Talent Agent Charges Clients Additional Fee as Part of Representation

Representing NYC-based actors a talent agent, based in the Philadelphia area, apparently charges clients a fee as part of representation. The three-figure fee stated by the agent is “a necessity.”

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Representing NYC-based actors a talent agent, based in the Philadelphia area, apparently charges clients a fee as part of representation. The three-figure fee is stated by the agent as “a necessity.” Required so that the actor be included on the agent’s website. A website that until recently highlighted a link to an article in which the agent purports that she has been visited by the Blessed Mother thrice. The home page of the agency’s website also includes strongly worded admonishments to clients on professional behavior.

For years the Philadelphia agent’s practice has been reported by actors and recently corroborated in an mail exchange obtained by Answers for Actors between a client and the agent:

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The agent is a SAG-AFTRA franchised agent. In the SCREEN ACTORS GUILD CODIFIED AGENCY REGULATIONS between agents and the actor union to represent SAG-AFTRA members the fee seems to violate the agreement. Under Section VIII Disciplinary Provisions, Sub-section C the following is stated:

“The following offenses are those for which an agent or a sub-agent may either be fined or in the discretion of the arbitration tribunal for which the franchise of an agent or sub-agent may be suspended, revoked, or conditionally franchised:

(2) Charging or contracting to charge in excess of ten percent (10%) for his services under an agency contract, directly or indirectly, and whether as commissions, fees or other charges for performing any other services for an actor whether as attorney, business manager, personal manager, publicity agent or otherwise…

Inclusion of an actor’s picture and resume for a fee on an agency’s website could be considered a form a publicity.

In the agreement an “agent may not receive for agency services in the motion picture industry from an actor a higher rate of commission than ten percent (10%), directly or indirectly, or by way of gratuity or otherwise.” The clause goes on further to state:

  1. Notwithstanding anything in the Regulations, Basic Contract or any agency contract, no member shall ever pay more than ten percent (10%) commission for agency services in the motion picture industry…”

If a new client of an agency hasn’t booked work via that agency then the $150 fee seems to far exceed 10% of the actor’s zero income.

Answers for Actors contacted a representative from SAG-AFTRA’s franchise office. The representative was asked if a franchised agent can charge actors $150 to be placed on an agency’s website. Madelyn Sosa, Information Management Coordinator for SAG-AFTRA responded: “It depends in which location the agencies are located in. In Los Angeles our agencies are not allowed to charge a fee.”

In response to Ms. Sosa, Answers for Actors followed-up October 27,  2015 asking if a Philadelphia agency representing NYC-based actors and charging a fee for inclusion on the agency’s website as a requirement violated SCREEN ACTORS GUILD CODIFIED AGENCY REGULATIONS. The inquiry remains unanswered.

Actors have reported that the Philadelphia SAG-AFTRA office sent an email in 2014 to members and agents stating:

“The SAG-AFTRA Philadelphia Board of Directors has voted to terminate the website waiver that permitted franchised agents in the Philadelphia Local to charge a yearly fee to performers for including photos/resumes on their website. All Philadelphia agents have been advised that this termination will go into effect on June 1, 2014.

Therefore, as of June 1, 2014 franchised agents may no longer charge members (or non-members) a fee for posting or maintaining pictures or resumes on any website for work in areas where SAG-AFTRA has exercised jurisdiction. “

Long-standing rule of practice for union franchised agents is that an agent may only collect 10% commission on commission-rated payments from producing entities to actors: no other fee charged by an agent is permitted.

A represented actor included on an agency’s website is virtually unheard of. Most casting directors do not visit agency websites for casting as most agency websites don’t wish to publicly announce their client lists. The majority of submissions by agents of their clients to casting for stage and screen projects occurs predominantly via Breakdown Services. The actor’s picture and resume is placed on an online platform provided to agents for a subscription payable to Breakdown Services. If an agency is charging their clients an online fee is it not too implausible that the fee subsidizes the agency’s subscription to Breakdown Services?

My best,
Paul

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 over two-dozen universities including Yale, Elon, Wright State University and Rutgers. 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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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
!

