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Brent (brenton) Schraff
David Francs Calderazzo
Kristi Lee Crisp
E Vincent Burrows

Ten Little Rules for a Rockstar Theater Audition

by Teresa Reilly on February 24, 2010

Every actor should find the opportunity sometime to sit on the other side of the casting table, and that’s just what I did this past week.  Whether it’s for the web series you wrote and produced, the film you’re helping to cast, the showcase you’re directing, or simply being the reader for a new play that’s being cast in your community theater, seeing the flip side of casting is an amazing learning experience.  It’s the time when you as an actor get to step back, and take a long look at the audition process when you are not the one in the hot seat!  And after being on the other side this week, I was reminded of some super simple things every actor should remember (and some things no one should ever, ever do).

So here’s the set up.  I’m working again with a fantastic theater company this spring on their new show, which is a three month long collection of plays that rotate out as the audiences vote on their favorites.  I’m so thrilled to be directing for them, and happy to be working again in one of my top 5 favorite places in the world…the theater!  It’s a great space to work in, and we were lucky enough to have lots of actors come in. Let me tell you, I got a great lesson in auditioning from the people who were reading for us…
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Don’t Get an Agent!

by Teresa Reilly on February 10, 2010

Has anyone ever told you that before?  Well, let me be the first!  Actors worry all the time, but in particular about two especially itchy topics: the 10 lbs. the camera adds and how to get a kickass, killer, awesome agent.  Well, relax folks.  I’m saying it to you today: Don’t Get An Agent!

Okay, okay, I don’t mean don’t EVER get an agent, that would be silly.  Actors need agents.  We cannot, contrary to popular belief, do everything ourselves.  (I’m not the only control freak out there, right?)  Agents are the ones who get our talented butts into the auditions we can’t get into ourselves, they pitch us, they sell us, they work, work, work for us long and hard.  And they do it all for no pay, just like we do.  Well, they do it for no pay until we get paid…then they take 10%.  But the bottom line is that neither the actor nor the agent gets paid till work is booked!  We have a common goal in this biz…

So why wouldn’t you want an agent?  Why not run right out and get William Morris himself to represent you?!  (Uh, that’s not possible, BTW, so don’t try it.)  Because no agent is going to make you anything you’re not already.  Meaning…even if you have the greatest agent in the world, you’re the sucker who’s gotta get the job done in the audition room AND on set.  If you can’t, if you’re not trained or prepared or up for the fight, the greatest agent in the world isn’t going to want to work for nothing for an actor who can’t act.  And you’ll be back to where you started: an actor without an agent.  Or worse, you’ll be an actor locked into a contract with an agent who doesn’t want to send them out because they know they can’t get the job.
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Workshops Work if You Work It

by Teresa Reilly on January 20, 2010

When I find myself in a rut in my acting career (and don’t we all have an intimate knowledge of some killer ruts in this business?) I turn to a trusted confidence booster: the casting workshop.  I know the topic has been discussed on the Right Cast before, but I thought I’d add my two cents, as I’ve been back in the workshop groove this month.  It’s a tough topic, because nobody agrees on anything, but I’ve got to argue the positive today.  Casting workshops work…
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A Star is Born in the Background – How to get Extra Work

by Teresa Reilly on December 9, 2009

Who wouldn’t want to win an Oscar?  Or star in a box-office smash?  Or argue with having their name in lights on the marquis? Not many of us!  You know what you never see on that marquis though?  The entire list of background extras that starred in that movie right alongside that box-office bombshell or leading man.

Ah, the life of the background extra.  If youv’e worked as an extra before, or even seen any of Ricky Gervais’ hilarious look at the life of background actors on his show, Extras, you might know that the job of an extra is largely uncredited, with long days in varying degrees of comfort on crazy sets that are often mindlessly dull.  So what’s the point?  The point is, the film & television industry would be nothing without those essential, overwhelmingly important set of cast members: the extras.

