“We have plenty of matches in our house.
We keep them on hand always.
Currently our favorite brand is Ohio Blue Tip,
though we used to prefer Diamond Brand.
That was before we discovered Ohio Blue Tip matches.”
So begins Paterson, Jim Jarmusch’s newest film about a bus driver/poet named Paterson living in Paterson, NJ. Adam Driver (Girls, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) plays the titular character, with a superbly nuanced performance that will stay with you long after you leave the theater. The poems used throughout the film, all written by real-life poet Ron Padgett, are elegant, understated, and almost dreamlike. Paterson is a beautifully told, intimate story that contemplates the poetry that exists in everyday life.
The film opens on Monday morning, as Paterson wakes up next to his sleeping girlfriend. We watch as he goes through the course of his day, which includes writing poetry, driving a bus for the city, spending time with his girlfriend Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), unenthusiastically walking his girlfriend’s dog Marvin (Paterson does not like Marvin), and having a drink at his local watering hole. After Monday concludes, the movie continues to take us through a week in the life of Paterson, the ups and downs, the victories and defeats, the poems.
Casting director Jeff Gerrard was kind enough to join us for our pre-holiday seminar on December 17th. Considering the fact that LA starts to look like a ghost town as the holidays approach, we were very grateful to get him.
1. Social Media: The New Normal?
He wasn’t terribly happy to give the answer and no one in the audience was happy to hear the answer, but the fact is that yes, in some cases your social media presence is taken into account when casting. It’s just the reality of the changing age, so get savvy with those profiles, people. However, don’t just start following a bunch of people, so that they’ll follow you back. This drives me nuts. If you follow 10,000 people, then no, I am not following you back.
How can you be the happier actor? Possibly the happiest actor on Earth? (Planet domination of joy may be theme park hyperbole.) If we’re to believe Irving Berlin, show people are deliriously happy—branded so in his jaunty show tune lyric, “There’s no people like show people. They smile when they are low.” Possibly the only show “people” who match Berlin’s optimism are the saccharine animatronics singing at Disney’s Its A Small World.
Actors endure more rejection per week seeking temporary employment than does a “civilian” hunting for permanent employment in a month. That’s a lot of lows at which actors are to smile (thank you, Mr. Berlin). Yet actors push forward, actors seek coping skills, so as not be mired in the debris of rejection. The happier actors rise above the pile of dismissal. Atop the carnage, actors look out on to the horizon for what’s next. How do actors keep their smile while facing adversity?
1. Equalize Auditions
Equalize all auditions with the same goal and manner of importance. Stressing more importance on one audition over another places unnecessary stress, worry, and anxiety on the actor.
All auditions offer individual opportunities for actors to show their skills with a spirit of fun—a period of control the actor owns. When placing all auditions on a level playing field, the lifelong career process of auditioning is no longer intimidating or a cause for worry. The audition is but a cog in the wheel of effectively pushing forward the machinery of the actor’s industry.
I imagine getting a new musical ready to be Broadway-worthy is a challenge. There’s a long list of things that need to be great to feel really good about a musical. Book, music, lyrics, choreography, cast, set, etc. Amélie, A New Musical made its debut at the Berkeley Rep with the Ahmanson as the next, and last, temp home on the path to Broadway. I think Broadway audiences will be grateful for the additional LA pitstop and the opportunity to check off a few more boxes on the list of musical must haves. Unfortunately, it’s a little sparse at the moment.
I’m not sure I’ve met a person who has seen the 2001 French film by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Guillaume Laurant who didn’t fall in love with it. I loved it. I also couldn’t tell you anything about it other than it was magical, REALLY magical, and that I loved Audrey Tautou. The magic hasn’t quite made it to the stage, certainly not at the film levels we are all hoping for, though Phillipa Soo as Amélie has the Audrey T. look and feel (not to mention a great resume with the wildly popular Hamilton right at the top), but just doesn’t fill the shoes . . . yet.
Many, if not all, actors have a story about when or how they decided to dive into acting. I’d expect that every actor can easily name their dreams and goals for their career. It might be star in a film with so-and-so celebrity, win this-or-that award, or be a lead in a blockbuster feature or series regular on a network show. Usually, and understandably so, a commercial goal doesn’t make the big list. People don’t typically decide to pursue acting as a career to book commercials, but most will agree it makes a great day job. A really great day job. When pressed, the commercial goals may have something to do with national network commercials, LOTS of national network commercials, or to be the next FLO or “Most Interesting Man in the Universe.” I love the big goals. You certainly don’t want to be caught aiming too low. But there’s a danger in having the big daddy goals without the incremental ones that will get you there.
Commercial actors should never neglect to set the small goals.
I’d love to simply list what your small goals should be. You could simply adopt them and our work here would be done. But, as we know all too well, there is no one path to commercial success and therefore, no set group of goals.
Happy New Year! Yes, it’s also just the next day in the week, but there’s something about 1/1/whatever that begs for a fresh start, a huge launch, an audacious goal. The problem is choosing which thing on a long list to sink your teeth into first.
