I was looking through my column-related inbox for topic ideas and saw a few items repeated with great frequency. They’re “little” topics, so I’ve never devoted an entire column to any of ’em, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that that alone wasn’t reason to keep the topics from hitting The Actors Voice somehow. Especially considering the fact that three of these “quickies” are emails I receive every single day (I kid you not), I figured it’s time to lay out the “little” stuff, right here.
May I submit on union projects when I’m not a member of the union?
Yes. Unless the breakdown says specifically that only members of a particular union will be considered, it is fine to submit on union projects before you are a member of the union. Many SAG indie films are shot on lower-budget contracts that allow producers to hire union and nonunion actors with no penalties, so just because a film is listed as SAG doesn’t mean there’s no room for nonunion actors. If the contract in use is one for which SAG membership is a must, you can be Taft-Hartleyed if the producers want you badly enough. Go ahead and submit. Don’t let your union status prevent you from being in the mix.
Will you help me choose a headshot?
Nope. Every day (Every! Day!) I receive an email from an actor who discovered the Bad Headshots, Good Headshots series here in The Actors Voice archives and who would love for me to “just take a quick second” and provide feedback on anywhere from a half-dozen to four hundred headshots. Nope. Not gonna happen. The tips are all spelled out (tips from me and from wonderful headshot photographers themselves) in those archived columns and that should get you close to picking your best headshot. Once you’ve narrowed the field way down, you need to rely on the people on your team (an agent, a manager, a publicist, an acting coach, even the photographer) to help you out. They know you. They know your vibe. They can help you choose the best, most accurately-represented YOU of a headshot from the bunch.
Should I do CD workshops?
Totally up to you. Some actors love them. Some actors loathe them. And some actors feel they have no choice but to do them, so they suck it up and show up, pay their money, and hope to get called in somewhere down the line. I’m not a fan of the pay-to-play business model, simply because it takes a lot of money away from actors and puts it in the hands of those who run the facility (after a hundred bucks or so goes to the CD who showed up that night). Just doing the math on these things makes my skin crawl. But, of course, sometimes CD workshops work and actors book because of having gotten access to people who wouldn’t have called them in off a standard submission. So, I always say: Do what you’re gonna do. But if you’re going to do CD workshops, research them so you know you’re doing the best-matched one for you and your type, meet with people who actually ever do cast your type (and who actually do call in people from workshops, not just the ones who say they do), and don’t go with a negative attitude. That mess stinks up the room and no one there wants anything to do with you, when you’re resenting even being there.
Does working on a SAG low budget film make me SAG-eligible?
Depends on the contract. SAG Student films, SAG Short films, and SAG Ultra Low Budget films do not get actors any closer to SAG membership, because those contracts allow producers to hire both union and nonunion actors without penalty. Because you will be hired nonunion, you are no closer to joining SAG by doing these films. Likewise, if you’re already SAG-eligible, you are not in danger of becoming a “must-join” by doing these films. However, if you are working on a film being shot under the SAG Modified Low Budget, SAG Low Budget, or SAG Basic Codified Agreement, you will need to be a member of SAG already or else producers will have to Taft-Hartley you in order to put you in a principal role.
Will you give me your opinion on these agents and managers?
Not likely. Now, if you’re one of the nearly 500 actors I’ve cast over the course of my career (and therefore I know your work and know what you’re like to work with), I might look at a very, very, VERY short list of agents or managers to see if I spot any red flags or think one might be a better match for you than another. But if you’ve never booked work through me, asking me to look at a long list of agents or managers you’ve made isn’t useful at all. How can I know what will be a good match for you? Sure, I can help you avoid a shady character or flat-out scam artist, if he’s on your list, but so can Google. So can groups like Hollywood Happy Hour and The Actors’ Network. Representation is such a personal thing. You meet with someone, see if you click, and enter into a contract knowing you’ll evaluate whether the relationship is working after a few months. How can I tell you which agent is going to hustle best for you? How can I know what your personal management needs might be? Especially if I’ve never even met you, asking me to help you choose a rep is like asking me to arrange your marriage. Awkward!
Can I perform in a webisode or made-for-the-Internet short film without violating SAG rules?
If you are a member of SAG, any Internet shoots you do need to be produced under the SAG Special Internet Online Agreement. It’s really easy to use, so if producers are not using it and you really want to be a part of the shoot, encourage them to get with SAG and cover their actors. These are deferred pay contracts, so it doesn’t cost the producers anything to “get SAG” for an online pilot or series. Only if the project goes all “Quarterlife” or “LonelyGirl15” or “Ask a Ninja” will you see money. And since most actors are doing web-based content for the exposure and the footage, why not make sure you’re at least operating within the SAG rules by participating?
Does it really matter how my headshot is attached to my resumé?
To some CDs? Sure. To me? Nah. I’d say I prefer printed-on, just because they can’t separate from one another that way, but honestly I don’t care. And if you ask Matt Lessall, he’s even cool with you borrowing his stapler if you show up to audition with your materials not ready to go! Now, I’ll say — after having interviewed over a third of the LA casting community — that you really shouldn’t count on the kindness of anyone when it comes to showing up to an audition without your materials ready to go. Sure, some might not care, but some absolutely do. And they care a lot. Look at it this way: You’re showing up to a business meeting with business cards, but you have to borrow your colleague’s pen to write your number in on your card before handing it off. Is that the impression you want to make? You knew you were showing up to a situation in which you’d need to hand off a business card and you knew your number wasn’t printed on the card and you knew you didn’t have a pen. C’mon… sooo much you can FIX, there, before you’re standing in front of someone who may be judging you more harshly simply because you’re not prepared. So, because there are folks who absolutely will care — a lot — about this sort of thing, have your materials ready. Taped, stapled, glued, paperclipped, printed on, whatever. Have ’em ready.
What is my type?
Uh-uh. No way. I could have a fulltime job answering emails, phone calls, and in-person requests to “type” actors and never, ever, ever get any casting done, never write a book, never write a column, never produce a showcase, never speak to groups of actors, never sleep, never have a life. That’s how many times a day I am asked to help type an actor. It NEVER stops. Good news! There are great people out there like Mark Atteberry and Sam Christensen who provide a comprehensive typing service that will rock your world. I’ve written about ways to figure out your type here and here and here and here as well as in Self-Management for Actors. There are a bunch of DIY techniques for doing this, as well as professionals to hire when you’re looking for professional opinions.
Look, I know that actors really struggle with knowing what their type is. There’s a reason so many reach out so often to get assurance from anyone else as to what their type might be. Actually there are a few reasons! One: Most actors don’t know their primary type because they’re trained to know they can play everything and try to stay open to being anything whenever asked. (That’s good. Range is good. But we’re talking about branding and marketing, where typing is essential.) Two: Most actors have at least a primary and secondary type and are often confused about which one leads when they are simply being themselves. (Here’s a tip: Most folks who know you aren’t confused about which one leads. Ask them. They know.) Three: Most actors seem to want to continue collecting opinions from others rather than just trusting that they know their type, once it’s been established. Let’s look at that last one a little bit. I understand the need to feel that you got it right but there comes a time when you take what you’ve decided upon as your type and roll with it! So, sure, while you’re collecting data, you want to do a lot of checking to be sure you’ve got it right. But when I see an actor who already knows and markets according to his primary type asking yet again, I wonder when the opinion-gathering stops and the trust kicks in.
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000909.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.