Sunday, May 11, 2014

That's My Two Cents: Actor Toni Deaver

Actress Toni Deaver
I am excited to introduce to you actress, Toni Deaver. Toni has been away from TV and Film for awhile raising a family, but she has never been idle. During those years she went to film school and started a theater group. Now she is back with a vengeance. That is the main thing I admire most about Toni, her determination to give it all. 

Recently, I asked her to share with my readers a little advice and encouragement she has picked up along her journey. She was happy to comply. I love what she offered and I hope you will reap a little wisdom from her.

Toni:  Just to give you a little background, I  took classes in high school, college, and at professional studios to hone my craft.  I was repeatedly encouraged by teachers and even other actors to get to know and build relationships with casting directors and directors.  As I became a director myself I could see wisdom in that advice. When offered directing opportunities, I certainly looked at and considered material, knowing the actors I knew I might cast.  It's much harder to cold cast a large group of strangers. You never know who might be unreliable and/or even sabotaging. Learn from my experience those people are everywhere.

Only one person, a marketing guru named, Rock Riddle, ever suggested anything different, but what a difference it has made! He helped me realize that it is the producer of a television show or film project that is the most invested in it not the casting director or director.  This was not news,  it just was different light he put on it.  The producer of course, does all the work to get a project going.  Eventually, he/she hires the people to head up the various departments, including casting.  The producer reserves the right to refuse hiring of any individual or group.  And once the film is "in the can," it's the producer who does all the clean up.  Making sure the director and editor are communicating to get a marketable "cut," and securing the distribution channel(s) so investors can re-coop their money. Of course this is important because without their money no one gets paid.  And if they don't make their money back with a profit, they are much less likely to invest again.  That means less opportunity for work for everyone.

The sad truth is, over my many years in the industry I've known many actors who feel like and, have often even demanded that a casting director, producer, or director owes them an opportunity or a job. The real truth is, no one owes you or me anything.  No one asked either one of us to be an actor.  No one can force you to come to town looking for acting work.  They are not responsible for your preparedness or lack there of to hold a job so you can pay your rent and eat. Talent alone, especially in film and television will seldom get you working and even less frequently will keep you working.  If you want to be a working actor, be reliable.  Be a real and likable person with interests that you can communicate well to others.  Break a leg out there-You're a star!

To learn more about Toni, please visit:
Toni's Reel
Toni's IMDB Page
Follow Toni on Twitter


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

How to Promote Yourself as an Actor (Series) Step 2: Create a Following

Followers. They are everywhere...Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google. Often wonder how you can get in on part of that action? Lets talk a little bit about why this should be important to you and your career as an actor. 

We all understand that filmmaking is a business just like any other. Every business on earth exist to make money and major studios are no different. No one wants to invest millions of dollars just to lose their shirt. So they put in a lot of time and effort to ensure they will see a return on their investment. One way they do this is by seeking out actors with a following. Why? Because they are looking for actors who can carry a film and bring an already established fan base with them. 

Let's say you are one of two actors of similar type and skill who are up for a part. The casting director will likely check online to see if you have a fan page and how many people follow that page.  Who do you think they will hire? The actor who hasn't spent their own time to promote themselves and have left their fan page idle or that actor who has noticeably taken time to see that his or her page is kept up-to-date and relevant. 

Now, you have to understand this is not a guarantee because no one can give you a guarantee.  What, I am trying to give you is something to think about. Just like we talked about in the last blog, you must take time to invest in yourself, because no one else can do it better, and no one will care as much. Most actors already know, it's not always the best actor who gets the part, but the best well known actor that...sometimes...gets the part. So start to create your following now.  Be patient this will not happen overnight. It will be something that will culminate over a period of time. Even more reason not to put it off, but to start now.

As an up and coming actor you really can't afford not to interact with your fans. They are people you will depend on to help launch your career, to introduce your newest work, and share your passion with. Maybe you will even inspire a young fan to live out their dream of becoming an actor. So create your reach as far as possible.  

Let's talk about how to do that. We have already briefly discussed creating a Facebook page and working it in a previous blog. One feature that Facebook offers that you may not be aware of, is that for a fee, they will promote your page for you.  If you look in the top right corner you will find a blue button that says, "Promote page." Once you click on it, a new window will open. At the top it will say, "Create an ad to get more Page likes from the people who matter to you."  Under that, Facebook will incorporate one of your own photos, and show you the sample ad. Then they give you some options to choose from including a daily budget (the lowest starting at $10.00 a day).  Next, you will choose how long you want the ad to run. 

For the benefit of this blog I decided to run an ad myself for 1 day, with a budget of $10.  For my money I received 12 likes not from people I knew, but from complete strangers. Though this is not something I would recommend using daily, it could be used to get your page over that important hump, when you need three or four more "likes" to reach a particular goal. Facebook has admitted previously, before they installed this little feature that people with fan and product pages could expect their post to "gradually decline over time..."  They have implemented this feature to pull in more revenue.  So you will have to decide if it's more beneficial to you, than to them. 

One of your ultimate goals of a Facebook Fan page is to eventually establish an email list. Why? Because this gives you control over what your fans read and receive and not Facebook.  We will talk more about the importance of establishing that email list in a later blog in this series. 

For those of you who have a Twitter and Facebook account, be aware that you can easily link these two accounts together and post directly from your Twitter account. Got more than two social media accounts? Then Buffer is likely for you. Buffer is the new way to manage your multiple social media accounts. The basic plan (meaning no fees involved) allows you to not only link accounts together, but also to create several post at one time and then schedule the time you want them posted. Buffer does most of the work for you. 

