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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Marketing Ourselves

Yeah, yeah.  I know, I know.  Here I am AGAIN going on and on about...*cue foreboding music* duh duh DUUUUHHHH... self-promotion.

Now before you go all ape crazy on me, stop for a second.  There may possibly be a reason for me harping so much on this subject.  Hmmmm... wonder what it might be?  Oh, I dunno, just... YOUR SUCCESS!!

Now matter how much we want to believe that alls we gotta do is get ourselves a really good agent or manager and then they'll do all the nasty marketing work for us, it just doesn't work that way.  You want a really good agent or manager?  Then you're probably going to have to prove to them that you're doing pretty well on your own.  Maybe it didn't used to be like that, but it kinda is now.

It's a little bit like finding investors these days.  Perhaps in the past you could come up with an idea, pitch the idea to angel investors and have them hand over gobs of cash (I don't think it was ever really that way), but now you have to prove that you're already making money.  Essentially, when you no longer need investors is when you can easily get them.

So, rather than making us discouraged, this new marketplace should make us empowered and invigorated.  We're living in a time where you can do it all yourself.  Writing, filmmaking, voiceover, editing, and yes... ACTING can all be done by those that want to do it.  And we can market it all ourselves.

Now, I could spend a long time writing about this, but rather than flog a dead horse, I'm going to refer you to my amazing radio show, where you can hear myself and my co-host, Carolyn McCray (@writingnodrama), talk about this very subject.  This Thursday is Christmas Eve's eve, so we're not doing it this week, but will resume our show on this very subject on Dec. 30th at 8 PM PST.  Join us here!  You can comment, write a review and set a reminder for next week.  And call in with your questions, whether or not they relate to the subject.  The number's (424) 243-9619.  You can also Skype in during the show by going to the blogtalkradio page and hitting the Skype button.  For those of you who are really shy, just comment here or @ your questions to my on Twitter.  If you ask it, I will do my best to answer it!

As always, I try to take my own advice, sooooo... I'm now promoting my AWESOME online classes!  Sign up at the top of my blog, or email me at actingwithoutthedrama (at) for additional information.  Top notch acting training, as well as all the practical advice and guidance that you've come to expect from my stream!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Thread of Connection

I'm going to talk about the thorn in the side of every acting teacher.  We all know what we want from our students.  We try a million different ways to describe it.  We rant and rave trying to get them to achieve it.

And it's simple.

You may have noticed that I didn't say it was easy or without any sort of discomfort, but it is simple. 

Really simple.

Simple enough...and uncomfortable enough...that most teachers don't address it directly.

What I'm talking about is connection.  That wonderful energy that happens between two people when they drop their barriers and reach out to the other person.

And it's the key to truly moving performances.

There's no easy way to teach it, which is why most of us that work with students are loathe to try.  There's no A + B = C kind of formula, the way that there is when we talk about objectives and tactics and internal obstacles.  All of those things help with clarity, but without the connection, they're just so much empty technique.

But don't despair.  The reason it's not easy to teach is because it isn't necessary to teach it.  We all know how to do it.  We were born knowing how to do it.  The real reason it's uncomfortable isn't because we don't know how.  It's because we've spent a lifetime learning how to keep from doing it.

Because connecting exposes us.  It makes us feel weak.  Vulnerable.  An easy target for getting hurt.  Thing is, when we raise our defenses, we're actually more at risk.  That wall is like a target, asking for all the pain we're looking to deflect.  Like the person who's overweight, hiding behind baggy clothes, we're only making it worse.

So, what actually works is being in a safe environment, with someone who cares enough to say, "That didn't feel connected.  Reach out more."  Someone not afraid to call you on your stuff.  Someone that is more interested in you succeeding than in you being "comfortable".

If that's what you're looking for, join me for my next radio show this Thursday at 8 pm, Pacific Standard Time, right here.  You can follow me there, set a reminder for the show, "favorite" me, leave a comment, etc., etc. :)   Also, you can call or Skype in (the number's on the show page, and there's a Skype "button" on the page during the show) with any questions whether or not they're related to the topic.  I know you all are listening, but having your input during the show would be AWESOME! :)

And, as always, if you're interested in getting training from me directly, you should try out my online acting classes or one-on-one instruction.  Go to the top of the blog to fill out the application form, or email me at actingwithoutthedrama (at) gmail (dot) com.  Thanks!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Always Acting: Making Our Own Work

We all face it as actors.  We're completely dependent on others in order for us to be able to work.

Or are we?

We're not the director.  We're not the producer.  We're not the casting director.  Our working depends on a whole bunch of variables that are out of our control:  the amount of auditions we're getting (or not getting), whether or not we're "right" for the part, the tastes of the casting director, the needs of the script, the desires of the director and producer, etc., etc., yadda yadda yadda, ad naseum, ad infinitum.

But is that really true?

We've been conditioned to think of the industry in a certain way.  And, yes, working on a paying gig for a SAG film or television project does indeed depend on most of those vectors lining up (although even here I think we have more power than we think).  But what if we decided to think outside of that narrow box that we've been told is "the biz".

Let's start by redefining "work".  Work as I'm talking about it is simply the act of using our craft.  In other words, it's acting.  And we get to decide whether or not we're constantly acting.  We choose how much we are going to put ourselves out there.

We complain that there's not enough work.  You have to be a name already in order to get a guest starring role on TV these days, right?  Okay, but those names are coming from somewhere.  And there isn't an endless supply of them, no matter how it may seem.  "New" actors get "discovered" every season.  Forgive the excessive use of quotation marks, but the actors that come into the limelight have usually been hoofing it for years before they get their "break" (once again, my apologies).

So?  Let's make something happen.  Take classes.  Go to networking events to meet other artists.  Get involved with a group of actors that want to work on stuff together.  Find a bunch of writers and offer to workshop their material.  Find new and hungry filmmakers that need free or cheap talent.  In other words, MAKE IT HAPPEN!  Mutually beneficial things, you know?  I scratch your back; you scratch mine.

This topic is what I'm going to be talking about with Carolyn McCray (@writingnodrama) this Thursday at 8 pm Pacific Standard on my radio show.  Join us here (give me a follow & set a reminder while you're at it), and call in with your questions (or Skype--there's a feature on the show page while the show's live--"Skype Click to Talk").  The number's (424) 243-9619.  Or if you're too shy (come on, guys, you're ACTORS!), you can comment here, or shout out your questions on my Twitter stream by DMing or @ing me.

And, as always, if you're looking for good acting, diction, dialect or voice lessons, paired with the practical advice you see on my stream, sign up for classes or private instruction.  You can fill out the form at the top of the page, or email me at actingwithoutthedrama (at) gmail (dot) com.