You are the product, the “Talent” in the title. Actors must be salespeople. And you are the product.
So, how do you get the people with the jobs to buy what you are selling (YOU)?
My teacher, John Jacobsen, says (I am paraphrasing) “An actor shows his talent through his choices,” and I agree completely. However, before you get into that audition room and show off all your talent, you need to make sure that you are doing all you can to be highly visible. They (casting people, other actors, producers, the media…the WORLD!) need to know who you are and why you are fantastic. This is pre casting room stuff. This is about making connections with other actors, producers, and directors.
This post is about networking and spreading the good news – what you are doing, where you are doing it, and why we should care!
You have to be ready to talk yourself up, even when you are in the company of new people – well, especially when you are in the company of new people, and especially when you are in the company of new people who can give you work! Yes, it is very important to be sincerely interested in what other people are up to, but you should also be very prepared and unabashed about sharing your own stories and experiences.
The first thing I want you to do is believe in yourself because you have something to offer. If you are just starting out, talk about that. Or, if you are in a class, talk about that. Talk about the project coming up, the one you just finished, or the one you are working on now. Or, the project you can’t wait to create yourself! Spread the word about your work, your craft, your path, and your passion. If you believe you have something to share – and I think you do – put it out there!
Now, where does one go to talk about themselves? I think you know the answer, but I will tell you what works for me and, as always, encourage you to comment and share your wisdoms, too:
- Facebook Profile.
- Twitter Feed.
- Facebook Fan Page.
- Facebook Group.
- Blog – WordPress or Blogger, perhaps.
- Personal Website.
Do you have an account or profile with any or all of the above? Now, certainly, you can operate as an actor in this day and age without all of the technological hoo-ha, but I think social networking REALLY helps. Now, assuming you are active online and you have a healthy (real, off-line) social life, how do you expand your network? There’s the question! Well, Facebook and Twitter both have “add a Friend” or “who to follow” options on their respective sites. Use them. On the FB, I HIGHLY recommend Friend Requesting people you meet. If you Request a person you have not met in person, I suggest messaging them, and explaining your intentions. We want to enrapture people, not scare them off, so make sure you are not acting like a stalker. On Twitter, you can navigate to the search bar and type in things like, “Seattle Film,” then follow all those people who pop up. Then, find out who those people follow and perhaps follow them. On Twitter, a lot of people “follow back,” but don’t count on it unless you have an interesting profile or you are posting intriguing material. So, get to Tweeting and watch your follower count rise! Your goal is to create a buzz about yourself, so as you are reaching out and making new connections, people will also be talking about you and spreading the word about your work and why they should know you, as well. I made all kinds of connections on Twitter last year, and am thrilled to report that many of my ‘net-only pals are now friends IRL.
So how do you network and market yourself in social, off-line settings? That is a bit tougher and does take practice. Where do actors, producers, and directors hang out? Lots of actors take classes. And, as a real believer in actor training, classes are great places to start networking. I am a big fan of Freehold, so see what they have to offer. You could volunteer as a casting session reader for theaters and casting offices around town. What else…well, I know a lot of theater actors hang out at Solo bar on lower Queen Anne…And, since a lot of theater actors are also working in film, that might be a good place to visit. I would also suggest going to see live theater, especially opening night events, and reach out to your community! Or, look for networking events that are geared specifically towards the film industry! Once there, my actors, don’t be afraid to mingle and introduce yourself to new people. Which leads me to my first point about marketing materials: You must have a business card with your contact information and your picture on it! Trust me, you want a biz card, and they are cheap to get made. You’ll need a good headshot, however.
Hare a few networking events to check out:
The reason I think it is so very important to promote yourself is because there are so few opportunities here. You, the actor, need to take an extremely active role in your own success. Don’t wait for the next casting call to come on-line. Don’t wait for your agent to call you and send you out to an audition. Get out there and meet the people you are producing and directing. That way, you have an opportunity of landing a job or getting considered before the breakdowns are sent out. Last year, I booked an outstanding job because I had worked with the director previously and he put in a good word for me with the producers on his subsequent project. I have also been offered gigs recently based solely on my reputation, brand, and body of work – no audition required.
Finally, it’s a good idea to get to know the local production companies. A great place to find them is on Facebook. Here are a few pages to “like:”
North X Northwest Productions.
Faith vs. Fate Productions.
Through my work on film, my social (and *real*) networking efforts, and this blog, I have been able to create a buzz about myself, my brand, my talent, and what I have to offer. If I can do it, you can too.
“It’s called show business, not show acting.” You are a salesperson and you are the product. Sell it, baby!