How a Director / Casting Director Casts Actors

How does an actor get chosen for an audition? How does an actor succeed in the audition room? How does an actor have a successful career without a need for monthly visits to…

Casting

Paul Russell_HeadshotPaul Russell
PaulRussell.net

How to get an audition.

How does an actor get chosen for an audition? How does an actor succeed in the audition room? How does an actor have a successful career without a need for monthly visits to CVS for Xanax?

Live, from the rehearsal hall directing the 1st, post-Broadway U.S. production of MAMMA MIA! director (and casting director) Paul Russell shares with actor, and host of Theatre Matters, Justin Tyler Lewis the ins and outs of auditions, casting, and a successful career in entertainment in a must-listen podcast.

Click Player Below to Listen:

Non-Player Access: Click Here

PaulRussell.net

Tickets to 1st Post-Broadway MAMMA MIA!

Share this:

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned 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 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.

Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

Love Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book for Actors
ACTING: Make It Your Business!

Actors everywhere who are trying to succeed in the business, young or old, on stage or on camera, anywhere in the world, take note:

This is your roadmap!”
BERNARD TELSEY, casting director, CSA
(Hamilton, The Intern, NBC’s The Wiz – LIVE!, Into The Woods – The Movie, Wicked)
All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”
SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderUnforgettable)
“I love this book!
Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear but really need to know
EVERY actor should read this book!”
DIANE RILEY, Senior Legit Talent Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates
“Paul’s book made me proud to be a part of this community we call ‘show!'”
KAREN ZIEMBA, TONY & Drama Desk Award Winning Actress
“Paul Russell’s words are not only blunt & accurate they zero in on all the questions every actor wants to know but is afraid to ask!”
KEN MELAMED, Talent Agency Partner
Bret Adams, Ltd.
“I had my Business of Acting, BFA Seniors, class do book reports on a variety of “business of acting” books and ACTING: Make It Your Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING:AMIYB_Amazon Make It Your Bu

How Actors Successfully Accept Criticism

Everyone has got a f—ing opinion. Opinions can either stall our desires or mislead into self-delusion.

Everyone has got a f—ing opinion. Opinions can either stall our desires or mislead into self-delusion.

Human nature is wired to focus on the negative over the positive. We’re drawn to it like injury claim lawyers are to car crashes on the Jersey Turnpike. Before shaking your head in denial that you yourself are not guilty of this non-pleasurable foible lets slide down the slippery slope of your psyche.

How many times have you received praise for a performance or deed but then in the midst of that praise there was one critical response? A less than enthusiastic kneel at your feet or rejection at drinking the Kool-Aid of your brilliance? Recall the nasty, snide remark slandered by someone who pleasures in pointing out fault over favor? Now that your memory is jogged how much did the one critical comment obscure the plethora of praise? Come on, be honest. It had to irk you a bit. If so, you stepped on to the land mine that is the negative booby-trap.

Screw the negative.

And recall that criticism is a synonym for opinion. Got it? It’s not a judgment chiseled in granite. There is no Supreme Court (other than your parents) handing out verdicts of shame upon you. Only you (and yes maybe the parental units) do that. Stop it. Turn your back on the negative.

And caution on the positive…

Praise positive and critics negative can not be the barometer of which you measure your success or failure.  If you focus on either you’ll become lost in a forest of distorted mirrors. Forever seeing reflections that are projections provided by others. Smash the mirrors. Govern your own way out of the thicket of thorns and protective pines. What’s your opinion of you? How do you favor or critique your artistry? How are you honest with the person who’s opinion you most honor, and value? The opinionated of your whole that is you. Be kind to yourself, while being objective of improvement and praise to your goals and ideals.

Pre-P.S. And please, no opinion notes to me that this was an opinion about opinions. Infinity mirrors belong in one of two places; cheap motels with day rates and South Philly row homes.

And yes that was an opinion about having an opinion within an opinion piece.  At least that’s my opinion.

My Best,
Paul

Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

Love the Best-Selling Book for Actors
ACTING: Make It Your Business!

AMIYB_Amazon“Humorous and witty…
Actors everywhere who are trying to succeed in the business, young or old, on stage or on camera, anywhere in the world, take note:

This is your roadmap!”
BERNARD TELSEY, casting director – CSA
(NBC’s Peter Pan – LIVE!, Into The Woods – The Movie, Wicked, Sex & The City)
“All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”
SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderUnforgettable)
“I love this book!
Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear but really need to know
EVERY actor should read this book!”
DIANE RILEY, Senior Legit Talent Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates
“Paul’s book made me proud to be a part of this community we call ‘show!'”
KAREN ZIEMBA, TONY & Drama Desk Award Winning Actress
“Paul Russell’s words are not only blunt & accurate they zero in on all the questions every actor wants to know but is afraid to ask!”
KEN MELAMED, Talent Agency Partner
Bret Adams, Ltd.
“I had my Business of Acting, BFA Seniors, class do book reports on a variety of “business of acting” books and ACTING: Make It Your Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING:AMIYB_Amazon Make It Your Business!

