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

February 22, 2010

You Don’t Want Feedback on Your Audition

Actors love to get feedback on their auditions.  They want to know why they didn’t get cast so they can “improve in the future.”  Let me tell you why this is one of the dumbest things actors do.

First a short lesson for people who don’t know what I’m talking about.  Actors go in for auditions and then leave.  Most of the time no one calls to say they didn’t get the job and so actors sit at home and wait for the phone to ring.  Now we have cell phones so we can sit at Starbucks and wait for the phone to ring, yippy.  Actors sometimes wonder, “why didn’t I get the job” when days turn into weeks and it’s obvious they’re not getting hired.  So actors seek out ways to get “feedback” on their auditions hoping they can improve in the future.

This probably stems from normal job interviews where candidates call back a week later and hope to get feedback on their interviews.  Typically in job interviews the same types of questions are asked all the time so it’s legitimate that someone could improve their interview for the next time.  Also this is an excuse to call back a recruiter who might say, “you were great but we had to hire someone’s cousin, luckily there’s a better job opening up next week I’d love to talk to you about.”  Really that’s a pipe dream and the real goal is to improve for the next time.

Actors lie to themselves when they say they want feedback.  Problem is, they’re never going to audition for that part again.  Actors aren’t asked, “what is your biggest weakness,” they’re given a part to read.  The part they’re given next week will be completely different.  Notes like, “you should have been angrier when you told him you were leaving” are useless.

Truth is actors want this to be their feedback, “you were amazing but we had to hire someone else’s cousin, we’ll bring you back in next week for this amazing guest star role.”  That’s an ego stroke, nothing else.  Actors just want their egos massaged since they didn’t get the role (shocking).  If they honestly loved you they would have brought you back in next week anyway, even if you didn’t convince your agent to call the casting office.  Yes, it’s another excuse to “stay in their mind” but you also come off as a little needy.

No matter what they say there are only two pieces of feedback you will ever get, “this role no longer exists/it’s now a role for a fire-breathing midget” and “someone else was a better fit.”  Any other way the feedback is sugar-coated is simply someone trying to be creative or nice.  You could have been perfect for the role and someone decide to cut the role out or someone else was simply better for the role (sound familiar?).  Yes, being a cousin of the producer counts as “better for the role.”  Why?  Because to the producer this was more important than giving the best audition.  Sucks, but he’s the producer and you’re not.  It hurts to think you didn’t give the “best audition” or have the right look for a part but that’s the reality of Hollywood.

When you’re asking for feedback you’re really asking for validation of your skills as an actor since you didn’t get the ego petting of getting the role.

Here’s all the feedback I need: did I get the role?  No, then I should probably work harder in the future.  Even if the role was cut or went to a teenage Asian girl (really happened once) I can still improve, everyone always can.

February 1, 2010

Why I Became an Actor

I became an actor to become famous, rich and to be up to my neck in babes.  Duh.

Since very few people visiting this site will bother to travel back to my very first posts I’ll do a ten second version of the story about what lead me to be a professional actor:

I’d been performing in stage productions from the time I was 7 at my schools/camps and really loved it but never thought it’d be a career choice.  I went to high school in Los Angeles and even then loved drama and acting but didn’t think it would be in my future.  It was just a hobby.  I did what most decently smart people do after high school: I went to UC Santa Barbara and studied electrical engineering.  Halfway through I decided I wasn’t loving electrical engineering and only was enjoying the plays and student films I was participating in.  I (read: my parents) decided I should finish up my engineering degree and go back to LA upon graduation to start my acting career.  A few jobs later, here I am.

That took longer than ten seconds, didn’t it?  Next time skim.

What about acting appealed to me?  Back in my early days it was simply fun.  I got to play pretend, dress up and have people laugh at my jokes.  That never went away but from a professional standpoint that isn’t really enough to drive someone to spend the decade it often takes to make a living acting (if ever).

First there’s the typical answer that “no two days are ever the same” and that’s true (except for days when you’re simply home waiting for the phone to ring).  Even when you’re doing a play every show is different.  If you feel like you’re going through the motions you’re probably no fun to watch anyway.

Second, it’s kind of exciting.  Today I’m sitting at my computer in my boxers and tomorrow I might be auditioning for 24 or How I Met Your Mother.  The day after that I could be on set with major stars working on some incredible project.  Chances are that tomorrow I’ll also be at my computer in my boxers, but some days can be super-exciting.  Every audition gets me excited.  I always love to take a minute and enjoy the possibilities that each audition can bring.

