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1. Take Classes 2. Get an Agent. Right?

April 17, 2012 For Actors No Comments
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Let’s put it this way. Some people have probably done just that, first taken a class and then tried to get an agent and some have even managed to have some modest success in doing that.

And while there is no cookie-cutter way of starting an acting career, one thing is definitely true. If doing those two things is all your whole plan for getting started consists of, statistics say that you will most likely not have much success, if any.

==========> http://www.actorsandcrew.com/careerquickstart

Any serious and responsible actor, casting director, talent agent, acting teacher or other acting industry professional will tell you that you will have a significantly greater chance of not only getting an occasional audition or acting job, but getting them regularly if you do this one thing. LEARN THE ACTING BUSINESS. Good friend of A&C Tony Smith is going to show you EXACTLY how to do it.

It’s essential if you are really serious about starting a CAREER. If acting is your dream and you can imagine spending the rest of your life in front of the camera or on stage, because there is nothing else you would rather do, then do it the right way.

If you don’t want to do it with Tony for some reason, then go find another mentor, someone who has those five characteristics that he talks about in the video at the top of his page and pour your heart into it. Tony’s really on your side and you can trust him to get you results. But then find someone who has a program like his that walks you through the entire process of starting an acting career step-by-step.

If you do that, just think about where you will be six months from now. No! First think back to where you were six months ago. If you are anything like a lot of people who come to his site, you are looking for answers. You are looking for guidance, but maybe, just maybe you’ve been wasting a lot of time navigating on the Internet asking questions to the wrong people, getting tips from people who don’t know what they are talking about, trying things that don’t work and now, six months later, you are no further along in your acting career than you were. Which sucks.

You can change all that if you make a decision to try something different.

==========> http://www.actorsandcrew.com/careerquickstart

Don’t procrastinate.   A lot of our members are kicking ass with this:

Rebecca Harris did that and decided to take Tony’s Course and finally got her agent and is now getting acting work regularly.

Brent Bauer did too and has been on fire the past few weeks getting call-backs from auditions and booking work.

Amanda Queen did also just days ago, reported to me yet another acting job she booked.

Gheon Steencamp found a way with Tony’s help to make some extra money to help them fund his acting endeavors.

Stephanie Reckling openly said that she learned more in the first two months of the Acting Career Quick Start Home-Study Course than she did in the last two years!

==========> http://www.actorsandcrew.com/careerquickstart

Sarah Joly Menier says that working with Tony in his Home-Study Course saved her life and put her back on the right track again.

If you have been struggling to start your acting career. You should know that help is here.

Very best,

 

 

 

 

Dave Williams
Founder, CEO
http://www.actorsandcrew.com
Follow us at http://www.twitter.com/actorsandcrew