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Working the World Wide Web

by Teresa Reilly on November 25, 2009

I’ve already mentioned a few times on the Right Cast about the web series I collaborated with a few other actors to create, write, and produce, as well as star in. It’s been a ton of work, a ton of fun, and I’ve learned a ridiculous amount about self-producing. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything! However, recently a talented and busy actress friend of mine cornered me about what the benefits actually are of acting and/or producing a DIY web series that doesn’t pay, takes up a lot of time, and potentially isn’t seen by anybody. Hm. Well…good point! So interesting was the discussion, I thought I’d share the topic with all of you: what is the point of being an active participant within the world wide web universe?

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Pep Talk for the Anonymous Actor Blues

by Teresa Reilly on November 18, 2009

Here’s what happens.  (And it happens all the time.)  An actor, one who is dedicated and diligent just like you, spends his day submitting his picture to every single job he can possibly find on five casting networks, twenty-three listservs, Craigslist, and his Aunt Hildy’s PTA networking board.  He submits.  And submits.  And every once in a while he gets an audition.  He prepares, and prepares.   He waits.  He submits some more.  And with all this emailing of his headshot all over town, for weeks and months and years, he starts to feel a bit disconnected from his own smiling face.  Even when he gets called in!

“They don’t care,” he might think.  “There are thousands of actors out there, probably applying to the exact same roles I do.  I look the same as everybody else.  I am the same as everybody else!  I’m pretty much invisible.”

Gasp!  It’s struck our actor friend!  The Anonymous Actor Blues.  That feeling that as much as you send your information out into the world a hundred times a day to casting directors, agents, managers, directors and producers, you just blend into the crowd.  No one knows your name, or even thinks you’ve got talent.  No one really wants to hear your “Seven Ages of Man” monologue, even if it is the greatest performance of Shakespeare anyone’s ever done.  No one really wants to hire you.  There’s no point even going to the audition for that tiny little itty-bitty short film that’s shooting over Thanksgiving in exchange for credit, a sandwich and possibly, (if you’re lucky), the elusive copy of aforementioned short film anyway.  WRONG!  Wrong, wrong, wrong, and more wrong.  Shove off those Anonymous Actor Blues, my friends, because the news flash today is that this business is a small one, and you are not seen AND heard, you are a vital part of it!

I bring up the Anonymous Actor Blues because it hit me in a big, big way a few weeks ago.  I was all caught up in my crazy rent job when I got an audition for a theater company; furthermore, it was being cast by one of my favorite casting directors, a truly unique and generous actor-friendly professional who was very excited to be casting for this project.  I was so thrilled.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to make the time slot they’d assigned me, so I responded to Actors Access that I’d be there as soon as I could.  Alas, I got caught up in (ugh) my crazy rent job, and got back into the area too late to make any of the spots.  Here’s where things got ugly.

Instead of A) calling the CD’s number that she’d carefully offered in just such a situation B) emailing the CD to explain the situation and apologize C) using the vast & varied communication devices on the world wide web on which she and I are connected to say something, anything, message an explanation (or at least poke her via Facebook), I chose to wallow in my own self pity, temper my embarrassment by repeating, “She doesn’t remember you anyway, she doesn’t know your name and/or face anyway, you suck you suck you suck,” and pretend like the whole thing didn’t happen.  WRONG.  I then saw this casting director at a guest panel she was doing a week later, and was reminded in person that not only did this CD know me, she’d A) read my entire resume B) watched my entire reel C) knew I’d fallen into a pit of Anonymous Actor despair and screwed over my audition.  Not only did I convince myself (with absolutely no prodding from anyone else who doesn’t exist solely in my mind) no one knew who I was, I also convinced myself my presence would not be missed.

