Advice and How-To's Especially for ACTORS!

Welcome- I am so glad you're here! Bite-Size Business is a program created to help actors navigate the business in a way that is fun, empowering and educational.

Use the "Blog Topics" on the left to find hundreds of articles covering all areas of acting, or browse the archives for a title that sounds groovy. Feel free to leave a comment- and be sure to check each post to see if a comment was left.

And if you enjoy this blog...

• Subscribe (<--- look to the left!) so you can be updated when future articles are posted.
• You can also share this article by clicking on an icon below. Cheers!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Leave 'Em Wanting More (or the Lost Art of Wooing)


This article was picked up by Backstage Magazine as a part of their Backstage Experts column!

Ah... single life in NYC. Strangely (or sadly) it’s a lot like you see on “Sex and the City” -- except without the huge apartments and amazing shoes. Being single in the city means that there’s an opportunity for connection around every corner. Thus, even a trip to the grocery store or laundromat is pressure-laden, requiring clean clothes and sparkling wit. The result is that there are a lot of lonely people vying for the one last guy or gal who hasn’t been snatched up yet.

It occurred to me the other day, as I marveled at the industry contacts I’ve made in social settings... just how much building a promising career is like trying to find a promising relationship. Stay with me. The analogy will hold up, I promise. I mean, look at the paragraph above. Pull out the word single and insert actor, and we’re dealing with the same thing. So, I theorize that the success of both single-dom and an acting career hinge on this unspoken golden rule: Leave ‘em wanting more.

Don’t believe me? Think back to the last time you had a first date. (Those of you who are married may have to reach waaaaay back. Others, like me, probably have plenty to choose from due to an intense lack of second dates.) On that first date, you don’t want to tell your whole life story. You don’t want to rehash past relationships or open up old wounds. You want to engage your listener and make them so enraptured that they can’t think of anyone but you. You want to leave ‘em wanting more so that they are inspired to call you again for that second date, and the third, and so on.

So, how do you do that in your meetings and auditions? How do you leave ‘em wanting more (and how does dating relate even in the slightest?)

1) Choose Your Objective
To start, you have to make sure you’re clear on the objective of the encounter. You might think that when you have that first meeting with an agent that the objective that day is to be signed. However, unless the agent is a one-person operation, getting signed that day will most likely be impossible. There are many hoops to jump through when sigining -- getting approved by other agents in their office, the perusal of your materials, etc. Therefore, the objective for this encounter should be (drum roll please...): To get to the next encounter! This means that for an initial agency meeting, your goal should be to get to the next meeting. At a first audition, your objective should be to get a callback. By keeping your eye on the step that’s right in front of you, rather than 5 steps ahead, you’ll have an easier time creating an experience that makes them want to see more.

2) Relax (aka Don’t Try So Hard)
So, if we agree that the best way to approach an encounter is to think only one step ahead, this should go a long way in helping you achieve step 2 -- RELAX. You don’t have to win someone over completely in that first meeting. You simply have to wow them enough that they want to see you again. By relaxing, you allow the other person to relax too.

In my seminars and soirees, I often use the first date analogy when talking about relaxing. This relates a lot to how much info to give and how much to hold back on. Imagine this: you’re on a first date, and your date asks, “So, tell me a little bit about yourself.” And you say:

“I’ve been dating since I was 16 years old (including 4 years of intense dating in college), so I really know what I’m doing in the dating world. In fact, I think you might say that I’m one of the best undiscovered daters in the city. I’m looking for a relationship that is passionate and thrilling, but also calm and steady. It also has to be romantic, but not too romantic. I don’t want to get tied down to one specific way of dating. I know I am going to be an amazing mom, and I think that right now I want to have 3 kids. No, wait 4 kids. No, wait, I mean 3 kids. Actually, it doesn’t matter because I know that I have what it takes, and if I can just find the right guy who can see me for “me” I’ll be able to start having kids right away. I am amazing at keeping my apartment clean, paying bills on time, and shopping. I’m an incredible cook. I don’t have much money right now, but I know I’ll be able to make tons more money in the future if I could just find a stable partner. All I want is to be a good wife and parent. I mean, is that so wrong?”

(crickets)

You cringe, but this is what actors do every day in agency/CD offices around the country. In an effort to show how much they WANT this, they spew up every last little detail about their desires and expound positive traits, and leave the agent/CD to clean up after the spill.

“Well, I’ve been acting my whole life but I’ve never been able to find an agent. I’m really good at comedy and drama and want to be able to do TV and film and theater and musicals and commercials and print. Oh, and voiceover -- my Aunt says I have a really good voice for radio...”

You see my point? Relax! If you wouldn’t do that on a first date, you really shouldn’t do it in a meeting or audition. I promise, if you think of the dating analogy you won’t have trouble censuring yourself. Just withhold... a little. Keep something of yourself close to the vest, while still remaining open. It’s difficult, but definitely a skill you should cultivate.

3) Take control and make it about them
The more you can take control over a meeting and make it about the other person, the better you’ll be about creating a mystique about yourself. Face it, we all have egos and like talking about ourselves, especially when someone is genuinely interested. It makes up want to be around that person more and more. So, take every opportunity to inquire about the other person. What makes them so right for you, anyway? If you think of your meetings and auditions as business exchanges, it will help you think of yourself as an equal who is there with a job to do.

