Create a Rep Target List

Once you know what you want to do in the industry and have your marketing materials ready, you may want to find representation.

Caveat: You can work in the industry without a rep but building a good team is essential to longevity. So not having a rep is no excuse to not be working. And keep in mind that reps are not one-size-fits-all. The perfect rep for someone else may not be a good fit for you. The interview is where you’ll discover if that agent/manager could be the one you need.

Types of Representatives:

  • Commercial Agent – will submit talent for commercial, industrial, print and hosting jobs
  • Theatrical Agent – will submit talent for tv, film, theatre
  • Across-the-Board Agent – will submit talent for all genres of work
  • Manager – traditionally this person managed your career, helping you make decisions with your long term goals in mind. These days, they function as agents with one big difference… managers are not legally able to negotiate contracts when you book work. You’ll need an attorney for negotiations if you don’t have an agent.

What is a target list? There are 3 rings to your rep target list – dream, target, safety. (Your current level is determined by the types of jobs you are already booking or the ones you are ready to audition for. How do you know? Your teachers should be able to guide you. But after taking a good commercial class, you should be ready for commercial auditions. Scripted tv shows often work at a fast pace and experience will be necessary before you’re ready to audition for these.)

  • Dream Reps: those you aspire to work with. You may not yet be the experienced actor they typically work with, but now is the perfect time to start creating a relationship with them.
  • Target Reps: they rep actors working at or a little above your current level. 
  • Safety Reps: they rep actors working at your level.

For the adult actor who does not yet have extensive on-camera experience, a commercial agent is a great target or safety.

How to create your list?

  • Ask who reps your friends or classmates who are getting auditions. If appropriate, ask for a referral.
  • On the sign in sheet at your commercial auditions, look at who reps other actors auditioning. This will show you who is getting their folks in the door.
  • Note the credits after your target shows and look on imdb to see who reps those costars and guest stars.

Refine your Lists: Vet those agents. Make sure there are no red flags. Make sure they represent your type. Some agents specialize in kids, bilingual talent, tattooed adults, etc. If you are not who they work with, they shouldn’t be on your lists.

Research those on your lists for things you have in common. Great resources are social media, imdb, linkedin and their website – all non-creepy ways to learn about them. Are you both members of the same fraternity/sorority? Dodgers fans? Love Thai food? (Do not stalk them. It will not impress them if you know something only their closest friends are aware of.)

Then what? Once you have your lists, check their websites (or the Backstage Call Sheet) for submission preferences. Then introduce yourself with a personalized short cover letter which addresses why the two of you are a good fit. Your research could be a great ‘in’ or that referral from someone on their roster.

If you need help, this is exactly what we cover in our career planning class – How to Hit the Ground Running. Or call us for private coaching.

We are here to help you succeed.

5 Steps to Achieving Your Career Goals

Your goal is to be a working actor. And you are doing things to make that happen. But you feel as though you aren’t getting any closer to that reality. Why?

Let’s look at some things you can do – some measurable things – that can help bring any goal to life. Measurable is key because feelings don’t get you closer to a goal. Actions do.

1. BUDGET YOUR TIME

Do you get to the end of a day and think ‘I was busy all day but didn’t accomplished anything’? This tip will help you measure where your time goes.

Create a Time Diary or use one of the many productivity apps (I like iTimeLogger) to track your day. List everything from auditions to social media to commuting to work outs to eating. This will show how much time you are actually spending on your goal.

2. DEFINE YOUR GOAL

If your goal is vague, it is impossible to know for sure if all the things you are doing will get you closer to that goal. For example, at the start of this article, you read ‘be a working actor’. Well, that is incredibly vague. Do you want to do plays? musicals? tv drama? indie films? tentpole films?

Write out exactly what you want to do. Be specific. If your goal is tv comedy, then do you want to work on single- or multi-camera shows? Different skills are required for each and you’ll need to learn what casting directors and show runners are looking for. And how you’ll market yourself will be unique based on that specific goal.

