May 29, 2013

Dealing With Downtime

Here is a comment/question that was recently posted on my last blog entry:

"Written by: Daye

How do you deal with blank time, meaning there is no work coming in for days, it drives me nuts."

Every year, around this time and the holidays, things slow down drastically for me and probably many others in the business. Right now, we're in between pilot season and episodic season and my legit auditions have almost come to a standstill. I'm getting a couple of commercial auditions a week and the occasional print casting.

While I'm sometimes driven crazy during these times, the best thing to do when you're having an audition slump is to keep yourself busy with other things. Simple, right? Well....yes. It is pretty simple.

Of course, there are acting related activities and tasks that can keep you busy: classes, blogging, seeing films and plays, or even just reading the memoirs, biographies, and autobiographies of your favorite performers. If you're strapped for cash, now's a great time to pick up some additional shifts at work to make a bit of extra cash. No pesky auditions to get in the way.

In addition to those things, you can take the extra time to step up your fitness, read books, spend time with friends and family, or just relax. You know? Normal people things? Reading is one of my favorite past times and in the past month, I've finished 7 novels and I'm half way through my 8th. Side Note: You must read World War Z. It was positively brilliant. And scary. So make sure you have a snuggle buddy or a squeezable stuffed animal because I had nightmares each of the three nights it took me to read the book. 
If you live in a major city, you should have no shortage of interesting activities to take advantage of. I'm planning to go zip-lining in the next couple of weeks. So try something that you've never done before.

It's easy to get sucked into spending your every waking moment thinking about auditions and acting and meeting casting directors. But, we also need to make sure that we have identities and interests outside of "THE BUSINESS". There are always going to be slow periods and those are the perfect times to rediscover the other things that you love. Yesterday was Memorial Day which means SUMMER IS HERE!! Take advantage!

What's really great about remaining engaged by other things is that when the phone rings the next time you have an audition, you'll have even more life experiences to draw from. That's an advantage that any actor can use.

Now get off your computer and go do something!

May 1, 2013

The Power Of Saying 'No'

So, I've been pretty vocal about the fact that I'm trying to break out of the co-star level and move up to shooting guest stars. I've been auditioning at the guest star level pretty consistently for the last several months, which is great. I've discussed no longer accepting co-star auditions but every now and then, I'll go in for a co-star as long as I have something to gain from it, whether it be great footage because the scene is decent, or using it as an opportunity to meet a new casting director that I've never been seen by. Being new to LA, taking the occasional co-star audition has been especially helpful as evidenced by my previous post.

What is more difficult, is learning when it's time to say no. Even though I'd resolved not to go in for co-stars anymore, I've just explained a number of situations where I went back on my word. A couple of weeks ago, I learned a great lesson about finally saying 'no'.

One of my first auditions when I got to LA was for a guest star role on a hit cable show. I got a callback and didn't get the part. I didn't see that CD again until a few weeks ago. He brought me straight to producers for a recurring guest star role. I went in and nailed my audition. The next day, my manager called to tell me that they decided to book someone else for the part but because the producers loved me, they offered me another part. A co-star role that didn't even have a name. It was one of those characters that was called WAITRESS/HOSTESS/CASHIER/etc., you know what I'm saying. One scene, about 5 lines if I remember correctly.

I was disappointed. Once again, I was being told that I was great and that the producers loved me, but once again, I was NOT being booked for the part that I needed to get to that next level. I had just dealt with a similar situation that I discussed in my last post, and even though I had gained a bit from that situation, I still felt that I had to compromise myself for it. I didn't want to do that again.

So, I politely declined the role.

My manager supported my decision 100% and told me that he felt I was doing the right thing. I was never going to move up if I kept doing co-stars.

And then...something miraculous happened.

My manager called me back about an hour later and told me that the producers were disappointed that I'd turned down the role and really wanted to work with me. As a result, they added more lines to the scene, gave the character a name, and bumped the credit up to a guest-star! They were also interested in using my character in a slight story arc for one of the leads so there was a possibility that the role would be recurring.

So, my agents and manager negotiated my guest star quote and I accepted the role. MY FIRST GUEST STAR!!! I was so happy that I cried.

The week after shooting my guest star role, I was booked for another episode and I now have a recurring guest star credit. Just like that! I can't name the show right now, but I will let you guys know when the episodes air later this summer. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that the producers bring me back for more work.

The lesson that anyone can take away from my story is that, at some point, you have to make the choice to no longer accept things that aren't moving you forward.

Have you done 10 student films or indie films for free and you're ready to start getting paid for your work? Say no to that next audition for a no-pay project. Start reserving your audition time for work that pays. Yes, things may slow down for you for a bit, but that's the only way you'll move forward.

It's scary to say no to an opportunity, but not every opportunity will benefit you. You have to learn to make that distinction.