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Austin Actors
Ms. Bubbette

Dear Ms. Bubbette: How to find reputable agents • To take young son to LA or not • Headshots • Acting exercises for young actors
by Ms. Bubbette

July 2001

Ms Bubbette wishes to express her appreciation for the patience of the following enquirers who have had to wait a month for their replies.

Unbelievably, Ms. Bubbette was in one of those rare places where the Internet was not available?!


Hi, I am Ragan,
I have been taking classes at Kim Dawson an have been in many movies as an extra,also have had leading roles in may plays in the community and in school.  I am only 13 and would like to proceed my career in acting and i am looking for on agent what is the best way to find the right one? Because I have ran in to them wanting money form me and I do not thank that is the way
to go.  thanks for you time and help
Thanks,
Ragan

Dear Ragan,

Congratulations! You are already on your way to becoming an actor. Classes are so necessary and being an extra in movies is good practice. Any time in front of camera, paid or unpaid is valuable experience. Being and extra helps develop patience when you have to "hurry up and wait." You also learn what the 'Stars' have to do and how they do it, if you pay close attention to the set-up of each shot.

Theatre is also another great discipline - it shows you can master memorizing complete scripts.

I suspect you must be in the Dallas area if you are taking classes at Kim Dawson's. You realize she is a highly respected talent agency? Although I believe at this stage she takes only very experienced actors.
E-mail your request for a list of reputable agents (if you haven't already signed on with one) to the Dallas/Fort Worth Regional Film Commission, or better still to the Texas Film Commission: film@governor.texas.gov and ask for a listing of Licensed Talent Agents in your area to be mailed to you. These listing usually include the recent productions the agent's talent has been cast in.

You will need to have professional (not home-shot) matte 8x10 Headshots with a resumé attached to the back with staples, if you haven't already done that. To approach a listed Agency, you then mail your headshot/resumé to them with a cover letter saying that they come highly recommended and that you are looking for someone to represent you. When would be a good time for an interview? After a week, if you haven't heard back from them, phone them and ask if they received your package? Then, while you have them on the phone, try to make an appointment. Remember, you are hiring them to work for you and that no agency takes money until they have gotten you work. At that time they will take their commission, which you have previously agreed upon when you sign the contract with them. You are quite right to be suspicious of anyone wanting money up front. Run fast - the other way. In fact, to quote the Talent Agent Laws for Texas "Agent may charge no advance fee or require performer to use a particular photographer, resumé service, or take any acting or modeling school course or workshop."

A nice compromise, even though the agency is working for you, not the other way about, you should work together as a team. So it is important you feel comfortable with the agent you choose.

Good luck Ragan, and do write again so that we can follow your progress.
Ms. Bubbette

P.S. Read how to do a simple acting resumé in the following letter.


Ms. Bubbette,

I am an early thirties Hispanic male in the South Texas area. Everyday of my life I have been consumed of the idea of being an actor. Do you have any recommendations for a Talent Agency in Austin or San Antonio so I can get this dream of mine started?

Thanks
(No name)

Dear No Name,

Please read the letter to Ragan above and consider e-mailing the Texas Film Commission for the list of licensed Talent Agents in Austin and San Antonio.

If you are fluent in Spanish (preferably Castilian -rather than Tex-Mex) you will be highly sought after especially in San Antonio. Agents such as Condra/Artisto really cater to the Hispanic actors. You will find them in your phone book.

As I said to Ragan, you need to have professional Headshots taken. If you are really and truly consumed with being an actor I suggest you invest in the 'Actors' Bible" called "THE BIZ DIRECTORY" It answers all these questions, has interviews with the Texas Casting Directors and Talent Agents, and has more information than any other business book written for actors (Over 500 pages). Even has Out-of- State Talent Agents. Because it is so comprehensive, it takes up two books - any actor worth his salt would not be without these. To order call (512) 323-2090.

For a resumé, even if you have done nothing you still can have one.
Your name centered on top;
down L.H. side your Hair: Eyes: Height: Weight. Right side put your phone number, cell, Fax, e-mail. When you get an agent their address goes here.
If you have any theatre, extra work, even high school plays, that goes next. Set them out in 3 columns.
L.H side - Name of play/film, center - what you played , RH side Director/Production company.

Training: classes for acting

Special Skills: like piano player, football, horse-riding, roller blades - anything that you can do reasonably well.

Never put your social security # on your resumé.

Then follow the instructions above for Ragan.
You should then be in business. And remember that is exactly what it is - a business.

