Advice and How-To's Especially for ACTORS!

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

A few updates


Howdy folks! Just a few updates...

I just sent out a survey request to all of my students, prospects and newsletter subscribers. This short survey is to help me develop better events and programming- might you be willing to help by answering the survey? It is geared towards those who are actors in NYC, but other industry folks will benefit from the events, and I also provide services for folks outside NYC. Just skip over any question that does not pertain to you:

Click to take the survey

Please also forward the survey to your actors friends! To sweeten the deal, there will be a drawing for anyone who completes the survey and includes their name- I am giving away a free postcard or business card design (includes first printed set of cards)- valued at $150.

• I will be teaching an inexpensive workshop through the non-profit actors organization called HOME NYC- this workshop is on the topic of "Painless Self-Promotion" and it is only $10. You can download the flyer for June workshops- I hope to see you there!

• I will be out of the country from May 26 - 31, on vacation in Jamaica! I will be back and taking students on June 1. So, feel free to email me with your requests for sessions for the week of June 1-8, and I will get you booked as soon as I get back into town. 

Have a great week!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Another testimonial about my responses to actors!


I just received this comment on a response I posted at the Backstage forum, and he graciously allowed me to repost here:

Dear Erin,

Now THAT is what I call a great answer to a poster's question!

In a business fraught with "experts" offering advice of dubious value to actors, it's refreshing to find someone who actually seems to know what they're talking about! A fan, Robert."


Just one way you know that The Actors’ Enterprise has a good handle on the pulse of the industry! Thanks, Robert!

Have a testimonial to share? You can do so by name or anonymously by leaving a comment, or by sending me an email. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What to Put on a Postcard (Submitted Question)


Jarred asks:

When you send out your postcards, what exactly do you write? Do you type it up or hand write them? Do you remind them of how you met every time, or just the first time? I've been courting these agents and I plan on sending them another postcard informing them of my summer employment. Any tips you have would be greatly appreciated.

TAE responds:

Howdy! These are great questions, and they really deserve a lengthy discussion. What is important to discuss is not just how to do it, but why to do it that way. But in the interest of time...

The more personal you can make the postcard, the better. Handwriting is great for postcards you do after an audition or meeting someone for the first time, but for general updates it is not always efficient to write them all by hand. Typing, then, is fine. What I do is print the information on shipping labels, and affix those to the postcard. For me, this is easier than putting a postcard through a printer. And then I add a handwritten signature.

Remind them of how you met them in the first 2-3 postcards you send. By your 6th or 7th postcard, if you haven't seen them since the first time, I think it is time to try to find a way to get in front of them again. There are lots of ways to do this- The Network, Actors Connection, a class, etc.

For letting them know about your show, here is the context I would suggest: let them know that you will be gone during the summer months doing two shows (name the shows and the roles) and give them the date you will be returning for work in NYC. And since you will be gone so long and have new credits, it might be a good idea to re-submit an updated resume when you get back into town. In your postcard, then, I might say something like,

"I wanted to let you know that I will be out of town all summer doing [ these shows ] on [ these dates ]. Of course, this means will be unavailable for work in NYC during those dates. But I will be returning on [ date ] and will be ready to hit the ground running with auditions! Just before my return I will submit an updated resume for your files. In the meantime, have a wonderful summer, and I look forward to seeing you again in the fall."

The above is just a suggestion of content- it is very important to use your own words so they get the sense that YOU are writing the postcard, and make sure your personality is coming through.

To reiterate: My suggestion is to make this postcard more about "booking out" and less about your getting cast in these shows. Highlight that you will be gone and mention the shows, but focus more on that fact that you will be back in the fall and ready to audition again. This idea tells them exactly what you want from them (future work) while also letting them know that you are capable of booking shows. Just talking about the shows elicits nothing from them but a "good for you“ which makes it a nice note but not a very effective postcard for your business.

Hope this is helpful- like I mentioned, there is more to go over here but I think you get the general idea. Good luck, and have fun out there!

Have a question? Ask one by leaving a comment or sending me an email and I will answer it in an upcoming blog!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

LA Times article on status of Hollywood economy

* Bookmark and Share

Thanks to Abundance Bound for alerting me to this article. It is good for us East Coasters to understand the West Coast perspective, so I recommend reading this highly informative article. And, much like Abundance Bound noted, I don’t always agree with what these articles say, but it is important to gather as much information as possible to make our own informed opinions.

Link to LA Times article

Link to Abundance Bound Blog

Have a comment or question? Leave it by clicking below!

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.