And then write out why you want to do this thing. No budding actor likes to hear this but here goes… being on camera or in front of an audience may not be the only way to fulfill that ‘why’. Understanding why you are putting yourself through the actor’s struggle will help you know if it is worth it.

3. AVOID SHINY OBJECTS

Shiny objects are anything that grabs your attention away from your goal. They siphon the primary resources every actor juggles – time and finances. It may be projects that seem interesting but take you down a different road.

Or it can be a teacher saying they have the answer to achieving success. But what they share is how they found success. Their path is not necessarily your path. Be wary of anyone who says there is only one way to succeed and only they know it. There is simply too much evidence to the contrary.

4. UNDERSTAND WHAT IS STOPPING YOU

Perceived obstacles. These reveal themselves in negative self-talk. ‘I can’t make it because ____.’ To defeat these insecurities, examine each one. Is it based on an experience someone else has had? Is it based on a past experience of yours? Break each one down and decide if they hold water. If not, confront that voice every time it creeps in. If it is valid, then get to work on it.

Real obstacles. These are things you can do something about to make yourself competitive in today’s market. Training. Special skills. Languages. Networking. Create your own content.

Every actor has faced closed doors – real and imaginary. What separates the successful from the wannabes is what they did next.

5. ASSEMBLE YOUR TEAM

Your team includes the right-for-you agent or manager. Casting directors who are fans of your work. Industry professionals you’ve established a relationship with. Teachers and coaches. Mentors. Also include supportive friends and family, but keep in mind that they may not understand how this industry works and may not be the best resource for career advice.

Keep track of these individuals and keep them updated on what’s happening in your career. And when you need advice, you’ll have plenty of options of knowledgable pros who will be willing and able to help.

Twitter Tips

TwitterDid you know these twitter uses for actors and writers? 

AMA: “Ask Me Anything” is when an industry pro has time to spare and allows the world to ask them anything. Be respectful. Don’t feel you have to ask something. Sometimes you learn more by reading the thread. 

Open Calls: On occasion an agent will offer meetings to a few followers who respond quickly. If you get in the door, awesome. If not, be grateful they offered the opportunity and maybe next time you’ll get a shot. 

Inside Info: CDs and Showrunners post tips and give insight into their offices and writers rooms. You can also learn about agents who may be on your target list and discover connections to use in a cover letter. 

Lists: Organize those you follow into Lists. Keep the Lists private or they will be alerted.  

Research: The hidden gem of twitter and requires an eclectic list of those you follow. If you are writing/playing a character whose world view is different than your own and are looking for authentic reactions or motivations, DM someone with that point of view for their take on a situation. As always, be respectful. Ask a simple question and appreciate their response.

Ready for 2019

How to Hit the Ground Running in 2019

Step 1: GOAL

Define your goal and be very, very, very specific. If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know if you get there? And how will you know if something gets you closer to or farther away from your goal?

Vague goal – be a working actor

Specific goal – series regular on a Netflix comedy series 

Step 2: HISTORY

To prepare for 2019, first look back at 2018. Evaluate what got you closer to your goals and what slowed you down. 

Look at your 2018 calendar. Each item can be categorized as forward, backward, stasis. Forward may include auditions, bookings, researching agents, networking. But also volunteering, working out, meditating. Backward may be random social media, binging tv shows. These are things that absorb your time and have no payoff. Stasis things are necessary for life but indirectly effect your career, such as doctor visits, day job, car repair. 

Also look at relationships. Are you spending time with people who tear you down? Or do you surround yourself with friends, teachers, co-workers who empower you? 

Step 3: FUTURE

Define where you want to be at the end of 2019. What needs to happen so that you look back and know you made the most of these 12 months. 

As with all things, be specific. Then list the steps to get there. 

Example goal: Book a costar on a network procedural. (See how specific that is?) Now let’s reverse engineer what typically happens before you get to that booking.

