Advice and How-To's Especially for ACTORS!

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

You're Invited!

If you are in NYC, you might want to check out this event:

TAE is hosting this low-key get together at a spacious bar that has great food and drink at reasonable prices (and a free pool table!) My goal has always been to create a community of like minded artists who share with each other, and I think this is a great way to get started. You don't have to have been a student of TAE to come- just show up and you will be a part of the family!

Actors, Directors, Playwrights, Screenwriters, Producers, Technicians, or anyone who likes artsy people are welcome to attend. Bring friends, and prepare for merriment! Our last mixer included both professional and amateur actors, plus directors from both the theater and film. Show up with your business cards, and be ready to walk away with some new friends and great contacts!

May 4, 2008 4-7pm (or whenever it ends)
Merrion Square Bar and Restaurant
1840 2nd Avenue
Upper East Side, Manhattan


Directions:
6 train to 96th St, walk east to 2nd Ave. Turn right- Merrion Square is one block down, corner of 95th St & 2nd Ave.)

What is The Actors’ Enterprise?

The Actors' Enterprise is a coaching service for actors in New York City (and beyond) focusing on helping actors with the BUSINESS of their careers: Audition Preparation and Technique, Business Skills and Career Coaching, with a strong focus on branding (or your "type") and working smarter, not harder. This service is for you- so please let me know if there is anything we can do to support your career.

The TAE Mixer is held every 6-8 weeks on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

If you have any questions, shoot me an email.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Books as inspiration


I was watching the special features of the movie “Notes on a Scandal” and learned that Cate Blanchett got cast in the film after having read the book years before and approaching the adapting screenwriter, Patrick Marber, about playing the lead role. What I loved about learning this was the fact that Cate was proactive in finding work at she was passionate about. Now, she did reveal that she happened to be friends with Patrick - their kids had play dates together. But moreover, she spent time reading and expanding her world view, and ended up playing a role that garnered her an Oscar nomination (she really was brilliant.)

So, go out and read books. Visit museums. Travel. See movies. Talk to those who are older than you about their experiences. You never know when you can use that information to forward your career in the future.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Agents who Specialize


I saw this question posted on a popular forum for actors, and I wanted to repost the response I gave over there:

About agents- I'm one of those actors who wants to be submitted only to certain types of projects. And that is television shows. Now do agents work in all areas or are there some who do only one type or are there some who do all but do better at different types? A bit confusing...

Great question! There are two major areas for agents to specialize in- "Legit" work (theater, film, television) and "Non-Legit" work (commercials, voiceover, industrials, etc.) And within those, there are certainly agents who have strong track records in one segment or another. Some agents really have a connection to musical theater, others who love episodic television. In both cases, it is all about the relationships that the agent has with the casting directors in your desired field (in this case, television.)

One way to research agents, their clients, and what projects they specialize in is to buy a IMDB Pro membership ($99 for one year). With IMDB Pro, you can look up an agency to see who works for them as agents, and what clients each agent has. You can then click to view the clients to see what work they are currently doing.

Ross Reports will also give you basic guidance as to which agents do legit work, and which do commercial, but it doesn't go that in depth.

All in all, I would say that you should strive to get a legit agent, and just make sure they have strong relationships with casting directors who do TV. It is ok if they also have a focus on film or theater, as long as they can get you in the door for television projects.

I hope this helps- I wish you all the best!

Have a question? Send me an email and I will post a reply promptly!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Tax Credit tripled for NYC filmmakers

Great news! As reported in Variety:

“New York state is about to triple its tax credit for film and TV productions shooting within its borders in a bid to regain an edge over its credit-happy neighbors Connecticut, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

The state legislature late Wednesday approved a budget that includes a major revision of the existing tax incentive program. The revision extends the program by two years to 2013 and takes the total credit to 30% of all below-the-line costs from 10%.

New York City also offers a 5% credit, so city shoots can reap a total of 35%. Under the revision, the credit will also be granted in one lump sum, rather than the current method of spreading it across two years of tax returns. The single payment is viewed as a boon to investors or producers.”


