Saturday, January 18, 2020

Seven Tips to Talent Agency Scams

Rip-off Talent Agencies Can Cost You More Than Money

You want success and you want it now!  The scam acting agency knows your mind set, and that is how he is going to be able to exploit you, grab your cash, max out your credit card, suck up your time, and leave you wondering "what the heck just happened?"

Almost any profession requires years of dues paying and hard work before there is a payoff.  Acting is no different, except that, as an actor you are constantly exposing your emotions to total strangers who are judging the quality of your work.  Day after day you are opening yourself up for rejection, which no matter how many times you are told that the rejection isn't about you, there is no way you can keep from questioning your skills, your auditioning style, your looks, and everything else that might be going into those rejections.

When people are vulnerable, they are the best targets for cons.  Who could be more vulnerable than an artist who believes they have a gift to share with the world, but who has been beaten up by rejection.  You may indeed have those gifts, but try to stay real.  The first thing the scammer is going to tell you is that you are amazing.  You need to hear that.  He knows you need to hear that.  The con is going to paint a beautiful picture of your future with him.  The two of you are going to get rich and famous together.  Right away, red lights should be going off in your head.  Let's break it down.

7 Telltale Signs that an Talent Agency Cares More About Your Wallet than Your Talent

1.  Who pursued who? - Established, legit talent agencies don't need to advertise, run free classes, or hang out around the exit doors of casting calls.  That is not to say that legitimate agencies are not showing up in venues to scout talent, or never notice a great face at the deli.  But if an agent is pursuing you, make sure that the pass every other test on this list.  In most cases, you will be working just as hard or even harder to get an agency to take you as you do to get a role.

2.  Money - If the agency requires up front fees to sign you, put you on their lists, add you to their website, or provide you with various other services, they are very likely scammers.  Legitimate agencies work on a commission based on finding you work.  There should not be other fees.  Publicizing you is their investment in you.  You do need to spend your own money on head shots and resume's.

3.  Use my guy - Scam artists usually hang out in packs.  They will have a photographer, resume writer, acting class set up, publicist, mailing house, and any other racket they can think of to add to the total payoff.  Legit agents may have relationships with photographers and other service providers, but they will not be pushy about sending you to their guy.  They may have a list of trusted companies for any materials you'll need.

4.  Past successes - In order to establish credibility with you, the con will typically tell you all about their past success with this actor or actress.  Ask to see the letters of recommendation from those clients.  How long ago did this success take place?  Are they still handling that actor?  Why not?  In most cases the entire send up is just that, and totally a figment of the agents imagination.

5.  Office at Starbucks - Not to say that there aren't plenty of folks who work out of their homes today that are running totally legit businesses.  And meetings with home businesses might commonly be held at a coffee shop.  If this is the case for the agent in question, or if they are in shared office space, or the offices are shoddy, this should be a cautionary sign.  How are they doing on the other elements of this list?

6.  Listed? - Where can you learn more about this company.  Amazingly a simple Google search may be all you need today to expose the phonies.  Yelp, Google+, or other online review sites may tell you in detail about the quality of the agency, good or bad.  Check with the Better Business Bureau.  They should be listed with one or more unions such as SAG or Actors Equity Association (Equity).

7.  Charm first - Con artists are charming.  Right?  They will have an answer, story, excuse, or pitch to cover their scheme.  And the good ones are very, very good at closing the deal.  Never, never sign or give them money under pressure of time, "we have others waiting," or other hard ball approaches.  Thank the person for being a fan, then go do your homework.

Even when you go home and do your homework, beware of the temptation to ignore all the warning signs.  If something is too good to be true, it probably isn't.  Call your friends in the business, teachers, other agencies, and find out what is and isn't real.  Remember, you have more to lose than money.  Even time wasted may not be the hardest part of this lesson.  The toughest part might be the emotional setback when it all turns to nothing.  The last thing you need is another emotional stress point.

MARK STOLZENBERG, Founder and Director of the New York Acting School for Film and Television has been in the business for a very long time and can help you find the scammers.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Kick Your Nerves And Act With Confidence and Poise!

