Best Time of Year for Finding a Talent Agent

This week: Timing; Finding a talent agent / Changing talent agencies

Talent AgencyWhen is the best time of year for seeking an agent?

Before and after pilot season. And…the summer.

Casting will have slightly slowed to episodics, films, Broadway and regional theater. Agents are freer to explore expanding their client lists. Agents are also cleaning their client lists during summer; dropping actors who have a history of:

– Being high-maintenance

– Not returning emails, texts, and or calls regarding audition appointments

– Under-performing (i.e. call-back ratio is low, actor doesn’t book jobs that are commisionable)

During this sluggish semester agents, aside from sitting at their desks surfing the web, are seeking new clients while dumping troubled  and lackluster clients. June to July’s end is the best time for anyone without representation (or represented actors seeking a change) to seek their champion.

Early to mid-summer is the time of year when agents have time on their hands – which is often taken up by anxious clients asking their reps, “Where are my auditions?” You would think these inquiring actors would know that year-after-year this is hibernation season for casting. It’s cyclical folks.

Agents are more receptive to taking on new clients before the hustle of pitching for projects picks up again in late July, mid-August. There’s no better time of year for seeking an agent, fully prepared with an effective audition, revamped marketing materials and honed interview skills.

My best,
Paul

AMIYB_AmazonRead 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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ACTING: Make It Your Business

Acting Techniques & Teachers

This Week: Worshiping a Technique and/or Teacher (a.k.a. The Cult Factor)

“Everything I say is right.

Everything I say is wrong.

There are many conflicting opinions in this industry. Don’t take one person’s word as gospel. Including my own. Take what works for you.”
– Paul Russell

Anyone who has read my book ACTING: Make It Your Business will recognize that quote of mine. It’s on the first page.

Recently I was teaching at one of the schools that I was invited to. (Possibly dangerous having me corrupt the minds of young actors.) We were working on audition technique. We began with the dinosaur of auditions; monologues.

The first student, while doing her monologue, stood with her feet as if glued to the floor. She would give an occasional gesture and then ended the piece with the word “scene”.

My reaction: “What the fuck?!”

I began to work with the student, telling her that in the professional world of auditions, actors can use the space and not be so regimented or worse; manufactured as she had been. Plus only green actors and amateurs say “scene” at the end of an audition.

To all of this the class gasped. Then came looks of confusion. Fear. Followed by students looking uneasily at each other. As if I had just said the vilest defamation against each of their mothers.

I asked what was wrong. Sheepishly they began to reply that they had been taught the complete opposite. A fellow teacher of the school had instructed them to stay “in a box”. If a move or gesture was needed it was to always be matched with a singular word or phrase each time they recited the monologue. And the actor was to have a set number of moves and gestures per monologue.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” is what shot out of my mouth.

Are they actors or puppets?

Not only was this plastic-acting being taught to a number of classes, year-after-year, at this institution; the teacher like me, has set these instructions for acting in a popular book. The book and the teacher I later learned have developed a large following which is nearly cult like. Oh my God.

There was a community theater producer who wrote a book on directing (there’s a dangerous mix). When I was investigating publishers for my book, I flipped through the pages of this director primer. The community theater Presario-author was advising aspiring directors, who may be asked to direct regionally a show that previously was on Broadway, to replicate the original New York production!  He instructs that they should not “tinker with what worked” for Broadway. So much for original thought. Young directors reading that book have been terribly misguided.

I once worked for this person. I wasn’t surprised about what I read because when I was asked to direct a show at his facility he handed me a bootleg video tape from the national tour of the show and asked that I replicate what was on the illegal documentation.  I refused. As an SDC director and by law I, and other directors, can not legally replicate the work of another director unless granted permission by that director.

You, as an artist and person, must use what bits of knowledge you pick up on your journey. Either exploit or discard the large volume of “This is how it’s done”’s that hurtle your way.

I’m fucking sick-and-tired of hearing the phrase “People say it should be done this way.” Really? Herd mentality rules? I don’t think so. If you believe in following the masses look at what it did for this country over the past eight years of the Bush administration.

As one of the actors interviewed in ACTING: Make It Your Business said; “There is no right or wrong way. If there were someone would write a book and make a ton of money.”

She’s right. All around. You must take what works for you.

