|Planning always looks better with sparkles!|
This is an easy one to write. Tactics – ‘an action or strategy carefully planned to achieve a specific end‘…. For actors, tactics are everything. The tactics you use as you work on your career are pivotal to your success. Have a lil think about everything you do in your “acting business”as part of building your acting success story. Learning lines, finding the right look, getting headshots, making contacts, memorising monologues, creating business cards, building a showreel, developing a client list. These form part of your tactics that you use towards building career success.
I have wanted to talk about this in more detail for some time now and today is the perfect day. It actually relates to another thing I am part of ongoing, the UK Actors Tweetups (but I promise it’s not a plug).
What constantly surprises me about actors is the amount of attention they place on certain things in their career, and how little they place on other amazing opportunities that come their way. I see it all the time. Little keen bean actors plugging away at their business, using tactics they employ to get from A to B. Building their networks, cramming away on so many things that matter. Then other things come up and they’re nowhere to be found.
Example 1: A few months ago this amazing guest speaker came along to the London UK Actors Tweetup event. She is a manager at one of the biggest PR companies for film in the UK. Of 14 confirmed guests, only 7 showed. No big deal. That happens all the time. People want to do something and then have to cancel for their own valid reasons (que sera sera).
But the thing that blew me away was the actual lack of bookings for this session. Did people not even want to go along in the first place? One of most influential gals in PR gave up her time to tell actors how to create more of a buzz about themselves, and talk about PR for movies, and very few showed. Why!? How is that possible. Put on a session with a well known casting director and you will book the room full of jobbing actors before I can say “doors open”. But give actors a chance to learn a new way to enhance their careers and they’re not even around to see it. Get what we are missing sometimes?
Also of note: The other amazing thing about that talk was that this PR guru also talked with each attendee about their own USP’s and what they could do to help progress their careers, with a PR spin. Amazing!!
I guess it made me consider, are actors not thinking they’re big enough for PR? Do actors perhaps feel they don’t need to know PR detail until they have “made it”. In an industry built on relationships, why not make the connects now. Personally I believe we are always big enough for PR. It is always useful to be creating a buzz about YOU. Think I’m wrong? Ask these bloggers – Erin Cronican and Emily Grace. They talk about it positively and often.
PR is a tactic that should be in your actors toolkit.
Example 2: Another event I went along to once (which again didn’t pack an audience of actors) involved two producers who had just made a 3 million pound feature. As it turned out they were the guys who had a direct impact on who was cast in the movie, and who will do again. I am so glad I didn’t miss that talk. They shared insights into where they find actors, including the types of television shows they watch to find new talent, theatre they see to see new actors, and what impresses them most when they meet actors on auditions.
Getting up close and personal with the right* producers helps to create an ongoing dialogue with someone who is in constant contact with scripts, directors, who can potentially access money, and who can even introduce you to their networks if you are right for them. AND who can cast you!! It isn’t all about Casting Directors. I repeat, it is not all about the Casting Director (though they are really really really important 99.999% of the time in the acting biz).
So the next time that you are in the position to meet, learn or mingle with someone other than a Casting Director, perhaps think about your tactical tool belt and what is missing. What is your next acting manoeuvre? Would developing a relationship with this person help with your long term goals? Should you be considering your PR plan? Is there a person who could benefit from your knowledge.
Reach out and tackle your plan head on. Don’t just always email the same poor Casting Directors. Trust me, if you miss an email to them this might actually be a good thing…they can get some more work done 🙂
*here’s the clause. Sometimes producers can’t help. I must willingly concede that there will be times where you will be lured into the producer talk mode and it won’t be useful at all. Actors beware of the ‘chat’. <- Something I hope to cover in future blogs.
7 thoughts on “Tackle the tactics”
Hey BABE, love this post! Sounds just like actors in LA. Where do they all need to go so badly at the last minute!? I always try to be careful not to commit to something I'm not sure I'll be able to attend.
Love your persistence and great insight. Keep it up.
This is SO true. I really love what you're saying in this post. Bravo for telling your truth.
I often talk to actors who say, "But, why would I have a website? I don't have enough credits to warrant it" or "I don't have enough footage to make it worth it" (as if a website is only a place to have footage and serves no other purposes.) They don't realize that having control over your message, be it in person, online or in writing, is a hugely important component to building a career.
It's the same with networking events, including the producer event you described. Actors often feel like they have to be in an audition or classroom setting in order for the meeting to have some sort of significance. What actors forget is that producers, casting directors, agents, really ANY industry person is a human being first and foremost. And we enjoy working with people we know and like. We want to help those who help us get to know them better. Industry events make such a huge difference in building your fan base.
With that, people can smell a fake from a mile away. Taking PR seriously does not mean "schmoozing" and putting on a facade. Many actors are also afraid that they'll come off as desperate and needy if they talk about themselves with someone. So it's a delicate balance of being self-possessed enough to share who you are, while also inviting the other person to share themselves as well.
Thanks again for such an articulate piece, and thanks for allowing the forum to respond. Well done!
Thanks Allison. So so true. It happens all the time. And then when you talk with people they say something really silly like "oh I was working late". But I guess if they had an audition they would make time. I think it's definitely about taking a check on our own truths, and being really authentic.
Erin, you are honestly the master of successful, and not over-the-top, career PR creation and I absolutely agree with you. And I nearly fall off my chair every time someone says I don't have enough credits yet. I think "but when will you have enough?".
That delicate balance can be created simply by sitting down with someone more experienced and working out what the best manoeuvre is for you right now.
Thanks ladies! As always I love your contributions and wisdom.
I think some actors shy away from PR because they see actors that do it badly or over promote on social media and it puts them off.
Absolutely agree with that last comment. I have definitely witnessed the over promotion thing done badly. It's a difficult one. It is about finding the right balance of letting people know about your success without looking like a desperado who won't shut up. But the balance is absolutely achievable and I see actors do it well all the time.
You are welcome to get in touch if you ever want to have a session on it. I have a few acting clients I'm working with on this very thing at the moment.
The most important take out overall is that PR and sales are important tools as an actor. Without them, we are stopping ourselves from achieving more, more quickly. Worst case scenario – if we don't do it at all, then best we pay someone who will do it for us. But we must sell and we must promote or who is going to know about us as we build up to being known.
Thanks. I'm sure we'll bump into eachother at some point, at which point I'll pick your brains if that's cool!
Thanks Mark, and yes would love to have you pick my brains! Would be delighted to talk further anytime.