Kick Your Nerves And Act With Confidence and Poise!So many talented actors aren’t seen for what they can do because their anxiety gets the best of them. Part of the problem is that they start overthinking and it all goes downhill from there. Don’t let the camera stop you from being in your full potential. I’ve got some tips to help you step out of the trap and into your success.

Important to know: Getting up in front of people to perform is a vulnerable place to be, and you are also at the mercy of their judgement and choices. A little bit of stress here, is normal. However, if it's an overwhelming amount of stress each time, you may need to reconsider whether this is your true calling or not, or also consider that maybe you need more classes first, before going for the audition.
Breathe. Taking a deep breathe brings oxygen to your nerves and helps to calm the senses. Be sure to take a long deep breath in through your nose and out your mouth as soon as anxiety hits. You may be surprised at how fast this works.
People want you to succeed. Remember that the casting director and everyone else in the room wants you to succeed. It doesn't mean you'll always get the part, but this is a fun art and the others in the room are cheering you on.
Keep going. If you do forget your lines, don't stop. Finish the rest of the scene and do your best, improvising naturally. If the casting director needs you to do the scene again, he or she will let you know.  Additionally, choosing to move on and past the mistake, shows your ability to recover under pressure and your talent for improvisation. Of course, don't do it on purpose, but don't be afraid to do your best with what you've got. The worst thing you can do is to stop. Keep going and do your best.
Keep your lines close by. It's totally fine, and in fact, expected for you to hold your highlighted line cards in your hand during the audition. Many actors put theirs away, thinking they'll impress everyone, but then they end up forgetting their lines and slow the flow. Keep your lines in hand. If you forget a line, all you have to do is glance down and grab it.
Rehearse and memorize well.  Yes, use your cards to remind yourself where you are and what's next, but don't just stare at the cards or read off of them. Watch the other actors when they are talking, and when it is your turn, know your first line and glance down quickly to grab the next one. Do not simply read from the page - that's not acting and it's not what will get you hired.
Learn more tips on acting and classes at the New York Acting School for Film and Television in New York City. We'll get you on your way.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

The Best Way to Go Acting Pro Is Simply to Be... Professional. Here's How:

The Best Way to Go Acting Pro Is Simply to Be... Professional. Here's How:The last risk you want to take as an up and coming actor is the one of being unprofessional when your success in the field depends on it. The truth is, when all is said and done, to make it in entertainment, talent isn’t enough. Being professional, knowing how to be respectful is what proves to others that you can be trusted, that you’ve got a good character and that you’ll be good to work with. But how do you prove this to them? Glad you asked. Here’s what you want to do to make sure you’re being your best self as you seek success as a professional actor:
Be Real. Don’t build yourself up to be someone you’re not, don’t lie about what you’ve done or not done and definitely don’t waste time with excuses. You are an actor. But that doesn’t mean you should act when you’re meeting people in the industry. It’s never acceptable to be dishonest or bend the truth to support your situation or the furthering of your career. The truth will always come out, so you might as be the one telling it.
Don’t use name dropping to get ahead. I know that might sound hard as this is an industry based on who you know, but the truth is, name dropping isn’t real. Now, if you do know someone and it makes sense to reference them in a conversation, go for it as long as you talk to your connections and get permission ahead of time to mention their name. Remember, if you name drop someone you hardly know, and word gets back to them, that will be a detriment to your developing reputation.
Learn the lines as they are and improvise later when you’ve got the director’s respect. Many actors feel the lines should be re-written, but that's not your role, and it's offensive to the actual writer. Simply memorize your lines. This might seem obvious, but there are too many actors who learn a few of their lines and then try to wing it (accidentally rewriting them) and fail miserably. Please spend the needed time preparing your lines. Don't just prepare what you’re going to say, but also how you’re going to say it.
Always be on time. Always. You might be surprised to find out how many actors just have no sense of time.  Audition time slots are limited, pass quickly and are scheduled at odd times like 2:50 or 10:05. When they call you to be there, be there early.  Being late will definitely leave an impression, but not the one you are hoping for. And if you are late, don’t make excuse. Apologize and own it. No one will care if there was traffic, they’ll just say that you should have left five hours early.  Life happens and sometimes things go wrong and in a normal world, this may in some cases be taken into consideration. But DO NOT depend on that. No matter what excuse you think you have to get you out of a particular situation, there are dozens of other people happy to take your place. So do your absolute best, not to need an excuse.
Put your phone away and pay attention. The set is always busy and just because you’re not doing something, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be mentally present. If you’re on the clock, you need to be off your phone. Can you imagine being called on and you don’t know what’s going on?
A lot of this is common sense. Take your career seriously. Do the most respectful thing, use respectful words, be on time, pay attention, and mostly, be teachable. There’s no room for your ego in this field. Learn to take constructive criticism and you will grow and succeed.
Write these tips down and keep them close. They are foundational for the integrity of your career. In the meantime, better your abilities and learn more tips through the coaches and classes at the The New York Acting School for Film and Television.  We can't wait to help you on your way!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Protect Yourself From Acting Stress with These Mindful Tips

