Thursday, April 25, 2013

When I audition for something, usually the shoot/recording date(s) is in the information I'm sent or told.  Auditionees can list any conflicts (and if they have some, may be told not to audition) and be aware when they might be needed.   

Lately I’m seeing more auditions that either leave the shoot/recording day(s) blank, list several possible days or even say “the week of,” but talent will only be needed for one day.  A recent print looksee listed a tentative shoot date.

Many actors have full or part time jobs and/or other bookings, and or course have social events and a variety of other commitments from doctor appointments to classes to picking the kids up from school.  But when we have multiple auditions and don't even know when we might be booked, putting things on the calendar and planning ahead becomes more of a challenge.  We may have to scramble to reschedule things if we get the call to work.

Recently I found out mid-afternoon that I booked a VO job (always grateful for bookings, especially when they're via an audition vs. a returning client)...the next day, but they weren’t sure when.  I said I could do it.  An hour later, I got a call that they might want to move the session to the next day.  That was ok, too.  By 6:00pm, they wanted to move to yet another day...and though I was given a specific time, the follow up email said I'd get the time later....  

Fortunately, in this case I was able to accommodate all of the changes.  But what if I had another booking?  It's bad enough to miss out on a big audition, but no actors want to lose a booking because they didn’t know even when a job might be.  
With increasing vagueness about job dates, I wonder how often the client’s first choice isn’t available.  And what do clients think?  Maybe they pick a few top choices.  Maybe for VO, since fewer people are usually involved, they'll work around the talent's availability. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Concentration and focus

This morning the rain hitting the windows is so loud it’s hard to focus.  There’s a lot of flooding, so I’m thinking about the route I’ll take later and how much longer it'll take to get where I need to go.  I keep wanting to check the news to see if the waters are receding, despite reports of more storms. 

What distracts you during business hours?  Many feelancers allow interesting articles/videos on the Internet, the “need” to check Facebook or other social media, and/or personal calls or emails to keep them from getting work done.  They think they’ll just look at this one thing, or keep that call short, send a quick reply, but allow themselves to get sucked in. 
Sure, the distraction(s) may be enjoyable, but it’s not productive.  And thus not helping reach client deadlines, grow your business or income producing.  Some may have the discipline to tell themselves, “I wasted time today.  So I’ll make it up tonight.”  Others aren’t willing to push themselves toward success and let day after day pass without making a significant dent in the pile on their plates.
Sometimes my to do list is off putting and/or daunting.  I may need to do things I just don't want to do.  Distractions seem even more enticing then.  How do you make yourself concentrate? 

--realizing that the distractions will still be there.  Can't FB be as much fun after your work is done? 
--reveling in the sense of accomplishment when you can check off each less than pleasant task.  Isn't that better than feeling bad about lack of productivity?
--knowing you’ve earned downtime.  While everyone needs some relaxation,  socializing and time away from computers, I believe feelancers should consider their income stream and bank balances before putting play before work instead of reassuring themselves they'll work harder tomorrow. 

Yes, as Scarlett says, "Tomorrow is another day."  But if you let distractions and lack of focus prevail today, what's to stop them from defeating you tomorrow?


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Work vs. play vs. email

Feelancers need to weigh the pros and cons of being out of seems  that opportunities and client requests abound the minute you click non-refundable ticket or when your phone is off.

 I considered flying in and out the same day for a work-related event in New York.  But how could I not see a show? Or two? So I decided to go for a few days, including a day and a half of the work week.

(Pippin is extraordinary, one of the best shows I've ever seen.  And I've seen quite a few.  IMO, better than the original in many ways.  (Though I doubt anyone could surpass Ben Vereen.)  One number got a standing the middle of the show.  And I predict a Tony for Best Choreography--literally jaw droppingly good. Maybe costumes, too. As a Nathan Lane fan, The Nance made the top of the list over Tom Hanks, Bette Midler and other current Broadway stars.)

Because of a full itinerary and exhaustion after so much walking, we didn't stay as connected to email and FB as usual.  I have my phone set up with different notifications for different email addresses, so I know which tones require faster responses.  Hmm. A little like Pavlov's dogs. Even for one day, it felt both freeing and weird to not hear those tones and grab the phone whenever a work-related email came in.

But is it a good idea to spend even one day away from your phone?  For example, a client who was supposed to send a script the week before sent it late afternoon that one, jam-packed weekday I didn't check email every hour or so.  Of course. They sent a follow-up email when I happened to be on the plane home (which had been delayed, so I didn't see it right away).  They also called in the cab from the airport, but I returned that within 16 minutes.  I responded in less than 24 hours from the first email, but because of the now-shorter turnaround time owing to the late script, they were a little concerned that I hadn't gotten back to them ASAP.  And a friend in transit got three calls and two emails about scheduling an on camera audition.       

The next time I travel, I'll either check in more frequently or see if my email has an out of office auto-responder.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Cell phones vs. people

Many of us are tied to our phones these days.  Sometimes, there's a valid reason.  And many jobs are no longer 9 to 5.  For example, I got an important email from an agent at 11pm last night.

But go to any restaurant or bar and you're likely to see people hunched over their cells instead of communicating with their companions.  Movie pre-announcements often include no texting reminders because people don't realize that it's rude to use their phones in the middle of a movie.

Many men set their phones on the table...a constant reminder that even as you're chatting, messages are piling up.  What are you missing?  What factoid must you look up immediately?  Will the Earth continue its rotation if you don't check right now, or every five minutes?

Recently I was out with two different friends, who, in the midst of a conversation, and without even saying anything like, "I'm expecting something important," started checking email.  I commented to both, and they put their phones away. 

When did the people in the phone become more important than the people in front of you?  Is that acceptable?  How does the urge to see who posted what or who contacted you or responded take precedence over a friend, a family member, a date? 

George Takei posted on Facebook that people should put their phones in a pile, and the first to reach for his or hers should pay the bill. 

What's your view of second screening (paying attention to your phone, iPad or computer while watching TV), spurred by TV shows putting hash tags so you can follow live tweets? Do people get more out of programs if their attention is diverted to another form of communication, or is the experience enhanced?

Somehow we lasted for decades spending hours and whole days away from our phones.  People called back if they couldn't reach you.  Then they left voicemail messages.  Now, it's as if we're expected to take every call and respond instantly to any text, no matter where we are or who the communication is from.  There's little triage...a miscellaneous text from a random friend is treated with the same urgency as a RESPOND ASAP communcation from a talent agent.

I propose a social media vs. socializing bill of rights.  You have the right to:

1) a cell phone free meal with your companion(s).
2) be free of texts and emails for at least an hour at a time.
3) be free of FB and Twitter for a lot longer than an hour at a time.

It's a privilege to have friends, family and opportunities to socialize and spend time with them.  Don't abuse it by making your cell phone more important in the moment than they are.  If you absolutely, positively can't last an hour without checking in,  excuse yourself from the table.  And return in a timely fashion....