Good Luck!
Ms. Bubbette


Dear Ms. Bubbette,

My 9 year old son has been taking acting classes and recently interviewed/auditioned with a talent agent from Los Angeles. This was done thru the acting school. The Agent has asked that we come to LA for at least a month and be available for auditions. We have not talked directly to the agent and would like to check out the reputation of the agency prior to making any decision. How can we check out this agency. They are a SAG franchised agency and seem reputable. Would it be best to go with a Texas agent?  

(No Name)

Dear No Name,

This is a tough one and probably you have already solved it by now. Unless your young son is extremely talented (and it's very hard for a parent to be objective about this!) I would hesitate taking him over to L.A. to meet with someone you haven't even talked with.
If they are SAG franchised you know they are legal agents. To find out more I would suggest e-mailing the LA Film Commission for more info.

Can you afford a month in LA is the next question? If yes, then it could be a valuable experience for both you and your son. If no, then I suggest he continue with acting classes and audition for everything available in Texas.

If you do not have a Talent Agent yet, locally, then I would recommend you follow my advise to the actors in the letters above and get one. Austin is a very busy area for movies and commercials and more and more there are parts for kids. (e.g. Spy Kids) Also there are constant student and independent movies being made. Most are unpaid but what a tremendous experience to have a speaking role on camera. These can be made into Demo-reels which can then be sent off to out-of-state agencies. Then if they think your son has real talent, they will call and sign him up.

Good luck and do let us know what you choose to do.
Ms. Bubbette.


Dear Ms. Bubbette,

I was wondering if you knew if any one particular studio or photographer has better quality head shots or is more respected and liked by agencies than others in Austin? I see a lot of agencies with Andrew Shapter, but I wanted to know if PennyLane Digital or others was just as good.

-Adam Medina

Dear Adam,

In my May column I answered this very question.
Here again are the highly recommended local photographers who are reasonably priced:
Rhea Willis - 349-2376; Peter Gonzales - 416-1566; Mary Bruton - 447-4383.
David Korkan who had Pennylane Digital has moved to another State.

A suggestion to see examples of their work - Austin Quantity Photo (where most actors have their photos mass produced) has albums of actors Head-shots. Ph: 467-7705. They are at 700 West 34th Street. I do not know Andrew's work.

Smile!
Ms. Bubbette


Dear Ms. Bubbette,

Having received some excellent information and direction at a recent children's workshop, my daughter is having fun trying out some of the "tips." However, as a beginner at the acting profession I am wondering how a child goes about practicing. With a musical instrument, it is daily sessions at the piano. As a competitive swimmer, my daughter spends lots of time in the pool. BUT, what about skills needed to get into commercials OR films. How does she go about practicing? I would think that having time in front of a camera would help, but that is relatively few and far between.

Suggestions?
DebbyCole

Dear Debby,

So glad your daughter is enjoying her acting classes. These should always be fun and informative. But how to practice? Good question.

First get onto Dan Eggleston's daily audition listing capydan@mac.com. He is an 8th Grade teacher with a love of movies. Watch for auditions for teenagers on independent/student movies.

Also in this AustinActors.net pages click into Audition Postings for instant posting of the hottest/latest auditions. Let her audition for everything possible. The more time in front of camera, whether it's paid or not, is the most valuable experience she'll ever have.
Trant Batey's Film News posted monthly (click on AustinActors.net Film News) has invaluable information.

Suggestions for other ways to practice at home:
* Turn the sound off your TV and watch the body language of the actors - try to figure out their moods, what they are saying, feeling. ("Friends" is an extreme example of this!)
* Tape commercials with actors in her age group. Memorize the lines. See what kind of delivery she can achieve, not necessarily copying the actor's moves. Say it her way. Put it on home video camera and watch it back. Is she believable ? Could she really sell this product.
* Get together with friends. Either write a play, (or movie script) or get one out of the library. Work on producing it themselves. Memorize the lines. Videotape it. Don't look at the camera for these exercises. (Only for commercials) Really feel what is going on, listen to what the other actor is saying and then react as if you are hearing it for the first time.
* And of course, keep taking classes!

What not to do: Never, never practice moves and expressions in front of a mirror. It will always be contrived and awkward, not coming from within. This is making the actor the director, which they are not!

May your daughter and all other young actors out there enjoy discovering their talents and have fun on the Set. The moment it stops being fun - quit!
Good luck!
Ms. Bubbette

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