Advice and How-To's Especially for ACTORS!

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Career Coaching for Actors

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It would be a very bad example of “good business practice” if I neglected to promote my own business at some point in this blog. So, I thought I would take the space today to talk a little bit about the services I have to offer, and then give you a chance to take advantage.

Note: Though I am based in NY and NY/Tri-State actors have the option to meet with me in person, I have coached many actors across the country via Skype or phone. In addition, all of the design work I do is all done electronically, so no matter where you live, you can use my services to your full advantage!

Have you ever said to yourself:

“I feel stuck and don't know where to go from here.”
"I want feel like I’m more control over my career."
“I need a new plan, and I want to work smarter, not harder.”
"I have questions and need someone I can trust”

You're in luck! Over 200 actors have answered one or more of these questions with The Actors' Enterprise.


What is The Actors' Enterprise?

The Actors' Enterprise is a fun and inspiring one-on-one coaching service that provides affordable career coaching to actors who want to feel more fulfilled and in control of their careers. With an approach that is hands-on and customized for each person, we help actors set goals, organize their business, and create a plan of action with easy tools that can take them to the next level, no matter where they are starting from. As your business and audition coach, some of the areas I cover are:

• Marketing/PR (headshots, resumes, postcards, business cards, websites, submissions, etc.)
• Career/Business Coaching (unions, agents/managers, goals/tracking, expenses, finding/creating a supportive "day" job, etc.)
• Audition Strategies (monologues/cold reading technique, interviewing, defining "type", etc.)
• Design (inexpensive postcards, business cards, and fully functional actor websites)
[ ........ ] Fill In the Blank - It's your career, isn't it? Tell me what you need and I'll find a way to provide!


What's Different about THIS coaching service?

Free Support: From the day of the first consultation through the last scheduled session, actors will also receive unlimited support via email.

Strong Community: TAE students are invited to join the TAE Yahoo Group, designed to provide a forum for TAE actors to communicate with each other.

Referral Program: Refer someone to TAE and when they mention your name when setting up their sessions, you will receive a credit for $5 off YOUR next set of sessions. (And your friend who sent you this email will receive $5 off their session when you start!)


How to Schedule a Session

Email me or give me a call to set up a free, 30-minute "get to know you" and planning consultation:

Email: erin@theactorsenterprise.org
Phone: (917) 574-0417

Visit my website and blog to learn more about my mission, services and background:

Website: http://www.theactorsenterprise.org
Blog: http://theactorsenterprise.blogspot.com


I hope to hear from you soon- I look forward to seeing how I can support you!

Helping to make it YOUR enterprise,

Erin =)

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.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Making It Your Own


One of the hardest things we have to do as actors is to maintain a sense of individuality while creating characters. It is so easy to lose yourself in a role, especially since many of us have been trained from an early age that “acting” is when you become someone totally different than yourself. I remember an acting teacher once asking me, “When you put your hands on your hips- was it Erin doing that, or was it the character?” According to this teacher, if the action wasn’t planned out in advance as something that character does, it was an unacceptable action. There was no room for organic movement, or for instincts. In my opinion, it is a useful tool to have in the actor’s toolbelt, but not as an overarching technique. It wasn’t until I got out into the real world that I started to see that there are many different ways to reach the truthful expression of character.

Still, you find that in Hollywood and on the Great White Way there is some emphasis on the carbon copy performer: big belty voices, perfect teeth, cookie-cutter bodies, formulaic scripts, generic line reads... the list goes on and on.

Which is why I was so refreshed to read this news bite that Maggie Gyllenhaal wanted to make sure she could put her own stamp on her role in the new Batman flick before accepting it (it was played by Katie Holmes in the previous release.)

You don’t need to be a superstar to make sure your unique perspective on a character is seen, but you do need to have insight and you must have courage. Insight is required to know exactly what it is that makes you special as a performer. Clearly, Maggie knew herself well enough to know that Katie’s portrayal was unique and could not (and should not) be duplicated. But she also had to have the courage to tell the producers (and Katie), “I want to do this my own way.” Notice also that this courageous move was also very business savvy. She was conscientious about how changing the role to suit her unique style might look in the industry (as a slight to the previous performer) and she held off rumors by contacting Katie in advance and getting her “blessing” while also being up front with the media about what had transpired.

