the day to day of a professional actor in the San Francisco Bay Area

mostly the day to day of a professional actor in the San Francisco Bay Area, but also the home of the Counting Actors Project

Monday, December 27, 2010

Resource of the Week: Reel Directory

The Reel Directory is basically a Yellow Pages for the film making community.  They have listings for location scouts, stunt drivers, post-production services and any other resource that a producer needs to make a film.  Including listings for agents, casting directors, headshot photographers, and even actors themselves.  A terrific resource for mailings. 

You can get the book, sets of mailing labels, or just keep track of what's most current on their website.  Also on their website is a page called 'production hub' which has listings for projects that are looking for crew and/or actors.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Prep time

I was at an on-camera audition this weekend.  For a company that schedules their auditions so that every actor called for a particular role comes in at the same time.  (all the 'dads' at 4:00, all the 'nurses' at 4:30, etc.)  When you show up, you fill out an info sheet, get assigned a number, and get seen in the order you arrived. 

As you can guess, this means some wait around in the hall time.  What do you do when you've got wait in the hall time?  Review the audition material is usually good, but at this company, which produces a re-enactment show for a foreign market, the audition is an improvised situation, taken from the news story that they're re-enacting that week.

So, back to square one - what do you do?  I usually bring something to read.  I've auditioned for this company in the past, and have waited 30 minutes or more to be seen by the casting folks.  Reading keeps me occupied, it's quiet and doesn't disturb anyone else, I don't miss any announcements (why I don't listen to music), and I stop when they're about 2 people ahead of me to get focused on the audition.  If someone talks to me, I might talk to them, but I try not to get too involved in conversations, both for my own sake, and out of respect for other auditioners. 

This weekend, I watched a woman come in to the audition, and immediately begin pestering the woman she sat next to.  First she needed a pen, then she wanted to know who did the other woman's headshots, how she'd found out about the audition, if she knew of other casting resources besides SF Casting, if she'd ever lived in LA (the first woman had lived there 3 years), she told the other woman about the production company she was planning to start in 2011, and basically didn't stop talking the whole time she was in the hall.  And while she was annoying, my heart went out to the other woman, who clearly didn't want to be in the conversation, but didn't know how to extricate herself from it.

Here's the deal.  Your prep time is your prep time.  If you don't want to answer someone else's questions, let them know you're prepping, okay?  It's perfectly fine.  I do this and see it done all the time.  You see someone you know at an audition, say a quick hi, and after you've both finished up, you go grab a coffee, or you talk outside.  If one area is too chatty for you and you need quiet, or if you need space to stretch or warm up your voice, take it, (where you won't be in anyone's way or disturb the audition room), and let the person running check-in know where you've gone.

So much of the audition process isn't in your control.  But this is.  So take charge of what you want to do with prep time.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Resource of the Week: Blogroll

So, I've been working on the blogroll feature of this blog, and there's a lot of good stuff over there!  I want to point out especially the working actor's advice in Bonnie Gillespie's The Actor's Voice. Bonnie is an LA based casting director, and her column and column archives are full of helpful info.  I also particularly enjoy the day to day exploits of both The Working Actress and The Struggling Actress.

There are several blogs which chronicle the Bay Area theater scene over there, including Chad Jones's blog, and The Idiolect (written by TBA's Sam Hurwitt).

And a few places to get in discussions about the bigger picture of the theater world: 2amt (asking the theater questions that keep you up at 2am.  And Parabasis, which used to talk theater more exclusively, but is changing into a slightly broader blog.

And, you're using a feed reader to keep track of the blogs you like to read, right?  Google Reader, FeedDemon.  I have these two sync'ed up, so I can read blogs on my phone or at home or anywhere I want.

Happy reading!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

technical difficulties!!

One of the kinds of work I do is voiceover (voiceover is the kind of acting work that is voice only - all radio work, and any time in an on-camera setting when there is a voice but not an actual human talking, that's voiceover). 

Voiceover has gone through a lot of changes in the past few years - the equipment has gotten cheaper, and the tech has gotten easier.  It's near impossible to be a voiceover actor without at least having the ability to record your auditions at home (which means you need a mic, a quiet room, and editing software).  I've been doing auditions at home for about a year, but typically when I book, I get asked to go to their studio to record the job. 

