c) Art Lynch
May 12, 2003 (update 07-21-2009)
Professor Ellis Pryce-Jones
Department of Theater
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
The following document represents the second of two documents to be submitted for fulfillment of the requirements of THA 795 for the spring semester, 2003. I have broken it into three parts: The Craft, Terms of the Craft Glossary and Things Actors Should Know From Working Professionals.
This text is a work in progress, prototype of what I hope to be a useful text or interactive resource for use by anyone interested in entering motion pictures, television or commercial acting as a career, particularly from Las Vegas.
The glossary is meant to be casual, as complete as possible, covering many aspects of the motion picture industry. It is not a dictionary, but a teaching tool, complete with honest evaluations and web or e-mail citations for further study.
The advice sections (including casting directors, agents, actors, directors and general entertainment professionals) will be expanded and updated over time. These are based on interviews I conducted or on seminars I attended or coordinated, primarily through the Screen Actors Guild. It is my intent to add additional Nevada and national industry interviews and references. I have additional interviews already set in May, June and later in the summer.
The directories, charts and lists are designed to suggest further study and to compliment the opening introduction to the industry and craft narratives.
While some of this work was completed prior to the semester, a great deal of additional information has been added, updates made and the first steps of creating a single document text begun.
In preparation and research for this project I completed TCA 497 (Performing Arts Representation and Management) on-line and did an unofficial instructor permitted audit of TCA 496 (Entertainment on the Road), also on-line. I also conducted extensive interviews, both this term and achieved from my SAG Conservatory and teaching experience.
I. The Craft
Focus on the Brass Ring
Nevada Casting Directors
The Extras: Background Talent
The Unions: SAG / AFTRA /Equity in Nevada
Commercial and Industrials
The Tools: Investing in Talent
Doing Theatre: Companies and Cultural Centers
A Partial List Of Literature
Las Vegas Publications
Acting Systems and Guides
Building A Film Lexicon
AFI Top100 Films
Internet Sources For Scripts, Industry Basics, Research
Other Suggested Readings
II. Talking the Talk: The Language of the Craft
A Creative Glossary Tool
III. Interviews and Articles
Joe Reich: Casting Director
Ray Favero: Las Vegas CD
Gary Schaffer: Overcoming Nevada Stereotype
Mary Lee Lear, CSA, Lear Casting, Nevada
Danny Goldman: Commercial Casting
Gary Fuchs: Nevada’s Hollywood Agent
Alan Berman: TV Director
Joseph Bernard: Actor on Cold Reading
Dave Sabastian Williams: Voice Artists
Unions and the Future: A Time of Rapid Change
A Brave New World: Technology and the Future
IV. Thesis Presentation Project Proposal
Make the commitment to read this entire book, to take notes and to put into practice the concepts or ideas you come up with while reading this book and which seem appropriate for you.
Use the computer suggested links, look up the books referenced, watch the movies suggested and create your own goals and timetable, as suggested later. Read the interviews, then start making phone calls and do your own interviewing, and networking in the process.
Make a commitment to read other books, the trades and whatever you can get your hands on that involves the craft, not jut fan-based entertainment material.
Start taking lessons or working in theater, because there can be no substitute to practice, to actually working at your craft.
Acting is a business and you are your own corporation. Nothing happens unless you make it happen. The old story of being in the right place at the right time only works if the person in that place is ready to grab the brass ring when it appears and hang on to it!
Grab a notebook and a pen, or pull up a laptop or Palm Pilot, and start now. Begin recording your thoughts, goals and ideas in a personal actors diary. I know it sounds corny, but it really works.
Talent diaries serve several purposes, all of them key to success.
First of all they can be day schedule books (At-A-Glance, DayTimer, or other brand names work well for this purpose). Actors need to be on top of both appointments and when they are available for auditions or work. You must maintain and organize those business cards, contact names and numbers and the fine details of any networking businessperson involved in sales. You are in sales and the product is you.
Second, when you do audition, as talent you should write in the diary exactly what you are wearing, how you did your hair and any details on how you came to the interpretation of the material they read. When they call you back, you need to consider the same or similar clothing, hair and make-up style and a similar interpretation (unless directed otherwise).
Third, a diary or calendar book can be used as a motivational tool. It can be used to track progress and keep on top of professional and personal growth related to the industry by writing a daily diary. The diary should be detailed and include future goals or ideas on how to improve or marketing actions that may be needed to increase career success.
The following is one suggested method provided by the on-line service The Actors Site, a private subscription Los Angeles based networking organization that does provide a free newsletter and a source for leads. (http://www.actorsite.com/2join.html). I have paraphrased this a bit, but most of it is a direct quote from the site:
“Sit down and write about your assets. Write about your talent, your ambition, your hard work, the new relationships you are generating, the new friends you are making, and the new creative progress you are making. Write all of the things that make you, you. Then sit and write down your frustrations and the impasses you've encountered and how you intend to deal with them in the future.”
In other words, use the diary/calendar tool to record the practical and the emotional, the right and left-brain of your experiences. As talent, we have to guard against becoming too much business and not enough observant artist.
Make a list of places to begin to seek information, meet people and build a career foundation. Be sure to include friends, make new friends, interview those who are in a position to know the answers or to help you in your career, ask for advice and share some of your personal experiences with others who are in a position to help or to provide an ear of a shoulder. But be careful not to be too vulnerable, as a casting director or an agent can smell a car payment a mile away!
By networking you will benefit from the mistakes and successes of others, their trials and errors, their experiences and their own extended networks. Networking can solve problems, relieve frustrations and assist all those involved in the pursuit of their careers and interests. It can be done on the net with e-mail or a web site generated bulletin board. It can be done in person one on one, in small groups, before or during class, at school or work.
To learn more about the skill of networking, read one of the many self-help books for business professionals and sales people. The advice, and some of the systems suggested, are universal and can be applied to our profession of acting.
Nothing substitutes for the boards and life upon the stage.
There are techniques for film, video and various formats. These techniques are tools that build upon the craft and art of traditional theater. Most casting professionals feel or know that actors need theater to develop their talents. In addition to classes, networking, and registering with agents, starting or continuing stage acting is often an important element in building a career and developing a passion for acting.
The public is often unaware that many successful movie and television stars began their career on the stage, often beginning in high school or college. The list is quite lengthy, but some examples include Jerry Orbach of Law and Order, who had a long career as a Broadway musical star, Brendan Fraser (The Mummy, Gods and Monsters) started in high school theater and received an MFA in Seattle, Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex and the City) began her career as a child stage actress (including the third Annie on Broadway).