Also, consider than with the amount of anxiety that actors naturally feel, agents & CDs tend to have to take care of actors a lot. Imagine how enticing it would be to have you take care of THEM for a change? The more control you have in the meeting, the easier it will be for them to relax in YOUR hands.

4) Leave “while the iron is hot”
One of my favorite jokes about quitting early has been, “I want to go out on top, like Seinfeld.” Seinfeld was at the top of its game when the series was ended. This made the buzz and desire for the show hotter than ever. One key component of leaving folks wanting more is if you end the encounter before things get stale, before you both run out of things to say. I’m convinced that some of wonderful first dates that people have do not become second dates may have been because Date 1 lasted too long. If you spend a large amount of time with someone, you may be thwarting your attempt to get a second meeting. Cutting the time a little short creates a sense of loss, a loss than can only be re-won by them bringing you back again. So, honestly, don’t worry that you only have 5 minutes in that audition room. That’s plenty of time to intrigue someone. This hold try for the amount of time in the room, and also the length of your audition materials. Make them call you back to see the rest of your goods. Trust me - a 2-minute monologue or 32 bar song is plenty of time to show them your stuff, but also short enough to leave ‘em wanting more.

What other dating analogies can you infer from this article? Shoot me an email and let me know your thoughts- I’d love to know ways you have left people wanting more! Or, if you need some support on how to handle any of the above 4 ideas, let me know. Perhaps it just a little pep talk you need, or perhaps your career would benefit from a little bit of coaching. I always offer a free consultation so we can get to know each other and you can see if this kind of coaching would be right for you. I would be honored to be a member of your team.

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.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mailing Rate Change


Photo credit: Unidentified Appelation
Just wanted to give you all a quick update about mailings -- the post office has changed their rates again. According to the USPS website, here are the current rates for actor mailings as of 10/29/11:

Postcards: $0.29
Large Envelope with Headshot/Resume (2 ozs or less in weight): $1.08

Note: Adding a piece of cardboard to your headshot mailing (to keep it from bending) will raise the price of your mailing significantly.


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.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Getting Real

Featured Article: Backstage Experts!

Recommended Reading:
How To Win Friends and Influence People
Outliers

I was on Twitter today (much like every day) and was thinking about what piece of advice I wanted to offer to actors. To help me with ideas, each time I do this I look back on my week of coaching and try to find a common theme that actors have been grappling with. These past few days have a richer history to draw from, as I’ve been working on casting two projects I’m producing. I’ve reached out to actors I respect and adore, hoping they'd be able to participate in one of these projects. Astonishingly, more than once I was told,

“I would love to, but I have to work.”

You have all heard me talk about this before - that actors need to “Get Real” about what it actually takes to make it as an actor. I’ve waxed philosophic about being an expert and overcoming obstacles. So, you know my position on day jobs -- which is pretty much everyone’s position on day jobs: they need to be flexible, but they also need to cover the basics so that you don’t starve. The trouble is, we get this idea into our heads that we’re limited to only a few types of jobs that will be flexible for our career (temp work, serving, bartending, etc.) I’d like to challenge that assumption. I believe that there are hundreds of flexible jobs waiting for you to come grab them, and thousands in major cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Why haven’t you found them, you ask? The “Get Real” answer:

Because you haven’t asked for them.

When I moved to New York City, I made myself a firm commitment that I would a) only take day jobs that were in the performing arts industry, and b) the jobs must be so flexible that I can canceling coming into work - even the day of - and not be penalized. It’s a tall order. And sure, the interview process was tricky. I got turned down for way more jobs than I was accepted, which was previously uncommon. But the good news was that it wasn't because of my skills or talent - I was turned down because I was clear about my expectations. I told each employer:

“I’m looking for a flexible work schedule that will allow me to attend to my acting career on a moment’s notice. In exchange for that, you’ll get an employee who gives 110%, who’ll work evenings and weekends to complete projects on time. I offer unparalleled experience and skills for the low money being offered, and I’ll take that pay in exchange for the quality of life that I need.”

The managers always appreciated my candor, and those who hired me had a clear understanding of what I was talking about. I didn’t walk in there asking, “If I get hired, is it ok if sometimes I use vacation time to go on auditions?” I told them exactly what I wanted, and let them make the decision as to whether or not I was the right fit for their company. And, you know what? I found flexible work after only my second month in New York, and haven’t looked back since. I've been a work-from-home admin assistant, technology advisor, and marketing consultant -- all of which allowed me to set my own hours and come and go as I pleased. There are TONS of jobs waiting for your to grab them. You just have to muster up the courage and the confidence to know that you deserve them.

I want to address another issue when it comes to making a living. A lot of people feel like they can’t really make acting a full-time career until they’re making enough money from acting to be able to leave their day job. They’re concerned that acting won’t be able to pay the bills, and are afraid to really put in the effort until they do. I’m going to go out on a limb here and probably frustrate some of you:

Why doesn’t acting pay your bills? The “Get Real” answer:

Because you don’t demand that it does.