Protect Yourself From Acting Stress with These Four TipsActing not only takes a toll on you physically but can also be draining on a mental and emotional level. The schedule is demanding at all hours of the day but moreso, you’re always on. You’re feeling many feelings; some are yours and some are contrived for the performance. The set can be high stress and all of that pressure can really weigh in. So if you’re wanting to have an incredible acting career, without burning out from the stress of it all, we’d like to share with you some simple mindfulness tips for added success and wellbeing. 

One of the most important words of advice we can share is that you set aside your frustration with the industry, the directors, your fellow cast members and even yourself as you simple rest in gratitude. Gratitude is the fuel the expands our creativity and success. It feeds the relationships and opportunities in your life while inviting more good to come in.  

Create a list you of all the things you’re grateful for in your life and acting career. From the big to the small details, list them. Have two copies; one being a notecard you can keep in your pocket and read off-set when you’re low on steam. 

Celebrate your wins. In your daily journal, record each time you remembered to have gratitude today and took time to simply breathe.

Be aware of your responses. Notice when you’re reacting emotionally to what someone says or does and chose to shift your perception in that moment to appreciate the learning experience at hand.

Decide how your day will go by setting an intention at the start of each day.  How do you want to feel? What state do you want to be in? How do you want to communicate with others? Set the intention and go back to that space throughout the day. 

Did you enjoy those tips? If so, know that it only gets better. At the New York Acting School for Film and Television, we offer classes, coaching and hands on learning for actors wanting to take their careers to the next level. Want to know more? Contact us today!

Friday, March 8, 2019

How To Wow Your Crowd Into Begging For an Encore!

How To Wow Your Crowd Into Begging For an Encore!No matter what your reason for being on stage, your number one priority should be to captivate. As long as you’ve got their attention, the sale and the scene are yours for the owning. But if you lose it? Getting it back is harder than keeping it in the first place. So no matter what kind of performance you’re set to deliver, from dramatic to educational, you need to be the center of their attention and that’s where we’re focusing today. And keep in mind, this isn’t about arrogance, it’s about choosing success. Instead of simply hoping for the best, make sure that your best is so magnetic that your audience can’t help but take their eyes off you.
Before you can really master this art, you need to make a choice to release the parts of you that will sabotage your sale (let’s be real, all performance is about sales). You can’t bring the doubting, insecure or scared side of you on stage. It’s about setting that all aside and embodying the character that gets the big applause. Ask yourself who you need to be to get there. What do you need to say and what energy do you need to communicate?
The next step is full embodiment. When you’re on stage or in front of the camera, only the character should be seen and known. The audience should feel they’ve entered another world completely with you as the leader that takes them out of reality and into the world you’re painting.
As a side note, this tip goes for presenters as well. Imagine you’re giving a talk sales or success. You need to fully show up as the successful person they most want to be like. Stand with confidence and finesse as you bring their imaginations into what’s possible if they choose to enter the world you’re inviting them to.
Important as that all is, the flip side is mastering keeping the inspirational parts of you present and known in your character. Remember, it’s your character’s emotions you’re expressing, but your experience of those emotions will be what brings your character to life. Your parents, your history, culture, friendships, traumas, socioeconomic status, and education all add up to give you a rich background to draw upon. Each actor’s approach to the circumstances of a role is different. If you use yourself, you are using your rich background.
Think hypnosis. Focus on taking your viewers for a ride and don’t be afraid to go above and beyond with this. The actors who ditch playing it “safe” to fully lose themselves in their roles are the ones that get noticed; as well as the standing ovations. Embody the character, feel the full emotions and then throw them at us.
Tired? No time for that. You’ll have many performances that require you to work when you’re exhausted and you can’t let that affect your performance. Tiredness can cause you to underact and lose your audience - as well as the connection you’ve made.
Keep it real. As much as you don’t want to underact, you don’t want to over act either. This crosses over into dramatic, which can be entertaining - but it won’t cause the audience to get lost in your story.   
Follow these tips and you’ll see a dramatic difference in how the audience engages with you! For more help like this, please contact us about joining one of our classes or to find out more information on finding an acting coach. We are waiting for your call!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

