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Ms. Bubbette

Dear Ms. Bubbette: Acknowledge Fans' emails? • Need Script supervisor - how-where? • High School screenwriter - help! • German actress has 4 questions • Join SAG? Franchised agents?
by Ms. Bubbette

September 2004

Dear Ms. Bubbette,

I am film actress in the beginning of my career and have not yet done a whole lot of film work. However, I have gotten a few emails from people that are like fan mail. I don't know them and in many cases I don't even know what state or country they are in. I get nervous about being very friendly with people I don't know at all, because I know that things can get too personal or even weird when one corresponds with people over the Internet one does not know from Adam, if you know what I mean.

Yet on the other hand, I am very appreciative of their praise and interest in me, and I don't really want to be rude by not answering. I have been unsure how to respond. I'm holding on to my last fan mail and will not respond to it until I get advice from you on how I can be gracious about fan mail without giving the impression I am willing to be too personal. Or, should I just not write back at all? I know fans are important, but I am confused!

Thanks!
Austin Indie Actress

Dear Austin Indie Actress,

I'm wondering how your 'fans' are getting your e-mail at this very early stage of your career? Your first indie films must have been pretty awesome?

I agree you don't want to get too cosy with people you don't know - over the internet or anywhere else . But if these are genuine letters of appreciation for your work, I would send a brief, appreciative reply, thanking them for their interest and their kind words. Tell them their praise of your work inspires you to do greater things.

One way to keep fans at arm's length, so to speak, is to have a friend manage a 'fan club'. She keeps a list of the fans and offers to let them know whenever one of your movies is coming out. I hope this helps you? Good luck!

Ms. Bubbette.

Hi,
Are there any good agents that you know of for film in the austin area? I am just starting to get into the field but I would like to start getting better roles than being an extra. Thanks, Rachael Blizzard

Dear Rachael,

This is a question I have answered so many times in this column. Austin has many fine talent agents. If you go back through my archives you will see lists of them with telephone numbers and the fact that everyone I list is lawfully licensed with the State of Texas. You can also find them in the Yellow Pages of your telephone book under TALENT AGENCIES. I suggest you call several, find out more about them, ask acting friends who their agent is, then start making appointments and see who is willing to take you on. You should have some kind of headshot and resume in the works for sending to agents, with a cover letter letting them know you are looking for local representation.

Acting is a real business and every actor should approach it that way. Which means you should be thinking of getting some training under your belt too. Rarely does a casting director look at anyone who has no training or experience. I suggest you try working on UT student projects, unpaid independent films, and so on until you have real experience in front of camera.

Good luck to you Rachael.

Ms. Bubbette


Dear Mrs. Bubbette,

My name is Wilson D. Boggess Sr. I am from Waco, TX. and would like some help in finding a script supervisor. I've written a couple of scripts and would like to find out if they are done in the right format. I heard this was a tough business and I really think I have good material, but that's the way everybody should feel about his or her work. If it's possible, I would like to send a copy of my first script to you. If your able to do so, could you please let me know if it's garbage, good, needs a little something, or whatever advise you can give would be just fine. If you can't find time to do so, could you please refer me to someone.

Thank You,
Wilson D. Boggess Sr.

Dear Wilson,

Now this is a big kettle of fish you've opened! You don't say whether you are writing for the screen or the theatre? Let me give you three organizations near to Waco. It so happens they are all in Austin! AUSTIN SCREENWRITERS' GROUP (512) 836-3990; e-mail: leason@smartdna.com: Website www.austinscreenwriters.org They offer guidance, networking, marketing opportunities, feedback etc. Members meet twice a month. AUSTIN SCRIPT WORKS (512) 454-9727 Email: info@scriptworks.org Website: www.scriptworks.org Serving over 100 member playwrights in Central TX. Provide opportunities from inception to production. AUSTIN WRITERS' LEAGUE (512) 499-8914 Email: awl@eden.com Website: www.eden.com/s-awl Membership includes monthly newsletter, workshops on tape, resource center. Writers all ages.

Word of warning. Never let another writer read your works (not counting the groups mentioned above) - inadvertently they may copy some of your ideas and then all kinds of trouble ensues! That is why, as a screenwriter myself, I cannot help you personally by critiquing your script. I hope you understand?

Wilson, I know the hard road you have chosen here but it's also very gratifying when something you've written finally makes it into print. It's like giving birth!! Best of luck to you...

Ms. Bubbette


Dear Ms. Bubbette,

I have 2 children an 11 year old daughter and an 8 year old son, both of Hispanic/white origin. Both small frame, I am slowly moving into things with them, they have been in plays at school, beauty pageants and over the last year or so, Civic theater plays, which they absolutely love. They were also in a Telemundo commercial for the First Methodist Church.

