Actors: Focus on Relationships, Not Results


Thanks so much for your column. I’ve been reading for years now! It’s such a trusted resource for me.

I’ve recently realized that my passion is in a niche of filmmaking. I had the great joy of working on a feature in this niche that had DVD distribution a few years ago before my daughter was born.

I know I need to take advantage of the network that I had while working on that project, but… how exactly? Do I reach out to the director? Producer? Actors? Casting? All of the above? What exactly do I ask? “I love this type of project. What do you have in the works?” Or, “Can you give my reel to any of your contacts?”

I’m one of those people who doesn’t like making people feel awkward or put on the spot, so I show up, do my best work, and try not to be a bother. But, I don’t think that’s exactly how this biz works. Ha!

I have had casting reach out to me on a couple of projects I auditioned for (didn’t book), but not lately. Am I supposed to reach back?

Thanks for any wisdom,

Stephanie AKA thinking too hard AKA looks more awkward that I’ve done nothing

Hello Stephanie and thanks for writing. I’m so glad that you’ve enjoyed my columns for years. I enjoy writing them! 🙂

The good news is this: Because you’re specifically aware of the goal NOT to be a bother, you likely won’t be. It’s the folks who don’t even realize there’s a line to try not to cross who end up crossing it all over the place. So, relax about “getting it wrong.” Trust that you may, now and then. You might overstep. You may send an email that gets your address listed as a spammer. Your postcard may go straight to the trash. But it’s not likely that any outreach you do is going to get you blacklisted or something. So, relax. You’ll be fine.

Next, about the HOW of it all: Revisit my article on the Web of Trust. Remember that your job is not to stay on people’s radar so that THEY can do favors for YOU; it’s to stay connected with people so that you can build relationships with one another (and with one another’s friends and colleagues).

Sure, you know that you have an agenda and that you really want to work in this niche, but if your approach is more about building relationships with people who also have worked in this niche, that’s a smart move. Being around people who work in that niche will not only lead to opportunities for you to collaborate with one another, but will FEEL GREAT! Hanging with like-minded folks is awesome.

So, do a little outreach. Nothing that says, “Hey, hire me!” because that’s something no one needs to be reminded of or told, but instead something that says, “Hey, I’m back at this after a break! It was so cool working with you on that project. Catch me up on you? What’s up these days?” And ask that because you’re genuinely interested in finding out what’s up with that person, of course.

Work to rebuild relationships you started back then. Work to begin new relationships that your research shows you will lead to opportunities in the niche you’re excited about (use IMDb-Pro and CastingAbout to do ninja targeting — I know you know how to find my archived columns and podcasts on this method). And create your own work so that when you’re asked for the latest, you’re not showing off something that’s “pre-break” only. Keep your materials current, even if you’re having to create the goods yourself for a small period of time.

As for the casting opportunities you’ve gotten, hooray! Definitely stay in touch with the people who have been so kind as to bring you in, even if you’ve not booked the roles for which you’ve auditioned. These are all starting points for relationships that will last a lifetime if you lay the groundwork well, stay in touch with authentic interest, and continue to do good work that shows these folks it’s a no-brainer to involve you in (or introduce you to folks involved in) projects that are in your niche of choice.

Cool, huh? Stay focused on the long haul. Short-term focus is for non-pros. 😉 Relationships, not results. (Fun part is, results WILL come… but not because you’re focused on ’em.)

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

Originally published by Actors Access at Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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