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

January 31, 2008

UPDATE: Promotion

Filed under: message to the readers — Eitan @ 8:48 pm

About a week ago I started two methods of promoting this site.

The first was Entrecard which links up bloggers and lets us run ads on each other’s sites.  This has worked out really well.  I’ve had lots of amazing traffic from Entrecard.  It’s going to stay.

The other is with Blogrush.  This one puts links to my stories in a box on the side of other blogs and does the same for other blogs on mine.  This system has been uninstalled.  Why?   Well, no one was clicking on my stories.  Maybe if I had really shocking titles of my entries I’d get more traffic.  But according to Blogrush my titles showed up other blogs over 14,000 times.  And I didn’t get a single click.  That’s insane.

So I still recommend Entrecard, not so much Blogrush if you’re looking to promote.

January 28, 2008

Lest We Forget the Strike

Filed under: eitan's writings — Eitan @ 11:06 pm

Yup, there’s still a strike going on. Don’t know if you remember that whole WGA not getting a fair contract offer thing. It’s impossible to forget if you live in Los Angeles or New York but if you live anywhere else it’d be quite easy not to notice (unless you count the horrible episodes of Leno and the fact that there’s almost no new episodes of anything else on TV). Personally, I notice every day as the number of auditions I’ve been getting has dropped off dramatically since the strike.

Today was marked with a rally by SAG and the WGA outside the Fox lot to show support for the writers. I brought along my camera and took a few photos. Let these act as today’s moment of zen in lieu of an Daily Show moment of zen.

In case you’re curious the first two photos are of SAG president Alan Rosenberg. Followed by a clever sign, an older gentleman being blown by the strong wind and actor Stephon Fuller with his friend.

January 25, 2008

The Showcase Breakdown is Out!

Filed under: showcase — Biographer @ 6:07 pm

It’s that time again.  Time for another Cricket Feet Casting Actors Showcase!

The breakdown has just been released through Actors Access.

Go, submit.   Just don’t forget to kiss Eitan’s butt in the notes section.  He needs a pick-me-up.

January 21, 2008

Promoting my Acting Blog

Filed under: message to the readers — Eitan @ 4:33 pm

Quick, look over to the right hand side. Do you see two new boxes you’ve never seen before?

The first one is a system called Blogrush. It will list posts on other blogs similar to mine. When that happens it will also list my posts on other blogs to widen my audience. Cool, right?

The second box belongs to Entrecard. This is similar in that it allows me to place ads on other blogs who will in turn place ads on mine.

Three questions you no doubt have:

Why did I do this? Because I want the publicity. I want as many people to read my blog as possible. And it’s another way to marketing myself as an actor.  I’ll keep on top of them to keep the junk to a minimum.

Am I making/spending any money on this? Heck no. I decided long ago against running ads on this site for money. The people who advertise to actors through the internet don’t tend to be the most ethical. There are WAY too many people who run scams trying to sell you overpriced classes and “modeling portfolios.” The only reputable people who advertise this way seem to be headshot photographers and since I do some headshot photography myself it’d be silly to send them my traffic. And both of these services are free, which is just lovely.

How do you do this too? Simple, click on this link for Entrecard (or the box right below the ad) and this one for Blogrush (or the link right below the list of posts). You just copy some code to your sidebar. Both sites have extended help sections on how to do this, don’t worry.

January 16, 2008

How to Write an Actor Bio

Filed under: eitan's writings,theater — Eitan @ 7:34 pm

A surprisingly high number of people find this site after typing the phrase “how to write an actor’s bio” or “acting bio formats” into Google. So I figured I’d take this blog entry and give a shout out to the actors as far away as Malaysia and Iran who are looking for advice on how to write a good acting bio and searching for an actor bio template.  While I’m shouting, I might as well distribute some of my very useful advice.

Why-o a Bio?

There are many reasons an actor might need to write a short biography. Maybe they need something to put in a theater program or they need some PR materials for a film they did. Until the day comes that you can hire a publicist to do the work for you, this job lies on your shoulders.

