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September 23, 2001

Recommended Reading for ActorsBone.com

Before even heading to LA to give acting a go, aspiring actors should skim, if not memorize, the chapters of the following essential books and guides.

Acting in Commercials: A Guide to Auditioning and Performing on Camera - by Joan See If you're planning on doing any commercial acting, and you're coming to LA from a market where commercials aren't where you're getting work already, you'll need to check this book out for its tips including on-camera acting techniques, the difference between commercial and theatrical auditions and bookings, and ad copy as scene work.

An Actor Succeeds: Career Management for the Actor - by Terrance Hines & Suzanne Vaughan
I like this book, even though it's a bit out of date, because it is the first of its kind, featuring Q&A formatted interviews with casting directors, agents, managers, a writer-producer, an attorney, an accountant, and a publicist. When I first read this book, I was amazed that there was no "industry standard" when it comes to sending unsolicited headshots, demo reel formatting, or audition etiquette. It's nice to know that every CD is different, when it comes to likes and dislikes. That way, as a self-marketing actor, you can do what makes you comfortable and know that there will be CDs with whom your methods click. Much of the work I do in Casting Qs came from the early influence of this book.

The Actor's Encyclopedia of Casting Directors: Conversations with Over 100 Casting Directors on How to Get the Job - by Karen Kondazian Another book of Q&A formatted interviews with casting directors in LA, but this one includes photographs. I'm a big fan of knowing what CDs look like, as I think we often place too much value on schmoozing the "stars" at parties, when we should be chatting up the CDs, perhaps. Karen wrote The Actor's Way for BackStage West in the 1990s.

The Agencies: What the Actor Needs to Know
- by Lawrence Parke
This guide is so regularly updated that anyone seeking representation would be just plain silly not to keep buying it. It has the most current contact information for agencies, plus union affiliation status, and a list of what "types" are being targeted by each agency.

The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity - by Julia Cameron By now, everyone has seen some version of this book, which includes daily and weekly exercises to nurture your inner artist. If you have any creative blocks whatsoever, or find that you don't spend nearly enough time in the pursuit of your craft, this book has practical (although a little touchy-feely) advice on putting healing in motion so that you can be free to create with passion.

Be a TV Game Show Winner! - by Marla Schram Schwartz
An often overlooked way to get TV exposure, and make some good money while you're at it, the game show has long been a popular outlet for aspiring actors. There's more to booking a game show than just sending in a headshot and resume. While game shows encourage actors to apply (union status doesn't matter), the producers will want you to not "technically" be an actor. This book includes information on how to be chosen, how to win, how to handle the IRS, and how to be chosen again and again to appear on game shows and win fabulous prizes!

Breakdown Services' CD Directory
Updated quarterly, this is a great resource for the most current contact information on CSA and CCDA members, as well as independent casting directors in LA. I use it every day.

Breaking Into Commercials: The Complete Guide to Marketing Yourself, Auditioning to Win, and Getting the Job - by Terry Berland & Deborah Ouellette A comprehensive guide to working in commercials, including information on the headshots and resumes best suited for commercial actors, audition protocol, details of the commercial shoot, plus specific information on voiceovers and crossing over from modeling to acting using commercials as the path.

CSA's Casting By...
This is sort of the IMDB in book form; a list of which CSA members cast what projects and who produced those projects as well.