I have been told about the makeup for the girls, but have not had a chance to do my daughters head shots over, as I do them myself. We are scheduled to meet with a talent agency named StarCraft in Austin next week and I was just curious about these agencies and their legitimacy and if they are even really needed. We are in the Temple area and there is no representation in this town, so we have to go to Austin. Any names you can refer me to would be appreciated and things to watch out for on my visit with the talent agent. Anything you can tell me about Austin, and jobs for Children in this area would help so much.

Thanks "the mom"

Dear "Mom",

Do read the letters above re agents. The one you have visited by now, is legal and registered with the State of Texas. And yes, if you want your children to be in commercials, film, industrials where they earn money, agents are very necessary, as casting directors request actors through the agents for their auditions. BLVD Company (512) 458-2583 - Cynthia Robbins and CIAO! Talents, (Georgetown and closer to you) (512) 930-9301, Liz Atherton are fine agencies especially for kids. If your children are bilingual, that will be a big plus because of the number of Hispanic commercials made.

You might think to get your children into classes and learn the rules of acting. It doesn't just happen! Ask other actors where they go. Your closest one would be Marco Perella in Georgetown (512)869-0623 - film and commercial acting. Website: www.actorworkshop.com

On headshots, I liked what you did but do not have make-up on a child for a professional acting headshot. Beauty pageants are another thing. I personally hate to see kids in make-up. Their skin is so beautiful at that age and they do not need artificial aids to show off their beauty. When you're my age it's different - we need all the help we can get!! You might add their birthdate along with their hair and eyes. Any agent you join will advise you on how to do these important things correctly.. OK? And agents do not cost anything to join - they take a commission from the actor's paycheck after the job is done. Your agent will submit your children when the right jobs come up, and, if the casting director chooses them for an audition, your agent will notify you. They will tell you how to dress the kids, where to go, what to do - you see why an agent is so necessary? Good!

So get on out there Mom and have fun - do it with your kids. Oh, and only let them do it as long as it's fun - the moment it's drudgery and they complain - get out of the business.

Good luck guys.

Ms. Bubbette


Hello,
I have a question for you. When submitting a headshot and resume for a casting call, particularly for independent films, do most prefer actors who have an agency? Will they likely consider actors without an agency? I would appreciate an answer very much. Thank you for your time. S.Amy
San Antonio, Tx

Hello S Amy,

For independent movies I don't think the novice director cares too much whether you have an agent or not. Especially in the case of where there is no payment -and you are just doing it for the resume and experience. In such a case, you could just submit yourself as Independent and with your phone/cell numbers on the resume.

On the other hand, who knows what goes on in a director's mind!! Maybe having an agent's name on your resume makes you, in their eyes, more professional? I would read it that way. But I think it's purely up to you. Hope that helps?

Ms. Bubbette


Dear Ms. Bubbette,

You've been the greatest help I found so far! Thank you sooo much. Having spent hours in front of the computer, I haven´t managed to read absolutely every article yet. But I´m working on it!

Hoping not to be the rudest girl ever, I have several questions for you: 1. Do you know an Austin speech coach (if that´s what it is called!?) that is good and affordable and maybe specialized on accents? I´m in the middle moving from Germany to San Antonio and want to be able to switch back and forth between playing roles as an American or a German. Therefore I need to lose my german accent and improve my english reading and pronounciation skills, which I will need to pass any cold reading. 2. (!!!) Having only taken a few lessons in Austin and Berlin so far, I´m still at the very beginning of my acting career. But already at this point, a big problem appeared. I believe that actors should always choose their roles wisely. My final goal in acting is not to make the most money possible, but to be in wonderfull, inspiring and intelligent movies. Therefore I don´t think that the way to get there, is to take simply any job no matter what for the sake of experience, like I´ve been told! I´m sure it´s easier to get into things like "Baywatch" than into movies from Emir Kusturica or Spike Jonze. And I can´t imagine even Pamela Anderson to be able to switch from "sexsymbol" to a respected, great actress. Once you´ve decided to go for "sex sells" or " I don´t care, if it´s the most stupid movie ever", people wouldn´t accept those actors in other more sophisticated roles, so that these actors won´t get any good offers after that. I know I need experience, especially before getting an agent. But what if I got an agent, can I say no to certain job offers? Will he let me down for that, because I´m a snobby nobody? When or how or generally should I influence my career direction? Is it on me at all? I know it also depends a lot on talent!!! I´ve been trying to research how my favourite actors have done it( the few that are not born into the business), but even in their biographies little is being said about their beginning. What classes they took; what they did before their first movie on their today´s resume; career choices...? Please tell me your opinion on that one! 3. Do you know any bookstores specialized on acting in the San Antonio or Austin area? And if not, what about Houston or Dallas? 4. What experiences have you made with the 2chairsstudio or the Barry Pineo Austin Acting Workshop?

