Let the Academy Awards Rev Up Your Acting Career

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There’s the Gregorian calendar year, the Chinese calendar year, the Mayan calendar, and many other quantifiers of an epoch.  But an actor’s year is marked by the Annual Academy Awards.

Another year has passed, and this Sunday we’ll all be tuned in to see what the darlings of the film industry are wearing, we’ll laugh at their insider jokes, applaud the amazing performances, glean insights from riveting speeches, and hopefully, be inspired by their triumphs.

With all the hoopla, it seems to me the acceptance speeches are the portion of the show that truly engages and moves the populace along with the press. And for good reason; let’s face it, we all want to know how these luminaries got to the pinnacle of such an awe- inspiring and challenging career.

When you hear actors’ speeches, does that get you to thinking about what you might say if you had the grit, determination, talent, wherewithal and good fortune to bag an Academy Award? Who would you thank?  Would it be adlibbed or planned in advance? Thoughts of all those acting classes, headshots, auditions, acquired skills, odd jobs, commercials, and a variety of other projects you’d done would be swimming through your head. Think about it, you’d be so grateful you stuck with it and persevered through the minimizing comments like, “Oh, like everyone else in this town, you want to be an actor?”  

Hooray for those actors who actually get recognized! They’ve made the necessary
sacrifices to reach the top.  And whether anyone out there in TV land agrees with the decisions made Sunday night or not, they paid the price to be the best. Nobody gives it to you for free. At that level, you have to earn it.

Have you been crossing things off your to-do list on behalf of your acting career? No?! Get going!  Dare to dream! Think of yourself up there holding Oscar in your hands thanking everyone you know, and be grateful you’ve been given the talent and opportunity to act. Yes, there’s luck involved, but if you don’t put yourself in place to be lucky, well then, you are unlucky indeed. Get out that to-do list and start checking off items this Academy Awards year. Get new headshots, get in class, network, sing, do theatre, audition for a webisode–go, go, go!

There will be more Academy Awards–one year at a time. Hope to see you there!

Casting Frontier Launches Digital Photography Studio

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Casting Frontier has proudly launched a Digital Photography Studio in our newly renovated Hollywood office. Our state-of-the-art studio includes a well trained and personable photographer, the latest in Canon camera and lens technology, multiple backgrounds, and a versatile lighting package that optimizes quality and detail.

Headshots are your calling card, and serve as your first impression to industry professionals. Quality photos can speak volumes about what makes you unique as an actor by capturing your sparkle, your intensity, your depth, and passion. Your picture is worth a thousand words! So, as you submit yourself for roles, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are my current photos the best they can be?
  • Are my current headshots suitable for the roles I hope to book?
  • Are my photos up to date?

There is no limit to the number of photos you can take during your session, but remember the shoot lasts forty minutes. And here’s a deal you can’t beat: All annual Premium or Premium Plus members get a 40-minute photo session for just $75. However, anyone with or without a Casting Frontier profile is welcome to have his or her headshots taken. Additionally, following your shoot, a CF consultant is available to review and select photos, as well as upload the selections to your Casting Frontier profile, and you receive a DVD with all high-resolution photos.

So, call (323) 300-6129, or email headshots@castingfrontier.com to schedule an appointment. We look forward to capturing your authentic and self-confident look that will lead to you booking your next gig!

Be That Remarkable Spokesperson in Casting Calls

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The Geico gecko, the perky character of Flo in all those Progressive commercials, the Dell Dude, and before that, the Pillsbery Doughboy…these are some of the many spokespersons whom are forever embedded in our national consciousness. Merely seeing these figures, we immediately think of the company or product they represent. It’s a dream come true for any company to find that perfect spokesperson. Not only do they increase brand awareness, they increase sales. So, as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, companies will be out there, vigorously searching for the next spokesperson to represent their services or products. Think of who is most likely to fit the bill. The most beautiful? Well, the Doritos girl was certainly that, but the Verizon Can You Hear Me Yet guy, Smokey the Bear, and the King from Burger King were clearly chosen for other qualities. Foremost, a spokesperson needs to be remarkable for whatever reason. Marketer, entrepreneur and blogger, Seth Godin, uses the example of cows to illustrate what companies are looking for. When you’re driving and you see cows on the side of the road, all those cows become just another cow and become boring. After all, isn’t that why they say to count sheep to lull you to sleep? But if you look out the window and you see a purple cow, that’s remarkable!

