Top 5 Things You Should NEVER Say in a Meeting with an Agent or Manager by Jenn Lederer

Jenn Lederer is an accredited New York casting talent manager. We asked about which questions tick off agents or managers the most and should never be asked.

DISCLAIMER – I completely understand why actors might think these Top 5 Topics are completely justifiable to discuss in a meeting…but I’m going to tell you why that simply isn’t the case.

Before you speak, always as yourself 2 questions:

~ How is this going to make me look?

~ How is this going to make the other person feel?

If the answer is at all negative…or even has the chance of being negative…skip it.

Here are some of the most common self-sabotaging comments & questions that you should avoid…

Top 5: Things You Should NEVER Say in a Meeting w/ an Agent + Manager

1.       “Listen, I’m here to make both of us money.”

What ‘they’ are thinking – I’m sorry, have we  given you the impression that our company is dying to find another actor to make us money?  We’re doing just fine, thanks.

Why you shouldn’t say this

~ This is a case where you want to let your resume & brand speak for itself.  If you really are an actor who can make money… the agent or manager will be able to see that.

~ Saying this is going to make them get defensive right off the bat…don’t do that.  The last thing you want to do is make someone get defensive, when you’re trying to get something from them.

~ I know where you are going with this…but trust me, it never gets the reaction you were going for.  It will only make them wonder exactly how much you really understand about this industry.  ~ When you are in development, it can take a long time before an agent or manager truly starts making money (let alone a living) off of your work.  (Remember, 10% of an $800 day is barely enough to pay for a week of Starbucks…so unless you’re there to sell them a Starbucks card, avoid this sentence like the plague.)

~  Always check your ego at the door.  It’s OK to be confident…but find the balance.

2.       So, what kinds of connections do you have with what New York Casting Directors?”

What ‘they’ are thinking –  Last time I checked, you reached out to me.  If you haven’t done your research on my company…then why the hell are you here? 

Why you shouldn’t say this –

~ This shows lack of research on your part & insults the agent or manager at the same time.   (Insults are generally something you want to avoid while making a first impression.  Just sayin’)

~ This is going to put them on the defense once again, and make them wonder why you are interviewing them…when it should be the other way around.

 3.       “How many other actors on your roster are similar to my type?”

What ‘they’ are thinking –  If there are a few others like you…are you not confident enough in your skill sets, headshots, reels, and resume credits to go up against them?

Why you shouldn’t say this –

~ As a general rule, it’s best to keep the focus on YOU in the meeting.  Most of the time your time is very limited…don’t waste a second of it bringing their focus off of you.

~   Most agents & managers have their roster on IMDb…do your research and check it out.

~   Agents & Managers simply don’t like to talk about their actors behind their back, it’s just not good form.  There is a trust that actors have with their representation…don’t put them in a situation that makes them feel uncomfortable.

4.       “I’m ready to get to that next level of my career.”

What ‘they’ are thinking –  OK great, so you want me to take it from here and do all of the work for you.  BTW…what level are you on right now?

Why you shouldn’t say this –

~  For the love of all things holy…if you are going to tell someone that you are ready for the NEXT level, then you damn well better be able to CLEARLY explain what level you are currently, why you feel you are ready to make the shift, and how you plan to bring yourself further (with or without representation).

~ Don’t let yourself look naïve to the industry.  If you have a resume filled with indie work, extra parts, and some theater…don’t try to sell yourself as a Series Regular.

**Always show them that you understand the industry & are ready to put in the work required to get you where you want to go.**

Yes, it COULD happen.  You COULD be at the right place, at the right time, and get the “Ashton Kutcher” break after 1 audition…but I’m not going to bank on that (and I bet most other reps won’t either). 

 5.       “I want to go out for everything!   I don’t see myself as a specific ‘type’ per say.”

What ‘they’ are thinking – I think our time here is done.  You just don’t get it, and I don’t have time to teach you.

Why you shouldn’t say this –

~ Again, you’re making yourself look like you have no clue about how the industry makes $$$.  We get it, you don’t WANT to be put in a box…but guess what…the actors in a box make LOTS of $$$.  (and didn’t you say that’s why you were here?  To make ‘us’ lots of money?)

~ It’s best to give them a clear idea of the types that you play…and the ‘brand’ that you are, while being able to convey your willingness to hear other options.  (because hey…you might see yourself as a Brad Pitt, when you’ve been rockin’ the Steve Buscemi all along…and no one had the heart to tell ya.)

EXCEPTION TO THE RULE:

~ If you are being courted by an agency or management company (i.e. they reach out to YOU & clearly want you on their roster) then this gives you a bit more playing power.