The Top Ten Best Books on Acting Ever Written

Sanford Meisner has been called “the theater’s best-kept secret,” and Sanford Meisner on Acting by Dennis Longwell gives some insight into what techniques the hugely influential drama teacher used in his 50-plus years of work. One of the founding members of the Actors Studio (with Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, and Harold Clurman), Meisner developed his own special lessons based upon his understandings of the great Russian teacher Stanislavsky. Turning away from the sense-memory exercises common among his colleagues, his training focused instead on a realistic approach to imagination and creativity. Unlike many other educators associated with “the Method,” Meisner had little tolerance for self-absorption or striving after strong emotional effect, instead preaching that clarity of purpose and efficient use of the psyche are the actor’s greatest tools. Longwell’s book follows a class of eight men and eight women through one of Meisner’s 15-month courses at New York’s Neighborhood Playhouse, with extensive transcripts taken directly from Meisner’s notes to the students on the basis of their exercises. With an introduction by director Sydney Pollack, one of the many influential artists who studied with Meisner (the book includes accolades from Maureen Stapleton, Arthur Miller, Gregory Peck, and Eli Wallach), this is an excellent introduction that helps to demystify the work of a great theatrical teacher.
To Adler acting is a labor of intelligence and will and love, a “profession that is over 2000 years old” and one that requires boundless energy and a sort of selfish (but not narcissistic) ambition first, and then “critical seeing, self-awareness, discipline, and self-control” – for starters. She talks about the importance to an actor of the use of one’s imagination, the disciplined willingness to actually do the research -in order to care deeply and conscientiously about the play. She asserts, “A great disservice was done to American actors when they were persuaded that they had to experience *themselves* on the stage instead of experiencing the play. Your experience is not the same as Hamlet’s – unless you too are a royal prince of Denmark. The truth of the character isn’t found in you but in the circumstances of the royal position… [to play the role] your past indecision on who to take to the prom won’t suffice.”
In her introduction to Respect for Acting, actress and teacher Uta Hagen talks about a time when she herself had no respect for the art of acting. “I used to accept opinions such as: ‘You’re just born to be an actor’; ‘Actors don’t really know what they’re doing on stage’; ‘Acting is just instinct–it can’t be taught.’” But this attitude of “you got it or you don’t” is fundamentally one that denigrates the craft, as she points out. Great actors do not perform effortlessly, or merely through learning the appropriate tricks and cheats to manipulate an audience. Great acting is about the difficult fusion of intellect and action–about sincerely and truthfully connecting to the moment, your fellow actors, and the audience–and Hagen’s thoughtful and profound book contains a series of observations and exercises to help an actor do just that. Her prose style is admirably clear and filled with examples from her own lengthy career both as a performer and in the classroom. While her exercises in sense memory and basic objects skirt close to the sort of self-absorption that followers of “the Method” are routinely accused of, they are presented clearly and with a focus on practical results. And in such places as her chapter “Practical Problems,” which includes discussions of stage nerves and how to stay fresh in a long run, her straightforward advice is invaluable.
If you like movies, this book is a great read. If you’re interested in acting in movies, it’s an essential read. If you’re interested in moviemaking (behind the camera), it’s still an essential read: buy extra copies to pass around on the set, especially if you’re a struggling filmmaker and you have a cast of friends who’ve never acted before.
As a teacher, Caine is as straightforward as he is as an actor. You watch his performances and you’re seeing an actor who understands that less is more. You read this book and you’re listening to an instructor who understands the same thing. Every anecdote he tells about films he’s been in and stars he’s worked with is not just namedropping, it’s ALWAYS relevant to whatever helpful point he’s making about the craft of film acting. And to him it is very much a craft, not an art. The art takes care of itself; it happens mysteriously, but it can only happen if you nail the craft first. No arty-flighty book about acting theory or the Method, this is a working-class, meat-and-potatoes manual that anyone can relate to, much like its author.
Michael Chekhov, nephew to the Russian playwright and student of Stanislavski, left Russia and his mentor behind to pursue a career as an actor, director, and teacher in Europe and America. While he was an early advocate of Stanislavski, Chekhov differed from the great teacher in important respects, particularly in his insistence on the use of imagination as opposed to memory in creating a role. (In a famous anecdote, Chekhov once performed a “sense memory” exercise in which he broke down over the tragic death of his aunt. When complimented on the truthfulness of his emotion, he admitted that his “aunt” was entirely imaginary.) One of Chekhov’s innovations of technique is the “psychological gesture,” in which a repeated external action leads to an internal revelation. Due to his insistence on the importance of the physical rather than the simply intellectual, Chekhov’s book is as focused on following its series of exercises as it is in study; acting, he would remind us, is always fundamentally a verb. For actors who feel “hemmed in” by an overinsistence on “feeling” a part or in drawing from their own experiences to feed a role, Chekhov’s focus on the primal and limitless nature of imagination is tremendously liberating.
So much mystery and veneration surrounds the writings of the great Russian teacher and director Stanislavski that perhaps the greatest surprise awaiting a first-time reader of An Actor Prepares is how conversational, commonsensical, and even at times funny this legendary book is. After many productions with the Moscow Arts Company, Stanislavski sought a way to introduce his new style of acting to the world outside of his rehearsal hall. The resulting book is a “mock diary” of an actor describing a series of exercises and rehearsals in which he participates. He details his own emotional and intellectual reactions to each effort, and how his superficial tricks and mannerisms begin to disappear as he increasingly gives over his conscious ego to a faith in the creative power of his subconscious. Rarely has any writer on the theater achieved the sort of lucid and inspired analysis of the acting process as Stanislavski does here, and his introduction of such now-standard concepts as “the unbroken line,” “the magic if,” and the idea of emotional memory has laid the groundwork for much of the great acting of the 20th century. While much excess and nonsense was to follow in the steps of Stanislavski’s writings, his original texts remain invaluable, and surprisingly accessible, to any actor or student of drama.
There is more to the acting business than just the acting. It’s understanding and applying the “business” side of acting that makes it possible for the actor to succeed. Bonnie Gillespie is right on target with her enjoyable nuts and bolts wisdom in “Self-Management for Actors: Getting Down to (Show) Business.” She takes the guess work out of the process of managing your career as an actor with clear guidance and a wonderful sense of humor. Precious time and money will be saved when knowing how to market yourself by doing it right the first time. Owning this book is one of the best investments any actor can make.
Actors who want to get inside the script and make it come alive now have a step-by-step guide from a Broadway director and renowned acting teacher. Honed by the author’s 35 years of teaching, this advanced book offers different warm-up exercises concentrating on the actor’s sense of smell, sound, sight, and touch; sensory tools for conveying the climate and environment of the text; tips for suggesting a character’s physical conditions; and much more. Individual exercises will help actors to free the voice and body, create a character, find the action and condition of scenes, and explore the subconscious for effective emotional recall. Readers will also find meticulous guidelines for best using rehearsal time and preparing for in-class scene work. The foreword is written by two-time Academy Award nominee Edward Norton. Those who act, direct, or teach will not want to miss the acting lessons that have made T. Schreiber Studio a premier actor training program.
What is good acting? How does one create believable characters? In “The Science of Acting“, Sam Kogan applies his theories and teaching to answering these questions. It represents a comprehensive and complete technique applying neuroscience and psychology to the role of acting. At its heart lies a unique and groundbreaking understanding of the subconscious, as well as an unparalleled insight into, and expansion of, Stanislavskis original Russian teaching.The book includes chapters on Awareness, Purposes, Events, Actions, Imagination, Free Body, Tempo-Rhythm, and Laws of Thinking, culminating in the Ten Steps to Creating a Character. In addition to providing practical exercises to develop skill and definitions to clarify difficult terminology, it is a simple and original step-by-step guide to creating a character and to developing an actors ability. In examining life and its recreation on stage, “The Science of Acting” is a study of human behavior and its application to acting which no actor or student of acting should be without.
A Dream of Passion by Lee Strasberg is a necessary read for any actor, teacher, director. It’s fascinating to read about his journey. Some of the stereotypes of his method are crushed in this book. Even if you don’t agree with his ideas or techniques it is an extremely interesting read on the evolution of theater in this country.

SAG and AFTRA Convene Formal Discussions to Create One Union

sagsculpture_strokedSilver Spring, Maryland — Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists convened this weekend for the first, formal face-to-face discussions between the AFTRA New Union Committee and the SAG Merger Task Force at the National Labor College in Silver Spring, Maryland.

The two groups, comprised of members including actors, performers, recording artists and broadcast professionals, met together as the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA Group for One Union (G1) to facilitate the creation of one successor union to represent all of the members of AFTRA and Screen Actors Guild.

The G1 established a series of work groups to discuss six key areas that rank-and-file members identified as important during the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA Presidents’ Forum for One Union nationwide Listening Tour. The six workgroups are:

  • Governance and Structure
  • Finance and Dues
  • Collective Bargaining
  • Pension, Health and Retirement
  • Operations and Staff
  • Member Education and Outreach

The work groups will meet throughout 2011, formulate recommendations for how the successor union should address each area and bring those recommendations back to the G1 for approval. These recommendations will inform the G1’s work to create the Merger Agreement, National Constitution and uniform dues structure that each union’s National Board has required for review by January 2012.

