10 Tips for Your Acting Career

In Part I, Required Reading, I listed a handful of articles on filmmaking that I urge Actors to apply to themselves. In this post, I take it a step further, breaking down Sheri Candler’s Top 10 Tips for a Successful Film Launch.

Consider this the translated into actor action lists and call it…
Top 10 Tips for your Acting Career.

Earn a permission asset-say what? According to Seth’s own definition, a permission asset is the privilege (not the right) to deliver anticipated, personal and relevant ideas to the people who CHOOSE to get them. Basically, collecting emails addresses and other contact details from people who opt-in to hearing from you and then giving them information about you, your film, and topics that they would enjoying hearing. This is done over time so start doing it as soon in the production process as possible. This is where you are starting to build your connections to your audience.

Actor translation: Get an email subscription going from your free WordPress site. Use it sparingly and judiciously to update your people on the big strides your career takes. No updates every time you audition – save it for meaty content! It doesn’t matter if your mailing list starts out with just your mom and two best friends – part of the exercise is trainin yourself to think like your own publicist. Postcards to casting directors may end up in the trash, but you can start building your audience now, for free. Also, might as well keep sending the postcards, but seriously – get a website. 🙂

Don’t try to please everyone-it seems a given, but so many of you still think your film is for everyone. It isn’t and you shouldn’t try to make it that way because you will be unsuccessful at reaching and pleasing everyone. He thinks it is probably the most challenging one to understand on this list. It is ok to have a film that is targeted, it is preferable in fact.

Actor translation: Be yourself. Identify what makes you unique, and exploit that. Play to your strengths and keep it reasonable. You’re an Actor, but not a chameleon – if you’re 45 and balding, play those characters in an interesting way and stop self-submitting for the yuppie husband roles. It saves everyone time and it shows self-respect. Find your niche, buy it a drink, and cozy up to it!

Make a product worth talking about-This should be obvious to most indie filmmakers. Most of your stories are provocative, creative, horizon-expanding. These are inherent qualities in making something worth talking about. Then, you have to get it out to influential people who will talk for you. Which leads us into…

Actor translation: Study. Practice. Keep working. Get a coach. Take classes. Make short films. Audition for its own sake. Take care of your craft. And while you’re at it, take care of yourself as a tool. Meditate. Exercise. And for Pete’s sake, stop smoking! It only makes you taste bad now and look ugly later! Bah!

Make it easy for people to talk about you-His example is how Steve Jobs does not have a Facebook page or tweet or have a blog. You’re not Steve Jobs, so I think you should do all of these things, but you can’t be the only one doing it. Make a film worth talking about and let your supporters do the talking. It also helps to have widgets, RSS feeds, social media links on your blog and website, podcasts, YouTube channels. Anything that can be easily passed around.

Actor translation: Above all else, once you have some level of visibility, use it to engage in conversation with others. That’s the true reach of social media. Promotion is a happy by-product as long as you’re being true to yourself. In between projects? Make your own! Create a one minute character monologue and film it on you webcam or Flip – and make it something worth talking about. 🙂

Build a platform for others to play in– this tactic corresponds well for your affiliates and organizations who might cross promote with you. If you have a way for other like minded organizations to reach your target audience, their target audience, easily, then make it available. This could be via your blog, your social networking pages, your YouTube channel. If you have a film that corresponds to a certain genre, say horror or scifi, enable publications to have access to your audience there and they should give you access to theirs. If you have a cause related documentary, allow cause organizations to speak to your fans and in turn they should give you access to their members. A win win for everyone. And allow your fans to interact with each other. No closed Facebook pages, no closed comment section on your blog, all access enabled.

Actor translation: Get seen. This page you’re on? It’s a free WordPress site. You can make one too. Make a Facebook page. Start your Twitter account. In this day and age, there is no reason to not have all of these working for you. They are tools Use them! Your new playpen is the Internet. Get messy. Crayons not included.

Create a culture of wonder-I think this point has more to do with creating a cult for your film. It is time consuming and constant maintenance is required to build your audience, your cult, your brand. Apple did not have a successful launch in one day because they hadn’t been doing their tribe cultivation over many, many years.  Of course they did. As many people have been saying recently, being a successful filmmaker is a marathon, not a sprint. You cannot make one film and suddenly have thousands of fans. Well, if you were unknown to begin with anyway. You must build your personal brand, create your own tribe for your work. This will lead people to be curious about you, curious enough to check out your work.

