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Austin Actors
Ms. Bubbette

Dear Ms. Bubbette: How does one market musicals • What is a realistic cost for a demo reel? • What does it take to get that BREAK? • Louisiana asks: Should I act in my home state & should I change my name? • Talented 12 year old needs vocal coach, musical theatre in Austin • Should actor send headshots to out-of-state auditions? • Comedy troupe needs to market itself around Texas • More thanks from grateful actor • Fleecing scandal at out-of-town acting school • Boston actor - should they return to Austin for acting work? • Versatile entertainer needs help with resume
by Ms. Bubbette

September 2002

Dear Ms. Bubbette,

I am writing a musical that includes 10 songs also written by me. What organization can I contact to market my work?

Thank you,
Renee


Dear Renee,

For my screenplays I make sure first that I send a copy to the Writers Guild of America, west Inc. 7000 West Third Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048-4329. That protects my copyright for 5 years. They merely store it in their vaults and issue the writer with a registration certificate. As far as my original music goes I've always mailed the original copies to myself, made sure the P.O. stamps an easily-read date on the outside, for proof of when I wrote them, and then stored the unopened letter in a bank vault. I discovered this method after I had one of my songs 'stolen' and I heard it on the top 40 hits ! Unfortunately, at the time I was too naive to take action even though I still had the hand-written original. It wasn't sealed or dated.

My suggestion is to take your musical to various artistic directors in local theatres and see if they are interested in performing it. If you have acting/directing experience you might offer to direct it yourself?

Anyone out there have any other advice? We'll forward it to Renee's address or share it with all of us through this column. Good luck with it Renee. There's nothing quite like seeing your 'baby' come alive on the stage. Or on film!

Ms. Bubbette


Dear ms. Bubbette,

I am going to be moving to Los Angeles soon to try and break into the biz out there, how and where do I get a film reel done and generally how much would it cost? Could I make one myself? Also, do you have any other tips for actresses and actors fresh to the L.A. scene?

No name

Dear No Name,

Demo reels should consist of 'real' work in films, commercials, independent movies. It should be around 6 minutes long and professionally done. Putting a reel together yourself, unless you do this professionally, is not a good idea. Casting directors are very busy people and may only look at the first few seconds of a demo. If it's blurred, has poor sound, taken from class work, has poor quality, you will only annoy them for wasting their time. Also keep special effects and cutsy stuff to the minimum. They need to see only what you look like on camera and how you handle various characters.

Costwise? A 6 minute demo reel, done by a professional company (see DEMO TAPES in The BIZ DIRECTORY (512) 323-2090 ) can run from $250 to $500. This is because of the hours it takes to edit your clips. If you don't have them cued and ready it will cost more. You've already spent money on good headshots, resumes and classes. So don't "spoil the ship for a ha'penny worth of tar! " In other words, quality pays off so be prepared to pay for the best.

My #1 tip for those heading for the L.A. scene: Make sure you have a year's salary stashed away in your checking account, a place to stay and a day job to go to. And remember, even though you're going to be one of a million hopeful actors out there, your only competition is yourself. Give it your best shot and put out the absolute best 'you' there is. You may be exactly what some director is looking for - then you're on your way.

Best of luck in your adventure.

Ms. Bubbette


Hello Mrs. Bubbette,

I have a passion for acting. As a child and teen, I have acted in various plays. I have modeled and even have taken voice lessons. What do you have to do to get a BREAK? Should I get an agent. Where should I go? What should I do? Might you have any advice me for?

Thanks!

René J. Williams


Dear René,

If you want to get a BREAK in this business you will need to follow certain guidelines to show your professionalism and experience. I suggest you go into my archives and read all letters from new actors who ask these very same questions.

But to give you a quick answer - which my other letters will elaborate on - go audition for more plays, independent films, do extra work on movies to build up your resume, talk to other actors, take classes and learn the trade. You will find information on all this by clicking on the following captions at the top of austinactors.net home page (where you found my column) : Audition Postings; Film News: Actor Resources: Classes and Workshops. They are updated daily so actors can keep on top of all situations.

Once you have a reasonable resume, then look into agents. Every serious actor should have a Biz Directory - actor resources - on their desk that will answer any questions they may have on the acting business in Texas. Ph: (512) 323-2090 for information.

Good luck in following your 'passion for acting.'

Sincerely,
Ms. Bubbette.


Dear Mrs. Bubbette,

My name is Laura. I'm fifteen years old and haven't been able to have any real acting experiences, but I'm positive that I would be very good at it. I have some questions about how acting would pertain to my life overall.
1.) If I were to really get into acting, I would still want to live in my home state, Louisiana, and be close to my family. Would this really work out? Would I really have to travel a lot? 2.) **This is kind of a mind-blowing question** If I were to become a really popular actress, would it be a good idea to go under a false name and a false identity just for my career (not for my personal life, of course) so that I could at least live a normal life from my career?