I’ve got a friend of mine who works only as an actor. He doesn’t have a day job, and spends a lot of his time eating mac and cheese instead of going out for drinks with friends. But he gets his bills paid, and do you know why? Because he demands to get paid for his acting work. Now, this is a pretty ballsy thing to do, and he certainly had the talent, relationships, and resume to back it up. But I truly believe that you won’t ever get there unless you ask for it. Case in point: this actor was cast in a show out of town where he’d be making around $700 per week. He then gets a call from one of his favorite directors -- she’s producing new AEA showcase production of a play the actor had workshopped several times in the past few years -- would he be interested in doing the show? The actor was torn - he wanted the paycheck from the out-of-town show, but for artistic reasons he was much more drawn to the little in-town show that would be playing in a tiny theater. So, he asked for what he needed -- in order to do the small show, he asked that producer to pay him the same amount that he was getting for the other show. AND THE PRODUCER AGREED.

Now, obviously... this is an extreme example, and it doesn’t always work. We don’t always get what we ask for. But as Wayne Gretzky said, “You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

So, how do you make this happen? Well, first you take stock in your skill set and find what makes you unique. What are you really, really good at, and what would be of value to others? Then you start looking for work that allows you to use that skill set. In 2007 I started The Actors’ Enterprise so that I could have flexibility, financial stability, and a passion for how I spend my days. It combines my vast knowledge of marketing & business start-up, with my intense love for helping people achieve greatness. I’ve taken all of the work experience that I have amassed and created something that allows me to make my acting career #1. If I can do it, you can do it.

So, back to my comment about the Twitter advice I offered today. Here’s are the 3 tweets I ended up posting:

• "I have deep concerns when "I can't, I have to work" keeps an actor from doing something important for their career."

• "I’m a big proponent of finding or creating work that is flexible for your needs as an actor. Heck, if I can do it, anyone can."

• "Bottom line: You can have a strict day job and be forced to make acting a hobby, or find a flexible job and have a shot at making it a CAREER."

And you know what? Within minutes an actor in California responded to my tweets saying that he works in the legal profession and is looking for actors to work for his company in several cities across the country (including New York.) It's amazing what becomes available when you just ask for it.

I invite you to examine your day job status and the kind of freedom and support it provides for your acting career. Use what I have offered here as inspiration for what is absolutely possible: pursuing your acting career with full force AND having a day job that provides for that. If you have any questions about how to apply this to your specific situation, shoot me an email and I’ll help as best I can. Perhaps it just a little pep talk you need, or perhaps your career would benefit from a little bit of coaching. I always offer a free consultation so we can get to know each other and you can see if this kind of coaching would be right for you. I would be honored to be a member of your team.


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, July 29, 2011

8 Ways Get More Blog Readers

* Bookmark and Share

Recommended Reading:
Blogging All-In-One for Dummies
The It's Girl's Guide to Blogging with Moxie
Essays in the Art of Writing

If a blogger falls in a forest, and there’s no one around to see it - will Google Reader still pick up the feed?

Ha! I crack myself up.

For those of us who spend time blogging, one of the more critical questions is: “How do I get people to read my blog?” After all, if we’re out there hustling to write content for the blogosphere, how valuable is it if no one reads it?

An actor friend of mine from Los Angeles writes:
“Hey Erin - love your blog! Do you have any suggestions on how to bring more traffic to my blog? I'm posting on FB when I have a new post but no one seems to be reading it. How else can I get people to visit?”

Here are 8 good ways to get (and keep) blog readers:

Identify your audience
What are you blogging about, and what are the kinds of people who’d benefit from reading it? Build your blog around that audience, and use formatting, style and verbiage to let your audience know exactly what your blog is all about, and why they should stay. This is called creating (and promoting) your identity.

Write relevant material to suit that audience
Now that you have identified your audience and know what kind of stuff you want to write, make sure that it remains relevant to your audience. If you veer off course (start talking about your dating life when your audience was specifically attracted to your acting career) you’ll run the risk of losing those hard won followers. That said, there’s nothing wrong with diversifying your blog material - just make sure you work that into the overall identity of your blog. This will let people know, in advance, what they can expect from you.

Keep your blog updated regularly
The good news: you can decide what “regularly” means to you -- is it once a day, once a week, once a month? It’s a good idea to note how often you plan to blog, and make that general schedule available to your readers. Then, keep to that schedule. If I tell my readers that I post several times per week, I want to make sure that I deliver on that promise.

Use common key words/phrases that match your identity
The blog you’re reading gets 3 times as many hits as most acting blogs, because this blog is loaded with common phrases that actors search for every day. A glance into my web stats shows that the last 5 people reached my blog after searching for: “reputable nyc casting directors”, “non-union buyout”, “What is deferred pay”, “special skills for actors”, and “why do actors need agents”. You want to be sure to write about topics that your audience is searching for -- this will help your blog rise in Google’s rankings.

I’ll also mention... I get a lot of web hits when I use household/popular phrases in the blog title. One of my top blog posts (according to “hits” is called ”It’s Gonna Be a Sunshine Day" -- can you imagine why? :)

Make your blog available via an RSS Feed
Use a company like Feedburner to create RSS feeds for your blog, which will allow your readers to view the blog via an RSS reader. Feedburner also offers an option for email subscriptions.