So think of how you can be that purple cow. Is it the quality of your voice, your look, your moves? Whatever it is that makes you stand out, make sure you download it to your Casting Frontier profile. Simply by adding your voice samples, or headshots reflecting that look, or adding a reel showcasing those moves, your chances to be considered as a spokesperson will significantly increase. Your specialties will immediately become available for Casting Directors to consider for their casting calls and TV auditions. It’s their job to find a purple cow! Will it be you? To hear Godin’s illuminating lecture about standing out, click here. 

7 Headshot Tips for TV Auditions

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As an actor, you need to do everything in your power to procure auditions–because if you don’t audition, you don’t book. There’s no doubt, great actor headshots boost your chances of booking auditions. One good photo can speak volumes about what makes you unique as an actor and as a person. When casting directors are sifting through a sea of talent, make sure your headshots stand out for the right reasons. Here are some tips to make sure they do.

 

1. First of all, get professional headshots. Don’t try to pass off photos of yourself that a friend snapped of you. Casting directors can immediately tell the difference between amateur and professional pics. Professional photographs show casting professionals you take your career seriously, and you’re willing to properly invest in your career. Remember, you’re competing with thousands of other actors who have professional shots. 

2. Your headshots need to accurately depict you as you currently appear. This means your pics need to capture your current hairstyle, age, and physique. Of equal importance, be natural, relaxed, and authentic–allowing your fierceness and confidence to shine through your eyes. Instead of overly relying on make up, look your best by getting enough rest the night before your shoot, and drinking plenty of water. Some also swear by exercising earlier in the day, and eating foods that make your skin glow.

3. What colors to wear: Color headshots are standard. Casting directors need to accurately assess your hair, eye, and skin colors. Commercial headshots generally call for a broad smile as well as brighter color clothing or backgrouds. These headshots can be used for commercials, sitcoms and some comedic roles. On the other hand, when you audition for theater, film, and television dramas, your headshot usually calls for a more serious or intense expression as well as muted colors. These tendencies are not written in stone, however. Most importantly, make sure to choose colors that work for your skin tone and eye color. Earth tones and subtle colors tend to focus the eye on your face rather than your clothing. 

4. Go for at least 3-4 general looks that suggest various roles or essences. Ask yourself what a casting director realistically might cast you in. If you’re not sure, you can get some ideas at http TypeCastMe.com. Remember that a business suit can suggest entrepreneur, office worker, lawyer, FBI, healthcare worker, detective, and more. Jeans and a t-shirt reveal a casual look and can suggest college student, athlete, geek/nerd, blue color worker, girl/boy next door, among others. A quality, stylish shirt can suggest a parent, model, preppy, cougar, etc. Many actors simply opt to bring their favorite outfit. And why not? If you feel confident in it, your self-assurance will shine through. Whatever looks you decide to go for, make certain to arrive at the shoot with clean, pressed, and lint-free clothing. And having a hair style that appears clean, neat, and compliments the looks you’re targeting is equally important.

5. Make sure your head and upper torso are in the shot. Casting directors need to be able to quickly assess your general physique. 

6. Upload your headshots onto your Casting Frontier profile. Having to print out headshots quickly gets expensive when you consider the various looks you’re presenting to casting professionals. Printing out headshots is also inconvenient, not to mention a waste of trees. By posting your headshots on Casting Frontier, your pictures are immediately accessible to agents and casting directors. And once you get called in for an audition, the relevant commercial executives, directors, and producers will be able to readily view all of your pictures with ease.

7. In case you need to print out headshots, here are some basics. Some casting directors who are still doing things the old-fashioned way may require you to provide them with a printed headshot. If so, the standard size is 8 x 10 inches with matte finish, and your name printed anywhere on the front below your photo. A printed resume will need to be stapled to the back of the headshot. So, have a white or black border framing your headshot; this allows you to camouflage the staples by stapling where the photo and border meet.

Display Genuine Positivity in TV Auditions

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“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” –Oprah Winfrey

So it’s been a rough month full of family issues, job stress, the car broke down, you had a fight with your loved one, and now you need a root canal on top of it. Not the best frame of mind to audition for that energetic, joyous, tap dancing coffee drinker you’re supposed to portray this afternoon. How are you supposed to go into your callback embodying genuine, enviable good cheer when you’re feeling like you need that cup of coffee with a splash of kaluah just to get out of bed?