You can normally get away with a bit more than the actor who is actively pursuing representation.

BUT (there is always a but)

I still suggest doing your research & always presenting yourself as prepared, open-minded, flexible, and easy-going.

NO ONE likes to work with drama…so don’t be a diva.

OK….So Now What?

I know, I know.  You’re thinking: “Thanks a bunch Jenn…now I know what NOT to say…but what SHOULD I say?!”

Great question!

Stay tuned for another blog post comin’ your way with the Top 5 ways to get those questions answered…without pushing any buttons!

I’ve got ya covered.

~ Jenn

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.   Merging Artists Management represents leading, character, comedic and strong improv actors and writers in studio and independent feature film, television and theater.  www.JennLederer.com

Tips for Self-Taping from Judy Henderson, CD, Judy Henderson Casting

Emmy Award winner Judy Henderson, currently casting the Emmy Award winning Showtime TV series HOMELAND, provides a few tips for making the most of your audition time at midtown NYC rehearsal studios.

With ever-changing advances in technology, actors are now able to tape auditions on their own and with their agent’s assistance with greater frequency. In light of these changes, we have compiled a list of taping recommendations designed to assist you in achieving the highest level of quality in your auditions. We hope you find these instructions helpful, as we want all of our actors to have the best chance at landing that role that helps them achieve their dream to perform in NYC!

A FEW GENERAL RULES OF THUMB:

  • Please do not use the black fade in and out feature on your camera. This makes editing difficult. You should never see black on your tapes at the beginning or end of your auditions. Thank you.
  • All auditions should be saved in WMV, MOV, or MP4 Format. The size of the audition file should be limited to 100MB with ideal range being 20-40MB. Very large files do not send or upload well.
  • If you need to save your file into a different format, please use conversion software such as FORMAT FACTORY (http://www.pcfreetime.com).
    It is free to download.

TAPING INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Start each audition with framing that shows the actor’s head and shoulders only. Tape should lead with audition first (not slate).

2. Sound must be clear. We recommend using a lavalier mic if possible.
If not, please be sure that the mic is directed toward the actor and the reader STANDS BACK so as not to overpower the actor’s voice. The actor’s voice should be clearly heard and the reader’s should be quieter.

3. Lighting should be good enough so we can see the color of the actor’s eyes. Use soft lighting if possible – avoid stark white light.

4. Please tape auditions in front of a light-colored, solid wall or backdrop. Try not to have anything behind the actor that will distract the viewer’s eye, like furniture, pictures, windows, etc. Again, a clean, solid wall or backdrop is best.

5. One good take, please. A second take is acceptable only if you feel strongly about showing a different creative choice and it is a good read.

6. At the end of your take, each actor should slate his/her name and role they are reading with head and shoulders framing.

7. Then pull back for one, quick full body shot.

8. In addition, it is acceptable to use a simple title block that shows actor name, role and agency at the very beginning of the tape.

Emmy Award winner Judy Henderson is one of the busiest CD’s in town and is currently casting the Emmy Award winning Showtime TV series HOMELAND.  Besides TV, she also casts for film, theater and commercials.

Need to put an audition on camera and upload or send it digitally? Actors Connection can help!

In recent months, many actors and agents have contacted us looking for an affordable place for actors to have their auditions recorded and posted digitally or emailed.

We are now set up and ready to make this service available to you with our NEW SELF TAPE AUDITION PACKAGE.

This $40 package includes:

– 30 minutes in the studio for taping, playback, and review with reader/camera operator. (additional taping time can be requested at $35/per half hour)

– Your audition clip will be sent same-day with such options as email via YouSendIt/Hightail/Dropbox or by uploading to a webpage like Vimeo or YouTube.

To inquire about appointment times and availability, please call us at 212-776-4900.

5 Things Super Successful People Do Before 8 AM by Jennifer Cohen

exercising adultsRise and shine! Morning time just became your new best friend. Love it or hate it, utilizing the morning hours before work may be the key to a successful and healthy lifestyle. That’s right, early rising is a common trait found in many CEOs, government officials, and other influential people. Margaret Thatcher was up every day at 5 a.m.; Frank Lloyd Wright at 4 am and Robert Iger, the CEO of Disney wakes at 4:30am just to name a few. I know what you’re thinking – you do your best work at night. Not so fast. According to Inc. Magazine, morning people have been found to be more proactive and more productive. In addition, the health benefits for those with a life before work go on and on.

Let’s explore 5 of the things successful people do before 8 am.

