Dear Ms. Bubbette: What is the deal about "reels"? How is marketing done in the movie industry? How are actors selected & what happens from conception to filming? How fickle is this business? SAG eligibility from an Industrial? Starcaster Network - is it for actors? Classes in Austin. What is available?
by Ms. Bubbette
A note from Ms. Bubbette:
A belated New Year blessing for each of you - may this year of 2002 be your best ever in the movie world. And remember to pass on a little of your experience to the new struggling actors on the block. Please forgive me for not being available for the January press. I shall try to make up for it in this publication.
What is the lowdown on putting a "reel" together? I hear you should send one out with headshots? All my work so far has been stage, and I dont have any pilots or short films, not counting that unfortunate footage that made COPS (and I really did pay for those cigarettes). Should I just tape a monologue in front of my rusty old video camera? What should it showcase for a format, and how much does production value matter? Should I hire a professional?
Ankle Bracelet Alex in Austin...
Dear Ankle Bracelet Alex in Austin,
At your stage of the game - all stage work - I would not be worrying about a demo reel. These are used by professional actors - that is ones who have already made a mark by landing principal roles in movies, industrials or commercials. Their personal scenes from these create an acceptable demo reel.
For the new actor, a professional headshot with resumé attached is sufficient. If you don't have a talent agent, make that a priority if you are looking for paying jobs. You can obtain a list of reputable talent agents from the Texas Film Commission in Austin, ( www.governor.state.tx.us/film), sign up with one - it does not cost anything - and let them submit your headshots to the casting directors. Take classes. Austin has some of the best teachers in Texas. (See the final letter in this printing) There are no short cuts in this business if you're going for the big bucks - and fame?!
When you finally have professional clips (and make sure they are clean copies) then I suggest you go back into my archives and read the letter on Demo reels. I mention a very reasonable source for creating these gems.
How is marketing done in the movie industry?
Dear TK josh,
Whoa, TK! You've just opened a huge vat of worms. Complete books have been written on this subject and there is no way I can cover such a loaded question in this column.
My suggestion to you is to join the Austin Film Society for a mere $20 a year and get to hob-nob with the greatest - Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, Slacker, A Waking Life); Elizabeth Avellan & Robert Rodriguez (Spy Kids, Desperado etc); and many more notables. Learn from the masters themselves. You would get a quarterly newsletter P.O.V; discounts on certain movie tickets with advance notice and many more perks.
Right now the Film Society is seeking INTERNS for the SPRING semester. Internships are unpaid but provide a great opportunity to learn the mechanics of exhibition and non-profit arts administration. This is a great way to forge contacts in the Austin's Film community. You would have to commit to 12 hours/week for a term of not less than 3 months. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Send resume and a brief cover letter.
You could also possibly take a course on this subject at UT?
Books that may help you: "How to Sell Your Screenplay" by Carl Sautter - covers domestic and foreign marketing.
"Film and Video Marketing" by Michael Wiese
Over to you TJ.
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
I was just wondering how the process goes. Mainly for how they get to selecting the actors. But would like to know how it goes from conception of a film to filming.
I am interested in learning more about the scene and would like to get involved.
I will attempt to answer both these excellent questions, briefly, for everyone's sake!
* Selecting actors for major movies on screen and for TV has a tried and true format.
The DIRECTOR/PRODUCERS choose a reputable CASTING DIRECTOR (C.D) in the location(s) where the shooting will take place. (They have already picked their, say, L.A. 'star' casting person and the STARS are usually chosen before local casting takes place.)
The local CD reads the script, breaks it down into characters, sends the breakdown out to reputable TALENT AGENTS throughout that STATE (outside of the shooting site one must be ready to declare themselves 'local hire' which means no travelling expenses, hotels etc.) , and often requests certain actors that have already proved themselves as professionals. The TALENT AGENTS put together HEADSHOTS/RESUMES suitable for each character (that's why they must have a bunch of your headshots on hand at all times) and they send them back to the CD, ASAP.
Now the awesome job of choosing a select number of actors out of thousands of entries, begins. The CD burns many a midnight oil choosing from looks and experience, to present the best local talent to the DIRECTOR. She cannot waste his time with novice actors except in the rarest of cases - the right look, unusual character, charisma, talent agent recommendation.
Now the CD chooses 'sides' - short scenes for each character, and sends these out to the TALENT AGENTS with an audition time and date for the chosen few.The TALENT AGENT contacts the actors with their audition times, character breakdowns and suggestions of what to wear.
The CD sends the audition tapes to the DIRECTOR overnight mail. He calls back with the list of actors he wants to see again.
CALLBACKS happen a few days later, usually with the DIRECTOR/PRODUCERS present this time. ACTORS should always wear what they had on at the first audition, as that is the way the DIRECTOR remembers them.
