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

June 13, 2008

No More Manager

Filed under: Uncategorized — Biographer @ 6:11 pm

Hey, an actual announcement from the Eitan The Actor.com team instead of more of Eitan’s blathering.

Eitan has parted ways with Steve Buchsbaum of Ad Astra management.  He will soon start searching for new representation.  If you really want to hire Eitan for anything other than a commercial call him directly.  But seriously, who wants to hire Eitan?  Eitan is still represented by Origin Talent for commercials.

And if Variety wants to pick up the story:  Eitan Ankles Ad Astra will be a very fitting headline.  It’s got both visual and phonetic alliteration.  That’s why Eitan’s biographer gets paid the big bucks.

June 4, 2008

Running the Marathon

Filed under: projects — Eitan @ 11:55 am

No, this isn’t going to be a metaphorical post about how acting is a marathon and not a sprint.  I seriously just ran a marathon and I wanted to thank everyone who helped me raising money for the Leukemian and Lymphoma Society.  I personally raised over $2400 for the society and got to run 26.2 miles in San Diego.

If you’re into number type stuff you can see my results online.

May 14, 2008

Lying On Your Resume

Filed under: classes,eitan's writings,film,theater,TV — Eitan @ 12:40 am

Lying on your acting resume? You think this would be a really short post. I’d say something like “don’t do it” and run off for another month or so without posting. Sorry, it’s way more complicated than that.

Some of the stuff I’m going to talk about is risky, some of the stuff is safe as a Volvo. It’s all about your comfort level and how honest the lie actually is.  Mostly these are white lies that actors are expected to tell.  But they can get pushed too far if you’re trying to be sneaky.  The biggest rule I can say is don’t get caught lying.  Even if it’s minor.  You don’t want to have to start justifying your whole resume to a casting director in the middle of an audition.

Lying On Your Resume Can be a Good Idea – In a perfect world everyone’s acting resume would be a list of parts they’ve played and casting people could easily look at the resume and see where the actor is in their career and if they could possibly be a good fit for the part they are currently casting. Problem is, it’s just not possible. No one’s going to recognize every item on an actor’s resume. Credits don’t always mean the same thing in different contracts. School plays can be really hard to sell as “legitimate experience.” And the list goes on and on.

The First Lie Every Actor is Told To Tell – Let’s get this one out of the way. I’ve read this in books and on other websites so this is the least risky thing in the post. If you did a play at Xavier High School and you played the part of the Fiddler in The Fiddler on the Roof you don’t need to list the production company as “Xavier High School,” you can list it as “Xavier Theater.” Or if the theater has a name you can list it. “The Herbert Einstein Memorial Theater.”  Whatever.  Because no one really cares.  It’s a play in a theater they’ve never heard of.  They’ll ask about the play (if at all) and that’ll be that.

Don’t Upgrade Yourself –  I’ve seen a fair number of actor resumes in my life.  I can’t even calculate the percentage of which have obvious attempts at upgrades but it’s a high number.  Suddenly that guy with one line has a “Major Supporting Role” in the film.  Or the guy who passed by the star in the hallway is a “Guest Star.”  Well guess what, the bigger the lie the more likely someone’s going to catch you.  Saying you had a Guest Star part on a very successful show when you had a one liner is typically pretty obvious.  I’ve seen resumes listing multiple large parts and when you type the name into IMDB maybe one of the parts comes up… as “Waiter #3.”  That’s no “Starring” role.  And do you know who’s going to catch you every single time if you list that extra work as principle?  The casting director.  They remember people they hire.  And they’ll never be hiring you.  And if you say you were a guest star someone just might try to check your quote, they’ll find out you were lying and you’ll get fired before you were even hired.  That’d suck.

Move Laterally –  Look at my resume and you’ll see the Final Justice part listed as a “Co-Star.”  My contract doesn’t say “Co-Star.”  In fact, I have no idea where my contract is so I can’t read the actually billing.  But I was hired as a “Principle” and that’s the only billing I had.  Problem was, it just stood out on my resume as a weird thing next to my other two actual “co-star” roles (as of this writing, just for the record).  So I moved myself laterally.  I changed it to “Co-Star.”  It’s not really a lie, it’s equivalent.  If I were hired on any other AFTRA show I’d be billed as a “Co-Star” with that part.  I just didn’t know to ask for that when I was starting out.  Also, they never ran credits on that show.  Uch.  How do you know what your billing is supposed to be?  Read your contract.  The other great time to move laterally is on a feature when you’re booked as a “Featured” part.  Technically this means you got paid a day rate and had a line or two.  In resume world, this means you were an extra who thinks they could pick themselves out of a crowd.  “Featured” is a term that is dead and gone on resumes.  It’s been ruined.  You’re now a “Principle” or “Featured Principle.”  That means you had a line otherwise people think you’re making stuff up.  Isn’t that ironic?

