There’s a well-known actor saying that goes, “Nobody’s casting in your living room.” In essence? Get off your butt, and get out to auditions, because you can’t just dream a career into existence while you lie on your couch. (That is, unless you live with a casting director.) You have to develop the courage to walk out your door every day and try to book work. However…you can’t get the work, unless you live in an office.
Okay, obviously, I don’t mean that you should actually sleep in an office building. (That’d be weird.) But you do need to have a space set up that is conducive to all the paperwork you have to do to propel your career forward. I didn’t realize until well into my career that a large portion of my job was about the paperwork. (Ugh! Paperwork! Where’s Ibsen? Where’s Shaw? Where’s Mamet, for goodness’ sake?! I want to work in the theater, in movies and television, not dilly-dally with paper! Well…tough.) You got a lot of work to do, and you need a safe space to do it. You’ve got casting notices to submit to, cover letters to write.
Your office doesn’t necessarily have to be in your living room or bedroom, or even your apartment, but it does need to be a constant and clean space entirely devoted just to your career. Your Actor Office!
1. GET A DESK OR TABLE: All good offices have desks, right? Make sure this is a well-lit, neatly organized area with everything you might need easily accessible. Have a space for your computer, free of food or clutter.
2. GET THE RIGHT UTENSILS: Always have plenty of good pens (ballpoint or the like, to write out neat and clear postcards to industry pros and/or to sign all those big contracts you’ll have coming in!) as well as pencils and a great pair of scissors. (When has your resume ever been the exact size of your headshot? Never. You gotta cut it out with something.) Also key is a great stapler with plenty of extra staples at the ready.
3. GET A RELIABLE PRINTER: There is nothing in this world so incredibly vital as a printer that works when you want it to. (Too often have I found myself wrestling with my printer ten minutes after I should have left the house.) Make sure you always have black AND color ink at the ready in case you run out in a pinch.
4. GET SOME PERFECT PAPER: I have three kinds of paper in my office: white copy paper, crème-colored printing paper, and stationery. The white paper is for everyday uses and needs. It’s cheap and necessary. (Around $6 per ream at Staples.) The crème-colored paper is what I use to print my resumes. (You don’t have to do this. I just like having an off-white color for my resume because I like to think it makes it stick out a little bit more in a pile.) The stationery is my little splurge. I buy a box of Crane’s Note heavy stationery, a little bit smaller and a little darker in color than my resume-paper, and I use it to print out my cover sheets. It feels nice, it prints nice, and I really feel like it makes a difference to have high-quality paper for my introduction.
5. GET A BIZ BOOK: My “Biz Book” is indispensable to my business. It’s a large blue binder with a place for all of the important information for my career. In the front, there are sheets of all the business cards I collect from people in the industry. In the front pocket are all the blank labels I use to print out mailing labels. The rest of the binders are divided into sections: lists of my artistic goals, an Audition Log, a list of my industry contacts, industry receipts, contracts, invoices, reviews, postcards, etc. I list everything, and keep it all neat and organized in one binder.
6. MAKE A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING: If you don’t listen to anything else I’ve written above this very important rule, listen to this! Maintaining your office space effectively uses one key rule: A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place. Keep specific folders for everything you can think of. Keep your paper clean and tidy. Keep your receipts (so you can deduct them at tax time!) Know where everything is! And then you’ll always be ready for anything.
You should be set now for your very own office! Obviously, everyone’s work space will be different, so maybe you won’t agree with all of my six steps. So…what do you use? What makes running your Actor Office easier? Good luck, and remember the extra staples!