In a joint statement, AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon and Screen Actors Guild President Ken Howard praised the unions’ inaugural meeting saying: “We applaud the members and staff of our two unions for their incredible solidarity and vision during this intense and substantive weekend. We know the members of the successor union will be well served by their diligent and hard work during the months to come.”

On Friday, June 17, AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka, joined by Department of Professional Employees President Paul Almeida, welcomed the members and staff of Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA. Trumka addressed the group and praised the unions’ leaderships for their commitment to solidarity and their work on the effort to unite AFTRA and SAG saying, “I encourage you to keep an open mind and base your decision not on any preconceived notions but on this measure alone: what is best for our members, our unions and our future. That’s the big picture we must all keep our eyes on. Whatever your decision the 12 million members of the AFL-CIO will support you.”

The weekend’s meetings were facilitated by Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations Professor Susan J. Schurman, and noted labor consultant Peter S. DiCicco. The next meeting of the full AFTRA and Screen Actors Guild Group for One Union is scheduled for August 27 – 28 in New York City.

About Screen Actors Guild

Screen Actors Guild is the nation’s largest labor union representing working actors. Established in 1933, SAG has a rich history in the American labor movement, from standing up to studios to break long-term engagement contracts in the 1940s to fighting for artists’ rights amid the digital revolution sweeping the entertainment industry in the 21st century. With 20 branches nationwide, SAG represents more than 125,000 actors who work in film and digital television programs, motion pictures, commercials, video games, music videos, industrials and all new media formats. The Guild exists to enhance actors’ working conditions, compensation and benefits and to be a powerful, unified voice on behalf of artists’ rights. SAG is a proud affiliate of the AFL-CIO. Headquartered in Los Angeles, you can visit SAG online at SAG.org.

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO, are the people who entertain and inform America. In 32 Locals across the country, AFTRA members work as actors, broadcasters, singers, dancers, announcers, hosts, comedians, disc jockeys, and other performers across the media industries including television, radio, cable, sound recordings, music videos, commercials, audio books, non-broadcast industrials, interactive games, the Internet and other digital media. The 70,000 professional performers, broadcasters, and recording artists of AFTRA are working together to protect and improve their jobs, lives, and communities in the 21st century. From new art forms to new technology, AFTRA members embrace change in their work and craft to enhance American culture and society. Visit AFTRA online at http://www.aftra.com, and follow AFTRA on Facebook and Twitter.

DANCERS WANTED FOR 2009 OSCAR® SHOW

January 16, 2010 Casting, For Actors, Gigs No Comments
Academy awards statue

Academy awards statue

Beverly Hills, CA — Open dance auditions for the 82nd Academy Awards® telecast will be held on Friday, January 22, and Saturday, January 23, at CenterStaging in Burbank, California, telecast producers Adam Shankman and Bill Mechanic announced today. Cast dancers will perform live during the Academy Awards show on Sunday, March 7, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®.

The auditions are open to professional-level male and female dancers in the contemporary and hip-hop styles who are between the ages of 18 and 30. Shankman, who began his career as a dancer and once performed on the Oscar show, will be choreographing the audition numbers with associate choreographers Anne Fletcher and Jamal Sims.
CenterStaging is located at 3407 Winona Avenue in Burbank. Interested dancers should note that parking is not available at CenterStaging. Individuals will need to find parking in the vicinity and pay any associated costs. Only qualified dancers will be admitted; there is no access for watching the auditions.

Following is the audition schedule:
Friday, January 22, 2010
Contemporary
9 a.m. – 11 a.m. – Union, Male
10 a.m. – noon – Union, Female
Noon – 2 p.m. – Non-union, Male
1 p.m. – 3 p.m. – Non-union, Female
3 p.m. – 6 p.m. – Trickers and Tumblers
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Hip Hop
9 a.m. – 11 a.m. – Union, Male
10 a.m. – noon – Union, Female
Noon – 2 p.m. – Non-union, Male
1 p.m. – 3 p.m. – Non-union, Female
3 p.m. – 6 p.m. – Callback

The 82nd Academy Awards nominations will be announced on Tuesday, February 2, 2010, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2009 will be televised live by the ABC Television Network on Sunday, March 7, 2010 at 5 p.m. PT. It also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide

Emily Weisberg on Being a Theater Nerd in a Film Town

September 27, 2009 For Actors No Comments
Emily Weisberg on Being a Theater Nerd in a Film Town

Emily Weisberg is a director working in Los Angeles. Recent credits include Bermuda!, ROBOTS VS FAKE ROBOTS, Jumping the Median, How To Be A Good Son, Independence, and numerous staged readings and workshops. Along with directing, she is a member of the Ojai Playwrights Conference reading committee and Artistic Director of Push To Talk Theatre Company, a company formed to support the development and performance of new work. When not directing, Emily spends her time wondering if she should move back to Chicago.

When I tell people I’m a director, the question I almost always get is “…of?” I say “Theatre,” they volley back with “Anything I’ve heard of?” forcing me to quickly dash through the list of plays I’ve directed, quickly eliminating any title involving a literary figure, a lower-case one word title or anything Shakespeare, and name the show that sounds most like a movie. The response: “Oh. Cewllll,” followed quickly by their exit and my noticing a hole in my cardigan.

There are definite upsides to creating theatre here: an amazing diversity of artists, the opportunity to experiment with multiple forms of media onstage – from film to puppetry, dance to live music. And you truly are surrounded by the best of the best, as a constant stream of the best and brightest stream into our fair city.