Dear Laura,

You certainly are thinking deeply about possible side effects of an acting career! Clever you, as so many throw themselves into this business without thinking it through.

To answer your questions: It's your choice where you want to act so make it happen in your home state, Louisiana. Realize that only a handful of actors make a true living out of their craft. Unless you make star status, and that's a very, very low percentage of actors in the whole country, you won't have to worry about leaving your family. You can increase your skills by acting in theatre, local independent movies and doing extra work on any movies that come near your hometown. Build up your resume. To find out what is happening in Louisiana, call your Film/video commission in Baton Rouge. (225) 342-8150. Or go into their website: www.lafilm.org

Your second question is also a matter of choice. My preference is to act under my own name (and it's not Bubbette!) - I'm proud of it! Unless you have a name that is difficult to pronounce or is one that causes titters from the audience - e.g. Ramsbottom! I would suggest you stick with your own name. Famous actors, like Jody Foster for example, manage to keep their personal life very private.

Once you've finished with school and college and still have the acting bug, that will be time enough to leave the nest and branch out to a thriving acting city like Austin, Texas.

I hope this answers your questions? Good luck!

Sincerely,
Ms. Bubbette


Dear Ms. Bubbette,

Love the name!
OK, my daughter(12) is very talented musically and has been doing musical theater for many years, usually the lead parts. Since moving here from WA we are having a hard time finding the right type of musical theater group. Zach Scott doesn't seem serious enough for her age group and Austin Musical Theater seems to give preference to their students. Any suggestions? We also are looking for a vocal coach who might be more in the "know" with the local scene as my daughter is interested in doing more, something commercial(?). Or is that where an agent comes in? I have no idea on how to find an agent that handles this type of teen talent. I would appreciate any direction you can give me. Thank you,
Shelley Tucci
(512)402 1960

PS she also plays piano and drums, she has a great ear!


Dear Shelley,

Hmmm! Let's see if we can't come up with some more ideas for you seeing you've already tapped my first suggestions.

Mary Moody Northen Theatre at St Edward's University has fine performances where local actors are invited to audition: Contact Melba Martinez-Mishler ...E-MAIL: melbam@admin.stedwards.edu Ph: (512) 448-8486

Paramount Theatre on Congress has at least one musical a year with 'big stars' from NY etc - smaller roles and chorus work is opened up for audition locally. ... E-MAIL: pbeutel@austintheatrealliance.org and write to Paul Beutal. Ph: (512) 472-2901

Dougherty Arts Center on Barton Springs... E-MAIL: russell.wiseman@ci.austin.tx.us ask if they have any musicals coming up? Ph: (512) 397-1471

Sam Bass Community Theatre in Round Rock....E-MAIL: info@sambasstheatre.com Ph: (512) 244-0440

Several large churches put on spectacular pageants at Christmas with local auditions

Zilker Park Hillside Theatre puts on at least one spectacular musical a year - free to the public ... E-MAIL:: bwise@ci.austin.tx.us talk to Bill Wise Ph: (512) 397-1463

You can get lots more information by contacting the Austin Circle of Theatres Ph: (512) 454-9700 . This is something your daughter should join - $ !5 a year for school student. She will get free previews & ticket discounts: Headshots maintained on file for local directors and casting directors to view: CURTAIN CALL 16 page monthly newsletter with inside theatre news, audition notices, acting classes and a lot more.

Singing coaches? I fully recommend Marci Lynne - Performing Arts Studio... E-MAIL: marcilynne@juno.com Ph: (512) 479-5004. And you might explore the Austin School of Music Ph: (512) 476-7666

For talent agents locally call the Texas Film Commission in Austin ... E-MAIL: film@governor.state.tx.us or Ph: (512) 463-9200

I think that'll keep you both busy for a while? Let me know what happens?

Best wishes,
Ms. Bubbette


Dear Ms. Bubbette,

Would you recommend sending your headshot to casting notices that you see out of state. I figure that I can't go to each and every casting call, but if there are 3-5 good auditions that come up, I can make a trip to California and make the auditions. Also, what should be in a cover letter that you send with your professional networking package?

Sincerely,

Justin Moore


Dear Justin,

I presume you already have an agent submitting you to casting directors when you are 'right' for regional /local auditions.? No actor can just 'turn up' to auditions . They must be requested by the casting director and have a time slot.

For auditions in other states you are pretty well on your own unless you have agents there too. When you come across auditions out-of-State it's up to you to mail them your marketing tools - headshot/resume. Send them to the movie production working address (which should be with the audition notice) and put " Att'n. Casting Director "- and preferably their name as well, if you have it. They don't have time to read long letters. So if you include anything at all it should be a statement that you are prepared to be 'local hire'. That reassures them that you don't expect travelling expenses, hotels or daily per diem. If you measure up to their specs you might luck out with an audition. But don't hold your breath. They will be working with their local talent agents first.