Actors often find that the stage gives them a level of fulfillment and excitement that film or television doesn’t because of the feedback from the audience and bonds developed with fellow actors. You also get opportunities to do roles or use talents (singing, dancing) that Hollywood may not cast you in. If you take roles in school. community or professional Equity theater, then you may gain the confidence, determination and love for the career of acting long before you take steps toward a television or film career. (In Los Angles, New York, and Chicago agents may scout for actors by going to plays). Stage acting requires different acting techniques than film or television (as film and television may be different depending if it’s drama or sitcom) but it also provides the basic skills and helps actors learn to understand and develop real characters in an imaginary world. The skills of stage acting are vital to long-term success as an actor in any media. But whether it is stage or film acting, as an actor it is your job to make a character come alive and help tell a story. It can also keep a career (and income going) during periods when the auditions and roles run dry. In any event, this is a commonly used route on the road to Hollywood, so it is worth taking into consideration.
Focus on the Brass Ring
No matter what your long and short-term goals, be aware that to succeed you need to focus on quality and the national nature of the competition. Do not assume that only Las Vegas actors, particularly the few who may happen to have the same call time for an audition or attend the same acting class, are your competition for work. This is a national and increasingly international work market, where producers and directors interview in multiple cities and have data banks or actors they can call on, particularly to come work on projects filming in resort cities like Las Vegas, Reno or Lake Tahoe. They are your immediate competition. These “working actors” represent the level of talent, craftsmanship, achievement and business skills you need to aspire to and exceed.
A few suggestions before you go any farther.
Read multiple views or opinions, then use what works best for you. Read the trades and pay attention to the art form by watching television, going to see movies and enjoying the theater. Watch people on the bus, at work, at school, at the mall, in church, as they live their lives. Observe carefully and learn from what you see. Take a personal inventory of your own character, life events, experiences, emotions and observations. Interview and take inventories on others willing to help you. Become a student of life and the human condition, and then translate it into your work.
Learn, practice and apply the basics of the craft, including cold reading, scene scoring or breakdown, improvisation, movement, voice, speech and various performance techniques.
When you consider a new acting class or coach, first see if you can audit once for free. As you audit, watch the students. No matter whom the teacher is or how good they are, you will need to find a class where you can work with, learn from and network with your fellow students. For that reason make sure that at least some of them are at the same or more advanced level of training and skills as you are. You learn from working with people who have something to offer you.
Make a decision, do the research, make a commitment and than do what you must to do what you know you would love doing for a living, acting!
Nevada: General Market Information
Nevada: General Market Information
Las Vegas is a convention and modeling market first, with film secondary, followed by predominantly non-union commercial and industrials. The film market is primarily location work, which translates into background extras and day players (actors with small speaking parts who work only a day or a few days) opportunities. That is not to say that actors have not been selected from this market to go on to careers in the industry. The list grows each year of actors who are from or who lived in Nevada prior to making it big.
Proper training, marketing tools, business sense and representation are needed to take the next step toward a successful career. And while this is a youth centered industry, talent comes in all sizes, colors, backgrounds and ages. Anyone with the dream, willing to learn and work at it, can make a living in show business. It takes time and dedication.
But Las Vegas, and by extension, Nevada, are towns where most actors have to do other things to support their acting bug. To stay within the industry convention, modeling or even advertising or marketing work may be necessary Try to work as close to the industry as you can, and to make the connections you may need in the future while doing so.
For these reasons, it is good business for the agents and managers in Nevada to represent and see to it that paychecks flow to the talent that earns them the most money, traditionally convention and modeling talent. While character and other roles are cast, many of those actors are imported from Hollywood or New York, even for smaller roles. Actors do have representation, however it is best if you develop into talent that can be marketed for commercial print, convention and other modeling work as well. It is also becoming common for agents to request actual video of film and television projects you have done prior to agreeing to represent you as acting talent.
Las Vegas is number one in the nation in convention attendance and volume. Convention and modeling work is primarily through modeling agents, managers and convention production companies. The pay level here is usually low when compared to other convention markets such as Chicago or Atlanta. The work is highly varied, and includes both high paying ear prompt and spokes work and lower pay handing out news publications or simply greeting visitors. Actors across the country find themselves from time to time returning to the convention and trade show industry, including some high profile stars. Simply put, the money is there.
Talent in Las Vegas has a low reputation amid the national industry. Historically this is a reflection of the agents need to market non-acting talent in acting roles. Also, the nature of the work here means that most of the work is work that can be done by relative beginners and newcomers, who may not have the skills or experience of the talent pool in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco or Florida. The more you study, the higher your level of skill (talent should take care of itself), the better you will reflect upon Las Vegas and Nevada, and the more likely producers will take the risk of hiring you on as “new” talent. Do not mislead yourself. If they hire a beginner or even intermediate actor, producers are gambling with their money that you will not take too long to do the work, that you know how to produce quality work on the first take, that the chemistry will be there with the crew and other actors and that you will get the job done both creatively and professionally.
The more glamorous “good looking” small roles that are cast in Nevada often go to the “beautiful people” that are working models for the agencies. That does not mean that character actors of all ages and types should not compete and aggressively pursue the market. There is work when productions come to town, since most productions would rather hire local to avoid the per-diem (money paid to compensate for working outside of an actors home town) charges and to populate the smaller role with fresh or unknown faces.
Sometimes directors or producers pride themselves on hiring “off the street”, so you will see non-actors working. When you do just keep in mind that you are in it for a career and not a lark. It is those who see acting as a fun occasional adventure or a glamorous way to inflate their own egos that have ruined Las Vegas and Nevada’s reputation within the industry.
Most entertainment professionals strongly recommend joining the union once an individual looks upon himself or herself qualified professional talent. The protections and income potential far exceed the alternative, particularly if work s sought in the major production centers of Los Angeles or New York City. Since there is no “must join” provision in Nevada, the choice to join a union is a very individual one based individual background, interest and potential.
The negative to joining the union in Nevada is simply this. There is no “must join” provision in Right-to-Work states. Nevada is a Right-to-Work state where access to union jobs cannot be restricted to union members. An actor can work union and non-union work in Nevada, gaining the pay and benefits of the union work when working union and the frequency of employment when working non-union. By joining a union you are limiting your ability to accept work offered to you. Once you enter into a legal agreement with a union by joining, you are closing the door on any and all non-union work.
The disadvantage to doing non-union work lies in exposure and in how much you value your time and talents. Nonunion commercials may run as often, for as long, and in as many markets as the producer wants without paying talent an additional penny. Those same commercials can be turned into print adds, billboards, reedited into other commercials, the audio put on the radio not just in Nevada but anywhere else in the country of world the client wishes without paying you, the actor, an additional cent. When “Excalibur” opened on the Las Vegas Strip, the initial Hollywood quality film commercials that were shot non-union ran for almost a decade. The actors in the commercials found that other employers, particularly union producers, would not employ them. In fact there is a legal liability if you do accept work in a competing commercial, simply put the producers can sue you for breach of contract. And it gets worse, because a commercial for a Hotel-Casino will put an actor into potential conflict on all hotel, hospitality, theme entertainment, gambling, food and beverage (restaurant) and along list of other product categories. In other words you have put yourself at risk for future work in a wide range of areas by doing one nonunion commercial. And then there is the issue of not being guaranteed swept payment or damages that you would under a union contract.