Extra Work for Brain Surgeons - by Hollywood OS This guide did something amazing when it hit the scene; it broke down the part of the business in which so many actors participate without really understanding. We know doing extra work is a popular way "in" - a way to get SAG vouchers, a way to learn the nuts and bolts of set etiquette, a way to make a little money for just being in a crowd - but most actors know little else, unless they pick up this hip, useful, entertaining and informative guide. A good book, even if you have no aspirations for extra work. The basic information about vocabulary, unions, pay rates, and a truly comprehensive list of extras casting services is useful to anyone entering this business
The Film Actor's Complete Career Guide: A Complete, Step-by-Step Checklist of all the Things Actors Seeking Professional Film and Television Careers Can and Should Do, When and How to do Them, from the Very First Steps to Top Starring Careers - by Lawrence Parke This book includes essential information on where to live, traps to avoid, where to study acting, resources, interacting with those who've seen and heard it all by the time you've just learned the vocabulary, unions, promotion, resume formatting, and blank forms for your own record-keeping. A must-have, for sure.
Getting the Part: 33 Professional Casting Directors Tell You How to Get Work in Theatre, Films, Commercials, and TV - by Judith Searle Another collection of those great Q&A formatted interviews with casting directors in LA and NY. Anyone who plans to get in front of CDs regularly needs to do as much homework as possible to learn who these people are.
How to Make It in Hollywood: Everything You Need to Know About Agents, Managers, Lawyers, Chutzpah, Schmoozing, the Casting Couch, Godfather Calls, Rhino Skin, Handling Rejection, How to Be Lucky, and All the Steps You Need to Take to Achieve the Success You Deserve - by Linda Buzzell This book includes... well, everything. The author is both a psychotherapist and career counselor who has held many industry jobs. Featured sections include The Game, Who You Are, Industry Jobs, Niche Targeting, The Pitch, The Action Log, Your Team, Survival Issues, Luck, and A Glossary of Hollywood Terminology. Absolutely, without a doubt, a must-read for anyone planning to do the acting thing.

How to Make Yourself (or Anyone Else) Famous: The Secrets of a Professional Publicist - by Gloria Michels
This book may be out of print, but I like it because it includes checklists for fame-making formulas, ten commandments for dealing with the media, and recommended reading. Any book along these lines would be a nice addition to an actor's bookcase.

How to Work a Room: Learn the Strategies of Savvy Socializing for Business and Personal Success - by Susan RoAne If you have any problems talking with strangers, acting is going to be a tough profession. Well, maybe not the acting itself, but the schmoozing that you're going to have to engage in may really turn your stomach until you learn how to overcome roadblocks to making new contacts, make the right impressions, know when to use humor, and how to circulate with ease and confidence. I couldn't remember names when I started reading this book. Now, I never forget anyone or anything that was said in an exchange with anyone. Working a room is a skill you can develop and one that you will enjoy having, once you've overcome the reluctance to schmoozing. You're going to have to do it, so get prepared.
Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre - by Keith Johnstone I'm a huge fan of improvisational acting, so I'd like to see this book included in the core acting curriculum of any acting instruction. It's important, yet often overlooked, as a tool to enhance traditional acting techniques. This book includes craft-specific information, as well as exercises and techniques, from the former Associate Artistic Director of the Royal Court Theatre.
The Los Angeles Agent Book: Get the Agent You Need for the Career You Want - by K. Callan Although this book's listings are often outdated by the time each new edition is published, I like it most for its interviews with many, many agents, which give a glimpse into the personality and business ethics of these usually inaccessible folks.
Survival Jobs: 154 Ways to Make Money While Pursuing Your Dreams - by Deborah Jacobson I cannot say enough good stuff about this book. Wow! It basically details amazingly innovative ideas for how to make money without having to take a 9 to 5 job in LA. This book reshaped the way I pursued income and is the best non-acting book for actors I can recommend. I currently have six freelance jobs (and have had as many as ten different ones at a time this year) and I love the flexibility, financial stability, and freedom to be creative that this lifestyle provides. Not for everyone, but if you're tired of the "golden handcuffs" that a full time job can be in this town, this book will open doors for you, big time!
The Tightwad Gazette: Promoting Thrift as a Viable Alternative Lifestyle - by Amy Dacyczyn A great guide (in fact, a series of books) to practical, easily-integrated lifestyle tips for saving money at every turn.
Wishcraft: How to Get What You Really Want - by Barbara Sher Another in the line of The Artist's Way style books, this one includes strategies to overcoming fear, goal-setting, progress checklists, and exercises to improve the speed of your manifestation. If you lack focus and are good with journal-based activities, this is a great tool.
Your Film Acting Career: How to Break Into the Movies & TV and Survive in Hollywood - by M.K. Lewis & Rosemary R. Lewis The book that many people in the industry have called "the actor's bible," this one includes nuts and bolts information on living in LA and taking care of the business of acting (and being a working actor).

Posted by bonnie at 4:02 PM | Comments (0)

September 20, 2001

My Favorite Sport

As football season begins and Psycho sports wood, I began to reflect on my favorite sport: the High Speed Chase.