1.) Audition – often lots of network auditions before that first booking

2.) get the audition though an agent or a relationship

3.) get the agent – need headshots, demo reel, resume and have profiles on casting platforms used by the industry

4.) get clips for a demo reel by booking web series, indie films, student films, etc which were booked by doing auditions

5.) get the resume which reflects training & experience This is an abbreviated list but gives you an idea.

Once you have your goal and your list of stepping stones, start adding them to your calendar. Schedule meetings with photographers, plan time to submit for auditions, plan audits for classes, etc. 

Step 4: PRESENT

We can help you define your goals and create a plan to achieve that success. Give us a call about our career class, How to Hit the Ground Running, based on Carolyne’s book. You will leave this intensive with a clear understanding of where you are going and road map to get there.

Business Essentials

Kimberly JurgenBusiness Essentials

by Kimberly Jurgen

One of the first things Carolyne would ask actors that she coached was – are you 1) curious to see if this industry is for you or 2) casually interested in acting as a hobby or 3) serious about a career in the entertainment industry?

If you answered 1 or 2, then there are many ways you can explore the industry – doing plays, student films and indie web series – without it costing you an arm and a leg.

Acting is a craft. To be a successful actor with a long term career, you must not only master your craft through diligent and consistent study, but you must also be a savvy businessperson. Since most acting schools don’t teach you how to be a business owner, here are some fundamental tools you’ll need and why each is important.

  1. A mission statement. Typically this will include the effect you want your career to have on yourself/family and your clients (such as the audience). It should also identify the type of work you want to create. A mission statement will put your goals into focus and prevent you from chasing someone else’s dream or diving down the wrong rabbit hole. Or taking a job that doesn’t help you achieve the career you really want. There is power in saying ‘no’ and your mission statement will help you know when to say ‘no’.
  2. A business plan. A terrific way to create yours is to work backwards. Think where you want to be in 5 years and reverse-engineer your route to that destination. For example, if you want to book a supporting lead in a tentpole feature in 5 years, what should you be doing in 3 years? In 1 year? In 6 months? In 3 months? Then create your calendar for the next month itemizing the tasks that must be accomplished each day to set you on the path to reach your 3 month goal. By itemizing your ‘to do’ list and addressing one task at a time, you will feel less overwhelmed and will become more productive.
  3. A budget. Once you know where you are going, you can create an annual budget to help you get there. List everything – classes, marketing materials, submission subscriptions, gas, parking, membership organizations, networking events, union dues, etc. And remember to include any specialized training which your goal may require, such as stunts or martial arts or teleprompter. This will also give you a clear idea of what income you will need to cover these business expenses.

While you are drafting these tools, keep a daily hour-by-hour diary. You’ll be surprised how much time you actually have available in your ‘I’m just too busy’ schedule. And look for organizational apps that can make your life easier.

You should re-examine your tools every 2-3 years to adjust for life delays which may have slowed down your progress or to shift for those rare and wonderful chutes and ladders that help you skip a few spaces along the road.

In the CBAA career class How to Hit the Ground Running, we tackle each of these tools and help each student create personalized strategic and marketing plans for their career. But these are all things you can do for yourself. In fact, make completing each of these a priority for your first month.

New Year Resolutions

Kimberly Jurgen

A Template for New Year’s Resolutions for Performers

created by Kimberly Jurgen, Commercial & Career teacher

 

I, ________________________, create this contract to assist me in achieving my career goal of ___________________________.

 

RESOLVED, to achieve my goal, I am willing to _________________. I am not willing to ________________________. (This can be the types of projects you will/won’t choose or the types of support jobs you will/won’t consider or even moral boundaries. Basically, any line in the sand for what is and isn’t an option for you.)

 

RESOLVED, I will make choices that improve my physical, emotional and mental health.

 

RESOLVED, I will start each day grateful for 3 things. (Studies show that having a grateful attitude makes you happier today and improves your long-term well-being by 10%.)