Merge your blog with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, IMDB, etc
Most social networks allow you to integrate your blog into your account - you’ll need an RSS Feed (like the one mentioned above) or a website that uses API (like Facebook, which grants access to outside websites) in order to make this work. I use Networked Blogs to feed my blog into my Facebook Pages.

Track your success
It’s a good idea to use a web tracker (like Google Analytics) to track how readers are reaching your blog, and what pages are the most popular. Most blog hosts (like Blogger and Wordpress) also have a built-in stats page that can offer insights.

Practice what you preach
Probably the best way to drive traffic is to read other blogs religiously and leave comments. In your comment, be sure to leave your blog address in the contact/URL section (which is usually asked for when you leave the comment.) The more blogs you interact with, the more likely you’ll see the favor returned. This goes for reading blogs on Facebook & Twitter too -- comment on and forward/share those that you love, and be sure to let them know where they can read your work too.

I hope you enjoyed this detailed info about finding and keeping readers. Happy Blogging!


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, July 14, 2011

8 Ways to Promote Your Facebook Page

* Bookmark and Share

Recommended Reading:
Facebook Marketing
Idiot's Guide to Facebook
Facebook for Business

One of my most popular and widely read blog posts has been on Why Actors Should Have a Professional Facebook Page. As a follow up, I thought I would give you a little bit of information about how to promote your page, so that your friends and family will know how to find it.

Step 1) Visit your own Page and click “Like.”
Believe it or not, when you create a professional page, you’re personal account does not automatically “Like” it. So, you need to do this manually. When you click “Like,” this activity will show up on your news feed, and all of your Facebook friends will see it. It will look something like this:

“Erin Cronican likes Erin Cronican - Actor.”

Step 2) Send a FB message to all of your artist friends and supporters, as well as patrons of the arts in your area, inviting them to “Like” the Page.
By using the Facebook messaging system, you are reaching out to a large group of people en masse, which achieves a lot in a short amount of time. Each of the recipients will receive a message in their inbox, and if you include a link to your Facebook page, your page’s profile picture and the main description will be visible in the body of the message.

Recommendation: when doing so, please instruct your friends not to “reply all” if they want to reply. It can get frustrating for the other recipients to be caught in a reply chain. Instead, mention that it is a mass message and ask people to send comments or questions individually.

Note: Clicking “Invite Friends” via the Page is not enough -- this simply puts the Page into a queue deep within the notifications section of Facebook, which is really hard to find. You must send a mass email to them via the Message feature in order for your friends to take notice.

Step 3) Post the link to the Page via your Facebook wall via the “Status” feature.
This is another way to get your Page into your friends’ news feeds. Say something like, “Check out the brand new Facebook Page for my acting career. If you want to get updates & invitations, please click “Like!”

Step 4) Announce the Page via Twitter, LinkedIn, your blog and other social networks.
Be sure to include the full link to the Page when mentioning it -- you’d be surprised how many people post “Check out my page on Facebook!” on Twitter but then neglect to include a link.

Step 5) Add the link to your new Facebook Page to your email’s signature line
One of the best ways to let people know about pages you want them to visit is to include links at the bottom of your emails. As an example, here’s one of the signature lines I use for an acting newsletter:

Erin Cronican, SAG / AEA / AFTRA
Home: http://www.erincronican.com
IMDb: http://www.imdb.me/erincronican
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ErinTheActor
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ErinCronican

Step 6) Email your friends & family and let them know about the Facebook Page.
Once you’ve created your signature line, you’re ready to send out your Facebook link via email! Emailing your friends is a good way to get in touch with people that you have not yet “friended” on Facebook, or those who are on Facebook only rarely.

Recommendation: If you have friends who are not on Facebook but would like to receive updates, I’d suggest creating a mailing list especially for them, and send them periodic updates via email. Consider using a newsletter program like iContact or Mailchimp.

Step 7) Be sure to “Like” other people’s pages, and be active in communicating.
One of the best ways to develop relationships online is to abide by the “golden rule” - do unto others as you would have done unto you. If you want someone to “Like” your page, go like their page first. Then, leave a link on their wall (or in a FB message) and ask them to do the same. But “liking” a page is not enough -- make sure you comment on their posts, or click “like” when you see something you enjoy. A little support goes a long way in building a network.

And, most importantly...

8) Be active on your page!

Make sure that you are posting interesting information about your career, and give people a glimpse at what your life is all about. Create show invitations, post video, share production photos, link to blog posts -- the more active you are on your page with relevant information, the more you’ll be able to attract and keep followers.

A few last words of advice:

• As much as you can, try to do your social media promotions during daytime hours (8am-8pm is a good rule of thumb.) These are the hours that most people are online, so you’ll have the greatest chance of having your message read.

• Don’t do all of these tips in one sitting. You want to spread out these 8 tips over a few days, so that you don’t overwhelm your friends with requests.

There are lots of other ways to promote your page, but I thought these 8 would be a good number to start with. I hope it’s useful -- if you have any stories about successfully promoting your page, please leave a comment!