Finding people in Los Angeles who are interested in, and actively want to create, theatre is a tough challenge. So where does a theatre nerd living in a film town go when she wants to feel surrounded by like-minded artists? Here are a few places guaranteed to give you good company, a good night of theatre, or space where you can create your own:

1. The Actors Lounge
Billed as “an open mic for actors” this monthly event is a fantastic place to workshop a piece you’re developing or currently performing. The Lounge was started by a group of local LA actors, producers and writers frustrated by the lack of community and support for other artists. They wanted to create a place where they could constantly work and challenge themselves, without the anxiety of an audience full of agents and managers. They wanted a place to do good work, experiment and feel support and encouragement from other like-minded artists. Notice I did not use the LA fan-favorite phrase “showcase.” If you’re looking for a place to get an agent or manager, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for a unique, supportive environment where you can feel comfortable taking risks and working on a scene or monologue you’re currently at battle with, this is the place. Run by a diverse group of writers, directors and actors committed to cultivating a community of artists here in LA, The Actors Lounge is a good place to do some great work. The lounge begins at 8:30pm the first Wednesday of every month, but get there early to sign up and be sure to catch the opening musical act, live art and fantastic film clips that break up the evening.

2. The Pretenders Studio
This studio is set to open its new location on September 21st at 1635 16th Street in Santa Monica. Why recommend a dance studio? Not only does The Pretenders have some of the best instructors around, they also rent out their amazing new facility for some of the best prices going. Two dance studios, including one space at almost 900 square feet, are perfect for rehearsals, auditions and public readings while their two smaller spaces are ideal for yoga, massage, audition coaching and vocal lessons. Don’t be misled by all the tiny dancers on their website’s homepage – I have yet to find a more welcoming, professional, high-end location for such an amazing price. Get in touch with Lisa, the owner/director and see for yourself!

3. The Atlantic Theatre Company Acting School- Los Angeles Program
Not cheap. Not easy. You might pee your pants a little. The Atlantic’s summer intensive was the program that made me realize I wasn’t an actor, something 4 years of high school, 4 years of college and a few more years of professional work hadn’t gotten across to me. Why, in gods name, is that an endorsement of this program? It helped me see the artist I really was and embrace a new, focused outlook on my work and the process of creating it. I have studied at many other studios and participated in other challenging programs, but none have opened my eyes and pushed my limits more successfully than The Atlantic. Also, classes taught by William H Macy, Felicity Huffman and Mamet aren’t anything to shake a stick at.

4. We’ve all been stopped in our tracks, fear freezing the blood in our veins as a friend hands over a postcard and says “I’m in a show, come check it out.” Swallow that fear, brave theatre-goers, here are a few local companies that consistently turn out good work:

The Elephant Theatre Company

Push To Talk Theatre Company
…yeah. ok. In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably mention that I’m the artistic director of push to talk. I also secretly like Kelly Clarkson. My honesty should move and motivate you to check out the website and attend any and all upcoming productions.

Need Theater

Furious Theatre Company

5. Lastly, if you’re looking for something great to see in the next few weeks at one of the large, are-you-kidding-how-can-I-afford-this theatres, check out the following plays:

Eclipsed by Dania Gurira

Running at the Kirk Douglas Theatre from September 13 through October 18th, this is a compelling new work that explores the strength of women caught in the crossfire of war. Focusing on the “wives” of a rebel commanding officer in war-torn Liberia, the play is brilliant, heart-breaking and funny (yes, funny) exploration of the strength of women who navigate the most brutal of circumstances.

August: Osage County by Tracy Letts

September 8th through October 18th, this winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for Best Play tells the story of the Westons, a large extended clan that comes together at their rural Oklahoma homestead when the alcoholic patriarch disappears. Forced to confront unspoken truths and astonishing secrets, the family must also contend with Violet, a pill-popping, deeply unsettled grandmother at the center of this storm. Get tickets while you still can, the show is fantastic and will sell out soon!

God Save Gertrude by Deborah Stein

Running October 1st through November 8th, this piece is a punk rock riff on Hamlet. Angry crowds gather outside an abandoned theatre as Queen Gertrude takes the stage to riff on Patti Smith and sing about her many loves and her many mistakes, while her country simmers in a volatile state of transition. As the bombs rain down and her coked-up son sells out to MTV, Gertrude hopes to incite one more riot before she goes.

Many of these recommended locals are comprised of people and places I know and love. But that’s not why I’m recommending them to you. There is amazing work being created by talented, committed artists every day – if you have companies, workshops or productions that you know and love, I’d love to hear about them! LA, for all of it’s unique, diverse, horrifying, silly wonderfulness can also beat you up in a way that leaves you vowing to never leave your house again, clinging to episodes of Project Runway you’ve tivo’d and swearing to get a “real job.” These places have, in many of these moments, given me the motivation to get up and out, and a much needed reminder that good work, by good people, for the right reasons, is always being generated. I encourage you to get out there and see for yourself.

The Brains of Minerva (a reference to an excellent Ethel Barrymore quote on being an Actress) is from the brilliant and insightful Sarah Sido and Claire Winters, whose site offers you tools to nurture your ambition as an artist with style, smarts, and an eye to the greater good.

Originally posted here:
Emily Weisberg on Being a Theater Nerd in a Film Town

Sarah’s Link Love

September 27, 2009 For Actors No Comments
Sarah’s Link Love

We like to share the internet love. Here is what’s been catching my eye lately:

An amazing series in The Guardian, Guide to Performing: Acting, that I can’t get enough of. You’ll need a whole Sunday to delve into the articles, full of first hand accounts from actors, teachers and critics. The perhaps unsurprising, yet incredibly comforting, through line from the actors is the struggle of both the creative process and lifestyle. From Juliet Stevenson saying, “I often wrangle with myself as an actor, and wrestle with the process. In striving for authenticity I often have the feeling I am falling short.” To Maxine Peake admitting to crying at an audition, “I wouldn’t generally recommend a bonkers approach to auditioning, but when you know you’re right for the part and you think “I can do this, I need to do this”, like I did at that audition, then what have you got to lose? They can only say no.” I left the articles feeling part of an intense, valuable tradition.

