The Revolution

I’ve said before that I think we’re going to look back on this particular era in the entertainment industry as the start of evolution into a new business model, a time of plenty for those willing to self-produce, a shift in how prereads even happen anymore. This must have been how it felt to sit in the talent holding room back in days of the studio system. It was the beginning of the end. You knew things were changing. You knew there was an advantage out there for those willing to grab it. You wondered whether staying in that holding room would give you the edge, as there had to be some folks standing by “the old way.” Yeah. We all see how that turned out, right?

So, as with all revolutions, there is a choice we’re facing. We can find ways to take advantage of the amazing opportunities we’re being given a shot at taking or we can hope and pray that “the old way” will win out and we’ll be rewarded for having stood behind “how things have always been done” in this town. In case you’re wondering what I might recommend, um, duh, first read back on any of the hundreds of weekly columns, here, for a hint, and second just know that those who keep holding out hope that we’ll return to what they somehow recall as “glory days” — no matter how much they bitched back then about how tough things were — become the ultimate pariah in this business: bitter. And because I recommend ANYTHING other than being bitter in life, I’m gonna suggest you find ways to see opportunities — however terrifying they may seem at first — as your shot at participating in this new wave. Heck, maybe even your chance to lead it!

So, yes, this is another one of those “mindset” columns. Because your mindset is one of the only things that you have the power to CHOOSE, moment to moment, it’s what I suggest you focus on, as you take a look at the inventory of this revolution. Yes, this is the new Wild West and we are pioneers. It’s survival of the awesomest at this point. Actors who refuse to self-produce are quickly becoming invisible. Bitter actors who believe they’ve been here X amount of time and therefore deserve Y amount of success are dinosaurs. If there ever were a time in this industry where linear progress existed (and I call bullshit on the concept that success ever really happened that way, in this biz), it certainly isn’t “how it is” now. So, we have a choice. We can grouse about how things are changing, we can reminisce about “the good ol’ days,” we can bitterly complain about those who are shooting ahead by grasping the power of this moment, or, heck, we can use this opportunity to change even more about this industry right now! Don’t like the power structure where actors are powerless and scam artists and power trippers thrive on that? Let’s change it!

This is the moment people will point to as the evolution of this industry. We are creating the future. We run this. We are determining exactly how the new business model will be. And we can invite awesomeosity and reward for ingenuity or we can wish things had never changed. It’s a little like when air travel was introduced. Yes, you could still drive or bus or train across the country, but what’s the value in sitting around bitching about the people who choose to fly getting there faster? No value.

So, let’s find value in this change. Let’s choose to embrace an industry in which showcases are moving online and actors are being asked to create their own prereads in order to get invited to producer sessions. Let’s enjoy the demystification that comes with casting directors live-Tweeting auditions or blogging about film premieres and high-end agents sharing their POV, adding to the transparency of the process. Let’s drink in the expertise shared freely by career coaches and rather than complaining that “people are talking,” let’s pounce on the opportunity to “hear” things that were previously shared only behind closed doors, using this information to empower rather than threaten.

I’ve been bombarded with emails from actors wanting to know where I stand on the whole “DECasting Twittergate” explosion this past week. All I have to say about it is that there is nothing Daryl Eisenberg posted that wasn’t already being shared with assistants or producers during breaks, dished about over drinks with best friends after sessions, or posted on the “what were you thinking” submission wall in any office. Transparency is not something to fear, in my opinion. Anything that demystifies the process has the potential to be empowering. Sure, there are limits to what’s “fair game” as we’re in the in the land of the instant broadcast of all encounters (Thanks, TMZ!), but even I’ve been told that my columns can “scare people” about what this business is about.