What’s in a Bio?

A bio is not a resume. I’ve already written an excellent post (if I must say so myself) on writing an actors resume. So I advise you read it if you’re looking on how to write an acting resume.

Like I was saying before I interrupted myself, a bio is not an excuse to list dozen parts you’ve had since 3rd grade. It’s a chance to brag about your work but also show who you are as a person. The vast majority of people reading your bio aren’t ever going to meet you, so this is an excellent chance for them to find out something about you as a person.  Don’t let them come away thinking you’re defined completely by your work.
It’s also not a place for you to personally thank every member of your family for their support. Unless no one besides your family is going to see the play you’re in, it’s best to limit the thank yous and inside jokes. Make your bio something everyone who sees your play or reads the press packet will care about.

Stop listing what’s not in a bio. What IS in a bio?

Let’s first talk about credits. Unless everyone seeing the show is going to get a copy of your resume (like in a showcase) you’ll want to list a couple of credits. If you don’t have any, this is a perfect place to say “Eitan is making his theatrical debut. Please be nice.” But the general rule of credits is the same as with writing a resume: keep it simple and only list your most well known or best work. Look at the lits on my resume post if you want to know my order for which credits trump which. There’s no reason to list thirty credits in your biography. Depending on how many words you’re give for your bio you’ll want to list somewhere between one and five credits. Any more and you’d better have a Tony or an Oscar gathering dust on your mantle.  Otherwise you’re probably not going to impress anyone with those credits, only bore them.

Give up a little information telling the audience who you are as a person. When I read in a program that someone has a degree in engineering I know I’m rooting for them right out of the gate because we have something in common. By telling something about who you are as a person you help the audience like you as a person before you step foot on that stage. You don’t have to pour out details you’re not comfortable with disclosing and don’t mention your recent divorce (unless you just got divorced from one of your cast mates, steamy!). Pets, hobbies, odd jobs and funny anecdotes always fit well in this area.

What if I want to be really silly/funny in my biography?

Sometimes it’s appropriate to have an acting bio which is completely silly and has nothing to do with acting. As you can guess I’m guilty of having done this many times in my career. Here are a few examples of silly bios I’ve written over the years.

  • Eitan as the printing Press: Eitan was invented by Johann Guttenberg in 1440…
  • Eitan as Abe Lincoln: Eitan was born in a log cabin in Kentucky. He would later issue the Emancipation Proclamation…
  • Eitan as a deity: Eitan is a master of all matter and energy. Bow before Eitan…
  • Totally made up information: Eitan has never been stuck in traffic. He competed in the 1984 Olympics as the youngest pole vaulter in Olympic history…

These work for me because I’m a little goofy and I think this type of thing is hilarious. Feel free to throw a joke in to a more serious bio if you think it’ll work. Be true to yourself.

First or Third Person?

Eitan says your bio should always be written in third person. It’s standard and doesn’t sound as elitist as you think it does. Also try to refrain from making the “Eitan likes talking in third person” joke in your bio. It’s been done a billion times.

Bio Formatting

There’s really no wrong format for an acting bio. As long as you keep it in third person, short as possible and appropriate for the production you’re not going to go wrong. Here are a couple examples of bios in various formats for you to enjoy and dissect like a James Joyce novel.

“Eitan has appeared in various TV shows such as ‘Ghost Whisperer’ and ‘iCarly.” He has also appeared in several national commercials for products like Saturn and the city of Las Vegas. He studied electrical engineering at UC Santa Barbara before realizing engineering wasn’t really his bag. He promptly announced to the world he would be an actor and hasn’t been taken seriously since.”

“Eitan lives in Los Angeles where he works as an actor. His most recent TV appearance was on Ghost Whisperer. In his free time Eitan enjoys playing on his computer and updating his website (www.eitantheactor.com). Eitan would like to thank each and every one of you for coming to see his show. Please form a line outside his dressing room after final curtain.”

