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The Agent Diaries – March 2015

Monday, March 2nd

It is a great way to start the week by booking Nick McNeil on the CBS show “Under the Dome!”

All day I dealt with film and television auditions that were not taped correctly, edited or labeled per casting instructions.  It is frustrating!  One thing I don’t like is doing double the work especially when detailed instructions were sent to the actors.  It is the actor’s responsibility to read, read and read the instructions again and relay this information to the person who is taping the audition.  Another issue is when file sizes are HUGE.  It takes a long time to download and upload.  You can go to www.mpegstremclip.com to download software that will enable the file size to be reduced without losing quality. Agents do not always have the time to make sure actors follow instructions. It makes everyone look unprofessional when instructions were not followed. To make your auditions stand out make sure you have an excellent reader, take the time to work on the character and have your dialogue memorized. You need to deliver a performance as if you were already on set since you only have one shot to make a great impression.  Lighting and sound must be great for studio approval. Use a good quality camera, not on a cell phone. You might try to save money by self-taping, but unless your home setup is top notch then go to a taping service. Your agent will thank you; the casting directors will thank you.  I cannot tell you how many auditions were missed and not submitted to casting due to actors not paying attention to detail and self-taping.

Tuesday, March 3rd

Nothing exciting to write about today.  I sat at the computer all day working… a typical day. What else is new?

Wednesday, March 4th

I had a chemical peel last night.  My face is the color of a pumpkin and I am hiding in my office.

I sent callbacks out for a Florida Hospital commercial and submitted on more film and television projects that are filming outside of Florida. One casting director is looking for a real blind man, another needs a real veteran type in a wheelchair.  These are tough roles to fill.  Glad I am not a casting director.  Agents can always say “I don’t have what you are looking for.”  Casting directors can’t.  God Bless the casting directors and their assistants.

I wish that actors would book out when they are not available.  I go through the work of submitting or pitching them to casting only to find out they are not available. I also wish all actors had passports. You never know when an opportunity will come in for a job that films out of the country.

I sent an e-mail to actors who auditioned for a pilot shooting in Miami letting them know first refusals have gone out.  I love this response I received from Isaac Rossi “I have no doubt that I can only go up from here, and I will book one of these one day soon! Just gotta move on to the next one”. Isaac is always positive, never complains, is grateful for auditions and doesn’t sweat the small stuff. I need more Isaacs in my life!

Thursday, March 5th

Below is a list of film and television roles that came out this week.  They are all from different projects filming in the Southeast.  I hope this will encourage actors to have a variety of headshots that their agent can use for submissions.  Some actors have one or two headshots.  That is not enough. Actors should know their bookable essence and what roles they are right for.  Would you have the right headshots for the roles below? An actor can never have enough headshots with different looks. It could mean the difference in being requested to audition or not.

  • LOUIE CONNORS Caucasian. Male. Late 30s-40s, a tennis pro in Beverly Hills.  Athletic-looking and very handsome.  A womanizer.  Smooth talking guy who has many affairs with the women at his club.
  • VIKING LEADER (Male, Caucasian, mid 40s)–A tough, brutish, and commanding man who conquers a village and does not hesitate to take captive anyone who he deems useful to his cause. Physically imposing.  English or generic OLD WORLD accent.
  • GWEN / REDHEAD A redheaded bartender at The Boobie Trap, Gwen is a voluptuous woman who is prettier than her employers (and the customers) deserve.
  • SEAN HENNESSEY 50s, seen in flashback, this rugged, hard-working man is Eli’s father, a blacksmith by trade who seems to have some sad knowledge about an impending tragedy.
  • GUARD This prison guard informs Radha that she has a visitor
  • DR. BOBBY WALKER  (Male, All Ethnicities, 28-35) A charming, sexy, ER doctor at Emory Midtown University Hospital. He’s a one-man welcome wagon to Katie and her students during their visit. Normally, he’s not afraid to mix work and play, but when situations turn serious, his demeanor will quickly follow suit.
  • RAE DUFFY Mid to late 30s, Attractive, brash, savvy, and flirtatious, with a great sense of humor, she was the high school girlfriend of Gordon’s (Scoot McNairy) older brother. Once a delinquent youth growing up in California’s Central Valley, she is now a single mom who owns a local bar. She and Gordon re-connect when he returns home for a visit… GUEST STAR

