Dressing for the Part

 On Camera, Tips N Tricks  Comments Off on Dressing for the Part
Mar 252013
 

Auditions can be tricky – you never know exactly what the casting director, director or the client is looking for. One thing you want to do is READ the audition posting and all accompanying documents completely. All this info can have hints about what to wear for an audition. Dressing the part can help the very visual directors “see” YOU in the role!

Here are some definitions of commonly used wardrobe phrases:

 

Casual or Home Casual: Clothing worn for relaxing or socializing with friends at home

Upscale Casual: Fashionable yet comfortable party clothing

Outdoors or Camping: Jeans, sweaters, denim, wool shirts and jackets

Formal: Very dressy outfits, i.e., tuxedos, cocktail dresses

Business or Spokes: Business suit or a nice shirt and tie for men and a tailored dress or a suit for women

Trendy (usually for men and women under thirty): Jeans, cool t-shirts, and the latest fads in clothing

Uniforms: Outfits worn by policemen, military officers, doctor, nurses, priests, nuns, pilots, postal workers, etc.

Work Clothes: Clothing associated with an occupation – waitress, trucker, realtor, construction worker, farmer, mechanic, etc.

Sports Outfits: Attire worn by a baseball player, bowler, equestrian, skater, hiker, etc. These terms are often used theatrically when describing wardrobe that is character-specific.

 

Here are some Tips N Tricks for wardrobe:

  • Avoid busy patterns, stripes, shiny fabric or jewelry, or garments with logos on them.
  • Avoid showing too much skin.
  • Avoid Blacks and Whites – they don’t show up well on camera.
  • Choose jewel tones or rich autumn colors that enhance your skin tone and look great on camera
  • Avoid turtle necks or cowl neck shirts – they leave you looking cut off at the neck.
  • Don’t overload on the accessories!
  • The eyes naturally go to the lightest/brightest color you have on – remember that when getting dressed.

 

Have a few GREAT standard audition outfits ready to go at a moments notice – that way you aren’t caught with “nothing to wear!”

 

Have a great audition!

The Top Five Tax Mistakes Actors Make

 Events, Our Personal Touch, Tips N Tricks  Comments Off on The Top Five Tax Mistakes Actors Make
Feb 262013
 

Hi Everyone,

Take a look at the following article, by Mark Bradley,  to see if YOU are making any of these mistakes when filing your tax return.

Mistake #5:  Bogus Tax Deductions

Actors are great talkers, and we love to spread rumors.  Unfortunately, sometimes the rumors that get spread around about tax deductions are just plain wrong.  Three immediately spring to mind.

First, I’ve heard some actors say, “Oh yeah, I deduct all my clothes.”  No can do.  The rule is that clothing is deductible only if it isn’t suitable for street wear.  If you bought a business suit and never wore it for anything but auditions and commercial shoots, it’s still not deductible, because you could wear it on the street.  The only exception to this rule is dance wear. You can wear it on the street, but it’s considered specialized work wear, like a nurse’s scrubs.  (Cleaning and maintenance of your clothes used on the job are always deductible.)

Second, unlike classes, health club dues aren’t deductible professional expenses.  If an agent or director told you to get in better shape, even for a specific role, a gym membership is still considered a personal expense.

Third, I was horrified to learn that a lot of actors were telling each other that they could deduct ALL their restaurant meals, as long as they talked about the business over dinner!  This is total, utter, absolute nonsense.  To be deductible, you must have a clear, current business relationship with the person you’re hosting and you must discuss a specific business opportunity, not just the business in general.  Even if at some time in the future, your dining partner may hire you for a job, going out for dinner with your friends is essentially social in nature and should not be deducted as business entertainment.

