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Work Begets Work

August 24, 2012

Over the last two years, I have booked increasingly more work. This is due, in large part, to the fact that I am a brilliant actor. an increasing confidence and an increasing familiarity with casting folks.

The exponentially greater number of shoots I have auditioned for and booked have given me a greater understanding of what folks on the other side of the table want to see; I can read the specs and the sides and have a firm grasp on if I am likely what they are looking for, and how to approach the audition. For the casting folks, they have seen me submitted for so many things, they have a greater sense of what I can do. Plus, I’m pretty likable (once I’ve had my morning coffee).

A few of the jobs I have booked recently have been a direct result of being seen regularly. In fact, there are two production companies I saw monthly for the first half of the year, because they knew they could trust me to come in and get the job done in time, which equals within budget. Repeat clients are the best in any freelance business, but they only repeat if you produce.

A friend of mine recently booked an episode of Army Wives. While on set, one of the casting folks stopped by and chatted with her. He mentioned that part of the reason she booked the episode is because they had seen her so many times for so many other roles that they had an understanding of her range and where she would fit. Her number finally came up! He encouraged her to pass along to her colleagues that every audition matters because they, the casting directors, remember the people they see produce consistently good auditions. That was encouraging to hear.

Being on set, and being attentive on set, gives you keen insight into why you booked that job, and how you can book others in the future. Sometimes it is something over which you have no control – you had the right look – but sometimes there was something in your audition that clicked with casting’s goals. The more you are attuned to feedback, the more you are able to get yourself on set, or in rehearsal, and the more likely you are to get more jobs. It’s simply a matter of confidence – and numbers. I see a dramatic difference from my auditions of two years ago with my most recent auditions; not only am I more adept at reading specs and delivering what the client wants, I am less anxious about each audition, which translates into a more relaxed and confident audition.

At a recent audition for a commercial that would be filmed with coaches from the University of Kentucky, I knew that

  1. They needed the right look for the company spokesperson (don’t have control over that one – I do or I don’t),
  2. They needed someone they could trust to be professional around the coaches (I needed to exhibit that “I’m not crazy” aura),
  3. They needed someone to exude expertise and warmth (that’s my market – confident, warm and caring, authoritative).

As the camera rolled for the audition, I held these intentions in my mind, and then walked away. The rate was fantastic – oh my god, I really needed that job – but I couldn’t linger over whether I’d get a call or not. I had to let it go and look for the next opportunity. Fortunately, I did book it, and I filmed the commercial last week – yea!

Since I live in the hinterlands, when I’m in a (theatre) show, there is not a long list of industry professionals to whom I can send invites. Sure, I can send out announcements and hope that some of them come see the show, but it’s really hard to get traction outside of the region. When I submit for a role, or when I show up for an audition in the theatre, what’s more important is that I’m on my A-game. And I stay on my A-game by finding work to fill up my schedule when I’m not doing a paycheck show. (To be clear, by this I mean that I am just an actor doing a show and collecting a paycheck, in contrast to my solo show project*, where I am the writer/actor/producer/company manager…and currently props/costume/set, as well.) The more I keep putting myself out there, the less I agonize over each individual outcome. I keep track of each individual outcome – that’s an ROI issue – but I don’t agonize over it.

Certainly, the exposure that comes from being seen working is a priceless commodity, but what you are doing with the opportunity to grow as an actor and as a person on each job is even more rare.

Have you noticed a difference in your confidence when you are on a job-booking roll? What are you doing in between paycheck bookings to continue getting exposure?

*For more info about my solo show project, Things We Say to Girls, you can check out thingswesaytogirls.com, follow on Twitter (@TWS2G), and like on Facebook.com/thingswesaytogirls.

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