Be Your Own CEO: Why You Should Keep A Spreadsheet

By Melodi Erdogan

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Ahh, the spreadsheet. They may seem like an unlikely pairing, but spreadsheets and acting go together like peanut butter and jelly.

You're starting the year off with a clean slate. With every opportunity that comes your way in 2019, input every piece of information you can to keep yourself organized and track your progress.

For example, let's say you're a new actor trying to find an agent and also self-submitting yourself for projects wherever you can. Create two spreadsheets or documents (whatever floats your boat - both are free with Google Docs and a Google account, so no excuses), and begin gathering information you can find to create a record for yourself. Let's say you submit your materials to agencies - you would create a list of the agency, their primary TV/Film agent, the email you submitted your materials to, the date you submitted, which headshots you submitted, etc, etc. And for projects you self-submit for, you'd follow a similar pattern, also keeping track of dates, roles, projects, casting directors - any pertinent information you can find.

If you're a working actor, it's a similar process. Your resume outlines which projects you've shot and who has cast you in what, but auditions are a different ball game. Maybe you never realized you hadn't booked with a certain casting director until you kept track of how many times you've auditioned for them. Or maybe you never realized you hadn't booked a show on a certain network. OR maybe you never realized how many callbacks you actually attended with or without booking the gig.

All the information you have access to is vital to expanding your opportunities. Having it all organized in one spreadsheet can do wonders for achieving your goals and really focusing your career on attainable, realistic steps. When you get an audition, get excited to input all the information you have into your spreadsheet - the date you got it, what project and role it's for, which network it's on, who the casting director is, who the producers/directors are, when it shoots, and even the date/time you submitted your audition - and if you booked the job, the dates you worked (wardrobe fitting, rehearsals, shoot dates, everything) and your check numbers and payments. Not only will this give you peace of mind and allow you to focus on your craft, but it will also present you with a better overall view of your acting career and help attack areas you know you might be missing.

You thought that if you'd become an actor you wouldn't have to deal with spreadsheets. It's true, to a certain degree. But by utilizing what you have in front of you, staying organized with information, and tracking your progress, you truly become the CEO of your company, allowing yourself to focus on what you're really here for: acting.  

MOTION CAPTURE #themoreyouknow

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There is a reason why so much attention is on the southeast and specifically the state of Georgia in the entertainment industry right now. We are on the cutting edge of some pretty exciting things.

Motion Capture. You may or may not know what this is right now, but you are guaranteed to in the future, and you have access to this knowledge and technology right here in Atlanta through the GSU and the Creative Media Industries Institute.

What is Motion Capture?

Merriam-Webster defines it as “a technology for digitally recording specific movements of a person (such as an actor) and translating them into computer-animated images.”

Some of the most beloved movies and actors have used this technology in recent years, and most of us do not know it is even being used.

Seth MacFarlane as Ted (2012), Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug in 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' (2013), Mark Ruffalo as Hulk in 'The Avengers' (2012), Sam Worthington in 'Avatar' (2009), Bill Nighy as Davy Jones in 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest' (2006).

All of these performances were captured as a result of motion capture technology. If you are an actor, stunt performer, dancer, and you want to know more about this incredible technology that is right here in Atlanta, then check out the workshop below. Learn more about cutting edge technology and how it will continue to change the face of the industry as we know it.

If you want to learn more, check out the amazing workshop happening right here in Atlanta soon: https://thearts.gsu.edu/educational-outreach/mocap/

AUDITIONS - BRING IT!

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I will be auditioning actors over the next couple of weeks, and a few had reached out with questions, which made me think it might be worth it to take a minute to talk about auditions.

 

There is not a Casting Director out there that does not want you to walk in the room and knock it out of the park on your audition. Remember, the faster we get something cast, the happier EVERYONE is! So that means that we want you to SUCCEED! I am rooting for every actor that ever stands in front of me. In fact, I silently sit there in the seconds before someone begins an audition with fingers and toes crossed, thinking, let this actor be the one. Let this actor be the one who makes my draw drop. Let this actor be the one who brings something into the room that no one else has today.

If you’re going to let your nerves get the better of you in an audition, then you may as well stay home. Your job is to have the training and resources to know how to overcome those obstacles. Use that amazing adrenaline rush that you get when you audition to fuel you in the best of ways, not overcome you and drown your power as a performer.

Tomorrow or next week, the next time you audition, when you have that opportunity to be in a room with a Casting Director--BRING IT!

