Actor Do’s & Don’t’s

This week: Image & marketing tips for actors via video.

prclogolrgPaul is away on vacation fending off bears in the woods. Below is a nine minute clip from a half-hour television interview that aired earlier. Paul talks about how do’s and don’t’s for actor auditioning and marketing.

Paul’s blunt log returns next week with new content.

 

 

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The Cardinal Sin of Auditioning

This week:  Deceitful Actors Who Falsely Audition

Recently as I was sitting in my partner’s office (the talent agency owner) I overheard one side of a heated phone conversation between one of the agents and a client.

“If you go in for Tara Rubin for this audition, just to be seen, without any intent on accepting an offer for the national tour of Young Frankenstein should it come your way…” was how the conversation began as the agent’s temporal veins began to pulse. I knew where this was going. And it wouldn’t be pretty.

Here was an actor, with solid representation, at a better agency, who’d been given an offer for a job in New York which would conflict with the Young Frankenstein national tour. Because he had an offer on hand which was not finalized on paper, auditioning for other projects is the norm in the industry. What is not the appropriate norm was what he wanted to do. He was telling his agent, someone in the business long before said actor was in diapers, that if he got an offer from the Young Frankenstein audition, he would pass. I.e. flip off the offer and creative team. His sole desire to go in for one of the hottest casting offices in New York was that he wanted to use the audition to remind Tara Rubin that he existed.

W.T.F! Excuse me????!!!!!

As the conversation to my left continued, the agent’s pulsating temples were joined in rhythm by her click-clack tapping of manicured finger nails upon the frosted glass of her desk top. I looked to her boss, my partner. He informed me that the actor on the phone was the same young man who came into an audition for me over a year ago, got an offer from my office and client and then passed. He passed because he never wanted the job. He auditioned only because he had yet to be seen by me. He did THIS to a casting director who also was the life-partner to the agent that represented him! (Can anyone say Gaul? Stupidity? Walking selfish-arrogant-anal opening?!)

My partner and I were both supremely peeved. Despite the actor’s foible of giving what basically was a fictitious audition (because he held no truth to professionalism) this “actor” wasn’t dropped. His punishment to date? I refuse to call him in for anything again. Ever.

Never. Repeat. Never. Ever do you as an actor, a professional, go to an audition knowing that you will not accept an offer should you be so lucky as to receive one. As I wrote extensively on this subject in ACTING: Make It Your Business far too many times do actors and academics of the profession live by or impart unto others the mis-informed, moronic mantra, “You should audition for anything and everything even if you’re not right for a role, not available for, or dis-interested in the project being cast.” If you’re not; interested, right for a role or project available, DO NOT AUDITION! Got it?!

You’re wasting the time of your fellow actors who DO want the job and are appropriate for the role(s) being cast. By being false with your audition intent you’re wasting the valuable time and money of the creative personnel who are seeking performers who want immediate employment. Plus, you’re pissing off your peers and the people who hire. Actors and acting academics who believe in the “audition for anything and everything” fable can argue with me and my casting colleagues, talent reps., producers and directors against our professional opinion until they and their tenured professors enroll for the grave. Fine. But you and they should know this: Participate in the foolish, selfish, unprofessional behavior and an early grave is where your career journey prematurely comes to an end with those you practice upon this folly.

You may be thinking…, “How would the casting people, directors or producers know I was auditioning for a project that I had no intent on taking the job if offered?” Hmmmm. Deceit can not hide forever.

In ACTING: Make It Your Business I wrote of an incident in which one rude, selfish, arrogant, asinine actress who auditioned for one of my projects knew going into the audition studio that she would not take the job if offered. What happened? How I knew? What became of her? And what happened when I ran into her afterward…? Well for those who have read that story… you know. And hopefully you’ve learned from her error.

My best,
Paul

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

 

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He writes a column for Back Stage and is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

 

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Actor Email Addresses

This week: Actor Email Addresses Used in Addressing Entertainment Professionals

The pre-pubescent use of sexually suggestive, “personality expressive”, childish monikers misused and abused in e-mail addresses utilized for business correspondence has got to stop. Now. If you’ve read my book you know that I stress “this industry is all about image, image, image…” That’s not a mirror mantra for the narcissistic. It’s a reality of the entertainment industry.