Share this:

Skype With Paul
A Casting Director’s Best-Selling Book for Actors

Share Answers for Actors:

Facebook Twitter More...

StumbleUpon.com
E-mail Post to Friends…

Follow Paul Russell Casting:

follow Paul on Facebookfollow Paul on Twitter

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, Elon and Wright State University. He 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.

ACTING: Make It Your Business

How Not to Be Blacklisted by Casting

A casting colleague recently posted on social media:

“Dear Actors. PLEASE READ BREAKDOWNS THOROUGHLY BEFORE SUBMITTING.

The disrespect I get from actors about how they are not available for an audition is disgusting.”

A casting colleague recently posted on social media:

“Dear Actors. PLEASE READ BREAKDOWNS THOROUGHLY BEFORE SUBMITTING.

The disrespect I get from actors about how they are not available for an audition is disgusting.”

The sentiment may be viewed as a harsh rebuke from this casting director who is widely known in our community to be accessible and deeply supportive of actors. But the casting director above has a frustration shared in the casting community. Every casting director encounters being stood-up repeatedly by actors for what is essentially a professional date to employment.

Yes, between an actor submitting and the casting director contacting the actor with an appointment, the actor’s schedule and circumstance may have altered to be that they are legitimately not available for the project and/or audition. Completely understandable. But when the percentage of turn-downs of appointments rises to near a quarter from the actors asking for an appointment (which happens) and the percentage of actors out of work is in the 90s percentile: too many peer actors are playing catfish with casting.

When a casting director receives submissions the process likely follows this process:

  1. Review agency submissions (in New York alone there are over 50 offices representing at the minimum 100 – 150 actors each. LA? Actor representation is as common as Starbucks is to suburbia). The casting director then ranks choices to 1st, 2nd and 3rd priority to be contacted.

Why the ranking? Because 1st and 2nd choice actors desired to be seen who are submitted by agents have a 50-50 chance of passing on the audition for various reasons. Enter the 3rd choices… 4ths and 5ths.

  1. Review unrepresented actor submissions. Actor response can be as few as 300 to over 1,000. The casting director is eyeing each picture; each resume; each credit on the resume just as they do with the actors who are represented. As with the represented actors the non-represented actors are placed with the represented actors in 1st, 2nd and 3rd priority to be contacted.

Then the casting director reviews all choices and plans how to strategically place each actor into individual 5 – 7 minute time slots of which the casting director may only have 20 – 30 for one day.

Most casting directors do not schedule the actors by happenstance. The experienced casting director methodically plans to the actors’ and projects’ best interest plotting which actor is seen in relation to the other actors being called in.

  1. Who do I want to be the first actor to set the day’s expectations?
  2. When do I put in the actor I have faith in but that actor from my experience needs a bit of hand holding? When do I place them in the schedule to have that actor at their best?
  3. Do I place Actor Jones (who I know will blow away my director) early or do I wait until after lunch when the creative team is refreshed but anxious that they may not have choices.

Choices:

When working simultaneously on a motion picture and casting for a regional Shakespeare festival I experienced great anxiety as I kept losing actors I wanted to call in for the festival. My casting colleague who only knew the luxury of major studio casting said to me, “Oh, Paul you only need one person per role.”

No. No, I don’t. In casting there’s a phrase we use at the table… “How deep are we?” Meaning: if our first choice who auditioned passes, and then our second choice who auditioned passes how deep can we go until we’re forced to begin the entire process again with actors not seen? A casting director who can’t go deep in one audition round is the casting director who retires to a MACY*S perfume counter.

The casting director places great concentration and effort in accepting and reviewing actor submissions. Respect by a portion of actors seems to be dwindling for the process and dedication to actors being considered for an audition appointment: of which there too few. A producer’s budget is the true gatekeeper.

When an actor submits on a project casting directors regard the actor’s submission as a commitment to:

  1. The actor is seriously interested in the project.
  2. The actor is available for the project and the audition.
  3. If offered a contract the actor will more than likely accept the job.

If an actor cannot answer ‘Yes’ to the preceding commitments: Do Not Submit for an Audition.

The old-school, foolish thinking: “Oh, I’ll just submit myself to keep my face in the casting director’s eye” is b.s. An actor submitting for consideration to a casting director for a possible audition appointment is no different than proposing to a romantic interest, “Would you be interested in a date?” If the person of desire answers “Yes” and then the inquirer replies “Only kidding. Not interested.” how much time do you think there will be before a palm stings a cheek?