Be aware also that casting directors receive (apart from the requested packages of headshots from the local agents, which they go through very thoroughly) literally thousands of headshots in the production letter box and in their working P.O. boxes. Many of these are never opened because of lack of time. If your agent has already submitted you, they shake their heads and wonder why you are wasting their time and your money on stamps! In these cases they already know you exist and will audition you if they think you fit the bill.

A couple of things to remember:
NEVER GATE-CRASH AN AUDITION - if you haven't been given an audition slot you should not be there - they will remember you for all the wrong reasons! NEVER CALL, FAX, OR PAGE A CASTING DIRECTOR. This is a great breach of protocol. Relay messages through your talent agent or by mailing your marketing tools.

I hope that answers your questions, Justin? It's a hard world out there for unknown actors...but keep persevering!

Good luck,
Ms. Bubbette


Dear Ms Bubbette,

I write and perform in a local comedy troupe. We have been around since the fall of 2000 and have a small following. My question for you is, how do we market ourselves to other cities especially in Texas? Are there agents out there who would represent us and help us become more noticed? I realize groups like Esther's Follies started out small and took years to become respected. What are your suggestions? Thank you!

Another Starving Comedienne


Dear Another Starving Comedienne,

You know, this is pretty well out of my realm having not acted in a comedy troupe. I've always admired y'all immensely and take my hat off to you. Being funny is hard work. Comedy on stage is the most difficult for actors. To 'effortlessly' tickle the funny bone of the audience is a definite skill.

My only suggestion is to make a good quality video reel of your skits - brief demo style - find out if there are booking agents for your line of work in the big cities and then send them a copy of your tape. When I had my own rock 'n roll band (yes I did!) I did a ton of marketing - visiting bar after bar to sell us - handing out flyers - business cards that said we did private parties, anniversaries, weddings and so on. Talking to everyone about it who would listen! It paid off. Maybe you could advertise on the internet?

Anyone out there with any ideas please write in and help these starving comediennes!

Good luck with this.
Ms. Bubbette


Dear Ms. Bubbette,

Just to keep you in the loop. Thanks again!!! www.geocities.com/krdelley/nwslttr.html. Have an awesome week!!!!

From African-American/ DAllas Actor


Dear African-American Dallas Actor,

You too! Thanks for keeping in touch! I hope to hear great things from you soon!

Ms. Bubbette

Dear Ms. Bubbette,

As you may know John Robert Powers in Austin Texas has closed its doors. The "friend" with the school in Austin was the owner of John Robert Powers. The 10 kids he "chose" ( there were more than that) paid between $5000 and $8000 to train in what was to be "special" classes chosen by him. and then he would be coming back to groom them and then use them in LA.

No one has been able to get any word back, and teachers that I know and respect have not been paid, and were left with the task of trying to explain to students, since the owner is long gone.

It is my sincere hope that maybe you will be able to know the right people to confirm what I am telling you and possibly with the power of the pen ( e-mail) shame someone into doing the right thing. The contracts these parents signed in good faith did not specifically mention the Allen Larson promise, just 10 more VERY expensive classes. At the time he wrote the last letter to you, he was in town auditioning and helping his "friend" fleece, and deceive the Austin public, and unfortunately used you also to do it. I have great respect for you, and have seen you give so much help and advise to Austin actors, and if there is anything you can do, I will be watching. Thank you-

Friend of the fleeced.


Dear 'Friend of the Fleeced',

Why am I not surprised at your news. However, I do not feel I was 'used' in printing Alan Larson's letters to me. (see Bubbette's Archives: May 2001 & November 2001) I have to take everyone on face value until proven 'guilty' of hurting people. Whatever my personal suspicions may be I can only continually warn new actors to beware of highly over-priced classes coming into town, promising parts in movies - promising things they have no control over. Even casting directors have no control over who gets cast. They can only offer to show the best. The director and/or producers have the final say.

I am so sorry to hear of your 'friend's' plight. I can only hope that all who were 'fleeced' will get their money back. It's a bitter lesson to learn. Had they worked through the Texas Film Commission or even the Better Business Bureau, they may have been spared.

New actors, I can't say it often enough, please start off with local teachers recommended by agents, professional actors. They are not only some of the best in the country but you always know where they are! If you must study with teachers from out-of-town save it for the casting directors who teach from their vast experience and may even remember you for a future audition.

Keep the faith!
Ms. Bubbette


Dear Ms. Bubbette,

I just found your website and was hoping you might be able to help me out with something.

