Friday, November 30, 2018

You have an agent, but no auditions. What’s up?

What are some steps you can take if you have an agent but aren’t getting out for auditions? Maybe you have a bad, lazy agent and it’s time to get another one. But ... before you take that drastic step, let’s explore a few other reasons for a lack of auditions and what you can do about it.

Your headshots. Do you like them? Did you spend a lot of money on them? Unfortunately, those things count for very little. (See my post on “What makes a strong headshot?")

Your headshots need to fit in with what your agent is submitting you for. A friend of mine is an example of headshots that might not work for her. Her shots are technically beautiful. She is beautiful in them – in fact she looks like a model. But there’s two problems with her using those shots.

First, she had her hair and makeup professionally done for the shoot. This is not something she will want to duplicate for every audition. And second, the shots don’t really match her demo reel. In her dramatic clip, she plays a girl next door type – very down to earth. A second clip also shows her without makeup – pretty, but not at all glamorous. And these are the kinds of roles she wants to get, but she’s not getting called in on them, because her pictures don’t match the type of roles she wants to be submitted for.

Note: Because she’s in Los Angeles, even if she wanted to pursue glamorous or model-type roles, the competition is fierce. There’s just so many beautiful people for casting directors to choose from, which means she still might not get called in often. (There’s a way to deal with that that I’ll address in a future post.)

Anyway, it might be time to talk to your agent and see what they’re submitting you for, and how each of you sees you and the potential roles you want. If you don’t see eye-to-eye on the roles, that’s a bad sign.

Something else that may be the problem. What are you doing to help your agent get you in the door of casting directors? Your promotional work doesn’t stop when you get an agent. Are you doing plays, short films, stand-up, sketches (for YouTube or Funny or Die), improv shows, etc.? Find the performing areas that help you get more experience and exposure.

You also need contact your agent for a meeting (a meeting that takes place, if at all possible, in person or on the phone – not by text or email).

Note: My agent likes to hear from their actors (but only every once in while, like every few months). I notice my auditions go up after I say hello by phone or in person. If I have an audition nearby their office I might let them know this and ask if it's okay to drop by after the audition.

When you do talk - instead of asking them why you’re not getting called in for auditions, ask them what you can do to help them get you more auditions. Getting angry or upset at your agent won’t help your cause. But by asking them what you can do, you avoid accusing them of not doing their job. And you make it sound like it’s the two of you working together – which is what you want from your relationship.

When you do talk to them, your agent may have two answers for you about why you aren’t getting auditions. 1) They are submitting you a lot, but the casters aren’t calling you in. Or 2) The agent isn’t seeing many roles that fit you. Ask what he thinks you can do to change that.

If they are submitting you a lot – it may be your headshots. Talk to your agent about those. You want to make sure your headshots fit the roles you're being submitted for, so, you need to ask them about that. Do they need other types of headshots, like ones that are more commercial? Or do you need more credits? Time to get yourself more short film roles. Join Actors Access and sign up to receive notices for short films or low-paying feature films that your agent may not be submitting you for. 

Finally, if nothing else works, it may be time to talk to another agent. When you contact them, you don't have to say who your current agent is, just that you're looking for new representation. And don't bad-mouth your agent - just say that's it's not a good fit, then ask them what roles they see you auditioning for, andif they can get you into those auditions.


Saturday, November 17, 2018

More about ADR, Dubbing, Looping, and Voice Over

Hello dear readers,

Last week I wrote about my ADR recording session. Since then I've been asked to define what those terms (ADR, looping, voice-over, and dubbing) really mean. Sometimes we use these words to mean things they don't cover. In fact, I've seen a few show-biz websites that have slightly incorrect definitions for these terms.

So, let's take a look at how they are defined by SAG-AFTRA.

All of the terms involve the use of an actor's voice. Sometimes one actor at a time, and sometimes (as we'll see with looping) more than one actor at a time.

ADR stands for Automatic Dialogue Replacement. The original dialogue may need to be replaced if there was any kind of problem with the recording of the actor's voice on the set - such as a passing airplane, wind, crickets, etc., or the actor's voice was too low. Yes, the person recording the sound can raise the level, but that raises all the other background noises as well.

At the post-production facility, the actor will watch the scene that needs ADR and will have to match his lip movements exactly. That means the actor has to do the dialogue at the same pace as they did it on the set. If the scene involves another actor, the one doing the recording will hear the other actor's lines in their headphones.

Voice over is used for narration or in animated films. In an animated film, the character's lip movements will often be drawn after the actor does his lines - this makes it much easier on actors because they don't have to match lip movements on the animated characters.

Looping is used for things like background voices. For example, if a crowd of background actors need to be shouting, as a group, "Go team!" or "Grab that guy!" then a few actors will be brought in to the post-sound studio to record that "wild dialogue."

Dubbing is used mainly for creating dialogue in a different language than the film was originally recorded. So, if a film was shot in Italy and the actors spoke Italian, and now the producers want to release it in the United States in English, they'd dub it. Actors consider this the most difficult of the voice jobs, because you have to act a role that you haven't performed before. You have to capture the mood and emotion of the original actor, as well as the pacing. Dubbing used to be done a lot more than it is today. Thirty or forty years ago very few English speakers were used to reading subtitles on films. Nowadays audiences that go to see foreign films usually expect to see the film with the actors speaking the original language, with subtitles in English (or whatever language of the viewing country is).

There's one more type of recording that falls into the category of "pick up" scenes, and it's part of what I did in my last recording session. I recorded an entirely new scene - one that I hadn't shot on the set. It was a phone call. The other actor - the one who made the call - was shot on film, calling me, during the original shoot. But I wasn't recorded on the set. In the post-sound studio, I watched, and heard, the other actor speak, then I did my lines in between theirs, so it sounded like a natural phone call.

So, how come this isn't simply called "voice-over" since you only hear my voice - you never see me? It's called a new scene, because it's a brand new scene. It doesn't matter that it's only my voice - it's still a brand new scene for me. It falls under the general category of "pick up" scenes, where a new scene is done after the main production of a film or TV show has wrapped.

Hope that gives you an idea of the difference between these voice categories as they are defined by SAG-AFTRA.

As always, drop me a line if you have a question. And thanks for reading.