Often as I go through the actor mail (hard copy and digital) I groan or sigh heavily in disbelief as I come across actors seeking professional work from a casting person or representation by an agent while utilizing e-mail addresses that are in no way professional.

Below is just a small sampling from the saturation of sophomoric e-mail addresses that I’ve found on actor resumes or spammed to my in-box. In order to spare these fools of flippant font further shame and protect the sillies from spam; the servers (Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, etc) have been removed.

dirtyprettyone2000 (The video prequel to nastynaughtyone2001?)

chinkychinese (Does this person have a severe case of self-loathing or are they utilizing  the addy as a dating advert to rice queens?)

AnnoyinActress

swishyfishy

foolishactor (Yes. Your e-mail address proves the message.)

instantactor (Just add bottled water!)

danceweasel (Shirtless, twitching twinks-with-drinks in hand comes to mind.)

puzled.one (If you can’t spell “puzzled”; yes… indeed, you are “puzled”.)

Grahammy_poo (Let’s not even envision to where this double entendre could lead.)

And….

pussylvr

Really? Are these people kidding or are they just insane, myopic morons? This is a business folks. A profession. If the e-mail address in use for your professional correspondence resembles a fifth grader’s ha-ha quotient (i.e. fart jokes and school yard nicknames) then I and others who hire will not take you seriously. Seriously.

For any professional, electronic correspondence an actor’s e-mail address should include the performer’s name or part of it. Such as:

NormaDesmond@whatever.com

N.Desmond@whatever.com

Norma_D@whatever.com

“IngénueForLife”, “MyManMax” or “IamBig” would not be appropriate, professional, e-mail address monikers for Ms. Desmond. (And if you’re wondering who Norma Desmond is… please hand in your acting and/or gay card. Now.)

Keep the silly and inane e-mail addys for friends and family who may be more forgiving than a business contact. Leverage your electronic loony-ness with them. Put a professional, digital image to your e-mail address when addressing professionals. Got it danceweasel? Good.

‘Nuff said.

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

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He writes a column for Back Stage and is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

 

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Best Time of Year for Finding a Talent Agent

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

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

Before and after pilot season. And…the summer.

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

– Being high-maintenance

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

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

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

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

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

My best,
Paul

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

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He writes a column for Back Stage and is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

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ACTING: Make It Your Business

Acting Techniques & Teachers

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

“Everything I say is right.

Everything I say is wrong.

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

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

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

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

My reaction: “What the fuck?!”

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

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

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

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

Are they actors or puppets?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My best,
Paul

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

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He writes a column for Back Stage and is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

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The Best Actor Headshots

This week: Headshots; to have a border or not?

Paul Russell
Visit Paul @ PaulRussell.net

To border or not to border… that is the question.

This past week a reader sent me a question about the latest picture and resume trends. He had been hearing many conflicting opinions (shocking in our industry) about whether a headshot should have a border or be full bleed (i.e. no border). Every five or so years the “in” headshot format alters. Who the hell determines this? I have no fucking clue. The start and persistence of some trends is as mysterious as Donald Trump’s reddish-blonde mop.

As to who cares about the headshot trends? Actors and photographers. Who doesn’t care as much? The people who don’t hire photographers but hire actors.

So the question… to border or not to border? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that the headshot looks like you each and every time you step in front of an auditor for the life of that headshot. Not a glamor shot. An honest picture of your puss.

More headshot quandaries:

Matte finish or Sears Picture Studio glossy? Matte finish.

Horizontal or vertical? Just like sexual positions it doesn’t really matter much as long as both are done well.

In ACTING: Make It Your Business agents, working actors of film and Broadway discuss extensively headshots that succeed plus display good quality headshot examples (like the  ones below):

and headshot mishaps (similar to these below… Note: don’t let this happen to you):

So what have we learned this week? The current headshot trend for borders or not is; it doesn’t much. Matte finish is preferred plus your headshot and sex in any position is ok as long as all are done well.

