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Monthly Archives: March 2015

The Agent Diaries – February 2015

Monday, February 2nd

Zach Gossett had a callback today in Atlanta for “Halt & Catch Fire”.  I called him late yesterday afternoon with the good news and his reply was “I will be there”.  No complaining or asking to skype…he realized when you have a chance to be in the room with the director, casting director and producers you get in the car and drive! This is what it takes to be a successful actor living in the Southeast.

So much for the Seahawks winning the Superbowl…maybe next year.

Tuesday, February 3rd

Zach did not book the role, but the feedback was very good. One step at a time before I can deliver the good news “You booked the job”!  I love saying that…it never gets old!   Recently I was asked “What do agents expect from an actor?”.  My response was to be consistent with their auditions, communicate and be in a good acting class.  Is that too much to ask?

Former Tampa Bucs football player Warren Sapp was arrested for solicitation of prostitution.  I have a feeling the Bud Light commercial he appeared in with BTG actors is history…so much for any more residuals.  THANKS A LOT, WARREN!  This reminded me of the Tiger Woods’ drama that affected agents and actors in Central Florida.

Pictured below is Adam Vernier & Leander Suleiman with director John Inwood on the set of an industrial for “Astrazeneca”.  This is the second time in two months that drones were used in filming in Central Florida.

adam_Leander

Wednesday, February 4th

I was reading an article about Suge Knight’s (co-founder and former CEO of Death Row Records) arrest and found out Neil Brown, Jr. has a lead role in the film “South of Compton”.  I met Neil when he was 15 and he became a big booker.  Neil has been in LA for almost ten years and is finally starting to book large roles. This business takes time, dedication and perseverance.  I am so proud of all of the “BTG” actors who make the leap and move to Los Angeles to pursue their dreams. If you are going to dream…DREAM BIG!

Thursday, February 5th

I was reading an article in Vanity Fair about Rosamund Pike who starred in the film “Gone Girl”. One part of the article stood out when she said “I think I needed rather than wanted to be an actor.  There is not another way to put it”. I hope all actors feel this way.  Auditioning for commercials is a book a look.  Actors who are pursuing film/tv must be dedicated, driven and determined.  If not, please get out of the business and quit clogging up the system.  I believe music, sports and acting are the hardest careers to make a living in.  Find out what you excel in regardless what career you choose.  The universe opens doors for you…you have to decide to walk through them or not.

Friday, February 6th

I have had enough of actors this week!  They beg for auditions and don’t go.  Excuse # 1 from today: I am working the night before so I can’t go to the audition.  Excuse # 2: I am in rehearsals for a show at Disney and can’t go.  Excuse # 3: I did not look at the shoot dates until after I accepted the audition and have to cancel.  This is after I confirmed the talent with casting. REALLY?  (insert lots of cuss words).  I guess excuse # 1 is not that motivated. Excuse # 2 does not book out when not available and excuse # 3 jumped the gun and confirmed when I had one time slot without taking a minute to read the audition info.

ALWAYS TAKE THE TIME TO READ THE ENTIRE AUDITION NOTICE BEFORE YOU ASK QUESTIONS AND ACCEPT OR DECLINE THE AUDITION. The top three excuses of all time are…drumroll please…# 1: I could not call you back because the other actors were calling their agents. Thanks to cell phones this won’t happen again.  # 2: I could not mail your commission because I could not find a post office box.  # 3: I thought I should call you back if I could go to the audition, not if I couldn’t. I hope you are as shocked as I am.  I need to write a book called “Lame Excuses From Actors”.  Maybe it would become a best seller and I could retire.

I will quote casting director Richard Futch “Actors are the laziest group of people in the world…except the good ones”.  I second that motion! I only want to represent the “good ones” who GET IT and bust their ass to do their job. This rant is dedicated to all of the lazy actors who need to stop with the excuses.  A big THANK YOU to the ones who aren’t!

This business burns people out…only the strong will survive. I guess after 25 years I can be considered a survivor.  I am buying a lot of lottery tickets this weekend…power ball here I come! I can see myself surviving on an island with a massage therapist, a personal chef and Will Haze as my cabana man.  5:00 can’t get here fast enough!

Monday, February 9th

I did not win the lottery.  I am back at work.

