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Actors, What Kind of Success Do You Want?

success
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.”

Most people go into acting either for (a) the art or (b) the celebrity. Neither type is necessarily prepared for what even a modest walk along the path will bring. As with anything of this nature, however, it’s entirely up to you how it plays out. More likely than not, you will set the tone for this very early on in your career.

You can be successful and low-key. You can be unsuccessful and splashed all over the papers. Your behavior, attitude and beliefs about the world will dictate this, not anything else. The measure of your success is predicated upon a thousand factors, but the quality of it is entirely yours.

Personally, I would suggest staying away from the tabloid-ish side of affairs. It’s a cheap world filled with double-crosses and lies. But however you end up playing it, just remember, it’s you. As the old saying goes, “By the age of 50, you get the face you deserve.”

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.

Between the Taping and the Viewing…

waiting-300x225
T.S. Eliot famously wrote of “the falling shadow.”

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow

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.

As the performer, you feel the high of the role just completed, and expect that everybody should know what amazing work you’ve just done. They won’t. You may have been diligent in posting and tweeting about your work (always careful to clear these matters with production, of course), but nobody can possibly know if you’re just beating your chest or whether you did, in fact, do something special.

Assuming you are genuinely pleased with what you just did, there is a natural letdown. Your mind irrationally expects offers to come pouring in commensurate with your new standing. You can’t believe you’re still getting auditions now clearly beneath you.

This is one of those times when you have to balance ego and reality very, very carefully. You still need to keep busy, of course, but you don’t want to follow up something with lesser work. The quickest course of sanity and career well-being is to put the ego aside. Be careful what you do, of course, but don’t start acting like you just won an Oscar and can’t possibly accept anything less than a co-starring role with Meryl Streep.

It’s also a time to practice patience. That will serve you well in all aspects of life, so dig in and watch the wheels go ‘round and ‘round for a while if you have to. The shadow only falls if you’re staring at the ground.

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.

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

February 5, 2012 Mineralava Musings No Comments
A friend just opened a play last week and he was very excited. Weeks of hard work had been distilled into a few hours on stage, the opening night was electric, friends were gushing and sending congratulatory notes… and then the reviews came in. Suddenly, all the excitement was gone with a few barbed words from one critic.

We act for audiences. Amongst the audience members are the tastemakers who tell the rest of the world what they thought. And quite often, we hang on their every word, to the point that they can dictate how we feel about our own work.

Fifty people can tell you they loved something, but if the one person who puts their thoughts in print didn’t, that good feeling can be erased that in a flash. For this reason, many actors avoid reviews at all costs. I’m one of them.

It’s true that reviews can matter. A good one can get you noticed, extend the life of a show, and make a tangible difference to a career. Bad ones, too, can be devastating.

But we performers have no control over them. None at all. The only thing we can do, is do our work to the best of our ability, and take satisfaction on the knowledge that we did all we could to give a good performance.

It’s not easy to ignore the critics, no more than we can ignore the response of an audience – why didn’t they laugh on that line?! – but the excitement we feel should not be at the mercy of others. Our work is meant to be enjoyed, of course, and shared, but it is also ours to be savored.

Edoardo Ballerini is an Actor, Writer and a contributing Editor to ACTORSandCREW. 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.

The Importance of #Actors Doing it Their Way

November 30, 2011 Mineralava Musings No Comments
blueeyes
Frank Sinatra made the words famous, of course, “I did it… myyyyyy waaaaay.” And we’re all grateful. The song even starts with a theater reference about facing the final “curtain.”  Nice.  Auditioning actors are always caught in a slight pickle: wanting to make choices (good), but worrying about making the wrong choices (bad), that is, not doing it the way they want it. Of course, we can never be sure what it is theywant, so a general rule of thumb is to make a choice, stick with it, do it your way, and let the chips fall where they may. Trying to figure out what’s going through somebody else’s head is a crap shoot at best.There’s another, more important, reason for doing it your way: it will be stronger, more honest, and more memorable. If you want to have a real chance at winning the part, 9 times out of 10, it will happen by putting you forward.Years ago I was testing for a series. My first audition was terrific, if I may say so myself. Bold, unexpected, daring, unique. As the process went on, and a series of callbacks ensued, I get getting notes from various producers, writers, casting agents, about how to change the read to make it “what they’re looking for.” (The “they” in this case, was the network brass.)When it came to the final screen test, moments before I entered the room, one of the producers quite literally changed me. He told me to take of the jacket I was wearing and wear his. It was better, he insisted. While I appreciated his wanting to help me, it turned the whole affair into an unmitigated disaster.

By the time I entered the room I had no idea what I was doing, let along wearing, and my original interpretation that had gotten everybody so excited, had totally vanished. I was doing it their way. Needless to say, that role got away very, very quickly.

I can’t say that I would have been cast had I stuck to my guns. That would be a foolish claim. But at very, very least, I could have walked out singing,

For what is a man? What has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught.
To say the things he truly feels, and not the words of one who kneels,
The record shows, I took the blows, and did it myyyyy waaaaaay.

And yes, that matters.