1. Exercise. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. Most people that work out daily, work out in the morning. Whether it’s a morning yoga session or a trip to the gym, exercising before work gives you a boost of energy for the day and that deserved sense of accomplishment. Anyone can tackle a pile of paperwork after 200 ab reps! Morning workouts also eliminate the possibility of flaking out on your cardio after a long day at work. Even if you aren’t bright eyed and bushy tailed at the thought of a 5 am jog, try waking up 15 minutes early for a quick bedside set of pushups or stretching. It’ll help wake up your body, and prep you for your day.

2. Map Out Your Day. Maximize your potential by mapping out your schedule for the day, as well as your goals and to dos. The morning is a good time for this as it is often one of the only quiet times a person gets throughout the day. The early hours foster easier reflection that helps when prioritizing your activities. They also allow for uninterrupted problem solving when trying to fit everything into your timetable. While scheduling, don’t forget about your mental health. Plan a 10 minute break after that stressful meeting for a quick walk around the block or a moment of meditation at your desk. Trying to eat healthy? Schedule a small window in the evening to pack a few nutritious snacks to bring to work the next day.

3. Eat a Healthy Breakfast. We all know that rush out the door with a cup of coffee and an empty stomach feeling. You sit down at your desk, and you’re already wondering how early that taco truck sets up camp outside your office. No good. Take that extra time in the morning to fuel your body for the tasks ahead of it. It will help keep you mind on what’s at hand and not your growling stomach. Not only is breakfast good for your physical health, it is also a good time to connect socially. Even five minutes of talking with your kids or spouse while eating a quick bowl of oatmeal can boost your spirits before heading out the door.

4. Visualization. These days we talk about our physical health ad nauseam, but sometimes our mental health gets overlooked. The morning is the perfect time to spend some quiet time inside your mind meditating or visualizing. Take a moment to visualize your day ahead of you, focusing on the successes you will have. Even just a minute of visualization and positive thinking can help improve your mood and outlook on your work load for the day.

5. Make Your Day Top Heavy. It doesn’t matter if you’re a student still studying in a New York acting school or an established star. We all have that one item on our to do list that we dread. It looms over you all day (or week) until you finally suck it up and do it after much procrastination. Here’s an easy tip to save yourself the stress – do that least desirable task on your list first. Instead of anticipating the unpleasantness of it from first coffee through your lunch break, get it out of the way. The morning is the time when you are (generally) more well rested and your energy level is up. Therefore, you are more well equipped to handle more difficult projects. And look at it this way, your day will get progressively easier, not the other way around. By the time your work day is ending, you’re winding down with easier to dos and heading into your free time more relaxed. Success!

Do Your Own Thing: Casting Director Jamie Carroll Sheds Light on Hosting Gigs

Written by: Kelly Calabrese

“You have this dream,” you want to host a show…

“But you can’t go to Barnes and Noble and learn how to be a successful host,” says casting director and lifestyle expert Jamie Carroll who casts for HGTV, FOOD NETWORK, MTV, the TRAVEL CHANNEL and more!

“That’s why I offer to help, why wouldn’t I,” Jamie says with an energy that refreshes the air. SECRET REVEALED…

Jamie Carroll WANTS you to succeed. (As do most casting directors! It is the truth… and so helpful to believe).

Starting out as an intern in a casting office, Jamie, “was lucky enough to work with someone who took her under their wing.” Soon, her career took off. She worked at MTV casting contestants, then experts and hosts.

To succeed as a host, it does take hard work. It takes a unique idea, a treatment, some sizzle and the guts to pitch it! But don’t get overwhelmed because Jamie Carroll breaks down every step in clear terms that make you feel at home.

For these sound, bites of advice from host & lifestyle expert Jamie Carroll…

Q: What makes a great host?

Someone very aware of themselves and very aware of their strengths. I always say, “I look for a stronger personality than me in the room.” I want you to come in and take over. Don’t wait for too much direction from me because it’s all about you in that moment.

When you walk into that room you’ve got to trust that you are unique, that you are interesting and that you have a lot to say – because everyone does. If you sit in a room with ten people, they will all have interesting stories and interesting hobbies, which is what makes everyone unique.

Click here to read this article in it’s entirety

Fall TV Season Delivers a Mixed Bag in Prime Time by Bill Carter

Three weeks into the new television season, network executives have drawn some initial conclusions.

While every network has at least a glimmer of a new hit, in an era of increased delayed viewing, patience is more crucial than ever. Decisions on the fates of shows must factor in quality as well as quantity. And the oldest scheduling technique in the world — putting a new show behind an established hit — is still the most effective tool at a network’s disposal.

