"The label you give yourself cannot impact external forces that are not motivated by your own psychology or influenced by a third party's pre-existing consciousness of you. We are all presented with reasons to struggle which come from completely external forces; to pretend that one is not struggling is either arrogance or an admission of defeat. To admit that one is struggling is a sign and a source of strength." - Evan A. Baker

Thursday, February 24, 2011

How to Use Actors Access Effectively Part 1

I love Actors Access. I've booked quite a few things off it. I've also used it to cast projects.

I'm helping a friend cast something now, and it boggles my mind how people aren't using AA to their advantage. But, if you don't know what it looks like, how can you use it effectively, right?

First things first: If you're a Struggling Actress (hi!) you NEED this. Go to showfax.com, buy the membership and you get to submit to AA for free for an entire year. You can add a ton of photos, but you always get two free - 2 for you, 2 for each of your agencies. Not bad, right? AND, unlike LA Casting, you can upload all your stuff from your computer, which I absolutely heart.

Second: if you have a reel uploaded to your profile, you get shuffled to the top of the casting director's pile! And guys, if you have ANY skills - like you play the guitar, you sing, you beat box, you can ride horses, PUT VIDEO OF IT UP THERE. If you don't have a reel yet, put up a reel of your skills! That way, you're STILL going to the the top of the list! (and half the time, casting is too busy to actually look at your reel- as far as they know, you're good enough to have booked enough good quality things to get video.)  

Third: Spend money on high quality photographers. Pantheon uses my girl Tanya for almost ALL their commercial talent. And she's FRIGGING CHEAP! Click on the link over there ----->
contact her, and get good photos. What makes a good photo? Pay attention to LIGHTING.

Why is all this important? Because on the film I'm helping cast, you are competing against 1,238 other actresses.

Daunting as all hell, right?

Fourth: Notes. On AA, you get the option of submitting Notes to the casting director. There are a ton of people writing notes like this:

"Dear Miranda, I would like to submit for the role of Justine. Thank you so much for your consideration. Sincerely, Samantha."

IF YOU ARE SUBMITTING YOUR HEADSHOT FOR A ROLE, WE KNOW YOU WANT TO BE CONSIDERED FOR IT. Why are you wasting your time doing that for EVERY role you submit for? I mean, yeesh. I really hope you're cutting and pasting that stuff and changing names around, but you really needn't bother. And it makes you look super green. So stop it.

Your Resume

Take any "featured" roles OFF. If you're going to leave me a note saying you're highly trained and natural, and yet you have "featured," which is just a fancy way of saying "extra," you look silly.

If you are in LA, you MUST put Theater at the bottom of your resume categories. LA is not a theater town. You need to put Film or Television at the top. I have Television leading my resume, because I have way more credits on there than I do film. Also, as soon as I can, I am taking off all my recreated events shows. One day, I will be able to take off "I Didn't Know I Was Going to Give Birth to Sextuplets in a Hurricane the Day After an Earthquake, in a Speeding Bus Driven By Sandra Bullock." I can't wait. Cause obviously, that title takes up way too much space on my resume, but the real point is that there comes a time when your acting career graduates a level. When you have so many network credits that you can take off your student films. Understand what I'm getting at? So yeah, lead with what your market sells (Film/Tv for LA, Theater for NYC) and routinely take off your lesser credits. 

So! Do you want to know what AA submissions look like to casting?

Your headshot is about 2 inches by 2 inches, with 4 columns to a row, 25 friggin rows deep or:

headshot   headshot    headshot    headshot
headshot   headshot    headshot    headshot
headshot   headshot    headshot    headshot
headshot   headshot    headshot    headshot
headshot   headshot    headshot    headshot
headshot   headshot    headshot    headshot
headshot   headshot    headshot    headshot
headshot   headshot    headshot    headshot
headshot   headshot    headshot    headshot
headshot   headshot    headshot    headshot
headshot   headshot    headshot    headshot
headshot   headshot    headshot    headshot
headshot   headshot    headshot    headshot
headshot   headshot    headshot    headshot
headshot   headshot    headshot    headshot
headshot   headshot    headshot    headshot
headshot   headshot    headshot    headshot
headshot   headshot    headshot    headshot
headshot   headshot    headshot    headshot
headshot   headshot    headshot    headshot
headshot   headshot    headshot    headshot
headshot   headshot    headshot    headshot
headshot   headshot    headshot    headshot
headshot   headshot    headshot    headshot
headshot   headshot    headshot    headshot

 We have to sift through 13 pages of that to find who we want to bring in to audition.