An actor submitting to casting because they are a marketing flirt will leave the actor with few professional romances in this industry.

How to Get Casting Director & Talent Agent Attention

Share this:

How to Get Casting Director & Talent Agent Attention

One pivotal, pro-active, career-changing step delivered actress Holly Williams five continuous years of 365 days-per-year of union principal work plus paid vacations and benefits. Holly also received multiple agent meetings and representation. Gonzalo Trigueros booked a principal role in his first film after he, like Holly, discovered how to snare successfully the attention of both casting and representation.

Fall casting for screen projects, Broadway, and regional theater is in full swing. An actor nabbing the eyes and ears of casting, directors, and/or representation while among their crowded peers is never an easy task. Sometimes, the actor feels as if they’re screaming into the wind while no one is listening. An actor need not scream. An actor must navigate the gales to be the sole breeze caressing the ears of their targets. How did Holly, Gonzalo and do your competitive peers be that successful breeze? They take control of their careers, and never apologize for their boldness. Like fellow pro-active actors who land screen projects, Broadway, and/or representation these step-forward actors began their winning marathon here: Paul Russell Casting. I’m just a signpost. Actors choose to either ignore, or take advantage of my direction pointing actors to their desires. Holly and Gonzalo chose to follow and charge ahead:

Drive your career for longevity in four, short weeks as you and I along with 3 entertainment industry executives work together to bring home your goals. A month-long intensive to embolden your career for the long haul:

WEEK 1: Mastering Getting Seen & Known – Skilled Modern Actor Marketing

Pinpointing, leveraging & effectively branding your individuality. Includes: creating dynamic actor web sites (including mobile friendly), email campaigns that gain entertainment industry attention (without being lost to spam), and smartly leveraging social media and the digital revolution to an actor’s advantage to make each actor rise above the competition. Plus, ensuring your hard-copy marketing gets seen by gatekeepers: guaranteed.

WEEK 2: Mastering Every Audition – Getting Jobs

How do some actors get more call backs & job offers? We target the behind-the-casting-table insights into what makes each actor’s individuality excel while in the audition room. Utilizing audition scenes—from current screen and theatrical projects—I and my assistant work with each actor to command every audition encountered.

WEEK 3: Commanding the Audition Room & an Executive Gatekeeper’s Office

A reinforcement session to audit and increase improvement on commanding every audition room, improving text analysis, and discovering an audition and interview wardrobe that is unique to you, and tells casting and talent representation, “This is who I am. Embrace it.”

Interview strategies are demonstrated.

Q & A preparing the actor for the panel.

WEEK 4: Entertainment Executive Panel’s Guidance & Feedback

An open Q & A with a panel of entertainment executives who represent actors as principals in major-studios films, TV series, Broadway, national tours, and regional theater.

Then… each actor is individually introduced by me to panel members. The actor presents their new and improved skills discovered from the prior 3 weeks of my personal guidance.

The evening culminates with individual feedback for each actor as provided by the panel.

A wrap-up follows.

Two-dozen universities from Yale to Elon to Wright State annually invite me share my NYC master classes on their campuses with their acting-major seniors. You can get a jump on those actors now sharing with the entertainment executive panel what you and I worked on together to showcase your improvements.

October 2015 is the ONLY 1 of 2 master classes of this kind for 2015/16 to be held in NYC.

Dates, Executive Panel, & Registration @ http://paulrussell.net/AMIYB_MasterClass.html

10 actors only accepted.

Show us what you have and desire. Let’s get to work, my friend.

My best,
Paul Russell

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, and former actor spans projects for major film studios. His involvement with casting principal talent includes over 500 projects covering: 20th Century Fox, HBO; television networks, Broadway, and regional theater. His work as a casting director is recognized with the Drama Desk winning (best casting ensemble) COBB produced in New York & LA by Kevin Spacey, COSBY, ER, the original company of DISNEY’S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, the original productions of STRING FEVER (starring Cynthia Nixon), PERA PALAS (Sinan Unel), WOODY GUTHRIE’S AMERICAN SONG (Drama Desk noms.) plus casting for Asolo, San Jose Rep. Two River Theatre Co., Florida Stage, Nebraska Shakespeare Festival, Lark Theatre Company, Barter Theatre (TONY recipient) and over a dozen more NYC and regional theaters.

As a director featured in American Theatre Magazine Russell worked with legendary playwright John Guare directing the regional premier of Mr. Guare’s A FREE MAN OF COLOR. Paul also directs for the TONY-winning Barter Theatre, and in New York.