Finally, if you want a new show to do well, it is probably best to avoid Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays, because nothing is going to pry viewers away from the National Football League.

Last fall, there was almost universal derision for the assemblage of new entries on network television, with viewership suffering accordingly. The numbers this fall show slight improvement, though, with overall network prime-time viewing averaging 8.21 million viewers, up from 8.16 million in the period a year earlier.

“It definitely seems that broadcast TV has come back strong and given people a lot of reasons to watch,” said Andy Kubitz, the executive vice president of program planning for ABC, citing the rosy side of the early returns.

Brad Adgate, the top research executive for the media-buying firm Horizon Media, has seen enough new television seasons to be cautious about reading too much into early success. This fall’s start is “a little better than last season,” he said, “though that’s not saying much at all.”

The new dramas “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” on ABC, “The Blacklist” on NBC and “Sleepy Hollow” on Fox all opened to hit-level ratings, and they have not shown signs that viewers will drift away as the weeks go on. CBS has two new comedies on Thursday showing some staying power, “The Millers” and “The Crazy Ones.”

Dan Harrison, who has the top scheduling job at Fox, said, “It feels like there is more sampling going on than last fall. Everybody has some embers to blow on and everybody has some work to do.”

Actually, there is plenty of work to do: in terms of ratings, the lows have never been lower. Several new shows have set records for their network’s worst performance ever. One, the drama “Lucky 7” on ABC, was canceled after two airings. CBS dumped the comedy “We Are Men” last week.

But numerous other shows also have quickly fallen, especially on NBC, which is still performing well above its competitors in the area that drives much network commerce: viewers between the ages of 18 and 49. A new NBC drama, “Ironside,” collapsed in its second week; so did the new comedies “Welcome to the Family” and “Sean Saves the World” last Thursday.

Not coincidentally, that was a night when the NFL Network offered a game with strong appeal in two big cities, the New York Giants against the Chicago Bears. The top 13 shows this season are all N.F.L. games.

The upside for NBC is centered on “The Blacklist,” which has not only posted hit ratings for its initial telecasts, but set a record in its second week by adding five million additional viewers after just three days. None of NBC’s comedies last Thursday attracted even four million viewers.

As much as network executives now say they must show more patience, because initial ratings often soar when delayed viewing is counted, shows that fare extremely poorly the night they are first on have little hope of survival.

“We are in the urgency business,” Mr. Harrison of Fox said. “If we put on a show that nobody watches until two years later, that show isn’t going to exist anymore.”

As Mr. Kubitz of ABC put it, “The real difficulty comes in your middling shows. So you have to judge how strong the creative elements are, how strong the producers are, whether or not the show is engaging socially. You have to look at all these different pieces.”

ABC had only middling success with a drama it introduced at midseason in 2012. It did see signs of a passionate following on social media, however, and last spring those signs turned into a fever. Now “Scandal” is one of the hottest shows on television.

Fox is hanging on to some struggling shows, like the new comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” because it believes it is a fundamentally funny show that has a chance to catch on. Comedies have a long history of taking time to take hold, with examples ranging from “Seinfeld” to “Cheers.”

Similarly, CBS has reason to have faith in the new comedy “Mom,” which has been one of those middling performers so far.

Mr. Adgate of Horizon Media notes that “Mom” has two appealing stars in Anna Farris and Allison Janney, and one of the most reliable hit makers in television history, Chuck Lorre, as its producer. “That’s the kind of show you stick with,” Mr. Adgate said.

CBS might have already guaranteed hit status for “Mom” had it chosen to slot it on Thursdays at 8:30 instead of Mondays at 9:30, where it has had to face “Monday Night Football” on ESPN — as well as “Sleepy Hollow” on Fox and “The Voice” on NBC.

Any comedy would prefer Thursday at 8:30, because it would then come behind the powerhouse comedy “The Big Bang Theory” (also produced by Mr. Lorre). “The Millers” won that position, and the show has been rewarded with healthy numbers, while “Mom” on Mondays landed behind “Two Broke Girls.”

That comedy has seen its previous hit status slide — to the point that CBS moved it up to 8:30 this past week.

Kelly Kahl, CBS’s top scheduler, knows the business has changed vastly, but he emphasized how important it was for a new show to be able to draft off the audience provided by its lead-in show.

“The single oldest scheduling strategy seems to be the most effective,” Mr. Kahl said of the lead-in factor. “It speaks to how difficult it can be to get viewers to come to a show cold.”

That makes one show, “The Voice,” television’s M.V.P. (most valuable program). It has aired for two hours on Monday leading in to “The Blacklist” and set that series up to be a hit.