The advantage to joining the unions lies in wages, working condition protections, future residual or use fee income, the potential of qualifying for excellent health plans and retirement and that to many producers and directors being union means you have chosen to look upon yourself as a professional and respect your own talent and its value. As with many things you would put on a professional resume in your primary profession, prior profession or day-job, a membership in SAG is one vital way of getting past those who screen resumes and photos by the thousands. Often non-union talent is summarily discarded long before the audition process begins.
If your intent is to be a full time professional in the industry, when you feel you are ready join the union and join in Nevada, where initiation is lower and the potential of your getting past the large union talent pools and landing that qualifying role or background work is much higher (entering as a background performer is about to get much more difficult, as the unions are considering ways to slow the rapid influx of new membership that has occurred over the past two decades). The talent pool in Nevada is much smaller, so your potential for that key dayplayer role becomes much higher.
Nevada Casting Directors
A Casting Director is the producer's representative responsible for choosing performers for consideration by the producer or director, keeping the creative, business and other goals of the production in mind. It is a very large, time consuming and creative job. The job of a casting director is to weed through the forest of potential talent to portray a role and find the handful that come closest to meeting the vision of the producer or director. In some cases casting directors also negotiate with named actors or working actors who are offered the role without an audition, find alternatives should negotiations fall through and help keep the talent part of the ledger within budget and under control. Casting directors do not work for actors. They are management.
To best understand the process of casting and the mind of the casting director, it is recommended that you attend seminars, read articles in Back Stage West and other publications, read books by casting directors, research their careers and read the following interviews carefully. Take from them the advice or ideas that work for you.
There are two primary local casting directors for film, although many projects may bring in their own location casting crew and others are locating in Nevada as production increases. The established local casting directors are Marilee Lear of Lear Entertainment/Lear Casing and Ray Favero, who is freelance. There are others, who enter or leave the market on a regular basis.
Mary Lear is a member of the Casting Society America. CSA is a voluntary association of professional casting directors, formed to assist in bringing positive ad uniform standards and practices to and industry soiled by the ‘casting couch’ image. To place CSA after their name on their business cards members must qualify to join through sponsorship by existing members and actual major casting credits. Since participation is voluntary, there is no guarantee that even members abide by their own guidelines, however membership is a first test in determining how legitimate and professional a casting director is. Along with her sister-in-law, Sally Lear (who is no longer a part of the business) Lear set forth to form a viable and Hollywood standard full service casting company and eventually studio in Nevada. One caution, she does promote participation in the Nevada Players Directory, which to keep within CSA regulations is actually published by her husband under a separate business license. While I recommend participation in the Directory, please be aware that this is one of possibly several ways that Lear Casting may be sidestepping CSA regulations. Lear Casting is located just north of Charleston, at 41 N. Mojave Road, Las Vegas, NV 89101 (702-385-9000 / 474-6362 fax).
Never pay more than a “reasonable fee” to list with a casting director. Question paying for services directly through a casting director or promises of packaged talent kits and lessons through a casting directors office. SAG and other union actors should never have to pay to list. For additional information contact the Screen Actors Guild or the Nevada Motion Picture Division.
For northern and central Nevada, the established casting company, which by necessity also operates in an agency capacity, is Nevada Casting Group, located at 100 Washington St. Suite 100, Reno, NV 89503 (775) 322-8187 http://www.nevadacasting.com. Nevada Casting was also started by Sally Lear (who, as with Lear Casting, is no longer associated with the business). Since there is little union work outside of Las Vegas, Nevada Casting also is affiliated with talent representation (a potential violation of CSA guidelines and SAG contracts with the producers who hire casting directors for union projects). Nevada Casting is an aggressive and active company, with affiliations with several other casting organizations, including Lear Casting.
Listing for casting directors or agents should not be linked to classes, photographs or other services. There is a casting company in town that implies casting if you pay them and purchase a package that includes ‘free’ acting lessons. Most states, all unions and most professionals in the industry look down on and steer clear of this practice. That does not make it illegal, and it is most certainly the decision of the individual actor as to where to spend or invest their money.
Casting directors work for management and their job is to find actors to fit the role and fulfill the director or producers’ vision (several casting directors are interviewed elsewhere in his book). They do not represent talent and CSA guidelines clearly state they do not sell their services to talent. Payment of a ‘reasonable fee’ to be put on file is considered legal, but most casting directors will not charge talent (except for background actor or extra talent listings). Again, Casting directors work for and are management.
Agents work for talent, their client. Managers work directly for you as talent, or should if you select the correct manager. While the lines may be blurred in the business practices of many agencies, the delineation is clear in the SAG Franchise Agency agreement (applies to agents not managers) and in the basic ethical structure of the industry. The job of a casting director is to submit actors for the consideration of work. “Casting Agent” is a made-up term usually used by location casting directors who predominantly find background extra talent and report to the Casting Director. “Talent Scout” is also a term that is overused, and could mean anything from an employee of an agent or casting director, to someone trying to sell you products or services.
A talent agent works for a talent agency. Both the talent and agent and the agency, in theory, work for the talent in presenting talent for work through the use of various tools, including photography, audio/video demonstrations, computers, fax and the Breakdown Service. They must be properly licensed by the state in which they work. Unlike California, there is no talent agency license in Nevada. Talent agents are required to obtain full employment agency licenses before they can represent talent and handle their funds (with the approval of talent or power of attorney). While there is a talent agency association, formed under the guise of self-policing and self-regulation, in reality the group has become a lobbying organization to restrict the entrance of new agencies. The effect of regulations advocated by the association has been the limiting of all but one agency to the greater Las Vegas area in southern Nevada, and of all of the Screen Actors Guild franchised agencies to the lucrative Las Vegas market.
To be profitable in Nevada, talent agencies must operate over a wide range of the industry, from convention hosts to entertainers in hotel-casinos, from cruise boats to the motion picture screen. Modeling and the convention industry are the mainstay of the market. Motion picture, television, commercial and voice talent remain secondary to the bread and butter modeling related income sources. Because of this business model, much of the time modeling talent or mutli-area capable talent often gain the bulk of the agents attention and services, at the expense of less versatile or less marketable local talent. The result has been a reputation in Hollywood that “there is no talent in Las Vegas.”
Fortunately as the market grows and the industry becomes decentralized, things are changing. Still old stereotypes die hard. Therefore an extra effort needs to be made for the trained qualified professional entering the business or the Las Vegas market to get to know the industry, the market and to market themselves, particularly to local agencies.
For acting roles it is best to list with only one SAG franchised agent. By doing so talent is under certain protections and guarantees about the viability of the business (a franchise is not an endorsement, however there are bond and other requirements that help in accessing the agency and agency practices), and you may avoid the often-confusing problem of multiple submissions. When a professional casting director receives submissions from more than one agent for the same actor, it leads to possible charges of favoritism or decisions that should not be theirs to make on who will represent a specific talent. It is often easier just to disregard a specific talent from consideration entirely. Multiple submissions are common in Las Vegas because not all projects go to every agency for submissions, and the volume of acting work available is relatively low for the depth of the talent pool. That means that it can be difficult to earn a significant portion of your living as an actor in Nevada. Exclusive Screen Actors Guild contracts with agents do have methods of cancellation by either party, so the risk of exclusive listing is minimal.
