I received a call from a talent manager a few days ago. She had some concerns about a job a new talent she took on, booked direct. It was in the commercial realm and she hoped I could offer insight. To make a long story short, all signs point to the whole thing being a giant scam. Please don’t confuse the label “scam” with a job that has low pay or excessive usage. Those aren’t scams, those are less than desirable terms on otherwise legitimate jobs. The scam term tends to be overused. In this case, it seems the “job” was an actual scam to siphon money from eager and unsuspecting actors in a fairly believable way. Certainly believable for anyone booking their first few jobs. It took 2 professionals some time and talk to figure it all out! How is an actor supposed to navigate this stuff without becoming a victim of fraud or making annoying to disastrous mistakes?
Commercial actors should never do it alone.
Commercial actors should never flounder when it’s slow in the industry.
There are times when it’s busy in the commercial industry and there are times when it’s… not. While I preach things are always changing in commercials, there are some things that remain constant-ish. There are times of the year when it’s unbearably busy and times when it slows. You can count on it to a certain extent. We, my friends, are making our way through one of the slow times. We are heading into summer and it’s slow-ish… the good news is it will pick up soon with back to school, football, all the holiday and superbowl ads. Auditions are coming soon, but what do you do so you stop climbing the walls now? read more
Ch-ch-ch-changes! The self tape requests have just made their way to commercials, folks. Well, that’s not exactly true. The first time I was asked to gather a few self tapes for a job was about 5 years ago. It was for a SAG job. Production had added a completely “new role” after the job had been cast, talent had their wardrobe fitting, and they were on day one of the shoot. Instead of booking from headshot/resume/reel or hold an additional casting session (which we didn’t really have time for) they asked that I have 5 or so actors put themselves on tape. Nothing crazy, just with their phone, no fancy camera or lights necessary. It was a new request to me… but it certainly made sense. And the requests and the circumstances have continued to evolve and roll in from there. read more
To agent or to no agent… and which agent? Those are the questions! Sometimes I feel like you can find an opinion to match what you think/want to hear on any aspect of the industry. I always go with the study that confirms that I’ll live longer for drinking a glass of wine a day, so I get it. All you’ll be getting here is my opinion, but let’s face it, that’s par for the course in this column. And (drumroll, please) my answer to the agent or not to agent and which one question(s) is:
it depends. Don’t worry, I’ll explain.
Commercial actors should never be confused about commercial representation. read more
It isn’t often you walk into a theatre to see a 1948 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Drama by an iconic American playwright, and are greeted with DJ, who happens to be a fabulous chick drinking a beer. It does clue you in that the Theatre @ Boston Court means business when they label their production of A Streetcar Named Desire “reimagined”. Don’t want a DJ paired with Tennessee Williams? Ok, but it’s your loss. Really. read more
Here I go… beating that drum (or dead horse, depending on how over this topic you are) again. My commercial friends: I can’t emphasize enough how important really great commercial headshots are. I think you know this. But I’m not sure you KNOW, KNOW this. I believe more of you would be picking up extra shifts, watching tons of commercials, shopping for wardrobe and making sure you are on the wait list of the best commercial headshot photographers, if you truly took this to heart.
Commercial actors should never forget HEADSHOTS are their single most important tool.
Commercial actors should never believe they are less than 100% in charge of their own success.
Ok, I just started right out with a lie. I have no doubt you could rattle off a list of things that are out of the control of you, the commercial actor. I can! There are a few things, admittedly, that are out of your hands. It’s likely you find these things frustrating. I hear actors talking a lot about the topic. Too often it’s a focus, in my opinion. Too often it’s an excuse. Yep, I said it.
Oh, people. There’s an obscure Pinter play on stage right now at the Antaeus Theatre! What does this mean for you? Well, it depends on who you are. If you would call yourself anything less than a theatre enthusiast, if you don’t proudly wear a theatre geek badge, you can quite simply move on. This show is not for you. If I had you at “obscure Pinter play” keep reading! read more
One of the great mysteries (and frustrations) in the casting world is why some actors don’t show up to their audition appointments. Right now you, the actor, are either shouting at your computer in exasperation because you would never miss an audition, let alone be unprepared or late. Or, you are going though the list of what seems to be legitimate reasons an actor (ahem, you) sometimes miss auditions. And while I’ll fully admit those legitimate excuses exist, I’m sure it’s not nearly as often as I hear them. What’s the big deal? That’s well covered territory, but a quick recap: it’s a BIG deal. So, what gives?
Commercial actors should never stop assessing why they don’t show up. read more
When you are a true lover of the theatre, many believe you have a higher calling/moral obligation to support the new stuff, the home grown stuff, the challenging, strange and goofy stuff. We all want a world with new and innovative theatre and not just the classics produced over and over. Los Angeles has a surprising amount of new theatre being produced and supporting the cause is important, if not required. Now let’s be clear, you don’t have to like it and many times you probably won’t. But those shows turn into, or, at the very least, provide a start for the shows that take our breath away, inspire and entertain us. You can’t have one without the other. read more