We all do it.  It’s true!  I’ve talked to every actor friend I’ve got, and let me reassure you, we all skip an audition sometimes.  Whether because of a bad day, or lack of confidence, fear, or just plain disinterest, every single actor out there skips out on a confirmed audition from time to time. It’s when you run out on auditions because of the Anonymous Actor Blues that trouble starts to brew.  So how do you deal with those negative feelings toward your own career?  Let’s brainstorm…

1.    REMIND YOURSELF OF YOUR NETWORK:  You are actually part of complex spider web of working actors, producers, writers, and artists who know you and respect your work.  You are not anonymous to them.  Far from it!  One of the greatest things about producing my own web series was casting my talented friends and colleagues in parts I knew they would be awesome in.  In fact, every single role but three were cast without auditions, and, at times, even written with a certain actor in mind.  They never asked to be part of the project, but I knew their work and their attitude on set, and wanted them to be part of it.  And, believe it or not, people think the same way about you!
2.    REMIND YOURSELF OF YOUR INVESTMENT:  My mother just did this to me the other day.  She started reminiscing about a prestigious arts camp I first auditioned for when I was fifteen, and then again the following year. Neither time was I accepted.  (Boo.)  But she drove me all the way out there, both times, and listened to my audition monologues, encouraged me, and supported me.  She did the same thing when I applied to college, graduated from college, and moved to LA.  She has invested in my success.  So have I.  The paths I’ve chosen, and the sacrifices I’ve made are all because I am invested in my own success.  So are you.  Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this.
3.    REMIND YOURSELF OF WHY YOU ARE HERE:  You’re here to act.  Not to wait tables, not to live in abject poverty for no good reason.  You came here to act.
4.    REMIND YOURSELF ABOUT WHY IT MATTERS:  Okay, so even if it is an itty-bitty short film with no budget and questionable odds of ever releasing your tape…that short film matters.  That short film might become a feature film.  That director might hire you again, with a budget this time.  That co-star might suggest you to a casting director friend.  That gaffer might become an award-winning producer.  It happens.  The bottom line is that actors act.  And work begets work.  Give yourself that chance to work.

The blues pass, and so does the feeling of anonymity.  Don’t get stuck in it!  As this favorite casting director of mine reminded the audience at the panel I attended, every time you connect with her, in whatever way it happens, whether via email, Facebook, in the audition room, or on the street, it’s pennies adding up in the bank.  Each penny is another bit of recognition, and one day she’ll be casting and role and think, “Hey!  What about that guy!  I know him!”  We are none of us as anonymous as we think, after all.  So start saving those pennies.

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Manage Me!

by Teresa Reilly on November 11, 2009

Acting, whether you realize it or not, is a team sport.  Your team, as I’ve mentioned before in previous posts, contains a bevy of players, from your agent to your headshot photographer to your lawyer; furthermore, they all truly just want you to succeed. And no one wants you to succeed more so than your manager.

When I was working in New York, I totally pooh-poohed the idea of a manager. What was the point?  Why can’t I manage my own life? Wasn’t the real goal to get an agent?  What does a manager even do, anyway?  (I had a vague notion a manager was like the guy who’d stand outside the boxing ring and yell at the boxer while he’s the one who’s getting punched in the nose and there’s blood oozing out of his nose.)  I had a few friends who had managers, sure, but it seemed like a lot of them didn’t get much out of the arrangement other than a snazzy graphic on their resume. When I moved to LA, however, everyone seemed to have a manager, and everyone I talked to really encouraged finding one for myself.  So I did my research!

First of all, a personal manager’s job is simply to advise. While talent agencies are legally required to be licensed in order to seek employment for their clients, managers are not.  Which means…anyone can be a manager.  In Brian O’Neil’s outstanding book, “Acting as a Business: Strategies for Success,” he clearly outlines that a manager’s sole job is merely to guide one’s career, as he “is not licensed to seek or procure employment for his client”; however, there are loopholes that allow the personal manager, “on behalf of his client,” to instigate “the ‘incidental’ procuring of employment.”  Meaning, managers find work for their clients all the time, even though it isn’t really allowed.  (SIDE NOTE:  While you’ll have to decide for yourself whether or not to get management, I do highly recommend getting “Acting as a Business.” It is a clear, concise, and smart book that is an excellent tool for any business-minded actor.)

