Advice and Tips for Actors Helpful thoughts on acting from someone who wasn't the least successful actor of all time.

July 20, 2009

The Levin Agency Has a New Client

Guess who’s now represented by Sid Levin of the Levin Agency….

C’mon guess.

Here are a few hints:

  1. He’s goofy looking.
  2. He doesn’t like touching squishy things.
  3. He’s a hack.

Do you give up?  It’s Eitan!  Yup, Eitan has signed for representation in TV/film as well as for commercials (it’s called “across the board” in the “biz”).  With luck this will result in a stream of bookings and lots of work for this poor freelancing biographer.

April 22, 2009

Becoming a Good Actor

People wonder all the time how they can be the best actor they can be.

Learning how to be a good actor can be broken down into two questions.  The first question is, “How do you act?”  This seems to come from a lot from people auditioning for community theater or trying out for their first student film.  It’s natural to be nervous and wonder how the heck to perform in front of an audience or act in front of a camera.

Here are my basics:  Know your lines, know your character, know the story and then try to speak clearly and have fun.

You want more complicated answers here are a few books that I’ve pretended to have read:

Sanford Meisner on Acting
Acting: The First Six Lessons (by Boleslavsky)
Acting for the Camera (by Tony Barr)
True and False (By David Mamet)

The second part to this question is “how do I behave as a good actor.”  And here’s my personal advice on that question:

  • Don’t Be Crazy – Crazy people like to say they’re actors and actors often think they have to be crazy to be taken seriously.  It’s not true.  Some of the best actors I’ve worked with are normal people who happen to be very good actors.  Don’t believe everything you read in the tabloids.
  • Don’t be a Jerk – Actors somehow got the impression that they have to be mean to everyone they meet.  Series regulars are mean to guest stars, guest stars are mean to co-stars and everyone’s mean to craft services.  Don’t.  Be nice.  People like to work with nice folks.
  • Roll With It – Sad fact of life is that lines change, blocking gets switched and scenes get added/deleted.  Relax and deal with it.  No one is out to get you.
  • Be Helpful – Performing a play or shooting a film is a lot of work.  Depending on the union status of your project actors may be prohibited from doing anything but acting.  That means if you’re on the set of Grey’s Anatomy and someone asks you to move a c-stand around, you say no.  But when you’re acting in community theater or doing a student film do us all a favor and help as much as you can.  Don’t let it get in the way of your acting but lend a hand any way you can.
  • Take it Seriously – You are an actor because you enjoy acting and that’s great.  But it’s a job (paid or not) and you need to treat it as such.  No one says you can’t enjoy work, but you’d better put your nose down when it’s time.
  • Listen to Your Director – The director has one goal, make this the best project possible.  It’s not about stroking your ego, it’s not about ruining your career and it’s not about trying to make your life difficult.  If the director tells you to cry as you cross from stage left, then cry as you cross from stage left.  Try it before you start complaining about how it’s not something your character would do.  It’s the director’s decision, not yours.
  • Listen to the Script – I’m stealing from one of the books above but you’d be shocked how many actors see something in a script like “Irving hits his sister” and claim, “Irving would never do that.”  Yes he would, it’s in the script.  Everything you need is in the script.  If you start making up crap outside the script you’re not performing the same play/film as everyone else.
  • Be Friends With Everyone – This is the most important advice I can give, especially starting out.  This doesn’t mean you have to buddy up to everyone and kiss butt.  It means you have to smile, be nice to everyone on set and help in any way you can.  This goes triply so in small projects that don’t pay.  People don’t do student films forever.  They go on and do bigger and better things.  Or maybe their college roommate goes on to do bigger things.  Either way, they become a good ally in this industry.  Everyone says the entertainment industry is about “who you know” and that’s completely true but more importantly it’s about who likes you and wants to help you out.

February 27, 2008

Conan Carroll and Associates Skips Town

Filed under: agents/managers — Eitan @ 10:46 pm

A fair number of people find this website after searching for Conan Carroll and Associates so I want to repost this in case people find this having Googled for CCA.  Apparently they skipped town leaving checks to bounce and unpaid bills.  They were my agency years ago and it’s a shame they went belly up and left so many people in the lurch.  I won’t bore you with stories about how badly the place was run but I’ll just say none of this really surprises me.  The following notice was released by AFTRA today:

###

IMPORTANT NOTICE
Clients of Conan Carroll & Associates, Los Angeles
The AFTRA National Agency Department has been informed that there may
be a problem with the agency you are currently working through, Conan
Carroll & Associates. Recently, we received information that the
license of Conan Carroll & Associates has lapsed, and that the agency’s
bond has expired. The National Agency Department and the Los Angeles
Local Agency Department have attempted to contact Conan Carroll &
Associates several times and our calls have gone unanswered; we have
been told by clients of the agency that they have also been unable to
reach anyone. We have written to this agency, advising them that if we
did not hear from them by this week, their franchise would be
considered surrendered. Since that letter was delivered, we have not
received any response to our inquiry.

