Box Office Friday

By Lisa Gold

Starting today, and every Friday, I’ll be offering an insider’s point of view on the Business of Show.

Most actors are addicted to the craft and artistry of acting…and that’s a good thing. However, it’s only half of what you need to know to be a successful actor. Imagine one of your favorite restaurants, really, visualize it now. The food tastes so good, the presentation wonderful, the price is right – you just love it don’t you? Well how did you find out about that restaurant? Word of mouth (a referral)? Advertising on TV? Did you get a coupon in the mail?

You are just like that restaurant. Great food (talented) and so what if no one eats there? If you can’t locate the restaurant, it doesn’t matter how good the food is, right? I know to some this sounds like a dumb analogy, but I’ll tell you that after 32 years as a professional singer/dancer/actress/model/waitress..ahem, I mean print model – I’ve come to learn a few things about show BUSINESS. It’s more business than show!

As partner of Actors Connection for over 10 years and president/owner of Act Outside the Box, my mission is to get as many of you who will open your minds, to understand and implement some basic strategies and practices that will advance your acting career much more quickly than you could imagine.

So check back here every Friday from now on for amazing and helpful tips, hints, biz buzz and more…remember it’s show business, not show art! To your success, Lisa Gold

P.S. You can get started next week by attending my FREE seminar on How to Get and Keep an Agent on Wed. Jan. 12th at 1pm here at Actors Connection. Click here to learn more and register.

You’ve got to please yourself.

Roz Coleman, actress, acting coach, and podcast host recently took the time to answer the question, “What’s the best advice someone has offered you?” Here is her response:

It was an observation that came from August Wilson…  It was when we were on Broadway in SEVEN GUITARS and it was more of an observation that I made over time.

August Wilson had so much joy about his role in the work and he had a recognition of who he was in the world. This made him about his work, it made him focus on the work.

I remember that I helped him join AOL and the screen name he chose for himself was “POWERSOURCE.” He knew who he was as the creator and storyteller. From that observation I knew that he was not apologetic about who he was but very comfortable.

The second observation that I made about him was that he always had the next play ready. Although he was grateful for his current success, he started talking about his next play. Wilson was always about the work. He knew it was important to dedicate time to his craft

You have to do your work, alone in a room creating. That’s what he talked about. It wasn’t on what was he had already done but what was coming.

Those observations translate into acting.

You can’t wait for permission for someone to tell you to create something. As an artist, you have to create every day. You have to create something. When you wait for the phone to ring, your instrument will atrophy.

Actor Sam Rockwell and I used to get together and read plays at each other’s house. If actors aren’t working, they should do the same. Sit down with some friends and and read some Tennessee Williams. Don’t talk about it. Get together and act it.

You have to be pleasing to yourself in your work.

Catching this blog post too late for Roz’s class? Check our schedule of events for a list of acting classes in New York city.

Roz will be leading a 4-week class, “Advance inTREATMENT”: On-Camera Acting for Film & TV, beginning Thursday night (January 6). Click here to learn more about the class and register.

So, you want to do voice overs?

AC: If people tell an actor that he should really consider doing voice overs — and he’s never done voice overs — how does he go about getting started?

Paul Liberti: Bottom line: Training! Good training. Never stop training. Find a great coach and learn all you can. Then experience OTHER teachers and professionals in the business. If you find a class that an agent or casting person is teaching… GO! To have the chance to find EXACTLY what a casting director is looking for… then by all means that is a golden opportunity (that is why I love the opportunities at Actors Connection as that is what they are all about!)! Find a good VO class in New York and a great coach and learn all you can.

Learn all aspects of voice over—not just commercial voice over and animation. Take a class in audio books… or narration, or promos!! Even if you never plan to go into those aspects of voice over, the techniques you learn will help your story telling skills and character building skills to make you the most competitive actor out there.

You don’t plan a career; it works around you. We compete for jobs and you need to be just a little more of yourself then the voice guy/girl out there!! You need to be ready for any curve ball thrown. I have classes for the WORKING actor because you should always be growing and studying. When it all seems too comfortable, you need to get back into class. Any actor of longevity will tell you the same.

Paul will be co-leading “Professional Voice Over Tune Up” tonight (Monday, January 3) at 6:30 pm and also will leading and co-leading other courses through March. Click here to learn more and register.