Actor translation: This is combination of the two above: Engage in Conversation + Be Visible.  Identify and cultivate your strengths. Amplify those parts of your personality you most enjoy. Like helping people? Be a volunteer within your film community. Like writing? Create short stories once a week and put them on your blog. Have a camera? Try vlogging. Give people content – don’t wait for it to come to you. Let’s give ’em something to talk about!

Be willing to fail-A tough one to be sure, but even the most successful studios have failures (sometimes really big ones!). Being bold, taking risks, it is what we indies do and we won’t all be successful all the time. Can you deal with that? You have to if you are going to be bold and daring.

Actor translation: “Be willing to fail.” A lot. Get used to rejection. Shake it off and create your very own happy dance that you waggle like a honeybee in the face of tough times. Learn to reconcile with the fact that you have to get through 10 “No’s” before you find the one “Yes.” My acting coach refers to this phenomenon as “stepping into your death.” You can’t let the fear of failure paralyze your actions. And really, wouldn’t you rather fail in a spectacular way than be boring? The secret is, there is no such thing as failure – there is only exploration! So strap on a hard helmet and a tutu (or whatever your adventure costume of choice is) and get out there!

Give the tribe a badge-For Apple, it was having the iPad itself to show off to people in the office. Showing your membership in the iPad tribe. What uniform, badge, symbol of membership can you give your fans? This must be visible and something they want to show off somewhere.

Actor translation: Give back. This will be personal to you, but what can you do that identifies you and your inner circle as part of a tribe? Casting Director Marci Liroff referred to actors’ websites as “their shop.” What would you want to see if you were browsing Felicia Day’s website? Or once you build 100, then 500 Facebook “likes,” what can you give back? Trust me I’m still mulling over this one myself. Often, the best thing you can give people is your time and attention. Whether this translates to an exclusive video, a Google + hang out session (or even, dare I say it, swag?) will depend on your resources and creativity.

Don’t give up so easy-Many of you will. The ones who can’t see the opportunities for getting your film out to audiences by your own hard work because you don’t want to put in that kind of time and effort. But, the ones who can see them, who will embrace the new models or are willing to forge their own, you will succeed. Apple worked on the engineering of the iPad for many years, longer than most companies would have devoted. If you are to be successful, you have to be willing to put in this kind of devotion and willing to learn many more skills than you thought you would need.

Actor translation: Well, this is pretty straight forward and damn true. Don’t give up. Why would you give up? Stop doing that, stop it! Get back on that horse, cowgirls and cowboys. Here’s some great motivation from Ira Glass.

Don’t worry so much about conventional wisdom-His example is the closed system Apple employs because Apple fans like it. It is a stretch, in fact it is one of the reasons I don’t like it, even though I have an iPod that I can only load mp4s from their site on and can’t transfer those songs onto any other devices. But I digress… here is what I get out of that statement. There is so much talk at the moment about what the new model of distribution is going to be, like there will be only one path to follow. I think it is rather exciting that there are no rules, no formal ways of connecting with an audience, no one method of creating content (film, webisode, multimedia, graphic novels, ARG’s, all together!) and making it available only on one platform. While it is beneficial to hear what others are doing and what has worked, keep experimenting, keep evolving, don’t worry so much about the right way to do it. Find your own way.

Actor translation: You’re a unique individual. What you have to offer cannot be replicated. If they don’t like you, they’re just jealous.

The bottom line: Find your path, respect your instincts, don’t be boring, don’t give up, and go get ’em, tiger. Rawr.

Posted on September 19, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Thanks for your translation, Wonder! I read this and think I only processed 30% of it until I read your interpretation 🙂

  2. Acting tips:

    Know your type.

    Read acting books.

    Keep track of your contacts.

    Get advice from other actors.

    Audit acting classes before signing up.

    Sign with a talent agent and a manager.

    Attend acting classes, workshops and showcases.

    Keep casting directors up to date with your work.

    Have a lawyer look over contracts prior to signing.

    Hand out your business cards to valuable contacts.

    Build your resume and showreel with unpaid work.

    Have a game plan based on milestones, not a calender.

    Network. It’s all about who you know and who knows you.

    Work as an extra on different types of film and television sets.

    Volunteer at casting offices, film productions and film festivals.

    Attend acting conventions and stay on top of news and events.

    Be available for discovery. Go to plays, movies and industry parties.

    Send thank you notes to agents, casting directors, producers and directors.

    Self-submit for auditions; send out headshot, resume, cover letter and showreel.

    The formula to success: Beauty, talent, charisma, confidence, hard work and persistence.

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