What are you worth? I received a breakdown today that came out of New York for a commercial for Zest. A national name brand product that is available in stores across the country.  The rate was $300.00 for a FOREVER buyout.  Who would work on this? Is your image and talent worth more than this?  I am sure agents and plenty of actors will jump at the opportunity.  Actors are paid for their talent and image.  Exposure is great if you are compensated fairly and the terms are limited. How much money and time have you invested in your career?  The only person who can answer “What are you worth” is yourself. The only person who has complete control over your career is yourself because you have the ability to accept or decline an audition.  If you work on low paying jobs with bad terms you are hurting your career and future opportunities.

I emailed agents, casting directors and acting schools urging them to make a donation to the “Film Florida Go Fund Me” campaign.  Film Florida is working on our behalf for an incentive.  If we do not receive any money into the program this year I am afraid we are dead in the water.  Actors and crew members bitch about lack of work, but will not take the time to make a donation.  What are you waiting for?

http://www.gofundme.com/FilmFlorida  A BIG THANK YOU to Kelly Paige at Level Talent Group for the countless hours and trips she has made to Tallahassee as the legislative liaison fighting for our future. It will be interesting to see what happens this year. Women in Film is having a meeting next Wednesday that I will be attending to find out the status of the house and senate bills.

Tuesday, February 10th

I had a great conversation with casting director Mark Mullen today. It was nice to catch up and talk about the state of the business.  One of the issues we discussed is talent who do not take the time to complete and keep their on-line profiles up to date.  It may not be a big deal to you that you did not input your information on your profiles,  but in the long run it creates more work for everyone.  It is your job to make sure everything is updated, credits are current and pictures are uploaded.  Time and time again I have to remind actors that this needs to be done. And, sometimes, I don’t have the time so they don’t get submitted.  So on behalf of all casting directors raise your right hand and repeat after me “I do solemnly swear to keep all of my on-line profiles updated”.  THANK YOU!

Commercial auditions have slowed down.  We should be slammed this time of year. I remember the days that we had numerous SAG national castings in one week.  Kathy Laughlin and her former partner Lillian would have two castings in their office and would have to book a room at a hotel for a third casting.  Actors and parents of young performers were driving all over the state for auditions.  It was common for actors to make over $ 150,000.00 on a Sea World audition.  Yes…I said one hundred and fifty thousand dollars.  Some made more. I had one family of four who made over $ 850,000.00 on a Carnival Cruise Line commercial.  Not many agents or actors are left who remember what I refer to as “The Good Ol’ Days”.

Wednesday, February 11

I booked a bunch of actors to work as SAG extras on a commercial for “Sklya” commercial shooting in Tampa this week.  We should give all of the production coordinators and crew a big round of applause for their hard work.  I can complain about sitting in front of a computer all day long, but at least I don’t have to work super long hours and report at 5:00 am for work.

I interviewed three new clients today. I love talking to them and getting to know their essence and goals.  Everyone is different and unique. I especially love talking with kids and their parents.  If your child does not want to be in the business don’t force them.  Don’t be the “stage parent” that everyone talks about.  I should do a reality show called “Stage Mom Rehab”. I have already started a list of mom’s for the first show. This could be the best television ever watched!

“BTG” extras working on a SAG commercial for “SKYLA”….is this pay to play?  Looks like it is!

Skyla

Thursday, February 12th

While it is nice to be important it is more important to be nice.  I personally know most of the casting assistants in Florida.  I am always shocked by the stories they tell me when an actor comes in and doesn’t treat them with respect and talks down to them.  They are not here to serve you…you are there to make their day go smoothly and to interview for a job.  You never know if the casting assistant one day will become a casting director.  Nice goes a long way in the business and in life. The only power a casting director has is to submit or omit. You can’t get a callback and book if you are not submitted to producers.  I believe in the Golden Rule “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you”.  Imagine what the world would be like if everyone felt this way.

I also heard that actors and parents of young performers are posting unkind comments about casting directors on facebook.   I would hope your time would be better spent doing something positive.  Actors can control everything they do until they leave the audition.  Then it is out of your control;  the best advice I can give an actor is  when the audition is over forget about it and move on.  Like Elsa in Frozen sings…”Let it go…let it go”.  This is my new theme song!

Friday, February 13th

A common complaint I hear from taping services is when actors show up unprepared and their dialogue has not been memorized. This is a job interview…show up 100% ready to get the job!  Make every minute count when you are taping and don’t spend time memorizing your lines when that should have been done before you arrived. Enough said!