So.  You want a manager to “advise” you.  What the heck does that mean?  It boils down to guiding & counseling you and your blossoming career.  For instance, coaching you for auditions or on-camera technique, helping you decide what to wear when you go in for a read, which headshots to pick, which agents to meet & when, classes & workshops, who to use as you build up the rest of your team, and reading & assessing contracts.  If you don’t have representation yet, your manager will be essential in getting you agent meetings. “Acting as a Business” points out that a personal manager does also offer a level of “hand-holding” that a talent agency does not have time to offer.  It’s not really their job.  In exchange for that level of care and commitment, however, a personal manager is paid a larger fee than a talent agent is.  While an agent receives a standard 10% commission, a personal manager generally receives 15-20%.  If you’re balking at the number, think about how much work both of these two very important members of your team do for you for FREE.  Neither of them gets paid until you do.

Speaking of your team, remember you are the owner of the whole shebang.  In another awesome actor-book, “How to Agent Your Agent,” agent/manager/producer extraordinaire Nancy Rainford explains it as the “bulls-eye theory.”  If you are the center (or the bulls-eye/target, like on a dartboard), and each ring represents each member of your team, each ring/team member is further and further outward and away from you.  Your personal manager wants to be as close to that inner target (you) as possible, so that every other member of your team has to go through them to get to you, including your agent.  You can see that it’s imperative that you A) have a manager you trust & love B) understand what’s going on with your team.

Some final thoughts about managers as you decide if/when you choose to find personal management for your team:

-    Personal management contracts typically start with a year term, as an introductory period; however, don’t be surprised if they offer you a three-year term.  Management is a long-term relationship, and instant fame & fortune is not totally realistic right away.  If three years is too long for you, work out an escape clause in the contract in case you need it.
-    Don’t just sign with any random person who calls themselves a manager.  (Because remember…anyone really can manage.  My Aunt Tilly could be a manager.  And she is a librarian in rural Massachusetts.  No.)  Don’t feel like you HAVE to have a manager.  Make a career for yourself first, and figure out what you want out of it before you find someone else to manage it for you.
-    Make sure you interview them as they interview you.  What are their aspirations for your career?  Do they match up with yours?  How many clients do they have?  (Be wary if they have more than 10-20 other people on their roster.  Will they have time for you?)  How do they want to communicate with you?  Via text, phone or email?  How will they pitch you to agents?

I’ll leave you with my own experience with my manager.  Her niece, who grew up with me back east, referred me to her.  I met with her in her office, I loved her energy and felt reassured we had common goals for my career and me.  She helped me pick out my headshots and read all my contracts for my new projects, she pitched me to agents and tirelessly called them on my behalf.  I had confidence going into agency meetings, because I knew she was backing me up and pushing me to meet with fantastic industry people she’d purposefully targeted and knew could really get my career going.  She keeps me on track, and reminds me of my goals.  The best part is, my team is strengthened because of her commitment, and I know we’re in it together.  Many wonderful actors have managers, and many do not.  Poke around, interview a few different ones, and don’t pressure yourself.  Always remember, it’s all about making your team stronger and better.  Good luck!

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Smart Actors Don’t Get Scammed

by Teresa Reilly on November 4, 2009

Have you ever had one of those days when you feel like everyone is just out to get you?  Unfortunately, some days it’s the truth.  It’s no secret there are those who try to take advantage of the people around them with scams, schemes, pitches, and ploys.  What’s worse, a large portion of those scammers try to take advantage of one demographic near and dear to folks like you and me.  You got it…Actors.

At this point, you might have already had contact with some of those who would take advantage of you and your hard-earned moolah.  Have you ever been to an agent meeting that starts with them praising your talent and ends with them telling you to spend your life savings at their friends’ acting classes and headshot sessions?  Ever seen audition notices on Craigslist that ask for a full-body photo “with or without” clothes?  Ever heard about a great showcase opportunity that will be amazing for your career if you can just raise the $1000 to pay for it?