Based on the foregoing information, AFTRA has changed the status of
this agency’s franchise to SURRENDERED as of February 19, 2008.
We have heard from at least one member that a check issued by Conan
Carroll has bounced. At this time, we are advising clients of this
agency to withdraw any and all check authorizations you may have on
file with your current employers immediately. If you are owed money by
the agency, or if there are any problems with checks issued by Conan
Carroll and Associates, please contact us immediately.

If you have any questions regarding this memo, please feel free to
contact Megan Capuano, National Director, Agent Relations, at (212)
532-0800, Extension 4305, or by e-mail at mcapuano@aftra.com or Denise
Mazzocco, AFTRA Los Angeles Agency Administrator, at (323) 634-8188 or
dmazzoco@aftra.com.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.

###

July 31, 2007

Are You a Bad Actor?

Everyone actor wants to know if they’re any good. And unless you’ve got an Oscar on your shelf there’s never any conclusive proof you’re a good actor. Over the years I’ve figured out a few flags that indicate if you’re a bad actor and really should be looking for another job.

  • No-Repeat Customers – Sometimes you get lucky and book a part. You might be right for something once. But if the people who audition/work with you figure out you stink they’re not likely to bring you in again. If one job never seems to lead to another, you might want to think about why.
  • No Redirection – Sometimes you’re just not right for a part. So you go in, audition, get the old “thank you” and are shown the door. But if this is happening to you time after time, maybe the auditioners just don’t see much of a reason to re-direct you. Because no matter how much work they put in, you’ll never be able to pull the part off.
  • Career Going Nowhere – This one often happens because of bad business sense. If you never learn how to promote your own work and never learn how to market yourself you’ll probably never go anywhere with your career. This is just as bad for your career as being a bad actor but at least you can learn to promote yourself well. Acting can’t really be learned (don’t worry, there will be future posts on self-promotion as well as my whole “acting can’t be learned” thing). But if you’re been promoting yourself and find that you just can’t get that SAG card, can’t get that first commercial and can’t attract any sort of representation, maybe it’s because you’re just not that good. Unfortunately there’s no good time frame to give yourself to accomplish these goals. Some people take years to get their SAG card, but go on to have real careers. But you have to give your career an honest look and see if it’s moved forward in the last year. If it hasn’t at least moved towards these goals, maybe it’s not just bad luck.
  • “You were in a play!” – Yes, that’s a line from Friends. It’s what the crew tells Joey after his play (which was awful). If you never seem to be in a quality project, maybe it’s because the only people who think you’re good have no idea what they’re doing. Everyone’s allowed to do some bad projects. But if that’s all you seem to do, it might be because the people who do good work know better.

You’ll notice almost everything on this list is subjective. What constitutes a “bad play” or “no progress?” It’s going to be truly impossible to know if you’re any good. Sometimes people work for years before these symptoms start to rear their heads. And it’s tough to walk away from a career, especially if it’s something you feel you “need to do.” But it’s easier to leave now than 10 years from now when you’ve still made no progress/money at it. So it may be worth a thought.

There’s no shame in not being good enough to be a professional actor. I feel only a minor twinge that I’m not athletic enough to be a professional baseball player. I have no bad feelings about not being musical enough to be a rock star. There’s a long list of cool jobs that I’ll never have. But this isn’t a problem, because I’m doing something I know I’m good at which is ultimately more satisfying.

June 4, 2007

New Manager, 2nd Showcase

Filed under: agents/managers,projects — Biographer @ 10:23 pm

Eitan has people. It’s weird because he’s… Eitan. But he does have people. Today he inked (that’s pretentious “industry speak” for “signed”) with Steven Buchsbaum of Ad Astra Management. That doubles the number of people Eitan has to: 2.

Steve will be working with Eitan on expanding his work from the commercial to the theatrical (more of that snobbish Hollywood speak for “TV and film work”) while helping Eitan keep his current commercial career alive. This can only mean one thing, more work for Eitan’s biographer. Horray.

Also, Eitan is hard at work (*snicker*) at producing the second Cricket Feet Casting Actors Showcase. This one will take place July 24th, 25th and 26th at the Promenade Playhouse in Santa Monica. Apparently not enough people had to suffer through Eitan’s “hilarious” performance. Industry guests humored the producers and told them things like, “This is the best showcase I’ve ever seen.” How sweet of them to spare Eitan’s feelings. You’ll find none of that on this biography.

