By Craig Wallace
Given that I’m about to launch my second book on performance, A Perfect Performance (in case you’ve had your head in the sand and haven’t seen the plethora of posts I’ve uploaded about it recently!), I find the following article very appropriate. Written by Craig Wallace, previously studio exec, talent agent and casting consultant but now primarily acting coach with his own audition technique, I’d say the guy knows a thing or two about the craft of acting. So check out his helpful and highly informative article below and get professional! Oh and by the way, if you’re interested in my book click here.
There is much talk these days about how important marketing is to an actor’s career, as well as a seemingly endless stream of advice and opinion on the best ways to use all the different forms of new media. And while it is important for actors to take advantage of opportunities to get themselves out there, there is an essential question that needs to be addressed before any campaign is launched: Are you ready for the market?
Just because it’s easier than ever to market yourself doesn’t automatically mean that you should. I see many actors these days putting more time and effort into their marketing and much less time developing and growing their talent.
While aggressive marketing may generate some opportunities for you, if you’re not truly ready to take advantage of those opportunities, you won’t deliver when it counts, and your campaign will be seen as just a bunch of empty promises.
In most businesses new products are put through rigorous, sometimes years-long testing processes before a marketing campaign and launch are even considered. Assuming that you as an actor are in business for yourself and that the product being marketed is you, let’s take three of the guiding principles that many Fortune 500 companies use to determine the readiness of a product, and see if they can help you to determine your readiness for the marketplace.
1. Are your skills professional grade? Before a marketing campaign can be considered, the manufacturer must be confident that the elements of the product are strong, dependable and high functioning.
Given that there is no official definition of what a professional actor is, in this country at least, it’s up to each actor, through training, reflection, and experience to define it for themselves before entering the professional arena. Here are some questions that may help you see if your work is up to the high standard needed to be a working actor: Can you break down a script or a set of sides into playable beats and then find where the writer’s intent and your intent for character intersect? Do you immediately recognize if the piece is comedy or drama and if so, which specific type of comedy or drama? Do you know how to shift your preparation to suit the primary needs of the five most prevalent genres? Do you know how to adjust your work without throwing it away? Are you able to use the camera to create job-getting moments? Are you as alive when you’re listening as you’re when you’re speaking? Can you quickly make the choices that bring even the most mundane piece to life?
Think of more questions and define what professional grade work is to you—there is certainly more than one definition.
But I will say this: If you are like many actors who are more invested in the dream of an acting career as opposed to the reality, and your definition of being professional is taking a few classes, doing some networking, and waiting for the universe to line up with your wishes, go no further. No one in a position to employ you sees that as professional. You still have a lot of work to do—and I don’t mean repeating affirmations or picturing yourself winning an Oscar—but real work to do, before you should consider entering the marketplace.
2. Do you fill a gap in the marketplace? Before a product is launched, the manufacturer needs to be sure that there is a genuine need for it or that it is a noticeable improvement over similar products already on the market.
So, what about you? What need do you fill in the acting universe and how do you improve on the talents of the actors who are currently successful?