Monday, July 22, 2013

How Managers Can Build A Star...One Step At A Time.

Wendy Alane Wright is a Hollywood Talent Manager with WAW Entertainment. Her clients have appeared in numerous national commercials, movies, webisodes, short films, and on television networks such as ABC, NBC, Comedy Central, BIO, Lifetime, plus many more. Previous to being a Manager and a Talent Agent at Burn Down Entertainment, she assisted many high profile Managers, Agents and Publicists in the careers of Neil Patrick Harris, Johnny Galecki, Sarah Michelle Geller, The Four Tops, The Bee Gees, Meatloaf, Whoopi Goldberg, Steve Guttenberg, The Cranberries Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand, Kenny Rogers, and Neil Diamond. Wendy is also a Recording Artist, Actress, Author and Music Producer all  giving her a 360-degree perspective of the industry.

As a developmental Talent Manager my job is to bring clients up from one level, to the next. They start with a fairly empty resume, so we build it. They start with minimal training so we build it; adding cold reading, improvisation, audition techniques, scene study and acting. They begin doing students films, Webseries, and short films to get experience and perhaps some footage for a demo if we're lucky. (Not all student footage is good. They are still learning too remember?) When a client has trained properly for commercial auditioning we get them a commercial agent. Hopefully they book and book and make some money! 50% of actors income comes from commercials.

Here is a resume of a 16 year old in Kentucky. She is serious about becoming an actor and her resume PROVES it. Look at the training she has had and the theater she has done. How does yours compare?  Click on this link to see Alicen's resume. This is what you need to start building your resume into.

Then it's time to move to the next roles, guest-star, recurring, series regulars and feature films. This is where it gets TOUGH. The competition is fierce. All your ducks have GOT to be in a row. You can not waltz into this stage. If you could EVERYONE would be a star and all actors would work. But only 5% of actors are successful and actually make a living at acting. 95% do not. And those 95% do not pay my bills.

It's in my best interest to try and create an Actor in the 5%. My God that's hard work...and I don't even get paid really until I do! That's why you'd better be following your manager's direction to a "T" if you want to navigate these turbulent rapid waters...waters that throw most Actors out of the boat. This next stage separates the boys from the men, the wannabes from the doers, the curious from the serious. Stick to it. Shake off the rejection. Make sure you have THE BEST headshots and demo reels to represent you. Understand you need to learn about the business side of this business if you are going to succeed.

And sadly, this is where actors think they know more than everybody else and spend years making stupid mistakes until they get burned out and quit. I see actors who have been in LA trying to get discovered and never do because they  are using Headshots their friends took and horrible demo reels. Urghh. They just don't get it. The competition in this business is off the charts. You MUST be at the top of your game in your training, your acting skill, your marketing materials, and your business knowledge.

We managers and agents see unrealistic and unprepared Actors so often, unfortunately they are the norm. That's why agents and managers are continually and diligently attending showcases, plays, doing workshops and interviewing new actors, searching for the exception. The turn over rate in this business is incredibly high. We insiders know that. Actors don't. Jack Nicholson's longtime Agent Sandy Bressler said to me recently, "All actors have one thing in common; They all think it's going to happen for them."

As you can see, there is a method to this madness, and an experienced manager knows how to navigate you from one level to another, seeing the big picture that you don't see. Understanding it in a way you couldn't possibly. The trick of management is creating a realistic picture without crushing the dream.

To move to the next level, there is very little room for mistakes. Your Demo reel needs to be great. Not from an actor's point of view, or your friends or family's points of views, or even your point of view, but from the casting director's points of view. You need your professional website up and running with links to ALL your online casting sites (LA Casting, Actors Access). Your demo needs to be on You Tube, uploaded to your online casting sites. When a casting director is investigating you they need immediate access to everything you have. While you are sleeping they are watching your demo reels, viewing your website, reading your resume. If it is difficult to find any of this information...they move onto the next Actor and you lose the opportunity. You might not even know you had an opportunity. Happens all the time - to the amateurs who don't have all their ducks in a row. A manager worth a grain of salt us diligently trying to put all the pieces of the puzzle together so preparation meets opportunity! basically the way it works when you move to the next level is you determine what type you will be type cast as. This is crucial because casting directors want to know exact how to cast you - as the villain, the hero, the dad, the executive, the criminal etc,. (and even though actors can play many things- casting directors don't care about that) they want to know your top 3 roles you will most likely always play in the beginning if your career) Then your headshots should reflect those 3 types.

Then your demo reel should reflect those three it should not be a combination of every role you have been hired to play. It should a combination of the top 3 roles you will most likely be cast as at first.

Once you have met 10-20 CDs and they like your work and are calling you in for auditions you now have some "currency" in Hollywood. I'll explain this more later.

When you get a theatrical agent, they will pitch you for whatever your right for, but it will always be difficult if the casting directors don't know you and if you don't have TV many credits. No matter who the agent is. So getting an agent is a great start... But helping them by networking with CD so the casting directors know you when the agent calls to pitch you is crucial. If an agent can't get you in they will drop you and you will need another agent. If an agent can get you in, and you get a high ratio of call backs, they will keep working with you. If you are not getting call backs when you compete against seasoned actors, they will drop you.

Building your currency with casting directors is something you can control and use to benefit your career. Even without an agent, CDs that like you will bring you in. Happens all the time. So those are all the steps for you. Straight, clear and to the point.

Your job will be to keep track of every audition you have. Send them postcards and career updates every 2 months. The post cards should say what you haves booked lately and what callbacks you have gotten with which CDs.

It's a lot of work, and you spend more time marketing and networking than you actually do acting, but that is how a star is made. And hopefully if you are talented, prepared and downright lucky... you will get great projects, by great writers and directors that become well known and bring you to notoriety:)

It's a long haul, a lot of work and a dream worth pursuing! I love this business. Just hang in there. There is only one word you need to have tattooed on your brain PERSEVERANCE.

Wendy Alane Wright

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