Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Invisible Truths

Interesting article dealing with believing in invisible things. As actors we encounter a lot of information, sometimes true, sometimes untrue. Knowing the difference, or learning it, can be vital.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Law Enforcement Crack Down on Central Casting

In a cease-and-desist letter sent Wednesday to Central Casting's office in Burbank, the two agencies [California state labor commissioner and the Los Angeles city attorney] said that the company's practices do not comply with the Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act, which went into effect last year. Similar letters were sent to 13 other, much smaller Los Angeles companies. Undercover agents from the City Attorney's Office found that Central Casting charges actors $25 for photo services regardless of whether they secure work through the company. Officials cited a 2008 news report claiming that Central Casting registers roughly 500 background actors per week [about $50,000.00 in registration fees a month, 500 x 25 x 4]

Officials gave the company 10 days to end the practice or else face civil or criminal charges (from Backstage). My current list of background casting companies in LA includes 31 and the vast majority require fees to be paid to register with them. The Krekorian act in part rewrote California Labor Code Section 1702.1 to say:

No person shall own, operate, or act in the capacity of an advance-fee talent representation service...who provides or offers to provide...one or more of the following services described below, provided that the person charges or receives a fee from or on behalf of an artist for photographs...

and begins the list of services with Procuring or attempting to procure an employment opportunity or an engagement as an artist.

Update June 1, 2011: Rumor is Central Casting has stopped charging a registration fee, but I do not have confirmation.

Update June 12, 2011: Central Casting has said they have stopped charging a photo fee.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

2011 Pilot Season Role Breakdown

James J. Jones of Premier Talent Group has done a great analysis of the roles cast in the pilots of the 2011 pilot season. Here are some excerpts (or you can read the whole PDF):

87% of all Pilots filed with AFTRA jurisdiction
21.2% of series regular's roles went to bonafide star names
49.5% of series regulars went to former series regulars of major shows
27.3% of series regular roles went to heavy working actors with numerous series recurring roles and/or series regular roles of shows that did not last.
2.0% of series regular roles went to true developmental actors.

Thanks to Sara J. Stuckey for pointing this report out to me.

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2011 Upfronts Look Big

Just about everyone says that the 2011 upfront ad sales season that kicks off this week will be a record-setter. Barclays Capital analyst Anthony DiClemente expects advertisers to commit about $9.2 billion for prime time spots at ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC in the season that begins this fall. That's up 7.5% vs. last year and will beat 2008's record $8.8 billion. He also says this will be the first year buyers will spend an equal amount on all of cable, up 15.3%

(from deadline.com).

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Combined Union Intitiation Dues

I'm a SAG and AFTRA member (and SAG signatory producer) and support a merger. Seems new members of a combined union might pay equivalent of both unions current initiation dues. Otherwise members like me will have paid more than a fair share, and would be owed a refund with interest. Thoughts? Please leave a comment.

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Monday, May 02, 2011

Nobody Knows Anything

The accomplished writer William Goldman (book and screenplay for The Princess Bride, screenplay for Absolute Power, the book Adventures in the Screen Trade and many others) said this about the entertainment industry, specifically in Hollywood: Nobody Knows Anything. He didn't say it as some embittered sour-grapes silliness, but as an accurate assessment of how much people know about this business: Nobody Knows Anything.

Clearly this is true. Otherwise every movie would be a hit. Every play would run forever. Every actor would be a millionaire, and every agent/manager/casting director would be too busy booking talent on brilliant and commercially wildly successful projects to get paid to attend workshops. We know nobody knows anything.

There are many opinions masquerading as fact. Many things people say they know for sure. What makes for a good headshot. How to slate. When to change agents or seek a new manager. People professing such "advice" really do have ideas, but know nothing for sure.

Show me a guru/agent/casting director/producer/director who says headshots must be color, and I can show you an actor who just booked enough work to pay their bills for the next year who only has black and white pictures. Show me someone who claims across-the-board representation may end up with an actor's career being neglected in some areas and I'll show you an actor with major commercial endorsement deals and both mainstream commercial movies and Oscar contender films all releasing simultaneously. Tell me there is a hard and fast truth about this industry and I'll hold up a mirror to show you someone who is overlooking something. I could likely benefit from looking in it myself from time to time.

This is all a great gift, even as it seems to promise a professional life full of uncertainty. You don't need to do/learn/acquire some magic potion, literal or figurative, to pursue your career. Typically promised short-cuts are castles built on sand at best, pure mirage at worst. You can relax. Breathe. Be who you are and wisely choose your path yourself. No one cares about your career as much as you do. No one else can know your goals as well as you do either.

Since the dawn of time, show business has been the gathering of people together to sell them something. But not always. Being skilled at the craft of acting often makes economic satisfaction through acting easier to get, but is not sufficient, nor necessary. Skill or talent, just like being smart, good looking, lucky or rich, often make it easier to accomplish anything in life, but all of these are not sufficient nor necessary. You do not need them to succeed, and having them doesn't guarantee success.

To be an actor over the long term requires only persistence. This isn't really news, so much as an observation: people who continue to act are actors, those who do not continue to act are no longer actors. And you must define what "continuing to act" means to and for you. Just as you must define what success is to you, yourself. Like much of life, in many ways you are on your own.

Our characters are often faced with big challenges, unknowns and a world populated with both people and forces of nature that are indifferent to their wishes, and sometimes belligerent toward them. So to in any profession or investment that lacks the predictable veneer of safety that lulls us into believing life is predictable and "safe" (like being a school teacher or owning a house).

This is fine. This is even good. Life's always been a vital, vibrant journey or discovery, and while we all don't really know anything, we have ideas, and we're alive anyway. We do things anyway. We look uncertainty in the face and take action anyway. No one may know anything, but we still act.

Break a leg!

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Moral Hazards and Agents

Interesting implications of agents unavoidably always having more information than actors. The ...principal-agent problem or agency dilemma treats the difficulties that arise under conditions of incomplete and asymmetric information when a principal hires an agent...

Moral hazard also arises in a principal-agent problem, where one party, called an agent, acts on behalf of another party, called the principal. The agent usually has more information about his or her actions or intentions than the principal does, because the principal usually cannot completely monitor the agent. The agent may have an incentive to act inappropriately (from the viewpoint of the principal) if the interests of the agent and the principal are not aligned

(from Moral Hazard Wikipedia entry).

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