Advice and How-To's Especially for ACTORS!

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Books on the Business and Craft of Acting

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I have a lot of actors asking me about which books I read when researching the business, as well as the craft of acting. So, I thought I would give a brief run down of the books that I currently have on my bookshelf (or have come highly recommended), along with links to buy those books if you find them interesting. This list is, by no means, complete -- and I reserve the right to add to it as the days, weeks and months go on. But I think it is a great place to start.

I also want to say that I am not a book reviewer and don’t intend to give “yays” or “nays” to anything that list. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if the books are useful to you or not. The books have either been listed because a) the book came recommended, or b) I found the book at a time when I was searching for that specific topic, and I found it helpful. So, hopefully these books will give you the same support and inspiration that I was searching for. I have listed them in no particular order.

(Note: as I pulled the links for all of these books, I noticed that Amazon has a bunch of them on sale. Add them to your Wishlist!)


Business of Acting

Self-Management for Actors: Getting Down to (Show) Business
by Bonnie Gillespie

The Actor Takes a Meeting
by Stephen Book

How to Be a Working Actor
By Mari Lyn Henry & Lynne Rogers

Acting as a Business
by Brian O’Neil

Acting: Working in the Theater
stories from dozens of well known actors, including Brian Dennehy, Nathan Lane, Dana Ivey, Vanessa Redgrave, Cherry Jones, etc.

Making It on Broadway: Actors' Tales of Climbing to the Top
stories from Broadway actors, edited by David Wienir, Jodie Langel

How to Act & Eat at the Same Time
by Tom Logan

Hitting Your Mark: Making a Life - and a Living - As a Film Actor
by Steve Carlson

An Agent Tells All
by Tony Martinez

Contracts for the Film & Television​ Industry
by Mark Litwak

The Backstage Actors Handbook
by Backstage, edited by Sherry Eaker

The Color of Style: A Fashion Expert Helps You Find Colors...
by David Zyla

Reinventing Your Style: 7 Strategies for Looking Powerful, Dynamic and Inspiring
by Jennifer Butler



The Casting Process/Auditioning

A Star is Found: Our Adventures in Casting Some of Hollywood’s Biggest Movies
by Janet Hirshenson & Jane Jenkins

The Art of Auditioning: Techniques For Television
by Rob Decina

Audition
by Michael Shurtleff

Casting Director’s Secrets
Ginger Howard Friedman

Auditioning: An Actor-Friendly Guide
by Joanna Merlin

The Perfect Audition Monologue
by Glenn Alterman

Winning Auditions: 101 Strategies for Actors
by Mark Brandon

The Actor’s Audition
by David Black



Voiceover / Speech / Dialects / Singing

Freeing the Natural Voice
by Kristin Linklater

Speak with Distinction: Textbook & CD
by Edith Skinner

Accents & Dialects for Stage & Screen
by Paul Meier

On Singing OnStage
by David Craig

You Can Bank on Your Voice: Your Guide to a Successful Career in Voiceovers
by Rodney Saulsberry



The Craft of Acting

Strasberg at the Actors Studio
Tape Recorded Sessions, edited by Robert H. Hethmon

Respect for Acting
by Uta Hagen

True & False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor
by David Mamet

How to Stop Acting
by Harold Guskin

The Intent to Live: Achieving Your True Potential as an Actor
by Larry Moss

The Fervent Years: The Group Theatre and the Thirties
by Harold Clurman

How to Get the Part... Without Falling Apart
by Margie Haber

Being an Actor
by Simon Callow

Zen and the Art of the Monologue
Jay Sankey

An Actor Behaves
by Tom Markus

Training of the American Actor
by TCG, edited by Arthur Bartow

Acting Teachers of America: A Vital Tradition
by Ronald Rand and Luigi Scorcia

Truth in Comedy: The Manual of Improvisation
by Charna Halpern, Del Close & edited by Kim “Howard” Johnson

Michael Caine - Acting in Film: An Actor's Take on Movie Making
by Michael Caine



General Business / Networking / Marketing Books

The Artist’s Way
by Julia Cameron

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
by Steven Pressfield

7 Habits of Highly Effective People
by Stephen R. Covey

Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty
by Harvey Mackay

Never Eat Alone, and Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time
by Keith Ferrazzi

Outliers: The Story of Success
by Malcolm Gladwell

How to Win Friends and Influence People
by Dale Carnegie

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
by David Allen

Connected Marketing: The Viral, Buzz and Word of Mouth Revolution
by Justin Kirby

Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End
by Rosabeth Moss Kanter


If you have a book you’d like to recommend, please send me an email. I’d like to read the book, and then add it to the list at a later date. I would prefer not to have people promote their books in my comments section - I don’t want this blog be too sales-y. Thanks!