Its second two-hour play on Tuesday has lifted a second-year drama, “Chicago Fire,” to new ratings highs.

“What an incredible vehicle ‘The Voice’ has become for NBC,” Mr. Adgate said.

As for an overall assessment of how the early season is shaping up, Mr. Kahl said, “The take-away is: if you have anything that draws a loyal audience, hold that dearly, be a little selective and you better use lead-ins.”

18 Tips for Successful Auditions, Job Interviews & Presentations by Patricia Stark

meditationPatricia Stark, a Media Trainer and Public Speaking Coach & CEO of Patricia Stark Communications Inc., teaches NYC acting classes at Actor’s Connection. Here are her top 18 tips for perfecting auditions, job interviews and presentations.

1. Nerves? Inhale 4 seconds-hold 7 seconds-exhale 8 seconds-pause-repeat. Calms mind/nervous system, regulates breathing, balances emotions.

2. Broadway Tip: A student of mine from Mama Mia uses Bananas to combat nerves. Swears they are beta blockers & calms her before a performance.

3. Lay off the perfume & cologne. Smell is the scent of memory. You may smell like a bad one to someone else.

4. Confidence Tip: It is not what we “are” that keeps us from reaching our goals but what we “think” we are NOT. 

5. Voice Tip: The Larynx/voice-box is a muscle. The more tense the muscle the higher pitched your voice will be. Massage & warmth help it relax.

6. Follow Up Tip: A hand written thank you note carries a lot of weight in a cyber age of emails & texts. I know folks who save them in a file.

7. Prep Tip: Before that big meeting or interview, visit the location ahead of time. Know your way before the big day.

8. Confidence Tip: We can’t focus on a negative thought & a positive one at the same time. You have to pick. It’s a choice to think positive.

9. Performance Tip: If you believe, the audience will believe. This goes for acting, selling, persuading, educating, inspiring or motivating.

10. Australian Study: Gum chewing associated with higher alertness, reduced stress & anxiety, greater performance on multi-tasking activities! (but chew right before NOT during!!!).

11. Confidence Tip: “Confidence comes not from always being right, but from not fearing to be wrong.”- Peter T. Mcintyre.

12. Voice Tip: Avoid dairy products before a speech or meeting. Coagulation occurs around vocal chords & makes you want to clear your throat. (Also coats your tongue).

13. Confidence: the sureness of feeling that you are equal to the task at hand. Practice & preparation are the magic bullets that can kill fear.

14. Psychologist Stuart Brody believes the hormone Oxytocin gives a calming effect in public speaking anxiety. Sex=Oxytocin for up to a week!

15. NASA study shows spiders can’t spin webs while on caffeine – may be an indicator to limit caffeine prior to an interview, audition, or speech.

16. Performance Tip: Tension Headache? Rub your earlobes! This acupressure trick clears your head & dulls pain above the neck.

17. Motivation Tip: Ditch the sunglasses on the way to that interview or audition. Light stimulates neurotransmitters which increase motivation.

18. Image Tip: Ditching the sunglasses will also prevent the dreaded “Opti-indentus” – those ugly indentations on the sides of your nose.

Patricia Stark is a Media Trainer and Public Speaking Coach & CEO of Patricia Stark Communications Inc. Her clients include: OWN The Oprah Winfrey Network, Bill & Giuliana Rancic: “Ready for Love” NBC new series prep, BET’s 106 & Park cast re-launch, Fuse TV/ Fuse News Team, Style Network, E! News, VH1, MTV, Logo/Viacom, Discovery /TLC Talent Development, Martha Stewart Omnimedia and hundreds of on-air guest experts with appearances on CNN, Fox, The Today Show, CBS This Morning, CNBC, Bloomberg, Nate Berkus, HGTV, Tyra Banks, A&E, PBS, & WebMD.

Patricia is a faculty member teaching acting classes at Actors Connection at the Film Center in New York City and has been a faculty member at the American Medical Association’s annual Health Communicators Conference. Patricia is a member of the Screen Actors Guild, and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Why Being Yourself Will Land You the Role by Marci Phillips, Executive Director of ABC Casting, Primetime

Marci Phillips - Being YourselfMarci Phillips, Executive Director of ABC Casting, argues why learning to be yourself can be the most important lesson taught at a New York acting school.

Everyone on the planet has a very distinct personality. An actor may be defined as someone who observes and portrays a character’s psyche, but everything is ultimately filtered through one’s own prism. We all – actors, casting directors, producers and directors – come from a particular vantage point and bring our own unique life experience to whatever we do.

