TIPS FOR THE WORKING
Written by Annie Kidwell
Reprinted with permission from FAB Florida The Actors/Models Book
is the 8x10, glossy, matte, litho prints or photo prints (used in NY more than
other markets), borderless or with border. Headshots should never be a glamorous
shot, but look like the real you. What sells a picture is lotís of energy and a
friendly open look. Attitude or things like beards, glasses, hairstyle
variations, etc. can be saved for postcards or a composite card. Also, the dark,
moody look can be used for a film headshot, i.e. tough guy, gangster, straight,
non-smiling with an air of authority, etc.
Resumť: Neat, honest, professionally typed, sized and printed on,
stapled or glued to picture. Separate resumes by Print, Commercials,
Theatre; may be required if there are enough credits to warrant it.
Although the resumť may share these credits the focus should be on what you are
marketing yourself to.
Composites, ĎComp Cardí: Character looks, fashion, lifestyle,
glamour, commercial; color and black and white.
Demo Video Tapes / Audition Tapes: These are used mostly by
SAG actors with established feature or TV credits. Do not stand in front of a
backdrop and do monologues or pay someone to create your tape while you do
readings. They must be clips from work you have done in film, TV, industrials or
Demo Audio Tapes / Voice-Over Tapes: Write only your Name
and phone number (with Area Code) and the words: VOICE-OVER DEMO
on the tape. Donít forget or theyíll be tossed out. Any paperwork you may send
with it will probably get separatedand you can bet the producer or caster will
not listen to the tape just for this information!
Postcards: Great for all those thank you notes after a shoot or to
let your agent know what youíve been doing on stage, or what classes youíve been
Appointment/Calendar Book for daily records, calls, mileage,
expenses, bookings, etc. Expense records may be kept separate from the
Voice Mail service, Answering Machine, Beeper, Cell Phone:
Whatever it takes for you to stay in touch and for others to be able to reach
you. This is so important!. Casting calls are done in a hurry,
usually shortly before the shooting so you must be available and able to respond
on short notice. Itís just the way it is. And please keep pen and pencil right
by your phone(s). Itís a good idea to Ďtrainí your family on how to quickly and
accurately take messages for you, without excuses that you arenít around or they
donít know...etc. Quick and professional responses increase your availability to
work. Try to avoid being overly creative in your greetings Ė music, family
moments, characters, famous voices, and so on. They get old real quick and
people who are calling for castings and auditions just arenít interested in you
entertaining them in this fashion. Your greeting is part of your professional
FAB: Your most up-to-date marketing resource! Stay connected and
keep working! And, donít forget the valuable resource of
The Florida Blue Sheet.
Add to that,
Focus-In, a monthly newspaper published in Orlando, to keep
you informed about industry happenings. Trade publications are so essential to
learning about the business structure, letting you know whatís going on, and
providing additional resources. These publications are your most important
tools, because you use them to put these other tools to work for you.
SET YOUR STANDARDS...Working Towards Professionalism
Be reliable. Get an answering machine,
voice mail, a pager, an answering service! Be available. If an
agent cannot leave a message or you donít return pages, they wonít call you back
and you will not work.
journal. Keep a notebook or log of agent calls
and contacts. Check out and learn the requirements for your Federal Tax Return
Schedule C and the available deductions. Keep accurate records of mileage,
expenses, etc. Record all those trips to classes, auditions, photo sessions,
anything you arenít being paid to do and see if itís a deduction. Check with
your accountant or tax preparation expert. If they arenít familiar with
deduction for entertainers, find a source that is. Itís to your advantage.
your trade. Read books, trade publications, etc. Understand that
you need to network, train, and market yourself to get work. Talent is not the
magic key. You have a lot of competition and the more you prepare yourself to
meet it the faster you will realize success. You must find the most effective
way to market yourself, get yourself known, develop your skills because your
job-hunting doesnít stop with your first shoot. You will always be looking for a
job and every person you meet is an interview.
Treat this as a business.
Check out your options as you proceed and invest
Always take your headshots to an audition.
Always have them with you, in your car, your briefcase, at your job. Your
headshots are your most valuable marketing tool so carry extra. It is not
uncommon to hear that talent still show up to auditions without a picture! The
pictures your agent keeps are for her (his) submissions. The agent does NOT
supply the casting director with the picture for your audition. You do that.
Be early to the audition. Fifteen
minutes minimum. You need time to prepare and shake off the Ďtraffic tensioní.
Never call a casting director. Besides
not getting pictures at an audition, this is the number one casting director
complaint. Do send a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) when
you submit your headshot. It is a courtesy that just may be put to use. Casting
Directors prefer not to foot the bill for the postage to correspond with you,
like requesting you come in for a file-tape interview.
Check-in with your agent(s) often.
Find out when is the best time to call in, when their calling volume may be low
and when theyíll most likely welcome your call. Or, they may have a regular time
set aside that talent can use for calls or drop-in visits. Find out from your
agent if they prefer weekly check-in calls or cards mailed to them. Also, do
they object to drop in visits? When itís busy, calls tie up the lines and leave
them no time to talk to casting and production people. When itís not busy,
youíll most likely hear ďNothing now.Ē
Postcards: Agents love them, producers love them, casting
directors love them. Postcards are simply the best way to keep in touch versus
calling in every week. Setup a mailing/marketing schedule for the upcoming year.
Postcards put your face on their desk and also enhance your professional image
by showing a higher level of commitment to working in the business. Use the
cards to market yourself, get your name and face out there, and bring people up
to date on your activities and training. Namely ďI just completed...Ē, ďJust
finished...Ē, ďTaking a class with...Ē, ďWill soon be opening in...Ē, etc. Use
old pictures as large postcards. You have more room to write more and youíve
already paid for them. This is not advised if they just donít look like you at
Listen to any directions given to you
in an audition and follow them. It could be a test!
Get training! When not working, the actor is
expected to be training, either in a workshop or on stage. You should be
training as long as you are in the business. Training is still the best
networking venue. Work in a location state, like
Florida, is usually
uneven and training keeps you involved and motivated. Itís your responsibility
to keep the instrument fine-tuned and ready to work.
is everything! Are you helpful, willing to learn, cooperative,
friendly, and easy to talk to?
for your audition. Preparation is the key to successful acting. Take
three outfits with you. Anticipate different character needs. Put your
imagination to work!
Learn to play the game! Itís a
business! Learn marketing and business techniques and develop
professional standards and accurate record keeping.
It is suggested that you do not FAX your headshots. The quality is
terrible and a professional package should be mailed, not a quick fax. Leave the
fax to business communications between casting and production. Besides, Iíve
been told it really turns them off and will alienate you. Unless you are
specifically requested to fax a picture, do a mailing and donít forget to
include your agentís name/address.
FAB hopes these tips and suggestions help you work more and
Annie Kidwell, publisher Florida Actors/Models Book
NOTE: The views expressed in this
article are only those of the author, who is solely responsible for the content.
Creative WorkShops does not necessarily endorse these views, and is not to be
held responsible for any of the content provided in the article.