Advice and How-To's Especially for ACTORS!

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Off-Book at Audition? (Submitted Question)

I saw this question posted on a forum, and I posted an answer that I wanted to repost here:

I have an audition for an industrial tomorrow and they sent me the script late last night. Are you expected to not have the script in your hand at all? I seem to remember someone saying they hold the sides in their hand and only glance at them if they need to.

TAE responds:

There are different schools of thought on this. One the one hand, you want to be as familiar as possible with the material so that you can keep your eyes off the page- this make it easier for the auditors to see your face. This is especially important when you are auditioning with a scene partner, where connection and timing are very important. On the other hand, you don't want to be so familiar with it that you cannot take adjustments in the moment, which is sometimes hard to handle when the materials are memorized. Also, in the case of industrials and commercials, the script often changes between the time that you get the script and the day of the audition. If you are off book, you may get thrown off when they ask you to add, remove or change a sentence.

Most auditors prefer that you hold the copy while auditioning. My suggestion would be to hold it at chest level and to the side, so the paper doesn't block your face. That way, you can refer to the copy when you need it, and the auditors will only see your eyes peek to the side, as opposed to your full head looking down into the page.

I hope this has been helpful- have fun at the audition!

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

Monday, June 23, 2008

You're invited!


Join us for our "Bite Size Business Soiree," a one of a kind event with The Actors' Enterprise that empowers actors to take back control of their careers!

4:00-5:15pm Part One: "Bite Size Business" Workshop
"What is Self Promotion, and How Do I Do It?"
Studios 353, Studio 4
353 W. 48th St, 2nd Flr, btwn 8th and 9th Aves

Led by Erin Cronican (Founder of The Actors' Enterprise) you will learn the ins, outs and nuances of Self-Promotion: What are the best promotional tools for actors, and how can you take advantage of them to give your career the boost it needs?

Fees are donation-based, so a $10 contribution is appreciated. But participants on tight budgets are able to contribute whatever they can -- which means everyone is welcome, regardless of income or ability to pay!

5:30-7:00pm Part Two: Networking Soiree
Marriott Marquis Lounge
1535 Broadway, 8th Flr, btwn 45th and 46th Sts

Then, hop on over to the spacious Marriott Marquis Lounge where you can get to know your fellow artist. NETWORKING does not just mean "meet & greets" with agents and casting directors... Networking means building relationships with ANY industry member, and your mutual relationship can help to advance both careers in the long run!

ACTORS • WRITERS • STAGE MANAGERS • DIRECTORS • PRODUCERS • DESIGNERS and OTHER INDUSTRY FOLKS are WELCOME!

Bring your business cards and be ready to walk away with valuable contacts! (Food and drinks available for purchase.)

Drawing
Also, at the lounge I will be doing the Survey Drawing- one lucky winner will receive a Postcard Design & Printing (valued at $175.) You need not be present to win (though I hope you are!) - If you’re actor, just fill out this quick survey to enter.

These events are best experienced with a friend: Bring a buddy, and please forward this on to anyone who might be interested.

Reservations Suggested
Call 917-574-0417 or email erin@theactorsenterprise.org.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Taking the Plunge


I just read this blog entry, and it brought tears to my eyes. It is about a screenwriter who gave up everything to follow this passion he had for writing. (This entry is part of a larger blog about producing a film.)

Taking the plunge is not glamourous, it isn't safe, and sometimes it isn't a whole lot of fun. But, when you do it ANYWAY, in the face of all of that, or BECAUSE of all of that, you can find reward.

Read... and be inspired.

Monday, June 16, 2008

More info about deferred pay

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This article is reposted from a filmmaking web blog, posted by someone who wrote a book about what it takes to produce an indie film. The writer then posted chapters from the book on the website. This particular chapter is no longer on the site (they pull a post whenever they add a new one- this appears to be one of the older ones.)

(Note to Web Film School writer- I would be very happy to delete the text of this article and only provide a link to my readers, so as not to violate copyright. Just send me an active link and I will handle it right away. Thank you!)

The reason I pass it on is because it gives you, the actor, some insight on what it means from the producer perspective to get "deferred" pay. A lot of you are without agents or have agents who won't work on these levels of projects, so you need to understand what you would be negotiating for. This, of course, is written in the best interests of the producer...

Salary and Deferrals

The procedure of combining salary and deferrals, although not recommended, is commonly used by first-timers. Beginning producers always feel that to attract competent talent, they must pay large salaries. They accomplish this illusion by offering a deferral agreement, in which a pre-determined amount is paid at a later date.

A first-time filmmaker hearing that a Director should get $10,000 a week, a DP $6,000 a week, an actor $5,000 a week, etc., feels compelled to match that salary. However, knowing that these amounts are unavailable to him, the inexperienced producer tells the Director that he'll get $10,000/week: $3,000 in cash, and $7,000/week deferred. The DP is told he'll be paid $6,000/week: $1,000 cash and $5,000 deferred. The cycle continues until hundreds of thousands of dollars are built up in deferrals.

