The Background Actor with The Extra Smell

Background actors, also known as extras, are often the most underappreciated and despised positions of employ within screen acting. Mostly because too large a percentage of background actors have that extra smell.

Extra Background Actors

Paul Russell_HeadshotPaul Russell – author ACTING: Make It Your Business, director & casting director

Background actors, also known as extras, are often the most underappreciated and despised positions of employ within screen acting. Mostly because too large a percentage of background actors have that extra smell.

Extras are the actors required to fill-out the background of a screen story. Without extras, the world of film and television would appear as empty as a movie theater playing a marathon of Adam Sandler flicks.

Some actors leverage being an extra–the grunt work of acting–as a chore for financial survival. Temporarily they’ll network on set with entertainment colleagues with the knowledge that the belittlement withstood of being herded like cattle around a set is a temporary gig and not a career. These actors though will encounter on set delusional actors who fervently believe that being an extra will eventually propel them to having their own star on the Hollywood Walk-of-Fame; possibly aside Donald Trump’s unearned star. These are the actors who are known in the industry as “having that extra smell.”

The extra smell actor is the actor who believes their self-declared stunning beauty or unusual look once glimpsed on the screen for less than a nanosecond will have a director or producer rise pointing to the screen and shout, “Get me that actor! That’s the star of my next budget-busting-blockbuster!”

More Characteristics of Actors with the Extra Smell

1. Actors with a shopping list of credits on their resume that are named as the following actual credit from an actor’s resume: “Professional business man on the park bench reading The Wall Street Journal as Jennifer Anniston jogged by.”

2. Actors who when opening their wardrobe closet refer to clothing by project names: “For my date tonight, I think I’ll wear The Lovely Bones.”

3. Actors with an app on their smartphone a search engine for public bathrooms that can be used as a changing room while on location.

4. An actor with more autographs of the principals “worked with” than principal credits on their resume.

5. An actor with a composite card that displays them in various costumes from their roles as an extra, and then they utilize that comp card as a headshot to casting for principal work consideration. Extra smell.

6. Actors who send a picture and resume to a casting office that casts only principals and the actor requests consideration for extra work. Doubly extra smelling.

7. A background actor listing the extra credits on their resume as “featured.” “Bingo!” called for the extra smell in the corner of your screen.

8. The extra actor who complains to the caterer at craft services that over the past several years the caterer’s tri-colored pasta salad has been deteriorating in quality. Table for one extra smell.

9. Actors who faithfully believe that if the director happens to silently notice them then that director will instantly, without hearing the actor speak, catapult that actor to principal status.

10. Actors who gaze dreamily at a nearby honeywagon on set and fantasize it’s an oasis of stardom. There’s a room for the actor with an extra smell.

11. If while dressed uniformly among peer extras, there’s the extra actor who notices that their robe has a silver buckle upon its sash while the extra standing aside them has a sash with a gold buckle. And this slight in lower metallic grade on a costume ignites the jealous actor’s anger. Wardrobe knows who has that extra smell.

12. An extra arriving on set with a backpack bulging with screenplays they wrote as vehicles for themselves to star in and their sole intent for the day is to distribute them to anyone who makes eye contact. Everyone sees that extra smell coming.

13. An extra working on a James Cameron film, and the closest proximity they made to Mr. Cameron is the third AD. But later when speaking to fellow extras the actor claims, “James thinks I would be fantastic for the president alien who stops the oil tanker from plowing into the Statue of Liberty.”

14. Actors who mistake casting directors Mali Finn and Jonathan Strauss for a Vegas act.

15. Actors watching a movie who ignore the principals in order to evaluate the extras in the background.

16. Actors lobbying SAG-AFTRA, The Academy of Motion Pictures & Sciences, and The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences that each implement the award category: Best Extra in a Comedy, Drama or Musical.

17. Actors whom after being cast announce on social media, “I got casted.” There’s an actor whose vocabulary has an extra smell.

Put into proper perspective by the participant background work as an actor does have benefits: A paycheck. A networking opportunity. When work for an actor as an extra is approached by an actor with fantasies that the silent background cross or sitting at a table will lead to eventual fame; that actor has an extra smell that prompts principal professionals to run. Talent representation and casting directors advise actors who want to seriously pursue principal screen work to minimize or delete all their extra credits from the resume when an acting resume is sent to principal casting directors and Legit talent agents.