Top 10 Tips for Professional Actors in 2011, Pt. 2

Here are the remaining new year resolution tips from Tony Nation:

  1. Update or create your website
    If you don’t have a website to promote yourself, you MUST get one today. Even if it’s just a simple website with your picture, resume and information about you, it’s important that you are searchable via the internet. And if you have demo reels, there is no better place to spotlight everything that you do, than by putting it here on your website. If you don’t have any demos made but have clips, put them up. What better way to showcase all of your talents than on your website. You can get a free website at www.moonfruit.com. Easy to use and I highly recommend them.
  2. Purchase your domain name
    A must if you have a website as the domain name links your website to the internet. I recommend getting yourname.com or yourname.net. A domain name only costs around $8-$10 a year and www.godaddy.com is the place I recommend to buy yours.
  3. Get back into some sort of acting class
    Again obvious, but as actors we have to keep our skills up. Just like going to the gym to stretch and stay in shape, the same can be said for acting, so check out a list of acting classes in New York City and pick a class that interests you. If you can’t afford class, get a group of acting friends together and do monologues, scenes with everyone giving positive constructive feedback.
  4. Create both a short and long term goal list for your acting career
    A company without a mission statement or vision has no direction. The same can be said for anyone without goals or a plan of action. As actors it’s important to create goals that we can achieve daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. Create your roadmap to success today!
  5. Update your Monologues or Book of Songs
    Again obvious but just like the headshot and resume, if you’ve been using the same pieces now for several years or you don’t LOVE them, it’s time to find new material. Coach privately or in class, but find material that fits you like and glove and that you just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to do!

Happy New Year!

Top 10 Tips for Professional Actors in 2011, Pt. 1

By Tony Nation

2011 is almost here and there’s no better time than right now before the turn of the new year to get yourself ready for what looks to be a very busy audition season! Word from the networks is that there are going to be more pilots than ever being produced and cast—plus summerstock auditions and the spring audition season will be here before you know it. So if you want to perform in NYC this year, here are some ideas to get you into tip-top show business shape:

  1. Update your headshot
    This might seem obvious but every time you get a new headshot that is better than your old one you re-introduce your product of “you the actor” into the marketplace. If your picture is eye-catching, tells a story and says you have to meet me, you’ll be amazed at how many more auditions come your way with a new look! Plus it’s a tax write-off. If your picture is 2-3 years old or is black and white, it’s time to update!
  2. Refresh your resume
    Again obvious but if you haven’t spruced it up lately or have been writing in credits, now is the time to make sure your resume is selling you. Remember, it’s your list of referrals as well as what you do as an actor. Make sure your name is the easy to read and stands out!
  3. Update your listing on Actors Access
    When’s the last time you did this? Updated your headshots? Resume credits? Make sure your agency representation listing(s) are correct? Help yourself and your agent get you more auditions by maintaining an up-to-date listing.
  4. If you have credits on IMDB, fill out your profile and add pictures
    If you have a listing on IMDB and have never added pictures, resume or representation, do it NOW! Yeah, it costs a subscription fee but everyone in the business uses it as a resource and it’s a tax write off. Also, make sure that ALL of your movie and TV credits are listed. If they are not the process can be time consuming but it’s important that you show your body of work to everyone who might bring you in for an audition or hire you.
  5. Update or create your casting director list
    Every time you meet an agent in an interview, you will be asked who are the casting directors who know your work. Instead of having to pull it off the top of your head, here’s a fantastic tool to present to them. It shows you know how agents work and that you are a TRUE PRO! After you’ve secured representation, it’s also a handy way to keep your agent updated with the casting directors who have recently seen your work.

A new sitcom about casting directors & agents!

Submissions Only is a new web series created by Kate Wetherhead and Andrew Keenan-Bolger (they also are writing, directing and producing the series) about New York casting directors, agents and actors working in the city. Guest stars in the series include Cady Huffman, Michael Rupert and more.

Is it art imitating life or life imitating art? You decide.

Here’s Episode 1, part one:

So you had a bad day…

AC: Acting in New York City auditions can be tough. If an audition is going poorly — and you can sense that the actor knows it — is there anything the actor can do to turn it around and possibly get a call back?

DALE BROWN (Veteran New York casting director): Those of us on the other side of the table are human too; we understand having a less than stellar day or not getting off to a good start.