Mistake #4:  Missed deductions

The flip side of taking bogus deductions is missing legitimate ones. A couple of deductions that shouldn’t be overlooked are items for research and expenses that are deducted from paychecks.  Many items that would simply be entertainment for the general public are deductible by actors as ordinary and necessary professional expenses.  Books, movies, subscriptions, and so forth keep you up-to-date in the profession.  Theatre and movie tickets are also absolutely legitimate deductions as professional research, along with a reasonable portion of your cable bill.  And don’t overlook expenses that are deducted from paychecks.  Two that come to mind are Equity working dues and commissions withheld by agents.

Mistake #3:  Deducting business expenses on the wrong form

Most actors have two types of income:  employee income, reported to you on a W-2, and independent contractor income (self-employment), which may be reported on a Form 1099.  (If you got paid less than $600 by an employer, they don’t have to send a 1099, but you still have to report the income!)  Your self-employment income and expenses should be reported on Schedule C (or C-EZ), and employee business expenses on Form 2106 (or 2106-EZ).  Some folks have told me that their accountants deduct ALL their business expenses on Schedule C, even those employee expenses that aren’t attributable to 1099 work. I think that’s completely improper, and could be dangerous. Maybe those accountants figure they could bamboozle an IRS auditor, but I’d prefer to report expenses properly.

Mistake #2:  Forgetting about local transportation

A professional tax preparer friend of mine says that the most-overlooked business deduction is local trans- portation.  Be sure to record your car mileage, bus fares, parking, tolls, etc. for your local trips in pursuit of your career.  Transportation to job-seeking and career-building activities is always deductible.  These activities include actual auditions and interviews, but also meetings with your agent, trips for coaching and lessons, union meetings, and errands to photographers, studios and printers to get your head shots, demos, and résumés.  All these activities are ordinary and necessary expenses, and this is probably most of your mileage.  A singer probably wouldn’t forget to deduct the cost of voice lessons, but might overlook the cost of getting there.  This may be because you usually won’t have receipts for these local transportation costs.  And that leads us to:

The Number One mistake actors make about taxes:  Failure to keep good records

The best thing to do to maximize your tax refund is to keep good records of your activities.  This means that you should write everything down, and keep those records as you go along.  From the example above, when you go to an audition or interview, write down your car mileage and what you paid for parking, or make note of the fare for public transportation.  You won’t have receipts for these things, so contemporaneous records are essential.  You can’t just make things up at tax time!  I also heard an accountant point out that if you just guess, you’ll probably underestimate.  So keep accurate records.

The most credible records are written in your own hand, so I keep an old-fashioned paper date book.  If you prefer to keep track of things electronically, make a printout at least once a week and hand-sign and date it.

Remember — as a professional in our industry, YOU are a little business, and keeping accurate records is an important part of your job!

 

Mark Bradley has been acting on Twin Cities stages for more than 35 years, although he is now mostly known as “Katie Bradley’s dad.” For several years, Mark provided individual tax help to performers through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, and also presented income tax seminars for actors, partnering with CPA Paul Mount. He is a graduate of the H&R Block tax course, maintains the Actor’s Tax Tips blog and authored The Actor’s Tax Guide.

 

Keep Learning!

 Classes, Events, On Camera, Tips N Tricks, Uncategorized  Comments Off on Keep Learning!
Sep 172012
 

You can always keep learning in this business! Don’t forget to take some time to keep growing and learning as a talent. It will help you more than you know!!

Talent Poole offers classes to our exclusive talent for FREE!! Take a peek at our website to see what is going on this fall. We have improv, voice over, on-camera techniques, prompter techniques and dos and don’ts of the biz.

Here are some other places in town to fill you class schedule:

Michelle Hutchison is now offering all new ON CAMERA CLASSES for FALL, 2012!

These popular five-week courses are perfect for those who wish to learn the techniques necessary to have a dynamic and professional on-camera audition. The workshop will enmesh the actor in the world of auditioning for the camera. You will be given television and film scripts to prepare for the camera, as well as learning how to handle cold-read materials. All aspects of the business are discussed such as headshots, resumes, agents, casting directors, actor’s unions and more. You will be given a tape of your time on-camera to take home and review. This is an excellent tool to see how you operate on-camera. Many students have seen marked improvement in their on-camera skills and bring a fresh confidence to their auditions.

