Thursday, July 29, 2010

Are Your Ears Burning?

They say that if your ears are burning, someone is talking about you. In the writing and acting businesses, you want your ears to be burning a lot...and hope you're being talked about in a good way.

--I booked a medical industrial without auditioning. The client must've listened to my demo, liked it and talked to my agent.

--A friend actually asked the other day if my ears were burning. She said she'd been talking about how helpful and encouraging I'd been at the writing conference where we first met. get a recent VO job, I was asked to give two industry contacts.

--I was put on hold for a job, meaning a client was interested. Time passed, and I didn't hear about a firm booking. You don't want to dwell on what's happening with auditions or submissions, but sometimes it's a challenge not to wonder if the job fell through or what made the client choose another talent. Lo and behold, more than a week later I got the firm booking call.

You want your marketing materials (on camera reel, VO demo(s), headshots, Web site, or first three chapters and synopsis) to speak for themselves in encouraging industry professionals to hire you. Building a reputation for professionalism, meeting deadlines and being pleasant to work with is also important for repeat business.

Getting compliments and/or feedback is great and useful. I don't often find out what a client liked, or if there was something they didn't like. Some writers are offended if they receive a revision letter. Their opus is fabulous as is, how dare anyone suggest otherwise? But most know that a revision letter means that the agent/editor wants the manuscript to be the best, most saleable product it can be.

While researching the definition of ears burning, I came across another saying I hadn't heard: Left for love, right for spite.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

You’ve Got a Friend

Many Gainfully Employed and Unemployed work from home. We're in front of our computers for many hours at a stretch and may have days without limited personal interactions, which can be rather isolating. While social networking and texting make it easier to stay in some sort of touch with many people wherever, whenever, that kind of communication just doesn't have the same quality or depth as a phone call or in person meeting. All of this online contact, in fact, can increase isolation...because many people spend so much time and effort commenting on comments, Tweeting or checking out what others are doing that they run out of time to actually talk or see friends (Too Much Tine Online Linked with Depression Risk and WikiHow to Stop Spending Too Much Time Online)

Some people you don’t see as often as you used to, such as former co-workers or clients, but when you do get together the connection and shared understanding is still there. Whatever the reason that kept you apart, you’re able pick up right where you left off. When these acquaintances and friends return to your life, whether on Facebook or in person, is it random…a small world thing, or is there a reason?

It’s amazing how many times on acting jobs or auditions I run into someone I’ve worked with before. Examples include: last week, I had an hour long group audition with only three others, one of whom I’d worked with at Winter WonderFest. A choreographer I’d worked with for several productions but hadn’t talked to in a couple of years booked me for a voiceover job, also last week. The host of the event happened to be someone I’d worked with several years ago on an emotional role-playing job. This week at an invitation-only audition, I ran into an FB friend I’ve worked as an extra with a couple of times.

As we’re trying to get everything done, we might think we should call or have lunch with various friends or relatives, but then don’t get around to it. I'm going to make more of an effort to keep in real touch with people (not just via FB or Linked In status updates), instead of letting Life do most of the deciding about who I see and when.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Jack of All Trades, Master of How Many?

Given the state of the economy and layoffs or hiring freezes, many Gainfully Employed are now expected to take on additional tasks if they want to keep their jobs, often for no additional pay. Employees are stretched thin and/or asked to do things not in their bailiwick. While some may balk, others will see this as a positive change, a chance to become more valuable to their employers and develop new skills.

Many Gainfully Unemployed are already familiar with this process. Specialization can limit opportunities in today’s multi-tasking, time-pressed environment. When you get booked by a client, the hope is to have him/her return with future projects. In order to make ourselves more marketable and expose ourselves to a wider range of potential clients, the GU should consider adding more services to their offerings. Because the more people you meet and work with, the more people you can meet and work with. And some clients also prefer a one stop shop instead of having to make arrangements with multiple vendors.

I mainly do voice and on camera work, but I also offer script and copy editing and writing. I do some print and improv, and present a variety of workshops. Other examples: a choreographer who also casts variety acts and talent for her shows. Voiceover talents who also do demos and coaching/teaching. A writer who can also do graphic or Web site design.