 

RESOLVED, I will create a budget for the year so that I may be fiscally responsible for my business. (As a performer, you are a business owner. Budgets and strategic plans are essential to the success of any business.)

 

RESOLVED, I will get training in the fields necessary for my success. (This may include languages or accents, martial arts or stunts, surfing or line-dancing, as well as acting and audition classes. Also consider having a coach to help you prepare for auditions and record eco-castings.)

 

RESOLVED, I will read and understand all contracts before signing. (Essential for non-union performers.)

 

RESOLVED, I will make use of the resources available to me, which include ___________________. (Several industry news organizations have free e-alerts or social media sites to keep you informed. Union members have many free training and networking opportunities. Also consider beneficial member organizations, such as Women in Film or AAA.)

 

RESOLVED, I will limit time spent on things that do not assist in preparing me for success. (This is anything that is a distraction or a time void. May be video games or excessive social media or tv time. Even a useful tool can become a hindrance when it isn’t mindfully applied.)

 

RESOLVED, I will remember that I have a voice and a purpose, which I will honor with my words and actions.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

These will get you started and hopefully encourage you to personalize your agreement for your own career goals. Once completed, sign and date your contract with yourself. And post it in a prominent place where you can be reminded daily of your intention.

 

Remember that these resolutions are just for one year in your life. And this list can be amended at any time.

 

If you would like assistance in planning your year ahead, we encourage you to consider our career class, How to Hit the Ground Running, where we help you with your goals and creating a path to success. Click here for more info about this class.

Find more time & money to accomplish your career goals

kimberly-jurgen-0283

 

by Kimberly Jurgen

 

1. TIME

How often do you lose hours to the social media rabbit hole or half a day to a binge watch, which you realize only as Netflix asks if you are still watching? Do you also feel like you don’t have enough time in the day to create marketing materials or work on a monologue?

For one week keep a detailed calendar of your time. Include everything you do every minute of each day. This diary will give you a starting time budget to see where your patterns and black holes of time are.

Then use one of these great apps to help with time management. But the catch is, you have to USE the app once you download it. And all of these are free, so if one doesn’t work for you then you can check out another one until you find the perfect fit to help you manage your time.

  • TimeTune
  • Brain Focus Productivity Timer
  • Any.do
  • Evernote

Or you can go old school and set a timer before you open FaceBook.

2. MONEY

If you don’t already create an annual budget, then I encourage you to do that today. For the developmental actor (meaning one who does not yet have a resume filled with tv guest stars or supporting roles in well-known films), a financial budget includes general training and specific training for your career goal. For example, if your plan is to work in action films, stage combat and martial arts are skills that will increase your chance of success. Budgets should also include headshots (meaning photographer, makeup artist, photoshop, printing, uploads to casting sites), reels, marketing (printing, envelopes, postage, etc), networking, professional memberships (to casting sites, union dues and organizations like Women in Film), subscriptions, research, transportation and parking fees. And more.

Once you create your annual career budget, divide it by 12 and you’ll have a sense of what your acting business needs to thrive in 2017. It will also show what you need in addition to your living expenses each month.

If you need income to fund your goals and a very flexible work schedule, consider these possibilities where you can make up to $1000/week depending on your availability and your weekly budget goals:

3. NEED HELP?

If you are feeling overwhelmed, our How To Hit the Ground Running class covers these and many other subjects that will help you have the best year ever. For details about the class and the topics covered, click here to go to our Career page.

Waiting

Lauren Lethererby Lauren Letherer – Commercial Auditioning Teacher

 

Waiting.

It’s one of those things that is associated with acting.

You wait to get auditions. Then you wait to hear if you get a callback. You wait through avails. THEN, if you do get the job, you usually spend a lot of time waiting in a trailer to actually shoot. It’s been said that you don’t actually get paid to act, you get paid to wait.

How do you get through those times when you feel like nothing is happening?

Think about this – if you were a musician you would play your instrument everyday. Same with a dancer, sculpter, writer… You name it. But, for some reason, actors finish school, or take one class and think they are done.