For my next post, I'm going to take actual headshot thumbnails and show you what's effective and what's not. If I happen to post your picture for the Whoo Hoo!s, then Awesome! If I put your photo up as an example of an Oh No! Don't worry. I won't use your name.

But I'll do this to help ALL of you to help you get more auditions and maybe help shed some light on why you're not getting called in as much as you should.

Yay!

And here's Part 2 





If you like this blog post, please share it via Twitter or Facebook and help spread the word to your fellow struggling actors.  :)

23 comments:

  1. I love all the advice you give. Thanks for this Lira! Greatly appreciated.

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  2. Thank you for introducing me to that AA site!!! I am awaiting the headshot thumbnails. I'm getting new ones this week & would love to see this before hand.

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  3. Thanks for showing what it looks like on the other side! I had never actually thought about that. I will be uploading my reel there, circa NOW!

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  4. You freakin' rock. I adore you, Lira. (Do I leave that as a comment on EVERY one of your posts? Well, it's true)

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  5. Hi Lira,

    My name is Jenna Pass; I work for Breakdown Services and would love to talk to you!

    Please email me at jennap@breakdownservices.com.

    Best,

    Jenna

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  6. Great post. My husband is a casting director and I vividly remember how much I learned the first time I watched him sort through 1200 actress submissions on AA!

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  7. I'm Glad you showed the examples, there's alot of clueless people out there.People that run there business like its a joke. Black and white photos..wow Didn't know people still do that...
    I think you should show male Examples as well..but females have more issues because of makeup hair and lightening by far..I'm surprise you didn't touch on the cleavage photos or bad clothing options more.

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  8. Hey Nathan,

    People aren't running their business like it's a joke - they're running their business without ever having been shown what it's like on the other side, and they just don't know. I think it's unfair to look down upon people who are new to the biz, or are new actors; we were all new once too!

    And since you mentioned cleavage - I personally don't care for it in photos and pointed out the two photos that were very sexy and sultry without showing off the goods.

    And bad clothing options- I have terrible fashion taste and think it's a great idea to have a best friend come in and pick out outfits for you in your closet - hopefully another fashionable actress/actor friend. They might put together combos that you might never think of. Also, I find that since everything is cropped so much closer now, you really only need to think of clothes in terms of boob level up. Everything below seems to get cropped out and never seen. Embellished necklines are details are great for headshots. Thanks for commenting!

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  9. This is fantastic. As I sift through and catch up on my reader I'm thankful for things like this. I know I've thought about things from the casting director point of view. And I'm had lengthy conversations with many a casting director friend. But I've never actually seen what is submitted to one via any of these casting sites. AA being my site of choice.

    Thanks for enlightening us. As far as the clip/reel/whatever. I have a few and never really gave too much weight to posting it on AA since its all on my personal site. But come on Patrick, Duh. They're not going to go to my site.

    on to read part 2....

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  10. OMG... Such good stuff and don't worry about coming off "mean" we are actors we can handle it or atleast we should be able to.. I took some amazing notes away from this post, thanx a million and I'm now following your blog.. ugh, i fill like I've missed out by just hearing about it..

    "the proof is in the sacrifice"
    nikiva dionne

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  11. Hi Lira!! I love your blog and I am definitely going to follow your advice on using Actors Access. I have a question about writing the cover notes to the CDs; you mentioned not to write that you are submitting for that particular role, do you suggest writing anything? A greeting? Or why you would be great that role? Or confirm you are available the shoot dates? Thanks so much in advance for your answer!!

    Tiffany

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    1. Hey Tiffany,

      Don't bother with a greeting. If they ask for a specific skill on the breakdown, like, "must play guitar!" You can note your skill level on the guitar, "Play guitar at an expert level and have my own band," etc. THAT type of stuff is helpful - showing that you read the breakdown and pointing out you are what you're looking for.

