Whenever I listen to sports fans, I am intrigued by how much they know about their favorite players, their favorite teams, entire volumes of stats about entire seasons of “the game” they love. I’m no superfan, when it comes to sports.
I mean, I love my Georgia Bulldogs and always will, and I know a lot about the Atlanta Braves from 1982 to 1993, but outside of those specific teams and specific eras, I’m not aware of many players’ stats or salaries or best seasons or injuries or anything like that.
Talk to superfans. Ask about their favorite players. What was their all-time best season like? Where did they come from, before they landed on the team that made them famous? What was their top salary, before they retired? And how much does their rookie card go for, on eBay? A superfan will know all of this. And a lot more.
Cut to show business.
Here’s a scenario that has taken place many more times than I’d like to admit I’ve witnessed. I’m sure you’ve seen it happen too. (Please, don’t let this be something YOU have done. And if you have done this, please tell me that’s a thing of the past, because you know better now! Thanks.)
An actor tells me all about these submissions she’s been doing. Another tells me all about these workshops he’s been hitting. “Getting out there.” “Doing mailings.” Really taking their careers into their own hands, through these steps, right?
So I ask: “Awesome! You’re going in front of a casting director Thursday. Cool. Who is it?”
“Um. Some sitcom casting director. Not sure.”
*blink blink blink*
I’m sorry. What? You’re gonna plunk down money and then complain that you never get anywhere with workshops and you can’t tell me who it is you’re going to see?
Let’s superfan this situation.
“Awesome! You’re going in front of a casting director Thursday. Cool. Who is it?”
“It’s Chris Jones, casting director for Awesome Three-Camera Sitcom created by Pat Smith who started out in the writers room for Legendary ’90s Sitcom and you can see the influence of that room in every show Smith runs. Jones casts all of Smith’s stuff, and has since they collaborated on a hiatus indie Smith was producing. I’ve been in front of two different members of Jones’ casting team through networking events, workshops, and panel discussions. I always get good feedback on the work I’m doing in front of them, and I follow up with updates when I’m in a play or on a show they can check out. My manager has a good relationship with the office and has pitched me when there’s a role that matches up with my type, in the breakdowns. I’ve gone in three times in the past year, once going to producers. I know I have a fan in those folks, and Thursday, I’m going to make sure they keep me in mind during this busy pilot season, and to keep the relationship fresh.”
The same goes for an agency mailing.
The superfan version of the convo leads us to understand that the actor knows exactly who the agent represents, how often their clients book at the co-star and guest star level on various target shows, and whether the actor’s own credits line up with the level of actors the agent reps (or if it’s a bit of a reach). Further, the actor knows at what agency the agent worked before starting his own, where he did his agent trainee time before that, and where his relationships are on the weak side (so as not to *also* sign with a manager who has weak relationships in those casting offices, when the idea is to have a team whose strengths support one another’s weaknesses, rather than overlapping and becoming redundant).
Yeah. There are actors who know all of that before they even do a mailing, much less take a meeting, much less sign with an agent.
But you didn’t get into acting because it’s EASY, did you? No. Probably not. Probably, you got into it because it makes your heart sing to help bring stories to life. You love the challenge of the creative process. It thrills you to live lives in spaces and times you could never actually occupy. But it’s not because a career in acting is *easy* that you chose it.
So, get behind the superfan mentality, when it comes to mastering the complex relationships on which this industry thrives. The muscle exists, even if you’re not a sports fan (think about your favorite band and how much you know about their history, discography, and such).
Everyone with whom you hope to suit up in this Super Bowl of Acting is someone whose stats you can — and should — study. Pros know their fellow players, the plays, and the history of the game. Being well-versed in the stats and how they affect your position, your approach, and your career longevity is not just a superfan situation, it’s exactly what the players study when they’re not on the field.
Not on set? Study stats. Fill up your playbook. Go pro.
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001619.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.