Sunday, July 01, 2007

So, you want to be an actor - my first acting class

Vince Paul, casting director of Gospel Hiil, called me this week to tell me how much he liked the mediamensch blog and the stories and photos from my nascent acting career. Vince is not only casting director, but an actor,author, producer, agent, and entrepreneur.

We began to discuss his business and background. Vince authored a book and DVD called "The Talent Guide" which is a beginners guide to acting and modeling. He wanted my advice on how to create some awareness and sales momentum on the internet. I told him about my "real job" as a sales and marketing technology strategist for my company called eWarrior LLC and my knowledge of these cutting edge areas such as "Blogging and Social Networks ( is one of my ventures)

Vince invited me to his beginning class class for actors called "Launching your Career", so that I could get a better idea of who he was and what type of information would be on the DVD.

I arrived Saturday morning, to his offices and led to the back where he had a classroom with about 25 students watching part of a DVD about acting and modeling career. As in any industry, sometimes the smallest advantages in moving forward and getting ahead quickly comes with being prepared. That is what this 3 hour class taught us.

The first subject was regarding how to put together your head shot and resume. We saw various "before and after" headshots, which were the ones that were originally submitted or used by the actor and the after, showing how makeup, clothing, lighting and background. We clearly understood now that actors come in all ages, shapes and sizes from babies to senior citizens. For different ages there are different ways to handle the photo or headshot submission.

On the resume side, I found this to be very informative and asked a few questions because now I actually have experience with over 10 days on a film production. An actor resume is basically three columns, the show you were in the role you had and the director, production company or location. The resume unlike your regular business resume includes you height, weight (we were told not to lie), age, hair color and eye color.

For the basic beginning actor, many times an extras casting director, will choose you because he sees you have experience on a set and know what is called "set etiquette". Also because most days of filming are long (12 to 14 hours), they like to see that you stayed on the set all day and didn't leave. This is so important because once you are in a movie or scene, if you leave and the need to shoot anothe part of the scene, for continuity of the film you need to be in the shot, no matter how small your role.

The other thing I learned was the difference between applying for a modeling or print ad job and an acting job. For the modeling jobs, your picture IS your resume. The trick with your picture in this case would be to make you picture look like an ad you might see in magazine. He showed us an example of a child's photo resume or what is known as "composite card", where it was posed like a GAP store advertisement.

We also learned about the difference between theater, commercials, television and film. There are many differences in being in each medium and success in one does not guarantee success in another.

One thing I did learn and was not clear about, was the difference between an agent and a casting director. The agent represents the actor and the casting director works for the production company working calling on agents to find specific talent they need.

The last part we discussed was pay and what would be realistic pay for work. For jobs that were professionally shot and where an agent was involved an actor with some experience might expect $500 per day or more for a corporate training film or commercial. In some cases, agents may also be able to negotiate "residuals" for an actor in which an actor would be paid for each time the commercial is shown. I had a flashback to my first job at WNBC radio where a few of the other interns I worked with were in roles in "Milk is a Natural" and "Coca Cola" commercials. I didn't realize how much they were making....If I only new then what I know now.

Now, go "Break a Leg"