Dear Ms. Bubbette: May 2003
by Ms. Bubbette
From Ms. Bubbette:
I want to thank my readers for being so patient with me. Please realize that I am also a very busy actor, producer and director and have to fit your queries into little pockets of almost non-existent spare time!! I have 19 letters to answer. Questions that I have previously answered in the past will get a very brief answer and a hint where to go in my archives, for the full answer. Now read on.
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
Hello, I've just spent a couple of hours reading your info. I'm sure you get upset at all these people who don't bother reading their same questions asked by others. Thanks for your help. I will be placing my order for the biz book on Monday. My 12yr.old has an agent here locally. She is getting restarted after a few years off in a different city. I'm willing to do what it takes for her to make it but we don't have big$ or connections, it does seem that w/o connections it's almost impossible to do anything, like get into college, get a reg. job, much less make it in the biz. Can a good person w/ a love of acting make it?
I don't really get what you suggest for after one has done a lot locally and wants to try LA or NY. We could go out for say a month. What are the steps? I think our/ her agent only gets info for local work, is that correct? How can I get her to be able to audition, get an agent w/o totally moving there and starting all over? Thank you
Dear No name,
Bless you for at least trying to plough through hours of my answers. One day I plan to make a FAQ (frequently asked questions) section and answers will be readily available to the readers. But don't hold your breath it won't happen for a while!
I'm wondering if your agent submitted your daughter for a role in the locally cast and shot "Spy Kids" series? Many local kids were cast in these, not to mention the dozens who had great exposure in extra roles. Maybe your agent has LA contacts and can recommend an LA agent ?. But unless your kid is an outstanding, knock-your-socks-off actor with lots of experience and training behind her, and has already had principal roles in Texas, I wouldn't even advise entertaining the thought of moving to LA., even for a month. There are thousands of kid actors there who have been brought up in the business and yet are still fighting tooth and claw to get seen. It's a cut throat business. For adults I've always advised, if they must go, to make sure they have a year's salary tucked away and a place to stay in. Most of them return with their tail between their legs within a year. If they have gotten anything, it was more than likely extra work. They can get plenty of that here and have more chance of a speaking role.
There are exceptions however. Tia & Tamara Mowry came to me for consultation when they were 10 years old. I videotaped them and told their mother pretty well what I've just told you. There was even less work then for kids in Texas. I said if she thought her girls were that talented she needed to go to Hollywood. I didn't expect her to take me up on that! The rest is history. They became the sitcom "Sister,Sister." that is still running years later. Even the younger brother made his own mark. But that mother gave up her life as an army sergeant, to fight for and protect her girls.
There is one local agency ,Starcraft, that has an LA office, run by owner Diane Hooper. You might call Debra Hoffer at the local office (512) 219-9345 and ask advice on this.
Good luck may your daughter find success. Ms. Bubbette
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
I hope this email finds you well. My son, Jackson Schulze, took a couple of lessons from you back in 2001. Unfortunately, you moved to Dallas and we moved to Houston! Well, we're back and we'd like to know if you're planning to visit Austin any time soon? If so, we would like to schedule a class (one-on-one) during your visit.
I hope the new home in Dallas is coming along!
Great to hear from you again and yes, I remember little Jackson. I doubt very much whether I will return to Austin to teach. You have some of the finest teachers in Texas there. Besides, I find myself already overloaded with students in my new area! And I have five episodes of my video series still to edit and market.
Building a home and studio and selectively clearing 15 acres of land has taken up the past two years and we are now happily ensconced in our new home on the lake about an hour south of Dallas. I find myself every bit, if not more, as busy as I was in Austin! Thank you for asking.
I suggest you get into "My Kid Can do That" classes with casting director Donise Hardy, CSA , e-mail: email@example.com if you haven't already done that. State Theatre School of Acting has many classes for kids, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Ask other parents where their kids get their training, when you're at auditions.
Good luck Debbie. Keep in touch.