Friday, March 6th

One of my actors is in Atlanta.  He had a callback last night for a film and two callbacks today for pilots.  I love killing three birds with one stone! Although when he arrived to one of the auditions, he found out the director and producers fell in love with an actor they met the day before so he read for a different role.  Hate when that happens…but, I believe everything happens for a reason.

My exciting plan for tonight is to stay home and watch my face peel like a lizard. Now that is a reality show!

Shout out of the week goes to Kelly Malik super mom to Aiden. Kelly and Aiden’s grandmother Shirley  made countless trips to Wilmington, NC where the TV show “Secrets and Lies” was filmed.  Aiden plays the role of Tom Murphy, the young boy who was murdered whom the show is centered around. I hope everyone is watching this show and all shows that are filmed in the Southeast.  The show was cast by Feldstein Paris Casting. Ryan Phillippe can be my daddy any day of the week!

Aiden hanging with Ryan Phillippe

Aiden hanging with Ryan Phillippe

Monday, March 9th

Randall Miller, producer and director for the feature film “Midnight Rider,” pled guilty today and was sentenced to two years in prison for involuntary manslaughter in the death of camera operator Sarah Jones. First AD Hillary Schwartz received ten years probation. Roger Floyd and Bill Kelly booked the film last year, but was unable to work on the film.  This is a horrible situation for all parties.  We seldom give safety a second thought on sets. Please keep safety in mind when working and if your instinct is telling you something doesn’t feel right speak up!

Still no money from producer Steve Tatone for the film “Blind Pass”. It has been 3 years and 3 months since the actors worked on his film. SAG said he has been sick. I manage to pay my bills when I am sick…don’t you? I will not quit fighting for the actors until they are paid.

Every actor I know wants to be on the hit AMC show “The Walking Dead”.  Good news the show will resume production in May.  For those who have been watching the show Jordan Woods-Robinson plays the role of Eric, one of the first homosexual characters to be introduced on the show. Jordan shot 4 episodes and will have great footage for his reel. Go Jordan!

Jordan on the set for “The Walking Dead”

Jordan

Tuesday, March 10th

It is a typical work day.  I am sitting in front of the computer answering e-mails and phone calls. The following are samples of a few conversations I had today with different actors:

Me:     Can you please upload your new headshots on your actors access profile?

(Does your agent really need to ask you to do this?) 

Me:     I tried to submit you but, you don’t have the agency listed on your actors access page.

Next: 

Actor:   What should I wear to the audition?

Me:      Figure it out.  

Next: 

Actor:  When does this shoot?

Me:      Read the email.

Next: 

Actor : Did callbacks go out?”

Me:     If they did, you would be the first to know”.

Next: 

Actor:  Do you think I will get an audition with my new headshots?

Me:      If I was psychic, I would pick the winning lottery numbers”.

Next: 

Actor:  Do I need to memorize the dialogue?”

Me:      Not at all.  It doesn’t matter to me if you are prepared so you can do your best.

           (I wanted to say “REALLY?  ARE YOU  @*%#*^* KIDDING ME?.”  But, I kept my

           mouth shut…miracles can happen!) 

The life of an agent isn’t that exciting.  It sounds glamorous but, it isn’t. The only carpet I walk on is the one in my house and office…not the red carpet. Maybe that is why I keep thinking of stories to share with you instead of boring you with the stuff I deal with on a daily basis that I am sure most agents go through.