October 23, 2005

Origin-al Eitan, New Agent!

Filed under: agents/managers — Biographer @ 10:14 pm

Well hello there!  Fancy meeting you here.  Welcome to another edition of “What does Eitan want to brag about today?” 

Eitan has a new commercial agent!  Readers would believe that Eitan changes his commercial representation as often as he changes his underwear.  This is not true:  Eitan never changes his underwear.  Actually, now Eitan is with an incredible agency known as Origin Talent.  He was referred to Janet Tscha, the new commercial agent, by a manager.  Janet had just taken over the commercial department and was in dire need of a goofy looking guy who is so full of himself he commissions and entire website to his own likeness and has long stories posted in the vain hope that someone cares about him.  

See previous post for the reason Eitan sought new representation.  Actually, read a few more than that.   The biographer loves it when people read his work.  Eitan is definitely enjoying working with his new agent and hopes not to have to update this biography in another five months with stories of yet another office who represents him.

June 26, 2005

Ray Charles loves Eitan, Ankling the Agent and a New Class

Filed under: agents/managers,bookings,classes,TV — Biographer @ 10:13 pm

Live, from the brand new Eitantheactor.com offices in glorious West LA… here’s Eitan! *sarcastic slow clapping*. Yes, after months of silence Eitan has finally contacted his biographer with an update of his life. Exciting? Not especially.

All of Eitantheactor.com’s Japanese readers are in for a treat. Eitan has acted as the narrator for two episodes of the show “Memoirs.” He can be heard on the Willie Nelson and Ray Charles episodes. It’s seriously an hour and a half of Eitan talking, so this is only for the most extreme Eitantheactor.com fans.

“I’m not representing Eitan anymore, I quit!” This may or may not have been the parting words of Barbara Divisek as she left Conan Carroll and Associates (probably not actually). But either way, Eitan is no longer repped by her commercially. Eitan is fielding various offers from other offices (or trying to get offers from other offices) before he makes any decisions.

Eitan thinks he’s funny. So he’s taking the third class at the Groundlings (writing lab). On July 17th some poor fools will have to watch Eitan and his classmates perform a sketch show of their own writing directed by Roy Jenkins. If by some accident Eitan is funny, please laugh. It’s good for his self esteem.

October 19, 2004

Commercial Braggart, Two Plays and Another Eitan Switch

Filed under: agents/managers,bookings,commercial,theater — Biographer @ 10:05 pm

The world has been enraptured by Eitan’s mug somewhere far in the background of the Hertz commercial for months now (yet still considered a principal actor since technically he’s recognizable (like anyone could mistake Eitan for anyone else (one more set of parentheses can’t hurt))). His sister was heard to comment, “A monkey could have done that job.” Still, Eitan refuses to give up his residual checks and excuse to brag to everyone he knows that he’s, “Currently in a national commercial.” This works especially well at bars.

Currently and for a very limited time Eitan is appearing in a showcase of two original one acts (at the posting of this bio entry there are only two shows left, go to www.sassyhour.com for info) at the Odyssey Theater. The first is an insane murder mystery which makes so little sense it’s automatically hilarious. Exactly Eitan’s cup of tea. Eitan plays a member of the audience (a beer loving frat boy, to be exact) who’s called up on stage by the stand up comic introducing the show. The comic flips out and attacks Eitan who cries out like a little girl. The comic is murdered and everyone is a suspect. Somehow a cracker is also witness to this crime. Really, it’s insane. Since it involves the audience thinking the comedian is actually attacking Eitan the director would hate for you to have read that before the show, but the biographer cares not. Actually the biographer assumes no one’s going to read this far into the bio before they’ve seen the show. If the biographer’s wrong, he’s ready to duel with Matt to settle the score.

Then there are a few variety acts in the show. Since you’re here to read about Eitan, here’s what he does: In lieu of intermission Eitan leads the audience in chair aerobics but he does it as a psychotic type gym instructor. There are other variety acts but the biographer doesn’t go in for free advertising. If the other actors want to talk about their variety acts, let them do it on their own websites (or they could write the biographer a hefty check for a mention in this biography).

The second one-act was directed by Lesley Robin (see The Open Road at UCSB above to learn who she is). Lesley had talked to Eitan about possibly being in another one of her shows and he, of course, said he’d do it. In this play Eitan is a rather traditional father of two children and husband to a wife (go figure). With his children going off to college his wife is unhappy in her overly restrictive and boring role of “stay at home mom.” When Eitan’s character starts giving in to his wife’s wishes he sees his world cave in around him. It’s a meaningful discourse on traditional family values. Oh, and Eitan tap dances, that should have been mentioned earlier. Don’t worry, it’s a comedy. Eitan still delivers the funny as he’s totally insane (on and off stage).