Now, before some actors misinterpret that prior statement and post on an online message board misinformation stating, “Paul Russell said….” let me re-state more plainly. Take the paychecks. Remove or minimize the extra credits on your resume if you want to be considered for principal work on screen. Have a separate resume listing acting history as an extra for when submitting for work to casting directors who cast background actors.

What if extra credits are all an actor has listed under the Film/TV header of their Legit resume and that actor wishes to grow beyond being an extra? Minimize. Actors with that extra smell will often include on their Legit resume every silent walk-on. Which in turn leads the purveyor (casting directors and talent agents) of the actor’s work history to ponder, “Can’t act. Directors don’t trust him or her with an Under Five or better.”

(continue reading)

HAMILTON’s casting director
praises Paul Russell’s book on acting
as “a must read for all actors… the actor’s roadmap!”

AMIYB_Amazon

There’s nothing disgraceful about being an extra (other than the sometimes disgraceful treatment of extras on set). An actor as an extra produces a paycheck. The under-appreciated work provides an actor with fresh contacts. The temporary employ won’t be an end-solution for becoming a star. Which by-the-by, fame should never be the reason for being an actor, and if that is an actor’s sole intent for being in the arts–that actor has that extra smell.

My best,
Paul
www.PaulRussell.net

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Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

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

“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
(The InternHamiltonNBC’s The Wiz – LIVE!, 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 Business!

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

“Scam” Paid Auditions vs. Legitimate Acting Classes

There is truth versus perception. SAG-AFTRA, the largest union representing screen actors, may have unintentionally caused confusion in truth versus perception for what is a legitimate class for actors, as opposed to what is a questionable workshop. Bewildered actors, both union and non-union, potentially suffer from the lack of career expansion misunderstanding what is a legitimate educational acting resource versus what is in SAG-AFTRA’s assessment, “a scam.”

ScamVsLegit

Paul Russell_Headshot

Paul Russell
PaulRussell.net

 

There is truth versus perception. SAG-AFTRA, the largest union representing screen actors, may have unintentionally caused confusion in truth versus perception for what is a legitimate class for actors, as opposed to what is a questionable workshop. Bewildered actors, both union and non-union, potentially suffer from the lack of career expansion misunderstanding what is a legitimate educational acting resource versus what is in SAG-AFTRA’s assessment, “a scam.”

SAG-AFTRA recently warned its membership, via online media, that actors within its guild not participate in workshops attended by casting directors, agents, and/or managers in which actors pay to participate:

“It shall be deemed conduct unbecoming a member for any member of the union, directly or indirectly, to give or offer to give any money, gift, gratuity or other thing of value to an employer, or prospective employer, to any officer, agent, representative or employee of such employer or prospective employer, or to any employment or casting agency representing an employer, or prospective employer, or to any of their officers, agents, representatives or employees as an inducement to secure employment.”

Deeper in SAG-AFTRA’s declaration is a passing disclaimer potentially overlooked or misinterpreted by actors:

“This includes workshop-style situations where a casting director watches your scene or monologue, offers no meaningful critique or feedback, and is presented as someone looking for actors for ‘current and upcoming projects.’ This becomes a paid audition, which is against SAG-AFTRA rules.”

The phrase, “offers no meaningful critique or feedback” is the foundation to understanding what SAG-AFTRA considers a ‘class’ versus a ‘paid audition.’ Thoughtful advisement for bettering the actor’s craft, plus actionable constructive criticism is apparently in SAG-AFTRA’s view the keystone to a casting director, talent agent or manager participating in a educational resource for actors. But actors quickly scanning SAG-AFTRA’s membership directive, or non-union actors encountering similar discussion through the nefarious actor grapevine, potentially lump all educational actor workshops and classes together with the shove-actors-through-the-door, paid audition scenarios.

The Confusion

When actors mistakenly interpret from a union, or a colleague, that the vernacular of ‘workshops,’ ‘seminars,’ or ‘classes’ are pay-to-play scams then those actors assume that all actor-focused classes of which industry attend are illegitimate. A self-destructive disservice to the actor wishing to expand their career skills, and resumé.

A growing percentage of acting studio educational classes have their roots in the collegiate world. Annually, universities with esteemed acting programs bring to their campuses entertainment executives who share valuable experience with student actors via master classes. These casting directors, directors, and talent representatives leading collegiate master classes then offer the same insights expressed at universities in private acting studios of New York City, Los Angeles, and/or Chicago.