For more on picture and resume formatting, examples of quality headshots, how to find a headshot photographer, to make-up or not make-up for a photo shoot and much more check out ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor.

If you think this is a shameless self-promotional plug it’s not. My job on my career journey is to help and guide actors with and towards work so they can have a more successful career journey.

Additional Actor Headshot Advice: Industry perspective on actor headshots from a talent agency owner @ A Picture is Worth a Thousand Jobs – Getting Your Best Actor Headshot

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

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He writes a column for Back Stage and is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

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Actor Breakdowns over Blackmarket Breakdowns (Part 2 of 2)

THIS WEEK’S TIP: Actors & Black Market Breakdowns (Part 2 of 2)

Paul Russell
Visit Paul @ PaulRussell.net

This has got to stop. Actors paying thieves for black market breakdowns. Especially actors with representation.

Last week’s Part 1 of this blog caused a stir. It also prompted a reader to send me an e-mail he received from a thief selling the black market breakdowns. Attached to the e-mail was an example of the breakdowns. I couldn’t fucking believe it. Disgusting is the best I can say of the e-mail’s contents.

Here was someone preying on actor vulnerability and profiting off of actors by committing a serious crime of fraud and theft. Actors who engage in buying these breakdowns are just as culpable and can be prosecuted as well. I immediately contacted Breakdown Services.

More than likely the person who was selling the illegal Breakdowns is/was an intern or an assistant at a talent agency. Agencies pay a subscription fee to receive the Breakdowns. And Breakdown Services scrutinizes their subscribers. Joe-blow-off-the-street can’t get a talent agency subscription from Breakdown Services.

Now, actors with talent representation who receive black market breakdowns: Stop it. Beyond the illegality of the act you’re jeopardizing your relationship with your agent. For those with or without an agent who may be wondering how…. here we go;

The represented actor getting the illegal breakdowns often calls their agent and says, “I just saw on Breakdowns a role that I want to be submitted for…” The agent does one of two things (or both) rolls their eyes and reminds the actor, in terse tone, that as an agent THEY get the breakdowns and submit appropriate clients. After the call is ended, the agent usually mumbles to another agent in the office, “We need to drop that one.”

When an actor phones an agent with the, “I just saw on Breakdowns…” call; immediately the agent is thinking, “This client doesn’t trust me. Why should I be representing them?” Agents hate, repeat; HATE clients who use this supposed proactive choice for career advancement. Often the client doesn’t advance, they lose representation.

Agents talk to me often about this, including my partner who owns a talent agency. It’s one of the surest ways for a client to stop being a client. If you’re still not convinced think of it this way. Calling up your agent and telling them you saw a role on Breakdowns you think you’re right for, is equal to one actor giving another actor performance notes. It’s wrong. It’s rude. It’s not professional. And it needs to stop!

Trust that your agent is doing the best that they can for your interests. Stop engaging in activity that could bring serious charges against you and cost you money, time, reputation AND representation.

And finally; a reader asked me,  “Is it effective for actors living beyond the metro areas of New York or LA to subscribe to Actor’s Access?” (Breakdown Services subscription service to actors). No. Most of the BookMoreWork_TelseyQuoteauditions are in NY or LA. Auditions come quickly after they are announced. You need to be living in or near the area that the majority of auditions that are happening. Casting personnel don’t want to bother with actors who submit themselves for an audition in NY or LA when the actor permanently resides in bum-fuck Kansas. (No offense to Kansas, my finger just went for the “K” key and there were only two state options after that. I’ll offend the blue-grass moonshiners another time).

So, wrap up here. Represented actors, stop using and paying for illegal breakdowns. Stop calling your agent with the, “I just saw on Breakdowns…” call. Unrepresented actors, I do not condone or suggest the use of illegal breakdowns. But if you do engage in that illicit behavior read in Part 1 of this post. But be warned, you are committing a crime.

My best,
Paul

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

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He writes a column for Back Stage and is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

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