That said, there are those who argue that you should list with every agency in Nevada. Their reasoning is valid, in that many productions, particularly commercials, may go to only one or two agencies seeking talent. If you are not on file at those agencies, you have lost your potential to be considered for that work.
There are both franchised and non-franchised talent agents in Nevada, as well as talent managers. Since licensing laws are different from state to state, it is best for individual talent to investigate the limitations and protections offered by the license and affiliations of any business before doing business. For additional information concerning agents and managers contact the Nevada Film Office, the Better Business Bureau, the Screen Actors Guild, or refer to the Nevada franchised agency section of this document.
Utilizing a Guild franchised agency provides certain protections, including Screen Actors Guild contracts and agreements. Franchised agents may take up to ten percent of income earned through work solicited by the agent for the actor/talent. This may be plus ten percent added to the top, or a ten percent deduction. Be aware that franchised agents cannot take more than ten percent, even on nonunion work through their agency.
The Screen Actors Guild offers no protection and has no jurisdiction over nonunion work or worked one outside of Guild contracts. While exclusivity is encouraged, most talent in Las Vegas lists with every franchised agency in town due to the nature of the market.
Talent may represent themselves, however having the business and legal support of an agent is encouraged. The Screen Actors Guild does not franchise talent managers and has no legal ability to assist in conflicts with managers.
Work as background talent may never be commissioned, as the agent is working for the producer in a casting capacity when they hire background actors/artists/performers.
The following is a partial list of agencies in the state of Nevada franchised by the Screen Actors Guild (as of April, 2003). A complete and frequently updated listing of franchised agencies by geography and/or specialty is available on the Screen Actors Guild Web site at http://www.sag.org or by contacting the Guild at (702) 737-8818. For a comprehensive list of all talent agencies licensed by the state, regardless of Screen Actors Guild status, please contact the Nevada Motion Picture Division at (702) 486-2711. The Motion Picture Office web site may be found at http://www.nevadafilm.com
Jaki Baskow, agent
2948 E. Russell Rd.
Las Vegas, NV 89120
(702) 733-7818 / 733-2052 fax
New Talent and Actors register Fridays between 2 and 4. Background talent same registration period. The Baskow Agency is the oldest agency in town if continuous ownership is used as a gage. Jaki Baskow is well known in Los Angeles and the world film community. For short location shoots film, television and commercial producers may select to only view Baskow Agency talent or to give them preference because of their relationship with the owner-agent. Billing itself as an international total event and meeting management as well as a full service talent agency, the Baskow Agency is large, represents a substantial talent pool in terms of numbers (resulting in internal competition for work), is heavily vested in the convention and hospitality industry as well as film, television commercial and print. http://www.baskow.com/
Best Models & Talent
Carrie Carter-Henderson, agent
4270 Cameron Street, Suite 6
Las Vegas, NV 89103
(702) 889-2900 / 889-2901 fax
New talent and actors register in person Tuesday or Thursday between 1 and 3. Background talent same registration period. Established as a convention and modeling agency, Best Models and Talent is an established agency with a positive reputation in film, television, video, print and commercial work as well. http://www.bestmodelsandtalent.com/
Classic Models & Talent
Wendy Wenzel, agent
3305 Spring Mountain Rd. # 12
Las Vegas, NV 89102
(702) 367-1444 / 367-6457 fax
Registration is by appointment only with Sheri Thomas, Director of New Talent. All areas of talent follow same procedure. Wendy Wenzel was the power behind Classic Models and Talent in Chicago before relocating to Nevada.
Daniel Mahan, agent
2121 Industrial Road, #211
Las Vegas, NV 89102
Tel. (702) 878-7368
Fax (702) 870-9750
Mail submissions only. Photos, resume, video and DVD or audiocassette preferred. Background talent on request only. Primarily a modeling agency, eNVy (correct spelling and capitalization) is a SAG franchised agency and does represent talent for motion picture, television and commercial use as well.
Tena Houser and Richard Weber
1591 E. Desert Inn Rd.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 733-6888 / 731-2008 fax
No registration, however talent will be considered if you drop professional reel, photo and resume between 9A and 5 PM Monday to Friday. Showcase invitations are encouraged. Representation is exclusive for Las Vegas, Nevada and other select markets. No background talent representation. Bernie Lenz, model and modeling instructor, founded the Lenz Agency. As such it lays claim to be the oldest and longest continuing operating talent provider in Nevada. Tena Houser and her husband Richard Weber have been the owner-operators for going on twenty years. While supportive of local talent, Lenz will represent out of state talent for the local market and often does so putting the “more professional” talent higher in priority over talent that lives in Nevada full time. With the right look or combination of talents, Lenz will represent well-prepared newcomers as well. http://www.lenztalent.com/
McCarty Talent, Inc.
Cody Garden, agent
4220 S. Maryland Parkway, Suite B-317
Las Vegas, NV 89119
Tel. (702) 944-4440
Fax (702) 944-4441
New talent will be considered upon receipt of photo, resume, tapes and other materials by the agency. Exclusive representation only. Must agree to exclusive representation, although the agency does list background talent or extras on its national web site. The primary selling point of this agency is its affiliation with a national network of agencies, with primary agencies in Burbank, California and Salt Lake City Utah of the same name. http://www.mccartytalent.com
Donna Wauhob Agency
3135 Industrial Rd. Suite 204
Las Vegas, NV 89109-1122
(702) 733-1017 or (702) 361-4066
(702) 733-1215 fax
Open registration Monday to Friday during regular business hours. Best to call for an advance appointment. Showcase and other live performance invitations are encouraged. A small single proprietorship agency run by a lady with a heart of gold. Personal representation by the owner is the selling point. A lack of staff and affiliations is the drawback.
A William Morris Agency agent, speaking at ActorFest, an annual seminar sponsored by Back Stage West in Los Angeles, once described a manager as a “walking DayTimer” who she could call and find out the availability for and interest in a part she was submitting an actor to audition for. With established personalities, the same speaker said, managers “take on all the business responsibilities” to help the stars spend more time “working, relaxing and enjoying their money.”
At the same seminar another speaker advised that beginning actors should select managers who can help them “scrub off the barnacles, polish the silver”, prepare them for the industry, and “introduce them to the right agents and producers.”
A common feeling at these seminars is that until you are rich and famous, or at least working all the time, managers are not necessary if you can handle your own business affairs (like contact notes and so forth) and make the same solid decisions you pay a manager for.
But another way of looking at it is that an agent is worth ten percent and a manager whatever percentage you pay them, because if they are doing their jobs you will be making money. If you do it all yourself and make nothing, what good is saving ten or even 25%?