Differences Between Paid Classes With Industry vs. Paid Auditions

Classes / Workshops:

A class for actors is one that is either held over an extended period of time (several weeks or several months) or in an evening. Beneficial acting-career skills are taught to the actor, and during that learning process constructive feedback is given to the actor by the instructor and/or invited entertainment executive(s). Entertainment executives may include: casting directors, talent agents and managers, directors, or actors with well-established careers.

Paid Auditions:

Actors pay a fee to be seen by an entertainment executive or panel via a monologue, or a hurriedly put-together scene. No feedback to the actors is offered. The session for each actor lasts several minutes. The session for the executive(s) is a duration of several hours as the actors are presented like cattle at an auction. These studios often herald in their advertising, or via email blasts, that the studio is responsible for every career advancement made by each actor who shuffled through their system no matter how long ago the actor was herded through the studio’s chute. Often the studio has no association with, or influence on, the actor’s toil in procuring the booking(s). Some of these studios now advertise “exclusive rights” to a casting director or talent agent as attending only that studio’s sessions. “Tisn’t morals, ’tis money that saves…”

Are Paid Auditions Valuable?

A good number of actors have formed professional relationships with agents and/or casting directors from these scenarios. More actors though have found the one-night stand paid auditions to be a frustration. The feeling disenfranchised actors are the most vocal in opposition to what is perceived as a paid audition.

Why Paid Auditions Are Popular

The digital revolution has changed how casting and representation meet talent. Too many actors have mistakenly given-up on the snail mail method of marketing themselves. While the majority of entertainment industry players delete, unopened, unsolicited email from actors. The paid audition, for better or worse, has replaced how first introductions are made.

Actors drive the market for the one-night stands. Actors also drive the market for the legitimate classes, and workshops. Of each, the actor will pay their monies for the value of who is participating. Classes without prominent industry participation don’t sell well; often forcing respected teachers to cancel classes.

Classes for Actors vs. Paid Auditions

Benefits of the paid audition is a questionable gamble that places opportunity in the hands of the attending entertainment executive(s). Classes attended or led by entertainment executives can offer growth from which the actor creates opportunities.

What is truth of legitimate versus the perception of a scam? The answer is within what the seller honestly offers, and the results an actor realistically anticipates.

My best,
Paul

Paul Russell’s 5-Star, Best Selling Book on Acting including Hollywood & Broadway Actors & Agents!

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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

 

 

Black-market Breakdown Theft Catches Actors

Sellers and conduits of black-market breakdowns and their customers—actors—infringing on Breakdown Services’ subscription copy write are being found, prosecuted, and fined. An actor need not participate with dollars in the subversive selling/buying of breakdowns to be caught in an attorney’s cross-hairs.

black market breakdowns

black market breakdowns

Paul Russell_Headshot

Paul Russell
PaulRussell.net

black market breakdowns

Sellers and conduits of black-market breakdowns and their customers—actors—infringing on Breakdown Services’ subscription copy write are being found, prosecuted, and fined. The dark shadows of online black-market breakdowns for casting of major studio films, network television, Broadway and prominent regional theater digitally dots a trail to the sellers who profit on the desperation of actors. A digital marker is also placed on the hopeful actors illicitly paying for casting breakdowns that only franchised talent agents and Breakdown Services vetted managers receive.

The trail begins simply. Actors receive an email from a supposed seller or conduit:

“Hello bd friends,

“Big apologies if you’re receiving this message more than once! It’s AVP Wilson (also known as Music Staff or XBD Henry), back once more with some very good news about the bd’s. The supplier I told you about a while ago has now cut their charge in half…

“So, as before, if you’re interested, just send an e-mail to “********** [at] ******* [dot] com” and ask about the “recipes,” and please tell them AVP sent you. They are very security-conscious, so please do not use words like “bd,” or what that stands for, or “casting” or “actor” or anything like that. Just use the word “recipes” and they’ll know what you’re looking for.

“Feel free to pass this on to friends, but please, only people you know are trustworthy and serious about their acting careers! If you do pass this on to anyone, I’d prefer that you not forward this message, but put the essential info (e-mail, recipes, avp etc) in your own separate message.