Larry Gelbert’s previously unpublished speech to the WGA in Vanity Fair left me actually looking forward to writing. No small feat. Gelbert quotes Thomas Mann as saying, “A writer is someone who has a harder time writing than other people do.”

Now that you are inspired, you may be ready to tackle more practical matters. Dallas Travers has a great article on headshot prep on her blog. While you’re there, enter your email for her free “Thriving Artist Starter Kit.”

There is so much to read at communicatrix.com. I particularly like her articles for actors which manage to be helpful and inspiring while also being sardonic, funny, and honest.

At the Happy Days blog, Tim Kreider explores the way we look at the life choices of our peers and judge them against our own, what he calls, “The referendum.” Maybe it’s because we get to dip our toes in other lives through the roles we play, but it seems that actors are especially prone to question their life choices. For myself, I don’t know that a week ever passes by that I don’t at least half seriously consider moving to New York, Greece or a yurt on a mountaintop. From the article, “The problem is, we only get one chance at this, with no do-overs.” A theme is appearing among these links. Apparently, I like articles that make me feel less alone in my choices and neurosis. This one did just that.

Another delightful New York Times blog, is Abstract City, by Christopher Neimann. Neimann is an artist who lives in Berlin with his family and has apparently been feeling as homesick for NYC as I have been lately. My favorite recent entry is I Lego NY.

I think we have another heat wave coming our way, but in the meantime, the misty mornings and chilly nights make it feel like fall. I want to make these for friends before the last of summer is gone. As a kid, I always thought my mom was so strange for reading cookbooks. Now, I realize I continue the tradition by browsing food blogs. The previous recipe is from The Kitchn. 101cookbooks.com also always delivers with its gorgeous pictures and delicious, healthy (for the most part) food.

Need to laugh? These clips are not new, but a drunken Orsen Wells should make you feel better about your most botched commercial audition.

And this spoof by the Upright Citizens Brigade is pretty fantastic:

What has been making you laugh, think or get hungry? Do you have a blog I should know about? Post your comments and links below.

Photo by:

The Brains of Minerva (a reference to an excellent Ethel Barrymore quote on being an Actress) is from the brilliant and insightful Sarah Sido and Claire Winters, whose site offers you tools to nurture your ambition as an artist with style, smarts, and an eye to the greater good.

Originally posted here:
Sarah’s Link Love

The Lowdown on Using The Breakdowns: Part 2 – The Agent, The Casting Director, and …

September 27, 2009 For Actors No Comments
The Lowdown on Using The Breakdowns: Part 2 – The Agent, The Casting Director, and The Owner

As we discovered in last week’s article on actors’ experiences using The Breakdowns, telling your agent you read them isn’t likely to illicit shock and a call to the LAPD. Nonetheless, the agent/client/Breakdowns dance has some tricky steps and today we’ll hear from the other players. We’ll also talk to Gary Marsh, owner of Breakdown Services, and learn his tips for maximizing our online submissions.

The Agent

When I got out of school and was going through all the “what’s the best way to communicate with you” rigmarole with my new agent, I asked him if it would be ok if I called him with things I “heard about.”

He said, “Sure,” and resignedly looked at the floor.

“Is that annoying?” I asked.

“Not in and of itself. I want clients to take initiative. It’s just that actors, generally, have no idea what they’re right for.”

Except me, of course. After several queries about this or that sexy young professional or worldly grad student I arrived home to see sides for an audition for a Law & Order spin-off in my inbox. Now the world will see me for the sexy D.A. I really am! I thought as I opened the attachment.

“Ursula Thorne, in a wheel chair. Raped and beaten, she suffers from a rare disease that ages her prematurely.” Oh…But hey –  a guest star! And I don’t even have to wear makeup to the audition!

Paula Friend* (*not her real name – you’ll just have to trust us on this one) echoes my former agent’s ambivalence about actors and The Breakdowns. Paula currently works on the Motion Picture Literature desk of one of LA’s biggest agencies and previously spent a year-and-a-half at another office assisting one of the town’s most respected theatrical talent reps.

“It did have a tendency to be annoying,” she responded via email to my questions about actors calling in with roles to be submitted for. “Not because they were trying to be proactive for themselves, but because they would go through them on the phone with you and this would last like twenty minutes.” Remember, any time your agent spends on the phone with you is time they aren’t on the phone with a casting director talking about you.

Paula also cites another complaint common among the agents and managers I’ve spoken with in that many clients don’t take it upon themselves to educate themselves about the shows they push to go in on. “A lot of times they’d never seen (the show) or had any idea what it was, so they didn’t know that they weren’t the right ‘look’ for the show…shows like CSI:Miami and Gossip Girl have a ‘look.’ “

But Paula adds that rolling client calls with her morning latte wasn’t a total wash. “It did have some good things though, because if the agents weren’t sure about someone and if they would do certain gigs, a phone call about the breakdown would tell us they were open to it…we didn’t like to get them appointments for things they would pass on.”

The Casting Director

I expected the casting director perspective on actors using The Breakdowns to be one of unqualified frustration – along the lines of, “Before actors started using The Breakdowns I could actually see my floor and receive incoming calls from clients!” But independent film casting director Brette Goldstein (her real name!) agrees with Paula that knowing of an actor’s enthusiasm when he initiates the submission through his agent or on his own makes her job easier. While she occasionally goes straight to reps for a role, Brette “almost always” uses The Breakdowns and is actually reliant on self-submissions when she’s looking for a difficult type. But she stresses that face-time is the best way to get on her radar, either through a mutual connection or a meeting at a networking studio. Brette teaches in New York at Actors Connection and The Network and says that “a five or ten-minute general can lead to some great roles.”

The Owner

So who is responsible for all this proactive calling and clicking and uploading when we could be at the beach knocking back martinis doing ‘research’ while waiting for the phone to ring?