Master Classes with Paul Russell
A Casting Director’s Best-Selling Book for Actors

ACTING: Make It Your Business

How Actors Get Auditions & Agents Via Google ‘Secret’

Google has a little known digital aggregate spy that will let an actor know about projects to be cast long before a casting notice or breakdown is released to industry. The handy snoop also keeps track of what agents are expanding their client base, and/or where the talent rep will next be making a heralded public appearance.

Google

Think you know where casting notices lurk? Breakdown Services, Actors Access, Back Stage, Casting Networks, Playbill, Google app… wait, what, huh Google what?

Google has a little known digital aggregate spy that will let an actor know about projects to be cast long before a casting notice or breakdown is released to industry. The handy snoop also keeps track of what agents are expanding their client base, and/or where the talent rep will next be making a heralded public appearance.

Google Alerts. What’s Google Alerts? And how does this nifty feature utilized mostly by media and political campaigns benefit an actor to get auditions and/or a talent agent and manager?

Simple.

Google Alerts is a Google app that tracks online names (or titles) when published, and then alerts the user of when specified names previously programmed by the app’s user appear online.

Want to know, or keep track, of a director’s or casting director’s next project? Program their name(s) into Google Alerts and you’ll be notified of when that casting director or director next appears online such as in an announcement “Steven Spielberg to Helm Upcoming Tom Hanks Thriller.”

Or maybe you know through the industry grapevine that “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is rumored to be bound for a Broadway musical and you’d sell your nana’s dentures to be first seen and considered for casting. Program into Google Alerts ‘Best Exotic Marigold Hotel musical’ and you’ll get an alert the first time the whispered rumor is put into font online.

With alerts like the Spielberg and Best Hotel… you’ll receive additional alerts when creatives are named such as casting, director, et. al. You can then reach out to the people named well before a casting notice is released. You’re first in their thought and line.

Talent Representation

Want to target specific agents for your representation but don’t know at what seminar they will be at next? Program the name(s) of the agent(s), and their agency, into Google Alerts and you’ll be notified of their next public appearance. Additionally if the agent is mentioned in a press release in regard to a client’s work (or the agent jumps to another agency) you can personally congratulate the agent via their Twitter feed.

Google Alerts can be utilized to follow announcements on any title, studio, person (directors, writers, producers, managers, choreographers, agents), or entity (production company, theater, touring company, studio). How the actor leverages the information and the success of such depends on the actor.

Place this author’s name in Google Alerts and you’ll soon be getting an alert “Paul Russell to Direct U.S. Regional Premiere of [title].’ Yes, that’s a tease but there will be casting involved for the project I’m keeping mum about. Google Alerts will let you know when my producer makes the announcement official… One example of the many profitable ways Google Alerts assists an actor’s career.

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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 over two-dozen universities including Yale, Elon, Wright State University and Rutgers. 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 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

How to Audition On-Camera Auditions for Modern Casting

Is the traditional actor’s reel a hipster man-bun bound for extinction? Yes.

Are on-camera auditions recorded in a casting director’s office (or in the office of the actor’s rep.) as relevant to the modern casting process as is Kim Kardashian is to winning a Pulitzer for literature? Yes.

On camera

PR_headshot_A4AIs the traditional actor’s reel a hipster man-bun bound for extinction? Yes.

Are on-camera auditions recorded in a casting director’s office (or in the office of the actor’s rep.) as relevant to the modern casting process as is Kim Kardashian is to winning a Pulitzer for literature? Yes.

Casting directors for the screen, whether TV network, indie films, online outlets like Netflix, or Hollywood film blockbusters rarely view an actor’s reel in today’s Twitter-paced world. The worry for actors is no longer, “How long is my reel?” The worry for actors, and actor representation, is: does the actor have digital real estate online with audition competitive clips that target project-casting specificity?

Digital Real (reel) Estate:

When casting is seeking actors for a screen project the director, producers, writer(s), and casting only want to view quickly one (maaaybe two) clips of the actor’s screen work that matches the project being cast. That’s it. No reel.