Paul is the author of the best-selling acting book for actors ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor (Penguin Random House). He teaches master classes at over two-dozen universities including: Elon, Wright State University, Illinois Wesleyan University, Rutgers University, Emory & Henry College, and Louisiana State University. Russell taught the business of acting for NYC-Tisch‘s acting program at The Atlantic Theatre.

Dates, Executive Panel, & Registration @ http://paulrussell.net/AMIYB_MasterClass.html

How to Find the Best Acting Coach, Voice Teacher, & Actor Friendly Bathroom

If trumpeting for votes to receive an ‘award’ was the basis for legitimate honor then how soon until Donald Trump rallies his followers to vote him a Nobel Prize?

An actor reached out to me regarding an acting coach who touts prolifically online to his being “a Back Stage award-winning acting coach.” When researching the acting teacher’s credentials and professional history I discovered multiple empty resume pages on casting’s and representation’s go-to casting resource Breakdown Services. Odd that the actor/acting coach created several profiles but left each space for a resume blank. These entries are only seen by the entrant and by entertainment’s gatekeepers who have been granted private access by Breakdown Services. One of his three profiles did contain substance within his Special Skills section. Although I question the validity. The white actor/acting teacher has Russian, Puerto Rican, Irish, and New England accents while promoting he’s of African descent and speaks fluent Korean. Perhaps he should receive a Back Stage award for Most Likely to Page at the U.N.

Back Stage, like other publicly polled award benefactors, has no vetting process for their ‘honors.’ No academy of learned entertainment peers who owl over the scope of entertainment professionals. No red carpet ceremony leading to a hall of seated professionals. No precious mineral or Swarovski statutes handed to masters of craft. Recipients of the Back Stage nod for ‘best’ of whatever: audition studios, acting or vocal coach must rely on their soliciting votes themselves as do politicians running for elected office. If trumpeting for votes to receive an ‘award’ was the basis for legitimate honor then how soon until Donald Trump rallies his followers to vote him a Nobel Prize? Fortunately the Nordic organization which has honored Einstein, Desmond Tutu, Martin Luther King, Madame Currie, and Malala Yousafzai has no laureate honoring bluster, and best blonde from a bottle.

Want to know what acting coach, voice teacher, or audition studio is best for you? Ask working professionals and peers whose values and opinions you trust and respect. With awards by solicitation you’re relying on votes cast anonymously by the nominees; uninformed neophytes; the prejudiced; and those who check-box a ‘yes’ because the nominee’s name appears vaguely familiar. And what of the numbers who participated in the open poll? The tally could be a few as a single vote to as many as several hundred. Is that a fair and broad range of insight to serve your craft well?

To be objectively informed research beyond the award-by-poll nominee’s and recipient’s marketing and website. The praise on a virtual home base is too often stolen from a thesaurus. And don’t click to outside websites such as IMDB. IMDB’s content is not reliable. The information within is likely supplied by the subject and/or the subject’s publicist. Trust the values network you’ve built to inform and guide your journey.

A polled award is a marketing tool leveraged to expand exposure by both the awarder and the solicitor for votes awardee. A true honor is earned, and then rewarded by the value of the craft generated by the recipient. For these people or institutions there often is no ‘best of’ public recognition. Often the best are quietly at their prime: focused on the doing rather than ‘look how others believe I’m doing.’

Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

Love the Best-Selling Book for Actors
ACTING: Make It Your Business!

AMIYB_Amazon“Humorous and witty…
Actors everywhere who are trying to succeed in the business, young or old, on stage or on camera, anywhere in the world, take note:

This is your roadmap!”
BERNARD TELSEY, casting director – CSA
(NBC’s Peter Pan – LIVE!, Into The Woods – The Movie, Wicked, Sex & The City)
“All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”
SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderUnforgettable)
“I love this book!
Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear but really need to know
EVERY actor should read this book!”
DIANE RILEY, Senior Legit Talent Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates
“Paul’s book made me proud to be a part of this community we call ‘show!'”
KAREN ZIEMBA, TONY & Drama Desk Award Winning Actress
“Paul Russell’s words are not only blunt & accurate they zero in on all the questions every actor wants to know but is afraid to ask!”
KEN MELAMED, Talent Agency Partner
Bret Adams, Ltd.
“I had my Business of Acting, BFA Seniors, class do book reports on a variety of “business of acting” books and ACTING: Make It Your Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING:AMIYB_Amazon Make It Your Business!

Share this:

Skype With Paul
A Casting Director’s Best-Selling Book for Actors

Share Answers for Actors:

Facebook Twitter More...

