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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

To write or not to write: New Year's Resolutions

I've written in the past about my usual end of year ritual in terms of resolutions.

Then I saw this list of things happy people do, and these look like things I should be doing too.

And, there's this list of resolutions, written in 1942 by Woody Guthrie - I wonder how he did with them...

In addition to being clean, taking care of himself and loving the important people in his life, I'm particularly fond of items 17-20:
17. Don't Get Lonesome
18. Stay Glad
19. Keep Hoping Machine Running
20. Dream Good

May we all keep our Hoping Machines running as we dream good in 2012.  Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Recent Gender inequality stuff/Reminder for Counting Actors December

Two recent news items to point out:
1) A British theater company that puts women's stories onstage may lose its funding. Read that here.
2) Forbes does all kinds of year end lists of actors in relationship to how much money they make and how much their films make - the highest grossing actor of the year - Daniel Radcliffe.  Their 'best actors for the buck' list - which compares a star's salary to how much their film makes - starts with Kristin Stewart and Anne Hathaway at #1 and #2.  This is great, but you could also call this list the 'not agressive enough negotiators' list.  The list that struck me as most interesting (and it's written about here). is the list of 'The Hardest Working Actors' list - from 2007-2010, counting movies (not animated) that earned over $20 million, these actors names appeared most often: 1) Jason Bateman 2) George Clooney and 3) Matt Damon.  Morgan Freeman is the only person of color on the list (at #4) and the only woman on the list is Amy Adams at 8.

And, if you've read this far, maybe you've got something to contribute to Counting Actors for December?  Send it in!  Go here to read how.

And, this is my 101st post! Happy Holidays and thanks so much for reading so far. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

recent reads

Two terrific recent reads for me are John Lithgow's autobiography, and the Esther Freud novel Lucky Break.

In Drama: An Actor's Education, Lithgow covers his childhood and early years as an actor through his first films and Broadway success.  A fascinating small detail: the future Coretta Scott King was one of his childhood babysitters!  His stories of growth and learning, whether through playing Lenny in Mice and Men through many student matinees or from watching the actors work at the Shakespeare festivals run by his father, are moving and honest and also well told.  While I read it in just a few long sittings, some friends have said this is a great backstage book to read in the 10 minutes you can grab here and there.

I learned about Lucky Break after reading an interview with Esther Freud.  Esther is not only one of Sigmund's great granddaughters, but turned to writing while she was a struggling actor as something to do between gigs. She wrote Hideous Kinky, which became a film with Kate Winslet, and from that point became more of a writer than an actor.  Lucky Break is a novel about the lives of a group of actors who attend the same drama school in London, then move through the various highs and lows of their careers.  It reminded me of the old Theatre Shoes (and other Shoes books) by Noel Streatfield, only with more of the daily life (family, relationships, paying rent) included.  Freud is very candid about how difficult the business is for women, and a lot of the book is tedious and heartbreaking, but very very realistic.  Required reading, especially for the starry-eyed younger actors who want to know where they might be when they're 30.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Louis CK is his own middleman

If your attention hasn't been drawn to this yet, let me take you there. 

Comedian/writer/actor/director Louis CK is selling downloads of a recent comedy live show via his own website for $5.  His question "If I put this out here like this, will people buy it, or will they steal it?"

And people are buying it, overwhelmingly so.  At about 1 week after release, his profits have reached $750,000. 

The implications here are huge for the individual artist.  Yes, having a hit series on fX has helped Louie become visible to tons of fans.  But even on a smaller scale, the artist/creator-performer has access to distribution like never before thanks to the internet.

How are we going to use it?

More to read on the Louis CK thing:

his own statement

some NY Times articles here and here

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Now taking requests

Just wanted to point out that I've added a note to the sidebar - I'm fielding questions and topic suggestions from readers - see how to suggest, or question by scrolling down!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Me and my agents: auditions

More thoughts about agents in the Bay Area, this time a bit more personal.

So this is my agency.  They've been my agents for about 3 years, and represent me for on-camera work, voiceover, and print.

Looking back through my audition tracking spreadsheets, while I've had some dry spells, it averages out to about 1 audition every 3 weeks. This past week I had 4 auditions through my agency - 2 voiceover, 1 print, and 1 industrial.

My agency sends audition information via email.  For an on-camera audition, they send me the time, location, character/wardrobe, sides to prepare (if there are sides), potential callback dates, and shoot dates.  Sometimes there's additional character description or direction.  Usually the email comes in the early afternoon and the audition is the following day, and the email has a specific appointment time.  Sometimes, if there is a lot of text to prep, it'll be a day or two before the audition.  But it's up to me to keep my schedule flexible enough that I can fit in those auditions.

For a voiceover audition, I'm expected to record it myself, using my own equipment.  The email they send has a lot of the same info as on-camera does, but instead of telling me when I need to audition and where, it tells me where I'm supposed to send my sound file, how to name it, and when I'm supposed to send it in by - usually I've got 24-36 hours to get it done.

For print auditions I get a similar amount of notice as for on-camera auditions, but sometimes I get a range (show up between 10 and 12) instead of a specific time.   Every once in a while, especially with the hand modeling stuff, there's not even an audition, just a call or email checking if I'm available for the shoot date.  This doesn't mean I've booked it, but that I'm being considered, based on my portfolio.

If I'm not available to do auditions, I 'book out' with my agents.  This means that I let them know I won't be available for auditions between day x and day y.  Usually this is because I'm out of town, but sometimes it's because of a tech or shoot schedule for another project, and every once in a while for an intensive teaching/directing project.  I probably book out between 1 and 3 weeks total per year.

Being available for auditions means keeping track of a lot of things.  I've got to keep myself and my audition wardrobe looking good - regularly scheduled haircuts and other grooming appointments, keeping my business suits clean and making sure they're not at the dry cleaners at the wrong times.  I need to be able to juggle what I've got scheduled for the day - I'm thankful to have employers who understand this part of an actor's schedule, and a day job that's around the corner from a casting agency, which makes it easy to pop out for a half hour, do the audition, and then get back to work.  I need to be able to absorb new material fast - for one of the auditions this week I had 3 hours w/the audition sides before the audition.

I remember asking at a Q&A panel with agents several years ago something along the lines of "what are some of the mistakes actors make after they've signed with you?"  And the answer that they all agreed on was when actors are consistently not available for auditions because of other commitments. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Counting Actors November 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:
The Internationalist/Just Theater
The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man in the Moon Marigolds/Custom Made
Pelleus and Melisande/Cutting Ball
Race/ACT (although ACT hires union understudies, and pays them a weekly salary, that's not included in the count)
Sleuth/California Conservatory Theater
Parade/Palo Alto Players (there are 2 writers credited on this project - book writer and music writer)
A Man, His Wife and His Hat/AlterTheater (world premiere)
Mauritius/Pear Ave
The Chalk Boy/Impact

The Stats:
5 female directors, 5 male directors
3 female writers, 8 male writers
63 total actors: 32 men, 31 women
14 Equity actors, 49 Non-equity actors
10 Equity men, 4 Equity women
58 local actors, 5 non-local actors

Folks who shared results this month include actors, producers, and audience members.  Thank you Lauren Bloom, Alona Bach, Roselyn Hallett, Kathleen Antonia, Sofia Ahmad, Ray Renati, Jeanette Harrison, and Melissa Hillman

Thanks for reading.  If you are working on a show, or see some theater in December, please share the results with me so I can add it to this list.  I'm looking forward to a Christmas Carol by Christmas Carol comparison, if I get those results!

Look for another round of results between Jan 1st and Jan 5th.