FALL CLASSES INCLUDE WORKSHOPS FOR ADULTS AND KIDS AND TEENS!

ADULT WORKSHOP:
Monday evenings, 6:30pm-9:30pm
September 24, October 1, 8, 15, 22

KIDS AND TEENS WORKSHOP:
Saturday mornings, 9:30am-12:30pm
September 29, October 13, 20, 27, November 3

ALL LEVELS OF EXPERIENCE ARE ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND!

Class will be held at the Lynn Blumenthal Casting office in downtown Minneapolis.

Instructor for the class, Michelle Hutchison, has worked as a professional actress for over 20 years. She has been seen on many local Twin Cities stages, as well as appearing in feature films, commercials, industrials, and voiceovers. Michelle has assisted at LBC in casting films such as, “The Last Avatar”, “Kicking and Screaming”, “Ice Princess”, “Bad News Bears”,” Yours, Mine and Ours”,”Superbad” and many more. Her on-camera workshops continue to train the young and more mature to enjoying a more successful and dynamic on-camera audition. Because of her tutelage, her students have booked television commercials, film, industrials and television series.

There are limited amount of spots available in the workshop so that you will receive maximum time on-camera. To enroll please contact Michelle at Funnyhutch@aol.com, or you may call 612-462-1325.

These classes are kept to an intimate size, but will fill up fast!

 

Bab’s Casting 

Babs offers training and workshops. These are tailored to the needs of individuals and groups, whether they be actors, models, VO talent, directors or “real” people curious about how it all works. These are given at her cozy western studio and on location. Babs loves to de-mystify casting, to teach and empower.

To register, set up a different location or dates and prices, please contact the studio: 612-332-6858 orbabs@babscasting.com

Ongoing On-Camera Class for Adults

I know the basics, I’ve auditioned, even booked work, but I want to do more!

OFFERED 3rd SATURDAY EVERY MONTH. Ages 16 and up. For those ready to work on a variety of commercial audition scenarios. Over time, we’ll work on a range of scripts from one liners to industrial copy, bite and smiles, reaction shots and improv situations. We’ll record the auditions and Babs will critique them. This is a great time to practice being on-camera whether you are a print model, stage actor, “real” person or seasoned broadcast talent. Come once, come every month, you decide what you need.

(2 hrs per class, ongoing, *$50 per person, you must pre-register each time, NOT a drop in class)

SESSION B: 3rd Saturday of the month, 1-3 p.m.

 

Brave New Workshop Improv – Adult Improv

Everyday Improv: This level introduces you to the essentials of improvisation: saying “Yes and”, finding your creative voice, listening and discovering with your scene partner, and more! This is done in the safe and supportive “creative gymnasium” that makes the BNW: Student Union so unique and fun.
The next Everyday Improv Level 1 will be on Saturdays from 10:00am-12:00pm starting September 22nd.
This class runs for 8 week

 

So – what are you waiting for??? Get enrolled in some classes today!!

 

 

The Importance of Improv

 Classes, On Camera, Tips N Tricks  Comments Off on The Importance of Improv
Jul 132012
 

More and more we are getting requests for talent to have improv experience. They may not specifically say it – but read between the lines in the audition specs. Did the client ask for “something unique”, “facial reactions”, “fun personalities”, “good timing”, or a “comedy background”? They are really asking for someone to be comfortable with IMPROV!

In commercials, most of the content is said by the VO talent, that means the majority of ON-CAMERA talent is acting through facial expressions and reactions. The more comfortable you are with your body, face and movements… the more comfortable you will look on camera.

Some of the key principles of improv are:

Be Prepared, Warm Up: Even in commercial work, it is important to take a minute to prepare for your audition. Make sure you have read all the information well in advance, have memorized your lines if need be, have your headshot and resume printed in advance, and have your wardrobe ready to go. Once in the audition space – take a few deep breaths – shed the stress of the drive in traffic and don’t think about the rest of the crowded room. Only think about what is needed for YOU.