Wednesday, March 11th

I am so excited!  The Go Fund Me campaign for Film Florida met the goal of $7,500.00.  Due to the donations, the goal has been increased to $10,000.00.  I am on a mission to meet the new goal.  Too bad I am not that dedicated to haul myself to the gym. The “Rally In Tally” is today. A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who donated money, wrote to their Senator and Representative and is attending the rally.  We will know the beginning of May if our hard work will pay off for the tax incentive to be funded. Tamara Austin sent this to me:  “I want to work in my home state!” Hopefully they get the message. Thanks again for being a great agent and a strong fighter for you and your people. Your ambition and strength is not only admirable but contagious. Makes me proud every day to call you the agent who represents me.”  Thanks Tamara!

Casting director John Peros & Mary Rachel Dudley and Annette Victoria, Chip delVecchio & Mary Rachel at “The Rally In Tally”

RITImage

Thursday, March 12th

I received this email from Isabella Ianuzzi, one of my young performers.  It gives me hope for the future that children are taught to be thankful. I send thank you notes to producers and clients.  I hope you take the time to send thank you notes to people who have helped in your journey. Sending a written thank you note is better than one sent by email.

“Hi Miss Traci!

Thank you for your support and for sending my audition along. Knowing that you thought I did a good job means a lot to me. I always try to do my best so that you and Miss Peggy are proud of me!!

If the producer thinks I’m right for the part then that would be awesome!!!!! My braces are off and right now I am eating popcorn and taffy!!!!

Love,

Bella

I turned down a low paying non-union commercial casting to work on raising money for Film Florida.  Everyone has priorities.  Today this was my priority.

Friday, March 13th

I do not know what is up this week with actors needing drama therapy.  I don’t know if it is because today is Friday the 13th or the sun, moon and stars alignment but, actors are depressed about not booking. I have never met an actor who wants to book less roles. Of course actors want to book and without actors booking jobs agents would go out of business. This is a tough business and it has become hard for anyone to book a job.  It is the reality of the business and you must bring your A game or sit out on the bench.  Time to pick yourself up from your boot straps, pick up the pieces and move forward.  The best advice I can give any actor is when the audition is over FORGET ABOUT IT. When you second doubt yourself your mind starts playing crazy games.  Your angel and devil personality is talking over your shoulders and messing with your head.  Slap them silly and send them packing on a long vacation to your sub-conscious.

I am going to Tampa tomorrow to watch a master class at Performer Studios Workshop with Lori Wyman.  I am looking forward to seeing actors I represent as well as new actors looking for representation.  Not to mention I am going to the International Mall on my way home!

Monday, March 16th

The master class was great. It is refreshing to see actors working hard on their craft.  Commercials are a look, personality and technique. Acting for film and television is a whole different ball game.  Brevard Talent Group represents actors for commercials and/or film/television.  There is more work in the Southeast than ever before. I gave up representing models years ago.

WE DID IT…we met the goal of $10,000.00 for the Film Florida “Go Fund Me” campaign.  Thanks to everyone who made a donation.  We could not have done it without your support.  I am so happy!

Mom and dad of the week goes to Helene and Jim Cavanaugh for their dedication to drive their daughter Alana to Atlanta to work on the AMC television show “Halt & Catch Fire”.  On the show Alana plays the daughter of Scoot McNairy who portrays Gordon Clark.  Alana films her 13th episode today.  Not bad for a child actor in the Southeast.  Not only is it important to support your child in the business but, it is more important to keep the business in perspective and not let it run your life. One day your child is working, the next day they are at school and/or doing chores.

Alana in Atlanta waiting for enough snow to build a snowman…every kid’s dream who lives in the Sunshine state!

Alana

Tuesday, March 17th

It isn’t a great way to start the day with actors who DO NOT READ INSTRUCTIONS! I am sick of it! Do not respond to an audition until you read ALL of the information. I send everything that I can to actors so they can be fully prepared.  The least the actors could do is READ THE ENTIRE audition notice before accepting the audition.