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
I live in San Antonio but looking to buy something in Austin, but I would love to be a stand in-or more involved in the Austin movie industry. I have been an extra on a few things and done some live acting for a small play-I have some head shots-I just love the industry and want to get involved. (Now setting up a date with Sandra Bullock would really get you a grand prize from me-single 39 year old guy that I am) smile.
Dear Tom VZ,
My advice to you (and anyone else starting seriously in this business) is to get in touch with email@example.com sign up for her Show BIZness one-day career workshop where you'll learn how to market yourself and also get your copy of the actors' bible, the BIZ Directory two books which never leave a working actor's side. You should find plenty of work on the independent movies happening in Austin, on both sides of the camera, if you don't mind not getting paid. Once you have a bunch of training under your belt then you should get yourself a Talent Agent, who will represent you for paying jobs.. Reputable talent agents are also listed in the BIZ Directory for Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and nearby States.
As for Sandra (with whom I worked on Miss Congeniality) I suspect she's already taken sorry Tom!!
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
For the 28 yr old actor who wanted to be 'behind the scenes' I hope they achieve his/ her goals. If they are in Dallas they could look into DCTV. A single membership is like $60 but you get access to economic classes, workshops on filming, editing, and studio sets. My contact there is Ms. Regina Huckaba.
Now my question. I'm considering enrolling in KD Studios & I'm still looking for an agent for representation. I'm going to purchase the biz but is there any other tidbit of info I can get to attract an agent? I interviewed a Dallas Actress who went to LA and her quote was "Create Your Own Opps" & that's what I'm doing. I'm writing a play that I'll be co-starring in to perform locally & I'll send out photo postcards & invite them. I'm also freelancing for local entertainment sites/papers for networking & collaborating ventures. Please advise.
If there are any Dallas Actors (regardless of what city you're in ) who'd like to correspond with me so we can encourage each other & keep each other motivated & current on events please sign my guestbook at www.geocities.com/krdelley/nwslttr.html. If you could post that Ms. Bubbette. Thanks in advance.
Continued blessings, peace & prosperity!!!!!! Kandie
Always a pleasure to hear from you and see how you are advancing in this business. Creating your own opportunity is great advice. Every actor should set their goals, chart them out in writing like a road map and take the journey one step at a time; classes here; headshots there; some stage work; an indie film or two; writing a play or indie film with yourself as the star all heading towards the ultimate goal. Aim high and you might make it half-way! Never put it 'on hold' waiting for tomorrow that never comes.
What attracts an agent? Hmmm! They certainly can't overlook an actor that owns the room when he walks in in other words, has an air of confidence, a friendly smile and yet with a touch of humbleness, is a good listener and a person who can take direction, rejection and criticism! There's absolutely no room for actors with attitudes and airs of self-importance. As for getting a foot in the door of a Talent Agency, thank goodness they are real people here in Texas who will give you a chance, provided you can show some training, a little experience and express a drive for hard work. How do you do that? Write a cover letter to agencies of your choice with this information along with your headshot and resume. The BIZ Directory has excellent examples of cover letters from P. 97 99. Keep it positive and brief. Then follow your letter up with a phone call several days later just 'checking that they received your package and could you now make an appointment with them?'
Kandie has his e-mail address above for other actors to correspond with him. Great idea as networking is a big part of this business.
I expect great things from you Kandie!
I'm an actor that lives in Los Angeles right now but I am from that part of the country. I have been out here for about a year and a half and have very good commercial representation. I have a commercial running right now and I am SAG eligible. I'm thinking about moving to Austin to be closer to friends and family and I was wondering if it is going to be worth my time to pursue acting in Austin. I know that Los Angeles is where most film acting is cast but I am wanting to find out if an actor can get his/her start in a market like Austin. Thank you for your time.