Now you may be thinking; “But Paul, you’re giving advice now.” Yes, I am. And it’s based on my opinion. Most advice is just that. A conclusion formulated by personal experience and observation.

Don’t become cult-ish with any acting teacher, coach or author. I appreciate the tons of praise and compliments received for my musings here and in my book but I fear the day when I overhear someone say; “But Paul Russell said it has to be done this way.” It has to be done THAT way only if it works for you. Let others discover what works for them.

My best,
Paul

AMIYB_AmazonRead 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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Innovative Marketing Tool for The Actor

This week: An untapped marketing tool for actors

I’m surprised this hasn’t been utilized by actors… when it comes to marketing and hustling to get work; the smarter actors tend to lead.

In my thirty year career as a director, casting director and former actor I have never once come across an actor (including my past self) who had a reduced, easy-to-pocket, up-to-date resume on them at all times.

As I wrote earlier on this blog, there have been many occasions when I encountered actors who had no form of a picture & resume (i.e. their business card) with them. I’m not talking about just at auditions (though actors without a P&R while in the job search mode in not uncommon). I’m offering a solution to those who foolishly go without their P&R for whatever reason, including “it’s to big to handle”. To be an actor without some form of a picture & resume with you at all times is poor business practice, asinine and laziness.

So how to create and carry a miniature P&R to pocket in your pocket, purse or over-sized wallet? Two ways:

OPTION 1:

Know those postcards that you have of your puss? The ones other actors send out to say “Hi, my cat’s in heat and so is my career!” Well keep your puss on the front and drop the backside update about your pussy.

1. Order a set of postcards with your picture, name, phone & e-mail on the front. On the back leave the postcard blank. Order either standard size (4 x 6 inches) or oversized (5.5 x 8.5 inches) postcards.

2. Then you’ll need labels. What kind of labels? I’ve already done your homework for you.

For standard size postcards you’ll need Avery 8464 (3-1/3 x 4 inches) or another brand that is similar in size. If you can find a larger size that will fit without needing to be trimmed; great.

For oversized postcards you’ll need Avery 8165 (5.5 x 8.5 inches) or another brand of the same size.

3. Simply reduce your resume to the label size that you have chosen. If you cant’ fit your full resume on the label then edit waste and keep the best of the resume on the label.

INCLUDE a note that your full resume can be viewed at your web site. Don’t have a web site? Bad actor – 5 demerits.

4. Then in a small quantity put the printed labels on the back of your postcards. When you need to update your resume, reprint your labels and put on to another set of blank headshot postcards.

OPTION 2:

An alternative to having backside-blank-headshot-postcards would be to use a service like Vista Print (I use them for my marketing-whore materials), PostCards.com, ImageMedia or whomever you find on or offline that offers the best value and quality. With one of these services you can then have both your headshot and resume formatted and pre-printed to be on the respective front/back of your post card.

The down side to this is that you have to order a large volume and being that the resume information is pre-printed you can’t update information until your next print run.

The pro to having your reduced, postcard size picture and resume pre-printed is that it’ll look cleaner IF you formatted properly when ordering.

###

So there ya have it. I have yet to ever receive something like this from an actor. Ever. Receiving regular business cards with just a picture…? I’ve gotten tons that go into the trash. They tell me nothing of the actor’s history. Having postcards tossed onto my desk with invites to showcases or include pet updates….? Far too many and they too go into the trash because they also tell me nothing about the actor.

Give this a try. You’ll be viewed as innovative. Believe me not many people lead when given new ideas. Also you’ll be able to carry your headshot and resume everywhere you go. Everywhere (well maybe not to a clothing optional campground). Far too many actors have I run into at airports, on the street, at openings, or elsewhere and they didn’t have information to offer me that was useful, i.e. their picture and resume in a reduced form for BOTH of us to easily carry.

On a side note: Joel Carlton of DGRW (a bicoastal agency), Judy Boals, President of Boals Talent and Michael Rodriquez of The Roster are the guest agents for the next agent panel for Access to Agents. This is a four-week seminar intensive that prepares and introduces you to the people who help you find work. Plus you get a marketing make-over AND written feedback from the agents (and hopefully and invite to become a client). For registration visit: http://paulrussell.net/Access_to_Agents.html

My Best,

Paul

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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