There was a time when I just thought I enjoyed the thrill of watching, from the comfort of my living room, the helicopter view of the inevitable end to some guy's wild ride. Then it hit me: in a city where sports fans are more fickle than teenage girls, we DO, in fact, have our own Official Sport. It is, most definitely, the High Speed Chase.

I mean, look at the parallels: sports fans of the more, shall we say, traditional nature, know the stats of every player on every team. Okay. I used to teach traffic school for the Improv Comedy Club, so I know the point violation and accompanying fine associated with each bold maneuver my car chase dude executes.

Sports fans cannot be interrupted when their sporting events come on TV. All right, just try to distract me while a car chase is on.

Football fans can predict which team will win, and by how much, but they still choose to watch the game as it unfolds, cheering and screaming at their TV sets. Me too. I know the cop will win. He always does. Whether the guy being chased has stolen the car, tossed drugs from the window, hit unknowing cross-traffic during his chase, or started running just to avoid that damn third strike, he will, unquestionably, be caught. Will it be a spike strip that flattens his tires? Will it be a PIT maneuver that ends the chase? Will his family and friends rush the street as he drives through his own neighborhood? Will he try to flee on foot after the car chase itself ends? All of those variables make my sport of choice exciting, and just the same as my football fan friends, I watch from the edge of my seat.

Now, I don't know much about football commentary. I personally prefer NBA basketball and Major League Baseball, when it comes to watching sporting events. But, I'll assume, for the sake of this comparison, that football announcers are just as annoying, with their attempts at humor and droll observations of the, well, obvious, as my favorite newscasters are in covering the play-by-play of a Car Chase. These pretty idiots chime in with their, "Oooh! He narrowly missed that pedestrian!" and "We're not sure what started this chase, buy since we've joined the pursuit, we've seen erratic behavior on the part of the suspect as he drives, sometimes on the wrong side of the street."

Last week, one of my heroes on KCAL-9 made the comment that the Geo Metro being pursued was, "the type of car you want in this situation, as its fuel efficiency will keep you on the road for hours longer than some other cars." Oh my God. Did this woman just recommend a car for use in High Speed Chases? Well, I guess it's no different than Howie Long hawking Radio Shack products. And there was that weekend that sales on Range Rovers skyrocketed in the LA area after one in a High Speed Chase survived three popped tires and an off-road pursuit better than any other car in recent Car Chase history.

Anyway, I realized that the only thing different about my favorite sport is the fact that I can't look at TV Guide to know when it will air. What I can do, however, is listen for choppers overhead. If they are hovering in small circles, I know what's going on, and I head for the remote! Of course, I could sign up for the service that pages you when a High Speed Chase is on in your area, but I don't think they notify you quickly enough. Still, I may try it. It's never as much fun watching the highlights on the evening news as it is watching the sport live! Now, if I could just find a way to buy tickets to ride in that helicopter....

Posted by bonnie at 1:52 PM

September 7, 2001

Staying SAG-Eligible

Okay, so... I have a couple of reasons for staying SAG-eligible right now.

1. $$$$$ (lack of).

2. I went on a self-imposed acting hiatus after my mom passed away, as I didn't think my emotional health could take the acting biz's ups and downs for a few months. During that time (didja notice my absence from the board *and* The Boards?), I was hired by Sundance, booked a great long-term voiceover gig, and saw my various writing projects pick up significantly. I've found that I am completely fulfilled by this life.

3 (which is 1 + 2). I only became eligible just prior to that hiatus, so why rush to get the money together when I felt, for my mental health, I needed to *not* act for a bit?

I've just recently accepted a couple of acting gigs in an attempt to ease myself back in and see if my passion is still there.

I think, in light of the fact that I've had any doubt of that (or rather, in light of the fact that I wanted to be sure there was no doubt of that) delaying the transition from SAG-eligible to SAG has been a wise choice.

Still haven't made up my mind, and I'm not rushing to do so.

Posted by bonnie at 10:44 PM

September 3, 2001

Amagi Was Cool!

Thanks for coming!

Finally got the beau to LAX this morning (5am... yawn!) and now can get back to life for a minute.

Thank you to everyone who participated in Official Check Out the Boyfriend activities this past week. It was a blast!

Posted by bonnie at 1:31 PM