Advice and How-To's Especially for ACTORS!

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thinking outside the box

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I just saw this on a website, which I discovered when my Google Alert for "Avy Kaufman casting director" emailed me. I am totally inspired by this "outside the box" thinking:

And Sunday used his new filmmaking skills, learned on the set of “My Suicide,” to land a role in Ang Lee’s new movie, “Taking Woodstock,” coming out in August.

“I didn’t get a chance to audition because the auditions were held in New York. So I made a short film playing one of the characters in the movie, this naked hippie dancing up in the hills of Topanga Canyon. I sent it into the casting office and (casting director) Avy Kaufman thought it was hilarious and showed it to Ang Lee and they offered me a role."

Check out the full article by clicking here.

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, April 25, 2009

Marketing your show with strategic partnerships

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For those of you looking to produce (be it theater, film or TV/web series) one of the most important things you can do to gain audiences via free PR is to partner with like-minded organizations who will promote your project because it aligns with their interests. As an example, take a look at this news blurb about the partnership between feature film, “The Soloist” and The National Alliance on Mental Illness:

Mental Illness Group Launches “Soloist” website (Hollywood Reporter)

Once you choose a project to produce, go through the script and see if there are any causes and/or organizations who would benefit from the project. You can bet that you’ll find support in what you are doing, and together you can brainstorm about finding ways to bringing the project’s message to audiences.

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, April 24, 2009

Making Strong Choices

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I always tell my students that my philosophy on “making a strong choice” and “taking risks” is that they are defined by having the courage to follow your instincts in the audition room instead of playing the stereotype. I just came across these articles by casting director, Mark Sikes, who explains, in detail, some of the best auditions he has experienced, and why. Namely, making strong interesting choices that are natural to the actor and avoid trying to figure out what the casting director “wants”:

Best Auditions Ever

He has a followup article, which talks about charisma and “magic” in the audition room. I have an exercise that I do with my students called the “ACE Strategy” which helps actors figure out that special essence that is inside of them, and how to make sure to reveal that in the audition room (as well as in their marketing materials and while performing). Mark gives examples of what charisma and magic mean to him:

Best Auditions Ever, Part II

It is amazing to know that the work my students are doing is being supported by the pros in the industry. Bottom line: Getting to know yourself as a human being - and accepting yourself as such - is the foundation of any successful acting career. You achieve that, and you will be brought in over and over. Will you be a star? Who knows. But you will be someone people will want to hire, and audiences will want to watch. And you will feel like a million bucks in the pursuit of your career goals because you get to Just Be Yourself.

(Mark Sikes writes an article every week called The Casting Corner, which appears Mondays on Showfax. You can also read articles by Bonnie Gillespie, titled The Actor’s Voice, also published Mondays on Showfax.)

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.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Using Clear Envelopes and Document Mailers

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I just received this question from a student, and this question is asked so often by actors that I thought I would post my answer here:

I just ordered clear headshot envelopes to send out my headshots in.  I normally send out my resume/headshot in a regular 8 1/2 X 11 manila mailing envelope.  Since the headshot and resume will be in a clear headshot envelope do you think it is acceptable to use a Ready Post Photo Document Mailer???  I don't think they look as professional however it would protect my photo during mailing.

Any thoughts?

Thanks for such a great question. A lot of actors have asked about this, so I thought I would throw my $0.02 worth in!

Personally, I don't think that using document mailers are worth the effort. Envelopes are only bent or folded when absolutely necessary (for example, for fitting into a small PO Box) so when you include cardboard (or similar object) to protect the photo, you can sometimes inhibit the delivery of your photo to the intended recipient. The regular envelope should be protective enough from everyday wear and tear- if the post office needs to bend your photo to deliver it, you want to be sure that your envelope lets them do so. Plus, using a document mailer makes what is already an expensive endeavor even more expensive, and it adds another step to the mailing process. So, I think you can bypass this item. 

That being said, if you feel strongly about using it, I don't think it would look unprofessional. I think the recipient will have a clear understanding of why you are including it, so I don't think it would reflect badly on you. 

I also want to mention... if window envelopes cost more than traditional ones, for future mailings you can probably bypass using window envelopes altogether. Most offices have their mail opened by assistants & interns (or a mail room) so the end recipient won't have seen the envelope anyway. I am all about creative marketing, but if you are watching your wallet (like most of us are) this might be an area where you can save a little $$. 

Thanks again for posting this question- hope my feedback helps!

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, April 14, 2009

SAG doing Non-Union Theater

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One of my students, who recently moved to NYC from LA, just posed this question:

As you know, I am already a member of SAG. Do you think it's smart for me to join AEA if I haven't had a lot of NY theatre experience yet? Once in AEA, one can't do non-union theatre right? Is there such a thing as non-union theatre in NY? 

Outstanding question (and one that LOTS of actors have asked.) Since you are SAG you aren't supposed to do any kind of non-union work- no non-union theater and no non-union commercial/industrials. The Global One rule states that once you join one union, you no longer are allowed to work for a producer unless they are under a union contract. Most people assume that this rule only applies to the union that they joined, but it applies to all of the unions because they have a "sister union" solidarity agreement. 