Listen: Listen when the director/casting director gives you a suggestion. Take a minute, process it, and react. Listen when your partner is speaking – actually speak back to them, don’t just recite lines to them.

Action Beats Inaction: Don’t just stand there and say/do nothing!! Act and react. Make specific choices for your character.

Be Honest: Don’t censor your initial thoughts. If you have a gut reaction, it is likely the most natural reaction for you… try it!

Trust: Trust your impulses and your choices. Also – trust those of your scene partner. Build off them, weave them together… make up a great story!

YES AND… The most commonly known principle in improv is “yes, and…”. You never say no. Accept what is happening and make it part of your reality and create around it.

Improv doesn’t mean you are a stand up comedian or the guy with the best one-liners. The talent who are great with improv can see comedic timing in a script and they can feel the places where a reaction can be placed.

If you are interested in learning more about improv – we are lucky to have some AMAZING improv theater groups in town that offer classes. Take a peek at:

Brave New Workshop Student Unionhttp://studentunion.bravenewworkshop.com/

Huge Improvhttp://www.hugetheater.com/classes/

Stevie Ray’s Improvhttp://www.stevierays.org/improv_comedy_classes.html

Comedy Sportzhttp://www.comedysportztc.com/classes.php

 

 

Making Life Easier

 Tips N Tricks  Comments Off on Making Life Easier
Jun 012012
 

Hello All,

Time for my first blog post. It’s funny, ‘cause I waltz around the office day after day and say, “Boy, I wish everyone knew…”, “Or, I hope people remember to….”. Hmmmm. This is probably a great way to get the information out to you.

I had some thoughts on, well, making your agent’s life easier. Right. I know, I know. You are all officially invited to send comments about what would make a TALENT’S life easier, and we will listen! I think it would make a great post. Seriously, send in your thoughts, and we’ll do that one next.

For now, just a few little things that’ll help us out in the TP office, and the reasons they would help:

  1. When you receive an email about an audition, read the WHOLE thing before you respond. Everything you need to know is going to be in that email (unless I forget to attach whatever attachment I said I would attach, and someone usually let’s me know about that fairly quickly). We’ve had some cases lately where people have signed up for an audition, and then, FROM the audition, have called or emailed and said, “Oh, I can’t make this shoot date.” Um. That doesn’t make anybody happy. Your time has been wasted, someone else could’ve had your audition spot, and although the casting directors in town know we’re not dummies here at TP, we look kinda dumb. Our lovely casting directors do an excellent job of giving us all the information they want you to have in order to do a fantastic audition. So don’t make yourself and us look silly by not reading all the information provided.
  2. If you miss a phone call from us, please listen to the call before calling back. We’ve most likely left all the information you need in the phone call, and it’s just nice not to have to repeat it again when you call back and say, “Oh, I just missed your call…what’s up?” I know it’s a little thing, but when we’re juggling lists and names and auditions and bookings, it’s great to have someone prepared and ready to go on the phone.
  3. I know people probably get disappointed when we send out an audition notice to more people than we have time slots for, and miss getting in on the audition. The way to beat that wrap is to respond right away! Even if you don’t think you need to respond quickly because, oh, say the audition is 3 days away, and it looks like we have plenty of time to get that taken care of, you should respond quickly! As soon as we get that audition booked full of people, two neat things can happen: we can move onto preparing other auditions, and, on occasion, if we show the casting directors that we’re Johnny-on-the-Spot and get things taken care of very quickly, they may give us additional times, so we can send more of our terrific talent.

I may be repeating things that you’ve already heard, but they are important. When you do a fabulous job at an audition, that reflects well not only on you, but on Talent Poole, and on your Talent Poole co-representees (just made that up); and that’s good all the way around.

May 082012
 

Did you just get a call for a BIG audition? Great! Dance around your living room, do a couple fist pumps and then take a deep breath. You’ve gotten in the door – that is half the battle. Now, let’s wow them with your amazing professionalism and great audition.

