Saturday, February 21, 2015

Do you need a publicist?

This subject comes up often when actors start getting some roles - either in film or television. Here's my experience with the one publicist I had.

A few years ago I was in a futuristic vampire film - "Priest" - and the film was going to be opening in theaters in a few weeks. So, I decided to take advantage of that and hire a publicist on a "trial" bases for two months and see if it was worth the expense. He was the publicist for a friend of mine who was a writer. He was very excited about using my role in Priest to get me some gigs at sci-fi conventions where I could make some extra money by telling stories about the shoot and signing copies of posters and stuff.

But he really didn't come through with all the things he said he would do. For example, he wanted some publicity shots of my character, from the film. He asked me to call the production office and have them send me copies of any publicity shots that I was in. 

Here's the problem with that: If an actor - who's not a star - calls the production office, he's probably not going to get anything from them. Why? Well, it's extra work for them, and since I wasn't one of the stars of the film, they would most likely drag their feet getting me shots. But, if an actor's publicist calls, that carries a lot more weight as far as getting the shots. It's like an actor submitting himself for a role, verses having an agent submit you for the role. Your chances of getting an audition are much better if your agent submits you - it just makes you look more legitimate to casting directors.

It was like this with other stuff as well - he wanted me to be doing the work that I was paying him to do. So, after two months of him not coming through with anything, I dropped him.

Would I hire another one in the future? Maybe. A publicist is good to have if you're doing a major role in a big film, or have just been hired to be a regular on a TV show. But, since they can cost you anywhere between $400.00 a month to several thousand per month, you need to not only have the money to spend, you need to have something substantial in the way of a role in order for the publicist to really do anything for you.

And what do they do for you? Get you interviews in entertainment mags (hard copies or online), get blurbs in the media about what you're up to in your real life - like going to charity events or doing unusual physical stuff like skydiving or earning your black belt in martial arts - that kind of thing. They might get you on TMZ by calling the production offices and telling them you're going to be at a certain trendy restaurant on a certain day and time.

So, the short answer for most of us regular working actors is - no, it's not worth the expense of hiring a publicist. But if you decide to try it, do what I did - don't make a long-term commitment until you see what they can do for you.



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