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, November 27, 2010

Recommendations: Thanks to My Team



One of the fun things about working with actors is being able to promote some of my favorite people/services to them, thereby helping those who have helped me over the course of my career. So, in honor of Thanksgiving, I thought I would give a warm thank you and special shot out to my team who has made my coaching & acting career possible.


My Acting Teacher: Alan Gordon, of the Alan Gordon Acting Studio
I met Alan at a workshop for actors, where we both brought on as panelists to give actors a little bit of advice for their careers. After we both heard each other speak, we realized that our philosophies were very much aligned, and we started an easy friendship. We then began to refer students back and forth to one another, and finally began working together in the classroom. Alan is nurturing but tough, and challenges me every week using the techniques of Sanford Meisner. Not only is he a great teacher, but he is also a great friend.

Honorable Mention: Larry Singer Studios, and Art & Soul Acting - both studios who I’ve highly recommended to students.


My Voice Teacher/Vocal Coach: Carolann Sanita
I met Carolann originally through her husband, an actor with whom I did a show. One of the first things that I noticed when coaching with Carolann is how positive the sessions were. Working on the voice can be a stressful and arduous process, but every time I leave lessons with Carolann I feel empowered and accepted, and that my voice has a place in the industry. Not only that, but I have deepened the power of my voice, raised my confidence, and she introduced me to Craig Carnelia, with whom I’ve studied Acting for Musical Theater since June 2009.

Honorable Mention: Michelle Hakala, Bill Zeffiro, Anita Vasan, Joan Barber - All of whom I have sung with and I highly recommend.


My Dance Teacher: Christine Cox
Christine started out as a coaching student, but very quickly I joined her as a student in her classes as well. Christine is very passionate about training actors & singers ways to express themselves on the dance floor, and is an excellent private teacher for actors who are preparing for a big audition. She’s youthful, quirky and fun, and very supportive.

Honorable Mention: Jessica Leigh Brown - Jessica is a friend and marvelous teacher as well, with several Broadway credits under her belt.


My Accompanist/Transcriber: Cory Hibbs
I have known Cory for years and years, since we did a show together in San Diego. In the show, not only did he act, but he was our show’s on stage accompanist and the arranger for all of our songs. This guy really knows what he is doing. In your session, he can easy play your music, and can arrange transpositions and do transcriptions, so virtually anything is possible. Oh, and he has a PHD in Music Composition.

Honorable Mention: Bill Zeffiro, Tony Colombo, Jeff Caldwell - I have sung with all three of these gentleman, and I just adore them.


My Dialect Coach: Pamela Vanderway of Dialect 411
Pamela and I first met via Twitter. That’s right, Twitter. We shared advice back and forth and helped promote each other online, so it became natural for us to start working together to support each other’s businesses offline. I highly, highly recommend her blog, Dialect 411. As for coaching, she normally works as a consultant on major feature films & TV shows, but she takes on private clients on a case-by-case basis. At the very least, she’ll be able to point you in the right direction.

Honorable Mention: Gerritt VenderMeer - an amazing talented actor, and gifted voice/speech technician.


My Photographer: Matthew Sussman Photography
There was something very special about my time shooting with Matthew. Perhaps it is because he started his career as an actor before transitioning into teaching & photography, but there is a very relaxed way he approaches the headshot session which brings out the very best in actors. Almost without exception, the students I have sent to Matthew have been blown away by the shots he’s taken, which is why I will continue to promote him.

Honorable Mentions: Straley Photos, Peter Dressel - I have shot with both of these photographers and have loved their work.


My Graphic Designer: That would be ME!
At the risk of patting myself on the back too much, I think I have done a heck of a job designing my materials, as well as the materials of dozens of other actors across the country. To see samples of my designs for websites, business cards & postcards, visit my site by clicking above.


My Life Coach/Mentor: Rhonda Musak of Art & Soul Coaching
I met Rhonda at a fundraiser event, where she and I had donated our services for the evening to any of the guests who wanted a little bit of coaching. Who knew that 3 years later we would be working together supporting each other’s careers? Rhonda’s life coaching is much different than therapy - instead of focusing on therapeutic methods to solving problems, her life coaching uses brainstorming and visualizations to help reach peace, set and achieve goals, and find happiness. It has been wonderful having her as a part of my life.