“Thanks, have a wonderful spring, and break a leg! AVP”

Sent from several email addresses the connector, which in this case may also be the seller, sent a blast email previously this year to actors announcing:

“… as some of you may recall, someone “outed” me in early 2014 and I got into big trouble. So I’m staying out of the game. However, since a number of you have asked where you might find another “source,” there is one I can recommend…”

How was AVP and the management company caught leading to legal action taken against them? These emails are also sent to Breakdown Services, which then forwards them onto the IT department, and then legal counsel.

Email isn’t anonymous. Email leaves a digital trail between sender and recipient. The latter tracing should strike grave concern to the hopes of actors who buy black-market breakdowns. If an actor is traipsing in black-market breakdowns more than likely that actor’s identity is known to investigation, as is known the identity of sellers and intermediaries. To be identified an actor need not participate with dollars in the subversive selling/buying of breakdowns. Receiving the emails alone from black-market breakdown parasites leaves a digital trail crawling to the actor’s inbox and identity.

Big brother Breakdown Services is watching. Or, is big brother’s ‘watching’ an in-house drawing in of actors with the prior email pitch for actors to buy black-market breakdowns? The actor won’t know. But when an attorney for Breakdowns Services reaches out to the actor, the actor will know they’ve been caught. In this business of ‘show’ will the actor then be smiling when they are low?

PaulRussell.net

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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 Business!

Pay-to-play Auditions / Workshops: Who’s to Blame?

In the early 1990s an actress spotted an opportunity to exploit the industry guest portion of workshops without the educational value, and wham!: the first ‘pay-to-play’ studio was formed. [Read more…]

Couch_Money

Paul Russell
PaulRussell.net

pay to play workshops / auditions

 

[Author’s Note: Pay-to-play workshops. With the recent report of casting director, Scott David, for ‘Criminal Minds’ being fired by CBS because of a conflict of interest with providing workshops to actors; an update from a prior Answers for Actors post on how the entertainment industry became entrenched in this scenario.]

An acting studio advertises: “Get seen by Agents and Casting!” In reaction do you as an actor picket as a dissenter? Or participate as a presenter? Are you an artist above self-advocacy? Or an actor trudging the self-promotion trenches? Whatever your action or inaction the bedrock has been set.

The sediment first formed as showcases at acting studios. Actors learned acting skills under the advisement of iconic acting teachers. At the end of the class semester, be it six months or a week, an agent or casting director was invited to view the progress of the actors.

In the early 1990s an actress spotted an opportunity to exploit the industry guest portion of workshops without the educational value, and wham!: the first ‘pay-to-play’ studio was formed.

A valuable asset of the class—an outside industry-insider’s eyes—was quickly bastardized by mom-n-pop one-night forums as the success of the first pay-to-play studio succeeded tremendously. Hosts set up shop in cheap real estate. They wrangle agents and casting directors to watch actors—no class for improvement—actors are herded as cattle, and shoved through a door to read before industry for either the modest price of a movie date night or an extortion of a month’s wages.

The pay-to-play ‘paid audition’ created discourse among actors, and worse blemished what respected acting studios had been for decades offering as a fringe-benefit: industry eyes. The  acting studios witnessed precipitous declines in enrollment. What to do? Include alongside of the traditional classes a one-nighter pay-to-be-seen by industry.

The paid audition scenario for actors to be seen and heard by industry flourished quickly like fro-yo stands. The market demanded more opportunities. The market being actors vying for visibility alternatives, and frustrated by a lack of career momentum.

In 2009, after having been offered to teach at NYU-Tisch, I thought I’d share with non-student actors my decades of knowledge culled as an actor, director, and casting director. I always wished to teach, why not offer publicly what I myself learned? I offered modern marketing make-overs, plus branding combined with audition technique study as a four-week class. Just actors and I working on how to improve actors getting more work for before, during, and after the audition.

Slight problem arose before my rose-spectacle intentions. I couldn’t sell the damned class at a price point of $94. Despite my being invited to university theater programs to teach the master class version of this offering plus my career history and authoring a popular book on acting I couldn’t sway actors towards my offer of assistance. I panicked. I lowered the registration fee cost further. The response? Frozen tundra.

After much hand wringing I added an agent panel. Sudden thaw! Actors rushed me. Wait lists formed and grew. I was ashamed, and somewhat disheartened. But I want to share what I’ve witnessed working well by successful actors. My shame vanished upon witnessing attending actors succeeding.