Sometimes I meet GU who are unwilling or perhaps afraid to expand their repertoire. Perhaps they’re happy knowing what they know and don’t want to make themselves uncomfortable by going outside of their boxes. Perhaps they don’t want to do the extra work to research and market new products.

The key is balance. You don’t want to stretch yourself too thin or offer services too far outside your wheelhouse. It can be tempting to just say yes if a client asks if you can do something you haven’t done before. More work! More money! But consider thinking it through before you commit. Consider taking classes to hone skills related to your main services. Every so often, consider stepping back from getting your work done and think about new ways to make clients want to choose you.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Keep on Truckin'?

When deciding whether to press on or give up, we may think of platitudes like: “Winners never quit, quitters never win.” “Persistence pays.” “It’s always darkest before the dawn.”

But then there are: “You’re hitting your head against a brick wall.” “Don’t beat a dead horse.” “Don’t throw good money after bad.”

We’ve heard how long it took Edison to make the light bulb work and how many failures he had, the high number of rejections some now-famous authors received before selling, actors who were down to their last quarter before getting their big break.

So how much time, effort and money do you invest in a venture before you're satisfied you should keep going or you’re sure you’re done? Do you set an ultimatum…if I don’t see X results by Y date, I’m through?

If you persist, you may attain your goal. But in most cases, there’s no way to know how long that will take. You may at least have more interesting and beneficial experiences. Or you may feel you’ve wasted more time and come to regret not moving on sooner.

If you quit, there’s the fear that you’re giving up too soon…your next attempt could be the one. On the other hand, you’ll have more time, money and energy to spend on a fresh start or other pursuits you hadn't focused on. You might feel relief or that you've failed.

Then there are those who settle in between...half-heartedly persisting or subsisting in an unsatisfying situation, whether it's a bad relationship or job, because change is just too scary.

If the majority of your friends advise you to go one way or the other, do you believe them or do the opposite? We’re often told to trust our instincts, but what if they aren’t communicating with us…do we hope they'll speak up soon or just make a decision? Some may believe in signs and keep going until they get one. Others may pray for guidance.

I think the key is to get out of the rut and do something to move forward. Then perhaps the way will become more clear.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Extra, Extra

Today I worked as an extra in a Vince Vaughn/Jennifer Connolly film directed by Ron Howard currently called Cheaters.

Being a movie star may be glamourous, but being an extra is a lot about waiting. However, there aren't many places you can get paid (albeit not that much) to sit and read, use your cell or chat with fellow extras. I do it mostly because I enjoy being close enough to major stars and directors that I can see and hear them at work. Sometimes we're served amazing lunches, like grilled salmon and a variety of homemade desserts...almost any meal I don't have to shop for, cook and clean up after is a good meal.

On today's set, an upscale restaurant, I was in fact close enough to Ron Howard that he spoke to me. Ok, so it wasn't to direct me (though he did during an El scene in Backdraft back in 1990...a scene he said was important--involving William Baldwin on his way to his first day of work as a fireman--but was cut, in the days before deleted scenes were saved for DVDs. WB, carrying a bunch of bags, sat in front of me as I read a magazine. I was supposed to react at a certain spot. Our train rode around the Loop many times.). It was to apologize for almost tripping over my chair.

Vince V and Jennifer C walked right by my table. It's very interesting to note the changes and adjustments made for each take, and to see close up the process of filming different scenes. And, as an upscale diner, I also got to eat a piece of delicious chocolate hazelnut mousse cake.

Today's hours were quite reasonable, 7:30AM-2:00PM. Usually extras work around 12 hours. And on Public Enemies, I worked from 9:00AM until 2:30AM the next morning, including the two hours it took to get into 1930's hair, makeup and wardrobe.

Transformers 3 is next to come to town...but I chose not to attend the open casting call--aka registration--and wait for hours in line. The FOX series Ride Along starring Jennifer Beals is supposed to film entirely in Chicago. I worked on the pilot (and in the small world vein was placed in the office of someone who used to be a corporate America client of mine), but perhaps I'll work on an episode or episodes, too....