Because commercials are so short, they almost always require happy, bubbly characters so the viewer associates the product with positive feelings. Also, because it’s imperative you show respect and courtesy to the Casting Assistants, other Actors, Camera Operators, as well as the Casting Directors, you want to show up at the casting facility in a positive frame of mind. 

What tools can an actor pull out of his or her sleeve at such moments? How can you smile a genuine smile—not one affixed to your face with glue requiring you to act happy?

According to CEO of Good Think Inc., Shawn Achor, who researches and teaches about positive psychology, 90 percent of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world (your clothes, house, car, spouse, etc.) but by the way our brains process the world. Speaking about what most motivates people’s behavior, Achor says, “What I’ve found is that most companies and schools follow a formula for success, which is this: If I work harder I’ll be more successful. And if I’m more successful, then I’ll be happier.” But this way of thinking is scientifically unsound because every time your brain experiences a success, you generally end up changing the standard of what real success looks like. For instance, if you book a local commercial, now you have to land a national commercial; if you’re a supporting cast member in a play, now you need to get the lead role in order to feel you’ve achieved success, and therefore happiness. As there will always be a bigger goal to strive for, your brain never feels it’s sufficiently achieved success with this model, therefore making genuine happiness elusive.

But, our brains actually achieve happiness following an opposite model. Achor insists, “If you can raise somebody’s level of positivity in the present, then their brain experiences what we now call a happiness advantage, which is your brain at positive performs significantly better than it does at negative, neutral, or stressed. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise. In fact, what we’ve found is that every single business outcome improves.”

So, you can try to uplift your mood by listening to Bobby McFerrin sing Don’t Worry, Be Happy. Or, with all the recent studies on brain research, you can try some of the proven strategies to increase your optimism. By doing so, you can actually rewire your brain–allowing it to work more optimistically and more successfully. Here are five things you can do:

1. For 21 days in a row, write down three new things each day that you’re grateful for. After 21 days, your brain gets in the habit of scanning the world for what’s positive, instead of what’s negative.

2. Journaling about one positive experience you’ve had over the past 24 hours allows your brain to relive it.

3. Exercising reduces tension and stress, releases mood-raising brain chemicals, and teaches your brain that your behavior matters.

4. Meditation allows your brain to focus on tasks at hand throughout the day.

5. Random acts of kindness build your own optimism. An example is to write one positive email a day praising or thanking somebody in your social support network.

By doing these things, you’ll train your brain to reverse the formula for happiness and success—and help create a revolution of optimism.

Get motivated to become more optimistic listening to Shawn Achor speak about the happy secret to better work by clicking here.

Update Your Actor Resume, Get More Casting Calls

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“I’d update my resume so you’re ready for any outcome.”Bob Weinstein

Okay, so you got new headshots recently, everyone agrees they’re first rate, you’re ecstatic they came out so well, and the new look is rockin’. You’re set, right? Wrong! You also need to update your resume. Headshots are of utmost importance when it comes to casting, but actors can underestimate the power of an updated resume. Any Casting Director worth his salt looks at every resume possible. How else are they going to know what you’ve been up to? If you’ve been to an acclaimed acting class, or if you’ve just received a rave theatre review, Casting Directors want to know. They are looking for these kinds of details to see how your career and training is progressing, and they want to know that you’re serious about the craft of acting. Understanding the talent pool is a Casting Director’s job. And for most, it’s their passion.
 
What if the clients think you’re a promising novice, but they’re not sure you have enough experience to pull off the shoot? You could be missing out on real opportunities simply by not adding your work as an extra and years of dance recitals. Also, what if you’ve been acting for many years, and you’re getting plenty of auditions; no worries, right? Wrong again. Think of the amount of work you’re missing because the powers that be aren’t aware you’ve done comedy, play the cello, double dutch, and speak Russian. Casting Directors are curious about your talents, and they want to get to know you; but they are not mind readers. So let them know! Engage them. Bring them into your world.