I’d rather have an actor ask if they can start again than see them suffer through simply because the music started. Sometimes we’ll even suggest they start again. Just be sure there’s a clear correction to be shared.

Nonetheless, there are days when it just wasn’t your day. Begging your way back into the room for a second shot if it wasn’t meant to be is living in the past instead of taking an experience and learning from it. Your life will be easier to put a difficult day auditioning in perspective an build from the experience.

DALE BROWN will be leading a 5-week Musical Theater Showcase beginning Monday, January 3. Click here to learn more and register.

Dale joined Tara Rubin Casting in 2007. His current specific projects with TRC include on-going casting for all US companies of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, and the original casting of both BILLY ELLIOT, THE FIRST WIVES CLUB and Des McAnuff’s production of GUYS & DOLLS.

What are some things that actors can do
to put their time and efforts to better use?

By Brian O’Neil

Performers acting in New York City think in a very linear way.  They subscribe to online casting services (which is fine), but aren’t learning to create quality audition opportunities for themselves, which is an important step towards your goal to perform in NYC.

One very important thing that actors need to do more of, especially in New York, is to be going on to the websites of the top off-Broadway theaters and learning when these theaters will be presenting readings of new plays and attending them.

To gain access to actually taking part in a reading, volunteer to read stage directions for any upcoming “developmental projects” as these readings are frequently called. (None of this is to be confused with being a “reader” in an actual audition situation which is an entirely different thing altogether).

Be a Reader for New Plays

I am speaking here of being in a reading of a new play which a given theater may be considering for their mainstage.  These readings are usually open to the public and are presented for the theater’s artistic director, the theater’s staff, and potential backers as well.

Being in a reading is a wonderful way to network and get to know the serious players in the New York theater scene—some of whom are also in the  process of developing independent film works as well. Plan on making your attendance regular, saying hello to those involved (often refreshments are served) and staying in touch with the staff by mail.

In my files, I have many photos and resumes of actors who are signed with major agencies who have placed a reading at a good theater on their resumes.  So if they can, you can.  I say the latter because some actors have been told not to put readings on their resumes, but if the reading was at a good theater, you really should. Over and over, I’ve seen one or two such readings on a resume  change the entire perception of an actor when those credits are viewed by an industry professional.

Brian O’Neil will be teaching the six-week course I HATE MONOLOGUES, beginning January 15 at Actors Connection.

Stephanie Faith Scott: making her dreams come true

Stephanie Faith Scott is an Actors Connection client who performs in NYC and whose most satisfying acting experiences was playing a jilted bride in the independent feature film, The Video Guys, a film about a group of guys that video tape and photograph weddings.

“It was something I found on Backstage,” she said. “At the time we were filming, no one knew where it would take us. But that film wound up being accepted to many film festivals and winning many awards, including Best Feature Film in at least three festivals. It got me an IMDB credit, exposure, I even had a few people come up to me, recognizing me from the film.”

To get acting experience, however, Scott doesn’t rely on casting notices to find work. As she described in a recent piece she wrote for DigitalChickTV.com:

My original goal was to get into television, and my husband, who writes and directs, insisted that we must stop waiting for other people to make our careers happen—stop waiting for TV casting directors and agents to find me among stiff competition. I knew it would be a lot of work, but then I got the idea for my show, The Retributioners, about a woman who wants revenge on her enemies and have it documented on video. The idea seemed perfect for the new medium—a pseudo documentary about a woman seeking validation by grabbing the same means of production. The idea came to me almost fully formed, and was so perfect for the Web format that we couldn’t not do it. We immediately threw down our many other projects and jumped in.

Scott didn’t get “discovered” with her web series but, as she wrote in the article, “I did create something I am really proud of, and we continue to hear from fans old and new about how much they love the show.”

Click here to read “In Her Words (Having a Goal)” by Scott on DigitalChickTV.com.

If you are interested in learning more about creating a series that will showcase your talents, Actors Connection is offering a seminar, How to Use YouTube for Your Acting Biz, Thursday, December 16 at 7 pm. Click here to learn more and register.

Catching this blog post too late for that class? We offer acting classes in New York and provide other opportunities for actors. Check our schedule of events for current classes.

Written by Bob Johnson.