“Eitan is an avid and horrible softball player. He also enjoys playing Dance Dance Revolution and cooking. Eitan once worked as a telemarketer so it’s very likely you hung up on Eitan at one point in your life.  Eitan has appeared on Ghost Whisperer, iCarly and various commercials.”

Hope this has helped all you wayward souls searching for information on how to write an acting biography.

Eitan the Writer

Filed under: bookings,eitan's writings — Biographer @ 2:01 pm

You knew Eitan thought he could write.  But you didn’t know other people agreed.

Eitan has begun conducting interviews for the website ActorsLife.com.

His first interview features casting director Bonnie Gillespie.

Others are sure to follow.  The internet will never be the same.

January 2, 2008

Calling All Directors (Want a Job?)

Filed under: message to the readers — Eitan @ 4:50 pm

The showcase I help produce is seeking directors for the upcoming season (2008).

All the info is on this blog posting.

If you’re an unemployed director, this is for you!

December 31, 2007

Making Good Resolutions

Filed under: eitan's writings — Eitan @ 12:01 am

2008 is almost here.  Oh goody.  That means the sound of thousands of resolutions being broken at 12:01AM. 

“I’ll stop smoking, I’ll lose weight, I’ll shave my dorky beard.”  Actors make career related resolutions as well as personal ones.  “I’ll get a new agent, I’ll finally book a guest-star role, I’ll become a movie star.”  Problem is, none of these are good resolutions.  So I’d like to take a few paragraphs and talk about how to make productive resolutions to help advance your career.

Make sure your goal is actionable.  This means a goal you can accomplish by your own actions.  Resolving to book a guest-star role isn’t actionable.  It requires you to be called for an audition and then be hired by the producers.  You can’t use mind-control on the casting director or producers (believe me, I’ve tried).  An actionable resolution is “I will send out more post cards to casting directors.”  This resolution can lead to you booking that guest-star role, but it’s something you can take into your own hands.

Make sure your resolution is time limited.  Let’s be honest, if someone tells me I have a year to clean my apartment I’ll probably not clean it until at December if I remember at all.  If the same person gives me until the second week of January to clean my place, I’ll probably start right away.  Set a good time frame for your resolution and you’ll find yourself following through much more often.  And no, it doesn’t take an entire year to get new headshots.

Set goals within your limits.  I can resolve to run a marathon February 2nd.  It’s actionable and it’s time limited but it’s darn near impossible.  But if I resolve to run 26 miles over the entire month of February, that’s a whole lot more reasonable.  Know what you can reasonably accomplish.  You probably won’t lose 100lbs. this year but you might be able to lose 25. 

Still be sure to challenge yourself.  It’s not challenging for me to resolve to blog five times in 2008.  It’s too easy and even if I follow through I won’t feel like I accomplished anything.  Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself a little bit. 

And my final piece of advice is not to make new years resolutions at all.  Seriously, it’s silly to only try to change your life once a year.  If you want to set resolutions in July, go ahead.  If you notice something’s wrong with your career or life don’t wait to change it. 

December 19, 2007

How to Take a Good Polaroid

Filed under: commercial,eitan's writings — Eitan @ 12:52 pm

Commercial actors get their Polaroids taken at almost every single audition. Why? So the casting office can have some pictorial identification on your paperwork and because the ad agency might ask for the guy in the “red Hawaiian shirt” instead of asking for “Eitan Loewenstein.” No, I don’t actually own a red Hawaiian shirt.  But I should.

So if you’re making your living (or trying to) as a commercial actor you’ll get hundreds of Polaroids taken over the course of your career. Commercial casting directors often swear that no one has ever lost a job because of a bad Polaroid. But I don’t believe them. I’ve seen some of those photos and they look like the devil himself has taken them to torture actors who take great pride in their appearances. Very few actors have learned how to minimize the chances of looking like they have been woken up in the middle of a nap for their snapshot.