Third, acting is incredibly challenging.  There are two parts to acting that are very hard.  The first is simply getting work.  That’s darn near impossible.  Once you conquer that the actual acting part is hard.  It’s easy to watch a movie and see Tom Hanks having a romantic moment with pre-Botoxed Meg Ryan but it’s a whole other game to have 50 people on set watching your every move; focusing on blocking, your lines and what your co-star is doing; walking and stopping on a small piece of tape on the ground that you can’t look down to find; having a camera record your every twitch for millions of people to inspect while pretending to have that private moment with Meg Ryan who you may secretly not even like very much.  That horribly structured sentence sums it up pretty well.

There’s very little glory in acting.  If you want to be rich go into high finance.  If you want to be famous go murder 50 people.  If you want babes then you should figure out how to do that (I have no idea myself).  Acting is fun but it’s a job and it’s a lot of hard stuff to get to the fun part.  Plus you have to deal with endless questions of, “When are you going to get a real job?”

November 12, 2009

Be Friends With Your Favorite Actor

Filed under: eitan's writings,message to the readers — Tags: , , , , — Eitan @ 12:26 pm

Who doesn’t want to have lunch with Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart?  Maybe you’d like to buy Megan Fox a drink?  Perhaps you’d like to tag along while Johnny Depp buys his sunglasses?

Well, it’s too late.  They’re famous, they’ve got people banging down their doors left and right.  The only way to be friends with these guys was to be their friend years before they got famous.  But today’s your lucky day…

Be my “Fan” on Facebook and I promise you my undying friendship and respect.  Barring that at least you can say “I was his fan before he got huge.”

www.facebook.com/eitantheactor
You’ll also get to learn about all my auditions, jobs and upcoming events.  What’s better than that?

October 22, 2009

What To Do After an Audition

In the past month I’ve had piles of auditions and it made me think of what an actor should do after an audition.  There are a few steps I go through after each audition and I’d like to share with you my post-audition ritual:

Throw Out the Sides:  If you don’t know what audition sides are, they’re selections from a script chosen for an audition.  When I walk out of an audition I throw out my sides.  Well, that’s my second choice.  The first choice is to leave them outside the casting room so another actor can use them.  If I left my copy in my car or at home I throw them out the first chance I get.  If I get a callback I just look them up again.

Archive Any E-Mails About the Project This includes any casting notices, copies of the script or love letters from the casting director.  I get it all out of my inbox.  If I have anything to look up in the future about the project I can search for the e-mails.

Try to Forget Anything Anyone Ever Told Me About the Project: I ignore posted “callback” or “shoot” dates which are often wrong anyway.  I try to forget any compliment or slight the director gave me and I stop myself from analyzing them (What did he mean by “nice job?”).  I try my hardest to not calculate how much I’d get paid on that national commercial.

Take Five Minutes to Analyze the Audition: After forgetting all the nitty gritty and putting business stuff out of my mind I take five minutes to think about what I did in the room and what I could have done better.  This step doesn’t take an hour or a week, five minutes is more than enough.  This is a great activity to do in your car.  It’s famously known that the best audition you ever do is to your rear view mirror on the way home from the actual audition.  I take whatever lessons I can from each audition and then move on to the final step:

Forget The Rest of the Audition:  Forget those lines you flubbed or the flat line reading and go on to something else.  Go hit the driving range, read a book or just watch some TV.  Obsessing over a past audition isn’t going to help you land the role or improve as an actor.

This was all prompted by my audition about an hour ago.  It was flatter and less inspired than I thought it should have been.  By the time I got home I had pretty much forgotten all about it.  When I thought back about the audition I said, “I was flat, didn’t do enough with it.  Next time I’ll reach a little more with it and let them dial me back.”  Those were my only thoughts.  I wasn’t thinking about shoot dates or anything, simply that one thought.   It took me years to get to that point but it’s probably my most useful skill as an actor (besides acting).

Obsessing over audition and waiting for the phone to ring can make the whole acting experience miserable.

August 20, 2009

An Interview with Eitan

Filed under: Uncategorized — Biographer @ 9:37 am

Eitan has conducted an interview with (*snicker*) The Art of Manliness about the realities of being an actor in Hollywood.

Eitan is about as manly as a tutu-wearing pink princess drinking a chai latte in the middle of American Girl Place.  But to each his own.

A hearty welcome to the AOM readers visiting this site for the first time.  Become Eitan’s fan on Facebook so this poor biographer doesn’t have to write updates on this website.

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.

May 6, 2009

The Most Famous Actor (on the Internet)

Believe it or not, I’m a pretty famous actor. That is if you count people who visit my website. As of today (5/6/09) I’ve had over 50,000 hits on eitantheactor.com .