Look, not every good deal is too good to be true.  Let’s go over some ways you can tell which is which, and live up to your Smart Actor reputation.  Don’t be fooled by the fools out there!

1.    BAD GRAMMAR: If you’ve ever looked for a cheap deal on an apartment or furniture on Craigslist, maybe you’ll have noticed the similarities between some of those particularly shady ads.  For instance, when the posting is in all caps or has lots of symbols along with the wording.  Same is true for breakdowns!  Whenever I see a submission or a casting call that has extremely frequent misspellings or really poor use of the English language, a red flag goes up.  If this was a respectable and professional casting call, wouldn’t that casting director have taken the time to make sure their notice was clear, concise, and appropriately typed?  To be fair, not everyone’s a great speller (but isn’t that why SpellCheck exists?) and not everyone is a crook.  However, you also don’t want to waste your time.  The last time I answered a poorly spelled casting call, it turned out it was a Fringe Festival play about zombies written, directed, and produced by three college sophomores who auditioned me for two hours on their front porch.  The next day, they called to offer me any of the parts I wanted, they didn’t care which one I chose.  While I didn’t lose any money, I’ll never get those two hours back!
2.    BAD MATH: Think about it.  Why does a showcases cost money at all?  They have to rent a space, rent lights, rent ushers and rehearsal space, get props, get programs, etc.  However, you shouldn’t have to sell your firstborn to afford doing a showcase.  So don’t fork over more than $500 for a deal you aren’t cool with.  (And you can always work with some friends to produce your own!)  How much do classes cost?  Break down the deals those casting workshops offer.  What are you actually getting?  How much one-on-one time do you get?  Are the casting directors actually currently casting anything you are interested in?  Don’t just pay someone hoping they’ll make you a star if you give them enough of your hard-earned dough.
3.    BAD NEIGHBORHOODS: Not everyone lives or works in a great area.  That’s fine!  But you should know your neighborhoods and be safe about where you go to audition.  A lot of scammers will have auditions or shoots in their houses or apartments.  If you are unsure or wary about an address, check the production company out online or GoogleMap it.  They have a great feature where you can use satellite pictures to actually look around the street, so you know exactly what kind of place you’re going to.  If you get to the audition and feel unsafe leaving your car or walking from the subway, follow your gut and keep yourself safe.
4.    BAD DEALS: Don’t just trust everyone.  The problem with a lot of these scammers and schemers is that they are actors too, and they’ll have no problem making you feel just great about forking over your paycheck to them.  So do your research!  Don’t just trust the guy you met at some networking event for five minutes who says his new vocal regimen is the best one ever and is worth $200 a week.  Don’t just buy 1500 business cards from the nice lady you met at a yoga class without checking out the competition first.  Don’t  buy that $80 acting manual just because some casting director said it was the best one ever and all real actors own it.  Don’t trust that the guy who walked up to you and Target and said you had the makings of a star isn’t trying to sell you on his own classes.  Do your research before committing to anything.  Be well-informed.
5.    BAD PEOPLE: Again, I have to repeat, TRUST YOUR GUT.  A friend of mine went to an indie film audition at the director’s apartment.  Since there was no monitor or reader, the director read the opposite role; however, when it came to the part in the script when the two characters kiss, the director informed her she had to kiss him, as he had to know she could perform the scene well.  When she balked, he got upset at her, and said she wasn’t an actress.  This crossed her professional boundaries, and she left.  No one should make you feel you have to do something uncomfortable just to book a role.  And, c’mon, if the audition feels wonky, do you think the set will be any better?  Make sure you understand your own boundaries when choosing to submit to casting notices that stipulate nudity (sometimes they’ll say “tasteful” or “implied” nudity).

