How to gain Acting Success like Edie Falco | Answers for Actors

My partner, the agency owner, represented an actress who for fourteen years was known as ‘the downtown girl’. What’s that descriptive translate to? It meant that for more than a decade she did non-paying showcases, off-off Broadway plays in hovels and other venues while working multiple civilian jobs including waitress. Then mid-way into her second decade…

Paul Russell
Photo Credit: JackMenashe.com

In a recent Access to Agents class two students complained that they’d been in the business for “too long” without results. The first whiner’s tour of duty? Two years. My inner Harvey Fierstein voice graveled, “Oh, honey you’re barely an embryo.” The second impatient “Why-has-nothing-happened-for-me-yet?” actor bemoaned that she was in the business “three months” and that jobs had yet to materialize.

Oh, sweetie…you ain’t even swimming yet in entertainment’s coin purse.

For anyone who enters our highly competitive, crowded-as-a-C Train-at-5 PM-business thinking, “Oh…I’ll just give this a year or two and if nothing happens I’ll move on” do yourself and your serious minded peers squeezed about you a generous favor…move on…now. Ain’t much gonna happen in a year or two. Even cow intestine slurping, reality show contestants who glut our screens now find that that former shot-put placement to celebrity lands with a short slung thud.

And if it’s celebrity you’re seeking…oooh baby…you’ve got a long Disney E-Ticket attraction line of waiting. No Fast Pass lanes for anyone. And if you get to the front of that line, the ride may be broken beyond repair.

My partner, the agency owner, represented a now famous actress who for fourteen years was known as ‘a downtown actress:’ i.e. for more than a decade she performed in many little-to-no pay showcases and off-off Broadway plays in downtown Manhattan hovels while working multiple civilian jobs including waitress. Mid-way into her second acting decade a contact she made by networking downtown asked her for her favor to participate in a table reading of his new play. Neither the actress nor the playwright was widely known beyond the borders of New York’s entertainment industry. The play was eventually given a production downtown at a well-known theater’s village venue. The play and cast became a ‘must-see.’ Cast, crew and set were trundled to the theater company’s then uptown Times Square house. Greater success and exposure ensued. Nearly overnight many New Yorkers and visiting tourists became aware of the artists who had been toiling diligently—enduring many Ramen noodle nights—during their career for a period most civilians would consider, “Too long for too little return.”

But even during the play’s uptown hyperactive marquee exposure many civilians from Hollywood to Hell’s Kitchen, and a portion of the entertainment industry didn’t know the names of playwright Warren Leight and actress Edie Falco of Roundabout’s premiere of Side Man.  Now you do. How did Edie Falco become a name actors and civilians associate with success?

HBO executives took notice of Ms. Falco in Side Man and cast her in The Sopranos which led to her subsequent self-sustaining acting career. That success built on a foundation of Ms. Falco’s talent, patience, dedication, more patience, plus a Hudson River-sized channeling of luck via people championing her while she labored as a downtown actress for fourteen years.

Blog_AMIYB_BookCover_SideBarThe pace to a self-sustaining acting career varies. More often than not the journey for actors being able to ‘do what they love’ and nothing else without financial worry is a curving pot-holed course of great distance traveled until smooth straightway is rode.

Time. Give it generously to yourself. Embrace the journey—ruts and rolls included.

Patience. Determination. More patience. A dash more of determination. That’s how success is achieved: however you define your success.

It’s the persistent drip that cracks the stone.

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 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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Savvy & Simple NEW Marketing Tool for The Actor | Answers for Actors

…a simple delivery portal that can lead talent representatives, casting, directors, producers and other entertainment industry professionals to your recorded work, web-site, or online picture and resume.

Paul Russell
Photo Credit: JackMenashe.com

Have you got QR?

Do ya even know what QR is?

If you answered, “Isn’t he that omnipresent prankster from Star Trek – The Next Generation reruns?” pull off your Geordi La Forge visor and hide it in the dresser drawer aside your Mystery Science Theatre 3000 thong.

Over the past couple of years you may have noticed  square, maze-like, looking patterns mixing dots and boxes on adverts and posters. They’re not Rorschach blots to evaluate your fetish for cheese fries gulped in bed. Nor are they miniaturized paintings pulled from Pollock’s lost quadratic-period.

This little thingy to the right is QR code (Quick Response code).

The black-n-white, sneeze-splatter-de-squared isn’t as new as you may believe. These cubes, stylishly rigid to a virgin-mounrer wardrobe pallet, have been around since shortly after Picard and Q left our big-screen analogs in the mid-90s.

Created in 1994 by a Toyota subsidy; QR code was first used as an alternative to bar code (another slave to black and white couture but with a sleeker silhouette) for high-speed tracking of automobile parts inventory.