Now, I’ve been on some pretty popular TV shows. Most memorably I’ve been on Ghost Whisperer and iCarly, two shows with huge followings online. I’ve also written two very popular articles that come up a lot in Google searches on how to write an actor bio and taking a good Polaroid.

Those four posts draw a huge amount of traffic to my website, which is awesome. So what do you do if you were an actor on Battlestar Galactica? It doesn’t matter if your scene was with Admiral Adama (Edward James Olmos) or Caprica Six (Tricia Helfer), your’e going to be able to draw huge amounts of fans to your website. What if you were on an episode of Lost? You could have had two lines with Jack Shepard (Matthew Fox) in the airport bathroom or you simply handed Kate Austin (Evangeline Lilly) her latte, you’re still going to be able to pull in huge numbers of people to your website because both of those shows have massive online followings.

So how do you do it? Well, you need to write about it. This doesn’t mean you need to share juicy on-set gossip about which two actors were secretly dating or write about who has a nasty drug habit. Write about your experiences on set. Be positive. This is less of a “draw traffic to your website” advice than a “be nice” piece of advice. If you want tens of thousands of people to read your post, don’t make it mean. It won’t help you in the end.

After that you need to link to the post. Go onto BSG or Lost websites and write a short snippet about being on the show. When I was on iCarly I went on a few blogs/forums and posted a quick thing. I know from watching my site statistics that many people clicked those links. I’ve seen other blogs pick up these actor posts and repost them. That’s the best way to build up your page rank and drive traffic to other pages on your website.

Also offer to be helpful. I try to write articles (like this one) that not only promote myself but may help actors at large. People love a good “how-to” article. Trying to give back is a great way to build your popularity online. For example, Jenna Fischer (from The Office) wrote a really good article on how she made her way from a no-name actress to being a series regular on one of the top ranked shows on TV. She gave lots of advice and naturally it was passed around like a revolutionary document online by actors. She posted the article several years ago on her Myspace page and just a month ago I saw another actor trot it out. I wish I could find a link to the original, but I can’t. If you Google enough it’ll probably turn up.

It’s also important to update your site more than once in a blue moon. Google doesn’t like sites that never update and neither to visitors. I don’t update my site as much as I used to but I still try to log in once in a while and post something. Active writers draw active readers.

What does all this traffic do besides boost my ego? That’s a topic for a whole other post.

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.

April 20, 2009

What to do when there’s nothing to do.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Eitan @ 8:03 am

Did you hear that?  It’s crickets chirping.  Honest to goodness crickets.  I’ll be right back.

There, I squished them.

It’s darn quiet around LA this time of year.  Pilot season is over, commercials slow down and even student film makers are done for the summer.  It seems like there’s nothing going on from now until July.

Even the past few months have been only quiet for me.  The entertainment business is cylical.  Last year there were hundreds of auditions for hilarious late 20s guys, this year there are less.  Next year there may be even more.  It all comes around.  Patience.  Patience.  Patience.

But what do you do when the summer hiatus hits or when you’re experiencing an invoulentary personal hiatus?

Well, let me tell you what I’ve been doing:  Writing.  Obviously not on this blog.  I’ve been working on a screenplay.

I know, I know, everyone in LA has a screenplay, but mine’s good.  Well, it will be when I finish it.  Most people write one draft of a screenplay, fix some typos and say they’re done.  I’m on probably the fourth major draft of the story and the second of the screenplay itself.  Writing isn’t just having good ideas, it’s actual work.   And wouldn’t you know it, there’s a very good part for a late 20’s slightly overweight (slightly) funny guy!

Nothing may ever come from the script but I’m doing something to try to move my career forward when there’s nothing going on in the industry to help me.  Being stagnant is the worst thing you can do in the entertainment industry.

Next time someone asks me what I’m doing I may not have a play, commercial or TV appearance to brag about, but you know I’ll mention my script.

It’s a great time to launch that new web series, do a show or start your own writing project.  It’s not like the phone’s going to be interrupting me in the middle of a brainstorming session…

February 19, 2009

The Best Ways to Find Me Online

Filed under: bookings — Eitan @ 1:18 pm

Here are the best ways to find the world famous actor Eitan Loewenstein (that’s me) on the internet:

Eitantheactor.com – My official site.  You’re on it.

Twitter – I tweet quite regularly about my auditions and other day-to-day things in my career.

Facebook – This is my “fan” page on Facebook.  If you’re a fan, join up.  Show your allegiance to the cult of Eitan.

Actors Access – This is my “official” profile which is used to submit me on breakdowns for real big-time jobs.

Those are far and away the best ways to keep on top of my acting career and see what’s up.

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