6.  BAD PROJECTS: So you booked it!  Awesome.  Now, what is “it” exactly?  Make sure you know exactly what it is you were hired for.  A friend of mine got to set and realized she wasn’t actually going to be “acting,” she was “handing out postcards” and getting paid strictly on commission.  Yipes!  Professional projects will clearly state what you are being hired for.  If they beat around the bush answering what the name of the production company is and what your actual job will be, start listening to those alarm bells.

There are thousands of fantastic opportunities waiting out there for you, and we all will have years of auditions filled with ups and downs.  Not every project with nudity nor every workshop with a steep price will be some sort of sham; however, it’s important to be wary and know your limits.  If you do, you’ll always have confidence in your own talent and you’ll be able to make smart, informed decisions regarding your own career.  So get out there, folks!  And don’t worry about all those fools.

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Hunting for the Right Rent Job

by Teresa Reilly on October 21, 2009

Every single book about becoming a working actor gives the same piece of advice in the very first chapter: get a job.  Nope, not an acting job, a rent job.  Employment that pays your bills, buys you lunch, gases up your car and doles it out for the doctor.  Income to keep you alive while you keep your career moving upwards.  Ah, yes, paying the rent!

When I moved to a new city, I pushed my savings as far as they could possibly go so I could optimistically avoid getting non-acting work.  I had come from a string of rent jobs in New York, all of them drama-rich and soul-crushing.  I wanted to bypass the same fate in my new home.  Maybe I could fast book some commercials and not worry about a rent job!  (It happens for some, it’s true.)  Soon, I found myself broke and worrying about paying my bills upon bills as I frantically tried to find some new employment.  ANY employment.  And it struck me: all those books were right.  Everybody needs money coming in, if not for the necessities it pays for, then the surge of confidence you acquire knowing you’ve got a bank account to back you up.

The trick, as always, with the rent job for an actor relies heavily on that magic word: flexibility.  What kind of boss will let you leave in the middle of the day for a spur-of-the-moment audition?  What kind of job can pay you well enough so you can miss precious days of work for low/no/deferred paying gigs that feed your inner artistic juices?  What sort of employment can you stand doing but not like so much you forget why you’re doing it?  These are the questions all actors obsess over, and for good reason!  Good rent jobs are hard to find!  So, let’s go over the pros & cons of some popular actor rent jobs, and who knows?  Maybe it’ll point you towards your next job!

-    WAIT TABLES: The old actor standby job, waiting tables can be both flexible and well paying.  The downsides include surviving the cliché jokes (“What do you call an up and coming actress?  Your server.”), dealing with poor managers who seem to thrive in the restaurant business, working long and late hours, and, in today’s tough economic times, stiff competition just getting the restaurant job.  But, if you like a fast-paced kitchen and networking with your customers, maybe a serving job is just for you!

-    TEMP: Temp agencies are the actor’s BFF in every city.  Usually, you make an interview appointment with an agency where they test your typing, computer and phone skills, and then they’ll call you on a daily or weekly basis (often very last-minute) to check your availability to fill in for a sick office worker or out-of-town secretary.  A good friend of mine started temping in Manhattan, and the office eventually hired her at $25 an hour, and lets her leave on her lunch break for auditions!  But that’s, unfortunately, not the norm.  Most temp jobs pay anywhere between $9 to $15 an hour, often don’t reimburse for gas or parking, and can be very strict in what kind of skills are needed.  Another con is that temp jobs are notoriously inflexible, so you might not be able to leave for a sudden audition.  Check Kelly Services for temp jobs in your area!

-    NANNY: Babysitters and nannies can make big bucks watching children during the day or on nights & weekends.  While oftentimes families prefer females to males watching their kids, there has been an upswing in “mannies,” and both genders can make more than $15 an hour under-the-table babysitting!  Like temping, it’s often hard to leave a sitting job in the middle of the day for an acting job (you can’t just leave those kiddies behind, right?!) but depending on the parent’s schedules, some nannies can work out a system that works for everyone.  Or, maybe you can just nanny after school or on the weekends.  The downsides also include dirty diapers, but if you have a talent with the little ones, babysitting can be a great actor job.  Sign up at the fantastic babysitting networking site Sittercity for free, and get started meeting parents in your area ASAP.