Well, perhaps most star roles are cast in LA but hundreds of lesser principal roles are cast in Texas and other States. And unless you're another Matt Damon, you'd probably do better in Austin where your friends and family are. Plenty of local actors get their start over here. In fact most prefer to stay here where they have more chance of being cast in lesser roles than if they were in LA. I can think of dozens of actors in Austin who have done this. Mind you, none of them are making a full-time living out of it but how many are doing that in LA? Just a handful of stars. These local actors compliment their trade by teaching acting, writing screenplays, shooting indies, coaching all jobs pertaining to their art. And they are so good at it.
A starring couple who made their start in Austin Renee Zellweger, Matthew McConaughey. In fact, in 1993 Renee called on me to help her with her first real acting resumé! She was working on 'Dazed & Confused' in a minor role at the time. Now she's Oscar material!
So my answer is "YES" you can make your start in a smaller market like Austin. I know which Coast I'd rather be on the Third CoastÉ
Welcome home, Matt!
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
Casting movies has been my dream career since I was 13. I went to college for something else in case it didn't work out, but I'm about to graduate and move to Austin. What is the best way to break into the business? I was planning to send resumes and such to agents and agencies in the hopes of getting a paid internship. Is this the right path, or am I way off?
How sensible of you to get a college degree behind you before plunging into this uncertain world of movies! Rather than work for a Talent Agency I would search out an internship with an actual Casting Director. They are always needing people to run their cameras, sign in actors, set up rooms, answer telephones, notify agents of audition times even to be on the movie sets as coordinator for extras. I know this as I was a casting associate on and off for about 6 years with one of Texas' top casting directors. In that time I worked on over 25 movies, not to mention national commercials. The difference between you and me, I didn't particularly want to get into casting! I was more interested in being the actor, producer and director.
If you purchase the BIZ Directory from firstname.lastname@example.org you will find the names and addresses of 6 casting directors in Austin on P. 77. NEVER call, fax or page them. Their phone lines must be kept free for the movie directors and producers. But it is OK to write them and send your credentials, headshots & resumes.
Good luck Alison and welcome to the busy film & music town of Austin.
Could you please explain to me the difference between exclusive vs non-exclusive talent agencies? And what are the advantages/disadvantages?
If a talent agency has an 'exclusive' on you, it usually means they exclusively represent you in your acting career. In other words, they do not want you to have any other agents. Unless you're a star, most agencies wouldn't put that restriction on you. You should be free to have an agent in each city if you like, e.g. Houston, Dallas, Austin and be represented by each one in their area. I used to do that. Now I prefer to have one good agent who covers all areas.
Disadvantages? Missing out on work in another city because your 'exclusive' agent doesn't work outside her area? Advantages? You avoid agent wars -that's when more than one agent calls you to audition for the same job, then you have to decide which one will represent you and who will get the commission if you get the job. Rule of thumb here is to go with the agent in the auditioning/shooting area, for those with multiple agents. It's a matter of choice and unless you're hot stuff, I don't see local agents insisting on being your only agent. In L.A. you need several agents as they specialize in one facet of the business, e.g. commercials; movies; theatre.
Hope that helps you?
To the actor who asked not to post this on this page I can not answer personal mail and the only way I can answer your question is to post it here!! Because this is such an important issue TALENT SCAMS - I'm going to answer it here without your name attached. OK?
"Today i went to a meeting with model search america and they asked me to go to their showcase in dallas in march. there are supposed to be tons of the best scouts of modeling and acting agencies. it does cost money bc they have to pay for all the facilities and to fly in all the scouts. i am hesitant to do this. i would love to actually, but i dont want to be scammed out of my own money. i dont want to miss out on this if it is a genuine opportunity. please let me know any information you know about this. i am truly an aspiring actress and i am eager to get my chances."
OK here goes. Hold on to your money is my advice. I can't speak so much for modeling opportunities but in movies there are no such beasts as "Talent scouts" Talent agencies interview their own actors why would they pay a scout for this? Talent agencies do not charge to handle you. They get their commissions after you have completed a paying job for which they recommended you. These 'talent searches' pull in hundreds of suckers daily and charge them exorbitant amounts for nothing. They promise the world and deliver nada. They play on the actor's vanity. You're told you have a 'call-back' after the initial 'free' meeting. They tell everyone that. And people fall for it.
