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, November 28, 2011

how is success like flossing?

I urge you to run over here and read what Chris Brogan has to say about success as a daily practice. It's a fantastic blog post and it's right on for the working actor.

Here's a quote:
"Success, near as I can tell, comes from daily effort.  It's not always sexy and it's not always fun, but it's what I do to accomplish some of my goals."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

On-Screen Gender Inequality/Reminder for Counting Actors

Wow - USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism looked at genders of speaking actors in the top 100 films of 2009 and found 67.2% were male, 32.8% were female.  More of their findings (including percentages of actors wearing swimwear and revealing clothing are in this LA Times article.  I did a little more digging and found that Professor Stacy Smith has been looking at gender representation in film for over 5 years.  More about her (incl. links to articles and info about other studies) are here.

I don't have a research grant or a major university behind me, I just have you.  So, did you see, perform, design, stage manage, direct a show this month?  If so, I wanna hear about it! Go here to get the short and simple Counting Actors form, and send it in!

And, if you don't open until December, send that too.  I'll put it in next month's list.  I'll publish Nov results between Dec 1st and 5th.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Resources: Keeping Current

I've just finished my monthly profile/resume check.  I'm so glad I've finally got this cumbersome task in manageable shape.

Here's what I do:   I've got an automated task reminder set to come up once a month on the 20th of the month.  In that reminder, there's a list of all of the places where I've got an online profile, (8 including my website), as well as the different versions of my resume (3 acting ones, 1 teaching one, and the CV/Master List).  I go down the list, visit each profile, and make sure it's up to date - all of the credits are on the resumes, my current projects are still current, and my latest news is still the recent stuff.    Sometimes I get all 12 done in 1 sitting, sometimes it takes 2-3 days, but when I finally mark the task 'complete' it's great to know that I've got it done, and no one's looking at stale outdated info if they try to find me online.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Agents and the Bay Area: The Basics

Based on some questions I heard recently, I thought I'd post some info about how actors and agents interact in the San Francisco Bay Area.

1) where do I find a 'good' agent?
Depends on your definition of good, of course.  SAG (Screen Actor's Guild) lists agents here.  Scroll to the bottom of the page, and then select 'San Francisco' as your city.  There are 9 franchised agents, and one listed as non-franchised.  I'm not sure that franchised/non-franchised makes a big difference for non-union talent.  Given that SAG has chosen to list their contact info, I don't think any of these agencies are going to scam you.  Some only rep very specific types, so doing a little further research into each agency and who they represent before you do a submission would help you know who to submit to.

2) can I have more than one agent at once?
While this may be the practice in other markets, where one agent reps you for commercials and another for voiceover, that doesn't really happen in SF.  Your agent is your agent.  Some people do move from one agency to another as their career grows and changes, but they still only have one agent at a time.

3) do you need an agent to audition for theater in SF?
Nope!    If you're looking for theater auditions, start at Theatre Bay Area, but also check the websites of the theaters you want to audition for.  Many hold general auditions at least once per year, often open to anyone who signs up.

I've been repped by an agency for close to 3 years now.  They mostly send me on auditions for on-camera industrials and commercials, but I also audition for voiceover work (again mostly industrial and commercial, every once in a while a video game voice), and sometimes for print - not high fashion runway stuff, but projects where people are supposed to look 'real'.  I also work every once in a while in print as a hand model.

I think a big assumption that a lot of folks make is that once they get an agent, they can sit back and the auditions and jobs will just roll in.  Even with agency representation, you'll still need to work to build relationships, practice skills and develop craft.  The difference is that now you've got someone else on your team who can put their foot in the door for you, and negotiate better compensation when you do get a job.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

blogs to check out

A blog by actors for actors that looks interesting to me and I just added to the 'roll over there on your right.

Playbills vs. paying bills - not only is it a super clever name, but it's a 3 writer blog - an actor in NY, an actor in LA and an actor in Chicago, writing about what they're learning as they pursue their careers in their respective cities.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

books - biography & autobiography edition!

Roger Ebert's Life Itself - Ebert's memoirs are incredibly articulate and elegant, not only about the good times, but also the more recent and difficult ones.  If you haven't been following his story, after several surgeries related to cancer in his salivary glands, Roger Ebert was left with a disfigured face, and is unable to eat or speak.  Since 2006, Ebert has turned to writing and web-based communication for communication with the rest of the world.
My favorite bit of the memoir comes from when he was a young sports reporter in Urbana, Illinois.  A colleague who had a few more years experience than him watched him struggling to write a story, and said:

"One, don't wait for inspiration, just start the damned thing.  Two, once you begin, keep on until the end.  How do you know how the story should begin until you find out where it's going?"

Ebert goes on to say:

"These rules saved me half a career's worth of time and gained me a reputation as the fastest writer in town.  I'm not faster.  I just spend less time not writing."

Wendy and the Lost Boys: The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein by Julie Salamon felt a little bit sensationalistic at times - one of the major themes is that Wendy was a very secretive person, and that many of her secrets are in the book.  Really exciting to learn a few things though: Peter from Heidi Chronicles is partially based on her friendship w/Christopher Durang!  Wendy's nanny was in a little late night show about spelling bees that she'd made w/her friends, and Wendy saw it and then introduced her friends James Lapine and William Finn to the nanny and that became 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
I'm also trying to imagine what it would've been like to be at Yale Drama School at the same time as Wendy, Christopher Durang, Sigourney Weaver and Meryl Streep. 
The ending of Wendy's life, and therefore also the last few chapters of this book, were a pretty tough slog.
I did come away though thinking that I'd love to see a revival of Uncommon Women and Others, Wendy's breakthrough play about college students at Mt. Holyoke in the late sixties grappling with mixed messages about feminism.

One other side thing: my website is finally on the other side of its major overhaul.  Take a look, won't you, and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Counting Actors October Results

This project began in June 2011.  Links to results for past months (as well as how to send in a report in the future) are here.

10 Shows counted:
Sticky Time/Crowded Fire (for this show, the writer and director are the same person)
The Magic School Bus Live! Climate Challenge/Bay Area Children's Theater (after performances in the Bay Area, this show will go on a national tour - the opposite of RIII)
Bellweather/Marin Theater Company
Hanging Georgia/TheatreFirst and Bootstrap Productions (non local actor in this production is also non union)
Delicate Balance/Aurora Theater
In the Maze of Our Own Lives/TJT (this show also has the same person writing and directing)
Clementine in the Lower 9/Theatreworks (show also has 3 onstage musicians who are all members of the musicians union; didn't include them in the count)
Almost Nothing & Day of Absence/Lorraine Hansberry Theater (entire cast of this show is people of color; also these two one acts were by different authors, but directed by one person)
The Underpants/Custom Made Theatre Co
Blackbird/Aluminous Collective

The Stats:
 3 female directors,  7 male directors
 2 female writers, 9 male writers
 66 total actors:  31 men, 35 women
 38 Equity actors, 28 Non-equity actors
 19 Equity men, 19 Equity women
 56 local actors, 10 non-local actors

Folks who shared results this month include: Tiffany Cothran, Nina Meehan, Sasha Hnatkovich, Maryssa Wanlass, Cassidy Brown, Jayne Deely, Alona Bach, Melissa Hillman and Carla Pantoja.  This group includes producers/artistic staff, cast members and audience members. 

Thanks for reading.  I'd love to see more folks within the region made aware of this project. If you feel motivated to share this blog post via semaphore flags, skywriting, smoke signals or much faster electronic means like social media tools, email or your own blog, I'd consider you a super-fantastic person.

Look for November results between December 1st and 5th.  That'll be the 6th month of Counting Actors!