As your coach, I would advise against doing non-union work and do everything you can to abode by the rules. But, of course, this is your career so you have to determine your best course. Now, they aren’t necessarily policing this heavily. There are times the unions crack down on scabbers, and times they don't. If you get caught, you could be fined or you could lose your SAG membership. So, I recommend you think long and hard before doing anything that can jeopardize your good status with SAG.

That all being said, I do think it makes sense to build up your resume before joining AEA. The way you can do this while avoiding problems with SAG is to submit to AEA Showcase productions and AEA readings, which don't require you to join the union but are under union jurisdiction. There is plenty of that work available, and you will be building relationships with other union members, which will really help you put your name on the map. 

UPDATE: Be sure to read the comments below (click the link that says "comments") - there was some great feedback and a further discussion about this topic!


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.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dropping in to see your agent

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One of my students just posted this to our internal message board, and I wanted to post it along with my response:

Hi- Quick question for Erin and the group. I have a commercial agent but haven't been sent out in ages. I recently did a play and sent my commercial agents postcards inviting them to come, so I haven't been completely out of touch, however, they didn't come to see the show, and it's been months since I've had a commercial audition. What is the appropriate way to reach out? Send an email? Drop by the office because I was 'in the neighborhood' to say hello? If so, whats the best way to do that to avoid being intrusive? They have a lot of clients, so I'm wondering if I've gotten lost in the shuffle. Any suggestions of how to say hello again?

TAE responds:

SO many actors are dealing with the same thing, so I am glad you wrote! I think you should call them and ask for a good time to stop by the office- and then stop by! I always like to offer to bring in coffee or cupcakes or something fun, which can make asking for the time a little easier. If they are on your team, they NEED to be accessible. If you try to stop by and you feel like they don't have an interest in seeing you, then it is time to seek out another agent. What are you paying them 10% for if you cannot feel comfortable making contact? 

I know this is easier said than done, but I promise you- the earlier you establish this connection, the easier it will get. You deserve to have an agent you feel great about working with, and this is a good way to test the waters to see if they are a good fit for you. 

Hope this helps- let me know how it goes!

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.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Kick in the Pants

Just a few words of wisdom (stolen from a well known marketing phrase) ...

Just Do It.

Put away the excuses. Put away the what-ifs. Put away the "when the weather is nicer and I have more energy." The time is now. There will never be the perfect time, or the easy time, or the time when all of the pieces will line up exactly the way we want them to. So... Just Do It.

January and February are prime months for new year's resolutions, and when March rolls around, many actors feel that initial surge of motivation start to wane. Excuses start creeping in, and then we start hating ourselves for (once again!) letting go of our goals, and the vicious cycle goes, and goes, and goes...

So, I thought I would help address some of the common excuses we actors tell ourselves so I can help break that cycle:

"It's too expensive to do a mailing right now."
I think it is more expensive to let your headshots gather dust on your bookshelf. Someone once asked me how much I spent on headshots, and how many were sitting on my desk. I answered him, and he said, "Wow. That's an expensive paperweight." Moral: Waiting costs money too.

"I am too nervous to audition."
Nerves cannot be addressed in class or working at home- they can only be addressed by practicing in the audition room! The good news? Unless you are rude or are TERRIBLE at your audition, you will probably slip under the radar and they won't notice small flubs or missteps. Moral: Auditioning is the best medicine for nerves.

"I am too busy to market myself."
There are two versions of this phrase- busy with acting work, or busy with everything else. I'll address both. Acting Work: Great news! You're reaching goals and making it happen! But too busy? You cannot afford to lose the momentum you have worked so hard to achieve. Marketing is just as important in good times as in bad. Everything else: If your day job, social life or hobbies get in the way of your acting career, it's time to take a step back and ask why. If you really want to reach a goal (in this case, being a working actor) you have to find a place for it in your daily life. Moral: There's no place for "too busy" in this business (busy-ness?)

"I need to complete my website / reel / postcards / headshots before I can get out there."
This really is two issues. First off, money and time are always a factor, but if you are really serious about your career, you will find a way to pay for your marketing materials. Period. (You find ways to buy those shoes, or to pay for the newest iPod. You'll find a way to pay for these too if you make it a priority.) Secondly, you can still move forward while you are waiting for your materials to be done. If you keep waiting for things to be perfectly done, you will be waiting for the rest of your life. Moral: You need to get out there so you HAVE a career to market.

"I'm am an artist, I shouldn't have to worry about this business stuff."
Yeah, you're gonna have to get over that one. Surround yourself with people and/or teachers who will help you access the business in a way that doesn't make your head explode. If not, you're are decreasing your odds of success tenfold. Moral: Your business efforts allow you to make art!

Those are just a few of the excuses that run through my head every day. If you have others that are making you feel stuck, shoot me an email and I'll give you the kick in the pants you need to help you reach your goals!

TAE specializes in coaching that empowers and challenges the actor to be the best artist they can be. So, why not consider a coaching session with TAE? Contact me to set up your free consultation (NYC actors- we'll do it over coffee. Those outside NYC- we can do the consult by phone, and then coach by phone or email!)
THE FINE PRINT

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