Launch Your Career

Why You Must Always Be at Your Olympic Best

The brutally competitive L.A. and NYC film and TV markets represent the Olympic level of the game for actors. It’s a very small industry, in that actors who audition for major film and TV roles end up meeting most of the top casting directors in any given year. If you’re not at your Olympic best—in shape and on your A game like an elite athlete—then you run the very real risk of closing more doors than you open in this industry. This is the equivalent of waking up one morning and deciding you love the tuba more than life itself, and after taking lessons for six months, decide it’s time to get on stage at Walt Disney Concert Hall to audition for the conductor of the L.A. Philharmonic.

In my work with actors, I help them reach their Olympic best every session, so they’re ready to go into the audition room, mark their territory, and either book the role or the room!

The Harshest Truth All Actors Will Face Throughout Their Careers

The hardest lesson an actor will learn throughout his/her career is that success will never be handed to them, or magically fall into their lap. And, having representation is never a magic pill, as 99 percent of agents and managers will not pitch their clients over the phone. They will send an online submission. This is the equivalent of pulling the lever of a slot machine, as the submission disappears into an abyss of thousands of other clicked-on online entries.

No industry professional (agent, manager, casting director, director, producer, etc.) will bestow a career upon you. You must actively, aggressively, and strategically create your own opportunities (writing, directing, producing, singing, comedy, etc.) to create a platform for yourself to be taken seriously. Career success is consistent with the amount of focused work you put in and with your ability to build and maintain relationships with other industry professionals.

In my career coaching program, I help actors get noticed faster and launch their careers—on their own terms—by forging game-changing relationships with major directors, writers, and producers. 

This article was originally posted on Backstage

6 Ways to Get Noticed Faster

I’m going to move to NYC/L.A. and I’m going to get an agent and sign up for an acting class with a reputable teacher. I’ll audition around town for a couple years and I’ll eventually land my big break in a major film or well-received indie or I’ll book a series regular role on a pilot that gets picked up. 

Great game plan. 

If this were, of course, 1996. 

This is a decent model for success for an actor in New York or L.A. approximately 20 years ago. 

Far too many actors are still trying to work this model: agent, audition, booking. 

And sure it does work. Commercially, I know a handful of actors who excel at it, don’t have day jobs, and regularly add to their retirement plans. 

Theatrically, I know five out of every 100 for whom this model is working. Meaning for every 100 actors I know, I know five who are steadily adding to their résumés, their bank accounts, and their general public popularity via the method of agent, audition, book role. 

This is 2015. The entertainment industry has changed. You need to be the one who wakes up at dawn each morning with a chisel and a cup of coffee, determined to carve one out for yourself. 

All that being said, below are six ways to get noticed faster.

1. Being pleasantly persistent and not waiting around. Most actors lack follow-through. Actors know they need to send follow-up emails to industry professionals who can help them move forward in this long-ass shit-shoveling show known as forging a career. But they don’t. Call it fear of rejection, call it laziness—whatever. If you start following through on every connection you’ve made consistently, I guarantee you’ll see results over time. 

2. Confidence. “It’s this way.” Have you ever followed a complete stranger’s directions, simply because they seemed sure of themself? You need to have the conviction of the random guy on the corner that says the marina is that way, even though there is no evidence indicating one way or the other. I help actors adopt a body attitude of attractive confidence to go into the audition room andwin the role.

3. Patience. Stop demanding instant results. If you start getting down on yourself that you’re not moving forward at a fast enough rate, you’re going to psych yourself out—and become victim to many of the elements that actors fall prey to: depression, low self-esteem, self-doubt, and aggrandizement of “safe” professions. (Maybe I should study for the LSAT?)

4. Stop being afraid to look like an asshole! I’ve seen so many safe performances, I feel like someone should pin a medal on me. Such performances often stem from the actor’s irrational desire to determine what casting or producers are looking for, and thus emulate that. The result is boring—so boring I feel like the actor should have to pay a fine. By letting out your inner weirdness, you make your performance a jillion times more interesting. 

5. Help a sister out. Give. Offer to read someone’s script and provide feedback. Go to someone’s table read. Be a PA on a friend’s short film. Give your acting class friend a referral to your agent if you can. In helping your colleagues out in these ways, you’re building up your ranks of support and creating a wealth of good karma that’s going to benefit you later. 

6. Create your own projects. This piece of advice is probably the most essential, and the one that actors protest against the most. But I’m here to actI don’t/can’t/won’t write. OK, fine, then hire someone who can. Align yourself with talented writers and cinematographers who have the skills you don’t in order to create content that will get you noticed faster than any co-starring role can. 

