Over the past 7-8 years I’ve fielded questions and given advice to hundreds of aspiring actors and actresses. It never ceases to amaze me how many scams are out there targeting actors, and how many actors actually get sucked into these scams. I spend a lot of time giving really specific advice on what they needed to do to really break into the business. But for whatever reason, many people would turn around and do the complete opposite of what I told them. Years later, those actors are still not getting good bookings. They get frustrated and burn out and decide to chuck their whole acting dream out the window. Some of them are actually even worse off than they were before they started!
Do your shot in your films look very flat, or washed out? Do your actors come across looking like they have a bad spray-on tan, or blue tinted skin? Have you ever wondered how some digital films have consistently beautiful colors, look beautifully sculpted, and almost look like they were shot on film stock? The secret to great-looking films is usually achieved by color grading.
When I worked as an agent and spoke with people who had never worked with one, it became quite clear that most people have no idea what an agent does or why they should have one. The Dictionary.com definition of a talent agent is simply, “one who represents performers.” This is pretty vague and doesn’t say a lot. If you look up the definition of agent, the first entry is “a person or business authorized to act on another’s behalf.” This comes much closer to describing what an agent actually does. A talent agent has two main functions-to negotiate contracts, and to solicit clients on your behalf.
Attending film festivals can be an awesome experience–seeing great new films on the big screen, walking the red carpet, and feeling the energy in the air can be inspirational to new and experienced filmmakers alike. But festivals serve another very important function for anyone in the industry–the networking opportunities at film festivals can make or break a career. In the fast-paced world of Hollywood, you never know who can help your career in the future. That fresh, new director you met at a small festival–she could turn out to be the next Scorsese, or the guy you were shooting the breeze with in the lobby could be the buyer for an international distributor or the casting director for one of the major studios. Film festivals may be the one opportunity you have to connect with the person that will give you your big break in the film industry.
“Well, um…see it’s about hand fishing, but it’s kind of also about these two guys…” It was clear the man was getting nervous as he stammered his explanation to me. I listened politely for the following two minutes as the older gentleman finished his epic narrative, before excusing myself and moving on to the next booth, silently cursing myself for starting up the conversation to begin with. I was at a film festival, and had asked a seemingly innocent and (I thought) straightforward question: “What is your film about?” Based on the earful I had just received, it seemed as if the director to whom I had been speaking with didn’t really know.