New York artists had been concerned that because of Governor Spitzer’s resignation, the incentive program would not get pushed through the state legislature. So, we are not breathing a sigh of relief that we can start courting these projects back to our state!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Background Work in NYC

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UPDATED JULY 2014

This blog is all about background work in NYC! I especially recommend it for SAG members who need some extra cash, plus it is a great way to earn income towards your SAG Pension and Health. For non-SAG actors, this is one of several ways to earn SAG vouchers towards getting your card (see my blog for more information on SAG vouchers.)

Below is a list of the background companies I recommend submitting to. To be considered, you simply need to mail a headshot & resume with a brief cover letter, stating that you would like to be considered for background work and want to be notified when they will be doing their next open call. (The open call is for you to fill out paperwork and they take a polaroid/digital image of you for their files.)

Once your information is on file, they will contact you when they have a job available for your type category. Just like for temp work, you can say yes or no based on your availability. Also like temp work, the more available you are, the more often they will call!

Background Companies I Recommend (in no particular order)

Grant Wilfley Casting- www.gwcnyc.com/
Central Casting- www.centralcasting.org
Amerifilm Casting- www.amerifilmcasting.com/
Barbara McNamara Casting- www.barbmcasting.com/
Sylvia Fay/Lee Genick Casting- www.sylviafaycasting.com; 212-479-8569 (hotline)
Comer Casting- www.comercasting.com

You can also submit yourself for background roles through the following websites (pay per submissions, or pay for a yearly membership and submit for free):

NY Casting/Casting Networks NY- Pay to submit, worth the $5 a month for unlimited submissions. http://talent.nycasting.com/Common/Home.aspx

Extras Access- A part of Actors Access, but only for extra work. Only nominal fee per year if you are a member of Actors Access. www.extrasaccess.com/extra/

Some of you have asked questions about background work on soaps. As most of you know, all network soaps moved to Los Angeles. The only remaining soaps in NYC are web based “One Life to Live” and "All My Children" which cast out of NYC and shoot in CT. You can send your headshot & resume directly to the casting folks for the NY soaps here:

Alison Goodman, Casting Director
260 W. 44th St., Third Fl.
New York, NY 10036.

Have any positive stories about background work? Please leave a comment so others can learn from your experiences! And use the link list to the right to find other articles about background work.


Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has done national tours of plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. To learn more, check out http://www.theactorsenterprise.org.


Monday, April 7, 2008

Special Offer for TAE Blog Readers

Howdy, folks. I wanted to pass on this very special offer that has come in from Juice Imagery, a new photography studio in New York who has a very similar mission as The Actors' Enterprise (community focused, generous, and all around great folks!)

They are offering TAE Blog readers, and their friends, a special rate of $225 for a complete headshot session (makeup/hair extra, if needed.) You can use this rate yourself, or pass it on to family and friends- anyone who mentions "Erin with TAE" will get the special rate! And this special will run through the end of June, so you have plenty of time to take advantage (and while you're at it, you can let them know about TAE too!) See the flyer below for an example of their work- you can email them at juiceimagery@gmail.com.

Enjoy!

PS: They may be new to NYC, but they have been taking pictures of actors for quite a while now. So, schedule an interview to see if they are the right team for you!


Saturday, April 5, 2008

Freelancing with Agents (Submitted Question)


I saw this question posted on a popular forum for actors, and I wanted to repost the response I gave over there:

“What is the proper etiquette if my son is freelanced by a well known NY agency but he is not getting called, mostly gets things with open calls and does great. Actually he just writes the agency name on his resume but has gotten everything through open calls so far. (No appts). He wants another agency so do I tell the new one when being interviewed that he is with another or not? Also, how should you handle if called on the same audition by 2 different agencies? Thanks for any advice!”

Hi, there. This is a great question. As you know, if your son is only freelancing and not signed, he has the full freedom to work with additional agencies. When he starts working with an additional agency, both agencies (the new and old) should know that he has other agents working for him. And whichever agency calls you with the audition should receive the 10% commission when your son books the role.

If you haven't already, you may also want to express your concerns to the original agency and see if there is anything they can do. They need to know that the reason you are taking on an additional agent is because you are dissatisfied with the current results. A freelance relationship is not designed to be a permanent situation- it is usually a trial period for the agent and actor to get to know each other and decide if it is a good match. This means that at the end of a reasonable term, you should be able to choose to go on contract, or dissolve the partnership. Long term, having multiple agents can become problematic for exactly the reason you stated- if two agents are trying to push your son to the same casting director this can become a sticky situation.