Japan, South Korea, and the Netherlands were quick to utilize the QR coding for various mundane tasks of tracking. The U.S. postal system, in the mid-aughts of this new century, began utilizing QR code for postage and letter/package tracking.

When marketers, pricked by an intravenous drip-line from Starbucks, discovered that URLs and other data could be squarely scrambled and compacted to resemble Pac Man’s ‘hood, then digitally translated by consumers taking pictures (with the aide of a smart-phone app)  the gigabyte Gods rejoiced. Another venti-expresso-quad-double-latte-nonfat-five-pumps-white-mocha-whipped-cream-macchiato-style-six-pump-caramel dolce-drip for all!!

Actors, wisely following marketers’ lead (minus the caffeine induced cardiac arrest), can easily create and leverage QR to deliver to casting and public their:

  • Web-site
  • Video demo reel
  • Voiceover demo reel
  • Picture and Resume
  • Screen and stage project announcements and invites

And to create your own QR code you needn’t be a basement-dwelling, Dungeons & Dragons geek with a pallor paler than Voldermort.

All an actor has to do is search-engine the phrase ‘create QR code’ or ‘QR code generator’. Or hell… if your fingers are Lindsay Lohan lazy; ‘QR’

Once you discern which QR generator best suits your needs the QR generator web-site chosen will require you to type into a field (text box) the target/destination (web-site address, demo reel location, etc.) you wish, via your QR code, to lead visitors to. Simple as that. The QR code generator will do the mash-n-mangle translation into a black and white cube image for you. And best of all this all comes via an actor’s favorite Funk and Wagnell’s entry; ‘FREE’.

Where to place your QR code in your marketing?

  • Postcards
  • Business cards

Having your own QR codes on your portable, hard-copy marketing, like postcards and business cards is a simple portal that can lead talent representatives, casting, directors, producers and other entertainment industry professionals to your recorded work, web-site, or online picture and resume.

To QR or not to QR on a resume?

Jury is out, still debating internally.

The marketing advocate in me rallies, “Sure. Why not place in the upper right-hand or left-hand corner of your resume an unobtrusive QR code that when captured by a smart-phone displays your reel on the visitor’s device?”

The observer in me cautions; “People don’t like change. At base we’re somewhat resistant to the unfamiliar. And a pristine resume blotched by an ugly little square of dark splatter spoiling the clean, visual esthetic of a properly-industry standard-formatted resume with no explanation as to what that splotch provides might be ignored or dismissed. But… we cannot control the reactions of everyone encountered.

If you have online information and/or media (demo reel, web-site) that expands or includes information not on your resume, do you place QR code in one of of the upper corners? That’s your call.

No matter on what marketing you place a QR code there are some drawbacks…

QR Code Cautions:

  • Not everyone has a smart-phone.

As shocking as that may be to some “I-need-the-newest-Apple-addiction’ actors who forgo funds towards training but incur a debt-load larger than an elephant to accrue technology’s latest toys (I know who you are)… QR codes do nothing when a person (like moi) has a simple, not-so-smart, cell phone.

  • The Techno-phoebes & Ignorant
How To Video: Actor Marketing

As with every new advance in technology there are more lagers in learning than there are advocates utilizing discoveries. A number of your targets will not be knowledgeable about QR codes and how to access the information portal (i.e. downloading an app then taking a picture of your QR code). If you begin using QR code for your marketing to direct a target to a URL (web address), remember to also provide, in text, an explanation as to what the QR code provides (see example to the right).

As to whether or not this will be embraced by older casting personnel and talent reps.? ‘Old dogs, new tricks’ need not be rambled. Before color headshots became the accepted norm there was a welcome lag of 5 – 6 years by entrenched industry. If a stalwart industry person remarks to you “What the hell is that thing on your resume?!” enlighten the horse-drawn carriage curmudgeon. Then add that they ‘need to move beyond Pong and polyester bell-bottoms.’

Six months or two years from now QR codes could be as obsolete as the 70s’ nifty, darling of music delivery; 8-Track tapes. Technology trends like fashion, “One day you’re in. One day you’re out.” (Thank you Ms. Klum…  now wobble off the runway.) And when the next techno-fad is pushed upon us– that technology will be leveraged for a time until the next generation arrives six months later.

QR code. The option is yours. You, as the owner of your business that is acting, can either take control of your marketing or let others advance before you as you lag behind typing out your web-site’s URL. So 1998.

Onward.

My Best,
Paul

P.S. Want more knowledge on: actor marketing; how to find and keep and agent; audition technique; negotiating a contract; interview skills and career advancement? Join the thousands of actors who have read ACTING: Make It Your Business (Random House). A must-read at universities including NYU, Rutgers, Elon, Millikin and many other great schools.

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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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