The audition process can take as little as one day or as long as many months, but the goal is always the same: to find the right actor for the role. But what does “the right actor” mean? If everyone had the exact same opinion, we’d just bring that one person in, cast him or her, and be done with it! You can read a breakdown and say “This is me! I’m perfect for this!” but there are literally hundreds of other actors responding that same way to that same role at the same time. When you walk into the audition, you don’t know what preconceived notions the casting director has for this. You don’t know if there’s something in the director‘s history that’s coloring his or her conception of the character. You may have read the script but you may not know what the writer is actually visualizing here. So what can you do?

Trust yourself.

You may be spending too much time trying to decipher what “they” want and not enough time crafting the best way that this role can be illuminated through your one-of-a-kind spirit! It’s your imagination and individual experience that will color your choices. No one wants you to give the exact same audition as the 20 actors that came in before you and the 20 actors that will come in after you.

Don’t be afraid of your instincts. If you’re trying to please everyone, you can easily lose what is special about you and end up pleasing no one. Always stay within the parameters of what’s organically honest for the role, the scene, and the world you’re portraying, but if a choice strikes you as particularly funny or poignant, don’t be afraid of it!

Obviously those choices won’t always be on the mark for what “they” want, but you aren’t a mind reader and we don’t expect you to be! Casting directors simply want you to come in with a well-defined, intelligent take. If you’re right for the role, then we (or the director or the producer) will guide you from there.

Along the way you will certainly lose roles because of your individuality, but don’t let that deter you. This same individuality is what lands you the roles that will make your career.

Be fearless!

Marci Phillips is the Executive Director of ABC Casting. The opinions expressed in this article belong solely to Marci Phillips and do not necessarily reflect the views or endorsement of ABC, Disney or any of its subsidiaries. Marci is the author of “The Present Actor – A Practical and Spiritual Guideline to Help You Enjoy the Ride” available on Amazon.com.

Why Your Appearance Matters at Auditions by Marci Phillips, Executive Director of ABC Casting, Primetime

Marci Phillips - Being YourselfMarci Phillips, a New York casting director for ABC, makes the case for looking your best for every audition, no matter the role.

I truly believe that everyone has a unique beauty. That being said, there are societal standards and realities for most on camera talent that you simply can’t ignore if you want to be in serious contention for the job!

Not every successful actor is “beautiful” in the culturally accepted way, but they all understand exactly how to make the most of what they’ve got. There are some very specific roles that may be served best by a plain or haggard look, but most on-camera roles (series regular, many guest and co-stars, as well as leading roles and many smaller roles in film) require that you come in to the audition looking your personal best.

Ladies, consider how you would spend a long time on your hair and makeup when going out on a hot date. You don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard, but you want to look great. If you’re a klutz with a blow-dryer, get lessons from your stylist. If you don’t have great makeup skills, get lessons from a makeup artist. These are tax deductible items in your profession, so no excuses! The difference in how you’ll look and feel will definitely be noticeable, and confidence is very attractive to us!

I’ve had actors say “but this role is a doctor” or “in this scene she’s just in the supermarket.” Well, show me the series regular doctor that doesn’t have her eyeliner and lip-gloss. Show me the film star strolling through the supermarket with crappy looking hair. I’m not saying to force yourself into an uncomfortable image that doesn’t suit you; there are many roles that don’t require the size 2 gorgeous girl or the hunk. I’m talking about coming in as your own “after picture.”

Do you think that you can audition without concern for your hair and makeup because we can imagine what you’ll look like after a team of stylists have worked their magic on you? Whether we can or cannot, with stakes this high, no one wants to “imagine” anything. They usually have to see what they’re getting, right in front of them, in order to commit to you. Unless you’re already a well-known actor, the audition is the only place to show them what you’ll bring to the table – including what you look like on camera. With IMAX screens and 60 inch HD TV’s, there’s very little room for guesswork and you have to walk in at 110 percent!

Although the guys do have it easier than the ladies, you’re not completely off the hook. Do you see series regulars or leads in films with pimples? Dark circles under their eyes? Shiny foreheads? The answer (unless it’s done for a very specific storyline) is NO. So don’t come in that way! These guys don’t all have perfect skin, but they all sit in a make-up chair before any filming starts! If you have any of the above skin issues, have a makeup savvy friend or a professional makeup artist help you pick out the right shade of powder or concealer and teach you how to apply it undetectably. (It should never look like you’re wearing makeup!) At the very least, get a flattering haircut and clothes that fit you. We should never be thinking “that guy really needs a makeover”!