I wrote letters to House Representatives to support House Bill 451. If I can find the time, so can you. Make sure you check www.filmflorida.org daily for legislative updates or call to action where you can help make a difference by sending emails to support the film incentive.

I was contacted by casting for two actors who worked last year on “The Walking Dead” with interest for the actors to return next season.  I guess they were not eaten by zombies.  Dahlia Legault’s episode aired on Sunday.

Dahlia with Michael Cudlitz who plays Abraham on “The Walking Dead”

TWD3

Wednesday, March 18th

I will call this day “Who Knew Mandy Moore Would Become Mandy Moore?”  Mandy was a pre-teen when she shot an industrial for “Disney Quest.”  Who knew Mandy would become a pop singer and actress at the same time that Disney had the right to use her image forever.  Not me and not her agent at the time. Not too long after that I saw a picture of my client Dean Napolitano on a bus advertising “Wet & Wild.” Dean shot a commercial and the client pulled the image without my knowledge and without paying any additional money. I had enough of producers having the right to use a talents image in perpetuity in commercials. Although I was not Mandy’s agent, this situation upset me so I started an agent association. The agents got together and agreed to set booking policies and limit terms on usage.  Guess what?  It worked for many years. Agents stuck to the agreement to work together to make the market better and stand up for the actors’ rights.  Then new agents entered the business and took whatever auditions came in without limiting usage and caring about actor’s careers.  In 2007, I organized another meeting with agents and casting directors to address this situation again.  I told everyone at the meeting if this continued we are “cutting off our nose despite our face” and it will become difficult for actors to make a living in this market. Without actors, agents and casting directors would be out of business.  Steve Benz walked out of the meeting in a huff. And, then something special happened that I will never forget.  Kirsten Dalrymple, founder and owner of Azuree Talent Agency, stood up and let everyone know that in the long run there are more important things to deal with in life than this business.  The following year Kirsten passed away from cancer. Her words have stuck with me through the years.  She was right.  I find myself working in a market where rates are lower and the way a client can use the talent’s image has increased due to changes in advertising. This week a breakdown went out for a Disney commercial that pays $400.00 a day. The standard Disney release gives them the right to use your image forever in all media. I don’t understand why anyone would think this is acceptable since Central Florida is the theme park capital of the world.  I refer back to the diary entry on February 9th.  What are you worth? How much have you put into training, headshots, marketing materials, gas, time and therapy? I wish I had the energy to organize another meeting with agents and casting directors but, I don’t.  Are you in the business for fun and to make a few bucks or are you in it for a career?  Actors are paid for their talent and image. If I hear one more time “I needed the money so I accepted the job” I am going to lose my mind! My advice is GET A JOB…or two or three! Desperation is a disease.  Very few actors make a living in the entertainment business without supplementing their income through other means. You never know where your career will take you so think twice before you accept an audition where you have to sign away the right for your image to be used forever.  This is my opinion so take it for what it is worth.

Thursday, March 19th

It is spring cleaning at the agency this week.  Out with the old in with the new. Time to release talent from representation due to a variety of reasons. If you have not received a “Dump Notice” you are safe. One of the actors was released because I have waited over three years for new headshots.  A few were released because they do not respond to auditions. I know this is shocking but, true. Others because they have too many agents. Some suffer from the disease I call “Desperate & Needy.”  I do not know any agents who want to work with desperate needy actors.  If you are a high maintenance actor you better be a big booker!   The most common reason that most actors are released from the agency is that I seldom hear from them…no updates on what and how they are doing…if they are alive or dead. It is not up to your agent to make sure you are breathing! There is no point representing actors I don’t call who are not proactive with their career. It is the reality of the business…agents dump actors and actors dump agents. I am a 54 year old semi-crazy woman inching closer to menopause every day.  I can’t deal with incompetent people who don’t take this business serious. From the beginning, I wanted to be a small boutique agency that specializes in film, television and commercials. That will never change. I do not understand how agencies represent thousands of models and actors and brag about it. The highest compliment I receive is when a casting director refers actors to me.  It means I am on the right track which is always a good thing.

