Saturday, March 25, 2006

A week in the life...

Hey There,

Ok. So I have been trying to come up with a bunch of entertaining things to write about but quite frankly, I suck. So, let's get to it. As an actor, life can be very difficult at times. When there is no work and especially, when you have nothing, and I mean NOTHING to count on. No auditions means no work. No work means no moolah. No moolah means... well you get the picture.

I am basically trying to paint a picture, with out being too harsh, as to why being an actor can be the most difficult of professions to pursue. The absolute hardest thing to do as an actor is to find representation. You can send out all the headshots and postcards you want but you will only reach about 10% of the people you are seeking. However, all it takes is that one person to believe in you.

When I first got to LA I tried everything. Using my old black and white head shots, I sent them to everyone. Most were returned, which became a huge waste of money. So I enrolled in classes and tried the old networking thing. The problem with that is mostly everyone in class is there for the same reason. So it can be a pickle to break through and believe me, I know. Thank god for persistance. I finally reached a level where I actually felt comfortable with myself and my skills. I auditioned for a few small things like student films and placement in show cases. Luckily, everything I auditioned for, I either landed the role or it led to something else. This took not a few months, but a few years.

Yes, at that time I was gainfully employed so money was not a major concern. But I did this all while balancing time for work, classes, and partying... or, err, drinking to drown my sorrows. I did numerous mailings targeting smaller agencies. Finally, finally, someone called me in to read for an agent. Guess what, they liked me. The rest is history. I signed with the agent commercially. The first thing he told me was I needed NEW pictures. That irked me since I just dropped about $200 on new shots just 6 months ago. So, begrudgingly, I took his advice and took some new shots. That was the best advice in the world.

Today, ALL headshots are in color. The reason? It makes online casting much easier. Your headshot is your calling card. Without a solid headshot, you don't get called in to audition... period. Online casting... yup welcome to the 21st century. Everything is done online. It's so fast it makes your head spin. One day your sitting around watching the morning news and sipping your cup of java. The next your shaving in your car on the way to a commercial audition, rehearsing your lines for your theatrical audition after that. It happens that fast.

Within an average week, I'll go to 3 commercial auditions and 1 theatrical audition. Naturally, sometimes I'll have 3 auditions in a day and others, nothing at all. Personally, if I'm not auditioning, it's not my agent fault... it's my fault. It's MY fault for not networking. It's my fault for not being in class, keeping my skills up. It's my fault for not reading the trade papers to find out whats happening in the biz. You see, others may blame their agents for not getting them work. I take full responsibilty for everything that happens. Thats why your agent only gets 10 percent. As an actor, you have to be at the top of your game.

Competition is tough. I went to a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) event that threw out this statistic... at any given time... there are 65,000-90,000 actors in Los Angeles alone. 1 in 90,000 is better then the lottery but you can increase your chances by working on your craft. That's why actors are always looking for an edge. That's why building your name is sooo important.

So what do I do with all the time off. Well that's for me to know and you to find out... kidding. I'll let you in on a secret... All actors have a second job. Unless your on prime time TV week after week or are with the biggest agencies in town like CAA, UTA, WM, Equinox... you have a second or third job. I have heard numerous stories of actors temping or doing catering jobs because of the flexibility. Then they hit it big and look back at all the assholes they have worked for or waited on and thrown them the finger. So be nice to everyone you meet, you never know who that person might be.

Speaking of being nice, everyone... well mostly everyone is very, very, VERY nice. It's only because of the amount of money that is involved... kidding again... well, partially. Money does play a part but it's mostly likeability. You will be surprised at how cordial everyone is. It is like an unwritten law that you must be nice in show business. WHY? Everyone in the biz, from your secretaries to your big executives have started some where and most at the very bottom. Even actors start out as backgound or atmosphere. As an actor you have to be liked where ever you go. My comedic teacher said it best. If you are going to be in this business, people MUST like you. If they don't... "click" and your gone. It's that simple. The likeability factor is HUGE. People will pay big money to see someone with talent. You can be the villian and people will still LIKE you. You can be the one who sinks the Titanic or beats up George Clooney... people will still like you.

So, for me, in any given week, I'll go to several auditions (if I'm lucky)... work around the house... read a bunch of comic books... do some odd jobs to make some side money... surf the internet... constantly read my e-mails... go to an acting class... call and talk to my family. That's about it. I can never imagine in my wildest dreams where I will end up. If I knew exactly how good or bad I am as an actor... someone or something will come along and change my mind. I have to trust myself completely. Do I ever doubt I can make as an actor. EVERY SECOND. No one will drive you... No one will help you... You must believe you can do it... and you know what... you will... hopefully! You never know... that's life.

It IS tough being an actor. No doubt about it. But the reward of performing is priceless. Whether it be theater, TV, feature films or dancing in the living room for my wife... you have to have fun with it. Acting is being able to tell stories that others have created. You color the charater with your ability and influence. Ultimately you create the character... YOU! For anyone who is paid to do what they love... they will know exactly what I'm talking about when I say... I could do this 24/7 anytime, anyplace. It's the love of the art. I know athletes performances are limited to the constraints of their bodies... with the exception of golf. With acting, you can always do it. Whether your 8 or 80... you will always be able to do it. It's never too late to start. But like golf, you have to practice, practice, PRACTICE! That's why I love it. It's challenging. It is you. It will always be you. Your drive... your determination... your ability... no matter what happens... it will always be you.

Until next time... peace and love... and what ever is bugging you... there are worse things happening... hopefully not to you.

in the immortal words of one alien.... Beeeeeeeee GOOOOOOOOOOOOD!