However, yesterday I got asked to do a job where I'd record the job from home.  I've got my cell phone earbuds on underneath my studio headphones, so that I can hear the client when they call, and I've got my software program open (Audacity - it's a free download and super easy), and I'm using this new thing called Dropbox - a cool way to send the audio files to the folks at the other end via what seems like magic elves to me.  We're nearing the 1/2 way point of the 2 hour session, when Audacity starts bugging on me - the program crashes almost every time I hit 'stop recording'  I take a suggested break to reboot my computer, and then when I get Audacity open, it doesn't recognize my mic.

I'm troubleshooting as fast as I can, with suggestions from the audio engineer at the other end of the phone, when my screen freezes.


I tell the client what has happened, they get off the phone and I spend the next hour working through the problem.  When I'm finally able to call them back w/working equipment, we need to reschedule for another day.  They were cool about it, but this was really stressful for me. 

I was glad for the chocolate sorbet in the freezer, and while I'm confident that I've fixed the original crash issue, I've got my fingers crossed for today's rescheduled session.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Resource of the Week: The Library

It's free.  Thanks to the internet, the catalog is available 24/7, with the option of requesting that books get held for me at my branch.  It's got scripts, acting books, biographies of actors, an amazing archive of film, soundtracks and scores of musicals, and did I mention that it's free?

And, if your library (like San Francisco Public) is connected to the Link+ system, that means you're able to borrow from even more libraries than just your own.  Link+ is a network of libraries that includes public libraries and college libraries all over the state of California, as well as UNLV (they've got a lot of scripts). 

When I'm looking for something in the online catalog, if they don't have it in the SF Public library system, I'll see a button that says 'search link+' which then searches this larger network, and usually finds a copy of what I want.  I make a request, and it gets sent to my branch of the library, usually in a week or so.  There are some limits to getting DVDs and CDs from these other sources, but I've been surprised at what scripts and reference books I'm able to get from it.

So, before you go ordering from Amazon or Sam French online, check the library - you might be able to save a few bucks!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tools of the Trade: Resume

I have four different resumes right now: stage actor, on-camera actor, theater educator, and a 'general' resume for when I apply for day jobs that want a resume.

Stage actor and on-camera actor are basically the same resume, just with information in a different order (stage starts w/stage credits and has a truncated on-camera section, and vice versa for the on-camera one). Both are one page, and saved in two formats - one w/normal margins for when I send it via email, and one w/skewed margins so I can fit it on the back of an 8"x10" and only have to cut it on two sides.

My acting resumes mention that I'm a theater educator/teaching artist, and my theater educator resume mentions that I have acting experience. 

My theater educator resume is about two pages in length, lists everywhere I've taught, broken down by age group, as well as descriptions of some of the classes/topics I teach.

My general resume changes every time I use it (which is really only 2-3 times per year).  Depending on what I'm applying for, it may mention some of my teaching work (because I have supervised others, planned events, and managed group communications as part of that work), but it has never mentioned my acting work. It's usually about two pages long too.

The additional document which I consider crucial is my master gigs list.  Organized by year, it's a list of every acting and teaching job I do, every class I take, and anything else that I might want to include on a resume at some point.  It's not all on my resume, but I have it all in case I need it or want it.

How do you do things?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Resource of the Week: Theatre Bay Area

Theatre Bay Area is a membership organization for theater companies and individual artists.  It is the only organization in the entire country doing what it does.  They offer discounted tickets to the general public, comps and discounts for members, publish a magazine, give out small grants, and once a year they run a general audition attended by most companies in the region.  They do a lot of other stuff too.  For an actor interested in working in the Bay Area, membership is a no-brainer.

Here is their website: Check it out!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Thanks for joining me!  I'm going to be writing about what happens in an actor's life, for an actor working in a regional market.

Two things you'll need to know:
1. The San Francisco Bay Area refers to the northern California nine county region that includes San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Marin, Sonoma, San Mateo, Solano, and Napa.
2. I believe actor is a gender neutral term.  I'm female, but I never call myself an actress, any more than I'd call a woman who directs a directress, a woman who heals the sick a doctoress, etc. I may unpack this more later.

But in the meantime, thanks for pulling up a screen as I get started!