DOs and DON’Ts for getting ahead…

May 31st, 2011

In Acting Advice, Acting Resources, Moving to LA on November 28, 2010 at 7:20 am I’ve noticed that a lot of actors lately are trying different ways to connect with one another to get leads on agents, jobs and other industry information.

This is super! I think that we have to connect as a community to share valuable information about things that are going on and in order to make connections that can help further our careers — that’s why I write this blog! However, I’ve also noticed that many people don’t quite grasp exactly HOW to ask others for help.  I’ve written on this in the past, but I think it’s a point that needs repeating and may help many of you out there.   

So, here are my top five DOs/DON’Ts for Getting Ahead:

Networking

 1. DO contact actors, directors, producers that you have met in the past and update them with your recent work. DON’T ask them to come to a class you are teaching or to come to a private party. These requests are just strange, but Isee them happen all the time! 

Helping Out a Newbie

 2. DO connect your hopeful friend or family member with an actor, producer, director that you know well through a simple email with BOTH people’s permission. DON’T expect that actor, director or producer to spend an entire lunch with a stranger. That’s a lot of time to commit to someone who is green and has nothing to offer. This may sound harsh but it’s truly a waste of time on both people’s ends, particularly if the newbie has no experience or credits and the more experienced person can’t really offer them anything without experience. 

Connecting Via Email — For Newbies and Oldies alike

 3. If you are considering moving to LA (or NYC) and want advice, DO send a CLEAR question (or two) in a CONCISE email to the person you’ve been connected with for advice in the industry. Include a one-sentence bio and then ask your question and thank the person for their time. PERIOD. DON’T include your entire 3-page bio along with your dreams and aspirations, only to then ask the person “Could you please tell me how you made it in the industry and how I can too?

”First of all, you should have done your research on this person — you should already know what they’ve done to get where they are. Second – AND THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF ADVICE I CAN GIVE – Don’t ever ask for general advice on how to make it in the industry — ASK A SPECIFIC QUESTION. Asking someone (who is likely very busy) to detail how you (a person they don’t know from Adam) can become rich and famous is ridiculous and unanswerable. How in the world are they supposed to know? Even asking for a “few words of advice” is silly because they’re only going to tell you to “stick with it” or “keep performing” — things that aren’t helpful in a real way.

Instead — ask things like (for actors) “How did you land your first agent?”(for writers)”How did you sell your first script?” (for producers) “Do you know f any production companies that might be interested in a show like….?” etc. These are purposeful questions with quick, easy answers. Open-ended, vague questions just show laziness on your part. No one is going to give you a step-by-step guide to make it in Hollywood. Not because they don’t want to — because there ISN’T one. Everyone’s path is different and no one person will repeat another’s.

 Agent Referrals

 4. DO ask actors you know WELL for referrals. DON’T ask actors in your same type and/or who haven’t seen your work to refer you to their agents. Why would they do that?!  

Facebook/Twitter/Etc.

 5. DO maintain an online presence that allows casting directors and others to find you easily. DON’T post things that are embarrassing or otherwise unprofessional naked/inappropriate pics, excessive profanity, etc.) if that’s not the image you are going for. Remember — casting directors and producers use these tools DAILY to spy on you — trust me.

 By Robin Thede