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Austin Actors
Brad Koester

A Big One-Year Thanks
by Brad Koester

March 2001

Well, I finally decided I would sit down and write something for the website. For many months I've enjoyed just sitting back, and reading the articles. As I place new articles into the website each month, I try not to read too much as I go along. I save that for when I can sit down and just take it all in like a magazine. I've enjoyed it so much that I've kept encouraging people to submit material each month so that I could just sit back, and continue to enjoy the experience. Sooner or later someone said, “Hey, why don’t you write something?” Well, here goes.

Bringing this site online, and forming the group that meets every month, came during a time when I wanted to take a bit of a hiatus from the usual grind, but yet get into a project of some kind. The time was ripe, and actors needed a place to hang out. Most importantly there was a need for good casual actor networking free of a lot of distractions. I’m relatively new to this business. It’s only been a couple of years. I entered the usual way by being an extra in a couple of cool films. Then one day I asked the extras casting people how to get speaking roles. Boy was I in for a big surprise. They said, ”you need an agent.”

So I called a bunch of agents, many of whom had not the time of day to say anything more than “send us a headshot.” Then I called around to find out exactly what a headshot was. After a while I called around to find out who Marco and Diane are, who Mona is, who takes great headshots, who prints them, what’s the “Biz,” who knows who, who does what, and all down the line. That is when I got to start seeing this industry from a perspective that I had not before.

The purpose of creating the website and forming the group was two-fold. First: the altruistic reason, followed by the selfish reason. The first reason was to facilitate a group that was supportive because, just like a lot of new actors, I'm still at a point where I need to soak up a lot of information, and get to know what’s going on. I wanted to somehow create a way for us to mingle together in an environment free of advertising, controlled class situations, and competition. In other words, I wanted a place that was not dependent on money, nor structured too much. Also, it was to be free of the high-pressure we endure during the working hours of our careers. This new dual-environment of ours (the website and the parties) breeds helpfulness among actors.

Now the selfish reason: As busy as I tend to get with various things I like to do, I viewed this new organization as a time saver. I figured that by the time I can get to know who is doing what, and how I can do it too, I’d have to do a ton of networking. But that takes time. So for six hours a month and a small clubroom rental free, I get most of the networking I need for a month. That's a really good deal. That’s three hours to have the party, and three hours to work on the site each month. The return on that time and money investment is so large compared to what would be required without it. Essentially, it’s the premium on time, and the need to do something that works, that drove this project. The rest is gravy.

The cool thing about my selfish reason is that it can be yours too. Then while you’re benefiting by it in some way, you may help a few people along the way. The group is already in place. The Karma thing works. I have seen so much networking go on in this group, and I mean it really surprised the dickens out of me when I started seeing it happen. People would say, “Hey, so and so was at your meeting. We met. I got cast in such and such a film.” or they'd say, "Man, Trant's news just rocks. I bookmark that page all the time," or "I found an audition on your site, and got the part." Anyway, work the positive angle. I‘m referring to helping your colleagues in much the same way others have helped you in your career, and the rest will fall into place. I’ve seen it happen, and I’ve not been in this business very long. It's for real. Think of your pals, and who helped you. Then pass it on.

Just as I was putting things on the website tonight, I did happen to read Kirk-O’s new article for this month. It needed just a little reformatting, so I ended up reading as I went along. He really very honestly said what many of us need to hear. Myself for one. At some point we have to take our careers into our hands, and make them work. I’m at such a young place in my career that I am always feeling like I just don’t know enough about it, or that there is some secret that I don’t know about. But ya know what? It seems that the people who are simply enjoying what they are doing, doing it with passion, and not worrying 24/7 about the doubts people sometimes try to instill in us, are the ones who will survive and even thrive. There are no secret answers it seems. Do what you do, and be you.

All I can say is thanks for everyone who has made the first year a real fun adventure. We've been online for one year. We've been meeting for one year, and you deserve a lot of credit for helping this become a great fun time, but helpful at the same time. Thanks to you all, and take care,

-Brad

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