Thursday, June 26, 2008


Recently I put a profile up on Facebook. You'd have to live under a rock not to have heard of it and MySpace, so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I'm still not quite sure.

So far, FB seems like a huge online timesuck. You could spend hours searching for new friends, inviting and answering invites, writing on walls, checking everyone's updates and adding your own. I guess some people get emotionally invested in increasing their number of friends. And by the complexity of their pages, you can tell that some have spent hours customizing and adding info.

As a cousin wrote, for me there's just too much "social spam." How are people I've never heard of finding me? Some I have friends in common with, but some I don't. Maybe FB should include in the friending invitation info about how that person found you. I don't yet understand all the side applications (and I think I read somewhere that some of them aren't completely safe and might track your internet usage, etc.).

And what is the point of things like "green patch" and "friends for sale?" Someone bought me as a pet, and wants me to click to find out how much I cost. What does that mean? Nor am I that interested in playing the various games I've been invited to.

Maybe I'm too old to get it, or maybe I just have a different definition of fun.

Do people really meet new people via these sites? Do they connect with long lost contacts and friends...and if so, in a meaningful way? I'd bet if people took all the time they're spending on Facebook/online games, and invested that in their careers or with their live friends/family, they'd probably get a lot more accomplished. But perhaps in today's world, some find online relationships more satisfying than being face to face. Or...remember this...talking on the phone.

Let me know what you get out of Facebook. And maybe I'll finally understand why it's so popular.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Long Day's Journey into Night...

Yesterday I worked as a movie extra from 9:30AM until 2:00AM. You read that right. A total of 16 1/2 hours.

Extras here usually get paid $65 for the first 8 hours, then time and half after that, minus 1/2 hour for lunch.

The fun parts:
--hanging out with interesting fellow extras
--being so close to famous stars/directors you can hear them discuss the scene and see the results of the conversations with each take, so it's like a master class
--watching a scene being developed and changed
--the chance of my scene making it onto the big screen
--when the movie is released, comparing what I saw during filming to the final version
--when not on set, getting paid to read and check email
--eating tasty food I don't have to buy, cook or clean up after (often there are yummy homemade desserts and a salad bar that rivals many a restaurant, many times carved beef and grilled fish)

The not so fun parts:
--wearing their shoes that hurt your feet
--the "hurry up and wait." Yesterday lunch was ready, but since extras can't eat before the crew, we sat waiting. The minute we were allowed to get in line, they said we had to rush to we should box up our food and carry it with us.
--waiting for the camera(s) to be reset and for changes to lighting, etc
--uncomfortable working conditions: the set and/or holding can be very hot or very cold, or even very dusty (crew members may actually create extra dust, several times before each take)
--somehow the sitting and waiting is exhausting

I have now worked as an extra on 61 different major motion pictures/TV shows. Wonder who holds the world record?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Living in the Moment

How can we enjoy the now and live in the moment, when we are worried about the future and thinking about the past? I'm sure Carrie Bradshaw asked a similar question in a Sex and the City episode, but I'm not going to re-rent the series to see how she answered it.

Often we expend more energy living in the future...what we need to be doing vs. what we are doing, where we have to go next and not being where we are and enjoying who we're with right now. Just look at the number of people who pull out their BlackBerries/cell phones during take care of other stuff instead of the business they are in the room to transact.

In my world, the ebb and flow of my eclectic lifestyle is often what draws me out of being present in the present.

Last week, I had 6 days in a row of acting work!!! Mon-Thurs: rehearsals and performances with a serious improv ensemble that does employee training/development. Fri: recording session for a voiceover role. Sat: rehearsal with the improv team I'll be performing with.

Very exciting and productive.

But in the back of my mind lurked thoughts like, "What about next week? Not a single audition or booking scheduled. And look at what's happening to the stock market and the price of gas! What about your weekly new page haven't written a word!" The arrival of several rejections didn't help matters any.

This week, I'm going to make an effort to be 100% where I am and find some contentment in what I am doing and am accomplishing vs. what I need to do. To do my best to not worry about things I can't control.

What about you?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Making Life Experience Work for YOU

What life experiences have you had that are proving or could prove useful now?

For me, it's the 16 years I spent (sometimes kicking and screaming) in corporate sales and marketing. Many actors and authors, though extremely talented in their craft, lack the skills to self-promote and/or the understanding of the need or interest in doing so. A large part of both businesses is who you know, and no one can know you if he or she hasn't heard of you. Like the lottery slogan, if you're not in it, you can't win it.

So how can you get in the game?

Self-marketing in any field takes time, energy, confidence/moxie, creativity and money.

You need:
--To produce the best promotional materials you can, whether it's the right kind of headshot and resume or a great query letter. Your materials must best represent and differentiate you without going too far outside the box. There are standards and conventions for these items; if you don't meet them you'll probably end up in the circular file. I've heard many agents/editors comment on ridiculous query letters that they toss and too many casting directors/acting agents critique bad headshots they won't bother to give any consideration to.
A fellow actor recently commented about his difficulty in finding an acting agent. Unfortunately, his headshot/resume made it clear why, despite his great look...wrong kind and size of picture, wrong background, and giving irrelevant info with many formatting errors.
So don't shoot yourself in the foot before you even get in the door.
--Knowledge of the business world and professionalism. Sometimes the little things, which usually you can control, really count. Examples: Be on time. Arrive prepared. Follup up in a timely fashion.
--Willingness to invest in yourself. For example, a good Web site doesn't come cheap, and can take a lot of time to create and keep up to date.
--Discipline to do the work every week and not sit back and wait for the phone to ring because you have an agent.
--The ability to push past any fears, whether that fear is of talking about yourself or contacting strangers.
--Get help. Seek advice from those more experienced so you can avoid stupid mistakes.
--Get out there. When possible, get involved in your industry so you can network.

What can you do to improve your self-marketing?