Here are a few techniques that I’ve learned/stolen over the years to have your Polaroid not suck (mostly from models, they all know how to have a good picture taken):

  • Get down to or below the level of the photographer. I’m tall. Tall people know that they look really silly in photos because the photographer is typically below their eye level when they shoot. In the photography business this is referred to as shooting “up someone’s nose.” The bottom of the chin is featured as well as anything that happens to be living in the actors nasal passages. The way to combat this is to get down so your eyes are at the level of the camera or even an inch or two below. The best way to achieve this is to spread your legs apart so you don’t have to hunch over.
  • Don’t let your chin fly away. For some reason when you aim the camera at people they tend to throw their heads back trying to look like a “badass gangsta.” Well, it’s just as bad as being shot from below, so don’t do it. Tilt your head down slightly. Very slightly. Think of aiming your nose at the bottom of the camera.
  • Don’t point your nose directly at the camera. Polaroids are wide angel cameras. They’re meant for shooting big group photos. So they distort things at close range (where most commercial audition pictures are taken). So by aiming your nose slightly to the right or left of the camera (and still looking straight at the camera) you prevent your nose from looking bigger than it actually is. This is a very slight tilt, don’t overdo it. Aim at the left or right side of the camera with your nose. That’s it, perfect, you look beautiful.
  • Get away from that wall. Every session runner shoots photos against a wall because it makes for a neutral background. But they also use a flash which casts a shadow on the wall. You want to avoid a dark, sharp shadow floating behind you. So make sure you’re not leaning against the wall. A trick I learned was to put your hand behind you to feel the wall. Try to space yourself six inches to a foot away from the wall to minimize the shadow but not annoy the photographer.
  • Relax. These tips are helpful but every commercial actor has booked a job with a horrid Polaroid. It’s not a make or break moment for you but it’s nice to lead with your best foot forward. No one’s expecting these to look as polished as your headshot.

December 6, 2007

Starting Your Own Actor Blog

Filed under: eitan's writings — Eitan @ 12:41 am

As an actor the second most important job you have (after acting, of course) is to promote, promote, promote.  There is no easier way to promote yourself and your work than by starting your very own actor blog.  Here are a few benefits to starting your own blog to discuss your acting work:

* Your accomplishments are automatically broadcast all over the internet for the world to see.
* It’s easy for your family and friends to keep up with your career.
* Starting your own blog is not only easy, but you can do it for free.

Actors are always wondering how to promote their newest accomplishment.  If it’s a commercial, part in a TV show or even a new play you aren’t always going to get invited onto The Late Show to talk about your endeavors in front of an attentive public.  This is where your blog comes in.  It’s your blog and you can write whatever you want.  I get daily hits on my site for people looking for information on iCarly.  That means whenever an iCarly fan is searching for information on the show they get to read about my upcoming episode.  That’s great targeted publicity!  Someone’s going to watch my episode and say, “hey, I read that guy’s blog!”

Does your mom call every week and ask how the career is going?  Do your cousins always bug you to find out when you’re going to be on TV next?  Well, with a blog they have no excuse to bother you again (like that’s going to stop them).  You have a centralized place to post your accomplishments and your friends and family can check in whenever they want an update on your career.  But not only can family and close friends find out what you’re up to, so can long lost friends.  People I used to perform with in college, high school drama friends and people I’ve worked with in Los Angeles and since lost touch have found me and what I’m up to through my blog.

About now you’re looking at my shiny beautiful site and you’re starting to think you could never put anything like this together.  The second you hear the letters “HTML” or the word “program” your brain turns into a lump of igneous rock.  Well I’ve got some great news for you, you don’t have to program anything to get a blog up and running.  There are several free and simple ways to set up your very own slice of blog real estate.  The two most popular are Blogger.com (0wned by Google) and WordPress.com.  You get a spiffy domain name like stephonfuller.blogspot.com (a “must read” actor blog), easy tools to update it yourself as well as a very friendly help pages to point you on your way.  And did you catch the part that it’s all for free?

These free blogs can make a great substitute for a full fledged “actor site” if you’re not ready to take the plunge both technologically and financially.  There’s really nothing to be scared of and loads to gain.  So get out there, start your blog and start promoting yourself!

Look for an upcoming post with some great actor blogs and other sites every actor should have bookmarked.

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