StumbleUpon.com
E-mail Post to Friends…

Follow Paul Russell Casting:

follow Paul on Facebookfollow Paul on Twitter

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, Elon and Wright State University. He 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.

ACTING: Make It Your Business

A Casting Director’s Bait & Switch with Actors? – Caution!

A NYC casting director for background and commercial casting is baiting actors.

bait and switch

.

.

Paul Russell_Headshot

Paul Russell
PaulRussell.net

.

A NYC casting director for background and commercial casting is baiting actors.

The hook begins promising. The casting director entices actors to read for the casting director as an exploration of the actor’s abilities. The cold read lasts 30 – 60 seconds. Not too long please, there are other actors in the audition studio hallway backed-up waiting for their fleeting spotlight. Once the casting director dismisses the actor, the actor is then handed over to the assistant. The assistant gaily leads the actor to a secluded hallway. There begins what the actor believes is a one-on-one career consultation. It lasts no more than 2 minutes. And it ends with a snare.

The assistant (almost always a 20-something young woman) asks the actor for their resume. She reviews the resume with a cursory glance, and then begins the script. Having overheard the assistants for over a year the script leads the actor as follows:

The assistant to the actor: “Where do you get most of your auditions from? (Occasionally she’ll be adventurous and deviate from the script and say ‘work.’)

The actor generally replies, “Back Stage. Actors Access. Casting Networks,” and obscure websites that often have the same information as the preceding casting notice outlets.

The assistant then restates the websites the actor stated adding her casting office utilizes those website too! (There’s always a reminder from the assistant that the actor keep up-to-date membership fees to the casting notice websites.) No matter if the actor has stated one, two, or more of these sites the assistant does not deviate from her script. The assistant also emphasizes to each actor, “We cast 24 hours a day. Log-in to Casting Networks often. Submit to us if you see a project you’d like to be considered for.”

Then comes the snaring scripted question asked by the assistant of every actor in this private career consultation, “Do you have any questions?”

And as if the actor is being voiced by a ventriloquist each actor queries, “[Name of casting director] asked me to ask you about her upcoming workshops.”

The assistant always feigns surprise, “Oh! She did?” And then begins the sell for on-camera classes. And even as I watch an actor take the bait and buy into the class the assistant tells every actor before and after, “We only have two seats left.” It’s a car salesman ploy not worthy of our industry.

How do these actors get snared firstly? They’re contacted by the casting director’s office after the actor has submitted materials to the casting director. You too can have an introductory read with the casting director. There’s a nominal fee. As reported by one actor who participated, he paid $20 for the privilege of a thirty-second read for the casting director before he was pulled aside by the assistant for the bait-and-switch.

On the website ClassActOrHack.com an actor states paying $39. for the initial reading. The actor then goes on further to say of the experience: “…fraud extraordinaire… Rushed everyone. Scammer, scammer, scammer. Grade F.”

There’s nothing illegal happening here. One can state that no one is being harmed. But for the industry professionals who work as actors, casting directors, or talent representatives who also teach actors from a desire of heart not with wish of meager disposable income, what of their reputations? Sullied by the few industry players who play actors for their wallets.

The practice is stomach-turning. And the practice will continue as long as actors let themselves be the prey of the bait-and-switch.

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, Elon and Wright State University. He 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.

Share this:

Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

Love the Best-Selling Book for Actors
ACTING: Make It Your Business!

AMIYB_Amazon“Humorous and witty…
Actors everywhere who are trying to succeed in the business, young or old, on stage or on camera, anywhere in the world, take note:

This is your roadmap!”
BERNARD TELSEY, casting director – CSA
(NBC’s Peter Pan – LIVE!, Into The Woods – The Movie, Wicked, Sex & The City)
“All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”
SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderUnforgettable)
“I love this book!
Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear but really need to know
EVERY actor should read this book!”
DIANE RILEY, Senior Legit Talent Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates
“Paul’s book made me proud to be a part of this community we call ‘show!'”
KAREN ZIEMBA, TONY & Drama Desk Award Winning Actress
“Paul Russell’s words are not only blunt & accurate they zero in on all the questions every actor wants to know but is afraid to ask!”
KEN MELAMED, Talent Agency Partner
Bret Adams, Ltd.
“I had my Business of Acting, BFA Seniors, class do book reports on a variety of “business of acting” books and ACTING: Make It Your Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING:
Make It Your Business
!

Skype With Paul
A Casting Director’s Best-Selling Book for Actors

ACTING: Make It Your Business

A Rotten Tomato Grows in NJ? – Talent ‘Agent’ Requires Upfront Registration Fee

Exit 13 on the New Jersey Turnpike isn’t the only source for a rotten smell in the Garden State… A New Jersey modeling and talent services organization offers the potential for talent representation partly dependent upon a fee.