Do you think all of this is asinine? Maybe, but here’s a better question – do you want this job or not?

Marci is the Director of Casting for ABC primetime as well as the author of “The Present Actor – A Practical and Spiritual Guideline to Help You Enjoy the Ride“. She casts regular series, sitcoms, and movies of the week for ABC. Marci was voted “Favorite Film/TV Casting Director” in the 2009 Readers Choice Awards for Backstage.

Read this and more on Backstage.com!
http://www.backstage.com/advice-for-actors/backstage-experts/why-your-appearance-matters-auditions/

Acting for Kids & Teens: An Interview with Christine Scowley, Casting Director by Tony Nation

Acting Programs for ChildrenWhat’s the best way for kids and teens to start exploring acting and teen performance in NY?

One of the best ways to start exploring acting as a youth is to simply get involved with your school or local theatre and/or music programs. If you enjoy performing in school plays or community theatre, you may then want to take a few acting classes, workshops or coaching sessions to see if you are interested in furthering a career in acting. The best way to decide if you really want to pursue acting is to take every chance you get to perform! The best way to gain experience as a kid/teen is to participate in school theatre productions, student or short film projects, and/or by becoming involved in community theatre as well as going to see performances that inspire you. If you are very serious about pursuing acting then you should research the materials needed to further your career including headshots, resumes and additional study/course work in the field.

What do you recommend to parents who have kids/teens looking to pursue a career in acting?

Parents should be aware of the tools, time commitment and energy that it takes for their child/teen to pursue a career in acting. Although acting should be fun for the child/teen, it’s also a business and should be treated as such. Kids/teens need to have business materials (including headshots and resumes); they will need to search for an agent or manager (and then decide which one is right for him/her); kids/teens will need to attend and be prepared for auditions and likely participate in classes, workshops, or coaching session. All of this requires a certain amount of dedication from the kid/teen AND the parent. Parents and kids/teens should discuss the financial issues involved in pursuing an acting career and set a budget. Parents should also be mindful of the types of projects that the kids/teens are auditioning for and research those projects to make sure they are appropriate for their kid/teen to participate in.

What skills do kids/teens need to have in order to pursue a career in TV and film?

Kids/teens need to have a positive attitude! They need to be diligent when preparing for auditions. They should know the material and rehearse before coming into the room to audition for the casting director. Kids/teens need to be mindful that when working on their craft different processes work for different people, so each kid/teen should find an outlet that helps them study, work on, and perfect their craft. For some this might mean belonging to a theatre group, for others it might be taking classes, and still others might find a variety of techniques helpful. When you are acting… you are a work in progress… you can always learn more and grow more by exploring all available avenues. If you are motivated, persistent and dedicated this will take you far!

What do you look for in a good kids/teen headshot?

Smiles. I look for nice natural smiles. The more natural the actor appears in the photo, the better. Also, for kids/teens it’s EXTREMELY important that the headshot represent the current age and current look of the kid/teen. Kids and teens grow quickly and headshots must be updated to reflect the current look and age of the kid/teen. Solid colors are best to wear for your headshot (blues, greens and sometimes dark reds tend to work well). It’s best not to wear black, polka dots or patterns that distract from your face. Your face is the primary focus – your nice, natural, smiling face!

How do I get noticed for projects casting in Los Angeles?

Watch for casting notices from the projects that cast in LA and submit for them! Many casting directors are now searching nationwide for actors and often view audition tapes from out-of-towners for various roles. Be prepared to put yourself on tape. Follow all of the instructions given to you by the casting director when you are taping an out-of-town audition (note – research productions that ask you to audition via tape and make sure that production is right for you). Be prepared to travel for auditions if you feel that it’s important to audition in person. Discuss the different opportunities available to you with your agent or manager if you have one.

What is the difference between auditioning for theatre projects and film/TV projects?

Auditioning for any kind of project is an important skill that all actors should prepare for. Different auditions require different skill-sets. On-camera auditions differ from theatre auditions in that some auditions require a more broad performance and others a more quiet introspective performance. It all depends on each individual audition and what the end goal is. Each audition will require a different tone, spectrum and playing field. The most important piece of advice I can give is KNOW what audition/role you are going in for. Research your role. Have a point of view. If it’s an on-camera audition don’t walk out of frame! Make the role unique and make it your own. Be prepared, be professional and knock everyone’s socks off!
Christine Scowley is a Casting Director in Los Angeles and a member of the Casting Society of America. Scowley cast the hit Nickelodeon series HOW TO ROCK and Disney Channel’s MOVIE SURFERS. She also cast the series SMASH CUTS for the CW and conducted the nationwide search for the pilot HUGE for ABC FAMILY. Her Nickelodeon credits also include the pilots BIG TIME RUSH and EVERY WITCH WAY (to air this year), and she cast a special episode of TRUE JACKSON VP. Scowley also casts for Disney Family Online and consults on music talent for Sony Music International. Additionally, Scowley created and produced the series ROCK THE CRADLE with Fremantle Media for MTV, which featured the children of rock stars competing in a sing-off. Scowley often travels the country conducting nationwide searches and she loves working with actors and music talent!