Friday, March 20th

WE DID IT!  Brevard Talent Group raised over half of the $10,000.00 goal for the Film Florida “Go Fund Me” campaign. THANK YOU to everyone who donated! I was a woman on a mission and with the support of everyone who donated, that made me one very happy agent.

This week I had two things that have never happened before.  Number 1: an appointment confessed she was not wearing panties. TMI.  Number 2: some nut job started a twitter account for one of my actors and pretended he was said actor tweeting away like he was the actor.  Now that is freaky!

It is “Bloodline” week at Brevard Talent Group! The new TV show “Bloodline” is available today.  Lori Wyman cast the series that shot in Key Largo. It is the first time actors can watch the entire series in one day that was filmed in Florida. This will be my first time to “binge watch” on Netflix…I can’t wait! I am looking forward to seeing my clients Dan Bright, Claire Bronson, Larry Bukovey, Tyler Cravens, Andrea Crouch, Josue Gutierrez, Bill Kelly, Fernando Martinez, Jeremy Palko, Zach Robbins and Owen Teague.

Monday, March 23rd

I received the following from casting director Tracy Kilpatrick. “FROM THIS POINT ON IN OUR DEALINGS, I AM REQUESTING THAT YOU AND YOUR TALENT REFRAIN FROM USING THE TITLES OF PROJECTS WE ARE WORKING ON IN ANY TYPE OF SOCIAL MEDIA (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc).  It is important to our producers to preserve the integrity of our projects.  Please let your talent know this immediately and ask them to remove any references to current projects.”

This brings up a good subject about social media.

Yes or no to social media? That is the question all actors need to think about.  It is a given that every audition an actor receives should be considered confidential. The breakdown and sides you receive should remain private and should not be shared with anyone no matter what your intention is.  Do not post any information about the project and storyline.  Never post your auditions on YouTube for the general public to view. A few years ago, lawyers from the television show “Army Wives” contacted agents to have auditions removed from YouTube because members of the “fan club” were finding out about future story lines and blasting it all over the internet.  When in doubt do not post anything on social media.

Once you have booked a job the game has changed. It is important to be relevant in the business and a great way to do that is with social media.

 

I asked social media guru and actor Tom Hillmann to share some social media dos and don’ts.

 

Social Media 101 for Actors

by Tom Hillmann

@tomhillmann

Social media is now being fully embraced by studios and networks to create buzz and publicize their projects. Verifiable reporting shows “live tweeting” ratings for shows which tells advertisers that viewers are watching live, thus seeing commercials (which help pay the bills for free content). http://www.engadget.com/2013/10/07/nielsen-twitter-tv-ratings/

Here Are a Few Social Media Pointers

Auditions – It’s really best not to talk about auditions too much. Remember you are competing. It’s possible your competition wasn’t sent on the audition. Play this game to win. If you do talk about an audition or a call back, NEVER mention the name of the project. EVER. If you have put anything up on social media and used the name of the project without permission, delete it now.

Working – When you are on set, ALWAYS ask a producer what their social media strategy and guidelines are. (If you ask a PA, they will often not know, and tell you “no.”) Some projects encourage Tweets and pics from set, as long as no special makeup, wardrobe, set pieces or story line are given away, and often only if any photos taken on set are held and not released until press begins. If you play it dumb and think it’s “easier to ask forgiveness than permission” in this case, you could be fired and sent home. Millions of dollars are at stake.

