with Stephen Spielberg. He asks you, so who are you? What do you tell him? 

5. Write a recommendation letter for yourself. List 3 strengths. List 3 things you need to work on. What do you admire most about this person/ What is this person’s best overall quality? 

6. List 10 actors of the same sex that you admire. Now list 3 roles each actor has played, describe the part, not just naming the film, but actually who was the character? Now, list ten roles you feel you could comfortable play, plus their main action.

7. Sit down with a few friends. You sit in on a chair with NO EXPRESSION on your face, silent, and just look forward. Don not interact. Your friends list 3 QUALITIES of your personality (ie: quirky, offbeat, innocent, sexy, reliable, clever, clean-cut, sleazy, elegant). Then they list 3 PROFESSIONS you might be employed in (ie: military, doctor, salesperson, prostitute, mother, policeman, father, nun, priest, movie producer, etc.). The more you can do this one the better. Note what surprises you about the list, and what you expected to see. Pay special attention to anything that is repeated again and again: that is a strong sign about how you will be cast. 

8. With a group of friends (preferably other actors), stand one person at one end of the room, and the rest of the group at the other end. The lone actor walks toward the group, and then back to his/her side of the room. The the group walks toward the lone actor mirroring his/her walk. Each actor gets his/her turn to see him/herself mirrored. What can you learn from the way you walk? What are you presenting? Authority? Femininity? Enthusiasm? This is part of what you bring into the room just by being you? What characters does that lend itself to? 

If you find you still need more help, there are many studios in Los Angeles that offer specific marketing classes. Sam Christiansen is one whose approach I found personally enlightening and profoundly revealing. You can find out more about him in my upcoming interview or on his website. 

“Let every actor achieve outer characterization by using material from his own life and that of others, real or imaginary. But in all this external search, an actor must never lose his own identity.” – Constantine Stanislavski

 * Photo credit to Vanie Poyey 

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