A Real Serious Lie – Ok, this last one is beyond anything I’ve ever done.  I’ve said time and time again that no one really cares about films and plays they’ve never seen and never heard of.  They just see lines on your resume and assume you know something about being on camera or being on stage.  There’s nothing that’s going to excite them unless they recognize something from your resume.  That means you can completely make up student films, short films, original plays, acting classes and cast yourself in plays you’ve read and know well enough to pass a quiz on.  You can, but you shouldn’t.  This is where you really can play too much with your resume and head down a dark and dangerous path.  I did a few student films in college but how does someone know I didn’t do three more in which I was the lead?  Heck, I was in a few plays there that I know like the back of my hand.  Who’s to say I didn’t play the lead instead of the guy carrying suitcases?  No one would ever catch a single one of those lies and they’d pad my resume quite nicely.  Or at least they would have back when that was all I had on my resume.  But know I’ve seen directors ask about a random part, just to make conversation.  Just make sure you could make something up if need be.

Don’t Do That! – I hope you read this paragraph after reading the one before it.  Don’t do it.  Don’t completely make stuff up on your resume, even if you’ll never get caught.  It’s useless, no one cares about these projects.  Why be a liar for something unimportant?  BUT I’m totally down with making things look as good as possible on your resume.  Let’s say you did a staged reading for a class of an original play your friend wrote but never did anything with.  Why can’t that part be on your resume under theater?  You did the part, it just wasn’t a full show.  That short fillm that you shot with your buddies?  Put your friend as the director and put that on your resume.  You shot it, it’s a film.  No one judges an actor by how small the font size is on their resume.  A List actor resumes only have their latest, greatest and most famous roles listed anyway.  B and C list actors don’t even have their theater listed most of the time.  It’s only us working class stiffs.  If you only had one liners in student films no one’s going to be upset if you make one of those a lead.  The director might get annoyed but if he’s teaching 5th grade in Kansas now, how does that affect you?

Lie as Little as Possible – What we can take away from all my examples is that you should lie as little as humanly possible.  Don’t go for any lies that can be caught or pointed out easily (See that guy with an iPhone at your audition?  He’s checking your IMDB page and knows you’re lying).  Lies should be used only to very lightly massage your resume, never to try to bump it up to the next level.  Nothing I’ve suggested here will land you a single extra audition.  None will make any perceptible difference in your career.   They’re small and they just smooth the way towards getting some real credits that you don’t have to work to pretty up.

March 28, 2008

Smile and Plough Through

Filed under: acting philosophy,commercial — Eitan @ 4:16 pm

So funny audition story from today:

I head over to my second audition of the day which was for a spec commercial for a director’s reel.  These are shot by directors who need footage to get their foot in the paying door.  So they shoot commercials that aren’t official commercials and try to sell their services around.  There’s really no pay for doing them and they almost never air but it’s a good way to meet up and coming directors.  I did one years ago, never even saw a copy of it.  But it was fun to shoot and I had nothing else to do that night.

So, I show up at my audition and one of the session runners says “ok, you’re reading man #3.”  Cool.  That’s my middle name.  So I pick up the script and read through it once.  It seems to be written all in British slang.  That’s fine, I think, maybe the joke is that these dumb Americans are talking like this or just that they do really bad British accents.  So I ask, “Do you want us to do this in a British accent?”  They sure do.  Turns out one of the other two guys I’m reading with is British and the second guy can do pitch perfect accent.  They want it good and real.

A small aside here:  I don’t really do accurate accents.  I can do funny accents.  Ask me to talk like an Indian and I can even amuse my mother.  But no one would ever accuse me of sounding like a real Indian.  It’s just funny.

So we rehearse it a dozen times and each time I swear I hear my accent getting worse and worse.  And I know this British dude is thinking “I hate all Americans.”  I started planning on driving right from the audition to my commercial agent’s office to berate her for sending me on this audition without any prior warning.  At least I could have practiced the night before to try to embarrass myself less.

We go in the room and they ask us to slate in our accents, so they can pretend that we’re all really British when they show the director this footage.  I hear the name “Eitan Loewenstein” escape my lips in nothing close to a British accent and I knew this was going to be bad.  So we do the scene a couple times.  I really just do my best.  I try to focus on doing the scene well and not worrying about the accent.  Of course the accent is all I can think of.