In 1971, Gary Marsh, a 17-year-old former child actor and the son of a talent agent, was doing a little work for Mom, making the rounds at the studios and reading scripts in offices, jotting down notes on the parts to be cast. At this point there was no centralized system for collecting casting information. Every day agents (or their assistants, or their kids…) got in their cars, sat in waiting rooms and read scripts and took notes. They then drove back to their offices and culled lists and pitched. One smart agent, sitting alongside young Gary, leaned over and said, “If those notes are any good, I’ll buy ‘em off you.”

Apparently the notes were good. Soon Gary was selling them to agencies all over town for $20 a week.

Over the years The Breakdowns have evolved from several printed pages delivered to offices each morning via messenger (and Gary claims that even then he had to stop thieves at the printing press) to today’s online document that allows reps to electronically submit clients as they read it. In addition to its flagship product, Breakdown Services (BDS) also owns Actors Access, the online service that enables casting directors and producers to solicit unrepresented talent. The photo/resume/video portfolios that actors create for their Actors Access accounts are the same ones used by representatives to submit on The Breakdowns (a representative may create an Actors Access account for a client who doesn’t wish to create her own). How’s that for some vertical integration?

Despite BDS’s current marketplace dominance, BDS wasn’t first to the computerized casting table. In 1997 two software developers started Star Caster, the first system of computerized casting. According to LA Business Journal, Gary was not sure notoriously technologically-slow-to-adapt agents would ever use computers. But never one to eschew innovation, he continued to explore the idea, and, unlike Star Caster, whose system required actors’ photos to be stored on a special computer’s hard drive, Gary hired developers to make the Internet-based system we all know and love/are beholden to. Making up for lost time, the company has several products to service every step of the casting process: Showfax, Screenplay Online, and the recently acquired CastingAbout.com.

So he invents an indispensable part of the industry and navigates quantum changes in show biz and technology for over thirty years. How does Gary Marsh stay ahead of the curve? What’s the secret to his hustle?

“I work my ass off.”

When I asked his thoughts on actors receiving The Breakdowns he said, “It’s the people who are selling them that I’m after (and he doesn’t play around –check this out). They think they’re Robin Hood, but they’re just robbin’!”

But what harm does it do to an actor to pursue projects from The Breakdowns?  “They’re just making problems for themselves. By the time an actor gets The Breakdowns, talent reps have had them for several hours if not at least a day. By that time hundreds of actors have been submitted for a role and appointments – at least for TV – have almost always already been booked…If a casting director wants to open up a project for unrepresented talent they can use Actors Access.” And he adds that the major advantage for cd’s (and actors) to use Actors Access instead of another online casting service is that cd’s view the submissions of unrepresented talent alongside those submitted through The Breakdowns.

The rise in the leaking/reselling of The Breakdowns and consequent increase in self- submissions has made several casting offices (as we discovered last week) demand that BDS deliver their breakdowns to select agencies. But doesn’t that infuriate some of the representatives who subscribe and are left out of the loop? “What can I do?” asked Gary. “Otherwise, those casting directors would bypass the service completely and just contact agencies directly.”

To illustrate his point about the time line, Gary logged onto the system. Pulling up the morning’s releases we landed on a co-star for Breaking Bad. The breakdown had been out for less than three hours and already there were over 400 submissions. Ugh. So that’s what we’re talking about when we’re talking about time being of the essence. If one’s ‘illegal’ BDs source is a day old, television casting has likely moved way on.

We then viewed individual projects and submissions and he shared his thoughts (38 years in the making!) on how to help your submission become an appointment.

Photos

Searching the submissions scheduled to audition (a whopping nine of hundreds) for a guest star in an upcoming pilot, Gary pointed out that all the chosen actors’ photos a) were really good photos (great lighting, composition, color palette), b) had the actors looking directly into the camera, and c) were cropped close to the face (3/4 shots don’t pop so well on a page of thumbnails). When we then went inside their portfolios, their credits were (surprise) notable, but I noticed that of the slimmer resumes none were “filled out” with non-notable credits. This made the meaningful roles that did appear more prominent at first (and likely only) glance than if they’d been competing for resume space.

Most surprisingly, their photo portfolios tended towards 2-5 photos. In recent years I’ve heard actors insist that they need tons of photos in super-specific ‘types,’ so their agent can submit the one as close to the role as possible. Throughout the session, Gary demonstrated that there were seemingly no instances in which an actor’s four photos (if they are good!) could not capture the essence of any particular part. In many cases two direct, contrasting, and expressive photos seemed as if they could cover all casting opportunities, and, Gary pointed out, by only uploading two photos “the actor would be completely free (of charges)” (Actors Access charges a per photo upload fee after two photos).

An actor may keep many photos in his Actors Access account as long as he wishes. While there’s no financial incentive to remove photos, I noticed that I found portfolios bursting with outdated photos (not to mention the just plain weird ones – is there any need to have a ten-year-old picture of you with a tiger to prove you’re good with animals?) to compromise the professional image of the actor.

Video

Video is another important component of your Actors Access account. You can upload video clips for an additional fee. While you cannot link to another website directly in your account, you can write the address of your website or wherever you are hosting your reel in your resume section to give casters a chance to see your wares without paying the upload fee. However, if you do upload your video on Actors Access, you’re submission will be in the cd’s queue ahead of those without video.

Actors Access gives actors the options of having short clips of different work available to view that may be pertinent to a particular project. This enables the cd to cut to the chase and not have to slog through four minutes to get to the comedy or procedural role that caught their eye on the resume. In several of the clips we watched, Gary pointed out that often the actor chooses material in which he doesn’t appear until several seconds in. While that may seem like a trivial amount of time, if I consider how many clips a cd might be perusing to fill an appointment within the day, I now see the importance of doing everything I can to streamline the process of viewing my work.