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 24, 2011

Contests and Taxes

* Bookmark and Share

I know a lot of actors who apply for contests and drawings, often to make up for the things they can’t afford while they pour money into their careers. You hear a lot about lottery winners and how they choose to handle tax payments. But what about the tax liabilities for smaller winnings? Recently, my friends at Abundance Bound (a financial education company for artists) had a contest for their clients, so I reached out to them to find out how taxes are handled in those cases.
Here’s what I wrote:

Hey, Miata! Your contest had me wondering, and I’m curious if you can cover this in a blog post: what are the financial ramifications of accepting prizes - either cash prizes, or physical prizes? Using your contest as an example, what kind of taxes would I owe on the prize I received, and how would I know the right tax form to use? Does a company like yours have to provide a statement at the end of the year to the winner, who then files using that data? Do you know how that all works? I ask both as an individual (who may want to enter a contest) and as a business owner (who may want to share your brilliant idea and have a contest of my own.)

Here’s how Miata responded:

Hi Erin!

Thanks so much. It’s been fun hosting our first contest and I’m happy to take you through my process if you ever want to try it out. The quick answer to your question is that there is no report of your winnings to the IRS unless the prize value exceeds $600. The total amount won (minus any available deductions) is entered on your 1040 (it goes on line 21 as “other income” unless it’s been changed in the last couple of weeks) when you file taxes. As a business owner, you can deduct the value of the prizes you give away as a business expense. You’ll need to send out IRS Form W-2G to the winner if it’s over $600. Remember to keep track of how much you gave away and who were the recipients of your prizes. Of course, although these are the rules for nearly all of us, it’s always best to ask your accountant how to claim these expenses. Here’s a good article at the financial site Bankrate.com. Although it’s about how to report gambling winnings, any sweepstakes would qualify similarly.

-- Miata

So, there you have it! I’m so glad to have developed a great relationship with Miata, as I have with lots of other industry professionals. If you ever have any questions about things that affect your acting career, please comment below and I’ll answer them in another 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.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

ActorCast... and other submission sites

* Bookmark and Share

Photo Credit
Hey, everyone. One of my New York students asked me about my opinion of ActorCast, a division of Cast It Systems. It seems that there is a lot of misinformation flying around about this relatively new company, and understandably so. Actors are becoming more and more aware of the scams and ripoffs plaguing our industry, so I think it’s a good sign that questions are being asked.

With that said, here’s my understanding of ActorCast and how it works:

ActorCast is the database used by casting directors via the company, Cast It Systems. Casting directors use the Cast It technology to film actor auditions and share these auditions with their production teams. When an actor is at the audition, their information is added into the database, and the artistic team can look at the actor’s record in addition to watching their audition. The people at Cast It decided to open up ActorCast (with both free and pay services) as a way for actors to control the information that the artistic team sees when they are watching an actor’s audition. Having a paid account with ActorCast means that you can upload multiple headshots, a resume, and a reel, and all of these items will be made available to the casting director and producers. They also have a free version that actors can use to try out their services.

Some casting directors (though not all) have used ActorCast as a prospecting tool, much in the same way as casting directors use Actors Access to find unrepresented actors. This is through their “direct submissions/open calls” feature. But, keep in mind that the majority of studio film & network TV roles are still predominantly released through Breakdown Services, so having an account with ActorCast does not mean that you will have access to more of those auditions. What it does mean is that when you get called in for an audition by a casting director who uses Cast It, your database record will be more detailed and robust than someone who doesn’t have an account. It also means that, in those cases where a studio decides to open up their search to non-represented actors, you would be eligible to submit via their system.

My student wanted to know: Will it lead to more paying work? The answer is: That doesn't seem to be the intention of the service. It seems to be more of an information database than a job search tool, though I am sure some people have gotten work solely because of their ActorCast account. I would imagine it's useful for finding work in the same way as IMDB is useful for finding work. Further, she wanted to know: is it as useful for a NY actor as an LA actor (or other markets?) The answer is: Probably not, though that certainly depends on what market you’re in and how many of the casting offices are using this system.

I first learned about Cast It Systems via an article written by the NY Times. In 2009, there was a big debate on the Backstage message boards about the company, and one of its owners got on to clarify a few things. In his words (quoted directly from the message board, grammar and all):

"actorcast is new, but its not a scam. we are very straightforward with what we provide - a place to store/send your packages, where your media is instantly available to the 430+ casting offices worldwide that use cast it, and we are getting more roles available for direct submissions all the time. you will not see a lot of roles available for actors right now because almost all the casting offices using cast it are casting for major studios and they just don’t open roles for direct actor submissions unless it is a search. many more roles are available to agents, but even these roles the casting offices chooses which agencies have access."

The bottom line: As far as I can tell, this company is not a scam and it looks like it could be of some use to actors in cities where the majority of casting directors use the service. I hope this is helpful for all of you wanting further details about companies offering casting opportunities.

For more information about online resources for casting, please check out my blog post on Reputable Casting Webites.

Keep up the good work with your research!