My Massage Therapist: Bryant Lanier
Bryant is a dear, dear friend of mine and an amazing massage therapist. He does classic Swedish massage and also deep tissue, and he throws in a little Alexander Technique and Reiki. He is actor friendly, and is willing to work out a rate if you are short of his hourly rate (but don’t push it, he’s an artist just like we are!)


My Hair Stylist: Linda, with Hair Shapers
When I moved to NYC, I was a bit fussy about my locks. After all, I had gone from a really dark brunette to a light blonde, and I needed to make sure my hair looked natural and would easily be maintained. So, my first month in NYC, I traveled from my apartment in Astoria to Manhattan, where I assumed good hair styling would be. Of course, you can get amazing service in Manhattan (they even serve wine!) but at a price point of $500 and up, and a snootiness I couldn't stomach, I returned to Astoria, dejected. Then my roommate told me about Hairshapers, which was one block away from my apartment, and I gave them a shot. I have been a faithful client of Linda's for 5 years now, even after I moved to Manhattan in 2006. I have sent dozens of people to her, and everyone has been thrilled with her great work, friendly service, and low prices. Please mention my name if you stop by.


Some other folks you may want to add to your team:


Production Services: Michael Roderick, Small Pond Entertainment
Michael is an amazing resource for anyone who is interesting in producing a show. Not only can you hire him to take on one or more production aspects of your project, but he can also teach you the tools to handle these things on your own.


Demo Reel Editing: Reel Spiel Productions
Allison and Chris, with Reel Spiel, are absolutely wonderful to work with, and they turn out reels that my students love. They also have a successful production company, producing shorts, web series, and feature length films.


Small Business Legal Services: Nance Schick
Nance specializes in employment law, and typically works with employers to help them draft policies and practices that keep things legitimate and working smoothly. But she has a soft spot in her heart for artists, and having worked as a sports agent she has lots of great advice for actors who need support in legally pursuing their business as either an employee, or independent contractor. She is especially useful for actors who own side businesses, and for those who are producers as well.


Contract / Legal Services: Michael Bond
In January 2010, Michael will be starting his law practice, specializing in Entertainment Law / Contracts (as well as LGBT issues.) If you ever need a contract review, Michael is a wonderful person to contact.


Financial Education: Abundance Bound
I have known Miata and Adam for several years now, and really admire and respect the work they do for actors. They take the phrase “starving artist” and turn it inside out, helping actors take control of their finances and plan for their futures.

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.



Thursday, November 25, 2010

Twitter Questions: Contracts, Credits and Representation

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From time to time, my followers on Twitter will ask me questions, and I respond to them using the traditional 140 character responses. I thought I would take some of those and compile them here for your viewing enjoyment! (To get in on the action, join me over on Twitter by clicking here.)


@KevinScottT asks:
What should I put on my resume for a role that was credited, but no lines?


Was it a principal role, or an extra role that they were kind enough to credit? The smallest principal roles in film are credited as “featured” (1 of 2)
Some casting directors have recommended writing “featured/principal” since so many BG actors list “featured” on their resume for BG roles (2 of 2)


@blankethouse asks:
Hi. What does it mean when a job has the pay rate as Scale non-sag? I'm guessing, it depends on the role ur playing. :)


That's odd- there's no such thing as non-sag scale. Could mean that they pay similar wages as sag scale but aren't on a union contract (1 of 2)
Or that they are on a union contract but they don’t have to hire all union actors (this can happen on lower budget indie contracts) (2 of 2)


@blankethouse asks:
I have a talent agency that wants to sign me, but they want to first take their acting classes to brush up. Is that normal?


No! Run away screaming! That's not normal at all. Agents should not be linked to a school, and should never require a specific class to be considered for representation.


Anonymous asks:
I’m submitting for a feature w/ credible names attached. The role requires her to flash her breast. whats your opinion on any nudity?


Nudity in itself won't jeopardize your career. Lots of folks do nudity. Question is: is it representative of the roles you want to play? (1 of 2)
Make sure the script is aligned with your preferred type of material & make sure there is a nudity rider in the contract stipulating use. (2 of 2)


Anonymous asks (via Formspring.me):
Can actors who are apart of the guild participate in web series


Yes! Many web series are covered by union contracts. You just need to make sure that the producer has spoken with the union to make sure that the right contract is being used. There is a lot of wiggle room in the mew media contracts because not a lot of precedent has been set, so this is a very good time to be a part of an AFTRA or SAG web series.