Then wait for the phone to ring.

You are constantly changing and evolving. Likewise your craft is constantly changing along with you. An art form does not stop transforming. So in those moments that feel stagnant, do something to feed your creative soul.

Read a play, work on a monologue, go to a museum, write something, enroll in an improv class. The list is endless. By feeding that creative soul you are not only keeping yourself from going crazy, you are keeping that channel open and ready for the next opportunity. Plus, you never know when inspiration will hit you. Don’t ever stop learning. The beautiful part of acting is – you are never done.

Free Tool for Cold Reading

Kimberly JurgenFree Tool to Help with Cold Reading

by Kimberly Jurgen

 

I’m not gonna make you wait for it. Let’s cut to the chase. The free magic tool is reading aloud. And here is why you do it. Most of the time, when you hear your own speaking voice, you are making sounds and saying words that originated in your head. Which means it is your authentic voice using words and patterns that are natural and organic to you.

 

However, for auditions, we usually receive scripts with characters that speak differently. They use worse (or better) grammar than we do. Or the word order may like Yoda be. And it can trip you up. And then, sometimes you’ll see copy and wonder if any human being speaks that way.

 

When you read this audition copy aloud, it will sound odd to your ear. Unless you have created a habit of hearing your voice speaking words and thoughts that are unique from your own.

 

Not only will this tool improve your cold reading skills, but it will broaden you as a human being as you explore texts of various topics. And if, like me, you are dyslexic, it can be invaluable as a tool to make you a more confident and flexible reader.

 

Here’s your training program:

  • Week 1 – read aloud 5 minutes each day
  • Week 2 – read aloud 10 minutes each day
  • Week 3 and on – read aloud 15 minutes each day

Be sure to vary what you read. Children’s books. Plays. Poetry. Biographies. Novels. Magazines.

 

One last tip on reading aloud… stay with a pace that is real. Reign in your eye so that it doesn’t jump ahead. Hear the story unfold moment to moment.

 

Let me know how this works out for you.

4 Things Actors Learn from Olympic Athletes

The Olympic creed states: “The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight; the essential thing is not to have won, but to have fought well.” Artists can learn a lot from this ideal.

Skill + Passion. Of course, not everyone who tries out makes the team. But that doesn’t diminish their love of their sport. No one stops shooting hoops because they didn’t qualify for the Olympic basketball team.

Likewise, if you love being an artist, be an artist for the love of the art. It doesn’t have to be your career. You can share stories by reading to children at your local library or to seniors in assisted living, perform with community theatre, direct a high school production, or write a play for youth at your church. There are so many ways you can honor your passion without saying ‘career or nothing’.

A winning combination. It took millions of steps to get each athlete onto the medal podium and just as many steps for each athlete who did not make it past preliminary rounds. Each participant is gifted in their sport, has sacrificed, is passionate and has mentally prepared for ‘the fight’. As an artist, it takes more than visualization to achieve your dream. You can dedicate years to visualizing yourself reaching that goal. But without training and consistent practice to develop your skill, then your passion will be little more than a dream.

Career artists need determination. Michael Phelps competed in the 2000 Olympics and did not win a medal. His best ranking was 5th in 200-meter butterfly finals. But the next year he set a new world record in the same event at the World Championships. If you have the talent and passion for a career in the entertainment industry, then determination will see your hard work rewarded with success.

Let it go. In the 2004 Olympics, Vanderlei de Lima was leading the men’s marathon by 45 seconds with two miles to go when a spectator grabbed him and pushed him toward the crowd. He struggled to get back his rhythm and finished with a bronze. When asked after the race about the incident, he said he could hardly remember it. He had let it go so that he could get back to running his marathon.

If you are a career artist, there will be many unwelcome surprises that will jump out at you – a bad review, malicious gossip, an audition waiting room saboteur. Learn what you can from these moments and then refocus on your craft. Remember you have limited control over your surroundings, but you have complete power over your reactions.