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, May 10, 2011

Advice to New Actors

* Bookmark and Share

I absolutely love it when I meet actors from all over the world who tell me how much they appreciate my advice and feedback for actors, and the wealth of information that I direct them to online. I encourage questions from folks all over the social media circuit, from Twitter to Facebook to Formspring -- occasionally a question is so universal I want to share my answer on this blog.

Today, I’m answering a question from Sagoon, who writes:

"Hi Erin, Thanks for taking a moment and reading this. I am pretty much new to the acting world, I want to try it, I feel some sort of an attraction towards it. However, I do not have enough money to move to LA and or take classes. Where can or do I start in NYC? Thoughts? Thanks!!"

Yes, I definitely have thoughts, and I’m very happy to help! As I mentioned briefly on Twitter, the first thing I always recommend to someone who wants to become an actor is to start looking for a place to get training. Like any profession, if you want to make acting a career you’ll need to have good training to build the skills necessary to being an actor. There are classes than you can take in the evenings or on weekends to accommodate your work schedule, and there are affordable options for just about every budget. For beginning classes, I often recommend taking a look at one of your local community colleges, which often have 10-20 week courses for a fraction of the price you’d pay to a professional studio. This will allow you to “try out” acting before making a large investment of money.

I’d also suggest starting now with researching what it means to be an actor:

• Start reading blogs by actors & teachers, like mine: Bite-Size Business For Actors or The Erin Cronicals.

• Read blogs by groups of actors who give different perspectives in one centralized place, like The Green Room Blog, Daily Actor and Playbills Vs. Paying Bills.

• Read books on the business and craft of acting (see a list of books I recommend here: Books on the Business & Craft of Acting.

• Watch as many movies, plays, musicals and TV shows as you can , and start thinking about what kind of career you envision for yourself.

• Read biographies on respected actors, directors, writers, and producers. Read plays & screenplays.

• Subscribe to professional publications like Backstage to start getting to know the industry.

I am sure there are lots of other things I can recommend, but the options above are a great way to get started. Thanks again for writing, and please let me know if you have any other questions!


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, April 1, 2011

Tax Service Recommendation


Recommended Reading:
The Artists' Guide to Grantwriting
Finding Money: Financial Aid for Actors & Artists
Negotiating Hollywood: The Cultural Politics of Actors' Labor

A reader just asked me a question via Formspring, a social media site that encourages people to find out more about each other in a “simple and fun way.” Here’s what I received today about taxes:
Could you recommend a tax preparation service or person for actors? Thank you!!

I’ve actually been doing them for myself, with the help of TurboTax (for filing) and the Actors Tax Guide for understanding the nitty gritty of taxes for actors. The guide is only $20 and you can get it online at http://www.actorstaxguide.com (you can also see some tips & hints at @ActorsTaxGuide on Twitter.) The tax guide is actually so detailed that if you only have W2 employment, or only a few 1099s, you could probably bypass TurboTax altogether and simply fill out the tax forms on your own (saving you some money.) The Actors Tax Guide shows you exactly how to do that, which is pretty awesome. The guy who wrote it, Mark Bradley, is also very accessible, so you’ll have that support system as well.

Hope this helps- 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.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How to Get Background Work on Soaps

* Bookmark and Share

One of my loyal readers writes:

Hi, Erin! I love reading your blog, I need advice:

I'm interested in doing soap opera background work in NYC. I'm non-union, but I would join AFTRA. How do I go about getting that first BG soap job? I met the associate casting director of “One Life To Live” (Tori Visgilio) last March, and my headshot wasn't the best. I think that might have affected my chances of getting called in.

I currently have new, improved headshots. My question is how do I go about contacting the associate casting director of “One Life To Live” and get put on the background soap list?

Thank you, Jenna



Hi, Jenna! Thanks for your email. I am so thrilled you love my blog! I’ve answered a similar questions in another blog post ... but, I hope I can help here too. :)

First off, while Tori is a great person to know at the OLTL office, Sheryl Baker Fisher is the person who officially handles background work, so it would be a good idea to meet her and get her your new materials. When you submit, be sure to mention that you have already met Tori, and include where you met her. Their address is: 320 West 66th Street New York, N. Y. 10023.

Secondly, as you mentioned, only AFTRA members are able to do background work on soaps, so you would have to either join the union right now, or be prepared to join after you book your first job (once you accept an AFTRA job, you have 30 days before you become a "must join”, and then you must pay the initiation fee, currently, $1600, before doing any other AFTRA work.) The best way to communicate this to the casting director is simply to include it in your cover letter: let them know that you are prepared to join AFTRA and are interested in working on as many episodes as possible.

Note: joining one union means that you commit to stop working for ALL non-union producers, not just the TV ones -- it also includes non-union films and non-union theater. There is a solidarity agreement that states that once an actor joins one union, you should not do any other non-union work.

It sounds like you have taken most of the right steps -- try some of the slight adjustments above and hopefully it will work out in your favor. 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.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The "Excuse Cocoon"

* Bookmark and Share

I have a friend in California who is a producer of a festival where new plays are given lively readings by a troupe of actors. Several times per year, she solicits submissions from local playwrights, and hand picks a group of actors to bring each play to life. It’s a short commitment - just 2 rehearsals for the one-night reading - and the actors and playwrights really enjoy the art being created and community being built.