If this is your conundrum (as it has so oft been mine own), allow me to humbly suggest “the frog”—that is, the nastiest, gnarliest item on your to-do-for-a-better-“me” list.
Go On: Dig In!
The phrase “Eat That Frog!” came to me via motivational self-help speaker/author Brian Tracy and his terrific book of the same name. (He lifted the phrase from Mark Twain, who originally put it like this: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”) In his preface, Tracy calls your frog “the one task that can have the greatest positive impact on your life and results at the moment,” and he goes on to exhort you to get in the habit of tackling that biggest-bang action item first every day, before doing anything else.
This logic is easily recognizable as the advice to address the nasty before indulging in the tasty, e.g. to exercise in the morning rather than putting it off until evening (when it will never, ever happen, especially in winter), or to dig into your creative work upon rising, rather than rolling over and checking email or social media. Not only do you have the advantage of getting it over with early (especially during a reboot, when it can seem like an onerous task), but you often get a bonus rush of righteous accomplishment that can push you through the rest of your day.
Happy New Year.
There are certain things I don’t write about because I think the information is too elementary, but throughout the year some recurring mistakes jolted me into thinking I should relay this information to you, so I decided to start out the year more cut-and-dry, relaying seven steps that can make a positive difference in your acting career.
1. Include a photo and resume in your e-mail communications.
When you are connecting with someone, whether it be a thank you, a question, or any kind of communication, include a photo, resume, or a link to your website. The most seamless way to do this is to have a website and include the link to your website after your name.
A casting director is only human and does not always remember exactly who you are. It can take up three times to remember.
2. Make your handwriting legible in your written communications.
I appreciate the time, thought, and business organizational skills it takes to write a thank you card. Many times I receive these cards and I cannot understand the talent’s signature. I don’t know who the heck I got the thank you from. Not a good situation.
Think about what you’re thinking in 2017.
2016 was rilled with an unusual amount of loss and change. We lost many deeply loved cultural greats and our political landscape changed dramatically. People may have mixed feelings about the New Year. On one hand, you may be happy that 2016 is over, but on the other, apprehensive about 2017 and what it will bring. Often, fear is handled by getting in the “doing” mode. For example, focusing on making lists or setting goals in order to feel more in control. But before you sharpen your pencil, ponder this thought: Goals are about the future, and your life happens in the here and now. A wise person once said, “When you’ve got one foot in the future and one in the past, you’re pissin’ on the present.”
It’s wonderful to take the time to set the course of your life, but while focusing on your future, be sure not to cheat yourself out of all the wonderful moments happening right now. The quality of your life will be reliant upon how well you can balance your focus between the two—tomorrow and today. When your mind wanders more towards the future than the present, you can unconsciously set yourself up for a lot of anxiety and disappointment over things that haven’t even happened yet. Remember, thoughts can be helpful or harmful, so start to become aware of what you’re putting in your head. If your mind is continuously like a checklist that must get finished, you’re leaning too much in the fast-forward mode and not living in the present moment. When operating on that level, you’re only half-living, unable to take in what is happening right before you. It’s like coming upon a tree of singing birds with earplugs. You’re going to miss out. Listening to songbirds will have a positive effect on your heart and soul, while crossing tasks off a list…meh.
Casting Networks International are very excited to be guest curators in the upcoming programme at the Actors Centre, the UK’s leading organisation which supports actors throughout their careers.
We will be bringing a range of workshops Q&A’s and events to the Actors Centre in their January – March 2017 programme. In addition, Equity and the Actors Centre will also be presenting a series of events and workshops to highlight, explore and celebrate the importance of greater diversity in the arts, as part of the Equity Play Fair season. Most notably they will be hosting a panel discussion on casting and diversity which Casting Networks International are delighted to be a part of.
We will be hosting a number of events in the programme open to Actors Centre members, including an informal question and answer session with casting director Manuel Puro (Moon, Northern Soul), a how to self-tape workshop, plus a commercial casting workshop where actors will receive live feedback.
The programme will be launched at an exclusive Actors Centres members networking evening at the Actors Centre from 6pm on Tuesday 3 January. So if you are a member make sure you come along!
If you are not a member of the Actors Centre and would like to find out more, you can check out their website: www.actorscentre.co.uk
See you there!
The wonderful casting directors Maya Adrabi and Lindsay Bronson joined us for our November seminar to share some of their wisdom and experience with us. Let’s see what they had to say.
1. Make sure all of the dates work for you.
If you have an audition, then a callback, then an avail, and then you get booked for the job, and then you tell your agent that you have a trip to Europe that week, you’re doing things backwards. When you get an audition, make sure you check all of the dates and make sure that they work for your schedule. If the dates don’t work, tell your agent (or if you submitted yourself, tell casting) and things might still work out for you. But things will certainly not work out for you and your professional relationships if you hold that information until you get booked for a job.