THE ACTOR’S LAUNCHPAD
This is a question that you are likely to be asked time and time again throughout your career and it’s also so important for you to know the answer to, for you to be able to market yourself in the most effective way.
So often, actors perceive themselves in a different way to how others perceive them. They might see themselves as the hard guy when everyone else sees cuddly dad or vice versa. This is where so many go wrong- they market something different to what they have to offer.
Imagine you wanted to buy a red Audi. You look around, find one that looks perfect but when you get there it’s blue. There’s nothing wrong with the blue Audi- but it’s not what you wanted so you’re probably not going to buy it. So you go somewhere else who actually does have the one you were looking for.
You need to get real and be honest with yourself about who you are and how you are perceived by others, to be able to effectively market yourself according to your physical appearance and personality. Not how you WANT to be perceived, but how you actually ARE perceived by people when they first meet you.
This does not mean you exclude yourself from roles that do not match that type but if your marketing shows your strongest roles, it’s going to be much easier for you to establish yourself as an actor because you will be pushing yourself to the forefront of people’s mind’s when they are casting that particular character. You keep challenging yourself to do different roles, ones that push you out of your comfort zone and her you to grow as an actor, yes- but your marketing remains consistent.
Imagine you are walking through the market and you think to yourself that you would really like a pancake right now. You know exactly what you want and head directly to go get it. There are two stands that could sell pancakes- one of them sells lots of different snacks and you could go and see if that includes pancakes but then you look the other way and there’s a stand with quality photos of the most delicious looking pancakes and you’re confident that they will be great because it’s what they specialise in. Do you even bother going to the first stand knowing that the second will be able to deliver exactly what you want? Now let’s say you did go to the second place and get this amazing pancake (which by the way did totally live up to its marketing) and while you are there you notice it does cup cakes as well. The next time you go, you might get a cup cake because the pancake was so good that you now know them, like them and trust them enough to deliver on the cup cake next time.
Let’s move this on to casting. Imagine your strongest casting type according to your physical appearance and personality, is the strong, leader type. Your website, main headshot, business cards, the first scene of your showreel and all of your social media pages use the colours, clips, language, fonts etc to reflect this and you start to become known for being able to play things type of role well. You are now much more likely to be called in when somebody is casting that type. So let’s imagine that heppens- you are confident because it’s your strongest role and you book the job. You deliver way over expectations being the pro that you are and then the same casting director is casting the role of a geek next. Your agent, knowing you are actually capable of stretching yourself, puts you forward for it and even though you haven’t seen marketing yourself as the geek, you are still more likely of being called in. Why? Because you delivered so well last time, they now know you, like you and trust you enough to see you for this one. Do you see how it works?
This is a business. You are the product. Know your product. Know yourself. Be realistic with your expectations and on last thing… Be realistic with your age range!
Here’s the thing about age ranges. Not many people want to admit they can play older than they actually are. They might ask friends and family members to be really honest and let them know how old they look… But let’s face it, they are still likely to tell them that you look younger than your actual age and so what happens is that most people set their age range too low.
This is not going to work. Here’s why.
Say you look 40-45 and you have set your age range for 30-40, you are very unlikely to book the roles for the early 30s because there will be plenty of others going for the role who do actually fit into that age bracket. But the worst thing is, the perfect role could come up for you which is looking for a 45 year old and you have excluded yourself from it. Not many people can go wrong by setting their age range as 5 years each side of their actual age (less for kids).
Here is this week’s challenge:
1. Complete the following statements with a list of answers.
I am not…
2. Ask a range of people (minimum 10) which 3 adjectives they would use to describe you. Tip- this will be more effective if you are asking people you have just met to gain an insight into how you might come across to a casting director when you walk into the audition room. Tell them to be honest, not nice!
3. Without revealing your actual age, ask other industry professionals (minimum 10) what age range they would place you at and work out what the average was.
4. Answer the following questions.
- Do the adjectives you got match the ones you wrote about yourself (I am…)?
- What is it about you that others find memorable?
- What are your freak factors? (What makes you unique).
- What are you good at?
- What skills do you have?
- What are your personal attributes? (Eg. Leader, disciplined, creative, entrepreneurial etc)
- What education have you had?
- What work experience have you had?
- Write 3-5 experiences (good and bad) you have had that have shaped you into the person you are today.
- What are your values?
- What are your limits? (Eg Nudity, commercials for certain companies etc)
5. Based on all the above, write what types of roles you are most likely to be cast as.