The record of the actor’s relevant on-camera history must be industry-accessible beyond Breakdown Services / Actors Access, and definitely not on YouTube which restricts the posting of protected material. (Plus YouTube is the public digital landfill taunting with distractions; pulling away with cute kitty clips a viewer’s attention from the actor.)

So what to do with that reel dormant on a drive? Old fashion reel, real estate (clips disjointedly mashed together as a whole) is strictly for seeking representation.

What does an actor need now to be casting-competitive digitally? We’ll get to that new industry standard shortly…

Auditioning On-Camera:

When creatives involved in casting for a screen project (and sometimes for stage projects) want to see the actor with material from that project the actor must often participate in Eco-casting: record themselves utilizing provided audition material, and then make available to the casting office the recorded audition. No longer do actors with representation go to their agent’s office to be ‘put on tape.’ Represented or not the actor must be both director, editor, and actor recording themselves. A daunting proposition for the actor that is today’s producer budget-tightening reality spawned by the digital revolution.

The changes have come swiftly. And too many actors haven’t caught up to the modern demands of on-camera auditioning, and digital real estate.

Two respected screen casting directors and a successful bi-coastal talent agency owner join my office for a 3-week on-camera intensive. The executive entertainment panel includes guests associated with major studio and indie films including projects for: HBO, ABC, CBS, NBC, American Horror Story, and many more successful screen outlets.

Together we share the importance not only on Eco-casting on-camera audition technique but also on the changes required for relevance for the modern actor’s digital real estate. The entertainment executives view and provide feedback on the actor’s work. Plus, participating actors receive an online, private link to their in-class on-camera work. The video files can be downloaded and saved.

WEEK 1: Mastering Media Real Estate (Having a reel is not necessary for participation.)

Discover the gold-standard for what Prime-Time TV & major film casting expect of proper and effective actor media in the digital revolution.

For the class participants with reels: Evaluation & advisement of modernizing your screen media for agents, and casting.

For actors without reels: A valuable insight for what is required to audition in an Eco-casting realm that is modern casting.

WEEK 2: Commanding the On-Camera Audition & Actor Branding – Getting the Job

Plus…

Analysis of Improvements 

Strengthen acting & live on-camera audition skills via scene study; define & leverage your type; Perfect your brand for when meeting industry employers; Target what makes you excel during an on-camera audition.

Utilizing audition scenes—from screen projects—I and my trusted assistant work with each actor to command every on-camera audition encountered.

WEEK 3: On-Camera Audition Technique & Branding Follow-up

Plus…

Final Analysis of Media Prior to Presentation to the Entertainment Industry Panel

Audit and consult on improvement of: on-camera technique; effectively commanding the audition, text analysis, and dressing right for your brand.

For actors with digital media: a review of their improved material.

Wrap-up Q&A preparing the actor for the panel.

Panel Showcase & Feedback

Prepared, actors individuality meet and present their improved on-camera skills to the adviser panel. Actors with digital media will have their material presented to the panel as well.

At the end of the evening individual written feedback is provided by the panel on the actor’s scene work. A wrap-up Q & A follows.

Two-dozen universities including 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, plus share with the entertainment executive panel what you and I worked on together to showcase your improvements.

The On-Camera Master Class that has as guest advisers: casting directors for HBO, ABC, NBC, CBS, major films and indie-films. Plus a Hollywood agent with clients on American Horror Story. Only 5 Seats remain between both series!

Grab your treat at: http://paulrussell.net/AMIYB_MasterClass.html

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

Let’s get to work, my friend.

My best,
Paul Russell
www.PaulRussell.net

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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 over two-dozen universities including Yale, Elon, Wright State University and Rutgers. 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 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

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

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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

Agents. Auditions. Freak File. Flying phones. And a naked actor’s self play……

Naked auditioning actors? (Check.) A powerhouse casting director raging a “My Mr. Happy is bigger than yours” tirade with a big agency talent agent. (Double check.) A casting director’s phone tossed as a grenade? (Triple check.)

Behind-the-scenes tales of the entertainment industry are exposed, along with acting career-tips by casting director, director and author Paul Russell. A candid discussion hosted by Darbi Worley actress and producer/host of Everything Acting.