The upside of deferrals is that cast and crew feel more appreciated. The downside is that if not extremely careful, you will encumber the sale of your finished project to a distributor because the outstanding deferrals, which are actually debts, could be ridiculously high.

IMPORTANT POINT: If you use deferrals with crew, be sure to tell them that deferrals will be paid out of profits. This sounds fair. However, when you write the employment contract, use the phrase Net Producer’s Profits in the place of the more generic “profits”. The reason is, that there probably won’t be Profits, there likely won’t be Net Profits, and there very likely won’t be Net Producer Profits. In effect, you owe them nothing, even though the film got made, distributed and earned revenues.

Finally, a word to the wise: Based on years of hiring non-union, low-budget crews, I recommend not using deferrals. It merely complicates matters. I discovered that I can hire the same person whether I say, "I'll pay you $2,000/week, $600 in cash, with $1,400 deferred," or simply say, "I know what you’re worth. If you’re not doing anything for the next 1-3 weeks please help me….But I only have $600/week." I have always gotten the employee I wanted, if he/she was available, without the bullshit and the complications created by using deferrals.

However, I realize that most first-timers are insecure about negotiating with crew and talent. Therefore, if necessary, use deferrals, but be sure to define deferred until the film makes net producer profits.

Below-the-Line crew are everywhere. They are in every city and state. They are looking for opportunities. Just call the local film commissioner. Get the respective production directory. Budget what you can pay, don’t be embarrassed if it is a low number. For $23,000-$35,500 you are able to obtain a 25 person professional crew for your production. Don’t pay more!



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.

Why Actors Need Websites

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Imagine this: You are in your car (or walking to the subway) and you suddenly get a call from a casting director. They are interested in submitting you for an upcoming project, but need to forward your headshot & resume to the director within the next 30 minutes. You’re not at your computer, so you cannot email your materials to them. And you’re nowhere near their office, so you cannot just drop by with a physical copy of your headshot/resume. What can you do?

Or, imagine this: You are networking at an event (like the Tribeca Film Festival) and you have met so many people that you have handed out your last copy of your reel. You run into an agent who has seen you on stage, but comments that he would like to see your film work. He asks if you have a reel to give him. Sadly, you don’t, and it will be at least a week until you can get more duplicates made. What now?

If you are a business-minded actor, you would have a website and neither case would have been a problem! You could simply tell the casting director, “Drop by my website, where you can download a copy of my headshot and resume, both formatted for printing.” And for the agent, you would be able to say, “Here’s my website. Not only do I have my reel posted, but I also have clips from a few of the other projects I have done, including some singing and a few commercials.”

Having a website is one of the most important promotional tools an actor can have, second only to a good headshot. A website allows you to provide interested parties with a more full look at your body of work, your personality, and the way you run your business. And it allows them to do it in their own time, at their pace and leisure, which is vitally important in the larger, more competitive markets. The easier you can make it for a CD/agent to get to know you, the better chance you have of making an impact with them.

Now, some actors have “actor pages” created on industry websites, such as Actors Access, Now Casting or IMDB. While these are sufficient for communicating basic information, it is very difficult to allow your personality to come through with these sites. Your website, much like your headshot, is a calling card. After all, their templates are the same for every actor! A website is a reflection of your identity, and the more personalized you can make it, the better off you will be. If you do opt for this, at the very least you should purchase a domain name (www. yourname .com) and  link/forward it to your free page. That way, when someone types in your web address, they will automatically be forwarded to whatever website you choose. Some companies charge a nominal fee for forwarding, while others include it with the domain purchase.

That all being said, having a website can be relatively inexpensive if you do your research. One word of advice- before you sign up for ANY services, be sure to get all of the costs laid out UP FRONT. Websites contains a lot of components that add up to a well-created and maintained business tool. Make sure you have a strong understanding of all of the costs associated, including ongoing text changes, additions or updates to media (like photo, video and audio clips), and the creation of new pages. Often, the initial price tag seems small but the fee for design becomes much larger when considering the price of upkeep. It is very important to weigh all of the costs and decide what type of fee structure is best for your business, and then get all of this in writing before you choose your designer.

Here is a breakdown of what kinds of costs you might incur, and some pitfalls to avoid:

• You domain name will be around $10 per year.

• Ongoing storage (called “hosting”) usually costs between $5 - $9 per month. GoDaddy is one of the largest and cheapest and charges around $68 for a full year (great price!)

• Design services can range from a flat fee of $300 - $900 (and up) depending on how fancy you want your site to be. Be wary of companies that charge less- there may be some hidden fees or restrictions (like limited photos, videos or pages.) Often, the price seems small at first but added costs can push the prices well over $1000.

• Be careful when signing up for websites you can change/update yourself. These designs tend to either have a very high up front fee, or a moderate monthly fee you pay for the life of your website. For example, some companies charge $195 to design your website, and then charge $25-$50 per month ongoingly for hosting & maintenance. That may seem like a great deal, but consider that every year you’d be paying $250-500. How long do you imagine you’ll be keeping your website? That $250-$500 will add up very quickly. This is the same thing that printer companies are doing- they nearly give away the printer and then charge you $40 (or more) per ink cartridge. Be sure that this is a monthly expense you can afford to keep for the rest of your life (or, as long as the website is active.)