(Shame though on the agent at Gersh who informed she had a ‘quote.’ A fee much higher than what is standard. She’s not attending these seminars for the actors. She’s there for the money. I retracted my invite.)

I’m not naïve as to what some of my students seek in the seminar. I can’t fault their ambition for an opportunity to snag an agent’s attention because that’s partly what I’m teaching actors to do: how to effectively agent themselves to agents and casting. I repeatedly stress to the attending actors not to focus on the agent panel but to leverage knowledge gained during our time together. I ask at the beginning of each Access to Agents, “What other than the obvious do you hope to gain from this class?” I seek truthful responses. One once was overtly honest, “I want limousines,” he said.

Too often a percentage of actors complain about agents and casting directors receiving a professional stipend to attend non-instructive seminars. This mostly stems from a, “I didn’t get what I paid for” knee-jerk response. Meaning the self-denial actresses and actors, who willingly registered for what was basically a wham-bam-thank-you ma’am audition, expected their thirty-five to forty bucks pooled to a paid auditor would sway subjectivity. Now who’s sporting rose-colored Oakleys?

Each actor must assess realistically what their participation in a seminar attended by entertainment industry will do for their career. Is the offering educational with a focus on improving the actor’s career long-term? Or is the opportunity an education-free evening where the actor hops onto a conveyor belt of actors with a short-term gamble they’ll be picked, processed and packaged prettily?

There is no ‘blame’ to be assigned here. How can we fault our peers their desire to improve their position when our self-identified definition of success may mirror theirs? I could offer my master classes sans industry. I tried once, twice, and even thrice. Crickets. Actors desired agents and casting directors. Before pointing fingers at casting directors and agents for being paid for their professional time, ask yourself: “Who’s paying?”

My best,
Paul

PaulRussell.net

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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 Business!

#StopTwitterCasting | Auditions, Actors & Social Media

Actors desperate for work and attention are complicit in becoming social media whores at the whims of their pimps: casting directors, directors, and producers.

Presentation1

Paul Russell_HeadshotPaul Russell
PaulRussell.net

.
.There’s a malicious trend of false popularity trumping talent killing the art of acting. And actors desperate for auditions, work and attention are complicit in becoming social media whores at the whims of their pimps: casting directors, directors, and producers. Want an audition? Casting now requires on a growing number of projects that an actor, not a celeb, but a journeyman actor have a large social media following. At a prominent New England regional theater the casting of a dance track during call-backs had two viable candidates. The producers went with the female dancer who had the larger social media following.

For the Millennial actor this whoring social media followers to get an audition or to be cast in a project may seem routine. Let’s turn the clock back 20 years…

Before present day social media, and ‘followers’, and ‘friends’ you’ve never met but to whom you reveal the most intimate aspects of your private life publicly; before the narcissistic swamps which are not receding any time soon, the casting of journeyman actors was based on talent. Not an actor’s Twitter, Instagram, and/or Facebook following. Celebs? Sure, there was always a ‘box-office’ or ‘Q’ consideration. But now in the age of “look-at-me” diarrhea indulgence producers, directors, and writers are asking of no-name journeyman actors to have a set minimum of social media followers before the actor submit themselves for an audition. Have a paltry 50 to 200 social media followers the response is, “Don’t bother submitting. You’re not worthy.” Have over 100K, 500K or more followers then, “Yes! Let’s see that actor! Never mind the talent. If we hire 10 actors with each of them having a social media following of 200K per actor, that’s 2 million eyes on our project!”

A major flaw with that sweat-shop thinking. Followers does not equal commerce. If it did then my 60K followers across various platforms should have all bought my acting book, letting me enjoy the luxury of not having to constantly plug the pulp puppy. The percentage of sales for my acting book—hailed by industry, actors, and universities as a must-read—compared to my following is not equal.

Actors are encouraged to “buy” followers. Problem: all followers are not necessarily what is sought as a demographic. Through no choice of mine I have followers I never sought or want: hardware stores, plumbing companies, convenience stores, and many other non-arts related followers.

And while the employers of talent believe hiring actors with large followings will get the project more eye-time online that will only occur if their actors pay the social media platforms to bring eyes on the actor’s Tweets and updates.

This trend of followers over talent isn’t artful. We’re compromising the integrity of creating by buying into the false reality of reality entertainment. I dread the day I see on an actor’s resume placed in the Special Skills section, or worse as a credit, the number of social network followers the actor has.