But no matter how many plays are produced, or how happy the participants are to be involved, there is always one actor or another who drops out of the festival last minute. And they almost always use the same excuse, “I’m sorry, turns out I my job needs me that day. I know I committed to the project but I can’t really afford to miss this day of work.” And, as usual, the producer doesn’t argue with the actor and struggles to find a last minute replacement. I mean, seriously, how can you argue with an actor who is short on funds? We’ve all been there. Right?

But 9 out of 10 times, other actors find a way to make it work. So, if most actors can relate to the “short on funds/time” scenario, what makes a small minority of actors bail on their commitments while others remain reliable? This month, I want to talk very seriously about an aspect of our careers that is taboo to discuss, one that makes people feel squeamish because it sheds a not-so-flattering light on a behavior that threatens to kill our industry:

Making Excuses: or What Keeps Us from Being Accountable.

Accountability is defined as, “An obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions.” (Merriam-Webster). More plainly, this means doing what you say you will do -- being reliable, dependable, and someone that others can count on. On the surface, I would imagine that most people consider themselves accountable. We show up for work, we keep coffee dates with friends, we send birthday greetings and call our families on the holidays. We even are accountable for things that are less than desirable: we take out the garbage when it gets smelly, we go to the dentist twice a year, we tell a friend when they have something stuck in their teeth. So, how is it that there’s still a small population of actors who are completely unreliable, even when it comes to something as important as their career?

First, let’s look at the “money” excuse that I highlighted above. Using the money excuse is the fastest way to shut down a conversation. No respectful person would dare challenge someone on what they can or cannot afford- right? So a person shirking their responsibilities can easily use the money excuse and get out of nearly anything. To this, I have a response that is controversial, but in my experience has never been proven false:

We find the time / money / energy for the things we value. Thus, “I don’t have...” is just an excuse.

When we use an excuse like, “I don’t have time,” or “I really don’t have the funds” or “I’m too tired to commit” those are dramatic ways of saying, “I don’t value *xyz* enough to spend my time / money / energy on it.“ Sounds kind of distasteful, right? No wonder we use the money excuse- it’s much easier to tell someone you are short on funds than telling them that you don’t value what they are offering. We even make these excuses to ourselves when we don’t live up to our own expectations: “I would be further along if I didn’t have a day job,” or “I really want to be in a Broadway musical, but I don’t have the time or money to take dance & voice lessons.” It’s like we live in an excuse cocoon, which keeps us safe from all of the risks and benefits that come from taking a stand in our careers.

But the truth is, we DO have the money, the time, the energy. We just don’t want to give up the resources for THAT particular event. Think about it - what is the last purchase you made for yourself, be it classes, an electronic device, a ticket to a play, even that cup of coffee. We made a determination, at that moment, that we valued that item enough to trade money, time or energy for it. We somehow made it work. In contrast, there are other things throughout our day that we pass on, because we didn’t value it enough to spend our hard earned resources on it.

The problem is when we start fooling ourselves into believe it ACTUALLY IS because of money, or time, or energy that we are unable to keep our commitments, rather than looking at the underlying question of value. So, how can we solve this problem going forward, allowing us to be fully accountable in our careers?

Be Clear About Your Values: First, we need to be honest about what we value in our lives, and how those things fall in order of priority. Is making money a priority, or is building your career a priority? They don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but you need to know where your priorities lie so that you can honestly look at how you are structuring your life. What kind of career are you looking to have, and how does your behavior either support or refute this value? If you are interested in theater, but find yourself doing mostly on-camera work, your values and commitments are not in line, and can cause problems in being accountable. When choosing projects, weigh them against your values and make sure everything is aligned appropriately.

What Do You Need To Achieve Your Goals: Now that you know what you value, what steps need to be taken to reach your goals? If your dream is to make a full time living as an actor, then a high value needs to be placed on developing your craft, building your business, and having flexibility in your schedule. If you don’t do these things, what are you telling the world about what you really value? Perhaps that you prefer the security of a day job? That you prefer to socialize rather than spend your evenings in class? These are not things to be ashamed of -- you just have to be honest about your intentions and how they relate to your overall goals.

Avoid Over-Commitment: Sometimes, an actor’s eyes are bigger than their schedules -- they think they can handle every project that comes down the pike, then end up being overextended. Being an actor does not mean that you have to do everything that comes your way. Choosing projects & associations wisely will help you maintain an air of dependability, and teach others that they can count on you to do what you say you’re going to do.

Learn To Say No: “No” is one of the most powerful words an actor can have in their arsenal. And yet, not many use it for fear of burning bridges or hurting other’s feelings. When you are clear about your values, and communicate them kindly and clearly, you can avoid saying yes to things that you really don’t want to do. If you’ve committed to only doing paying work, and someone offers you a non-paying role, you are well within your rights to say, “You know, the project seems really interesting and I’d love to work with you. Yet, I’ve made a commitment to only take paying work from now on so I am going to have to decline. Thank you so much for thinking of me.”