If you truly want to be an actor, do it right the first time. Go out and take classes from professional actors (for a fraction of the cost); get professional headshots (for a fraction of the cost); make a professional resume your teachers will help you take baby steps until you can run with it. Rome wasn't built in a day neither is a career. There are no short cuts. It's hard, hard work and only talent works out. No matter how beautiful you may look, without talent you might as well be digging ditches! Harsh words but if it saves you your hard-earned money I have no apologies.
Best of luck.
I was just curious if you knew how & where Renee Zellweger got her start. I know she was a Katy, TX. resident & since I am an aspiring actress living in Houston, TX. I was curious. Thanks for your help!
I addressed a little of this above in a letter to Matt. Renee's first professional appearance before cameras was as a victim in ABC's miniseries "Murder Heartland "(1993) She was a student at UT in Austin at the time and I believe she graduated in 3 years. After "Dazed" she and Matthew took leads in the low budget sequel "The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1994) It was re-released in 1997 to capitalize on the stars' rising profiles. 1996 Renee triumphed over heavy competition to land the coveted role and love interest in Tom Cruise's "Jerry Maguire". And the rest is history as she went from strength to strength.
But the main thing to point out here, Renee went all out and worked on independent and low budget films until she made her mark. One could well follow in her footsteps. Where you live has no bearing on your success. Ambition and talent will win out, no matter where your roots areÉ.
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
I was wondering if there are any agents that you know that don't have you pay from the top and just take 10% from the jobs they give you? If you do could you give me some info on how to contact them. Thank You.
I want to get an agent, but i'm not sure how much it would cost to have one. Do you know?
Dear Kayla & Kittygirl,
To join a talent agency costs you nothing ziltch! All agents listed in the BIZ Directory (and I've mentioned dozens of times how to get this) are legit. They cannot ask anyone to pay up front to join them. If an agency does this, run fast the other way. And report them because they are breaking the law. To quote from the "Talent Agent Law for Texas" <Agents may charge no advance fee or require the performer to use a particular photographer, resumé service, or take any acting or modeling school courses or workshops>
When you sign a contract with an agency, ask to see what commission rate they charge. Most have 15-20% for non-union work. If you are a union member i.e. SAG (screen actors guild) they cannot charge you more than 10%. A union job usually states the actor's salary plus 10% for the agent. Make sure, before signing any contracts, that you understand your agent's policy. And make sure you pay your agent promptly when you get paid they got you that job and they rely on their commissions to make a living. Many actors let the agents handle the paycheck, take off their percentage and send the rest to the actor. There should be trust between you. It's a good policy to still pay your agent even if you found the job. Why? Because if there's any problem with your paycheck, they will fight for you until you get paid. They really earn their commission, believe me.
Finally, to be accepted by an agent the actor needs to have some training, headshots & resumes, even some experience on the stage high school is OK - or as an extra out on a movie Set. So get some experience to put on your resume first before seeking out an agent.
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
My question is in regards to agent compensation, I know that it is proper to give your agent 10% of what you`re paid if you get work on your own. But what if you have multiple agents like one Austin, Houston and Dallas who gets the 10% would it be the agent that gets you the most work or would you split it between all three?
Also, I`ve been seeing a lot of posts here on this site about casting calls for prime time network shows but in order to get the contact info. on who`s casting, what they are casting for and where to send your headshots and resume you need to subscribe to their site. One is Futurecasting2000 - 15.00/month, another is Castcallusa - 29.00/year. Of course you have to be in the union( AFTRA ) to submit for principle roles.Have you ever heard of these? If you have no agent do you think it would be wise to subscribe for the contact info?
