Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Discomfort is the Comfort

It's not an accident this echoes "the obstacle is the path."

And that's the thing with acting that people don't understand, that the discomfort is the comfort. And that's what most actors, they don't want to feel uncomfortable, and when you kind of allow yourself to be in the moment, and be surprised, 'cause there's no way you can predict who your character is. Just like you can't predict who you are, you know, at any given time, you don't know how you're gonna react to any given circumstance. But in order to be in the moment and let yourself be loose, you have to be brave enough to be uncomfortable and not judge a moment.

- Viola Davis

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Entertainment Industry is Large and Growing

...the overall entertainment ecosystem is in a real renaissance period. The sky truly is rising, not falling: the industry is growing both in terms of revenue and content. We split the report up into video & film, books, music and video games - and all four segments are showing significant growth (not shrinking) over the last decade. All of them are showing tremendous opportunity. The amount of content that they're all producing is growing at an astounding rate (which again, is the most important thing). But revenue, too, is growing. Equally important is that rather than consumers just wanting to get stuff for free, they have continually spent a greater portion of their income on entertainment - with the percentage increasing by 15% from 2000 to 2008

(from techdirt).

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AFTRA and SAG Boards Approve Merger Plan

The National Board of Directors of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists...today [January 28th] voted overwhelmingly to approve and recommend to the AFTRA membership a plan to merge with Screen Actors Guild.
The vote was 94%-6% in favor.
The AFTRA National Board's resolution will provide for the referendum material to be mailed to AFTRA members on or about Feb. 27, 2012, with a ballot return and tabulation deadline of March 30, 2012.

(from AFTRA's website). Read my thoughts on why the unions should merge.

Screen Actors Guild National Board of Directors today voted overwhelmingly to approve and recommend a plan to merge with AFTRA.
Approved: 87.1% - 12.9%

(from sag.org).

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Friday, January 27, 2012

SAG Board Approves Merger Package with AFTRA

The Screen Actors Guild National Board of Directors today voted overwhelmingly to approve and recommend a plan to merge with AFTRA.
Should the AFTRA board approve the merger package as well, a referendum will be sent out for a vote by members of both unions in the coming weeks. The proposed name for the new union is SAG-AFTRA.
Approved: 87.1% - 12.9%

(from sag.org).

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Postage Rates Increased

Yesterday the US Postal Service raised prices for mailing things, including first class mail, which is what most actors use when sending dead-tree (paper) versions of their headshots and postcards.

Details can be read on their site and they have a postcard rate calculator, but I suggest using forever stamps. Most headshots will need 2. That way you never need to worry about the prices changing (and you save the difference every time they increase prices).

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SAG and AFTRA must merge

SAG and AFTRA must merge. United we stand divided we fall. Call the merged union "Screen Television and Radio" actors: STAR. More on why the unions should merge here.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How to Join SAG

There are currently 2 main ways to join the Screen Actors Guild (SAG):

An actor may join after getting 3 vouchers when the actor chooses. If an actor works as a principle actor they may then join, but might not need to immediately.

The Taft-Hartley Act, a federal law, is the reason one may work a union job their first time without joining. For the next 30 days after that first day of work an actor may work on any SAG shoot without having to join. On day 31 or after, if the actor wishes to work another day on SAG shoot, the actor must join. There have been rumored exceptions to this in practice, but that is how the rules are written.

An actor may work non-union shoots at any time before they join the union. All of the above is the same for AFTRA, simply substitute "AFTRA" for "SAG." As with all things, this may change, so patience and investigation may be needed for your situation.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

SAG & AFTRA Reach Agreement on Merger Recommendation to National Boards

The AFTRA and SAG Group for One Union (G1) met for nine days in Los Angeles to continue the process of creating a successor union to SAG and AFTRA. After productive discussions and reaching consensus, a Merger Package was approved by the G1 to send to the respective boards of AFTRA and SAG for approval. The SAG National Board of Directors will meet on Jan. 27 and 28 to review and vote on the package, which includes a Merger Agreement and Constitution. The AFTRA National Board of Directors will meet on Jan. 28 and, if needed, Jan. 29 to review and vote on the package.
Details of the proposed merger package will not be released prior to the AFTRA and SAG board meetings

(from sag.org). Please read why the unions must merge for the benefit of all actors and producers.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

What Makes Films Satisfying

...the five essential elements of well-being: positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment...
She [Lindsay Doran] broke down their [films'] emotional components, isolated the elements of mood elevation and tested her findings against those of market researchers. She concluded: Positive movies do not necessarily have happy endings; their characters' personal relationships trump personal achievements.
People not only use movies and music as soma to feel good, they use it to open themselves to others. It may follow that watching narratives about positive relationships in a darkened room alongside others is elevating.
the accomplishment the audience values most is not when the heroine saves the day or the hero defeats his opponent...the accomplishment the audience values most is resilience

(from The New York Times).

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Workshops Are Costly

A friend posted online ...after spending $1,200 on 23 casting director workshops in 10 months... they have been called in for a student film. A $1,200 short film self-produced and done well may advance things more than this. Workshops can work, but are exceedingly capital intensive compared to other methods. Yes, I know someone who spent $30,000 on workshops, and combined with other efforts did book a great recurring role, but I'm not sure the return on investment made them break even until a few years residuals came in.