Now, some of you might think, “Well, wait. You just told us not to make money excuses, and yet you’re using one as an example of how to get out of a project.” -- Good eye, and we’ve reached the point of this article! What I demonstrated is making a decision based on VALUES (a commitment to having paid work) as opposed to an excuse (“I can’t afford to take the gig.”) A subtle distinction, but one that makes all the difference in being accountable.

I invite you to examine your life, and look for the places that lack accountability. Use what I have offered here as a foundation for building a career with integrity and power. If you have any questions about how to apply this to your specific career, leave me a comment below and I’ll help as best I can. Perhaps it just a little pep talk you need, or perhaps your career would benefit from a little bit of coaching. I always offer a free consultation over coffee, so we can get to know each other and you can see if this kind of coaching would be right for you. I would be honored to be a member of your team.

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, January 13, 2011

Ask Me Questions via Formspring

* Bookmark and Share

Hey, everyone! I have hundreds of readers for this blog, many of whom I credit with giving me ideas of things to talk about. So, I thought I would make it even easier for you to pose your questions -- without having to leave this page! (how cool is that?)

There’s a little blue box on the left hand side of this blog, where you can type any question you’d like, and I’ll answer it. Questions have ranged from, “What inspires you?” to more in-depth questions like, “I wanna go out and network at events etc, but I don’t really anything on my resume so I feel like I shouldn’t. Should I wait until I get work or still go?” Most questions I will answer directly via Formspring, but some will warrant a longer response that I’ll post here on the blog.

To see some of the recent questions and answers, click here.

To ask a question of you own, enter it in the blue box to the left, or click here.

If you would rather have a private response to your question, you can email me and I’ll do my best to respond quickly.

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, January 11, 2011

Spending Your Money Wisely

* Bookmark and Share

I was recently visiting a printer where I was getting reprints of my current headshot. I stood in line behind two women who were talking about the high price of being an actor in the city. They were quoting all of the areas where they were being forced to spend money - headshots, acting classes, dance lessons, dialect training, voice teachers, casting director workshops, mailings ... on and on and on. One of the actors commented that she couldn’t print as many headshot looks as she needed, because she just didn’t have the money to spare. 

When they got to the front, the person behind the counter asked them if they would like to order postcards along with their headshots, saying, ‘You’re already giving us your photo for your headshot, you might as well order postcards while you’re at it.“ The actor (who couldn’t print her full headshot set) said, ”I hadn’t really thought about it, but I guess you’re right. That would probably be easier to do it now.“ She then plucked down around $120 more to buy postcards... with no hesitation. 

Question: Why is it that actors, who are extremely frugal and have very little money to spare, still find themselves making major purchases without doing their research? 

Do these answers ring a bell?:

”If I don’t buy these right now, aren’t I just making excuses? And I need to stop making excuses...“

”I need to take my business seriously, so if they tell me I need this, I can’t afford NOT to.“

”I have so much to do- I am actually making the smart choice doing this now, rather than having to waste the time coming back.“

C’mon, I’m an actor too. You know we have all said these things ourselves at one time or another. 

Let me ask you something else. Imagine this same scenario with a CEO of a large company. They have a purchase to make, and during the process a sales representative promotes a product that will double the price they were expecting to pay that day. However important the product is, the purchase may put the company into a negative financial balance for the month because it had not been figured into their budget. Do you think the CEO makes that purchase?

Answer: No. Bottom line: As a business owner on a tight budget, it is critical that you research where your dollars are going, to determine what best option for the business might be. 

Using the example above, how can an actor use research to make sure they are making the best buying decisions? 

PRICE: How much does it cost to print postcards, how many are you getting for that price, and how much are reprints/reorders? 

FEATURES: What kind of paper are they printed on, and what are your design options? Are there any perks when buying through this company? 

SATISFACTION: Who are some of the other people who’ve purchased these products, and have they been satisfied with their experience?

But that’s not all - once you have all of that information, now it’s time to make comparisons between this company and other suppliers. Are there other companies that provide the same services? What are their rates? What kinds of options do they offer? What do their clients have to say? Once you start making comparisons, you can easily see where you should invest your money. 

As we head into 2011, start thinking about the purchases you need to make, and make sure that they are being executed in the most cost effective way possible. Try to use all of the above 3 areas of research as a guide - that way, if one area is unacceptable (high price, for example) you can use the other two to try to figure out if the purchase is worth the risk. 

Side note: As a coach, one of the things I am most passionate about giving actors the tools to make critical decisions (based on careful research) about how they want to run their business. There is no one perfect path - if there was, we would all be doing it. I encourage actors to believe that only they know what is best for their business, and challenge them to carry this belief wherever they go. Having this point of view is the only way to combat the scam artists and manipulators who take advantage of actors on a daily basis. It also allows them to avoid feeling a victim to their finances, because their budget has been built specifically and logically. For this reason, when I created my design services I made sure that the actors maintain as much control over their designs, changes & reprints as possible. To learn more about how The Actors’ Enterprise is changing the face of design, and making a difference for actors, visit our design page and select "click: our perks & how we are different."


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.

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.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-
No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License
.



Follow Bite-Size Business for Actors
Directory for New York, NY
Blog Directory
TopOfBlogs
TopOfBlogs
Arts
Blog Directory

Blog Directory & Business Pages - OnToplist.com