Here are some really simple things to do that make you look like a ROCK STAR!! I know they sound like common sense…. but you will be surprised how often they are forgotten!!

BEFORE AGREEING TO THE AUDITION:

  1. Read the entire audition notice.
  2. Make sure you are available for the audition, the callback and the shoot date.
  3. Confirm your selected audition times with your agent.
  4. Open, read and understand all audition material – scripts, storyboards, videos, pictures. Do this AS SOON AS YOU RECEIVE THE AUDITION NOTICE. Don’t leave it til 11PM the night before the audition. There may be some things that need preparation time!

BEFORE YOU WALK IN THE AUDITION ROOM:

  1. Arrive ON TIME. Not super early. Not late. ON TIME. You were given a time to be there for a reason. When you arrive much earlier, the person you are meeting with may not be ready for you, they may not have a waiting area, they are in the middle of 15 other things… Being way too early is NOT helpful. Being late is not only rude, but also disrespectful of everyone involved. If you know you are going to be late – CALL YOUR AGENT. Let them know and they can let your audition know.
  2. Have your agent’s phone number in your phone for such emergencies.
  3. Have the directions, phone numbers, and all audition info with you. Don’t leave it to chance or your memory!
  4. When you arrive at a large audition – be polite and nice to the receptionist and helpers. They remember you and they are the future casting agents and producers!
  5. Do not bring your children with you to auditions – waiting rooms and receptionists are not babysitters.
  6. Fill out your paperwork COMPLETELY. Fill out every question asked to the fullest amount.
  7. Casting Agents want true height/weight/sizes on the audition form. (the wardrobe stylist works off this sheet)
  8. Casting Agents need detailed AVAILABILITY (they plan the shoot dates and times around this). If you can be flexible and make it work. Put that you are available… but be prepared to make it really work. If you need an out time for rehearsals or a show put that so the production can be prepared.
  9. Once you have filled out your audition paperwork, sit down and be quiet. This is not a time to visit with everyone else in the room. It’s not happy hour. Everyone there is or should be concentrating on the work they are about to do.
  10. Always bring a copy of your HEADSHOT and RESUME. Even if it wasn’t specifically asked for… you never know when it is needed. Keep these things current.
  11. Fill out your Casting Frontier Profile and keep it current. More and more casting agents are asking this of talent… make this a part of your marketing scheme!

IN THE AUDITION ROOM:

  1. Walk into the audition room with a smile. Be CONFIDENT!
  2. PRACTICE your SLATE before the audition! Your name and your agency should be a statement… not a question! Be comfortable in your own skin… this is the time for you to show the camera, casting agent, and client who YOU are. SMILE!
  3. ALWAYS be prepared with the material the agents send you, we give you all this information to HELP YOU, please take the time to work with it. Memorize the script. Learn the storyboards. Check out the reference videos/pictures. BUT – be prepared to improvise if needed.
  4. Wear the appropriate wardrobe – you should be able to tell what is appropriate from the scripts, storyboards, or job description.
  5. THANK them for seeing you. Do not shake hands (unless the clients get up to do so first). SMILE!

Remember to take notes afterwards of what happened at the audition – keep track of client, product, producer, agency, role, etc.
Your agent will notify you if you are selected for a callback or for the role. We do not know that info for days usually, since the selects need to be approved by several people. If you are wondering, you can always send us an email… we may not have any info though!

Don’t forget to have a fun in your audition and show them how awesome you are – we obviously thought you were great enough to get the call. 🙂

We want you to succeed and the best part of our job is calling to tell you that YOU ARE BOOKED!!!

Headshot Advice

 On Camera, Tips N Tricks  Comments Off on Headshot Advice
May 012012
 

We get tons of questions about headshots… there is never an easy answer and every person is different. We can only tell you what WE LIKE and what we see working. You, as the talent, have to be comfortable with your shot and be confident when passing out your photo.

Here are some tips that I have gathered from my experience, from research and from chatting with other professionals.