I should also mention that midway through the audition I notice the casting director looking at me and then back at her notes then back at me again.  She then shows something on her clipboard to her assistant who looks up at me.  This can’t be good.

We do the scene twice (luckily I only had two short lines, I didn’t have to do the part of the guy who tells a long story) and I eagerly await them excusing me so I can go to the car and drink Guinness until I can pretend this whole thing never happened.  But they give us another line to say, this time “angry.”  Now I was doing a terrible accent but I had to do it as a hooligan.  People would accuse me of being British long before they think I’m a hooligan.  I’m quite soft and cuddly.  Luckily this was over quickly and we were excused.

I get up to do a full on sprint out of the room and the casting director stops me by the door.  Then crazy thoughts start going through my head: Are they going to yell at me for doing such a bad accent and wasting their time?  Did they want to apologize for making me do those extra lines?  Wait, did they actually LIKE it?!

Of course not.  They say to me, “I’m so sorry but you weren’t supposed to audition for this commercial.  You are supposed to be reading for the part of the American goofy husband a few minutes later.  We didn’t realize that when we pulled you in to do this one.  Thank you for being such a good sport and going for it.  Do you mind sticking around and doing the right one?”

Um, I don’t mind at all.  Goofy American husband I can do in my sleep.  British hooligan I only have to do in my nightmares.

The point of this post is that sometimes you have to do something so ridiculous and out of your element that the best you can do is smile and plow through (see my clever British spelling in the title?).  I definately won’t get the British one but at least this office knows I’m game and professional enough to keep going no matter how bad an audition is.  People do respect that.  I stayed in the audition and did my best, even though it was really bad.

March 25, 2008

Getting On Your Favorite TV Show, as an Extra

Filed under: acting philosophy,film,TV — Eitan @ 11:17 am

This post is all about how to get on your favorite TV show, as an extra. It’s not going to appeal to many of the people who read this looking to make a career as an actor. Why?

Because in the eyes of the film/TV industry being an extra is not acting. I’m not saying that being an extra requires no ability to be directed, be believable and know how to work on camera. I’m just saying it doesn’t count as acting work. That means you don’t get to put extra work on your acting resume and you shouldn’t tell agents you meet with about your extra work. If you want to do it, do it for the fun and learning experience of being on set (and the money, you do get paid to be an extra after all). I don’t care how much camera time you get or if people refer to your character by a name, if your contract doesn’t say “principle” you’re an extra. Sorry.

So, why then am I writing about this? Because enough people find my site from around the world who might just be interested in being on a TV show or a movie for one day, seeing themselves as a blur on the background and they’d be happy with that. Kudos to them.

If you’re still reading you want to find out how to get on Greys Anatomy or CSI as an extra. Maybe you’re interested in seeing how a set works up close, you want some spending cash or you just want to see if you can get Katherine Higel to yell at you. Well, don’t do that last one. Be nice.

So the first step is going to be heading over to Central Casting and signing up. Yes, that Central Casting. You can go to their website or call up to get information about registering. They have different times/dates if you’re union or non-union.

After you’re signed up you have to call a job line and they list the jobs that they’re casting at that moment. They give you a number to call if you qualify for that job (men with handlebar mustaches and velvet leisure suits), you call and the background casting director will say if they want you or not based on your look. It’s that simple.

You’ll vastly increase your chances of working if you have lots of different wardrobe choices and are tenacious about calling in. Police uniforms are good, lab coats are good as is formal wear. They’re supposed to pay you extra if you bring your own wardrobe, to cover cleaning costs.

But if you want to be an extra, that’s how you do it.

How much do you get paid to be an extra? Minimum wage if you’re non-union. Slightly more if you’re union. You probably won’t be sending your kids off to Harvard on a film/TV extra salary. But if you want to spend a couple days working on your favorite TV show or a big upcoming movie, this is your best and easiest way.

March 10, 2008

Eitan is Not Famous Either

Filed under: bookings — Biographer @ 4:01 pm

Today Eitan shot a scene for the indie project Blake Robbins is Not Famous in which he plays a random guy getting out of the bathroom who knew actor Blake Robbins personally but had no idea Blake was an actor.

What the heck is Blake Robbins is Not Famous?  It’s an internet project where actor Blake Robbins goes around with his friend Subash detailing what it’s like to be a not-quite-famous actor.  Part of the process involves interviewing random people on the street who either know or do not know Blake.  Eitan knew Blake by some random twist of their wives being in book club together but had no idea Blake was an actor.  the story had something to do with him giving a ride to his wife to book club at Eitan’s place and them meeting for a few seconds.  Even Blake was confused.

Eitan also called his own wife “fat.”   Good going there champ.

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.