And here’s the mindset I’m suggesting. Don’t like what you’re reading? Stop reading it. Don’t want to be blogged about by someone who is a well-known blogger? Don’t get in front of that person. But for those who find reading about a process that is baffling to most folks who encounter it to be empowering and inspiring, there is something to read. And for those who would love to know they’re getting in their own way and not even realizing it, the whole experience could be a career-shifting eye-opener. It’s all about your mindset. What’s that favorite quote of mine, by Anais Nin? Ah yes, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” So, if something you’re experiencing threatens you, stop experiencing it until you can shift your mindset about it.

Seems easy to me, but I’m also not one of those people who seeks out the opinions I find most disgusting. Not sure I’ll ever understand folks who hate certain personalities on talk radio because they disagree with every single thing they say, yet they’ll never miss a show. Strange, isn’t it? Heck, maybe some of you who enjoy keeping up with those that enrage you will write in and explain that behavior (and the mindset behind it) to me. I’m always looking forward to learning more about — and understanding better — the complexities of the human mind.

Last month, I blogged a funny quote from Script magazine’s Wesley Rowe and his view on Hollywood. He said, “To give you an idea of how small Hollywood is, imagine high school, how tired you were of friends and enemies alike. Now imagine this: Every student in school has a publicist. There are as many school plays every year as students. The only thing about ‘Hollywood High’ that’s better than regular high school is there are no rules against sleeping with the teachers — or against anything else.”

I thought that was funny and cynical and all that other fun stuff. But I wondered how much of “how things are” we just accept because it’s easier to accept than to make waves. Then I read David Brownstein’s blog. He asked, “Are you living and working run by the fears and dysfunctional behavior that is both Hollywood cliché and at times Hollywood reality? Or are you living in, working in, and creating an industry that tells great stories, inspires, and entertains the world, and supports a work environment that is humane and enjoyable?”

When I shared the former, I got no comments. When I shared the latter, I received dozens. I believe people are hungry for this revolution. We are ready to recreate Hollywood and reboot to a place that is more about the storytelling and less about the politicking. Yes, there will always be financial concerns and the “name” that guarantees distribution or network viewership will trump the up-and-comer on a casting list time and time again. But getting on a “name” list is becoming, dare I say, easier! (And yes, I know I’ll get mail from those who call bullshit on that statement, saying they were far closer to booking series regular gigs a decade ago than they are now, thanks to name actors moving from film to TV and thanks to new kids swooping in via the Internet, but I stand by my statement.)

Sure, actors who would’ve received several thousand dollars to shoot a pilot for a network a few years ago are being asked to accept just over one thousand to shoot the same thing for “new media” just “to see if it goes.” I know. And that’s not so cool, financially. Fine. But what I’ve observed is that fear-based actors see that as a rape of opportunity while opportunity-minded actors see that as a great shot at getting in there and proving what they can do while the stakes are not as high as those that would prevent actors of a certain level from even having that opportunity in the first place! Those who really want to see the opportunity in this sort of thing note that this means they could invest a few thousand bucks into the production of a pilot and get a shot at “being bought” now. Just a few years ago, there was no chance at even having your work seen without a high-powered agent, a major contest win, or an attorney leveraging the delivery of your material into the hands of the buyers.

You can choose to see the limitations of the revolution. I choose to see the opportunities. Note well: It is a choice.

Let’s “settle this new frontier” the way we want to live. This opportunity is either terrifying or empowering. I choose the latter. I’ve heard from people who see this new wave as wrong and unfair and they see those of us who embrace the change and go with the flow and seize the opportunities as a-holes who are somehow standing between them and their success “the old-fashioned way.” The old-fashioned way is gone. But I understand the frustration. Maybe you just got to the point where you were sure you understood this industry, and it goes and starts changing on you. Dang! What a bummer! Sure. But blaming those who choose to embrace the new business model for your inability to shift gears is ridiculous. Because this is simply a world filled with change.

And that means no matter how gung-ho I get about this current wave, I’ve gotta be ready for when things change again. And again. And again. So, yay for those who can deal with change and embrace the change and change with change.

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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