As soon as I´m back in the US, I will visit the austinactors.net get-together. Good advise!

Knowing your and everybody´s lack of time, I want to repeat my adoration and appreciation for your volunteer work here. Therefore I hope, you´ll find time to answer my questions. Thanks. Novy

Dear Novy,

Oh my! How you are working me today! But I will try to answer such a diligent 'student' to the best of my ability. First I love the fact that you have bothered to go back into my archives, which span 4 years now, and will eventually be available in book form - hopefully at all agencies. Question 1:  Austin speech coach:- try Nancy Bandiera (512) 323-0145 She does accent reduction or acquisition. Question 2: I would think any actor in their right mind should be choosy to a degree in what roles they play. If a role makes you feel uncomfortable, or if it compromises your standards - don't take it. You'll never like yourself afterwards! And it can come back to haunt you if you become a star. As for doing 'silly' kind of sitcoms or soap operas, this often turns out to be a blessing 'cos someone out there just might see you, take a liking to your acting and zany spirit, and cast you in something bigger. It's merely a convenient stepping-stone. Renee Zellweger, Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks come to mind. I'm sure most actors have something that's turns out embarrassing later when they are famous! Just watch the Tonight Show! Your agent should respect your opinion on whether you try out for a certain role or not - after all, he/she is working for you not the other way around! I have turned down auditions because the content went against my principals - it did not stop my agent calling me for the next audition. You should be in command of your career every step of the way - and yes, talent is extremely vital. But it can be perfected through classes - very few actors are 'naturals'. They need training. Question 3: Try San Antonio Public Library 600 Soledad. In Austin - Barnes & Noble Booksellers; Borders Books; Book People on Nth Lamar; Half Price Books. All of these have excellent acting sections - books on film, theatre, monologues and so on. Question 4:  I have not had any experience with 2chairsstudio - Barry Pineo has a good reputation. My top recommendation would be my Film acting coach and mentor, Mona Lee who runs Brite Lites Studio in Austin. She is a Julliard, NY graduate. (512) 323-2090 Email: mona@thebizonline.com

When you get back to the USA and visit with austinactors.net, make sure you find Brad Koester - he started the whole thing and I know he will be so helpful. I hope you keep in touch with me as I'd love to know how it works out for you. I'm sure my readers would be interested too. And thank you so much for your kind words and your diligent research.

Ms. Bubbette


Dear Ms. Bubbette,

I am 16 and going to be a senior in high school after this summer is over and well, I am trying to get myself out in the field of acting. I an aspiring actor at my high school, Round Rock High School and writer. I am in the process of writing my own movie to try and sell, it is too much of a high budget film for me to make myself, but how would you go about doing this? Do you have any suggestions about what to do with my screenplay after I finish it, where to send it or who to give it to. Also I have writen one or two plays, and I was wondering if you have an suggestions on how to get them out and possibly sell them or what to do with them? Thanks in advance.

-Matt

Dear Matt,

Did you know that Robert Rodriguez - "Spy Kids" writer/director started creating his characters while still in school? And Chris Columbus, Director of "Harry Potter" series and "Home Alone" wrote "Gremlins" in High School and later directed it? So you're off to a running start. And you can't be in a better place than nearby Austin for doing Indie movies - the #1 city for Indies. Read carefully my letter above to Wilson who is also asking about scripts. These are people who can tell you what your next step is going to be. For myself, I just took the bull by the horns and by wearing all the hats - writer, producer, director, coach, composer/artist, locations, craft service, costume making, marketing etc I was able to shoot a humble kids' movie, which would have cost around $30,000 for $800. That's working on a shoestring...And I've done it 7 times now! For starters on your plays, why not get a group of actors together and direct them, putting it on at a local church hall or even at your High School? Would your drama teacher be interested in producing it?

Hey Matt, good luck with all this. I hope you're on your way to great things.

Ms. Bubbette


Hello,

I am a recent graduate and have a BA in theatre. I have always done tech work, behind the scene work but have always felt that my place was on stage. I have acted in a few productions at school. I am really interested in pursuing my dream. If you can give me any advice about how to make the job into acting, it would greatly appreciated. I have a job this summer in new hampshire doing props but after that I would really like to pursue acting. Please help in any way you can.

Thanks,
Jess

Dear Jess,

You don't say where you live but I presume it's in Texas - maybe Austin or Dallas? Read all of today's letters - you'll pick up some hints on where to go to for classes and how to find an agent (if you decide to do film as well). You have to learn the trade so that you'll come over as professional at an audition. You'll need to have serious and humorous monologues up your sleeve. It's a fine art, working on stage and you only get one chance to do it right - at least in movies they can 'cut' and retake. Have you noticed recently how many film stars are doing Broadway in between films? The stage is instant gratification - the audience loves or hates you - instantly! But at least you get feedback.