A manager advises, directs, introduces you to the right people and helps you plan and manager your career. Agents, let alone managers, are not necessary to act, but are useful in assisting in the many business aspects of the industry. Agents are good for keeping an eye out for work, submitting for auditions and selling your talents to buyers, managers for knowing industry trends, individuals and the marketplace. Managers ask ten to twenty five percent of your income for their services, with an increasing number requiring a retainer or going to hourly fee for service rates. In California managers are limited to fifteen percent, unless they also manage your finances, in which case they may take a total of up to twenty five percent. There are no restrictions on managers in Nevada and SAG Franchise regulations limiting agents to ten percent do not apply to managers, who are not under SAG or AFTRA supervision or jurisdiction.
While in most states agencies are required to have special bonded business licenses and go through specific legal screening, in many states including Nevada talent managers do not have to do much more than print business cards. A standard business license is all that is required to call yourself a manager. For this reason, be careful about using or selecting managers. As with photographers (references later in this book), it is best to shop around and check references.
Here are a few things to look for or ask:
Who are your clients and how may I contact them?
What services do you provide for specific clients?
What is your fee structure?
What is your honest evaluation of my potential?
How much time and money will it take to get me there?
Also test their general knowledge of the industry. If they know less than you do, it is generally a red flag.
Look for managers who take the time and money to obtain full agency licenses from their state, but prefer to operate as managers instead of agents. Such managers are usually operating on a sounder business foundation.
It is the director that actors are always wanting to see. It is the director who is perceived as being the final word on casting. Most directors will tell you they are part of a team and often do not have the final word. Producers, writers, other actors contracts, networks and others often get directly involved in casting. Still, on the set, when it really counts, it is the director who calls the shots. The director is the coordinator of all artistic and technical aspects of any production.
In film the director is usually hired by the producer, or a producer themselves, to bring a creative vision to a project and execute that vision. The director is responsible for all creative aspects of the film, from advance planning to final edit, however as an employee they can and frequently are replace during the process.
In episodic television, the director is usually hired to supervise the actual shoot, with lesser casting and supervisory responsibilities than their film counterparts. For example, in situation comedy directors are more about camera angles, lighting, and which camera to take than directing the actors performances. In the world of situation comedy and to some extent soap operas, the power lies with the network, the producers and the series regulars. If they like a director, they will listen to what he or she has to say.
In commercials, the director usually is over the crew only and while they are a key part of the creative team, they are primarily responsible for what gets on film or tape. Casting decisions are made by panels that may include the client, the advertising agency, the writer, the creative director, the director and someone or others cousin or uncle or buddy.
In theater the director works with the producers or in new works, the writer, as a member of their team. The final decision on casting often depends on the chemistry and trust within that creative team.
The Extras: Background Talent
The people who populate the world in which the principal or primary actors tell the story are known as extras, background artists, and background talent or background actors. While there are those who do make their modest living as background talent, primarily in Los Angeles and New York, most background talent are either actors who also do background work or those who are seeking entry into the entertainment community through the relatively unchallenging work of portraying real people as a backdrop for the action of the film, television show or commercial. While relatively unchallenging, being a professional background artist does require discipline, the ability to appear natural (an acting skill in and of itself), an understanding of wardrobe, characters and the ability to contribute to a production rather than distract from it.
Background talent (the preferred term on both coasts is now Background Actors) are provided through local talent agencies, advertisements in the newspapers, listing with casting directors, as well as various managers or talent representatives. Historically the primary places to register for work as a background actor are Lear Casting, Baskow Agency, Wildstreak Talent, Nevada Casting, Casting Entertainment and through the Screen Actors Guild Office (which keeps a file but does not actually cast). As with the casting of roles, it is best to keep on top of the sources elsewhere in this package, since companies will come into the market and do their own background casting.
Union background talent should list with viable background casting companies, but have the additional support of Cast SAG, an on-line interactive resource soon to be offered to producers and production professional free of charge. The union-only benefit will list actors and background talent in a searchable mode by geography, specialty and a number of other traits. Names, photos, even video and audio will be available on line for those casting within the next year 2004) at little or no cost to the union member (no cost for photo and listing, cost for additional listings, photos and other add-ons). Cast SAG is one of many programs launched by the unions to help counter alleged corruption and bias in the casting process and to add added value to joining a union, even in a Right-to-Work state like Nevada.
Union work is intended for SAG union background talent. When such talent cannot be found to meet a specific need, producers are allowed to take advantage of the Taft-Hartley laws and Taft-Hartley a non-union person. That person gets all of the benefits, including pay, working conditions and pension and health contribution, of a union actor, After three Taft-Hartley’s as a background extra, or one as an actor, in Nevada talent has the option of joining the Screen Actors Guild. There is no requirement to join the union once doing or before working under union contracts in a Right-to-work state. In a union state, such as California, they must join the union before accepting any additional work. In addition, there is every indication that it will become much harder to join the unions as background talent starting as early a next year (2004). The toughening of entrance requirements comes as the industry, through new technologies, is finding it less attractive to go on location and shoot and ways of generating background crowds and action using only a minimum of actual actors are being brought into regular use. The first phase of a technological revolution in on-camera talent is the phase out of live background performers. Synthespians, image duplication and alteration, even the reuse of old “B” roll are being utilized with greater and greater technological success to replace the expense and operating hassles of utilizing group of live, human actor/background professionals.
The Unions: SAG / Equity / AFTRA in Nevada
The Screen Actors Guild jurisdiction is over film, television and commercial work, much of that shared with AFTRA. Equity has jurisdiction over stage work. As a rule SAG actors may work non-union theater and stage (unless they are Equity members or Equity is actively organizing a production). There is an Equity Committee (the predecessor to a potential chapter) in Nevada. Their information line is (702) 452-4200. It includes regional casting calls, since there is little Equity work other than “guest artist” contracts in Nevada.
There is an abundance of non-union acting work in the form of “Vegas Strip” stage shows, character roles at various casinos or at casino attractions. The danger of non-union work of any kind, particularly on camera work, is that of over exposure without full compensation and residuals. Overexposure or conflicting roles can open any actor up to legal repercussions from producers of future sources of employment. In a Right-to-Work state such as Nevada, individual decisions need to be made on when to join the union, based on consultations with agents, managers, coaches and the unions themselves. There is a point where being non-union will limit your income and potential. However the Catch-22 exists that to get work you must have worked, and to land a solid agent you need to have “film” or “tape” of the work you have done.
Commercials and Industrials
Most commercials and industrials (training videos, single location playback, educational video) are not union in Nevada. Union talent may work only on union productions. As explained earlier, for the non-union talent pool the trade off is being without the protections of the Screen Actors Guild, including use-fees and residuals, for a potential higher number of days worked. Since “film or tape” is an important part of marketing talent, a decision must be made by the individual as to when to joint the ranks of the union.
For industrials and commercial work it is best to have a strong union agent (see agency list), but it may not be necessary to initially join a union in Nevada. As stated before, I strongly recommend union membership for all qualified professional talent. In the past Classic Models has been strong with the primary advertisers in town, Lenz with its own set of national connections and both Creative Talent and Baskow for various local work.