      Don't write why you'd be good at that role. If you're an actor, you should be good at your job, and it's a given.

      Don't bother saying you're available for the shoot dates.

      You don't want to put forth any useless chatter under your picture.

      The most important thing is your photo. Have a fantastic headshot, period.

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    2. That's great information!! Thanks so much for your reply. It's much appreciated.

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  12. Your blog is so amazingly helpful! I just arrived in LA and am a little lost, so resources like this are priceless. Thank you!

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  13. I have always wondered about the reel thing on Actors Access and here is what I have. First of all, with all do respect - having a reel pushes your profile to the top of submissions to a CD is INCORRECT. I have actually CALLED breakdown services and verified this info once and for all. All submissions are in the ORDER THEY ARE RECEIVED regardless of reel or not. If you don't believe me, feel free to call LA office at 310-385-6920 and find out for yourself.

    Now, having said that there are a few other important things. It is still good to have a reel/few clips up there IN CASE casting between being so busy strikes an "interest" to check out your stuff and takes the 60-90 seconds to watch your footage. This is mostly beneficial for indy/student kind of stuff in all honesty.

    Most of the mainstream Casting Directors that I've personally asked - say they rarely even watch a reel because they hardly the time. Also, the RELATIONSHIP between your agent/managers and casting is SUPER important. That's why my manager actually says not to even worry my head off about a reel "on actors access specifically" (not saying don't have it on your website, youtube, etc) unless it's real mainstream tv/film part bookings.

    The reels also help with lesser known agencies/managers when they submit you, casting may not always recognize them, so once again, if a reel is there, they will see it if they want.

    Also on a side note, the comment box on actors access is 2000 characters versus the LAME 160 characters or something on LA Casting. If you have a website, youtube, etc, always direct casting to that in your comments!

    These are my two cents.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Anon!

      I appreciate you taking the time to give us your two cents!

      I was given a tour of the Breakdowns offices right before I wrote this post (did I mention that somewhere...?) and I was told that profiles with reels DO get shuffled to the top. I've used AA as a cd myself before, and I can verify that information. Also, I called Breakdowns using the number you provided and they confirmed that yes, profiles with reels get shuffled to the top.

      I don't know who told you they didn't (perhaps they were new) but if you put yourself in Breakdowns' shoes, one way for them to make money is to charge money to post the reel, and the incentive for you to do so is that your profile gets to the top of the cd's list. I'm sorry you were told otherwise. They were incorrect.

      I agree that tv/film cds are too busy to bother watching a reel - which is why it's a good idea to have them up there; you still get shuffled to the top.

      I wrote these posts to help other struggling actors navigate and understand Actors Access and self-submission. Hopefully one day, we'll all have agents and managers who can pitch us to film/tv cds directly. But until then, we're here on AA, submitting for indies and student films.

      And yes, the 2,000 character limit is a godsend! AA allows you to post links to outside sources, so you can link to your voiceover reel and other youtube clips that you might not have up on your profile.

      Thanks for your comment!

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  14. It is true. However, I actually dont have any videos up & my auditions have increased. I think it depends on your agency too. :)

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    1. Hi Anon, I'm talking about self-submissions here. An agency definitely helps getting one more auditions! :)

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  15. Thanks for this post (came up in a Google search). Quick question: if I subscribe to Showfax, do I still have to pay the hefty price to upload a reel or other videos on Actors Access, or is that free too?

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    1. You still have to pay to upload videos, however their prices have come down quite a bit since they started. It's quite affordable now.

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  16. Thanks so much for your post! Just one question :) I know that the quicker you submit, especially with a reel, the better. Would you happen to know if the Advance role notification option is in real time when the notice is actually posted on AA or is there a delay from when it's posted, to when you're notified via email. Thanks again!!

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    Replies
    1. I'm not quite sure, actually. I think your best bet is to just check AA on the site a few times a day.

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  17. Thanks so much. I just started it today & there seems to be a delay. Checking AA periodically is definitely the way to go!! Thanks again!!

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Play nice.