Acting, The New Conversation: Directors as Audience

This post is a continuation of Part I, Required Reading, and Part II, Audience Building.

Part III: Directors as Audience. PMD for Actors?

Picking up where we left off …

Directors as Audience

Now this is an audience I want most of all. I actively follow the work of many film directors, and nothing would make me happier than if those directors were also aware of my work. This is still a frontier as far as social media contacts go, but the more I think about it, the more I’m determined to find a way to cater my online presence to directors and filmmakers.

Resources for connecting with your audience (directors in this case) are good works we should all be doing anyway. In this post, I want to throw you for a loop a bit. You’ve heard it said over and over “it’s who you know,” right? Well, maybe it’s not.  I want to look at the game from another angle: “It’s who knows you.”

Think about it. You might follow your favorite director on Twitter and be aware of his wit and work, but does he know you? No. I want to fix that. Because who I know isn’t going to get me on his next project. I want him to know me.

The Rise of the PMD

First, if you’re not aware of the term Producer of Marketing and Distribution (PMD), please read this article on Hope for Film.

Casting director Marci Liroff tweeted the other day why social media for actors is so important; “YOU can be in more control of ur career than ever b4 now.Your website is your “store.””

I agree with the second half of that statement. But how the hell are you more in control of your career if you have a website, but the gatekeepers still don’t call you in? The old paradigm is still in place. Even Liroff admits that she would rather actors not reach out to her personally “unless it happens organically.”

How do we take our marvelous online presence with our careful branding and curated works and get it seen by the gatekeepers?

If you make a bunch of great short films (or even features) but the right people don’t notice, who cares?**

The PMD position was invented as a better solution to the gatekeepers of sales agents. They are there to ensure that a film is seen, sold, and that the filmmaker isn’t taken advantage of.

As an actor, I insistently, obsessively believe that my career needs someone like this. Someone with the savvy inside ability to get my work seen by gatekeepers. Because, I think you’re wonderful Marci Liroff, but my website hasn’t given me any demonstrable control over my career; it hasn’t brought me through your doors (yet). And even more frustrating, my agent doesn’t even care about my website. He has his own online database, where I can’t even upload a reel.

Another example: Studio Talent Group head Phil Brock did look at my website, and had this to say via Twitter: “I love your history.Ur problem & blessing is that ur doing great work in a small market.What’s more important? Fame or good work”

But Phil misunderstood. What’s “more important” isn’t a choice between fame or good work. The choice isn’t between being on Jersey Shore and being a trained actor. What’s important is being able to craft a sustainable career versus continuing to do “good work” as a forced hobbyist. I couldn’t care less about fame. But, yeah, I want a career where I can focus on acting full time that pays my bills. What actor doesn’t?

Phil continued, “Ur obviously doing great work.For national recognition u have 2 b in LA.But it looks like ur doing fine work in the NW”

I deeply appreciate Phil taking the time to talk to me, but this is still old school thinking. Old paradigm thinking. That you have to physically reside in one city even though you’re admittedly doing great work (that anyone in the world can view) in another strikes me as nonsensical. No one says, Oh, you made a great film, Director X, but since you didn’t make it here in L.A., film festival recognition notwithstanding, no one cares. But keep up the good work.

It doesn’t have to work that way.

Here’s the thing: 1) If a top director or casting director saw a movie at any festival in the world, 2) was impressed with a certain actor, and 3) wanted to audition that actor, all the gatekeepers would jump to make it happen. How do we gain that type of visibility that transcends physical barriers? Where is our PMD? Our agents and managers can only go so far with the region-bound relationships they have.

What I want is new type of publicist that strategizes new work to develop that plays to my strengths, and ensures the best of that work is seen on the laptops, desktops, mobile phones, and social networks of my chosen audience.

A PMD for Actors.

Right now, you and I as actors are trying to promote, market, pimp and hustle our work by ourselves, and keep working at our craft. We rely on a lot of luck and goodwill to get that next door to open. But I’m thinking bigger. I’m thinking, hey L.A., hey Chicago, hey NYC, hey Helsinki, hey Melbourne, Mars and the Universe …

I don’t need to be in one physical city for the right people to see work that lives online. I just need you, a Director/Collaborator/Filmmaker to see it, and then tell me where you want to meet. I

Do you agree? And how do we do that?

**Personal satisfaction, artistic expression, and getting out of your comfort zone aside.

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About Wonder Russell

Actress, writer, filmmaker, Falcor guardian, lover of wine and reading in bed

Posted on September 15, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I haven’t read the PMD article yet (I will I promise!)…it sounds a little like you’re defining what a manager is supposed to be for an actor…unfortunately it seems there aren’t many of these outside of New York and Los Angeles. I’m curious what your thoughts are on the differences between a manager and a PMD – although I anticipate an answer based on the blog – the caveat may be that we need a PMD to get us our manager, and then who’s going to get us our PMD?

    • Right – but a PMD might be able to bring us to the attention of top Managers/Agents/Casting Directors/ Directors themselves – though they would probably also be paid a salary or contract rate, not commission. I am trying to envision a way to make the work we do *regardless of location* as meaningful as work that occurs in LA/NYC. Not easy!

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