The DIRECTOR makes his final choice and the CD notifies the TALENT AGENT that their talent has been chosen.
Then come the CONTRACTS, SHOOTING SCHEDULES, DRESS REHEARSALS and so on.
And the actor who makes the final cut has, without doubt, TALENT, CHARISMA, ENTHUSIASM, EXPERIENCE & many CLASSES under the belt. He/she has also learnt to treat this as a business as well as an art.
* Conception of a film to filming?
A SCREENWRITER must also have an AGENT (literary) as most producers/TV shows will not accept unsolicited works. They have to PITCH their idea, be loaded with enthusiasm for their product, write a TREATMENT (a brief outline of their story), learn to take criticism, and pray they'll find someone to finance it. Even then it can take years from acceptance to final print. So add patience to the list.
I suggest you read the books I've mentioned in the previous letter and also join the Austin Film Society. Get involved by becoming an intern for them and by working on independent movies - usually unpaid. Such experience is priceless and the experience gained can lead to higher things.
Ongoing student,independent movies (UT) are always looking for crew members. I'm sure you'll be welcomed with open arms if you are prepared for hard work and long hours.
Get on Dan Eggleston's listing for actors and production: email@example.com
Break a leg!
Hi Ms. Bubbette,
It's Akie again...long time no chat. I'm still in the game, and doing well. How is everything with the Austinactors.net meetings and such? I've been trying to find time to get to the meetings, but something always comes up, and if not, I had classes this last semester at that time :)
Anyway, I DID have a question to ask, or a couple.
First, I was curious as to how fickle this business is...is it normal to be told that one has the part for something, then to have their agent never called back, and only after repeatedly calling figured out that they were second choice, and not picked at all? Not to say that that has ever happened personally, but if it did, it would hurt :(
Second, does industrial work as a principle (what is the correct title anyway?) make an actor SAG-eligible? I've heard some crazy stories of how people become SAG-eligible, and a third of them are not even worth it; except for the eligibility part...I'd love to earn it. All in all though, I'm still eager as ever, though more educated since the last time we talked; living as an actor is a business, though acting still should be a passion, or if not that at least, "fun-as-hell." So hope to see all of you reading these letters, (and if you are, you should be writing as well) and the best of luck and Merry Christmas to ya :)
TTYL, and love for the Austin acting scene,
P.S. I'm not a hippie, but I'm typecast.............as a skater, hehe,
What a treat to hear from you again! I take it as a compliment when someone contacts me more than once! And the fact that I met you at one of the Austinactors get-togethers gives a face to the name - for both of us! Unfortunately, not living in Austin now means a 3 hour trip to attend those meetings. I sure do miss the actors/directors and the relaxed fun we always had. I believe the new venue above Katz (Momo's) is a blast with great bands thrown in. Maybe I'll make it down again in the summer?
Now to your questions. How fickle is this business - to be told one has the part and then never hear again? It happens occasionally but usually not through a fickle act but rather from circumstances beyond the producer's control. In fact it happened to me before the screenplay was properly optioned. A small independent movie suddenly caught the attention of a big production company - Columbia! My wonderful major role was now up for grabs by the big 'stars'. The rest is history... I have never heard of it happening in a major movie unless the 'actor' turns out to be a drug addict or some such. I have heard of it happening in a national commercial when it was discovered the actor had lied on her resume and couldn't do the skill required of her. WARNING: Never lie on your resume! The truth has a way of coming out.
As to becoming SAG-eligible for being a principal in an industrial : - Industrials are usually regional or local and SAG productions tend to be mostly National. Hence Screen Actors Guild - the actors' Union. You could contact the SAG office in Houston or in Dallas to find out the answer to this one. But in my 17 years of working in acting/casting I have never come across anyone who made SAG eligibility from an industrial gig.
How you have grown! Your statement "Living as an actor is a business, though acting should still be a passion, or if not that at least 'fun as hell' " shows your maturity as an actor. So many 'actors' cannot see beyond the 'fame and fortune' scenaria. Such shallow thinking leads to nowhere and they wonder why?! One has to learn the business side and how to market oneself as well as learning the artistic side. And I always say "When acting is no longer fun, quit!"
Thanks for your input, Akie. May you land many fun jobs.
P.S. Don't feel bad about being type cast. I landed so many nurse roles I went out and bought my own uniform...
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
My sons' agency uses star caster network for some submissions and I believe that star caster has been offering their services free in Texas and is now gearing up to collect yearly subscriptions from talent. I am reluctant to take on the additional expenses and want to know what other Texas actors think about star caster. Is it necessary/worth it? Are any agencies requiring this subscription?