Press – When the premiere, or launch of the product you worked on is close, monitor what the studio or company who produced the project is doing, and follow their lead. It’s usually at this time that any pics you took on set are allowed to be released. Mary Rachel Dudley worked on the CBS show “Reckless” and that show actually had a Social Media Specialist email Mary Rachel with guidelines and stills of her to use leading up to the air date of her episode. She “live tweeted” during the broadcast, and got some great compliments from the show’s writer/creator/Executive Producer. Which brings us to the next point:

“It’s About Being Social”

When I was working on the CW show, “Star-Crossed,” William Shatner, a fan of science fiction shows, began “live tweeting” during broadcasts, and he and I have kept in touch over Twitter ever since. An invaluable lesson is that you never know who you will run into when you are being social. Mr. Shatner is known for explaining the concept of Social Media in a very simple way: “It’s About Being Social.” You can watch a show together with the stars, writers, creators, and luminaries like Mr. Shatner, and snark, laugh, and gasp while engaged online. Studios love this of course because people are drawn back to watching shows like a “live event.” Remember to use discretion, courtesy, and decorum. Everything you say is in public and is forever on the internet. Think of it as if you are at an entertainment industry party and stars, writers, producers, directors, studio executives are all there with you. Be polite and on your best behavior. Some social media advisors suggest you keep certain divisive topics off the table like politics, etc.

As a professional actor you can use social media to build relationships which has the added side-effect of promoting your work.

 

 

I suggest you contact Tom at www.TomHillmannMediaDesign.com for websites, demo reels or promo post cards.

Tuesday, March 24th

It is a typical day at the agency.  Actors are not reading information for their auditions and then letting excuses role off their tongue.  I had one actor who I asked to correct the file he sent and then he sent the same exact e-mail without READING the info that was sent the first time.  When am I going to stop preaching about this?  I had another actor who turned down an audition for a Tom Cruise film. Really?

Wednesday, March 25th

I had two appointments today.  Both boys, ages 10 and 15.  I really love this part of my job. You never know what will happen and who I will meet and that includes the parents.  I also made a pact with myself when I turned 50 to be honest with encouraging people to pursue acting or other another career that they would be better suited for. And, I always encourage college for teenagers. The truth hurts…but, doesn’t everyone want to hear the truth and not have smoke blown up their a double ss?

I am sure all agents love to receive set pictures from actors.  It is also a great idea (if I don’t say so myself) that you print a picture or two and send a written thank you note to the casting director who booked you on the project.

Dan Bright with his new wheels on the set of the CW pilot “Cordon” shooting in Atlanta

Dan Bright Cordone

Thursday, March 26th

I am leaving the office early today to attend and speak at “The Gasparilla Film Festival.”  I am looking forward to seeing a lot of films including “In Lieu of Honor” starring Rus Blackwell written by Mary Rachel Dudley. I am so proud of Mary Rachel for making her dreams come true!

Friday, March 27th

Three things I know for sure:

# 1  Actors are their own worst enemy.

# 2  I never want to hear another monologue as long as I live.

# 3  I hold a lot of keys to Pandora’s box.

Monday, March 30th

I had a great time at the “Gasparilla International Film Festival”.  I will confess I have not attended many film festivals.  I was proud of the “BTG” actors who appeared in numerous films that were being screened at GIFF. What struck me the most was the positive energy in the crowd.  The filmmakers were so proud of their films and were networking with other film makers. It was an honor to be invited to speak at the festival.

“Break A Leg” Panel: Julie Schubert (Casting Director), Cinda Snow (Snow Entertainment), Sabyn Mayfield (Panel moderator, director & producer), Kelly Paige (Level Talent Group) and Traci Danielle (Brevard Talent Group)

Gasparilla Panel

Tuesday, March 31st

I will close the month by saying “Be grateful for what you have. Make the most of it what you don’t.” Being 5’ tall did not stop Danny DeVito from moving to New York to become an actor. Being a little person did not stop Peter Dinklage, or Tom Cruise who has dyslexia, or Marlee Matlin who is hearing impaired, or Michael J. Fox who suffers from Parkinson’s disease. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. What is stopping you?