Thursday, October 25, 2012

Are you available?

Steps taken before an actor books a job vary.  Sometimes there’s a direct booking, meaning you’re chosen from just your headshot and resume (and perhaps a viewing of your demo reel) or from your voiceover demo.  The vast majority of the time, there’s an audition and often a callback, especially for on-camera jobs. 

Most of the time, you don’t get it.  In fact, some acting teachers encourage you to go in with the mindset that you won't, such as Michael KostroffI’ve come across various ratios of auditions to bookings.  One in 25 isn’t uncommon.  Your callback ratio is very important too, as are the types of jobs you book, get called back for and who they’re for.   Also important is what happens after an audition/callback, even if you don’t ultimately book the job.

You could get put on hold or “on ice,” meaning you don’t have the job (yet?) but can’t accept any others on that day.  There’s also first refusal, meaning they’re interested but not ready to commit.  If you book another job for that day, you have contact the first job and give them the opportunity to book you or say no before you accept the second.  There’s also check avail (CA), which means they want to know if you’re available on a certain day...or days.  I’ve been getting more and more of these, which is both exciting and frustrating.

Exciting: My agent (and casting director, if one is involved) know the client is really interested, which means I’m on the right track.  I’ve made it to the final few. The agent has to contact me about the CA, so I’m staying top of mind.  It’s rewarding to be considered for a variety of opportunities and to get that close.

Frustrating:  There’s no way to know when I’ll find out if I get any of the jobs or not. And if I do get the gig(s), I don’t know when I’ll get the call time or location. Right now I’m on a check avail for a VO today (which I found out about around 4pm yesterday, after another check avail  yesterday afternoon for yesterday afternoon)  and another for Monday (found out on the 23rd after a first check avail received around 8pm on the 22nd for the 25th or 26th). Whew.

I’m supposed to shoot a TV commercial next week (which I got called back for in late August and had three CAs for).  I know the day, but don’t know which of  two parts I got, when or where.  So making plans...for more auditions, other jobs, social engagements, even doctor or hair appointments, can be a challenge.  Thankfully I’m not a procrastinator, because I need to stay ahead of deadlines on other projects in case more auditions, callbacks and bookings pop up.  
Looking forward to finding out what's next.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Keeping up & staying in touch

Back in the day, if you read the daily newspaper and/or watched the evening news, you probably as well-informed as most Americans.  Editors decided what was important and relevant, and filtered out the rest.  Co-workers would gather at the water cooler to discuss  the day's events.   
But now many people telecommute or freelance.  Social media sites, websites, blogs and videos continue to sprout like weeds, with zillions of column inches of material.  Some are choked by the crowded marketplace, others flourish.  It’s hard to know which sources you need and want to follow to stay in the know.     

We can all learn more about our craft and industry.  Learn to be better people and run our lives more efficiently.  Find interesting tidbits to share at parties or via our personal social media outlets.  But how much time are we willing to commit to keep up with the never-ending flow of information? 

There are too many blogs just for writers voiceover talents, actors and freelancers to stay on top of.  I hear that some literary agents and editors, producers and directors share informative tweets and/or blogs, and that Twitter can be a good way to network.  As can LinkedIn, Facebook groups, etc., etc.
So much of what we come across out there is fluff.  Do we really need to know what so-and-so ate for dinner?  Do we need any more binder comments?  Yet once we've read something, the information may stick in our heads.
Mashable and lifehacker are two sites that seem to offer more wheat than chaff on a variety of topics.  There are also aggregators such as Digg and Reddit that combine many sources and/or let you know what’s popular.  We could easily spend our entire day and night searching, typing and scrolling.
At some point, we need to stop scanning and absorbing information, no matter how fascinating, and get our work done.  We need to stop Facebook chatting, texting and emailing so we can set our keyboards, tablets and phones aside and see people.  In person.

Thursday, October 04, 2012


How many decisions do we make each day?  What to have for lunch, how to spend our time and who to spend it with, whether to say anything/what to say on social media, should we take on this client/project -- from insignificant to significant, the list goes on and on. 

Some believe in the butterfly effect: that ripples from a small action can lead to major changes.  When we have to make choices, we may not know which direction to go.  Research and advice from trusted friends can help.  But sometimes, we suffer from secondguessitis.

 As an actor and writer, what to say and do at a given audition or how to satisfy requests in an editor’s revision letter from an editor can bring on symptoms of secondguessitis.  If we want the job/the book sale, we need to satisfy the buyers.  Figuring out what they really want can lead to overthinking. 

 Let’s say you’re attending a friend’s event but don’t know what to wear.  You show up in a carefully chosen outfit.  If the friend says, “You look great, aka, we love your attention to historical accuracy, but can you dress down, aka, have less historical detail?” you may choose to return to your closet and see what you can do to accommodate him/her.  How much are you willing to change?  
And what exactly does the request mean?  You may be able to ask your friend for specifics--should I change my earrings and/or my shoes?  But with a several hundred page manuscript, you can’t really ask the editor, “Which details did you like?”  It’s a challenge not to worry about cutting the ones they connected with or too many.  And an audition, if they say go bigger or smaller, we may wonder how much is too much.

We wouldn't be at the audition or have the revision letter if we didn't have something the talent buyer wanted to see and work with. But worrying too much about what he/she thinks can freeze creativity.  At some point, when making adjustments, we need to trust our instincts.  And bring to the table whatever it is makes us unique, whether or not our product resonates at that time with that client.