How To Become A Better Actor - No Matter How Busy Your Life

How To Become A Better Actor - Just By Living Your LifeOk, obviously we think you should be in class and working with a coach - but sometimes you’re schedule is just too full and there’s no room to add more to your plate. Can you still better yourself as an actor? You can! It’s not a forever fix, but it makes a big difference and keeps you on your path! 

So today, we’d like to share a simple way for you to improve your acting skills while keeping to your busy schedule whether you’re at school, walking in your neighborhood, on vacation, out with your friends or even catching the train.   

It can be summarized like this: 

“No matter what you do, do it with your eyes wide open.” 

Think about how you move through your day. You’re busy and going from point A to point B and you’re doing it all on auto pilot, right? You’re not even thinking about where you’re going and somehow you’ve gotten there. You’re checked out and there’s a world around you waiting to be seen. Class is in session, open your eyes.

Welcome to the art of people watching. You may feel like you know what I’m going to say, but I want to propose it to you in a new way. Have you ever stopped to really watch how people talk to each other? How people cry or argue? Have you stopped to notice how different people hand stress?

For you to really learn from the experience of people watching, you need to keep your eyes open and in tune to their whole body expression; what is expressed and what is felt.

Take the time to observe their body language, their posture, the details in their eyes or lips. This is called sensory acuity; where you take the time to find the micro expressions that tell a bigger more internal story that the normal big expressions we’ve come to rely on.

A great example to glean from would be the TV series, “Lie to me”, where the whole show is based on solving mysteries and detecting lies through reading people’s micro expressions and body movement. You can watch this show to get a real idea of how to portray your character as true to life as possible, in ways that many of your peers won’t even think of.

Once you’ve watched the show, take it to the streets. Go throughout your day and your commute, not tuning the world out, but tuning more closely into people’s interactions, emotions and situations.

Lastly, bring it home. Write notes of what you observe and then come home to review them. Notice your true to life micro expressions as you have a conversation with your boss, friend or spouse and see if you notice theirs as well. Try practicing them in front of a mirror as well, to really see what they look like from the observer’s perspective.

Learning by seeing and doing.  This is an old method that's been tried and found to be true.  For more information on classes and taking your career further, visit us at the New York Acting School for Film in the heart of New York City; where dreams come alive!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

How to Use Your Body to Be a Better Actor!

How to Use Your Body to Be a Better Actor! Do you feel confident in your body language as an actor? Do you have more to learn? Most people do, but don’t know where to start in their efforts to improve their skills and many people make up for the lack of training by simply being more dramatic. But let me be clear, more drama doesn’t communicate the way you think it does. Talent shows up when you can use your face and body in subtle believable ways. Max DuBowy, musical theatre performer and content specialist, wrote a brilliant article for The Science of People on this very topic and we felt it was so good, that we had to share it. So read on and let us know what you think! And of course, if you’re ready to put it into practice, our classes and coaches are right here waiting to get you there.