I hope everything works out and your son gets the attention he deserves!

Have a question? Send me an email and I’ll answer it promptly!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Breaking Down Voiceover Copy

I was going over a website about voiceover, and they were talking about how to handle odd directions when dealing with voiceover copy. They had a short list of ways to break down commercial copy, so I thought I would post them here and add my own suggestions about how to approach them:

What’s the main message? What are you selling?
This is the core, #1 important part of delivering copy. Take note of the product name, and the key description of the product, as well as the slogan or “catch-phrase.” What are the 3 or 4 words that the listener will need to take away from the copy, if they learn nothing else? It is the voiceover artist’s job to burn these words into the memories of the listener.

Who is the audience this copy is trying to reach, and what’s your role (character)?
By reading the copy, you can get an idea of who the audience is, especially when it comes to who would normally buy the product. If it’s copy for baby food, it is most likely geared toward a young mom. If it is for prostate cancer screenings, it is likely geared told older men. You can also look out for what the speaker says about himself. For example, if the copy says, “I am 35 years old, and I am finally taking control of my health,” you know that the message is being delivered by AND is meant for someone in their mid 30s (or older) who are thinking about getting healthy.

What are the supporting statements for the main message? What are the key words?
Look for words that are highly descriptive, of either the product or of the problem that the product is proposing to solve. Seek out adjectives and buzz words that make the product or the idea jump off that page.

What visual images come to mind as you read the script?
Voiceover artists are expected to create a visual scene with their words, especially when it comes to non-visual mediums like radio commercials and audio books. So seek out the words that help paint a picture of what the listener should be seeing in their mind. This is actually true for all of the senses- focus on sensual words that depict taste/touch (sweet, warm, smooth, crisp, soft, etc,) sound (crunch, loud, crash, bang, etc,) and sight (bright, colorful, etc.) And when those kinds of words aren’t present, you have to find a way to say the copy in such a way that it appeals to the senses.

What’s your character’s attitude? Serious, comfortable, flip, happy, sad, etc.?
Your character’s attitude goes a long way in creating a sense of urgency for the listener- what do they need to do, and how quickly do they need to do it? Your attitude sets the stage for what needs to happen after the listener moves on to the next thing. It also helps build trust.

What’s the emotional hook (if any)?
Does the tone of the copy evoke some sort of feeling from the speaker? How about humor, frustration, happiness, frenzy, etc. Again, what should the listener be doing when they are done listening?

What type of delivery do you think would be most effective? Strong, hard-sell, happy, smiling, mellow, soft-sell, fast, slow?
Try delivering the copy several different ways- what would make you want to buy this product, or trust this person and their message? You can even record it and compare tracks, and you’ll be surprised what these slight differences in read can do.

If you are a voice artist and have other suggestions or tips, please feel free to comment so our readers can learn from your experience!

Clothing & Style: The Psychology of Color

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Ever wonder what your audition and interview clothing says about you? It’s not just about the style of the clothing, but also the color that can make a big difference. I just happened upon an interesting article about the psychology of color and how it pertains to clothing choices.

You can also apply what you learn to the colors you assign to your website and marketing materials, as well as the clothing and backgrounds you choose for your headshots. For my marketing materials, I have chosen turquoise, orange and brown. And for clothing choices I always go with saturated colors that are vibrant and jewel toned (aqua, lime, magenta, etc, or neutrals with jewel toned accents.)

How has color affected you? Do you have a favorite color you like to wear to auditions? Or simply have a comment or question? Feel free to leave a comment so others can learn from your experiences.

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has done national tours of plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. To learn more, check out http://www.theactorsenterprise.org.

Actor Tax Myths


Another great article on Now Casting- this time is goes in depth about why actors cannot deduct expenses for keeping themselves fit and looking like their headshot.

Click here for the link

After several months this link gets removed from their site, but I have saved it as a PDF so send me an email and I will pass the PDF copy on to you.

THE FINE PRINT

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