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, January 24, 2011

Resource of the Week: Fractured Atlas (Health Insurance)

Fractured Atlas is a national organization designed to support both individual artists and arts organizations.  They offer fiscal sponsorship for companies, liability insurance, online classes/tutorials in business skills for artists, and the service that I use is their access to health insurance.  Community level membership (which has access to health insurance, online classes, and member discounts) is free.

You should have health insurance, and this is an easy way to get a basic, no-frills level of coverage.

Fractured Atlas is here.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Dressing the Part

For a recent commercial audition, I was asked to read for a character called 'diner waitress'.  I wore jeans, comfy shoes, and a solid colored plain (no logo) knit top.  At the audition, I saw women sporting aprons and carrying order pads. 

When I auditioned for a scientific expert character, I wore a suit, and watched others walk into the audition wearing white lab coats.

What gives?  To me this behavior is gimmicky.  It's called acting.  In terms of wardrobe for auditions, I always do my best to give a suggestion of the character with clothes that are in my closet.  After seeing this extreme costuming behavior at several auditions, I checked in w/actor friends, and it was almost universally agreed that dressing to give the suggestion of character is the way to go.

This coming Monday, I'm auditioning for a drill sergeant character.  Instructions from my agent were to 'dress the part'.  When I queried further (they don't really want me to show up in fatigues, do they?), I was told boots, khakis, and a plain top.  I think I'm going to bring my mirrored sunglasses as well, in case they want to see them.  I'm curious to see what others wear to the audition...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Resource of the Week: Online Shakespeare and the International Dialects of English Archive

Hey - since I was sick last week, there was no resource of the week.  So for this week, two of them.

1. - all of Shakespeare's plays are online here.  The punctuation can be a little wonky, but the words are there.

2. - the International Dialects of English Archive or IDEA is a resource for recordings of native and regional speakers.  Just choose a continent, then a country, then a state or region, and you'll see a list of recordings with a short biographical note about the speaker.  Each recording begins with the speaker reading a passage that linguists constructed to contain every sound made in English, and then has the speaker talking a little bit about themselves or their life.  Whenever I need to learn a new dialect for an audition or project, I always start here, and pick someone to sound like.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

audition prep: research

Here's what I'm doing today.  I've got an audition soon at a small to medium local company that generates its own work.  They've asked me to come in and do some readings to introduce myself to two directors that they're working with in 2011.    That was all they gave me.

So I'm doing some research.  Started at the theater's website.  No 2011 season announced yet it said on the home page.  But, by snooping through the calendar section of the site, I think I've found the two shows and two directors that they're talking about.  Great!  Now I've got dates of shows, a little more info about the two shows, and director names.  One director I know already, so I'm on his fb page to see what new news there might be in his world.  The other director is a new name to me, but thanks to googling, I've found her personal website, and a few different resumes on the Theatre Bay Area website as well.  I can see we've got a few people in common, from companies she's worked with, and I'm good to go.

Thanks internet.  Ready to rock the upcoming audition with a bit more confidence!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

sick day

Monday I woke up w/a tickle in my throat, and by the end of the day, to quote my 8 year old niece "I couldn't feel my swallows".  Tuesday the stuffiness, vocal fatigue and weird body temperatures kicked in and by Tues eve, I was sending emails and texts to everyone who was on my calendar for Weds so i could take a day of rest and healing.  It wasn't easy for me to do this.  I really resisted taking the day off. 

But I did, so I spent today spacing out, reading, catching up on my hulu queue and getting plenty of fluids and vitamins.  But also thinking about two things, two things that I think are somewhat related to each other, and to why I resisted taking the day off.

First, I don't get sick day pay.  I have a lot of different kinds of jobs right now, but none of them pay me if I'm not there to do the work.

Second, how important showing up is in what we do.  Whether it's showing up to act, to teach, or to witness a live performance, you've gotta be there to do it. 

Stay healthy my friends. So that you can show up!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Resource of the Week: Your Best Year Yet!

YBYY is a book by Jinny Ditzler.  I got it from the library a few years ago, and I really liked it.  It guides you through a set of questions to evaluate the year you've just had and what you'd like to accomplish in the coming year, and gives you a sort of blueprint for the upcoming year. 

Just did a quick google search and found that there's also a website.  Looks like they want a lot of your money though, so the book is probably an actor's best bet.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Tools: Fun with Spreadsheets!

In 2008, I started to track my auditions in a spreadsheet.  In the document, there's a page for each month where I record the necessary audition info - where, when, who my contact is, as well as what I did at the audition, what I wore, and if I got a callback or a booking from the audition.  At the end of the year, I collect all of that info into a year end 'report'

And I just wrapped 2010.  66 auditions.  A 19% 'success' rate (where the audition led to a callback or a booking).  I also know how many times I auditioned, got a callback and/or booked in theater, film/tv, commercial, industrial, voiceover and print.   So I know that my success rate for theater auditions is pretty high (30%) and for commercials it's terrible (0%).

I can also track where my auditions come from - a listing, my agent, etc.  And it turns out most of my auditions come from referrals (a casting person contacts me, and asks me to audition).

I'm looking forward to collecting more data in 2011.  Tracking bigger picture trends (what's the busiest audition month of the year?  The slowest?).   And, I need to figure out how to track the jobs I get without an audition.  Because there were several of those this past year.

Resolutions?  Nah.  But goals based on my tracking, sure!  Here goes:
  • 70 auditions in 2011
  • overall success rate of 20%
  • book a commercial
All right 2011! Let's go!