Ah, a both enviable and frustrating place in an actor’s career: You’ve made some progress, you’ve attained a goal, you’ve jumped a tier… and you’re stuck again. Crud! What are you supposed to do now? Two years ago, you fantasized about being at the premiere of a film in which you played the lead. You craved the moment at which a mic was in front of you and you had just been asked, “What are you working on now?” And while you never actually wanted to receive hatemail, you knew the day you saw a comment online that talked about the slope of your nose as a reason you should be dead — filled with vitriol usually reserved for eighth graders — you would feel as though you had arrived.
Maybe you have made it to a new tier, but that doesn’t mean the pursuit is over. There’s still another tier, and another, and another… and thank goodness that is true. 🙂
How do you handle each transition? Well… if you’re lucky, you see your whole life as a series of opportunities to reach and grow, and the road you travel as one filled with twists, turns, and changes in how things are done, meaning your willingness to grow meshes with chances to do so, daily. Yay, you!
But since some artists see THE REACHING OF A GOAL as a chance to say, “Oh crap. Now what?” I want to explore that whole thing. As filmmaker Kathi Carey said, in a recent ninja group gathering, “It’s about a transition from the ‘I know exactly what to do’ space to the ‘I have no idea what to do’ space.” Perfect. Yes. It’s because actors know how to do mass mailings that they shrink from doing targeted submissions. It’s because actors know how to hit CD workshops that they struggle with the idea of taking a meeting. It’s because actors know how to self-submit that they distrust the team they’ve assembled to handle their business, once they’re at that tier.
Don’t do that. And — most importantly — don’t prevent yourself FROM having that next tier-jump just because you’re comfortable where you are. Don’t love the struggle so much that you never let yourself have the fullest freedom that an actor can — and should — have, as an artist.
How do you start, wherever you are? Well, one of the things that is easy about being at the level of “no credits, no relationships,” is that you’re filled to the brim with advice on how to build toward those first credits and those earliest relationships. It’s at this point that you can create discipline that will serve you for the rest of your life as a creative!
The to-do list that serves you before you have your first agent is valuable after you have your “starter agent,” it just has to be upgraded. The to-do list that serves you before you have your first network co-star is valuable after you’re knocking on your first guest-star, if you’re able to boost its core information. Checking in with your goals, being consistent, turning PROGRESS into a HABIT that is hard to break (which means knowing what type of progress you can control vs. the type of progress you cannot control), and focusing on the very next step (all the while keeping your bigger goals in mind) will make all the difference.
What’s your next step? Sure, always be mindful of your bigger goals (that’s what dreams are made of, right?) but map out the steps to the very next one, and don’t stop doing that just because you’ve made some progress. ESPECIALLY then, you must keep surveying the land and plotting the course. If you lose sight of your goal after making it to the next tier, how will you ever make it all the way to that goal?
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001520.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.