  1. Your headshot should LOOK LIKE YOU!!! I shouldn’t have any problem recognizing you from your headshot when you walk into my office.
  2. In the MN Market – we like color, smiling, natural headshots. Nothing too dramatic, model-y or avant-garde. We want commercial, comfortable, confident and friendly.
  3.  Make sure that you look like you do… Naturally. If you wear your hair curly more often than not – try doing your pictures with your hair like that. If you never curl your hair, don’t curl it for the pics because you think it looks better that way. LOOK LIKE THE BEST VERSION OF EVERYDAY YOU.
  4. Smile! We love smiling pictures, the thing is… it has to look natural, confident and not pushy.
  5. Makeup … keep your make up really natural. No pageant bright lipstick, no trendy different colored eye shadow. NATURAL. Even men should use powder to even out and everyone could use chapstick!
  6. The poses… make sure you are vocal enough in your session to get a bunch of different poses and shot widths (3/4, waist up, shoulders up, close up).  Don’t have a session of 100 shots all the same. Such a waste of $$$.
  7. If you are able to have a couple of shirt changes, that is great. Here are some wardrobe tips: No Bold Patterns, No Logos, No Spaghetti Straps, No Ruffles or puffy sleeves that add bulk. Wear black, bright jewel tones, or colored neutrals like blue, green or red. Avoid white. Wear something you are comfortable in. Keep jewelry to minimum – no large accessory pieces. They become the focus, not you. Make sure your clothes FIT properly. Especially men. We don’t want to see a big collared shirt bunched around your shoulders, we want to see YOU! Make sure your clothes are clean, tailored, wrinkle free and lint free.
  8. Outdoor lighting is great!
  9. If you have dark hair – DON’T have a dark background… you disappear.
  10. Guys – with facial hair – make sure it is neat and trimmed. If you are in-between stages… make a commitment. No scruff or skinny mustaches. It looks weird.

Yes – a good photographer is going to do a lot of the work getting you a great headshot. They are going to make sure you are lit properly, have a good background, and are framed properly. But YOU should be aware of these things as well. Do some research – find shots that you like and take them with you. Explore with your photographer why you like them – is it the lighting, the smile, the energy, the color?

Most importantly – HAVE FUN!! We want to see that you are having fun in your session, that your smiles are genuine and the sparkle in your eye is true. 😉

Suzanne’s Dos and Don’ts of the Biz Recap

 Classes, Tips N Tricks  Comments Off on Suzanne’s Dos and Don’ts of the Biz Recap
Apr 172012
 

This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of teaching one of the classes for Talent Poole – The Dos and Don’ts of the Biz. The talent and I went out into the courtyard to soak up the sun while we got down to business. The class was filled with talent that were brand new to Talent Poole to folks that had been with us since we opened our doors 16 years ago. We spent the afternoon talking about the quirks of the entertainment industry, here are some of the highlights!

  • The Hierarchy of the Advertising Industry: Do you know how many people have to approve the decision to hire you? A TON!
  • Resume and Headshot Pointers: What makes a headshot stand out? Comfort, friendliness AND I should recognize you the instant you walk in the door. Your headshot should look like the best version of the “everyday you.” Resumes – highlight the most important and interesting jobs – get rid of the clutter. Make an impression!
  • Treat this as your BUSINESS (even if you have 2 or 3 other jobs): Remember names, keep track of your progress, and always work at improving.
  • Be the easiest person in the world to work with: Be available, be prepared, read emails completely, answer promptly, be polite and gracious, be kind.
  • Keep us updated – send us reminders of what you are working on, what classes you are taking, when you are going to be out-of-town. Not only does it keep us informed, it keeps your name on the top of my mind!
  • Don’t do anything you have to apologize for – on set, in an audition, or at our office!

What I liked best about the class was that I got to spend the hour getting to know 10 talent, that I may not have known very well. The more I know about our talent, the better I can represent them. And… in this business you have to constantly work on the business and the craft. You are never done learning.