Correct me if I`m wrong. But I have been told by alot of people involved in film in Austin that you should not join SAG if are eligible because in this area there is not much union work and if you joined you could not do non-union work. Well I know that's true but you can join AFTRA (qualifications-An intent to work in the AFTRA jurisdiction) and be able to submit yourself for TV roles(speaking). Now if you are in AFTRA you cannot do non-union tv and radio work but you should still be able to do non-union film work. AFTRA cost $1,100.-1,200 initial fee plus $58.00 first 6 months union fee. I thought this last paragraph might let in a little light at the end of the tunnel.
Dear Acting Carlo,
Whew! You are really taxing the old muse here. Please read my answers to the letters above. As for which of your multiple agents which one to pay I would only consider the one in the city where the film takes place or where the audition took place. . I presume you are talking about speaking roles. I don't approve of agencies that expect an actor to send a percentage of extra work money. For one it was an open call, not an audition that got you there. Any Joe Public can get that job. Also an extra works a long day for little compensation although the meals are usually pretty good! So I wouldn't pay a commission on extra work, if I were you.
Next, I'm surprised if you have seen "Casting companies" who charge to be on their site, in austinactors.com files unless it's in Dan Eggelston's postings. His position is to post everything that comes in and let the actor be clever enough to sort the wheat from the chaff! My advice here is to avoid, like the plague, anyone who charges a fee, monthly or annually for casting advice. And in Texas you DO NOT HAVE TO BE UNION to be auditioned for a speaking role. This is a Right to Work State and one is Tafthartley'd if non-union, to give them the right to be in a union production.
It is personal preference in a non-union state (when you have earned the right through landing a principal union job) whether to join the union, SAG or AFTRA or not. Having it on your resume under your name could give you an edge to the talent (equally as good as you) who is not union. Subconsciously a director may make this choice?! What I would ask myself is "Do I get enough work to warrant paying all these high fees?" If the answer is no don't. If on the other hand you get steady work and need the good health insurance that the unions offer, then go for it. It is true that once a union member (SAG/AFTRA), the union will frown on your taking non-union work. But I believe compromises can be made if you are up front with them. Again on the other hand, I worked as a principal on a well-known Soap Opera in LA and never had to join AFTRA. Had I gone back another time, then I would have had to join.
Hope this helped you somewhat. Whew!
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
I sent out headshots and resumes to all Austin Talent Agents in December and didn't hear anything back. About a month after sending packets out I did follow up calls to see when we could schedule an interview and only heard back from one. The only feedback I got from the one agency kind enough to respond was to gain more film experience and get a reference letter from my former instructor. What is the best way to approach agents about representation, what do you send them to catch their eye and how do you get the coverted interview. Shauna
First, I wouldn't have let a month go by before following up my packages. Maybe a week or two at the most. Then I would have asked to speak with the agent herself, did she get my package and when could she see me? Be positive not shrinking. It sounds like your resumé was rather lacking in experience and training. One class and maybe an extra job wouldn't grab their interest. So now I would suggest you get more training under your belt, go out and audition for all those independent and student movies, no matter whether they pay or not. And when you have more to share with them, try them again. And again. And again. It's the squeaky wheel that gets the attention. Talent agents have a tough job for little pay and they don't want to waste their time on an unknown who is not serious enough to have classes listed from the best teachers in town. Most other businesses (and you are the business) require lots of training and skills and years of being the under dog. You have to learn all the tricks of the trade and there are many. Acting is not a game it is hard and continual work. And there are no short cuts. "Overnight successes" have been working for years to become that!
Keep working at it Shauna. We all went through the mill just like you and so did every "star". The successful ones just worked harder and longer than the others.
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
Hello, I am putting together a new website for actors here in Austin. I was wondering if I can add your link to your email queries to my site. I think it's very helpful for actors, and that's my main goal of the site . Most of the pages are posted
www.actorsplanet.net Actors can find acting resources and Austin filmmakers will be able to showcase their films on the site(free downloads). As soon as the site is complete I will post the information on Dan's email list. Please let me know if you are ok with added your link. I already added austinactors.net . More resources will be posted soon. Thanks for helping out us actors! Thank you,
If you already added your link to austinactors.com then actors coming into your site have complete access to my column.
