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.

 

MN Fringe Festival

 Brag Reel, Events  Comments Off on MN Fringe Festival
Jul 182012
 

MINNESOTA FRINGE FESTIVAL : 11 days, 165 shows, 15 Twin Cities venues.

There will be a TON of fresh new theater to feast your eyes on in the coming month. Get Ready!! August 2 – August 12 will be jam packed with 165 shows and over 1000 artists presenting their theatrical work. All shows run NO MORE than 60 minutes, seating is general admission and you must purchase a $4 FRINGE BUTTON to attend the shows. More details about ticketing can be found at : http://www.fringefestival.org/2012/tickets/

A great deal of the work at the Minnesota Fringe Festival is original work by Minnesota artists. At Talent Poole, we are lucky enough to represent AT LEAST two of the very talented writers and performers in this year’s festival. There are many more participating in the festival… check it out online for the full schedule.

Let me introduce you to Mike Fotis and Max Wojtanowicz

Mike Fotis, Creator of Billy Beechwood and The Mountain Of Terror!

Mike Fotis is one of the Twin Cities’ premiere comic performers. In improv circles, he’s known as an educator and member of Ferrari McSpeedy and Fingergun. Fotis also co-created such popular stage comedies as “Punk Rock Omaha” and “Speech!” and has written several storytelling shows for the Minnesota Fringe called “An Intimate Evening With Fotis” and “Billy Beechwood and the Mountain of Terror!”. Mike is also a mainstage cast member at the Brave New Workshop and serves as the co-director of the Student Union, which is the BNW’s School of Improvisation.

 

Billy Beechwood and The Mountain Of Terror!

Presented by: Ferrari McSpeedy

Mt. Terror has claimed the lives of everyone that has tried to scale it. Will Billy Beechwood reach the peak or will he be buried forever in an icy tomb? A comedy-adventure for the kid in all of us.

This show is funny. Mike, along with his buddies Joe Bozic and Aric McKweon (another Talent Poole Talent) play tons of characters in this fast paced trip through awesome town.

 Thursday, 8/2 7:00 pm
Saturday, 8/4 10:00 pm
Monday, 8/6  8:30 pm
Tuesday, 8/7 10:00 pm
Saturday, 8/11 7:00 pm

LOCATION: U of M Rarig Center Thrust 
330 21st Av S, Main Floor

Tickets and other info here: http://www.fringefestival.org/2012/show/?id=2257

 

Max Wojtanowicz creator of Fruit Fly: The Musical

Max Wojtanowicz makes faces for a living, including at the Children’s Theatre Company (Dr Seuss’ The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, Romeo & Juliet, Mr McGee and the Biting Flea and the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz), The Strange Capers (Feste in Twelfth Night), Workhouse Theatre Company (Arnold inTorch Song Trilogy), Urban Samurai (Musical: The Musical! at the 2008 MN Fringe and Hunter in the regional premiere of [title of show]) and Frank Theatre (Cliff in Cabaret). Next up: Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas at CTC! He could not be more thrilled to share the stage with Sheena and collaborate with all these wonderful chumps. Thanks to fruits and fruit flies everywhere!

PS: if you need more Max in your life, make sure to head over to Theatre in the Round where he is playing Benvolio in The Peanut Butter Factory’s world premiere of Joe Dowling’s William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet on the Moon, featuring Kate Mulgrew as Lady Capulet!

 

Fruit Fly: The Musical

 By The Jansonowicz Players

Created by Sheena Janson, Max Wojtanowicz, Michael Gruber and Nikki Swoboda

Can a gay man and a straight woman – a fruit and a fruit fly – “quit each other” to find true love? Find out in this brand new musical, developed and performed by local actors Sheena Janson and Max Wojtanowicz, who met as kids in community theater in the St. Cloud area.

Sheena and Max’s weird, wonderful friendship is told with music by Broadway veteran and recent Minneapolis transfer Michael Gruber. The piece will be directed by long-time collaborator and friend Nikki Swoboda, with musical direction by Jason Hansen, and performed at the Rarig Arena on the U of M campus!

In an election year, when same-sex marriage and GLBT rights are hot button issues, FRUIT FLY: THE MUSICAL reminds us that right now, as always, all any of us really wants is to feel safe, welcomed, loved… and fabulous!

