Monday, 28 January 2013

Sear My Butt and Call Me Branded!

Aaaaaand...that is officially the most awkward blog title of mine to date.

What I'm talking about, of course, is branding yourself as a certain type of actor in order to make yourself more castable. One of the most useful things I learned in my 'business of acting' class from college, was that type-casting is a actually a good thing. As actors, we all want to think that we can do anything and play any part...that we can just Meryl Streep our way right through our careers! And if we're good, than hopefully we can do that. But when you're starting your career, you want to make sure that you know what it is you're putting out in the world, what kind of person you come across as most clearly, and then play on that with your acting so that casting directors know where to place you. Once you've mastered this and started building a resume, then you can start to prepare for the (in my case) broken, bad girl roles you know you can master...but just aren't you.

How far away from the "broken, bad girl" roles am I? Much further than I'd really like to admit to myself. I'd love to play the gritty pre-Juno Ellen Page and Jennifer Lawrence (Poker House and Winter's Bone versions of J. Law) stuff. And I think I could, maybe, eventually. But if I'm going to get my foot in the door and get casting directors to see me for roles that I could actually be cast as (and especially being in Vancouver, where we get a lot of the barista/store clerk roles), then I'm going to have to play up my sweet, quirky, funny girl side. Because, that's just me.

Also, you have to be honest with yourself...do you look like Blake Lively?? Than perfect! You can eat up all the leading lady stuff...here's the key to your trailer at any part of the CW. Not really your look? Then play that up too! If you like a Judy Greer (watch any movie ever...she has played everyone's quirky best friend!), or Jayma Mays from Glee (which, according to many people I do look like...but I think it's just a redhead thing), then tell casting directors that's who you are; the quirky, punch-line-serving best friend who probably tries too hard but doesn't always succeed because, you know, succeeding is usually the lead's deal. And then maybe you don't have to play her forever, because you'll build up some credits and move on. Best example?? Anna Kendrick! She played Bella's best friend in Twilight (and was the best part of the whole movie) and was super awkward and hilarious...and then jumped into - an oscar-nominated - role in Up in the Air and just played the lead in Pitch Perfect! See?? See???

Re-branding...or figuring out your appropriate brand for the first time and actually acting on it (as is in my case)...can be expensive, though. My headshots right now, though pretty - if I do say so myself - suggest a really demur, innocent girl, which I am as well, but there isn't enough variety in them in order to have one that screams funny girl, or "one of the guys" girl. So...new headshots are in order. Also, getting things on tape that are specific to who you want to go out for, or who you could be easily cast as, and sticking them online are a biggie. Also a little costly. And, sticking some legit improv classes on your resume is helpful...and requires dishing out some dollars too. But when you think you've found a gateway into getting you in the door and getting you moving, and you have tangable steps you can take...then you sit your parents down and tell them that you hope they enjoy your company. Because you are never moving out. Until, of course, you book that gig that pays you back for all this stuff.

And if you're ever feeling down about how much you're investing financially into your career and how little you're seeing coming back from it...then sit down and watch an episode of Dragon's Den. These people are investing their life's savings into their product because they believe they have something good to sell and they're willing to put everything into it to make it just right, so that when the right invester comes along and wants to distribute their product for them, it is ready and perfected! That's all we're doing, too!

Also...I'm truly not as brilliant as this blog makes me out to sound (if it does that at all). All of this new found wisdom and energy and this new game plan, all came out of my most recent meeting with my agent. I'm pretty grateful at this point to have an agent that I can communicate and work as a team with to get this going - just the way it should be!