On the way out of his house for the opening night of his showcase Eitan learned that Stella Archer had left Conan Carroll and Associates. Barbara Divisek has come in to take over the department. So at this moment Eitan has a new agent. Luckily, Pamela Newlands www.pamelanewlands.com (who gets a shout out, and a plug for the following reason) gave Eitan a heads up so he wasn’t too shocked. Juiciy details won’t be posted here, but there will no doubt be another posting upon Eitan’s meeting with Barbara. That is all for now.

May 21, 2004

Joining SAG and the first Agent Switcheroo

Filed under: agents/managers — Biographer @ 10:04 pm

Eitan has unified with his fellow actors in the interest of fair working conditions and pay.  Together they will fight for actor’s unalienable rights and bring happiness and fair treatment to the world.  Also Eitan now has a really cool pin.  Yes children, Eitan has joined the Screen Actors Guild.  Eitan’s credit card will never quite recover from the shock.  What does this all actually mean?  Surprisingly little.

In other news Eitan has just signed with Stella Archer of Conan Carroll and Associates for commercial representation.  Hopefully this will lead to more jobs, more snide biography entries and more money for Eitan.  There’s no real story here.  Eitan was referred there by a friend and decided to switch up his agency to try to get more auditions.  He is still represented by Sheryl Abrams of PTI Talent theatrically.  Both of his agents have the initials S.A.  Creepy, huh?

His Hertz commercial should be airing any day now.  Keep an eye out for Eitan’s sexy face on a TV near you.

March 20, 2003

Eitan’s First Agent and a Play No One Remembers

Filed under: agents/managers,bookings,theater — Biographer @ 9:56 pm

Eitan is pissed at his biographer. His biographer was pretty much done with this update and Frontpage crashed. Eitan asked if the biographer had saved anything and the biographer remarked that he had not. Eitan slapped the back of the head of the biographer and told him that he’s not getting up from his computer until the biography is properly updated. The biographer meekly agreed. So here is the newest update, part two:

Eitan and his biographer are quite stumped as they’re both referred to in the third person in these writings. Anyway, the actual update is in two parts. The first describes how Eitan got his agents, the second talks about a show Eitan just did.

The first tale starts several months back. Eitan was attending a panel discussion of several agents at the Take One Bookstore. This event was being sponsored by a company that puts on agent showcases. The showcases involve an unrepresented actor paying money to audition in front of a group of agents who hopefully would want to represent them. Despite it’s obvious commercial implications, the panel was quite good and Eitan left feeling he learned a lot. A few weeks later Eitan was cruising the Backstage.com message board where he saw a post inquiring about this company. Eitan responded that he didn’t think the event was worth the amount of money that they were asking and assumed his advice would evaporate into the ether like all the other advice he’s ever given. Several weeks later Eitan got a phone call from the person who runs these showcases. The person had seen Eitan’s post (and this website) and wanted to prove to him the legitimacy of these showcases by inviting Eitan to attend the next one free of charge. They asked that Eitan not tell anyone that he was attending without cost (hence the reason the name’s not mentioned here). Eitan went to the showcase and performed his kick-butt monologue in front of several groups of agents. Lo and behold one of the agents wanted to meet with him (it’s a miracle as Eitan was at that time a non-union actor with no professional credits). Eitan went in to meet with Sheryl Abrams of PTI Talent and she asked him to do his monologue again for her. She then asked if Eitan had a commercial agent. He responded that he didn’t, and she asked him if he’d like to meet with their commercial agent Danie Wulff. After these meetings the agency wanted to represent Eitan both commercially and theatrically. After doing some research on them, he agreed. Eitan thinks this is probably the weirdest way someone has gotten their agent.

The second story is also pretty cool. Eitan’s mother was at work and during a staff meeting it was mentioned that they needed one more man for their upcoming Purim show (it’s a Jewish holiday). Eitan’s mother mentioned that her son was an actor (and she luckily lied, saying he could sing) and if no one else wanted the part he’d be glad to do it. Well Eitan ended up being one of the five leads of the 2003 Wilshire Boulevard Temple Purim show called “A Broadway Purim.” The show was a Broadway style review about the story of Purim (it was terribly cheesy and reeked of being written in 1995). But wait, the story gets cooler. The play was also starring the following actors (clicking on their name will take you to their IMDB page): Caroline Aaron, Jami Gertz, Michael Mantel and Mark Klastorin. It should be noted that Eitan is not only the only cast member without an IMDB page, but he’s the only cast member without an extensive IMDB page. They sang, they danced and they had a blast. Eitan has just informed his biographer that he has given the photo editor a picture of this show to put on the photo page. The biographer can’t wait for the next installment of Eitan’s career.

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