They also offer post analysis to show you which post and links people respond to more often. One drawback could be for people who do not use one of the three search engines (Chrome, Safari, Firefox) Buffer recommends. Also you will need to download an extension for any of the three you choose to use. And yes, if your wondering if you can use this with you smartphone, you can. Buffer supports iphone and Android. At this time they do not support Instagram or Google+, but don't let that stop you from signing up. This is still a fairly young app and they are working to add these.  

When it comes to the numerous options in social media this blog could never end.  I think I have given you plenty to think about and to act on this week. Again, I hope you will continue to follow this series by joining this blog. You can do so by glancing to the right and clicking the button that says, Join this site. I enjoy supporting you, the actor. I hope you will support me and this blog in return.

For more information about Bry Taylor:

Photo: Free Digital Photos

Sunday, February 23, 2014

How to Promote Yourself as an Actor (Series) Step 1.

1. No one is going to promote you.  It's up to you.

There was a time in cinematic history that studios would take an unknown talent, evaluate them, and if they were deemed worthy and had that little "something" extra, they would immediately be groomed by the studio's own star making machine. MGM, 20th Century Fox, and Warner Brother's all had multiple departments that took the fledgling actor through a process that would teach them the skills they needed to become a star.  They would learn how to walk, and how to talk if they had an accent they needed to lose. They would have their hair cut, colored, and surgically altered if need be. They would be given singing, etiquette, and dance lessons. The publicity department would plant stories in the local papers to promote the new starlet or leading man. They would be given a screen test and bit parts in movies to help determine their type. They would be paraded in front of audiences to see what the public's response would be.  All of this and more was used to generate stars. It was an extensive system put in place by the studios. They invested massive amounts of time, money, and skill to make the promising actor into a Hollywood legend.  Today, that system no longer exist.

Today, the actor has to do all of these things for him or herself.  They have to evaluate their own talent or hire someone to help them discern what their talent(s) are and how to develop them further. They have to spend their own money taking lessons, attending workshops, purchasing headshots, promoting themselves on social media websites, and so much more. The work never ends. It can be consuming if you let it. So don't let it. Though it may seem a bit overwhelming, never be discouraged.  You're on a journey. Your own journey. All of this takes time. Don't rush it. Be consistent, continually learning, continually growing in your craft.

In the same tradition as the studio system, you are creating an image that will be seen by fans, friends, family, and potential employers. It is up to you to construct a pleasing public profile. If you don't already have one, create a Facebook page just for your acting persona. I would suggest you only use HD photos. Don't scrounge through and pull together casual snapshots a family member took. This is your career, your image. Think about what you want to portray to that casting director who decided she liked what she saw in the audition, and is curious to find out a little more about you.

Don't try to create something that's not a true representation of who you are.  If you're an average looking individual don't convey yourself as someone glamorous. Seek out an extremely good photographer and pay for professional headshots if you have not done so.  If you don't have the funds, save up until you do. If you have done work as a print model most of the time you can get copies of your work. Post these to your Facebook actor page as well.

On the information page you can post your resume, biography, and other links. You may need to get someone to help you write your biography. Not every actor has a flair for writing. Seek out someone with some real writing experience.  Again, remember who will be seeing this. Don't throw something together just to put something up. Systematically think this through.  Once you have everything in place ask your friends, family, and other actors to "like" your new Facebook page. You will have to see that it is worked often.

Experts say you should work your social media pages thirty minutes to an hour a day. If you don't have time for this, enlist people to help you or hire someone who can spend the time needed. Post something daily.  Most people who will "like" your page will be genuinely interested in what is going on with you. Tell people if you have an audition or a callback. Write a sentence or two about what you are learning in acting class. It doesn't have to be lengthy.  You just want to keep in touch with your supporters. Don't really have much to share one week? Post an inspirational quote or photo. Also look over other professional actor's pages and see what they have included.

In the few weeks ahead we will be talking about, how to create a following and why that is vital to your career, how to write a biography, how to start a blog, and many other topics that will help you develop a strategic plan about your career as an actor. I hope you will continue to follow this series by joining this blog. You can do so by glancing to the right and clicking the button that says, Join this site. I enjoy supporting you, the actor. I hope you will support me and this blog in return.

For more information about Bry Taylor:

Photo: Free Digital Photos

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Actors...Need Reel? Create Your Own.

I realize this is elementary for seasoned actors, but for those starting out it may just be the ticket. For those of you unaware, IMDB, has a website for scripts. They are great to use in acting class, in an online audition, or just to re-freshen your skills at home. Look up your favorite script or choose something new and challenging. Always remember the passion for what you do. YOU are unique in every way. Don't be a clone of your favorite actor, be genuinely you. 

I realize many actors starting out are trying to figure out how to get reel on themselves. Well, choose a script, set up a Vimeo account, borrow a friend's camera if you have to, and create a piece that shows your diversity as an actor. Stand in front of a blue background and slate for the camera just as it were a real audition. Upload it now have a reel. 

The first thing I want to see as someone who will be casting, is what you have online. Within the privacy of your own home you can work until you get it right. So take your time to get a variety of roles that will show your skills accurately. Now, this should never take the place of your professional reel, but it is something you can use to begin with when you have little to no video on yourself. 

Eventually you will phase this out as you acquire more professional reel. It will be a good start the next time someone ask if you have anything online they can see regarding your acting ability.

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thought For The Day...

Don't burn your bridges. I realize people can rub you the wrong way or get on your nerves, but don't be so quick to write them off. You never know when you will need that relationship and it may be sooner then you think. That one person could be the door to the role/job you are looking for. Always show people respect even when they don't deserve it. You never know when that lowly PA will turn out to be the next big producer or director and they will always remember how you treated them.

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