Year to year, industrials and commercials provide the overwhelming majority of earnings for actors. SAG Director of Education Todd Amore came from a background as commercial talent. At first his theater friends accused him of “selling out”, until they realized how profitable, according to Amore, “selling out” could be.
New technologies and access to broadcast quality digital cameras have decreased the union talent income from industrials, as clients go “in-house” or replace the educational or training videos with web sites and Internet curriculum designs. Meanwhile, the commercial market is booming with record production levels in Los Angeles, New York and in the three Canadian film centers.
Nevada remains high on the commercial location filming agenda. Unfortunately, the vast majority of commercials actually cast in Nevada are non-union, making actual income and compensation for actors low.
The Tools: Investing in Talent
Local talent should make its own decisions on where to spend their money. Lear Casting does promote the Nevada Players Directory, a directory that is distributed by the Nevada Motion Picture Division in both print and on-line form. Tinselnet and other on-line directories, specific agent talent books and other promotion devices may be worth investigation and consideration. On a national level, talent should list on-line on Castnet, which offers a variety of support services in the areas of education, information about the trade and marketing tools. Talent should also list on The Link, however that listing must be made through a Screen Actors Guild or AFTRA talent agency. LACasting, a third on-line service, is making inroads in the regional and national commercial talent markets. As mentioned before, a union based system, deliberately formulated to not directly compete with the submission based on-line services, CAST-SAG will soon be another on-line tool for actors.
Invest wisely but as you see fit. Do not let this document or anyone else make marketing decisions for you. Do your homework and make your own decisions, that is unless you pay a manger to make them for you!
Professional photographs, particularly well-done headshots that look like you do every day or in the characters you most often get considered to play, are a necessary tool of the industry. They are our business cards. Be sure you can and do look like your photograph within one hour of the phone call for any audition.
Perhaps the most important investment and decision an actor can make is on their headshots. Your photo is your calling card and what gets you in the door.
This is a partial list and by no means an endorsement of any of the following Las Vegas photographers. As with agents, casting directors and other services utilized by actors, there is a transience that may mean that highly competent photographers, and those of a lesser quality may be available in town at any given time. Also these photographers may have moved or formed alliances with other businesses.
Best advice is to use the list provided by the Nevada Motion Picture Division, and consider the use of Los Angeles area based photographers as well. Find the photographer who is best for you, who understands industry trends, who will provide an honest photo that looks like you will look when you walk into the audition and that shows the magic that is behind your eyes. There are many books available with chapters on how to select a photographer and what type of photographs to consider (including those listed in this directory). I suggest reading more than one authors advice on the subject of headshots prior to taking on one of the larges expenses any actor must invest in.
But do not take too long. Headshots are our business cards, our way of getting in the door and getting hired. They are an essential tool.
Take a look at the quality of the photographs, including how human they make those photographed look (particularly the eyes), how natural and if the photographer understands the “real person” aspect of the motion picture and television industry. See if they can capture the character shots and more serious personality of theatrical photos, and the upbeat images you see on television in commercials. Check on their ability to take “commercial print”, which is means to make a person seem alive and positive in a still photograph. See if they are aware of current trends in theatrical and commercial headshots in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.
While fashion photography and glamour photography are not the same as theatrical that does not mean that photographers who work in glamour or fashion cannot take quality headshots. In Los Angeles, however, seek photographers who specialize in commercial and/or theatrical headshots. Networking with other actors works, but be aware that the actors you network with may not understand current industry standards in photographic representation of actors. I encourage avoiding digital original, stay with film. The reason is 35 and large format film captures a texture far close to the human eye, does not have the “halo” or other effects of dot matrix digital photography and often lacks a feeling of depth. I do not discourage the digital processing of photography, as long as the original has the advantage of film emulsion. I also strongly recommend a smiling and a more serious shot, plus any other emotional look that best suits the talent. Remember you should look the way you will when you walk into the casting call, preferably a character look close to who you are in your daily life. Remember also, that the look should be one you can achieve within one hour of receiving the phone call.
For low cost, but less professionally experienced test shots, try the Community College, UNLV, local photography schools, public relation specialists and others with the equipment and ability to understand lighting, skin tones and capturing human emotions through the talent’s eyes. Remember that professional photographers who work with the industry on a daily basis will be aware of trends, styles, techniques and processing professionals to fit the film, television, modeling and entertainment industry standards. As a rule talent in the west should seek out Los Angeles based photographers, east New York based. The advantage of hometown photography is travel and in most cases cost effectiveness. Your photo is your business card, sample, brochure, primary business tool and statement of who you are and that you are a professional performer.
All of the photographers listed can do more than the specialty assigned to them in this listing. This is a partial list as of April 2003 and does not represent an endorsement of any of the photographers, companies or services.
C&E Photo Management Fashion, Glamour, Theatrical,
Staci Michelle Virga Headshots, Zed, Commercial,
702) 940-9011 Full Service, multiple phtgs.
Jerry Metellus Photography Fashion, Glamour, Theatrical,
(702) 384-7844 Commercial, Headshots, Full Service
Louis C Fox Photography Basic Headshots
Kelly Garni Photography Commercial
Paul Fendon Photography Commercial
Hobo Foto: Annie Dobb Fashion, Commercial
New View Photography:
Evon Shahan Fashion, Glamour
Carlo Roncancio Photography Fashion, Glamour
Resumes are talking points for those you audition for, much like a professional employment resume. They should follow one of several accepted industry formats. They should never lie. Do not represent background work as acting work. Do not list teachers or coaches with whom you only took a few hours or few days of workshop. As a rule, once you have the credits, drop smaller roles, coaches you have studied with for less than a full year and talents or abilities at which you could not claim an expert level of proficiency. Do list your talents and abilities, because they can be used as ‘talking points’ or may qualify you for consideration of specific roles. Las Vegas talent has historically abused resumes and photographs, by not looking like their photograph when they show up for an audition, by keeping half truths on the resumes, by not investing in the proper tools and by not making both their name and their agents’ name and number or personal contact number easy to find and read. Resume and photographs are part of why Las Vegas has the reputation it does have, beyond specialty entertainers found in shows on the Las Vegas Strip.
Film Hotlines: Nevada
Information is important if you intend on being an actor. The best source of information comes through networking with other actors and entertainment professionals. The truth be known, networking potential is the primary reason to relocate to a major production center, Los Angeles for film and television, New York for state, both plus a few other markets for commercial and industrial work. It is the people you meet, talk to, socialize with, take classes with that will be your primary source of information and leads on work and opportunities. That said, there are formal channels for information.
The Nevada office now has a Nevada Branch Film Hotline at
(702) 737-8818. The number provides a national 800 number for reaching the Screen Actors Guild as well as the latest on SAG productions filming in the state of Nevada. The information is statewide and may not be filming in the Las Vegas area. The information is updated on the hotline frequently. Messages will not be retrieved from this line, so call the 800 number if you need to talk to a staff member. The hotline also provides information on productions that are not SAG and should be avoided by SAG or AFTRA members, and other important SAG functions and member information when necessary. Not every production is listed due to lack of substantial information.