The DOs and DON'Ts Of Episodic Season

BY: MELODI ERDOGAN

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If you haven’t already noticed, episodic season is upon us. Your favorite TV shows are back in production, and fortunately (or unfortunately), all at the same time. Whether this is your first time at the rodeo or you’re a seasoned pro, it doesn’t hurt to have set guidelines on how to attack the busiest time of the year. Follow this advice if you want to see results.


DON’T email your agent and ask to set up a meeting. Trust your agent - they’re working around the clock to find you realistic opportunities. Taking their attention away from that only hurts you.

DO update your materials on your actor profiles. Make sure your resume is updated and correct, your demo reel is tight, and your headshots are versatile.

DON’T send your agent hundreds of headshot proofs and lengthy video footage. Again, they’re busy. Narrow them down and make your top choices (5-10 photos per look, and clips cut down under 1 minute) and present them in a convenient manner. I guarantee your agent will get back to you faster.

DO stay in classes and workshops. Scope out casting director workshops and events where producers and CDs may be present. 

DON’T commit to a class that requires attendance. If you’re busy actually auditioning and booking, you’ll want something more flexible.

DO read your audition emails thoroughly. If your audition follows all of casting's specific requests, you’ll look better than your competitor who didn’t pay attention to them.

DON’T request a general meeting with a casting director. They’re busy, too!

DO make every effort to audition in-person. If you have the chance to be in the room with one of Atlanta’s major casting directors, why would you turn it down? Just because you don’t want to deal with traffic or reschedule your dentist appointment?  Relationships are best built in person. 

DON’T ask your agent why you’re not auditioning for something, or if you can audition in the room for a particular casting director or project. There’s always reason you weren’t selected by your agent or casting, but other opportunities may come. 

DO submit a different take. Casting doesn’t always know what they want until they see it, so submitting a couple of takes making totally different acting choices gives them options and also shows your range.

DO include your demo reel. If you’re auditioning for a network you’ve already been approved by, or a casting director who’s booked you, or even a producer/director you’ve worked with before, your demo reel can help your agent and the casting director pitch you to producers and/or network executives.

DON’T compare yourself to your friends in the industry. Even if you have a friend in your category who got an audition, and you didn’t (or vice versa), being supportive and encouraging goes a long way. We’re friendly here in the south - they’ll return the favor.

DO have a support team around you. Whether that’s a couple of reliable taping buddies, a friend you can talk to, or an acting coach/teacher - if you have a question or need to vent, sometimes it’s helpful to just talk it out.

DON’T dwell on auditions. Be confident, and believe in the work you’ve submitted. Always look forward, or your curiosity and anxiety will hold you back.

DO keep your schedule open. Avoid committing to a theatre production or any major recurring events. You won’t want to turn down auditions or bookings.

DON’T get cocky. If this episodic season is more fruitful than it ever has been for you - congrats! But don’t think that means casting directors will start offering you roles, or that LA is suddenly throwing money at you to act. 

And finally, DO stay humble & honest. They provide longevity for positive relationships like no other. 

THE AGENT/CLIENT RELATIONSHIP: Pitches

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The subject of agent and client relationships comes up repeatedly in my discussions, particularly with actors. It can be a little touchy, but it’s important to address. When you sign with your agent, you need to discuss procedures. Where you are in your career and your credits will likely inform how your agent approaches submissions, pitches and negotiations for you.

This week, let’s look at pitches.

PITCHES

Pitches are a great tool for both a casting director and an agent. The agent is a valuable source for introducing new actors to casting, especially if it is an actor who has recently moved to the area. Agents also help to highlight any special skills you may have. Be sure your agent knows exactly what those are. You never know when there is a project looking for talent with a professional sports history or extensive improv experience.

Also if an actor has worked with a director or has a professional association with someone working on a project, this can be a great networking opportunity. There are occasions when a breakdown comes out, you are submitted on a project, but casting does not ask for you. If it is a perfect role for you, then your agent may reach out and ask to have you be seen for that role. All of these are great opportunities for an agent to pitch an actor for a specific project.

Sometimes, actors hear about a given feature or episodic, and they want to be pitched for it because they are fired up about the project. This excitement is terrific, but if there is not anything right for you, then there is no reason for an agent to pitch you. Additionally, just because your buddy who is also 6’2” and has been asked to audition does not mean that you were forgotten or left out. You cannot be pitched for every project. Your agent needs to be careful when they do this and how frequently. If you are pitched too often, it can make you and the pitch less effective. Trust that your agent will submit you and pitch you when the time is right for it.