I heard from a law firm today that is trying to track down one of my former clients who passed away last year. The actor has residuals that needs to be paid.  I want to encourage every actor who has union film/tv residuals (not commercials) that you contact SAG-AFTRA to find out what you can do to make sure your beneficiary receives any money after your passing.  Hard stuff to think about but, we plan everything in our life including estate planning. This link might help:  http://www.sagaftra.org/content/how-contact-us#not

Monday, February 16th

It is “President’s Day”.  In honor of all the Presidents who have fought for our freedom, I will spend the day being grateful that I live in America. We have running water and a toilet.  Americans take this for granted, but think about the people around the world who don’t.

Tuesday, February 17th

What is going on? It is slow.  I don’t like that.  “Mercury Retro Grade” ended on February 11th.  Hey Universe, it is time to pick up the pace and start commercial auditions and pilot season!

Why do I have to constantly remind actors to update their resume and reels?  Is that my job?

I am working on a non-union commercial renegotiation.  I do not have a copy of the release, the actor did not receive one and the ad agency did not have it on file. After much digging the ad agency found a copy.  DO NOT leave a set unless you have a copy of the contract. It is a legal binding agreement and you have the right to receive a copy.  If production tells you they do not have a copy machine ask for a duplicate to be signed.  If production tells you they will send one to you or your agent (that seldom if ever happens) make a copy of it with your phone and tell your agent you did not receive a copy of the release.  Sounds like basic information, but I deal with this all the time.  Scan the release, email to your agent and keep a hard copy in your files, as well as a digital copy.

Wednesday, February 18th

It is slow and cold outside.  I am working to catch up on emails and update files.  I would rather be sending auditions out. So far this is the slowest commercial season I can remember.  We started the year out good…time for round 2. I am attending the Women in Film meeting tonight. More to report tomorrow.

Thursday, February 19th

Time for Throwback Thursday. When I started as an agent over 25 years ago, Florida was third in production.  The press called us “Hollywood East”. My how times have changed.  Now we are barely a blimp on the map.  Productions will come to Florida if they HAVE to due to location, but they will pick another location that has a film incentive if they have a choice. I remember when the film office in Florida took a briefcase with one million dollars in cash to Los Angeles to entice the TV show “Seaquest” to film at Universal Studios.  It worked!  The show relocated to Florida employing hundreds of actors & crew. What a concept!  Our commercial season started after Labor Day until end of April.  There was more SAG commercials than non-union.  Not anymore….those days are GONE! Not many actors are left in the market that were around during that time.

I am frustrated that I can’t get actors to donate $ 20.00 to the Film Florida ‘Go Fund Me’ campaign. I am not surprised that our elected officials in Tallahassee do not consider the entertainment business a priority. Amy LoCicero had 2,992 likes on the “BTG” Facebook page for booking the tv show Ballers.  (By the way Amy had a great time working on the show…Go Amy!).  The last time I checked the “Rally in Tally” post had 282 and the Film Florida “Go Fund Me” post had 266.  For the life of me, I don’t understand the lack of participation.  Everyone needs to support Film Florida! If you don’t then you have lost the right to complain.  The group “Americans’ for Prosperity” are fighting hard against any tax payer dollars going towards the film incentive.  They are on my shit list!  I can’t stand the Koch brothers, but reality is they have a lot of money to fight against us.

At the Women In Film meeting last night Orlando’s film commissioner Sheena Fowler encouraged everyone to attend the “Rally in Tally” on March 11th. Film Florida received an invitation from Visit Florida to participate in tourism day in Tallahassee which is a huge honor and will enable the association to reach out to Senator’s & representative’s asking for their support.  Senator Nancy Detert has been our hero in fighting for an incentive and will file her bill this week.  Don’t miss this opportunity to get involved and make a difference. Please forward the information to your friends in the business and plan your road trip to attend “Rally In Tally”. Sheena said to “Be positive and patient”.  Positive I got…patience I will work on.

Friday, February 20th

I hope everyone had a great week and is looking forward to the weekend.  I am heading out of town to see my accountant and wrap up my taxes for the year. I had three calls this week from actors who booked jobs through other agents and have not been paid, but  heard that BTG actors were paid.  I am not sure when I become the “Pay Check Cop”, but word of advice, whenever you work try to get a copy of the call sheet or take a picture of the call sheet and get the clients’ information in case it is necessary for you to follow up.  Agents are licensed by the Department of Business & Professional Regulations. The law states that agents must pay talent within 7 days of being paid. Most of the commercial talent is multi-listed.  If you are with an agent that “Robs Peter to pay Paul”, then get another agent.