I will look forward to going into your new website and exploring it! Film makers out there here's a site where you can showcase your film. Thank you for the kind words. What started off as a small aid for actors has turned into a massive mission!! I'm glad you find it helpful.
I have a question for you. I work as a mental health professional supervising an adult mental health unit in a county agency. I have never written professionally but have always done journaling and have enjoyed writing. I have started an autobiography focusing on a few years of my life where I was in an accident and my face was unrecognizable. During that time I had many people judge me by how I looked. I lost many friendships, my boyfriend, etc. I also had many people who were supportive and who guided me through the experience. It is really a fascinating story to tell and one that I believe would make an excellent film. The focus becomes on the relationships gained, lost, and changed as well as a why people, women in particular, stay in unhealthy relationships when they believe that there is no other alternative. How when you truly feel alone and "ugly" in societies eyes you can become exactly what is mirrored to you but you also have the ability to rise above that, with support. I am struck by films that are based on a true story. I also do not have a clue as to where to go with my ideas. Do you know if there is someone to pitch ideas like this to? I really truly believe that I will see my work on the screen someday and that it will be good work and will sell. If you have any suggestions for me I would greatly appreciate it. My home e-mail address is <mailto:email@example.com>firstname.lastname@example.org and phone is 320 963-6688. Thanks again for your time. Carolyn Brown, MSW, LICSW
Community Support Program Supervisor
A tough question. And I admire your tenacity after such a traumatic accident. People who have had such experiences and can write about them must surely inspire others who have gone through a similar situation. Most towns have literary clubs you can join. I believe each member gets to read one's writings to the others for constructive criticism. Whether they go on to publishing from that point I don't know. It would be worth looking into, though.
If you want to send your story to be optioned for a film you would need to get a literary agent. Movie companies and TV producers will not accept 'unsolicited manuscripts' but they will read one sent by your literary agent. They are afraid they will inadvertently use your idea in a movie and then face the possibility of being sued by the writer. So they won't even open an 'unsolicited' package!!
Perhaps one of my readers out there can e-mail Carolyn helping her where to turn next?? There are also books in the libraries on 'Selling your Manuscripts" and so on. Maybe a College course on writing would help?
Let us know if you have any success in this, will you. We'll all be anxious to hear just how you fared.
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
Where can I find casting calls for children? Kittygirl
Try to get representation with an agent who handles primarily children. In Austin try Ciao Talents website: www.ciaotalents.com with Liz Atherton. In Dallas the Children's Talent Division at Kim Dawson Agency , Inc. e-mail: email@example.com
Hope this helps you.
Are there any Actor managers here in Texas, Austin in specific? I have an agent, but I feel I need a manager as well to help me along. What are your views on the matter?
In need of management
Dear In need of management,
Managers are more in use in LA. They also take a larger percentage of your salary like 25%. Add that onto your Agents 15% and half your money has goneÉ. I've noticed, it's the seasoned actor, already well on the road to fame and fortune, who has a manager. Or a child actor may have one to take care of special needs. One rarely hears of managers in Texas.
Anyone out there know of any, personally?? Send in your suggestions. Sorry! That's the best I can do in this field.
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
My name is Brandon and I have long been interested in the entertainment industry mostly in the area of film and acting. I graduated from Baylor with a BA in Telecommunications and now realize that I should have gone for a degree in theater. What do you suggest for someone like me trying to get into the acting field in Austin bound for LA of NYC. Maybe you can suggest some options for me to explore acting here in Austin? I am attractive, have limited theater experience and can sing very well I am told. Please help.
I suggest you read back through my archives, and even today questions. I have covered this subject so many times- suggested teachers books you can buy classes you can attend all very reasonable. How to get headshots and resumes. It's all in these catacombs! And you are in the best movie city in Texas to pursue this career. There are also 32 plus theatres in Austin some equity (with pay); student movies at UT; dozens of independent movies being made daily. No end of venues for the learning process.
Good luck and have fun doing it.