LOCATION: U of M Rarig Arena
330 21st Av S, Second Floor

Sunday, 8/5   7:00 pm
Monday, 8/6   10:00 pm
Thursday, 8/9  5:30 pm
Friday, 8/10      7:00 pm
Saturday, 8/11 4:00 pm

Tickets and other info here: http://www.fringefestival.org/2012/show/?id=2262

And please donate what you can to our Kickstarter campaign — every little bit helps, and check out those great incentives! 🙂
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/458391060/fruit-fly-the-musical-the-2012-mn-fringe-festival
We know there are tons more (163 to be exact) show to get excited about… we wanted to brag a bit about two of our extremely talented artists who are working hard on these great projects!

Please go out and support local artists this August at the Minnesota Fringe Festival.

 

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

 

 

Jul 022012
 

Happy 4th of July week everyone!

I thought I would take this holiday week to post a little something personal and let ya’ll get to know me and how I got here! Hope you enjoy it (and if you don’t – come back next week… we’ll try another topic then!).

So – My name is Suzanne Roberts. I am 1/2 of the team at Talent Poole and I am so thankful that I get to come to work everyday with Geanette and all of our talent. I couldn’t be happier!

As many in this business, I started out in theater – no, let’s rephrase that. I started out wanting to be Bernadette Peters. I went to the University of MN, Duluth to study Musical Theater and to become a STAR. Well, I learned very quickly that I worked very hard, but I wasn’t as competitive or as naturally talented at Bernadette – or even most of my class mates. So I switched my focus to stage management – now that’s where I became the STAR! I really excelled at organizing and scheduling and finding how all the pieces of the show fit together.

After I graduated from UMD, I spent a summer as a production coordinator intern at the Ordway. I worked on productions like Rent, Les Mis and Anything Goes. I also spent my time doing informational meetings with people in the biz around town and that is where I discovered tv/film production. I met with  a producer in the Yellow Tag Productions division at Best Buy and I wanted to know if my stage management skills could transfer into production. I asked her what she did on a typical day – and she said “why don’t you come work for me and you’ll see.” I spent the next few months as her assistant in the office and then I got a taste of being on set and I loved it. I  loved that everyday was different, that I would be doing wardrobe  prep one day and then planning a schedule the next and then on set or location the following. I became a freelance coordinator at the age of 21 and worked non-stop until I decided to move to NYC in the spring of 2005.

I had always dreamed on living in New York. I thought it was the best place in the whole wide world! I moved there without a job – but I interviewed non-stop for the first month at every production company, agency and casting office I could get to answer my call. Finally, I got a frantic call from a casting agency asking me to come in for an interview. They had just fired the last person they hired and their main agent was going on a 3 week vacation the next day… they needed help. NOW. I landed the job, mostly because they were desperate, but they asked me to stay because I was awesome! I became the background casting agent for 6 films and 1 major network show over the next 6 months – we worked on projects with Richard Gere, Jason Priestley,Uma Thurman, Luke Wilson, Judy Greer, Tom Cavanagh, Hayden Christensen, and Ivan Reitman. We didn’t do any of our work electronically yet – so we just had piles of headshots all over the place. There was a stack of blond 20 year old women in the left hand corner of the room, the 40 year old men with grey hair were in the right corner. They were stacked to my knees… and we would spend our days flipping through pics and making calls. It was exhausting! After 6 months, I was worn out and I missed MN and my family. I was ready to come home.

After coming home from NY, I needed a break from production. I found a job that used all my organizational skills, but was still fun and creative. I became an event planner. I worked for several different companies over the next few years helping plan all types of events and meetings. But – I always found I missed production. I am so happy being back in the mix here at Talent Poole – I love working with actors and producers daily… this is my comfort zone!

As for me personally:  I like to laugh. A lot. I sing random songs throughout the day. I dance when I am happy or when we book a job. I can do a totally believable southern accent, mildly believable British accent and a terrible Russian accent – I love getting in the VO booth and being a goof ball! I am kinda girly, love the color pink, all things that sparkle and dark chocolate. I am terrible at telling jokes, but I love puns. I hate killing spiders (afraid of the karma or mass spider retribution), air conditioning (would rather it just be 70 and breezy), doing dishes and dust bunnies. I don’t believe that “everything happens for a reason” or there is some master plan written…. We have more control than we give ourselves credit for.  I have a passport that has never been stamped, but I am dying to go to Paris, Fiji, Italy and Australia.

So – there is a bit of history on your agent, Suzanne. Can’t wait to learn more about all of you! 🙂

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.