Image6

Exit 13 on the New Jersey Turnpike isn’t the only source for a rotten smell in the Garden State… And New Jersey Consumer Affairs, via Superior Court rulings, have in the past fined in the 6-figure range some deceptive NJ talent representatives to clean up their stench.

Talent representatives in New Jersey are governed by New Jersey Employment and Personnel Services code NJSA 34:8‐43 et seq and NJSA 56:8‐1 et seq.

Section 34:8‐51: Requirements, section b, paragraph 6 of the New Jersey statute states:

“ b.   In addition to the requirements set forth in subsection a., each employment agency which charges or may charge the job seeker a fee shall:

  “(6)  Obtain a bona fide order for employment prior to collecting any fee from a job seeker or sending out a job seeker to any place of employment…

“…no charge or advance fee of any kind shall be charged, demanded, collected, or received by the agency from a job seeker seeking employment until employment has been obtained by or through the efforts of the agency;”

Section 34:8‐65, paragraph i states:

    “Not more than one‐third of any fee, charge or commission shall be collected by the registered organization for its services or products more than 60 days in advance of the date on which the registrant provides its services or products as stated in its contract.”

‘Registrant’ being the person represented for the outreach of employment. In this case i.e. ‘actor.’

Presently, a northern New Jersey modeling and talent services organization offers the potential for talent representation partly upon an up-front fee. Located in a bucolic suburb of New York the NJ talent company charges the advance registration fee for as advertised on their website:

“One of the top child talent agencies in the NYC area, [We’re] proud to open doors of opportunity to any child or teen wanting to work in showbiz…. [Our company] also offers amazing bookings and castings… representing young talent just beginning a career in the business. Highly regarded as the go-to source for extras casting by top production companies, our actors in both Divisions work frequently in top television and film productions, commercials and print campaigns and are an elite group of budding professionals enjoying early successes.”

The talent representation company in which the owner is self-described as an agent further stresses online:

“OUR DIVISION BOOKS CHILDREN AND TEENS WITH LITTLE TO NO EXPERIENCE IN NON-SPEAKING ROLES FOR FILM, TELEVISION AND BOUTIQUE MODELING PROJECTS.”

Past readers of Answers for Actors may note a commonality of ALL CAPS UTILIZED in claims made on the websites of the alleged pay-to-play operators.

The NJ talent company charges a $249 registration fee for a division of their clients. An up-front payable for an initial interview with young actors between the ages of 2 – 17. The registration fee is lessened $50 if a code, provided on the company’s website, is utilized in the online registration process.

Along with the registration fee is an additional fee that is be checked-off and agreed to. Whether or not the additional fee is required is not made clear on the company website:

“MONTHLY FEE FOR [OUR] EXTRAS DIVISION BOOKING SOFTWARE PROFILE IS $20/mo.”

The talent company’s website advises that the interview and registration fee do not guarantee representation. Representation that, at first blush, seems mostly for background work which can be found by any civilian for virtually free on their own.

The company does have two divisions of clients. One division for background actors. The other division apparently includes: “established and emerging professional children who can be seen regularly in television, film and print projects such as Disney and Nickelodeon commercials…” After paying for the lower division how and when does the representation for talent graduate beyond background work into the second division of “professional children who can be seen regularly in television, film and print projects?” Is the registration fee for the lesser division returned once the child is submitted in response to a Breakdown to which the child is cast as a principal?

Answers for Actors learned via Thom Goff, Director of Operations, East Coast at Breakdown Services, Ltd. that the northern New Jersey operation does hold a subscription to BreakdownsBreakdowns which include principal casting (commercials, pilots, episodics, Broadway, major studio films, and respected regional theaters). The self-proclaimed “Child and Teen Self-Management” company openly advertises to book more than just background:

“OUR CURRENT ROSTER OF ACTORS AND MODELS HAVE ENJOYED TOP BOOKINGS IN MAJOR NETWORK TV SHOWS, PILOTS AND COMMERCIALS, STUDIO FEATURE FILMS ALONGSIDE A-LIST ACTORS AND DIRECTORS…”

Breakdown Services in the past has strongly frowned upon representation, with a subscription to Breakdowns, charging clients any fees beyond allowable commission (10% for franchised agents and whatever percentage a manager gets their client to agree to). Answers for Actors reached out to SAG-AFTRA’s Megan Capuano, Associate National Director, Professional Representatives for verification if the self-defined agent and company is franchised to represent union members. SAG-AFTRA’s Communications Department responded that the company in question is not franchised with SAG-AFTRA. New Jersey statute permits employment agencies and talent companies seeking work on behalf of their clients to be termed ‘agent.’ The northern New Jersey talent company is a licensed business in New Jersey to operate as an employment agency. As documented in New Jersey Employment and Personnel Services code NJSA 34:8‐43 et seq and NJSA 56:8‐1 et seq, employment agencies are not to seek or request up-front fees of clients. Actor unions also have policies barring pay-to-play representation of actors.