What Happens to #Actors AFTER the Show? #AGYST

October 12, 2011 Mineralava Musings No Comments
anemptyStage-300x216
It’s a good practice to have the next gig lined up, always, but that’s not necessarily the easiest thing to do. Still, when a show or a shoot ends, there’s a fallout of sorts, and, I believe, a critical moment in the Actor’s life. How it’s handled can make a big difference in a career.We are emotional creatures. After spending days, weeks, months working on a part, investing time and sweat and love into creating something, simply walking away is next to impossible. And if you’re anything like me, it can be downright painful.Having the next job relieves a lot of the suffering, but only because you’re moving to fast to notice. More importantly, take the time to reflect on what you just did. If there were positives, remember how you created them. If there were negatives, see if you can determine how to avoid them next time.But whatever you do, don’t go unconscious, tempting as it may be. It’s a fertile time to learn about yourself, your craft, your passion.

When Working, Work Even More

September 20, 2011 Mineralava Musings No Comments
sisyphus1

There’s a part to working that lies in the opportunity to advance your career. In a fierce blow of irony, the very time that you are at your busiest – under the lights, memorizing lines, sleeping very little – is when you need to be even busier. Promotional material should be flying, meetings should be taking place, and networking should be at its most frenzied.

The life of an actors is a bit of a boom-and-bust affair. When the show ends, you’ll likely find yourself wandering the streets with nothing to do, or back at your other job, in a regular schedule. There is much work to be done then, too, of course. Taking classes, editing reels, auditioning  for parts begins anew.

But if you’re working, work even more. It won’t last too long, and you’ll be glad your wrung the cloth for every last drop.  Besides, sleep is overrated…

 

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?

September 15, 2011 Mineralava Musings No Comments
asuccess
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.”Most people go into acting either for (a) the art or (b) the celebrity. Neither type is necessarily prepared for what even a modest walk along the path will bring. As with anything of this nature, however, it’s entirely up to you how it plays out. More likely than not, you will set the tone for this very early on in your career.

You can be successful and low-key. You can be unsuccessful and splashed all over the papers. Your behavior, attitude and beliefs about the world will dictate this, not anything else. The measure of your success is predicated upon a thousand factors, but the quality of it is entirely yours.

Personally, I would suggest staying away from the tabloid-ish side of affairs. It’s a cheap world filled with double-crosses and lies. But however you end up playing it, just remember, it’s you. As the old saying goes, “By the age of 50, you get the face you deserve.”

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.

Show Me the Money

So we launched a fundraising campaign, and I, the actor/producer, suddenly found myself being the guy who asks for money. It’s not a role I’m particularly adept at, though believing in the project helps a lot. But it did get me thinking: how different is this really from the rest of what I do?

Actors are always asking for something. We ask for parts, ask for attention, for praise, for reality to fade away if just for a little while. What’s the difference when it comes to money?

Bob Dylan wisely remarked that “money doesn’t talk, it swears.” Money matters. We are impressed by those that have it, we think less of those that don’t. We hesitate to ask for it, and we hesitate even more to give it. It is, quite literally, our measure of value.

But I’d like to think that my value, our value, is not measured in Treasury Notes. My value is in the project I’m working on, that I believe in, and that I’m looking forward to sharing with the world. And with this thought, I have no problem asking people to contribute a few dollars.

Neither should you.

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 and Their Re-Presentatives

A favorite pastime amongst actors is to complain about their agents and managers. They don’t work hard enough. They don’t get me the right appointments. They suck. Why don’t these people who earn 10% of my money do all of the work!

Yeah. That’s gonna happen… As a business model, it makes no sense. An agent or manager cannot devote their every waking minute to you. They have bills to pay, too. Simple math dictates that to earn what you earn alone, they would need ten of you.

But let’s move from math to language for a moment. To “represent” is to “re-present,” ie, “present again.” It means that the original presenting has been done. In this case it was done by… you. If you believe your agent doesn’t work hard enough, stop for a moment and consider what they are re-presenting.

(You may not want to hear this. No, it’s them, they really do suck, may be your mantra by now, but I’m hoping you’ll read on.)

As I trace the arc of my own career, with its highs and lows, there is almost a direct correlation between the times when I was pro-active and when things were moving. With much love to everybody I’ve ever worked with, it almost always flowed from me. Conversely, during times when I coasted, or lost my drive, well, funny thing, so did my representatives and my career.

I was responsible for the presentation. And they, as the job description would suggest, were responsible for the re-presentation. Thus it will ever be.

So, if you want to get the most out of your re-presentatives, whomever they are, start with your own presentation.

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.

Your #Audition is a #Performance. Treat it like one.

When actors are assembled before an audition, it’s a good bet a number of people are there for the same part. The impulse, of course, is to scope out the others, see if you know them, or maybe recognize them, or just get a sense of who else is in the room. It’s nearly impossible not to do… but it serves no purpose.

I’ve seen actors listen at the door, trying to pick up notes from other auditions, or boast about how they know the producers and the rest of us should go home. The intention is clear: to gain an advantage. But in truth you’re probably doing just the opposite.

Your best shot at giving a good read is to stay within what you’re doing, not what others are doing.

How do you do this? Well, it’s different for everybody, of course, but I would suggest keeping your nose in the material, and finding the quietest spot you can if others are chatting away. Go into the hall if you have to. You might also try to arrive such that you don’t have too much time before you’re called in to read. (Yes, sessions run late, so that can be tricky, but do the best you can.)

But one thing is clear: you’re there to give a strong audition. You’ll never achieve that by undermining others, or focusing on things beyond your control, or being distracted. Your audition is a performance. Treat it like one.

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.

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?

success

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…

waiting-300x225

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)

A friend just opened a play last week and he was very excited. Weeks of hard work had …

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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

pinterest-blow-dryer-done-52

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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