This week: Modern Actor Marketing via a Modem
“Christopher Stadulis TODAY – Auditioning for a role on Law & Order: SVU & auditioning with CD Jamie Schulman (Jen Euston Casting) & CD Jessica Kelly (Chrystie Street Casting) THURSDAY – auditioning with Agent Holly Vegter (Hartig-Hilepo Agency)”
One day later it was followed by an updated status:
“Christopher Stadulis got a callback for L&O:SVU! Just finished auditioning with CD Jonathan Strauss who loved my work. He wants me to go back today @ 4:15 to audition with the Director of this episode of L&O:SVU. Then I will be meeting & auditioning with CD’s Jessica Kelly (Chrystie Street Casting) & Jamie Schulman (Jen Euston Casting).”
Finally! An actor, among the thousands who have friended me as a “networking receptacle” using their Facebook status for something other than telling me:
- My cat is in heat and so am I.
- I hate life and people. You should too!
- I just took this quiz to find out that my personality for religious sects is: Amish.
People (i.e. bitter career-barren-actors) have written nasty notes to me that I utilize Facebook as a marketing tool for my book ACTING: Make It Your Business and for my classes. My reply? “Why, yes. Yes, I do. I’m also marketing my career as both a director and casting director and dispensing casting and career information at no cost to actors. Got a problem with that?”
And here’s something I don’t openly share (until now); I’m not thrilled with having to be a self-described “marketing whore” but when it comes to survival we all have to have a bit of the selling slut in each of us. Online social networks have become a modern medium for everyone to sell their wares with the least amount of cost for the most return.
As I replied to a mean-spirited missive from one actor (I’ve never met) who friended me to market himself:
“Facebook is a marketing tool for all. Know that our office daily receives inquiries and requests from actors to attend their shows (often at a cost to us), seek representation (of which we do not do since we are not an agency), provide employment (of which we’re happy to offer access if the actor is avail., willing and correct for a project).”
What I really wanted to reply was, “You friended me. Stop bitching and market yourself.”
In my classes I often instruct my students to watch what I do on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace and excel past me. Some do. Others remain timid. It’s timidity that keeps one from advancing.
Joining a Facebook or MySpace group that is administered by a casting office, producer, director, theater or an actor collective is not actively marketing oneself. It’s passive and lazy. Friending same and expecting the person you networked to suddenly look upon you as brilliant for your talent just because you’re on their friend list will garner the similar response; electronic crickets.
Like Christopher Stadulis, put in your status something of use. Provide career advancing information to the person(s) you’re networking. Let the people from whom you want notice know that others are noticing you for your talents and/or achievements.
I recently had a student who exploited Facebook well with the release of his film The Graduates. For weeks he would put in his status, links to trailers for the film plus announce screenings and praise for his performance. A few of his friends may have tired of the promotion but what kind of friends were they if they didn’t support and encourage his achievement?
If you’ve joined an online social network you should be seeking out directors, writers, producers, agents and casting directors. And not just the household/industry name names… go for the up-and-comers. They’re the ones who need you as much you need them. Find industry people who have friends in common with you. Strangers are more apt to electronically accept a virtual friend if they see there are a number of mutual friends between themselves and the person inviting the online friendship. They’ll ignore the ignore button for fear that they may offend someone whom they may have met but can’t recall. It’s that fear, doubt and potential for embarrassment that is the Achilles heel to a stranger’s friend list.
If you’re not comfortable with networking online. That’s O.K. You’re leaving open vacancies to be filled. Thousands of other people are taking your place and their fearlessness to network is putting them ahead of you in this journey that is life.
I’ll be the first to admit that I hate promoting myself. Always have and probably forever will. But I’ve learned to deal with my squeamishness of selling out of necessity (medical bills, rent, food, etc). If I didn’t get a reality check I wouldn’t have worked on Broadway, wouldn’t have done films for 20th Century Fox, gone would be my directing credits, and never would my book have been published by Random House. I also would not have been able to share my insights here with you. My fear would have left my life empty. And it did for awhile at the beginning of my career to which I have great regret. What I missed can never be recovered. For I’ll never know what opportunities I let pass me by for my being passive.
The choice is yours. Use effectively the social network tools provided. Or ignore them and they’ll ignore you.
Read advice from legendary talent agents,
plus Hollywood & Broadway actors in Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING: Make It Your Business!
Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He writes a column for Back Stage and is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.
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