-    TUTOR: Just like babysitting, if you like kids and made great grades in high school and college, tutoring can be an excellent source of income.  Tutoring companies pay their tutors who work in expensive neighborhoods $25-$45 an hour, especially those who can help out shaky students in geometry, science, languages, and test prep.  Or check out test prep places like Kaplan to see if they need more tutors!  The downsides include having to drive to the students’ houses (so you’re essentially downgrading your pay rate in half) and, again, the tricky flexibility issue.

-    ASSIST: There are hundreds upon thousands of producers, directors, agents, and various executives who need assistants to help them organize, run, and simplify their lives, and they often pay great salaries to those who can handle rolling calls, trip-planning, and high-profile clients. I worked for a photographer for a while in New York, and did everything from set up her photo shoots to babysit her son to pay her husband’s car payment bills.  The disadvantage to the assistant’s job?  Long hours, little to no flexibility, and 24/7 work. On the other hand…what a way to network!

-    RETAIL & SALES: An actor and a salesman have a lot in common.  They both sell a product, promise reliability and confidence, and are always hoping to get bigger and better customers.  If you are working in a commission-based company, that is always best as you can use your actor-smarts and charming personality to sell more (and thereby earn more); however, you should avoid such jobs as auto sales and some telemarketing companies who pay you completely based on commission.  I had several actor friends all work at an expensive boutique menswear shop in Manhattan, and they made a great hourly rate plus commissions on the day’s sales.  You can also check out your nearby convention centers, museums, and theaters who often do subscriber calls and pay commission!

-    TEACH: Got a marketable skill?  Are you an advanced practitioner of Pilates, yoga, tae kwan do, judo, or tennis?  Have you ever taught an acting class to kids or taught guitar?  Turn your hobbies into money!  Advertise on Craigslist or on neighborhood bulletin boards, in kid-oriented community centers, or on your Starbucks’ corkboard.


OTHER CREATIVE ACTOR JOBS TO PAY THE RENT:

I’ve known actors who’ve done everything to pay the bills, from working in hotels as bellhops, substitute teaching, selling insurance, photographing headshots, moving furniture, bartending, dressing up as Disney princesses for kids’ parties, cleaning houses, setting up convention center displays at 3 AM, assisting the elderly, organizing closets, handing out samples at Costco roadshows, and delivering pizzas.  The key is to be open to new jobs, new schedules, and new ideas.  Don’t stick around any employment that makes you feel unsafe, scared, or deeply unhappy.  You CAN find a rent job that is both fulfilling and pays well, so you can keep doing what you love to do: act!

Have a great rent job that pays your bills and more?  Share it with the Right Cast and leave a comment!

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The Prepared Actor’s Artistic Retreat

by Teresa Reilly on September 23, 2009

Summer’s over, school is just now beginning again, and so September always reminds me it’s time for my Artistic Retreat. For the past four years, I’ve sent myself on an Artistic Retreat after every Labor Day to refocus my energies for the coming year.  Lucky for you, I’m going to teach you exactly how to have one of your own!

No, my retreat is not in the woods of New England, or at a swanky resort on a hot beach.  (I wish.)  In fact, no one is actually at my retreat but me.  I’m the leader, the audience, and the guest speaker.  You can have your Artistic Retreat anywhere, at any time of the day, but I’d recommend doing it either in your expertly organized Actor Office, or a nice, quiet place like a coffee shop or your local library.  All you need is you, and my Artistic Retreat Questionnaire.

And before you start thinking I’m crazy, yes, I make up questionnaires for myself.  Yes, yes, I do, and the reason why is because I’m part of the quickest, most confusing businesses out there, the entertainment biz, and it is easier than pie to lose track of where, how, and why I am, actually, part of it all.  Furthermore, my goals for myself and my career are changing all the time, and if I don’t neatly organize my plan of attack and give myself deadlines, To Do Lists, and timelines, I always get lost in all the hubbub.