An Interview with John Keon, NY Headshot Photographer by Tony Nation

Before you go digging into New York casting calls, you’ll want to make sure you have a great headshot on hand that accurately reflects what you want to project to casting directors. Headshot photographer John Keon shares what makes a successful headshot.

How did you get started as a photographer?
I have appreciated beautiful photography for most of my life, but I didn’t buy my first DSLR camera until 5 years ago.  At first, I was using it mostly to take photographs casually – simply to capture great moments in my life.  When I started getting compliments on those photos, I realized I could pursue a career as a photographer. About a year and a half ago, I started taking headshots of my friends and doing photo shoots for free to build my portfolio. These sessions provided me with great on-the-job training about the relationship between the model and the photographer, as well as ways I can build on my talent. Even today I continue to learn from my photo shoots, which is one of the best parts about my job. It doesn’t hurt that my friends all love having their photos taken – I get lots of practice!

What should an actor look for in a headshot photographer?

Obviously I think you need to like the style of the photographer first.  You can usually tell right away by looking at someone’s portfolio if they are someone you want to work with.  But I think there is a more important quality an actor should look for: chemistry between the actor and photographer.  If you and the photographer don’t get along, the camera will pick up on it, no matter how good the actor is at acting.  So look for someone who makes you comfortable, and doesn’t intimidate you.

How should an actor prepare for their shoot day?

First, get some rest! You’d be surprised what a difference some beauty rest makes. Next, put a little time into thinking about your ideal shots. A headshot photographer will have ideas about what will look good – that’s part of our job – but ultimately they are going to be your headshots, representing you. Look at the photographer’s portfolio. Are there shots you particularly liked? (Hopefully, since you’re shooting with them!) Mention those to the photographer. Do your research.

(The actor needs to think about what they want to get out of the shoot.  A photographer will have their own ideas about what will look amazing, but at the end of the day you need to make sure that it will work for your final headshot.  So do some research and look around at other people’s photos.)

What types of clothing are best for a photo shoot?

Nothing that wrinkles easily, nothing sheer, nothing baggy, nothing with logos.  Basically your clothes should be fitted and comfortable.  I do like to see colors in a photo, and maybe some subtle prints, but that is a personal preference.  If you bring something with a lot of patterns it will most likely draw attention away from your face, and that is usually not the goal with a headshot.

So consider your wardrobe carefully, but don’t overthink it. Bring a couple of outfits with you so you don’t regret wearing that wrinkled shirt that looked so good on you the night before!  Also, the photo should convey your personality as well as the role you want to play.  You don’t want to look like a high school kid if you are auditioning for a role in something like Chicago – or vice versa!

Do women need a hair/make-up stylist on the shoot?

Each woman is different.  I personally do not require you to have make-up and hair professionally done.  You should feel comfortable with being able to at least apply a simple layer of make-up that looks natural.  One of my clients once used the make-up artists at Sephora to get her face done. It cost her about as much as she’d have paid for a lip gloss, and she looked awesome. However, there is something to be said about having someone on location with you, if nothing else than peace of mind.

What do you prefer-studio or natural lighting?

I prefer natural lighting because it makes each photo shoot unique.  It also makes the location much more flexible.

What are your thoughts on retouching?

Of course there will always be some retouching done – but there is a line between making you look like the best version of yourself, and making you look like someone else.  It is similar to plastic surgery (which I’m not a huge advocate of): you should really know when to say enough is enough. It can be so easy to get a little carried away and remove every single mole or freckle, take out every single wrinkle, and bleach the teeth whiter than snow. Your photo, however, should look like you! And I assume it is safe to say that you are not an upper east side cougar. I like a photo to look natural.

John Keon started his photography business nearly two years ago, although he has had many more years to develop a passion and love for photography.  The majority of his skill has been self taught, however he’s very fortunate to be surrounded by inspiring and talented people which he’s learned so much from.  This was one of his motivations of moving to New York four years ago from Washington State.

If you have more questions, feel free to contact him via his website at:  johnkeonphotography.com