The Girl in the Haystack

Scrolling through pages and pages of tiny photos I wondered if I could find any trends that made a photo jump out from the page. Perhaps a red shirt could double my audition rate! Uh, no. “But, wait, what is that?” I asked as we scanned submissions for a co-star of a restaurant hostess. Enlarging it we found a dead-eyed attractive woman in her 20s lying prostrate on a haystack covered in feathers. Feathers. On a haystack. “Why would anyone choose that?” I asked. The submission was, unsurprisingly, in the “not scheduled to come in” pile.

I assumed she had self-submitted and made a beginners mistake of thinking attention any which way possible was the surest route to an audition. But her manager had chosen the picture. Unfortunately (or fortunately), upon opening her account, we saw several attractive professional photos that would have made me interested in checking out her resume. Don’t give your representation room to hang you, I thought.

Gary went one better and reminded us not to partner with representation that would hang you. “In all my years in the business, I’ve seen the great, the good, the bad and the ugly as far as agents and managers are concerned. There are great ones out there, but be careful. When you are interviewing an agent or manager remember that they work for you!”

And at that he excused himself from our meeting. It was time to work his ass off.

Technological innovations have put many more items on our marketing materials checklist (check out Sarah’s article for info on demo reels). But online casting also gives us the chance to cast a wide net and show our wares to agents, producers, directors, writers and casting directors at their (and our) convenience. I hope our exploration of perspectives on The Breakdowns has given you practical tips on finding casting opportunities and positioning yourself to make the most of them. Whether you are represented or not, as career coach Dallas Travers says, “You are the best agent you’ll ever have.”

Don’t be shy! Let us know your methods of maximizing your online submissions and experiences with different casting products below.

Photo by

The Brains of Minerva (a reference to an excellent Ethel Barrymore quote on being an Actress) is from the brilliant and insightful Sarah Sido and Claire Winters, whose site offers you tools to nurture your ambition as an artist with style, smarts, and an eye to the greater good.

Originally posted here:
The Lowdown on Using The Breakdowns: Part 2 – The Agent, The Casting Director, and …

Acting Coach Seth Michael May on Beating Audition Anxiety

September 27, 2009 For Actors No Comments
Acting Coach Seth Michael May on Beating Audition Anxiety

Seth Michael May is co-founder (along with Bryan Radtke) of NYC’s Acting on Impulse Coaching Services. His clients include Reiko Aylesworth (Lost and 24), Charlie Hofheimer, (House, Canterbury’s Law), and Kristina Klebe (Halloween). He is regularly referred clients by WME, Innovative, Titan Talent and The Gersh Agency in New York.

Audition Anxiety?

Audition Anxiety, like everything else in life, is a choice.

At least that’s how I like to view it – I like to pretend that everything in my life, including my emotions, are my sole “response-ability”.

Now, there are two basic Point of Views (P.O.Vs), or “lenses” through which you can choose to perceive this event called “Auditioning for them”.

The first POV is fear-based and therefore will NECESSARILY cause you to feel fear whenever you think about Auditioning.

POV #1 (FEAR-based POV) “AUDITIONING IS A SKILL”

You believe that Auditioning is a SKILL, and that with time and practice you’ll eventually become proficient in the Auditions department.

Sounds logical, right?

I’m going to attempt to explain why this POV is soooooo unhealthy. It is THE cause of Audition Anxiety.

Bear with me -

People have been socially conditioned to fear rejection. Remember the dance in the 7th grade? Girls on one side and Boys on the other. Everyone leaned against the far wall dreading to walk across the gym floor. Because is that little red haired girl (in my case) rejected you, you’d have to walk all the way back across the empty gym floor toward your snickering peers. I feared that so much that I never went to those things. But then the little red haired girl joined the New Player’s Theatre Company and I discovered I could act.

No one wants to be rejected. Actors are ’supposed’ to take the room, act, and hit it out of the park every time. And a lot of actors suffer from this fear.

It is Yang’s job to audition, and it is Yin’s job to…screen us out. Yin, for the most part, CHOOSES.

If you are reading this, I suppose it’s because you want to be chosen more often…

These days, you see THOUSANDS of methods that are dedicated to this cause.

What these well-intentioned “guru’s” do not realize is that they are actually reinforcing your auditioning Anxieties by framing “Callbacks” or “Auditions” as a SKILL.

Don’t get me wrong – most of these Actors, Coaches, Teachers, and well-intentioned “guru’s” are people I have met personally, and I’ve SEEN with my own eyes that they truly do know what they’re talking about. Some of them are GOOD, and I personally use some of the techniques that they teach and preach on how to consistently audition well.

And I’m NOT saying that an actor shouldn’t learn how to audition like a pro, because it’s more than 85% of the job. Maybe more.

The truth is that you CAN learn a bunch of field-tested audition routines, plow through your fears, and eventually master the Art of Auditioning.

BUT… no matter how good you get, you’ll always have that nasty feeling in the pit of your stomach pre-Audition as long as you continue to think about Auditioning as a skill.

I have even heard very convincing, logical-sounding theories that this Anxiety is hard-wired in and that there is no way that you could EVER get past this.

Cute theories abound about how we all used to be nomad cavemen and women who lived in small tribes, and that in those days, if you risked going outside of societies norms, and stuck out, it would ruin your entire reputation FOR LIFE and that you would be rejected and an outcast and die without passing on your genes…

This was the “reality” hundreds, even thousands of years ago – so they theorize you supposedly still carry a gene that automatically generates this Audition Anxiety. Which is why most actors hate auditions… and most people wouldn’

t dream of being an actor.

While that theory is CUTE, the problem I have with it is simple:

1) Ok, you’ve given us a reason for the problem and no solution.
2)I do NOT have any Audition Anxiety.

There was a time when I did. BUT NOW:

None. Nada. Zilch.

When I audition, my heart rate doesn’t increase, and my breathing rate doesn’t change at all (unless I have to run across the street because I am running late – by the way, don’t ever be late).

I make no claims to be special, or “gifted” or anything like that.

How am I able to do this?!

How did I break f r e e ?

Well… For the low price of $99.99,

…Just kidding.