Resume: How To List Staged Readings


I saw this question posted on the Actors Access Forum, and I posted an answer that I wanted to repost here:
I have several staged reading theater performances under my belt along with full out productions. Up until now I have always drawn attention to the fact that these were not full out performances by putting "(Staged Reading)" after the play's title on my resume. My question is this- is it necessary to note that these were staged readings? I'm thinking I may remove these notes on my resume, but wanted to get some feedback on this... Am I doing myself a disservice noting this?  
TAE responds:
Hi, there! Your original instincts are correct- it is very important to make the distinction between staged readings and full productions on your resume. If you remove the notation, someone might think that you are trying to make it look like you did the full production, which is obviously not your intention! It sounds like you are concerned that it will look bad to note the readings. Honestly, I don't think that there is any negative connotation associated with having readings on a resume. Most actors have readings under their belts (some, quite a few!) Normally, you would keep the readings on there until there are enough "full production" credits to complete the resume Some agents and casting directors might suggest removing the readings altogether. However, I wouldn't make that recommendation until I saw exactly what was on your resume. Sometimes, there are good reasons to keep the readings on there, even when you have more than enough credits to take their place. (For example, if you worked at a great theater or with a notable director.) If you are concerned about how the readings look on the resume, you could consider listing them in a different way. You could add an asterisk after each reading, and then list, " **staged reading " at the bottom of the section. You could also consider putting staged readings in their own separate section (though that would, most likely, make them stand out more.) I hope this response has been helpful to you- good luck! Have a comment or question? Leave it by clicking below!

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, May 12, 2008

TAE Blog Testimonial


I started up my computer this morning and found this great message in my inbox:

Subject: Nice information on your blog

Ran into your blog tonight - can't figure if you are in San Diego or NY, or both. Well done.

Regards,

Alan S Nusbaum
Chairman, tvi actors studio

America's Performing Arts Training Center for Professional & Aspiring Actors
"Celebrating our Twenty-First year"
New York - Los Angeles - Chicago
http://www.tvistudios.com
Blog: http://www.actor-preneur.com

I was absolutely thrilled! TVI Studios, as you can see above, has been around for years and is very well respected in the industry for bringing good teachers and solid industry guests to their students. I am honored that their chairman took the time to visit this blog and send a message. It should make you feel good, too, that you have taken the time to read this blog, and have taken charge of your career!

So, hats off to you, our faithful readers. And, please, spread the good news!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Auditioning for TV when you don't live in NYC or LA (Submitted Question)


This is a question submitted as a comment on a previous blog, and I am very happy to answer!:

Anonymous asks:

How would I got about auditioning for tv shows? It kind of makes it hard because I have two small children and live two hours from the city on Long Island.

TAE Responds:

This is a great question! Unfortunately, it is difficult to get auditions if you don’t live in the immediate area, but it is possible. First, take some time to learn about which shows shoot in the closest big city (in this case, New York.) You can look in “Ross Reports” or on the SAG website to find out what is in production. What shows match your personality, or have people who match your style of humor or drama? Once you know that, there are two main ways to find TV auditions:

Agents
Obviously, the best way to gain access to television auditions is to have an agent submitting you. It is uncommon, but not unheard of, for agents to sign actors who do not live in the city. The more easily you can arrange to get into the city, the easier it will be to find an agent to represent you. There is such strong competition for representation that the agents can be very picky when it comes to availability. They want to make sure that if there is a last minute audition (for tomorrow or even today) that the actor they have been pushing will be available at a moment’s notice. So, in your case, not only is the commute and issue, but it is possible that finding last minute child care might be a concern. I am not sure of your exact situation, but if you are serious about pursuing an acting career but don’t want to make a move closer to the city, I would suggest having a plan in place for last minute situations. Once you have that, you could probably start seeking out an agent. (Learn more about agent submissions here.)

Casting Directors
A more direct way to try to get into the TV audition room is to send your information to the casting director yourself. With your copy of the Ross Reports (or another source) you can look up each production to see who handles the casting. Then you can send your headshot and resume to them, with a cover letter explaining your interest in their specific program. One other, very effective, way to gain access to the casting office is to take a class or do a networking seminar with them. This is a really good way to start a relationship with them, and if you develop it in the right way you will be front of mind when a role comes up that is right for you. Casting directors have no problem calling in unrepresented actors, as long as they have met them before (or have seen their work) and feel they are right for the role. If you book the role, the casting director will often help the actor get representation by make referrals to agencies.