Sir Laurence Olivier had talent: not a Twitter following.

#StopTwitterCasting

My best,
Paul

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Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned over 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 visit www.PaulRussell.net.

Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

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

“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!

Best Solution on How to Send an Actor Headshot & Resume via Email

There’s a better way to ensure your emails with your headshot and resume gets seen by your intended target, and doesn’t drop into the spam chasm. A simple solution that is user friendly for both the sender and receiver. A solution that has casting or a representative doing one click: opening your email.

Email Success

Paul Russell_HeadshotPaul Russell – author, director & casting director

The majority of actor emails with picture & resume attachments to casting and agents or managers is dumped into spam folders going unnoticed. Worse; those vital actor messages seeking employment and/or representation are annihilated and unopened by a single click with hundreds of other actor emails. All that work and hope by the actor lost to the digital ether…

The spam algorithms of nearly all major email services (Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, and the antiquated AOL) automatically dump emails from “strangers” to a recipient into the recipient’s spam folder. Gmail has the largest wall protecting its borders against spam. Once Gmail detects what the algorithms suspect is an alien email with an attachment the email is deported to a hidden folder unseen by the recipient.

There’s a better way to ensure your emails with your headshot and resume gets seen by your intended target, and doesn’t drop into the spam chasm. A simple solution that is user friendly for both the sender and receiver. A solution that has casting or a representative doing one click: opening your email.

 

Step 1:

No attachments.

Attachments = Spam Folder

Attachments ≠ Receiver Friendly

 

Besides the spam folder abyss; attachments cause recipients to avoid opening attachments for fear of viruses contained within the files. Your target deletes your precious email without their opening your message.

 

Step 2:

Insert a thumbnail image of your headshot in the body of your email (following your signature).

 

How to Place an Actor’s Resume & Headshot into The Body of an Email:

 

Step 1:

Create an industry-standard formatted resume in a table using a word document program.

Tables ensure your resume remains neatly, industry-standard formatted upon the email being opened.

(Below: The resume of the Russell-Menashe family queen cat Dorie)

Actors Resume Table Format for Email

 

Step 2:

The full-width email version of the resume is to be 5 ½ inches.

Email Resume Margin

 

NOTE: Studies reveal that the average, smallest width of an open email desktop browser window by a user is 5 ½ inches to 6 inches.

 

Step 3:

Make the resume table’s cell borders invisible by either using the “No Borders” option, or having the borders all colored white. This way the nasty, unattractive black lines won’t show or print.

Resume_No_Table_Lines

 

NOTE: Select the resume’s entire body (pressing “CNTRL” key & “A” key simultaneously for PCs) to change all the borders in one step.

Step 3a:

Select All with table showing

Step 3b:

No_Border_DropDown

Step 4:

Select the entire body of the resume and Copy (pressing “CNTRL” key & “C” key simultaneously on PCs)

 

Step 5:  Paste the resume into the body of your email BELOW your signature.

Actor Resume in Body of Email

 

Step 6: Create a thumbnail of your headshot

NOTE: Your headshot thumbnail is to be no larger than 250 pixels wide & high. Never place a full 8×10 in an email. The download on the receipt’s end is near endless. Plus the recipient will more than likely see only one of your large eyes, and then use scroll bars to see other too large proportions of you.

 

Step 7:  Copy the thumbnail headshot.

 

Step 8: Paste (or insert) the thumbnail of your headshot after your signature but before your resume

Thumbnail Headshot in Body of Email

 

Step 9: 

Write your best message for what you seek, and why you’re the best at what you do in the body of your email ABOVE your thumbnail headshot & resume.

 

NOTE: Write in your VOICE.

 

(Answers For Actors’ TIPs on HOW TO WRITE THE BEST COVER LETTER EVER)

 

Step 10:  Review for typos, voice, clarity, and then send!

 

You just beat spam algorithms.

When the receiver opens your email they are forced to view your headshot thumbnail & resume that is in the body of your email.

NOTE: Gmail & Outlook users may create the table resume within the email itself without doing the copy and paste from a file option. But it’s best to always have an email version on file, with the proper bowser widow size width resume (5 and ½ to 6 inches).