Here’s the cure:

POV #2 (LOVE-based POV) “AUDITIONING IS A SCREENING PROCESS”

The ONLY difference between you and I is that I no longer think about Auditioning as a SKILL.

To me, an Audition is nothing more than a screening process.

My thought process?

“Great part. I wonder if the company is good… I wonder if the director has more going for her then an M.A. from Yale… Man, what a great play. I could do wonderful things in this part. I wonder if this director will be the type I like to work with. I wonder how the director likes to work with actors, or under pressure. Do I have time to really make this part mine? Okay then, let’s go find out if she can work with an exploratory actor.
If I get this part, I’

m gonna have cancel the Costa Rica trip I was planning…” You get the idea.

You see, I have no investment in the outcome. I have no outcome other than to find out what the energy is like.

I’m not trying to “succeed at auditioning”.

I’m not seeking any particular REACTION from them.

I’m not trying to make them see me, I am simply trying to find out if *I* want to work with them. I know they are doing this project, but I want to know if I want to work with them

Have you noticed that a lot of people are really miserable?

I still get to have fun no matter what, you see?

I don’t view Auditions as something that you win or lose at. I do not view it as a game, or a skill, and I certainly don’t view it as a way to validate my self-worth. Call me crazy!

Listen to me -

The ONLY problem that you’ll EVER have with Auditions is that YOU GIVE AWAY YOUR POWER.

Stop it!

Their REACTIONS mean nothing to me. They don’t mean that I suck and they don’t mean that I’m good or bad or worthy of love or not.

You see, I would cast myself.

I would!

Oh, stop being so HUMBLE… Humble sucks. It’s boring, it’s meaningless, and it’s annoying. You don’t need it; you can let humble go now.

Flowers are not “humble”! They stretch up toward the sun and seem to say, “Look at me, I’m beautiful!”

To recap, the moment you feel that icky feeling in your upper and/or lower belly, it’s because you are choosing to feel inadequate and giving away your power.

You have already decided that a stranger in a casting office has the power to change the way that you feel about yourself.

It’s the wrong lens.

When you see an agent or a casting director, enter a state of PURE CURIOSITY.

Get curious about what she is like, and don’t give another thought to what “she thinks you are like”. Her opinion is none of your business.

She doesn’t know you, and trust me when I say that the majority of her responses to you will be socially-conditioned reactions that truly have nothing to do with Your worth.

Now, realistically it’s going to take a while before you completely let go of the old “Auditioning is a skill” POV and adopt the more healthy “Auditions is nothing more than a screening process” POV.

The old, outdated POV is set on “automatic” right now and you’re going to need to remind yourself that Auditioning is a screening process over and over for at least a month, probably more.

But if you keep on choosing the healthier POV, and you do this proactively, before long you will feel Totally f r e e And Comfortable Around Any And All people in the industry.

Do you know how AWESOME it feels to be f r e e of this Anxiety?

I’m so comfortable, and I always seem to say the right things.

I’m NATURALLY funny and charming and everything else you have been told that you need to make them want to hire you.

I no longer have to THINK about what I’m going to say next! I’m totally in the “Now Moment”

when I meet with CD’s and agents and it’s the most awesome gift I’ve ever given myself.

Here’s a little test for you, so that you can all Be Your Own Gurus and decide for yourselves if I’m right about all of this.

Say the following out loud, and notice which POV makes you feel MORE PEACEFUL:

“Auditioning Is A Skill.”

“Auditioning Is Just A Screening Process.”

Well, which one do you want ?

For more info on Seth visit Acting on Impulse Coaching Services.

The Brains of Minerva (a reference to an excellent Ethel Barrymore quote on being an Actress) is from the brilliant and insightful Sarah Sido and Claire Winters, whose site offers you tools to nurture your ambition as an artist with style, smarts, and an eye to the greater good.

Originally posted here:
Acting Coach Seth Michael May on Beating Audition Anxiety


Edoardo Ballerini is an actor and a writer. He has appeared in over forty films and television series, including Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos and the indie hit Dinner Rush. He was last seen on Theater Row in New York in “Honey Brown Eyes.”You can reach Edoardo on Facebook or Twitter

Actors, What Kind of Success Do You Want?

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In the span of two hours I was referred to as a “semi-celebrity,” and had a woman write me asking “Who are you?” (Why she bothered to write is entirely a mystery, but hey…) Still, it did illustrate the murky waters of notoriety actors can swim in. Somewhere circling amongst the “A-listers,” the “has beens,” and the “never should have beens” are the “aren’t you?… no, never minds.”

Between the Taping and the Viewing…

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In the acting life, there is also a falling shadow, and it comes between the gig and the screening. Between the filming and the airing… Theater is different, of course, but for now let’s stick to the world of screens. After you walk off set for the last day, there’s a good chance you won’t see your work for months, if not even years, or if ever.

Reviews: To Read or Not to Read (h/t to @edoballerini)

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The Emerging Skills Needed by #Film Publicists

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The Mindset Change of Social Media

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I was recently interviewed for a blog and was asked about using social media for marketing a film. It really got me thinking about that question. Is that all most filmmakers see social media being used for? One big promotional effort only to be used when they are looking to sell something? I think within 10 years this will be a non issue as everyone will be adapted to social media. Those who have refused to start will be so left out it will be like the people who held out on rotary phones and terrestrial TV signals.

Using #Pinterest as a tool for your #Film #Marketing

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Speaking of Pinterest…I only recently started using it for the Joffrey project which is why all of my boards are devoted to that. Looking at them gives a good idea on the kind of thing you could use it for on your production. In my workshop presentations, I talk about posting regularly on your social channels and not just information directly about your film, but also about the interests of your audience; those who would be a fan of your film and of yourself as an artist. I am using the boards to show Joffrey history through pictures and videos. The ballets they created, the ballets they revived, their alumni dancers, Robert Joffrey through the years as well as photos of the merchandise available to buy through our site. It’s a balance of audience interest and promotion for the film.

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