Also note the friend who paid to go to a workshop with a casting director who knew them. When the casting director saw them they said to the actor you're a good actor, you don't have to pay to get seen. Workshops can "work," but are a very expensive (capital intensive) way to pursue things. As with all things in our careers, caveat actor.

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Monday, January 09, 2012

Finding Auditions During Pilot Season Without an Agent

This is a big topic and could cover more than one post. A friend asked about this, so I thought I'd share my preliminary ideas. Please leave a comment with yours.

Marketing directly to casting and producers is possible, but without a rep may lack the element of having someone casting trusts recommending you, and compensation for that lack is not always easy. Keep in mind also that Pilot Season is not as formal or big as it was in years past; many pilots shoot year round.

All that said, ideal methods without a rep often include things like being in a project that gets acclaim at acclaimed festivals (think Sundance and Cannes) in the weeks/months leading up to pilot season. Recent career developments can provide some marketing momentum and good footage that people may encounter organically or be open to viewing. Again, these can serve in part as the social proof that having a good rep would.

Knowing what casting problems one solves (who you are as an actor to the marketplace, not necessarily who you actually are as a human being or who you want to be as an actor), and finding a way to helpfully pitch for those moments is useful. Again, hard to cut through the noise of many many other people (reps, actors and others) vying for the casting director and producers' attention.

Knowing what the role breakdown for this season may look like is impossible before pilots get ordered and such, but last year's pilot season role breakdown can give some insight.

I posted before a partial list of where one may look for auditions oneself.

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Saturday, January 07, 2012

Warner Brothers May Be Silly About Rentals

There are murmurs that the deal mentioned is not actually how the deal was made, but some of the issues remain relevant. As I've mentioned before, various times, the audience wants to watch what they want, when they want, where they want, and entertainment businesses can either let them do it with the business' cooperation and help, or let pirates fill the demand and be left financially out of it.

Warner Bros. just revamped deals with Redbox, Blockbuster and Netflix effectively doubling the wait time for them to get new releases. What it really means is, they're making you wait longer and trying to force you to buy discs earlier, it sounds underhanded to me at a time when they just seemed to be seeing the light of the modern era. Personally, I'll just boycott new disc purchasing.
I mean seriously, the overall effect is probably going to be heightened piracy. Someone will buy the Blu-Ray, rip it and off it will go round the world. Those who were tired of waiting 28 days are certainly going to be far from pleased with having to wait 56 days and so, will turn to piracy. Maybe this is their ploy and then they can say "See we NEED SOPA!" (which we don't, that bill is horrible, just go read it)

(from ReelSEO). There is recent precedent of piracy increasing when releasing is delayed.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Entertainment Distribution and Storefronts Are Merging

The middleman is under attack on all fronts, whether its in video, music/audio and e-books. As devices like TVs become connected, as books become e-readers and tablets, and music is now digital, the storefront is fast-becoming the entire distribution chain.
independent content creators stand to gain the most through massive reductions in the cost of recording equipment and editing software, as well as the greater availability of streaming video service on connected devices. They gain new distribution opportunities for their content and greater possibility for monetization

(from gigaom).

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Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Is Reality TV Union Work

It can be union, it depends on the reality show. Some reality TV shows are covered under an AFTRA contract, some are not. Geography of the shoot is not really a factor, the contract the producers have signed or offer is. When a reality show is AFTRA, it is covered under the TV contract they just negotiated, that doesn't keep up with inflation.

For example, "Survivor" is an AFTRA show, as is "American Idol" though I don't think contestants are covered by an AFTRA contract unless and until they advance to something beyond the initial auditions. Many of the cable reality shows are not covered under AFTRA. It is not clear if a union actor appearing as themselves on a show that purports to be unscripted is crossing the union line by "working" on a non-union reality show. Please share your take in a comment.

I have heard a rumor that "According to a recent Sag-Aftra meeting in Boston it was determined that a union actor playing themselves in a reality series is NOT a violation of Rule 1" and therefore not prohibited.

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Productions Shooting in LA Increased in 2011

On-location shooting in Los Angeles and other local jurisdictions grew 4.2% year-over-year in 2011, permit coordinator FilmL.A.
On the feature side, LA production increased 5.7% compared with 2010, with projects that qualified for the tax credit accounting for 11.5% of that total. Big shoots like Warner Bros' The Dark Knight Rises and Oliver Stone’s Savages also helped the region overcome a 26.4% drop in fourth-quarter production days. Commercials shoots, meanwhile, were up 4.4% to a record 7,079 days

(from deadline).

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Monday, January 02, 2012

Broadway Theatre Goer Demographics Shifted

...the average Main Stem theatergoer was white, wealthy, well educated and female. Last season, in fact, the Broadway showgoer was whiter than ever: Caucasians accounted for more than 82% of the season's 12.5 million theatergoers vs. 76% of the 11.9 million attendees in 2009-10...
...average age downticked from 45 to 44...10% decline in tickets sales to international tourists...

(from Variety). There was also a 10% decline in

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Weinstein Company Producing Stage Musical

The Weinstein Company, heavyweight producers in Hollywood, is moving ahead with development of its first stage musical, "Finding Neverland," after staged readings of the script and score in London last week that executives deemed a success

(from The New York Times).

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