 

You’re done! Almost…

 

For many, many more actor marketing tips plus audition room technique, and how to best find and keep agents get that vital information from the people who know it best: Broadway and Hollywood actors, agents and casting directors speaking to you from the pages of the book the casting director for Hamilton, The Intern, The Wiz – Live hails as:

“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
(The InternHamiltonNBC’s The Wiz – LIVE!, Wicked)

Get Paul Russell’s best-seller for actors; ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistake & Achieve Success as a Working Actor

Share this:

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

“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!

When to Join an Actor Union? (AEA, SAG-AFTRA, AGVA)

The debate of ‘going union’ or not, and ‘when’ or ‘if” is a juggernaut of career soul-searching. When is going from a non-union actor to a union actor best?

UnionJoin

When is going from a non-union actor to a union actor best? Each actor has their own journey to one of those favored union cards be it from Actors’ Equity Association, SAG-AFTRA, or AGVA or all three: the triple crown of union status.

Once there was an impatient, young actor hired as a non-union performer by one of my L.O.R.T. clients. The actor strongly believed that if he didn’t get his Actors’ Equity card by age twenty-one his career would be over. When hired he’d hit his self-imposed card deadline but we hired him as a non-union performer (the producer’s budget dictated the necessity of a non-union actor to work alongside AEA actors). During his contract at the AEA theater he was miffed when he wasn’t bumped up from ensemble into an understudy vacancy. He threatened to quit. I intervened. We offered him his AEA card to remain.

While the solution provided immediate gratification for all sides, especially for the actor, it didn’t help him much past the near-term. Being young, developmental (i.e. new to the business), and a physical type that isn’t easily marketable for an actor he didn’t work much (nearly not at all) after receiving his AEA card. He was competing against stronger-skilled, union performers. Had he remained non-union for his early to mid-twenties he more than likely would have worked more often. As a non-union talent he was more valuable and desirable to union houses that hire non-union. Plus, he could work the lucrative market of non-union tours. I know of a good number of actors who played a non-union tour of a Broadway musical, and then were “upgraded” to making their Broadway debut in the NY counterpart of the show. Union card snagged.

For each creative participant in entertainment the ‘when’, ‘why’ and ‘what’ for becoming ‘union’ varies. For some, joining a union is a status symbol. Recognition as being ‘a professional.’ Union membership does not equal professionalism. Anyone working in entertainment has witnessed a portion of union actors, directors, designers, and stage craftspeople who behave worse than the worst tyrannical community theater artist. I was once heartened when sitting on a panel that included a Vice-President from Actors’ Equity Association who had said without reservation, “Being a member of Equity does not mean you’re a professional. That’s a myth.”

Whatever union represents your field of expertise know that the initials that follow your name designating inclusion into the club will not make you better at what you do. Only you can do that; not a union card. A union is for protection not perfection.

Pros & Cons of Becoming Union:

Pros:

–          Basic salary minimums set by each union

–          Health & Pension benefits (if employed a certain amount of weeks per year)

–          Arbitration should there be a dispute between the union member and his employer

–          Elevates professional status (but that doesn’t mean the talent rises as well. There are union actors who are outclassed by non-union talent)

Cons:

–          Less opportunities for work (unions forbid and fine members for accepting work without a union contract attached)

–          More competition (and often of higher caliber)

–          As a union member you cost the producer more to hire as they pay bigger bucks for your larger union salary, and also the producer must pay into your pension & health payments funds. (Producers are looking for ways to stay economically viable in a modern market where audience share is harder to obtain as competition arises from an overload of various entertainment platforms.)

Going union for an actor can not be answered by a blog, agent, casting director or by an actor’s peers. The answer must come from each actor’s circumstances (work history, marketability against other union actors, desire for the abundance of opportunities of non-union gigs vs. sparseness of landing union gigs). Before an actor makes the choice of joining an actors’ union, when the opportunity is offered, the actor needs to query themselves:

Do I (the actor) want to work near continuously (non-union)?  Or do I want to work occasionally with the possibility of better pay, benefits, and possibly better working conditions (union)? As a performer; does my age, skill set and experience equal that of my union peers?

The debate of ‘going union’ or not, and ‘when’ or ‘if” is a juggernaut of career soul-searching. The when, if, and why can only be answered by each actor’s circumstances, desires, and most importantly; needs.

My Best,
Paul
www.PaulRussell.net

Share this:

Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

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

“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
(The InternHamiltonNBC’s The Wiz – LIVE!, 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 Business!

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