Everything Acting Podcast (click on arrow to play) Length, 30 mins. 25 secs.:

AMIYB_AmazonRead advice from legendary talent agents,
plus Hollywood & Broadway actors in Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING: Make It Your Business!

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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, 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.

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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!

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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, 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.

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ACTING: Make It Your Business

How to Create the Best Acting Reel…

Modern actor reel_3

The traditional actor’s reel is dead.

The term ‘actor’s reel’ soon will rest aside the, “Fax me your résumé’s” crypt. Talent agents, managers and their clients no longer share with casting a 3.5-minute historical compilation of an actor’s on-camera work. Doing so is akin to a lumbersexual parading skinny jeans at a Chick-fil-A. Très passé gauche.

An actor’s modern digital media doesn’t rely on old rules. Length? Roll back your counter. There’s a new running time for efficient, and industry-acceptable length. Fancy editing? Oh. My. Gawd. So 80s MTV. Modern actor digital media requires a new and simplistic format that directly targets specific casting.

And then there’s media real estate. Actors are being overlooked if they haven’t staked prime media real estate. The free—to nearly free—properties with the best digital curb appeal that attracts more industry views to an actor’s on-camera landscape. If you’re thinking YouTube; please rewind to 2009. Actors need to be looking to Vimeo, Actors Access or better the digital content platforms that representation utilizes to submit clients to casting: Active Pitch.

So what is the modern actor’s reel? It’s not a reel, nor should it be termed such just as a recorded sitcom should no longer be archaically termed ‘videotaped.’ The digital revolution has dramatically changed both live and recorded auditions. Reels are now segmented. Reduced to targeting projects specifically. Yes, some talent representation review an actor’s traditional reel when considering talent. But when that talent becomes a new client the reel is sliced and diced as if a filet on Top Chef. And when the talent is unrepresented the actor in relation to casting is no longer burdened by:

Reel length

Contrasting content

Dynamic editing

An actor’s digital media representing skill and work history is much simpler thanks in part to modern attention spans being compacted in the age of where 140 characters abbreviates content. And secondly, by the ease of sharing content online without need of a disc drive or the more ancient and bulky VHS player.

To further support, navigate and bring actors into the modern actor reel movement that casting and representation expect and utilize: I’m sharing the expectations for both digital and live on-camera auditions that I provide to MFA & BFA acting programs. A new master class for actors with or without screen history. A panel of film, TV, commercial and theatrical casting directors, and agents join me.

Yes, this is a post out of the norm for Answers for Actors. (And to be quite honest an uncomfortable posting by its author.) The posts here are generally of a prescriptive narrative. General advisories in text here for an actor’s digital media will not fully serve the individual. My sharing the casting clips utilized by actors on Prime Time TV, and the effectiveness of such may only be done privately in a class setting. Comparing an actor’s digital media to that of peers can only be done in a class setting. A blog post limits my ability to further advise beyond general umbrella statements.

Whether or not you’re available for the master class know that for your digital media representation to be effective to casting should:

-Target specific projects utilizing your media history that reflects the casting project targeted

– Showcase media that has production values (lighting, camera work, the work of peers) that you want to best represent you

– Have media real estate beyond public outlets that often distract the viewer from your media (i.e. YouTube is not an actor’s prime media real estate)

Master Class Curriculum:

WEEK 1: Mastering Your Media Real Estate to be Effective & Competitive (Having a reel is not necessary for participation.)

WEEK 2: Analysis of Actors’ Media Improvements

Plus…

Commanding the LIVE On-Camera Audition & Actor Branding – Getting the Job

WEEK 3: LIVE On-Camera Audition Technique & Branding Follow-up

Plus…

Final Analysis of Media Prior to Presentation to the Entertainment Industry Panel

WEEK 4: Panel Feedback

Lead instructor and guest advisers’ participation does not connote offers of employment or representation to class participants. These classes are for educational purposes only and will not secure or provide opportunity for employment in the field or representation by an agent. 

For details on the panel and the on-camera master class visit: http://paulrussell.net/AMIYB_MasterClass.html

 

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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, 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