The Hamster Wheel
I do feel that there is a strange injustice to the universe out here. It doesn’t seem to matter how much you go above and beyond, do the extra work, graft the extra hours, networking, emailing, adding new reels, creating, all the patient baby steps you take…you aren’t always rewarded with the progress you would expect. The laws of business don’t seem to apply here. I think everyone is afraid to commit, so no one does. From agents and managers, to studios and writers, no one wants to be the one who took the risk and is now left holding the proverbial baby.
They can see your website, your resume, your IMDb page, your new headshots, your attempts at stalking them at various workshops and sending links to your new scenes via Face Book and email. They can see you are more than qualified to hold this position of jobbing actor. They can see you have booked your own work and created your opportunities. But still they want more “proof.” It’s a bit like knowing a case is a slam-dunk, but the prosecutor won’t take it to trial without one more piece of evidence. Then one more….then…..one…more….
That part irritates me. I have had interactions with numerous agents and managers now. All of them give me such amazing feedback. I ask them if they are taking people on, they say yes, some even bring me in for meetings. But that is where it ends. They can’t make decisions without the entire office, building and American government being in agreement. Now, I get this to a point, as it is a company of people that would potentially be representing you, but where are the people who are as passionate and excited about their job as you are about your career? They want us to be brave in this precarious industry, to be vulnerable and put our dreams and skills on the line every day, but where are the brave representatives? Those willing to push for you? Sometimes I think I should try and add up how much money I made for my Agent in SA over the years and sell myself as stocks or shares, to put it into terms that are understood here.
I feel slightly insulted when they tell me I need to understand that I am my own business. Who do you think had been running this business, at a profit, for the last 14 years? As actors, we are fully aware that we are responsible for keeping our business running , and (at least) breaking even. But lets add up the cost of running our business. Headshots are expensive, no doubt. They become ridiculously expensive when different agents give you different ideas about what a good headshot looks like. I understand there are three basic looks, theatrical, stage and commercial. I don’t understand why we have 5/6 different commercial or character looks as a lawyer, and doctor, a secretary etc. Am I now led to believe that all clients have lost their imaginations to the point that they can’t visualize me in any other way other than what my generic “Hello, I’m a commercial looking young mum,” headshot says? Then of course there’s the “Just one really good generic headshot will be great. They want to see a shot that just looks like you, a blank canvas.” So off you go to your $800 shoot with the “agent recommended flavor- of- the -month top photographer in LA.” You get the pictures back after spending even more money on touch-ups, developing and printing, to see they are all pretty much the same, but really nice shots. Off you go to your Casting Director workshop, full of confidence that you listened to the right information and now have the shots that “work” in LA. Only to be told the shots are too “model-ly,” “not really you.” “don’t say much about your personality.” Come on Hollywood! What do you want! You don’t know! How are we supposed to know! So you send out your new shots to agencies, and wait….. No one gets back to you.
So you follow up. Oh yes, they received one of your expensive 8X10 printed headshot with your name on it, your updated and printed resume, link to your reel and with your carefully constructed cover letter. But decided you’re “just not a good fit right now.” Please, please tell me WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN? So you ask them in which areas you can improve and therefore stand a better chance of finding representation. The question is usually ignored, or they tell you to build more credits. When you point out this might be a vicious circle, as you can only get into so many rooms representing yourself and submitting on Actors Access or LA Casting, so by deduction, better credits would require better audition opportunities which boils down to better representation, Call me crazy, is this illogical? I mean its not like they are signing your contract in blood for the rest of their natural life. So let's see how the relationship works for a year and reassess. Perhaps I should get some new headshots done….
So, I’ve jumped on and off the Hollywood hamster wheel this past year and a bit, and have decided to listen to that age old saying: You know the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I think its time to try it Sinatra style… HIGHER!