Actors: Work With Your Allies – Part One

by Michael Coleman on July 22, 2009

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The working actor in Vancouver has far more people on their team than they generally utilize to their fullest potential. Too many actors eliminate the “business” from “Show Business.” Successful businesses are efficient and use every tool at their disposal to the maximum in order to separate themselves from competitors locally and worldwide.

The professional actor in Vancouver unfortunately doesn’t have a marketing division, a chief financial officer, consultants, an operations manager, a specific product they are selling… or do we?

If you want to be successful you need to realize you are all of the items listed above. You are the primary team that is solely responsible for everything. Training, branding, financials,… Everything. This is not something your agent does. This is you. You don’t work for your agent nor do they work for you. You work collaboratively as corporate partners. It is this exact dynamic that echoes through everyone you work with through the audition process. It’s never a try-out and it’s never trying to work for someone or have them work for you – it’s about working collaboratively.

Here are some corporate partners (or allies) you work with every day that you want to reconsider your approach when working together:

TALENT AGENT

Basically, their job is to get you in the right rooms and your job is to book. No more, no less. They are also there with an endless supply of thoughts and opinions on various elements of your business but this isn’t their sole decision or responsibility. You decide together, as partners, when you need headshots and who to go to, who to train with and why, strategies on getting into rooms you aren’t being seen in,…  Here is some sound advice on how to maximize your working relationship with your agent:

  1. Sit down every three months and discuss 5 or 6 short-term goals you two feel are achievable in taking your craft to another level. Examples are things like: see 3 new casting directors, 50% or higher on callback ratio, full time audition technique training, one on one coaching for every audition, new headshots, lose 5 lbs,… make them simple and tangible.  You need a way to measure success and areas that need development in a business that is so subjective by nature. Sit down for 15 minutes every three months and review what worked and what did not – and WHY. Then come up with a new plan for the next three months.
  2. Ask for feedback after auditions if you think it can help you specify areas that are working or need development.
  3. Ask for their feedback on training, photographers, what they may know about shows shooting in town.
  4. Give them the tools they need to get you into more rooms. As much as we want them to push us into any one room – that is what every actor wants from every agent – what are you giving them that helps them in this area? That is your job. Are you working? Are you training? Did you get new headshots? Why is the Casting Director going to see you instead of some other actor in your category?

CASTING DIRECTORS

They need you to succeed. Like us, they apply for work and are only as good as their ability to bring in the right faces that give multiple options to the director and producers. If they bring you in they not only want you to be right for the part, they need you to be right. We have 8 or 9 Casting Directors in town. It is imperative that you learn to work with them instead of trying out for them all the time. Those of us that work regularly see them as co-workers not potential employers. We talk to them creatively and collaboratively. Do not be afraid to talk to them or ask creative questions. This helps them. They aren’t inside your head and can’t tell what you are thinking. If you are curious about knowing more about something or having a hard time clarifying something just ask. It is better to ask them a question that takes 20 seconds than take a wild guess and waste everyone’s 5 minutes. Come prepared but don’t be afraid of them. They are on your team.

Read about your other allies in Work With Your Allies – Part Two.

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michaelcolemanMichael Coleman is an actor, writer, voice-over performer and acting coach based out of Vancouver and Los Angeles. Michael is the founder of The Audition Room and The Shoreline Actors Film & Television Studio both based out of Shoreline Studios.

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