• Changes/updates that are done by your designer are usually less expensive, depending on who you select to do the work. Most charge by the hour for changes. But be careful- many designers have a 1 hour minimum, even if you simply want to add a resume credit. Look for someone who either does not have a 1 hour minimum, or someone who is willing to work on retainer. When I design websites for actors, I do changes on a retainer program and it is a win-win for both the actor and me as the designer. Here’s how it works: I collect a 1 hour retainer in advance, and then each time the actor has changes I deduct the time from their 1 hour retainer. If the changes take 5 minutes, the actor has 55 minutes of changes left. That way, I still am guaranteed payment for an hour of work, but the actor only pays for work that is actually done. Very few designers use this method because it means less $$ for them, but you have every right to expect that you’ll only be paying for work you need.

• Also, be sure to determine who actually owns the website design - once it is designed, is it yours to do with as you please (even if you choose to host/update it with someone else?) Or do they hold the copyright and keep the design (and contents) if you opt to go elsewhere? These are important things to go over before you pay any fees.

Remember the adage: "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is."

• You can build your own website through a service like Wordpress, Wix or Weebly - you just want to make sure that you a) have enough time to learn the technology behind websites, and b) these services are capable to having professional looking galleries for photos and video (some templates make viewing media rather difficult.) What often happens is that actors start off by creating their own site, but it very soon becomes a time suck because they don't have the technical knowledge to make sure the site does what they need it to.

Regardless of how you choose to set up your site, all fees can be written off on your taxes as a business expense, and goes a long way in investing in your future as a professional performer.

Finally, since this is my blog I would be remiss if I didn't mention the web services I provide. The Actors' Enterprise offers an actor's website design service for a flat fee of only $600 (Unlimited pages, images, demos/videos, text and custom colors, fonts, and layout.) I have been building websites for folks since 1998, and have a clean and simple approach that helps the visitor get an essence of YOU very quickly! To see some samples or for more info, visit my design page. All costs are fully outlined, as well as my "YouOwnIt" policy, which states that you own ALL of your designs from the moment we begin our work together.

Contact me to set up your acting website!

PS: If you got to this article looking for Actor Blogs, click here to be taken to my article on blogging.

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.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

What is Taft-Hartley?

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I just read this great blog explaining what the Taft-Hartley Act is, and what that means for non-union actors who want to become SAG members.

SAG and Taft-Hartley

Thanks to Actor-Preneur for sharing the information!

And if this blog is interesting to you, you might want to hop over to another one of my articles which answers the question, “How do you get SAG vouchers?”

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.

Friday, June 6, 2008

SAG granting waivers to independent filmmakers

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I just read on IMDB that SAG has begun granting waivers to some independent filmmakers so that SAG members can continue to work in the event that a strike occurs after June 30. This is very good news for actors, who will face some financially dire circumstances if work stops at the end of the month.

Now would be a very good time to polish your networking skills and start showing up to film festivals in your area- these are the places to meet up and coming filmmakers and learn about films that are being made right now. Resist the urge to sit back and wait to see what happens- now is the time to get out there, sharpen your business tools, and stay active in the industry.

Click for the IMDB Article.

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, June 2, 2008

Erin and TAE featured in national magazine


I wanted to be the first to tell you- I was interviewed for the national theater magazine, DramaBiz, for an article about the treatment of actors at theaters. The article was just published, and it is amazing! Take a look it it here:

Caring for Actors: DramaBiz

Or, you can download the whole magazine in PDF format here:

http://dramabiz.com/DBIZ0508WEB.pdf

I am so thrilled- The Actors’ Enterprise is really on the map!

Great blog about Branding (or MISbranding)

Take a look at this VERY interesting blog about branding (aka: "type" for actors) - though, in this context, they are talking about logos (aka: "headshots" for actors.) It helps to illustrate how very a simple logo can burn meaning into our minds - your headshot can be just as effective if you utilize it correctly!

MISBranding- by Groovy Like a Movie

We can talk about ways to make sure your "brand" is being communicated effectively. Contact me to set up a session! (No pressure...)

Have been on vacation...


I am just now getting back into the swing of things after being on vacation. Look for some posts, coming soon!

THE FINE PRINT

This content is offered under a Creative Commons by-NC-ND License.That means you're free to share it, republish it, refer to it, include it in your wedding vows, whatever... - PROVIDED you

a) you don't change anything.
b) you don't use it to make money.
c) credit me (with my blog's name, and a link back to my site.)
d) it's not required, but it would be awesome if you'd email me to let me know you're using it, and then I can help promote your post!

If you are copying an article in its entirely, you MUST include the following acknowledgment at the top of the post: "This blog was pulled, in its entirety, from Bite-Size Business for Actors, a blog published by The Actors' Enterprise. To learn more, visit http://www.BiteSizeBusiness.org."

To view the license, click here. To learn more about Creative Commons, click here.


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