February 14, 2012

SHIFT #2 Knowing the Business

Being in alignment with success isn’t about doing everything. It’s about doing the right thing.
Your level of self-esteem lays the foundation for success and maintaining that success, whereas knowledge of the business you are in reveals the path to it. So many actors arrive in LA every day and the only knowledge they have of the business is that they have to get headshots.

Knowing the Business
Saying that you need to know about the business you’re in seems like a fairly obvious statement. Yet many actors fail to do the necessary research to understand what tools are needed to help them achieve their goals – and the business remains a mystery to them. A small shift in thinking in this area can make all the difference in the world. The actor who expands his knowledge of the business and acts on this knowledge creates opportunities to grow. The confidence to take full advantage of these opportunities puts you more in alignment to book.

Expanding your knowledge means finding information about what is expected of you as an actor. Your agent or manager, casting and personnel on the set will all have different expectations. You need to know what they are as well as what you can expect of them. It also involves finding the tools you need to be successful.

Knowledge is based on information. There are many resources and tools available to you: Some of the following is common sense, but sometimes we all need to be reminded.

1. Talk to friends and acquaintances. Who do you know that’s in the business and who might they know? Remember, you’re not asking for a job, you’re asking for information.
2. Get a mentor. If you haven’t gotten one yet, now may be the time. Find someone who is knowledgeable about the business, understands your goals and who is willing to guide you. You may be surprised at how much someone you know and respect is willing to help.
3. Network with other actors. Keep in mind that what worked for them might not work for you, but you can still use the information as a springboard to your own unique way of doing things.
4. Join an actor support group. There are many of these, particularly online, where actors share information on just about everything in the business. One support group I recommend highly is Hollywood Happy Hour. It’s a yahoo group, headed by Bonnie Gillespie who watches over the group like a loving but stern mother making sure that information is current and valid. I also highly recommend The Actors Network for information and support. If you don’t belong to one of those groups you’re putting yourself at a terrible disadvantage. Although Judy Kerr’s, “Acting is Everything” isn’t a support group, it is filled with tons of valuable information as is her website.
5. Attend seminars and workshops. Now a days most seminars are free or have a small fee. They are filled with industry people that offer networking opportunities. Often, at my own seminars, I will offer new as well as seasoned actors specific advice pertaining to their specific career goals. You can find out when I have this free seminars by going to
my website. Do some research and get onto mailing lists that post these events. One mailing list to be on is Jeff Gund’s mailing list
6. Do an internship. If you want to learn more about how casting or production works, apply for an internship at some of these types of companies.
7. Read biographies. Though times change quickly, there’s a lot that can be learned from the experience of those who came before you.

Formulate a plan of action based on information you need to further your career and understand the business. If you’re just getting started, you may want to know the best place to study. It may be time to look for an agent. Perhaps you need to better understand the casting process or production. You might not even know where to start. Don’t worry. Just start somewhere. The more you learn, the more you’ll see other areas that you’ll also want to explore. Keep in mind, at every step along the way to booking consistently you will return to this shift.