I'm 22, just graduated from college in Texas and moved back home to Massachusetts. In college I did quite a bit of acting on stage, and here in the Boston area I'm taking more acting classes and featuring in independent films. It's getting to be time for me to decide whether to stay here and continue to build my resume with the small amount of work around here, or move to Austin and try to advance my career there.

My question to you is, do you think it's better to stay in Boston for its student films and proximity to New York, or is the film industry doing well enough in Austin to make it worth the move?

Thanks very much,

Bored With Boston


Dear Bored with Boston,

Your 'name' answers your question I think - 'bored with Boston'!! It sounds like you are ready for more adventure in Austin? Or elsewhere!

Having gone through college in Texas, you probably have a good idea how much work would be available for you in Austin. In independent movies you could be very busy - this city thrives on them - but rarely does anyone get paid for them.

Austin also has over 30 theatres to keep an actor on his toes - but again, only a handful pay the actor for their talent.

Since the migration of movies to Canada where costs are lower for the film companies, USA cities have been hurt and are still licking their wounds because of the loss of income. So I would hate to even hint that one is able to make a living as an actor in Austin. Seasoned actors from here still have to keep their day jobs - often in a teaching capacity.

My personal feeling is, if you are a really, really talented actor, it doesn't matter where you live or study, your talent and drive will take you where you need to be at the right time. You will know within yourself just what you have to do next, whether it be in Austin or Boston, L.A. or N.Y.

My very best wishes to you.
Ms. Bubbette


Dear Ms. Bubbette,

I first want to thank you for your column, I've read everything twice and some articles three times. In my opinion it's the single most concentrated source of information on acting and Austin on the net.

My questions are all about my resume, I'm attaching a copy of the draft to this email .

I was in an independent film that is currently in post production. I was one of 4 showgirls and there is a scene where I'm interacting with the leading man. Do I list this as "showgirl"? Or am I just a featured extra? Can I list this though I may still end up on the cutting room floor?

How far back do I go listing school plays? I went to a performing arts alternative school with some of the Phoenix kids and we put on a large scale version of "Cats". I was Nine. How about High School Plays?

The only training I've had (so far) is from that Middle School and High School. I'm listing it informally the same way I'm listing skills, in a long sentence rather than itemized, is that ok?

I've co written/directed and acted in burlesque productions and I've been featured in local and national magazines. Some wrote articles about me and one interviewed me. How does that go in a resume? It's print, but more like press I guess, though it does focus on the glamour and entertainment thing.

Ok, that's plenty for now, I'll bug you with more later!

Gael

p.s. Please feel free to shorten this or paraphrase.


Dear Gael,

Thank you for your kind words. We all love praise! I wish there had been a 'Ms. B.' around when I started acting as it would have saved me from many costly and stupid mistakes. Having been through the mill I fully empathize with the agony of actors . That is why Ms. Bubbette came into being.

Now onto your resume.

You don't mention an agent so I presume there is none yet? I would suggest you get one ASAP if you want a chance at movies. An actor comes over much more credible with an agent - and the agent does all the leg work for you.

A resume must be contained on one page, cut to fit the back of the 8"x10" headshot.. The casting directors want to see your 'history' in one sweep of the eyes. Your name is important so make it reasonably big and bold. You don't need to put 'non-union' If you are union you would put SAG there under your name (Screen Actors Guild).

You can save space by not writing the word "Credits:" You have done it all correctly in 3 columns. That's good. As you get more and more roles you can have more than one resume - e.g. one for film, another for commercials, another for modeling & printwork, another for theatre and so on. In the meantime though, list it all on one resume to show you've had on-camera work. Condense the lines - no double-spacing in each category. That way you'll get it all on one page!

Now as an extra (background, atmosphere) you normally put "Extra" or "Featured Extra." The fact that you were interacting with the lead man as a showgirl, you could put "Showgirl - Featured Extra" in the center column. It can still remain on your resume if you did the work and the scene was later cut.

As for listing school plays, in my book, experience is experience no matter how old you were. As your resume builds with professional work, then eliminate those lesser ones to make room. You should have your most important roles on top . Never date them. Instead of "Stage" put "Theatre"

Training : comes after your work credits and before the Special Skills. I year HS acting; 3 years performing arts alternative school. Keep adding to it with recent classes. CD's do look to see what training you've had.

Your special skills next, bunched in categories e.g. music, sports etc and finally your languages. I would put the unusual skills on first e.g. fire-breathing - catch their interest.! So often, especially in commercials, a certain skill is required and the CD's will scan down to the bottom of your resume to see if you have what they are looking for. Never stretch the truth ( i.e. lie) on a resume. It will be exposed!

There's so much more I cannot go into because of space - this is where I recommend the Biz Directory . Mona goes into amazing detail on this subject and headshots. Ph: (512) 323-2090.

I hope that this has helped you Gael. I'm impressed by your versatility. You ain't hard to look at either!...

Good luck,
Ms. Bubbette

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