###

Don’t Be an Actor

Filed under: eitan's writings — Eitan @ 2:55 pm

Please, don’t do it.  Don’t be an actor.  Be anything else in the world.

I’m not talking about not being a professional actor.  I’m talking about being an actor in italics.  You see, actors are wonderfully creative people who are generally fun to be around actors are miserable, annoying and come off as crazy.

What is the difference between an actor and an actor besides the italics?

Actors are selfish.  They don’t help their partners with their parts.  They refuse to run lines after “they got it” and they won’t ever move a single piece of scenery.  Actors are happy to help out people in need, they’re always there for their scene partners and they’re willing to help out a production any way they can because they undestand their star rises and falls along with the productions they’re associated with.

Actors are often overly competitive.  It’s funny to see this at auditions.  Actors feel the need to try to throw their competition off.  They’ll give “advise” on how to do the part.  They’ll tell other people auditioning “You look totally different than everyone else here.”   I’ve even heard stories of people throwing away sides so the other actors can’t learn their lines.  And does any of this help their chances at getting the part?  Of course not.  Actors, on the other hand, are gracious and friendly to people they audition with.  If they can help out, they will.  They put their best work out there and let the casting people do their job.  It’s the person best suited for the job that gets it not the cattiest, unless you’re auditioning for Project Runway.

Actors consider themselves artists.  I’m not saying acitng isn’t an art form, of course it is.  But there’s a major difference between being a poet/painter and an actor.  Poets and painters don’t depend on anyone else to keep doing their jobs.  Actors need to be hired (or be accepted into a class) to keep working.  Actors don’t get this and make themselves so difficult to work with that no one will ever want to hire them.

Actors are insane.  Don’t know why but a large number of people giving Actors a bad name have something wrong with them.  It’s like someone hung a sign at LAX saying “If you’re crazy, think about being an actor.”  Actors are usually well balanced normal folks who can hold normal conversations and pass off at parties as normal people with normal jobs.  The funny thing is, some of the people I know who work the most are very laid back and regular.  They’re not overly theatrical or difficult to be around.  Isn’t it funny how that works?

The reason this came up was that we recently cast the latest version of the Cricket Feet Showcase one of the first things we considered when casting actors was if they’d be hard to work with.  We can’t focus 90% of our time on making one person happy, there’s just too much else to do.  So if the actors auditioning were actors then we didn’t cast them.

I love working with Actors, I hate working with Actors.  I feel like a white, Jewish, non-stand up comedian version of Chris Rock.

February 12, 2008

Post-Strike To Do List

Filed under: eitan's writings,projects — Eitan @ 6:42 pm

You probably heard the strike is ending tomorrow. That is unless there’s some silent majority in the writers camp that hates the new deal. No, I don’t think that’s going to happen either. So with the strike over that means your (and my) phone will suddenly start ringing of the hook with auditions and offers for TV and Film parts. I’ll let you know if that happens.

Unless something major happened to you over the past few months chances are you’ll be sticking to the same old grind that you went through before the strike. Well, I want to charge you to create a strategy, a “to do list.” Make yourself a list of five or ten good actionable goals you want to accomplish now that the strike is over. They could be new projects, improvements on old projects or simply something you’ve done before and want to do again.

To get you off on the right foot I’m going to share my very own post-strike to do list. Feel free to bug me in a few weeks if I haven’t done any of them.

  1. Shoot some new headshots of myself. The ones I have now still look like me, but I want something fresher.
  2. Raise as much money as I can for my half-marathon. Seriously, contribute. Help me out here kids. It’s all part of fighting the good fight.
  3. Post a whole lot of useful articles on this blog.
  4. Do the two billion things I need to do to make sure the showcase goes well.
  5. Get a good mailing routine going. I used to be better at this, I want to make sure my stuff is in the hands of casting people more often.

That takes care of most of the stuff I want to do. Within each of those goals are a bunch of little things I need to get done. That should keep me busy for quite a while.

Get a piece of paper, blog or just a text document and write yourself a list. I get 10x more done when I make lists than when I just say “oh yeah, I got stuff to do.” They don’t even all have to be acting related. It’s just a good time to step it up and get your life in order.

February 1, 2008

Eitan is Running for Charity

Filed under: message to the readers — Biographer @ 12:32 am

Team in TrainingEitan will be running in the June 2008 Rock ‘n Roll Marathon in San Diego to raise money for leukemia and lymphoma research and treatment through Team in Training.
Eitan will be running the 26.2 miles in memory of a friend who passed away after a year long battle with leukemia.

If you wish to contribute to this very worthy cause please visit Eitan’s fundraising page.

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