Logistics
If you get cast on a TV show, you most likely will start off in one of the smaller roles and then work your way up (getting recurring roles, or getting larger roles on other shows). In these cases, you will likely have 1-2 weeks between the final audition and the first shoot date, so you have plenty of time to arrange for child care. But as I mentioned above, the audition process is tiresome and unpredictable, and can take a toll on the actor and their family, especially when such a long commute is involved. So, I would recommend you talk it over thoroughly with your loved ones to find a plan that is best for all of you.

Now, there is no magic potion for TV audition success- you could do all of the above things and not get a thing. Or you could get lucky and land a contract/series regular role on your first time out. There are no hard and fast rules in this business. But looking at things realistically, I do believe that with hard work, tenacity, and passion you can build yourself a fun (if not comfortable) career as an actor (especially if you are willing to do other mediums- film, theater, voiceover, etc.)

By the way, I mention all of this assuming that you have a background/training in acting. If not, I would recommend doing what you can to build your skills before you seek out an agent or auditioning for TV. The competition is fierce, and you want to make sure your first impression is a good one. There are a lot of solid acting programs through local theaters and community colleges. You may also want to see if there is a local film program or community theater that needs actors for their projects so that you can sharpen your skill set.

My very best wishes to you- good luck!

Have a question? Ask one by leaving a comment and I will answer it in an upcoming blog!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Amazing news for NYC television actors


I just found out that “Ugly Betty“ (which is set in NYC )will finally be coming back to NYC to shoot its upcoming seasons. This show started in NYC with its pilot (and with a mostly NY cast), but once it was picked up it was moved to Los Angeles for shooting. This is fantastic news for NY middle-class actors, who will now have a better shot at the guest star and smaller co-sta roles which usually go to ”local“ actors.

Read about the move at The Hollywood Reporter.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Great blog about Casting and Actors


I just learned about this great blog from The Actor’s Voice which is chronicling the process a writer/producer is going through to get a film made. Right now there are in the casting process, and the producer is blogging about his time in the audition room working with actors. It is fascinating!

Part of this blog post that intrigues me is that the producer talks about the skill of listening that an actor should exhibit when in the audition room. I also liked his views on the actor taking the time they need to give a polished performance (particularly when given adjustments.) Hopefully by reading industry blogs of this kind you can begin to see that there are only a few things that an actor can control and so many other factors that we can’t. Problem is, we focus on everything we cannot control (will we be “right” for the part, for example) and gloss over the things we CAN control (being prepared, being present when in the room, etc.) Working with a good coach (especially one well versed in the “business” side of the business, like me!) can go a long way to weeding through the BS so you can focus on that things that you really have power over. Imagine if you could let all of that other stuff go- auditioning could actually be fun (take my word for it- it is!)

Anyway, I highly recommend reading this blog post and then reading all of the others. Take a look at it here.

And, thanks to Bonnie for letting us know about it!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Some info on Celebrity Actor Salaries


Based on my web statistics, I know a lot of people have found this blog via search engines by inquiring about topics such as salary stats for actors and deferred pay. Obviously, payment for acting skills and talent is a hot topic and I am committed to bringing you information as it becomes available.

So, when I saw this blog (linked below) by my friends at Abundance Bound, I knew I had to repost it. It is an interesting look at how star power is viewed in terms of box office dollars, and how the economy (and even the tabloids) have such a heavy hand in determining the value of being a “box office draw.”

I know that some actors shy away from “business” talk, especially this kind, because they think that it doesn’t really apply to them on the level that they are at. But if actors plan to make any kind of money at this profession they each need to keep an eye on the “big” guys, because it has its trickle down effect. This same trend that is causing stars to “fumble” at the box office is the same trend that is causing such trouble for middle class actors in getting their quote.

(Regarding actor quotes, in October 2006 at a public hearing with the FCC, SAG stated: "As actors, we find the continued consolidation of media companies has drastically limited our ability to individually bargain our personal services agreements. Every working actor has a “quote,” the amount of money you get for a guest starring role, etc. It’s each actor’s “market value.” There is no such thing as getting your quote anymore. Like the oligarchy that they are, the networks decide what the top-of-show rates are, in a parallel practice. Some networks will even tell you they only pay 50% of the going rate. Take it or leave it. This salary compression cripples the middle class actor’s ability to make a living...")

So, by understanding how the film industry views box office vs star power (among other things) we can better plan our careers and feel more in control of our artistic destinies. It seems like a cliche to say so, but knowledge IS power. This is your career, your livelihood, your dream. You CAN make it happen. And I applaud you for reading blogs like this and taking that extra step to make your dream a reality.

(Thanks, Miata, for bringing this article to my attention!): Abundance Bound- Celebrity’s Money & Salaries

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