This article was originally posted on Backstage

Tips for Creating Your Demo Reel

First, stop making your reel an obstacle to success! Don’t use the excuse of “I’m working on my reel" as means of delaying your career any further. Yes, you must absolutely have professional, high-quality video footage of your work in order to compete at the highest level of this industry, but this does not mean you need to create a traditional reel. Alternative types of demo reels are often way more effective in helping you get the audition or launch your career. To see how to create a winning demo reel and for examples of non-traditional reels that can supercharge career, read my article, "4 Tips for a Winning Reel.” 

This article was originally posted on Backstage

Why Extra Work Won’t Jumpstart Your Career

Building and maintaining relationships with producers, directors, writers, and casting directors is the surefire way to carve a path for your career. While working as an extra may give you a sense of working on-set, it is not your “in” to a career. The concept of “getting noticed” is a recipe for disaster, as it’s so passive—it’s putting your success in the hands of a “notice-er.” While we might each know a few stories of extras who became recurring characters on sitcoms, or who ended up delivering lines in major motion pictures, they are by far the minority.

Doing extra work in the hopes of someone noticing your look or your abilities is the opposite of hard work and sharing your talent. You get noticed when you create your own work or add something of value to the equation. Getting noticed is proportionate to the amount of work you put into it.

Back in the day, extra work could be a good path to getting SAG vouchers—nowadays it’s way more effective to create a Web series, or some form of original content. I’m not devaluing extra work; it can be valuable in showing new actors the inner-workings of a professional movie set. However, there’s a dangerous element to it as well. It can be too comfortable and too safe for the developing actor. You don’t want to grow too accustomed to being an extra, and unfortunately far too many actors do.

This article was originally posted on Backstage

Why Your Should Stop Looking For Representation

In the decades I’ve worked in this business, I can say with confidence that nearly every single actor I’ve met possessing incredible representation, was directly scouted out by the reps themselves. They didn’t do mailings, they didn’t do showcases, they didn’t ask their friends for referrals. They got to a place in their careers where all the years of ass-busting started to pay off, and were suddenly at a level where people who mattered began to notice them. 

What is incredible representation? It’s the kind that pitches you via telephone for every role you’re right for. It’s the kind that generates 5–6 major auditions per week during peak months. The kind of agent/manager who you sign with as a result of you seeking them out is the not kind of rep that will pitch you for every role you’re right for.

As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, 99 percent of agents and managers do not pitch their clients to production offices or casting directors via phone—they will send an online submission. This is the equivalent of chewing gum and blowing a big bubble in the hopes that will help bring the client in for an audition. The submission they click on falls into a sea of thousands of other clicked-on online submissions. The actor becomes the needle in the haystack.

I’m not going to rant about the lack of effectiveness of this process. I’m merely going to ask that the actor reading this article take a moment to reflect on how many auditions this has gotten them in the last year. 

Without the right phone pitch the average client of that agent/manager will only see 0–6 major film and TV auditions per year. There can be up to 50 major roles that an actor could be perfect for, but she/he will only compete for a few of those. 

The actors who do get to compete for every role they’re right for are the ones who have reps that kick open doors for them. These reps have the relationships with casting offices, and if they don’t have those years-long relationships with certain offices, they have no fear or hesitation in picking up the phone and making a strong pitch for their client. 

Here’s a common sentiment from “great” agents and managers: “Stop looking for us, we’ll find you!” 

This really is the truth. If you’re at a point in your career where you’ve truly done the work to get noticed—either through booking work without representation, or creating your own work—then these great reps will find you. Just recently, a highly desirable management company tweeted, after my client—with no representation—booked 12 major (paid) film and TV roles as a result of my career coaching approach:

“@josephpearlman @colestroud @Humin send your info to us!!! We love a proactive actor!”

What makes these great agents and managers so great is that they keep an ear to the ground. In combination with their assistants and colleagues, these reps are constantly watching TV and film, and trolling YouTube for the next new thing. These are the reps who watch indie films—and if they don’t have time to do all of that research, then they make damn certain to keep up with the trade papers. 

These are essentially the reps who live and breathe this industry. They love the business, they actually love actors—(Most of the time, and who can blame them?)—and they make it their personal responsibility to keep up with the brightest talent that is swinging from the vines of the industry jungle. 

These truly great reps are going to be the ones who are really going to make a discernible difference in your career. They’re going to be able to help push you forward in ways that you simply can’t do yourself. Here’s the catch: You have to get to a place where you deserve to be able to meet with them. I’m not going to lie, some actors get to this level through luck, family connections, or a lot of early breaks—or a healthy mix of all three.

Other actors get to this level by trying, struggling, working, failing, trying something else, and bleeding out. But at the end of the day they make it. 

And the prize is unity, because this actor is no longer swinging punches and kicking down doors alone. The actor has a team behind him/her that matters. 

This article was originally posted on Backstage