The Nevada SAG Conservatory-run Nevada SAG Information Line (226-5620) and the state operated Motion Picture Office line (486-2727) continues to operate as well. The Conservatory line provides information on upcoming Nevada SAG Conservatory sessions, which may include casting directors, agents, actors and professional instructors. There is no implication of current casting or talent management search. The Conservatory is informational as a workshop and seminar series.
All three of these sources have or will be launching soon on-line versions of the information lines.
Acting and the entertainment industry are not for those who are unwilling to roll up their sleeves and do some research.
If you truly want to learn about the industry, than open yourself up to non-traditional and other free sources of knowledge. Information concerning the industry is everywhere, if only you take the time to look, listen and read.
“Morning Edition”, “All Things Considered”, “Studio 360”, “Fresh Air” and other programming on National Public Radio often features actors, writers, directors, producers and others within the entertainment industry. Most NPR and Public Radio International programs are available over the web in audio or transcript formats. Guests and topics are usually searchable.
“Biography” on A&E Network as well as programs seen on the History Channel or Discover can provide gems on the craft of acting and various aspects of the entertainment industry. Bravo television carries “Inside the Actors Studio”, and although it is a shortened, watered down and popularized edited version of its former self there are often pearls of wisdom to be gathered from the on camera conversations.
Back Stage West and other publications feature current interviews with casting directors, actors and other professionals replete with information that could cost you hundreds of dollars if you paid for seminars or even tapes of the same people providing the same information.
Screen Actors Guild members have access to “Conversations” on tape as well as the live events, the Screen Actors Guild Conservatories and union sponsored casting director seminars.
Contemporary news and entertainment magazines and publications are also a source of information concerning acting and the entertainment industry.
The supplemental audio track on DVD’s and Laser Discs, usually involving a director, writer, or producer reminiscing, explaining or even joking about the work on the screen, provide a mini-film school if viewed and studies properly.
The Internet is full of free sources including, but not limited to, fan sites, transcriptions, college course syllabus and study materials, newspaper and magazine achieves. Both AOL and MSN offer e-mail newsletters where you can specify your preferences and receive only information on acting, directing or the business of film and television.
Paid Internet subscriptions allow access to the trade publications, to actor specific services such as Castnet, Actor Site, film schools and information libraries. Use a variety of search engines when seeking information, sources, scripts, monologues or other material on the Internet, as all search engines use differing criteria for ranking, listing and selection.
Theater Companies and Cultural Centers
(a partial listing)
Charleston Heights Arts Center
800 South Brush, Las Vegas, NV, 89107 (702) 229-6383.
375-seat theatre with a 30’x35’ proscenium stage, a 60’x150’ ballroom, a conference room and a 20’x30’ art gallery.
Clark County (Flamingo) Library
1401 E. Flamingo, Las Vegas NV 89154 (702) 607-3400
Main and Jewel Box Theaters
Clark County Government Center Amphitheater
500 South Grand, Las Vegas NV 89106 458-8300
Community College of Southern Nevada Performing Arts Center
3200 East Cheyenne Avenue, Phone: 702-651-5483
Horn Theater and Little Theater
East Las Vegas Community/Senior Center
250 North Eastern Avenue, Las Vegas, NV, 89101, (702) 229-1515
Ballroom; multipurpose room; pottery, recording and dance studios; computer resource lab; aerobics room; class and conference rooms; and commercial kitchen. Geared to surrounding Latino neighborhoods.
(702) 263-6385 Est. 1999, various venues
Nevada Dance Theatre
1555 East Flamingo Road (702) 732-3838
Off Broadway Theater
900 Karen Avenue (702) 737-0611
Acting classes available also.
Las Vegas Little Theater
3850 Schiff Drive (702) 362-7996
Est. 1978. Acting classes available also.
Reed Whipple Cultural Center (Home of Rainbow Children’s Theater Company) 821 Las Vegas Boulevard North, Las Vegas, NV 89101
300-seat multi-purpose theatre with lighting and sound and a 45’x24’ proscenium stage; 80-seat studio theatre; a 40’x60’ dance meeting rooms, conference rooms, arts and crafts room, pottery studio and an art gallery.
Summerlin Library & Performing Arts Center
1771 Inner Circle Las Vegas NV 89134 (702)256-5111
Theatre in the Valley
812 San Gabriel Avenue, Henderson NV 702-558-7275
University of Nevada Performing Arts Center
For College Theater / Music / Dance programs students and community patronage.
4505 Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas (702) 895-3535
Artemus W. Ham, opened 1976. 1870 seating capacity, lobby, green room, dressing room, production offices, no rigging.
Judy Baley Theater, opened 1972. 500 seating, proscenium stage, green room, dressing rooms, rigging system.
Black Box Theater, small flexible venue, movable tiered seating for various stage configurations such as theater in the round.
West Las Vegas Arts Center
947 West Lake Mead Boulevard., Las Vegas, NV, 89106 (702) 229-4800.
Dance and music studios, an arts and crafts room, community gallery and conference room, offers a variety of classes and programs, emphasis on African American culture and heritage.
Winchester Community Center Theater
3130 S. McLeod Las Vegas NV 89121 (702)458-7340
A PARTIAL LITERATURE LIST FOR ACTORS
BOOKS ON CAMERA / STAGE ACTING TECHNIQUES, YOUR CAREER &
THE BUSINESS, AND RELATED TOPICS
AUDITION, Michael Shurtleft, Pub. 1978
Basics of auditioning for theater, contains many good techniques for study
YOUR FILM ACTING CAREER, M.K. Lewis & Rosemary Lewis, Pub. 1983
Basics of the industry
HOW TO ACT AND EAT AT THE SAME TIME: THE BUSINESS OF LANDING
A PROFESSIONAL ACTING JOB Tom Logan, Pub. 1982
The basics of photos, resumes, getting the audition, landing the part
THE STANISLAVSKI SYSTEM, THE PROFESSIONAL TRAINING OF AN
ACTOR, Sonia Moore, Pub. 1960. Guide to one acting system.
THE LOS ANGELES AGENT BOOK, K. Callan, Pub.1995 (5th ed.)
Tips on agents, interviews and a list of select agencies, their agents and clients.
CASTING BY…A DIRECTORY OF THE CASTING SOCIETY OF AMERICA,
ITS MEMBERS AND THEIR CREDITS, 1998. Breakdown Services. An expanded list of CSA casting directors, their credits, contact address and phone numbers.
Lists are also available from Billboard Publishing (Hollywood Reporter/
Back Stage West), the Breakdown Services (The Link), the Screen Actors Guild,
The Directors Guild of America, the Writers Guild West and other sources.
The Trade Publications
HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, a daily professional newspaper in magazine format, published five days a week. Also available is the International Edition, printed weekly, which includes projects in development and production. Special magazine issues are also printed.
DAILY VARIETY, the dominant daily professional newspaper in magazine format, also with a weekly production directory issue and special magazine issues.