So, I’m going to show you how I organize myself for the coming year (but I would recommend making this at least a biannual Artistic Retreat, it never hurts to keep your goals lined up more frequently than you might think) so that you can organize yourself too!  I’ve separated my questionnaire into four sections: Creative, Casting, Career, and Life in General.  Each section feeds into the other three, and I’ve done some major editing in the ways they overlap. It’s also good to know that I’ve borrowed all of these questions from various teachers, casting directors, and other actors, but feel free to use as much or as little of this outline as you want, so long as you are brutally honest with yourself as you fill it out.  Because what’s the good of going to a Retreat if you aren’t getting the most you possibly can out of it?  Especially a free one…

And, finally, always remember a prepared actor is an audition-ready actor, and an actor who auditions is one who will, eventually, book work.  And that is the goal, right?  Or maybe just one of them…

ARTISTIC RETREAT QUESTIONNAIRE


CREATIVE

WHAT HAVE BEEN MY FAVORITE ACTING EXPERIENCES TO DATE and WHY?

WHAT HAS BEEN MY LEAST FAVORITE ACTING EXPERIENCES TO DATE and WHY?

WHAT KIND OF ACTING WORK DO I WANT TO DO?  BE SPECIFIC.

WHAT KIND OF ACTING WORK DO I NOT REALLY CARE TO DO?

SOMETHING I’VE BEEN DOING REALLY WELL IS:

SOMETHING I COULD DO BETTER IS:

SOME THINGS I LOVE ABOUT THE ACTING BUSINESS ARE:

SOME THINGS I HATE ABOUT THE ACTING BUSINESS ARE:

CASTING

WHAT IS MY AGE RANGE?

WHAT IS MY TYPE?

WHO ARE MY PROTOTYPES and WHAT QUALITIES DO WE SHARE?

3 SPECIAL QUALITIES I POSSESS:

WHAT ARE MY PHYSICAL LIMATATIONS:

WHAT DO I NEED TO IMPROVE:

5 ROLES I CAN BE CAST IN RIGHT NOW:

5 INDUSTRY PEOPLE I HAVEN’T SEEN IN A FEW MONTHS:

5 INDUSTRY PEOPLE I’VE LOST TOUCH WITH:

5 INDUSTRY PEOPLE I DON’T KNOW BUT WANT TO MEET:

CAREER

5 SHORT-TERM GOALS:

5 LONG-TERM GOALS:

5 LIFE DREAM GOALS:

5 FINANCIAL GOALS:

5 PERSONAL GOALS:

TOP 5 CURRENT GOALS:

LIFE IN GENERAL

WHAT IN YOUR LIFE GIVES YOU JOY?

WHAT ELSE?

WRITE DOWN 10 SENTENCES TO DESCRIBE WHAT YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH IN YOUR LIFE & WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO YOU:

AT THIS MOMENT, I KNOW THAT 5 YEARS FROM NOW, I WANT MY LIFE TO LOOK SOMETHING LIKE THIS:

Okay, you goal-oriented folks, go out there and make your dreams a reality.  You can do it!  (P.S.  Don’t you just love Artistic Retreats with yourself?  No ice-breaker exercises here…)

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Independent Film Show Case: Man Overboard

Man Overboard

Man Overboard - starring Matthew Kaminsky and Mel Fair, produced by Mark Heidelberger and Jesse Felsot, written by Nathan Ives and Ashley Scott Meyers, and directed by Oliver Robins.

Log line: When C.J.'s used boat lot struggles he hires Johnny, an experienced salesman, to try and turn things around - unfortunately Johnny is also a sociopath and his sales tactics are crazy and completely illegal.



Man Overboard is scheduled to be released on DVD in August of 2009 for purchase through the official web site, www.manoverboardmovie.com.