Another thing to note after reading this news bite... I am reminded of how many people get roles even when they are not the first choice. Katie was the first choice for this role, and Maggie is the one who ultimately played it (and we do not know how many actors were considered before they went with Maggie.) Think about all of the auditions you’ve had where you felt like you nailed it but did not end up being cast. You may have been inches away from getting the part, except their 1st choice ended up saying yes. Does that make you less talented, or make your audition less good than their #1 choice? Is Katie better than Maggie because she was #1?

Truly, I think it is impossible to compare one actor to another. There are so many reasons why an actor falls into choice #1 or #2 slots (or 3 or 4), many of which have nothing to do with anything the actor did in the audition room. The difference between feeling great about your audition and feeling terrible is all in your perspective. Fact: there are not enough roles out there for the many, many talented actors vying for them. For the roles you don’t get, chalk it up to timing and logistics- neither of which are in your control. What you can control is being prepared and playing full out. If you have to judge yourself, judge on these criteria alone!

And when you do get that part, really own it. Take a chance and reveal yourself deeply in the role, as much as you can, while still serving the script and the world that the writers, producers and director have created with you. Be courageous!

Do you have any stories about how you have made a role your own? Or, simply have a question? Leaving a comment and I will address your response in an upcoming blog!

What is "coverage" in filmmaking?


I wanted to pass on another insightful article from the film blog, “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell.” If you recall, I posted information on this blog because it is a look at how this film has been produced, from beginning to end. There have been some amazing articles about casting, and what goes through the head of film creators and producers when they have roles to fill. But there has also been incredibly helpful articles on the nuts and bolts of the filmmaking industry, and one in particular that I wanted to share:

What Is Coverage

The producer had written a previous blog entry talking about how many takes they did for a pivotal scene in the movie, which sparked a few responses from readers. This blog is a response to those questions, and explains why shooting certain scenes can take several days to complete.

If you have time, I would highly recommend reading this blog from beginning to end. A word of caution- the writers pull no punches, and their views are not delicately stated. But you will get a refreshing take on a piece of “Hollywood“ and will learn a lot about the business.

Happy learning!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Market Your Acting Career (Tip #1): Casting Advice

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I have done a fair bit of casting in my day, and actors always seem surprised when I mention how frustrating it can be when an actor doesn’t follow instructions when doing their submissions. I am surprised at my frustration too- I mean, I am also an actor and I pride myself on creatively marketing myself. But there is a point where trying to be cute or trying to get an edge just comes across as... well, disrespectful.

The reason I am sharing this with you today is that I just read another blog where an actor was in a casting position, and she experienced the same frustration! And because of this, I felt it was worth mentioning to all of you in an effort to help you make effective marketing decisions for your acting business.

I was casting a leading male role in an indie short film- the actor had to be blond, Caucasian, in his 20s, and non-union (they had already spent their budget on several other union actors.) To promote the role, I used Breakdown Services (which gives me the option of posting to agent breakdowns only, or also to Actors Access), Now Casting, Casting NY, Craigslist and a few other small casting websites. Between all of these sites, I probably saw over 300 submissions, which was quite a number to go through for one role.

Each casting site has its own way for casting directors (CDs) to organize the information that comes in. Some of them allow you to delete the messages from those who are not right for the role, but often times the website keeps all submissions in your inbox. This means that, right or not for the role, the CD is going to have to scan over that submission every time they are on that website. Now, imagine if you were a CD casting one role for a 20-something Caucasian, non-union male (which was explicitly stated in the breakdown) and you started to receive submissions from the following types: Children. Women. Non-Caucasian Men. Grandfathers. Dozens upon dozens of them. In the case above, more than half of the actors who submitted did not fit the description of the character in the breakdown.

Many of these actors thought that if they submitted, we would call them in from something else that WAS right for them (some mentioned that in their submission.) But my project had only one role available, so these extra submissions equalled more work for me. And like many freelance CDs, I was being paid a flat fee for casting- I was not being paid by the hour. And with every irrelevant submission coming in, I became more and more frustrated.

At the beginning of the process, I decided I would be a conscientious CD and respond to every submission that came in with a Yes or a No. I felt that if the actor had taken the time to submit, I would take the time to respond. Good idea, right? WRONG. Because once a CD makes that contact, it invites further contact, which the CD really doesn’t have time for. I would get emails asking why I wasn’t interested and “couldn’t you please rethink your decision?” I received emails asking questions about resume formats and headshot choices, and “was there anything I could have done to get that audition?“ I also received angry responses, and responses that didn’t make sense and just plain confused me. So, now, not only do I have to deal with the actors I DO want to see, juggling their schedules and getting them audition times - I now have to deal with the myriad of responses from the actors who were NOT right for the roles, and all because I was trying to ”do the right thing“ by sending a response. This is why CDs, agents, and producers often don’t respond to actors when they cannot be used for their current project. The unfortunate thing is that most actors (like you) are not the ones who send these responses, it is a small minority of actors by whom the CDs are being frustrated.

