I think I know the answer to this question already. But I’m asking it anyway. “Why is everyone so dang afraid of branding?” I hear people say that if they hear about actor branding or typing or targeted marketing one more time, they’re gonna lose it. I watch actors’ eyes glaze over as we talk about focused, meaningful submissions vs. slinging spaghetti at the wall and hoping something will stick.
I know. You want to talk about the craft. You want to believe casting has everything to do with talent. You are a storyteller and you have a gift and you want to share that with the world and that should be enough. And it would be. Except you’re trying to be heard above the noise of hundreds of thousands of other actors. Your buyers are bombarded with options. And that’s where branding sets you apart.
As I’ve said before, knowing your type is a shortcut, not a limiting factor. It’s about efficiency in communicating what you’re about so the buyers don’t have to wonder. (Because that time spent wondering is actually time spent convincing themselves it’s not worth the risk, since they’re not sure what they’re going to get with you, so they move on to the next, better-branded actor, or known commodity.) Absolutely, once your audience knows what to expect of you, branding is less essential, because your work is your brand. They know what they’re getting because they’ve seen what you can do and trust you’ll do it again. But before you’re at that coveted status with your audience of buyers, being well-branded and communicating that confidently is your ticket in.
Let me share with you something that Jeff Bollow wrote, about why screenwriters need to develop a compelling logline for their projects, as a part of the pitch process. I’ve adapted some of his language to broaden the scope to include actors and their audience.
- It saves the producers, agents, managers, casting directors, etc., time. It’s a time-management thing, not a judgment about you.
- It demonstrates the marketing angle. If one can’t imagine how to sell you, it’s not going to be easy approaching buyers.
- It pulls them in. Which would you rather experience? One whose concept is vague or one that upon hearing it gets you excited?
- It lets them know you’re a professional. Pros are good with words and self-assessment.
Okay, so hopefully that solidifies some of the why behind the powerful pitch, the compelling logline, the whole of branding and knowing your type and marketing toward and audience that is interested in consistently buying exactly that.
So, I’m writing this week’s column from Sydney, Australia. I KNOW! It’s awesome. I’m here doing a week of workshops with fellow casting directors Matthew Barry, Lisa Beach, Lisa Fields, Joseph Middleton, Monika Mikkelsen, Paul Weber, Gary Zuckerbrod, and a “we’re not allowed to use his name in the literature, but it’s a studio big–wig” casting director too. The Australian Institute for Performing Arts (under the direction of Marg Haynes, in affiliation with Kari Harris Casting) is a group I’ve worked with several times both in Los Angeles and now in Sydney, and communicating with Australian actors about what living and working in Los Angeles is like is an exciting challenge.
But just like happens with actors in Hollywood (or anywhere, I’d imagine), there are those who get it and those who resist it. Case in point, I just got this Facebook message from an actor who was in my “Knowing and Playing Your Type” workshop this week.
Thanks, Bonnie, for an absolutely rocking workshop on knowing your type. Rather then feeling limited, I feel liberated because now I have a solid base to work from, and which people will identify with me. No matter what your type, it is always flavoured with YOU, and while others may share your type no-one but you is… you. It’s great!! Sky is still the limit though. 🙂
Awesome. When you embrace that getting clear on your primary type, refining your materials to communicate your brand effectively, and targeting your marketing to those who most consistently cast actors of your type in projects you’d love to be a part of is empowering, you can think less about it than you might imagine. Think about that: Once you get it and do it, you no longer have to even worry about it. Because you’re well-branded and everything you do is in service of communicating that brand efficiently to the specific buyers of that brand, you can relax about it all and then you get to do all of that fun craft and storytelling stuff you so crave doing.
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001114.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.