In addition to talent representation, acting classes, and in-house extras casting for outside production companies the northern New Jersey talent company also offers headshot packages for children at $199 advertised as being, “Child & Teen Photo Shoots by a Kids Talent Agent.” Blow-outs and make-up available at an additional $100. The $599 acting classes have check-out options during registration: Order a headshot session. Or add ‘Keep Calm & Call My Agent’ t-shirts. Two color choices. All sizes. $26.50 each.

The talent company operates in an upscale town with hillside mansions overlooking New York City in the distance. Residents include a famous, late-night talk show host. Broadway and Hollywood talent. Franchised talent agents. C.S.A. casting directors. And behind-the-scenes creatives of the entertainment industry. But several blocks from 8-figure manses that are home to entertainment pros is the talent agency requiring up-front fees for a division of the talent they represent. The talent company also has an in-house casting director whose prior experience before casting is detailed online as having, “a previous career in book publishing and store management.”

Pay-to-play-to-be-submitted-for-casting consideration operations are no longer confined to malls and McMansion bedroom communities. The questionable practices thrive and exist online, and in our backyards. Supported by neighbors we believe to be educated on questionable practices within entertainment industry’s ranks. But as long as there are the star-struck wishing to be famous there will be hands and websites holding open doors for dollars. And as long as there are adults chasing the stage and screen ambitions of their prodigy and established entertainment professionals harvesting the children to fill roles these companies, some well-known like the New Jersey operation and others existing under entertainment industry’s radar, the pay-to-play game continues.

[Author’s Note: Sourced quotes from the talent company’s website are documented via time and date stamped screen captures.]

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, Elon and Wright State University. He 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.

ACTING: Make It Your Business

10 Tips On How to be a Professional [Actor]

Merriam-Webster’s clinical definition for professional is slightly incorrect… someone is waiting to take advantage of your misstep(s).

Merriam-Webster’s clinical definition for professional is slightly incorrect:

pro·fes·sion·al / adjective

(1) :  characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession (2) :  exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace

Professional behavior extends beyond the jobs in which we toil to survive–life’s everyday interactions requires personal professional behavior. An actor, whether household name, developing, or amateur is a public figure once they take to the stage or screen. Off-screen and off-stage manners are scrutinized by peers intensively. And often surreptitiously as does supposedly the NSA with our daily email interactions. The actor is always “on” whether they wish to be or not. Everyone watches your personal professional behavior. In an insular industry in which is often joked that only six people are working in it because everyone knows everyone via a connection… your image, persona, and personal and work ethic is being watched. And someone is waiting to take advantage of your misstep(s).

10 Tips On How to be a Professional [Actor]:

1. Approach Peers in Your Trade as Individuals—Not for What the Individual Does as Their Trade

When I encounter an actor unfamiliar with my work as a director and casting director often the next phrase from the actor is, “What are you casting and/or directing now? Anything right for me?” When arriving early to teach classes in New York I hide in a back hallway. If I don’t several actors in my class will ask for me to correct their homework; give additional instruction and/or both. This personal-time intrusion is as equally dismissive of me as a person as if in the civilian world when a doctor, lawyer, or any trade professional is routinely asked for professional advice by strangers and acquaintances during the trade keeper’s personal time.

Before engaging with trade peers beyond their work recall that like you the person is more than what they do to earn a paycheck.

  1. Arrive Prepared

Audition, interview, performance or class; if you’re not prepared due to lack of self-interest and/or self-time management the only person at fault is yourself. You’re not entitled to sympathy or re-dos for your inability to prepare. Showing-up is half of what is required of you. Showing-up prepared is the other 50% of attaining success.

  1. Accepting & Owning Mistakes

Not even the most persnickety perfectionist is immune to airor (pardon me: error). Colleagues and peers hold in higher regard co-workers who fess-up to misjudgment, error, or inappropriate comments and/or actions. A deflector or liar is rarely, honestly admired. Politicians are the worst actors for spinning fiction.

  1. Living Happily is Life’s Only Entitlement

Believing you’re right for a role, or believing that because you played a role previously prompts your entitlement to an audition and/or hire is behavior not worthy of a playground let alone a chosen profession.

Accept that nothing is inevitable. The inevitable is one of many possibilities.

  1. Good Manners is Responding to Emails, Voice-mails, Text and Inquiries

Just as you appreciate recognition so do the people reaching out to you. Silence screams a lack of respect and courtesy for others.