Every day, thousands of actors attend auditions and interviews to land a role. We are always auditioning and looking for the next job. We stand in front of a panel of directors, casting agents, choreographers, and influential industry experts who determine whether or not we will get the part.
As an actor or professional in your industry, I can tell you:
Hope is not enough to land the job.
Even credentials and connections are not always enough. Instead, you can increase your odds of receiving a casting offer by presenting hireable characteristics. To nail every audition and interview, you must use the right set of tools and techniques. Body language plays a critical factor in whether or not you will land the job. In order to stand out in a crowd of hundreds (if not thousands) of actors, you must take control of your body language so casting directors will remember you.
To audition or interview successfully, use body language to your advantage. First, observe how you currently use body language and nonverbal communication. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • How do I prepare my body and voice before an audition?
  • What facial expressions do I make in the audition room when I’m not performing?
  • How does my voice inflect when I introduce myself to casting directors?
  • What did I do in my last audition to land the role?
  • Did body language contribute to my last rejection? What did I do and how can I change it?
Once you have done some self-diagnosis. Use these body language hacks for actors:

1. Master Your Space

Keep yourself in social-consultative proximity with the casting director. This is usually 4-12 feet away from the other person. Determine this distance when you enter the room. You should be close enough to be heard, and also have your whole body visible. Don’t stand too close to the director so she can look up your nostrils, and don’t stand too far away so she can’t hear you.

2. Use Microexpressions

The correct facial gestures can make or break an actor. There are two ways to use microexpressions in an audition:
  • Smile genuinely. Directors want to be around positive, happy people. The physical characteristics of a smile include raised cheeks and showing your teeth. In order to smile, think of a joke or scenario that makes you giggle, or bite the center of a pencil and part your lips (Don’t hurt yourself!). Ingenuine smiles are spotted easily, so make sure your smile is genuine and coming from a place of true happiness.
  • Avoid displaying sadness, anger, or disdainful microexpressions when you walk into and leave the audition room. The only time you can display sadness, anger or disdain is when you’re acting.
  • Use the correct facial expressions as you act. Memorize the 7 microexpressions so, like a Swiss Army knife you can use the correct one in the correct scene no matter what script you are handed:

3. Launch Stance

Practice your launch stance. A launch stance is the way you stand that makes you feel relaxed, comfortable and confident. For most people, this includes both feet planted on the ground (don’t shift your feet!), head up, shoulders back, and your knees ever-so-slightly bent. Get in your launch stance after you determine where to stand.

4. The Power of Leaning

Lean with purpose. Sometimes, directors give actors a note to improve their audition or ask a question about their resume. In these situations, lean towards the person speaking to you. You should also point your feet and torso in their direction. This shows the director you are open and activity listening. Make sure you apply their suggestions. Doing this makes you a likable person instantly.

5. Vocal Power

You want to keep your vocal chords relaxed, while still projecting power. To do this take deep breaths. Before you start your monologue, song, or dance routine, take several deep inhalations and exhalations. Deep breaths calm your nerves, grounds your body, and makes other people feel at ease as they mirror your calm breathing.

6. Purposeful Gazing

Use purposeful gazing and eye contact to your advantage. When you enter the audition room, keep your head up and look in front of you. After you plant yourself, look at who you’re introducing yourself to. Don’t shift your eyes too much and never look at the floor.

7. Harness Confidence

Confidence is your ability to show others that you believe in yourself. Your ability to display confidence increases trust and comfort levels with others. You can build confidence with your body language in many ways. Here are 5 tips to build confidence before your next audition:
  • Wear flexible clothes you feel comfortable in.
  • Listen to music that gets you pumped.
  • Think of a time you felt most proud of an accomplishment.
  • Power pose and take up space. Do this in front of other people, no matter how silly you look.
  • Call a friend or family member who makes you feel good.
  • Do a success routine…

8. Success Routine

Before you even walk out on stage you need to do a success routine. Success routines help increase your influence in front of new people, such as casting directors and talent agents. Some ideas for your success routine:
  • Favorite music playlist
  • Funny or inspirational YouTube videos
  • Calling a Pep-Talk friend
Now is the time to take action. Use these body language hacks to your advantage when you prepare for your next audition. Whether you hate or love auditions, body language is a major key to audition or interview successfully. If acting is your passion, I recommend you learn to love auditions. Take your fears about auditions and toss them out the window. When you present yourself as a focused, charismatic and confident actor, you are guaranteed to set yourself up for success.

What did you think? Good stuff, right? Now take that extra momentum and join us for classes and extra training at the New York Acting School for Film and Television today!