Dear 'no name',
Services of Starcaster Network are for agents and casting directors. If the agent opts to use this service I don't think they should be passing on the cost to their talent. You should never pay your agent for anything except their commission after your son has completed, and been paid for a job. Talent should not require this service, personally - that's why they have an agent! Please read the following letter that Dan Eggleston printed in his column recently. For those in the dark this should explain this service. Which is one, I might add, of great value to casting directors. I saw it in action while working as a casting assistant. If your agent insists on talent paying for this I would change agents!
I received the following info from star caster. I think it clears up
where they are coming from. Their focus is for the agent, not the
actor. Their client list speaks well for them
Star Caster Network is the entertainment industry's top provider of office-automation software for model and talent agencies since 1985.
Our software makes it easier and faster for production companies to compete in the industry.
Since 1997, Star Caster Network has provided casting directors and talent agencies with an innovative electronic submission system. The electronic submission system allows agents to submit their talent's entire portfolios- --headshots, resumes, audio and video demo reels- --with just the click of a mouse. In short, Star Caster Network's software and services make it faster and easier for you to compete in the industry.
Star Caster Network, with offices in Los Angeles and New York, established a presence in Dallas and Houston in 1999 and has since expanded to Austin and Chicago. Our commitment to the industry and to our clients is to get the actor's headshots in front of the people who will book talent. Actors have found that our electronic submissions service not only enhances the presentation of their materials, but also increases their exposure.
At least 90% of casting directors and talent agencies in Texas use and support Star Caster Network's services. Our list of participating production companies continues to grow. Our client list in Texas
Actors Etc., ASPA Asian Star Production & Agency, Barbara Gray Talent Agency, Ciao Talent Agency, Emerald Eye International Model & Talent Mgmt., Good Karma Talent, Ivett Stone Agency, Kim Dawson Agency, Kim Dawson Kids, Kim Dawson Talent, Marquee Talent Agency, Mary Collins Agency, Neal
Hamil Agency, Page Parkes / Intermedia Model & Talent, Page Parkes Model's Rep, Pastorini-Bosby Talent Agency, Quaid / Williams Agency, Seaminx Artist Management, Sherry Young Talent Agency, Star Craft Talent Agency, The Campbell Agency, The Horne Agency, Tomas Agency
Casting Directors and Production Companies
AMS Production Group, Barbara Brinkley Casting, Beth Sepko Casting, Big Bad Wolf, Bill Young Productions, Inc., Bottom Line Productions, Boy Scouts of America, Brock & Co. Casting, Caryn Gorme Casting, Casting Works LA @ Austin, CFM Communications, Circle R Group, Cohen Group Advertising,
Cool Films, Crush Interactive, Crystal Video Production, Dallas Casting, Dolores Jackson Casting, Frames Per Second, GTE VisNet, Iota Productions, JC Penney Company, Inc, Jo Edna Boldin Casting, Johnston & Co, Kevin Howard Casting, Lynn Ambrose Casting, Media by Design, Norton Pictures, Pinpoint Ideas & Solutions, R.W. Productions, Rona Lamont Casting, Service Corporate International - SCI, TBA Corp Communications, Texas Video & Post, The Call, The Hall Agency, Tracy Roswell Casting, VT-TV, Locke Bryan, ClayMation, Buffalo Casting.
Hope this helps the cause?
Good luck to your son in his acting career.
I've been in two films (because the directors thought I'd do well). And I work in the industry as an editor. So in some ways, as far as acting goes, I'm not a complete novice. But I'd like to attend some classes here in Austin. Can you break down what is available as far as courses/teachers and what is their specialty.
Thanks in Advance,
You are certainly on the right track, asking for acting classes. I will list the teachers I respect enormously - the ones I think are the absolute best in Austin, in my experience.
Mona Lee, 323-2090 e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Her on-going classes cover every aspect of the business.
Michael Costello, 260-3323 e-mail email@example.com "The Physical Actor workshop"
Marco Perella, 869-0623 e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Film & Commercial acting
C.K. McFarland, 441-3738, Character acting
Van Brooks , 657-3202, e-mail email@example.com Creativity & self-expression
Gabe Folse, 794-1067, Film acting and private coaching.
Ann Ciccolella, 374-0532, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Musical theatre, individual coaching
Also Zachary Scott Theatre, State Theatre & Dougherty Arts Center offer many classes.
Do you think that will keep you busy for a while, Herb? And Stanley Zareff comes in from New York once a year at least, to teach incredible improv. classes. Call Sue Bilich, 452-4049 to book this.
Most teachers video-tape their classes for you to have your personal copy. Classes are kept small and are usually several weeks in duration. All the teachers listed are professional actors and have impressive lists of principal roles in major movies, stage shows.
Best of luck to you Herb.