  1. Let Peers Participate

In group situations, rehearsals, class settings, meetings the lone attention-hog repeatedly asking self-serving questions is the person who’ll eventually be alone. Let peers and colleagues participate in group endeavors.

  1. Pitch. Don’t Bitch.

The backstabbing, snarky whisperer soon finds their pool of light diminishing. The Barter Theatre’s curtain speech quotes their founder Robert Porterfield: “If you like us, talk about us. And if you dont, just keep your mouth shut.”

If negativity is an admirable trait more children would aspire to be cable news commentators.

8. Focus on Your Duties, Desires and Efforts Not the Responsibilities and Career Advances of Co-workers

9. Spontaneous Compliments to Peers are as Welcomed as is Water to the Parched

10. Accepting Tough Love Criticism Equals That You’re Open to Improvement and Love

My ego and work is often thrashed. Once particularly from a woman I never met. But, if I ignored her tough love criticism you and I would not be sharing this conversation.

The gracious and generous Brian O’Neill nudged along my first book ACTING: Make It Your Business. He discovered a blog post of mine on an obscure website for actors. He introduced me to his publisher and editor. His editor read my work. She loved the book proposal, and was ready to begin offering a contract. She then tragically passed due to cancer. The publisher put all of the editor’s pending projects on hold. Mixed emotions indeed were mine.

I held out hope the journey with Brian O’Neill’s publisher would continue. Months passed—a nano-second in publishing—no forward movement with the publisher. I then put out to other publishers the same book proposal the deceased editor praised prior to her too-young passing. I received one response. Highly critical. A pass. What?! But this was the same material for which an editor was ready to provide a contract! How could my words and proposal fail elsewhere? I fumed. I vented (privately to my partner and cats… the cats licked their paws). My email in-box remained empty of returns from other publishers. Weeks passed. Still nothing. I re-opened the critical editor’s email. I began making changes based on the woman’s insight and critique.

I sent the book out to more publishers. Months later, a phone call came mid-day. “Have you sold your book yet?” asked an editor with Watson-Guptil (an imprint of Penguin-Random House). The editor sought to buy my book. The one based on changes I made. Changes prompted by the tough love criticism made by a stranger. Several days later Brian O’Neill’s publisher placed an offer on my pre-critiqued proposal. Which door should I choose?

If I had not listened to the tough love advice of a stranger I doubt ACTING: Make It Your Business would exist. Brian O’Neill’s publisher dropped their books on acting a year later. I was damn lucky I got over my ego and listened to tough love advice from a stranger. She was being a friend. A friend I have yet to meet.

Listen and your ego will subside.

The 10 tips prior on how to be a professional [actor] are applicable to a career in nearly any trade. More importantly, the tips on professional behavior are for life itself. When considering a future decision, discussion, and/or interaction reflect as well this: is the action you’re about to take one that you admire in others? Will your next step be equally admired by a majority of strangers and peers? If answered ‘yes’ then you’re being professional–both in career, and in life.

Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

Love the Best-Selling Book for Actors
ACTING: Make It Your Business!

AMIYB_Amazon“Humorous and witty…
Actors everywhere who are trying to succeed in the business, young or old, on stage or on camera, anywhere in the world, take note:

This is your roadmap!”
BERNARD TELSEY, casting director – CSA
(NBC’s Peter Pan – LIVE!, Into The Woods – The Movie, Wicked, Sex & The City)
“All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”
SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderUnforgettable)
“I love this book!
Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear but really need to know
EVERY actor should read this book!”
DIANE RILEY, Senior Legit Talent Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates
“Paul’s book made me proud to be a part of this community we call ‘show!'”
KAREN ZIEMBA, TONY & Drama Desk Award Winning Actress
“Paul Russell’s words are not only blunt & accurate they zero in on all the questions every actor wants to know but is afraid to ask!”
KEN MELAMED, Talent Agency Partner
Bret Adams, Ltd.
“I had my Business of Acting, BFA Seniors, class do book reports on a variety of “business of acting” books and ACTING: Make It Your Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING:AMIYB_Amazon Make It Your Business!

Share this:

Share Answers for Actors:

Facebook Twitter More...

StumbleUpon.com
E-mail Post to Friends…

Follow Paul Russell Casting:

follow Paul on Facebookfollow Paul on Twitter

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, Elon and Wright State University. He 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.

Get One-On-One:

Get Work:

Follow:

Classes with Paul Russell Paul's book ACTING: Make It Your Business!

Paul on Twitter

Paul Russell on Facebook

Visit Paul @ PaulRussell.net

ACTING: Make It Your Business