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!

The entertainment industry is filled with scams. Most actors find that out the hard way, to the tune of thousands of dollars, months and months of wasted time, and no bookings. Think that could never happen to you?

Take a look at the short video from one of our previous acting workshops, where this young actress shared her own experience with a shady agency.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_E9MeExBCo[/embedyt]

 

A true agency is very selective about the actors and models it represents.

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.

So why don’t we hear more success stories about people getting their big break after meeting a big Hollywood player at a festival? Simple–most people come across as bumbling idiots! The vast majority of filmmakers and actors never take the time to prepare what they’ll say or how they’ll act when they do meet someone.

“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.

Huh? The person who wrote and directed this movie couldn’t explain what it was about?

Believe it or not, this is not really all that uncommon. It turns out that even though most people spend hours and hours working on a project, they are seemingly unable so sum it up with a few simple phrases. Since that encounter I’ve taken to asking that question to filmmakers for fun, just because I like to see people squirm with the nervous energy of being forced to boil their lifelong dream of a movie into three or four lines.

Copyright law has been protecting the rights of writers, filmmakers, and creators since even before the birth of the US. For years, copyright holders have had all rights reserved on any original work that they created, which means they had the ability to charge money and license their original work to others without fear of anyone stealing or copying their work.

However, the new millenium has brought with it the age of sharing–we share statuses on Facebook, we share photos on Instagram, and we can even share videos on YouTube. To some, our old copyright laws seemed restrictive in the dawn of this new era. So in 2001, a group of people created a set of new copyright laws that actually encouraged creators to share their work with others. And thus was born Creative Commons.

Creative Commons is a US non-profit organization that helps creators legally share their knowledge and creativity with others. They provide free, easy-to-use copyright licenses for creators that are standardized to give the public permission to use and share their work on the conditions of their choice, or some rights reserved. The Creative Commons licenses are recognized all around the world and over 1.1 billion works have been shared under their licenses on platforms like YouTube,

Well, it appear that the old adage of the “starving artist” is not necessarily true. According to Hollywood Reporter, the film industry reported has reported an average 2% year over year increase, reaching a record of $9.78 billion in gross box office sales. And those figures are just the box office–they don’t include rentals, DVD sales, licensing, or any other ancillary sales. According to figures on the Digital Entertainment Group’s website, DVD shipments in 2008 reached almost $10.3 billion just in North America alone, almost double the amount from three years ago. Though there are many changes happening in the industry with the advent of file sharing and availability of online media, it is evident that the industry is still making money, and still has huge growth potential.

My thoughts?

“Show me the money!” ?

Sources:
Hollywood Reporter http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/film/news/e3i7fcfe6ddd3b5d6c2eb0c8cc511b3bb7f

Digital Entertainment Group http://www.dvdinformation.com/industryData/index.cfm