3 Business Tips for Actors Who are Ready to Create Their Own Work by Jenn Lederer

Jenn Lederer is an accredited talent manager and President/co-owner and talent manager of Merging Artists Management. Since technology has made it easier for performers to create and produce their own work, we asked her for tips on how actors can use this trend to increase their opportunities to perform in NYC.

I’ve been seeing a trend in the entertainment industry that could be doing more harm than good for a lot of performers out there: looking to expand their opportunities to perform in NYC.  Artists are jumping on board of this trend with the best of intentions, but lack of preparation, research, and commitment often leave them in worse conditions than when they began.

What is this trend?

Producing + Creating your own work.

This is such an exciting time in the industry for creative artists of all kinds, because it has never been so “easy” to create + produce your own work.  With platforms like IndieGoGo, Kickstarter, FundAnything, CrowdRise, etc, more projects have a chance of getting the funding they need to finally get off the ground.

More actors are getting the chance to put themselves in the kind of projects they WANT to do + really showcase their talent(s)..but at what price?

If you’re thinking of Producing some of your own projects, congrats!  Just make sure you’ve got your sh*t together first…

DISCLAIMER: I am a HUGE FAN of actors taking control of their career by creating their own projects…but I’m NOT a fan of watching people spread themselves so thin that they can barely remember why they started the project in the first place.

When you start a project that requires you to take on any (or sometimes all) of these roles: Producer, line-producer, Writer, co-writer, director, actor, accountant, etc…basically, if YOU are running the show…you better have an incredibly clear idea of exactly how you plan to COMPLETE the project successfully.

I see a lot of great projects START off wonderfully…but often times it seems like no one has taken the time or energy to really think about + plan what it’s going to require to see this project all the way through to the end.  Not to mention what is going to have to go by the way-side while you give this project your all.

(I’m sure you’ve been involved with your share of projects that never see the light of day because it falls apart in post…the last thing you want is for YOUR passion project to become one of these horror stories).

The point I’m getting at here is this: Something’s gotta give.

You have to be honest with yourself going in as to what you will need to give up in order to make this project happen, successfully.

  • How much time every week will you truly need to give this project for it to be a success?
  • SCHEDULE the time in your week + stick to it.  The time won’t just magically appear in your schedule.
  • Will you honestly be able to keep up with auditions, callbacks, performances, and other filming schedules on top of what you need to get done?
  • Do you have ALL of the information you need to make this happen successfully…or does more research need to be done?
  • What can you honestly handle on your own and what should you be seeking assistance with?
Spreading yourself too thin is only going to leave you feeling even more frustrated than when you began…and this whole thing started as a way to BOOST your career, not kill your energy!
Want to know if you are ready to take on your passion project?

Here are my 3 Business Tips for Actors Who are Ready to Create Their Own Work: 


  • Do you know someone who recently completed a similar project to the one you are about to start? Reach out to them and ask if you can take them out to lunch + ask them some questions about their experience! (HINT: prepare your questions before hand so you don’t waste their time + get as much out of it as possible :)
  • Think of EVERYTHING that you will be doing and research everything you can about each role.
  • Do you know how to put together an analytics package for your investors?
  • Have you got a crew lined up that is committed to making this happen?
  • Do you have a clear schedule laid out for the ENTIRE project (with rain dates & other options if your cast isn’t avail)?
  • Are you familiar with how to secure locations?

If you can name it…You research it.

Step 2:  BE HONEST + prepared

  • Again, you’ve gotta be honest with exactly how much time, effort & research needs to go into this in order to make it happen successfully.
  • There will always be unforeseen obstacles that come about once the project gets underway…but the more prepared and supported you feel going in, the better you will be able to deal with those hiccups as they happen.

Step 3: Know Your Team + Get It In Writing!

I’ve seen projects implode from the inside, and it ain’t pretty.

Whether you are teaming up with friends or simply getting together with other creative minds that you know & respect, it’s important that everyone is crystal clear on their roles & responsibilities.  You’ve gotta get it in writing, because when the going gets tough…it’s amazing how fast no one can “remember” what they say will get done.

  • This will become SO helpful when things are stressful and no one feels like taking the wrap for what didn’t get done.  You don’t want to start playing the blame game, and a written agreement made up at the beginning of the project will help you avoid this.
  • Also, if someone simply isn’t delivering on their end of the deal, you have written proof as to why they are no longer welcome on your team.  It’s nothing personal, it’s business…and that was made clear at the beginning. (phew.)

As I mentioned before, there are always going to be unforeseen challenges that come up…but the more you know before you start, the better off you will be in every way.

Protect yourself, protect your project, protect your vision, and create the project that you always knew it could be.

Jenn Lederer is the President/co-owner and talent manager of Merging Artists Management, and is an accredited TMA talent manager.  Merging Artists’ actors have been seen on The Blacklist, L&O SVU, Boardwalk Empire, Nurse Jackie, Louie, The Good Wife, Royal Pains, Tower Heist, The Smurf’s, All My Children, and many other projects including independent films & National commercials.

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