The moral of the story:

When you do submissions, or really ANY kind of communication or marketing within the industry, you do want to do something to stand out. But before putting together your materials, spend a moment sitting in the recipient’s shoes, and then imagine getting a submission like yours over 300 times. When you do this, you’ll start to see how important it is to stay within the basic parameters of appropriate communication. This will show respect to the CD’s time (and yours!)

Here are some basic Do’s and Don’ts for casting submissions:

• Do make your submission short, sweet and to the point. Show your personality, but make sure the information you include falls within the confines of what the breakdown asked for.

• Do send only one photo when submitting via email - any more and you could clog the CDs inbox. Also, it is best to send a low-resolution photo (file size under 500k) rather than one a large one that can be printed. You’ll be bringing a hard copy of your headshot with you anyway (right?) so there’s no need to send a huge file for them to print.

• Do point out any special skills that seem to be relevant to the role, but don’t spend your time mentioning things that don’t relate.

• Do submit for the same project several times if you see it posted in different places. This increases your chances of being noticed- just be sure to mention in the notes area that this is a duplicate submission, otherwise the CD might think you haven’t been paying attention and think that you are submitting for a new project each time. (You want the CD to be aware of your passion for the project, so mention that in your submission!) NOTE: Do NOT submit multiple times via email- send only ONE email, and then submit once to each casting website.

• Don’t submit if there isn’t a role that is perfect for you. You may think that you are “putting it out there to see what happens” by submitting for a Latino role when you are Irish-American, but typically this will get you on the bad side of the casting office. Once you have an agent, the agent can do that kind of “outside the box” push for you, but until then, save your energies for roles that are spot on.

• Do understand than the above suggestions are just that- suggestions. There are no hard and fast rules to this, and sometimes submissions that go against what I have said do, indeed, get noticed. But with all of the things we actors are being asked to do in this business, it makes sense to filter out those things that are long-shots, and hone in on the things that have a better chance of working for you.

I hope this has been useful. Feel free to leave a comment, start a discussion. to tell your own stories of how casting submissions have or have not worked for you.

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.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

It Feels Good To Be Back


Howdy, folks! It is great to be back. Let me start by saying that I highly recommend vacations- if you do it right, you’ll have gotten enough rest and recreation and end up really WANTING to come back to work. Of course, it helps to have a career path that excites and inspires you, but even if you have a “day job” getting away can really do amazing things for your spirit.

I spent 8 days visiting my hometown of San Diego, my alma mater Pepperdine University and its surrounding cities in Los Angeles County, and Vegas, baby! Talking with my theater friends in SD and being around industry folks in LA has refueled my fire for acting professionally. And I mean REALLY professionally, like earning a large majority of my income from acting (right now it is hovering around 50%.) I have also learned that the best way to feel good about your career is to talk to people who don’t get to be a part of your every day life- and then tell them about what you have accomplished. What might seem “ho-hum” to you will sound like the most glamorous, dream-filled life to those around you. And this is a good thing to remember! I sometimes forget that I have created a life where I pursue what I love, and I call all of the shots. It really is fantastic, and it often takes an outsider to shake me out of my limited view to see that, WOW, I am doing something incredible!

Some funny and great stuff happened in my career while I was on my trip:

- My first episode of One Life To Live aired on July 3 on ABC. On that same day, casting called me and offered me a third episode, playing the same role of “Palace Maid.” Be sure to check out IMDB to see when the episode is posted!
- While in San Diego at one of our old watering holes, my boyfriend Tom had a conversation with a woman who he knew years ago. He was a proud papa and talked about my OLTL episode, and she had actually seen it that day! It was awesome to be recognized (albeit, through Tom) - would love to have it happen spontaneously!
- I met with one of my friends who happens to be the mother of an actor from my all time favorite TV show. She told me that he is now living in NYC and she told him about my coaching service- not that he needs it, but she thinks he can certainly take advantage of my networking events. WOOHOO!!! Now, if I could only get her to introduce us... I would be reduced to a quivering teenage girl in no time.
- I was called in for an audition for a new web series, which is being cast by a CD that I met at The Network. My time doing the audition seminars has certainly paid off recently, as has my relentless follow up by mail!

Like I said... it’s good to be back.

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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