I am super happy that the Film Florida “Go Fund Me” campaign has over $ 4,000.00 in donations. Thank you to everyone who has donated.  Shame on those who haven’t.

I am looking forward to watching the Oscar’s on Sunday.  I wish I had the time to see all of the films. Maybe next year.

Monday, February 23rd

I watched “Birdman” this weekend.  It should be called “Birdpoop”.  I admit it…I did not like it…maybe it was the wine I was drinking that confused my ability to understand the film or maybe it was due to dealing with actors for so many years that I don’t need to see that story on the big screen. I have lived it!  Since the film won for best picture it goes to show I have no idea what I am talking about.

I had a great conversation with my good friend and first A. D. extraordinaire Barry James Zimmerman about actors and set etiquette.  The conversation could have gone on for hours on the do’s and don’ts of what is expected from actors.  Common sense should prevail. However, sometimes actors need to be reminded.  First of all show up before your call time.  Barry said there is always someone who is late and/or lost. There is no excuse when you can google or use your phone for directions. If you are doing your own hair and make-up show up camera ready.  Pay attention and leave your cell phone in your pocket or purse. Don’t hog craft services.  Don’t wait to go to the bathroom until right before you are called to go to set.  Be nice, listen and be prepared to jump when called to action.  Bring a pen to sign paperwork and don’t ask production for your agent’s address.  Being on set is a great learning experience for an actor. Don’t be that actor that production talks about and doesn’t want to work with again.

Tuesday, February 24th

Film/TV auditions are finally picking up.  Hurray! Some of the breakdowns gave the opportunity to submit for series regular roles.  I am going to see Jackson Browne in concert tonight. Please don’t make me feel old by asking “Who is Jackson Browne”.

I called an actor today for an audition.   I was told “I can’t go due to work”.  I asked the actor before they turn down the audition to find out if he could get his shift covered.  If you say no too many times agents will quit calling you.  I know that life gets in the way and actors cannot commit to every audition but, when they are few and far between don’t decline until you have done everything possible to accept.

The tv show “Graceland” is coming back for another season.  Jeff Meshel is the new casting director.  Jeff sends out breakdowns on Casting Network. Make sure profile is updated.  A few films are shooting in Florida. None of them for the entire film but, however long they are filming, I am grateful.  Tim Burton is in Tampa shooting “Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children”. The future academy award winning film “Sharknado 3” is filming in the Orlando area. “The Infiltrator” starring Bryan Cranston will be filming in Tampa in April but, from what I understand, they are not casting any principal actors from Florida.  Lori Wyman is casting a few roles for the film “Arms and the Dudes” and a pilot called “The Untitled Autopsy Project”.  Imagine what would happen if we had incentive money to offer for other projects!

Wednesday, February 25th

The concert was great!  First time I had a backstage pass that I didn’t go backstage.  The best thing about having a backstage pass is having access to the bathrooms.  Sad but, true.

FINALLY film/tv is picking up.  I knew it would happen sooner or later.  I hope actors take the time to watch the tv shows that film in the Southeast.  We are fortunate to have the ability to research shows.  Do your homework and don’t wait until you have an audition to do your research. I love the new show “Empire”…you have to watch it.  My other favorite show is “Blacklist”.  James Spader is amazing!

Thursday, February 26th

Time for a “Throwback Thursday” picture with former casting director Mel Johnson back in the 90’s.  Mel moved to Florida from Los Angeles and was the first casting director to work at Universal Studios.  Mel cast “The New Leave it to Beaver”, “Superboy”, “Swamp Thing” and “Super Force” to name a few.  Mel always loved working with actors and whenever I had a new actor to represent he would take the time to personally meet the actor. Mel’s assistant Kimberly married Mark Mullen who handled the bulk of Mel’s business when he left Florida for a few years.  Mark continues to cast many actors in projects. You never know where a person will start and their career will take them.

I worked really hard today to catch up.  It felt good leaving the office knowing I did the best I could.

Traci-Mel

Friday, February 27th

It is the last day of the month.  I can’t believe I made an entry every day in the diaries.   If actors are dedicated to pursue this wild and crazy business then I can continue writing and encourage actors to never give up on their dreams