In the past, actors neglected this aspect of the business because of all the hassle making copies of their resumes and then stapling them to the backs of printed headshots. That was a tedious, not to mention, expensive process. But now, updating a resume has never been easier thanks to Casting Frontier. All an actor has to do is log into their CF profile and update away—as often as needed, with no extra fees or hassles.

Immediately after you update your online resume, Casting Directors can get the scoop on what you’re up to…and give you a call!

Super Bowl Bum Day: When Casting Calls for Envy

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So, the bowls of cheesy, salty snacks adorn the coffee table, fifty inches of high-def screen rests on the living room wall; all the hype, hoopla, and analysis is done, the stage is set as you tip a bottle with your best buds raring to go on Super Bowl Sunday. Then, come the commercials…gotta see those famous, infamous, acclaimed, highly-influential, much publicized, awesome national commercials! And, after all, you auditioned for one of them yourself. And then—hey! There it is…there’s the spot you went in for. And there’s the huge smiling-from-ear-to-ear face of the other guy from the callback lobby—he got the part. That guy won the spot; and you lost it. Who cares now if the Patriots or the Giants take home the trophy. Your day is destroyed.

Someone else is getting the exposure you want, they’re getting a lot of money which you need; he gets to tell his mom and friends of his success, add the gig to his resume—and you’re still struggling.

Actors are prone to career anxiety just as all careers are prone to trigger crisis at times. The acting field is notorious for its erratic earnings and rejection. Actor Hamish Linklater from the play Seminar, on Broadway, puts it this way, “In my ideal world there would be 99% unemployment for actors, and I would be the 1% that’s employed. I hear about somebody getting a job at Starbucks and I get jealous.”

According to Alain de Bottom, author of Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, “It’s a real taboo to mention envy, but if there is one dominant emotion in modern society, that is envy. And it’s linked to the spirit of equality…The closer two people are, in age, in background, in the process of identification, the more there is a danger of envy – which is incidentally why none of you should ever go to a school reunion – because there is no stronger reference point than people one was at school with. But the problem, generally, of modern society, is that it turns the whole world into a school.”

As everyone feels envious at times, it’s important to realize we’re all more than our successes and failures. We’re all a work in progress. So, accept the fact that you’re feeling this way, but don’t give in. Instead, use it as motivation, get yourself out there and work harder than you’ve ever worked. Directors, Producers, Ad Agency suits don’t give actors a big-time national commercial because they’re big hearted; they award you the spot because you audition, you’re prepared, you deliver the lines naturally, you take direction–in short, you’re a pro. That’s how you score a big-time national spot. And make sure you have an up-to-date resume and current headshots. There’s nothing a Casting Director wants to see less than an old headshot. Take care of the business of acting, and the acting business will take care of you. Remember: “Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.”

To hear Alain de Bottom speak with witty insight about modern-day envy, click here.

What Do Casting Directors Want from Actors in Casting Calls?

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How does an actor increase his or her chances to be considered by Casting Directors both for a specific role and as a prospect for future casting calls?

Be In Character

First of all, they’re looking for an actor who captures the personality and essence of the character. So, memorize your lines as best you can, but don’t worry if you make a mistake. Rather, make sure you commit to the character, and proceed from there. Remaining in character includes listening and reacting to the other characters in the skit. When another character speaks or isn’t giving you much, don’t simply wait till it’s your next line. Instead, listen as your character would, and conduct yourself in character until you hear “cut.” Casting Directors may be looking for chemistry with other cast members, and if you’re not engaged at all times, the chemistry falls flat. And, be flexible enough to read in a different style if it’s asked of you. In other words, in the spirit of play, be ready to become another character if needed.

Be Professional

Every actor wants to feel valued; and they should. But, remember, in any production, an actor is simply a member of the team where everyone is important. So Casting Directors pay close attention to how well you listen, and how respectful you are to others, starting with the receptionist–who might be the Casting Director’s niece. And keep in mind, the casting process with its long lines of prospective candidates can have a hectic pace. Refrain from complaining about the air conditioning or the long wait. Everyone is experiencing these same conditions. The Camera Operator likely was never given a lunch break and will miss the light of day cramped up in a studio, so try not to take things personally if it seems like you’re being rushed or you’re not given the feedback you feel you deserve. And if you give a poor reading, don’t apologize or blame anybody; let it go, and keep moving forward with all the auditions you can get. The more chances you have to audition, the more likely you are to book!