Audition for everything you can - no matter if you don't get cast right away - it's all wonderful practice. And each time will be a little easier, you'll be more sure of yourself and the directors will start to notice you. With your experience you already have plenty for a resume. If you're in Austin, at last count there were 30 something theatres... Some are Equity where you'll get paid, others are more community or way-out organizations. Go explore them all. Join A.C.O.T. Austin Circle of Theatres (512) 454-9700 - you'll get a monthly newsletter with audition notices, acting classes etc, discount membership card, workshop and job referrals, free previews & ticket discounts & more.

Ms. Bubbette.


Dear Ms. Bubbete,

I am a beginning actor and would first like to thank you so much for all your helpful information in your articles. I was recently in a Feature film in Austin and fought for my upgrade to principal performer. SAG now is asking me to join the union. How neccesary is it? Also, I was looking on the SAG website and on other acting websites and they seemed to stress how important it was to have a SAG franchised agent, but I couldn't seem to find any in Austin. Am I simply over looking them or are they just not here? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks again,
Sara

Dear Sara,

First and foremost, Texas is a "Right-to-work-State" That means union or non union every actor has the right to work. You will not be held back by not joining the union - SAG - Screen Actors Guild. It sounds like you haven't done very much yet and unless you are getting regular screen work, you can't afford to pay the hefty dues that a union requires. Let's expound on that. To join the unions you must first of all be eligible - by having played a principal or speaking role in a Union movie, TV program, commercial; SAG's initiation fee is $800. If you join AFTRA - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists - at the same time you can join both for a mere $1300. Twice a year you'll have to pay SAG $50 min. if you earn $5,000 or less a year. In Union States like California, fees are much higher but you can't work without your SAG card there.

However, once you are regularly being cast in principal work, you'll have the income to afford those dues The Unions offer many perks. Good Health Insurance and Pension plans; Credit Union and Financial Services; Networking with fellow professionals; Continuing Education with seminars and more. Having SAG under your name on your resume carries weight with the casting people and directors in some cases. It's up to you to decide whether you can afford this at the early stages of your career.

As for SAG franchised agents, several in Dallas are franchised. In my humble opinion, all the other registered non-franchised agents are just as good, do the same job and work just as hard. Casting Directors treat them all equally. So there you have it. To franchise or to not! It's all a matter of choice in a non-union State.

Did this help? I hope so.
Ms. Bubbette.


Hello,

My name is Latrice Neal and I have a 7 year old daughter that is extremely interested in being a "Star" as she puts it. I just want to know which steps I should take to help her to reach her dream. Please send me as much information as you can by either emailing me. Thanks for your time.

Sincerely
Latrice Neal

Dear Latrice,

As you read above, I do not email actors or write to them personally. So Sorry. Everyone on austinactors writes their articles - and in my case my Bubbette column - out of the goodness of their hearts to help other actors, or to entertain them! As a busy director, producer, writer and actor I have to squeeze these letters into my hectic schedule and hope they reach as many actors as possible.

I know I've talked about starting kids in the right direction in my archives if you have time to go back through them. But I will repeat myself because it's a very important subject. You don't want your daughter wasting her time and your money on 'play' classes - you need the real thing. So I shall recommend some excellent teachers in Austin to set her on the right path. I'll give you theatre and film teachers as they both compliment each other and produce a well-rounded actor.

An actor of any age must possess special skills to get work. So acting classes and training are essential. Mona Lee Fultz has a June acting camp each year - must be 8 years old to get in so your daughter will be the right age for next year. This is a "wonderful opportunity for kids and teens who have the ‘acting bug’ to experience what it is like to be a film and television actor. " Contact Mona Lee and get on the waiting list: (512) 323-2090, or e-mail: mona@thebizonline.com

In the meantime she can be working with Austin Musical Theatre (512) 292-9696; State Theatre School of Acting (which covers film as well) (512) 472-3160; Zachary Scott Theatre has classes but I'm not sure how young they take them (512) 476-6378; Marco Perella does film and commercial acting classes - again I'm not sure how young he takes students (512) 869-0623.

You might also start checking on the following Talent Agents in Austin who specialize in child actors. There is no fee to join if they accept your daughter. You pay them a pre-determined commission only after a job is done and the actor paid. CIAO! TALENTS (512) 930-9301 - talk with Liz Atherton BLVD COMPANY (512) 458-2583 - talk with Cynthia Robbins. Both of these are licensed with the State of Texas. They will tell you about headshots and resumes, tools which your daughter must have as an actor. This is a business and not a game and there's a long road for an actor to follow before becoming a "Star".

Good luck to you and your little girl. I hope she makes it... Ms. Bubbette


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