Anonymous asks (via Formspring.me):
what are the laws regarding non union actors appearing in corporate videos that get put up on the web?


The only laws that would govern non-union actors in this area would be traditional labor laws, and the terms of the contract an actor signs. Remember that all contracts can be amended or riders can be added, so always look over the contract and negotiate any sticking points before you sign.


Have a question? Join me on Twitter or Formspring, or shoot me an email. I am always happy to help!

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, November 8, 2010

Market Your Acting Career (Tip #10): Typecasting

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(photo from Carolyn Sewell’s
 “Postcards To My Parents”)
This article was picked up by Backstage Magazine as a part of their Backstage Experts column!

I was on the subway a couple of days ago when two kids entered the train. They seemed to be around 15 or 16 years old and wore clothes typical of the age - lots of torn edges and pants that were both too tight (the girl) and too baggy (the guy), along with a few minor piercings and tattoos. Despite their “devil may care” appearance so typical for teenagers, they were good looking kids- the girl had long brown hair that was straightened perfectly; the boy had an athlete’s build. It was mid-afternoon and they were carrying backpacks, so it was obvious that they were coming from school.

They talked loud enough so I could hear their conversation without effort, with thick New York accents. As I do with most noisy school kids, I immediately tried to tune them out so I could concentrate on my reading. After all, there is only so much information I need about Justin Bieber, cat fights, and the lack of good snacks at school. Despite my attempts to tune them out, something they were saying caught my attention; not only the words... but the topic. They were talking about their pre-calculus class, and how they knew they were going to breeze through with As. They talked about their teacher, and how excited they were to be in the advanced class at such a young age (apparently they tested into the class earlier than most students.) The girl told the boy that the reason they got the great teacher was because of their school’s high national ranking, and responded excitedly about the academic excellence of their school versus the other schools in the district. They further discussed their classmates, and the boy expressed his disappointment that his friends were slacking off and weren’t living up to their full potential in the classroom.

Say, wha????

As I exited the train on the Upper East Side and watched them continue to the Bronx, I marveled at how profound my profiling was. Based on how these students looked, I made an immediate assessment about who they were, what their interests were, and how much I could (or could not) relate to them. So color-me-shocked when instead of violence they talked about calculus. Instead of swearing profanity, they professed pride in their school. As a human being, it shook me out of my comfort zone and humbled me into seeing people for more than what stereotypes would allow. But as an actor (and a coach) it causes me to look more deeply at these assessments for what they are worth.

Human beings look at the world and, in a nano-second, compare what they see to what they know. Commonly known as “generalizing,” we are hardwired to categorize the people we meet and compare them to our past experience so that we may easily understand them. Stereotyping take this one step further, and promotes these generalizations as truth. We start to make instant assessments of people until they prove the opposite, rather that keeping an open mind to all of the possibilities. And, we do this in a split second, as if via instinct. So, how does this affect our work as actors?

Since acting involves the art of conveying the human experience, and humans experience the world as generalizations, it stands to reason that acting would involve generalizations as well. Actors have come to know this as type-casting, and most actors shudder and cringe at the mere mention of the phrase. But type-casting is responsible for most of the work you and I are blessed to do. The trick is, knowing yourself well enough to know what “type” you default to, making choices about what kind of work we want to do, then making sure these two things are synchronized perfectly. Actors who hate type-casting are the ones who lack control over it. If you control your type (or in marketing terms, your “brand”) you can take advantage of our human tendencies and use them to your advantage in the audition room.

Here are a few tips to creating your own type/brand:

• Start by thinking about what kind of medium(s) you want to work in: film, TV, theater, musical theater, commercials, industrials, etc... What are the similarities between the actors in this medium? What are the differences? Where do you fit in?

• What kind of genre(s) are you interested in: comedy, drama, horror, thriller, romance, etc... Again, look at the main players and then see how you compare. Is there anything lacking that you think would be useful?

• Who are some of the people who have the career you could easily step into? What do they have going for them that you could add to your arsenal? How are you different and, thus, will be able to stand out?


Ignoring typecasting is not going to make your career any easier - the more you can take control over your career and present yourself in a clear, unique, and easy to understand fashion, the easier it will be for you to do the kind of work that inspires 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.
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