Dear Ms. Bubbette: Should young 8 year old go to LA? Voice overs How busy is the Austin market?
by Ms. Bubbette
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
Our 8 yr old son is enjoying his brief time in the "biz". Since October 2000, he's done two movies (extra parts), a principle part in a local commercial and two plays at a local theatre. Were stuck on what to do next. He has an agent, taken classes with three reputable casting agents, Donise Hardy, to name one. An unnamed casting director from Dallas, stated he's ready for LA. Ugh, just the thought. We support he's "career" choice but can't support three months in LA right now. We find it's easier to commute from West Texas to local and regional auditions. Are we being selfish and holding his opportunities back? What's your suggestion on our dilemma?
Lost in Amarillo
Dear Lost in Amarillo,
I think you have answered your own question when you say you can't support 3 months in L.A. right now. The opinion of one 'unnamed' casting director in Dallas would not send this parent chasing a dream in an overcrowded-with-talented-actors city (L.A.) From the experience you list, your son would more than likely be trampled under by the hordes of really acclimatized young actors who have been in front of cameras since birth.
It sounds like your young son is on the right path to maybe making this his career, one day. But one local commercial and two local plays is barely the first baby step on this highway fraught with pitfalls. (Extra work on two movies is excellent experience but any person, actor or not, can do that). I am not trying to down-play what he has done but I do want to warn you that even actors here in busy film-making Austin, need to have a lot more experience than that before most casting directors will even call them in for auditioning a principal role. One in a million may luck out with no experience at all. I have worked as a casting assistant for several years and the child with a sound knowledge of the business, confidence, charisma and continuing classes under his belt, stands out in front of the camera.
It would be more selfish of you to put your son through the 'rat race' before he is truly ready, especially as rejection is the bigger percentage of an actor's life.
He has so much to learn and continuing acting classes should be considered just as important as regular piano lessons are necessary to make a pianist. Find out what classes your local acting theatres provide; travel to San Antonio, Austin, Dallas for special classes with casting directors (you've made a good start on this one).
One way you may get the attention of L.A. casting directors without going to L.A. is to have a demo-reel (video) made of your son. These are usually made from actual movie clips/national commercials/local commercials actors have been seen in. Your son has already done a local commercial. Get a clean copy of that and have a professional video person put it on the reel. Have a local acting teacher work with him on a monologue and put that on the reel too seeing he doesn't have anything else just yet. Contact Donise Hardy, whose class he has already taken and see who she recommends you send copies of the tape to. (send one to her too).
If Hollywood really thinks your son has the outstanding talent they are looking for, believe me they will make a beeline for your door. If you saw "Spy Kids" movie, most of the robot kids and a couple of principal ones were from Austin talent. We have a great pool of talented kids here and in Dallas, who train constantly through classes, and yet not one of them could live up to the Hollywood expectations for the lead kid roles. They went to Hollywood kids, born into the business.
Exceptions do happen. I was once asked advice from parents of talented young twins from Killeen, and all I could say was "There's not much work in Texas for twins and if you really think they are super talented, and you are prepared to give up your own life, you need to move to Hollywood and get an agent over there." Little did I think she would take me at my word. A few years later Tia and Tamara Mowry turned up in their own TV Series "Sister, Sister."...
I hope this has been of some help. Good luck and may your son be the one in a million.
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
I'm interested in pursuing work in voice-over, commercials, etc. I am not a
professional actor. However, I have been told by some local musicians, clients
and some previous employers (who still have my voice on their recorded
messages/voicemail) that I have a great voice. Where is the best place to
start breaking into this type of work? Is it necessary to have an agent when
I'm only interested in voice work? Are there companies in Austin that handle
this type of business? Your advice would be greatly appreciated!
A Voice Looking for a Job!
Dear Voice Looking For a Job,
I can highly recommend a local agent who specializes in voice-over talent.
That is Debora Duckett at db Talent. Ph: (512) 292-1030. 3107 Slaughter Lane West. Ste A, Austin 78748-5705.
But first, before consulting with her I would suggest you put a voice-over tape together. You might work on a few commercials and lay them down yourself -and, if you can handle different dialects, put those on too.
If you wish to do this professionally (which is what I do and most other actors have done) I can highly recommend Joel Block, Production Block Recording Studios, Inc ; 906 E. 5th St; Austin 78702. Ph: (512) 472-8975. (I believe Debora once worked with him!) He has commercial copy you can work with and his final product is a winner for voice-over work. Make several copies and send them out to local companies you hear advertising on the air as a back-up to what your 'agent' finds for you.
Let me know when you're on the air waves so that we can all tune in to you. Best of luck!
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
I am from Austin, but left a few years ago to pursue voice training and later on acting school in New York city.
I would love to get a professional opinion from you on how lucrative it is to be an actor in Austin. It seems that more and more film is happening there. I am glad for my New York experience, and want to stay here awhile longer to get some actual credits on my resume, (I just finished acting school and have done one film) but I do get homesick and all my family is back in Texas... I know I cannot make my home in New York and I'd like to find out what kind of market I may be coming back to in the next couple of years if I do decide to return.
Do you have an agent? Do you audition regularly? Is there a lot of competition? Is it a small market? What kinds of work do you do? (anything besides film, any kind of "day job"?) What is your background in acting training/school?
Thanks a lot for your time. I really enjoyed your articles.
Your letter came to me by way of another actor (with your blessing) so maybe, not all your questions pertain to Ms. Bubbette. I shall try to be of assistance to you.
Come on back, girl, to your favorite State! Your favorite City! This is a happening place especially for the well-trained actor.
Not so long ago Austin, Texas was #3 in the movie making business, after L.A. and N.Y. I haven't seen it slow down much as far as independent movies and student films go. In fact a couple of years ago we had three major movies being shot in Austin at the same time. Last year "Spy Kids' and "Miss Congeniality" crossed paths! Unfortunately the whole country has suffered from the lure of cheaper productions in Canada and we have lost millions in the movie world in the past few years. And unfortunately, U.S talent and film technicians (crew) are not allowed into Canada to work. But we are as busy as any other big city in the USA - one way or another.
Also it seems Austin has a wealth of live theatre - I counted over 26 productions going on in one week. The larger theatres have Equity pay.
I do not know of anyone living here who is a full time actor. (Apart from Esther's Follies actors) But dozens are cast in principal roles, every movie that hits the area. The seasoned actor is usually a part-time acting teacher/coach. Some are producers and directors of their own productions. Some are writers. Between Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, there is a reasonably busy market within a few hours' drive.
The 'seasoned/trained' actors do have agents, audition regularly and the competition is pretty stiff in a busy market. You won't be the only one trained in N.Y.!! Texas is like a magnet to those who have experienced her. You should be almost as busy as in N.Y. Your chances for being cast are probably better here.
One thing I would suggest you invest in if you choose to return to Texas: The Biz Directory, compiled by Mona Lee (trained at Julliard, N.Y.) and a busy, talented lady with her coaching, classes and roles in movies. This is the Actor's Bible, not only covering the main cities in Texas but also some of the neighboring States. Everything you need to know about the Biz (agents, photographers, teachers, casting directors etc) in a non-union State, has been covered in it. Most of us keep it by our phones for quick reference. (Two books with over 600 pages) I did not find anywhere as much information in the Hollywood Actors' Directory, which, by the way, was 4 times the price when I bought it.
Let us know if you decide to come back, and do join us at the austinactors get-togethers at the end of each month. We'd love to meet you.