BACKSTAGE WEST/ DRAMALOGUE, a weekly tabloid newspaper for actors, which includes limited casting notices, interviews with casting directors, agents, actors and other useful information and directories.
LOS ANGELES TIMES, the newspaper of record for Los Angeles and Southern California, which is the primary “industry town” in the United States. CALANDAR and BUSINESS sections are most useful. Daily is best, but the Sunday edition can provide valuable industry information.
Las Vegas Publications
CITY LIFE, a Las Vegas alternative weekly free tabloid that provides occasional casting notices, creative community news and directories.
LAS VEGAS WEEKLY, formerly IN MUSIC, is also a Las Vegas based alternative weekly, providing detailed events lists, including occasional audition notices.
LAS VEGAS MERCURY, a publication of Stephens Media/DonRey, the publishers of the Review Journal. Alternative newspaper with listings
NEON, Friday arts and entertainment insert in the Las Vegas Review Journal.
CASTING CALL / DIRT ALERT, a publication distributed primarily back stage at Las Vegas Showrooms and rehearsal halls containing interviews, classfied and audition notices for portions of the industry.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW JOURNAL, the daily newspaper in Las Vegas. Pay attention to ABOUT TOWN, SHOOTING STAR columns and NEON sections for occasional industry and audition news.
LAS VEGAS SUN, the afternoon daily newspaper, usually containing larger arts content than the other daily newspaper.
Acting Systems or Guides
ACTING AND THEATRE, Cheryl Evans, Lucy Smith, Pub. 1992
ACTING FOR THE CAMERA, Tony Barr, Eric Stephan Kline, Pub. May 1997
ACTING GAMES: IMPROVISATIONS AND EXERCISES, Marshall Cassady,
Theodore O. Zapel, Pub. Sept. 1993
ACTING IS EVERYTHING: AN ACTOR’S GUIDEBOOK FOR A SUCCESSFUL
CAREER IN LOS ANGELES, Judy Kerr, Pub. Oct. 1996
ACTING IN FILM: AN ACTOR’S TAKE ON MOVIEMAKING, Michael Caine, Pub.
ACTING IN TELEVISION COMMERCIALS FOR FUN AND PROFIT, Squire Fidell,
Barry Geller, Pub. March 1995
ACTING PROFESSIONALLY: RAW FACTS ABOUT CAREERS IN ACTING,
Robert Cohen, Pub. July 1997
ACTING: THE FIRST SIX LESSONS, Richard Boleslavksy, Pub. June 1972
ACTING A TO Z: THE YOUNG PERSON’S GUIDE TO A STAGE OR SCREEN
CAREER, Kathyrn Mayfield, Pub. Oct. 1998
ACTING: IMAGING AND THE UNCONSCIOUS, Eric Morris, Pub. July 1998
ACTING IN COMMERCIALS: A GUIDE TO AUDITIONING AND PERFORMING
ACTING AS A BUSINESS: STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS, Brian O”Neil, Pub. March
ACTING NATURAL: MONOLOGUES, DIALOGS AND PLAYLETS FOR TEENS,
Peg Kehret, Arthur L. Zapel, Pub. Aug. 1992
ACTING IS BELIEVING: A BASIC METHOD, Charles J. McGaw, Larry D. Clark,
Pub. April 1998
ACTING NOW: CONVERSATIONS ON CRAFT AND CAREER, Edward Vilga,
Pub. July 1997
ACTING IN INDUSTRIALS: THE BUSINESS OF ACTING FOR BUSINESS,
William Paul Steele, Pub. June 1994
ACTING FOR FILMS AND TV, Leslie Abbott, Pub. June 1993
ACTING IN PRIME TIME: A GUIDE TO BREAKING INTO SHOW BUSINESS AS A
MATURE ACTOR, Terry Chayefksy, Pub. Jan. 1997
ACTING AND PERFORMING, Hayes Gordon, Pub. Jan. 1993
ACTING CAREERS, Dick Moore, Pub. October 1998
ACTING IN THE CINEMA, James Naremore, Pub. Nov. 1990
ACTING, Jac Greenspon, Pub. March 1996
ACTING, THE CREATIVE PROCESS, Hardie Albright, Pub. March 1991
ACTING=LIFE; AN ACTOR’S LIFE LESSONS, Michael Kearns, Pub. June 1996
ACTING AS READING: THE PLACE OF THE READING PROCESS IN THE
ACTOR’S WORK, David Cole, Pub. Nov. 1992
ACTING PRIMER: A COURSE IN MAKING CHOICES, Lynda Belt, Pub. June 1993
THE AUDITION BOOK, Winning Strategies for Breaking into Theater, Film
and Television, Ed Hooks, Back Stage, 1996.
A PRACTICAL HANDBOOK FOR THE ACTOR, Bruder, Cohn, Olnek, Pollack,
Previto, Zigler, Mamet, Vintage Books, 1986. Basics of auditioning for theater.
FRAME-BY-FRAME: A HANDBOOK FOR CREATIVE FILMMAKING,
Eric Sherman, Pub. 1987. Basic terms and techniques of the industry.
HOW TO SELL YOUR SCREENPLAY: THE REAL RULES OF
FILM AND TELEVISION, Carl Sautter, 1988. Understanding the production
forms and how they effect actors, writers and directors.
TELEVISION WRITING: FROM CONCEPT TO CONTRACT, Richard A. Blum,
Pub. 1984. Understanding the script and how to interpret it from both sides
of the camera.
Building A Film Lexicon
Building A Film Lexicon
Down and Out in Beverly Hills Tucker
McCabe and Mrs. Miller All The President’s Men
True Grit 3 Days of the Condor
The Color of Money High Noon
My Friend Flicka My Darling Clementine
North by Northwest Stagecoach
The Birds Manchurian Candidate
Harry and Tonto Harold and Maude
King and I South Pacific
Anna and The King Murder at 1600
Reap the Wind Boogie Nights
How the West Was Won Hairspray
Raising Arizona Midnight Cowboy
Raisin in the Sun The Graduate
Lilies of the Fields Turner and Hooch
Barbarians at the Gate Kid Glove Killer
Toys Finian’s Rainbow
Dave Eye in the Night
Maltese Falcon King Kong
Dr. Zhivago Gone with the Wind
Titanic The Lady Eva
All About Eve The Jack Bull
Alien Mad Max
Rosemary’s Baby Indiscreet
Gunga Din Truman
Beetlejuice Drop Dead Fred
Reds My Girl
ET The Dead Zone
Avalon Atlantic City
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir Wait Until Dark
Dial M for Murder The Barefoot Countesses
The Fly Gettysburg
Planet of the Apes Rocky
Mother Night Gun Ho
My Dinner with Andre Inherit the Wind
Absolute Power The Time Machine
Weapons of Mass Distraction The Day of the Jackal
Lost in America LA Confidential
The Fisher King Jerry McGuire
Under Siege Urban Cowboy
Saturday Night Fever Airplane
Time After Time Shampoo
Brigadoon On Golden Pond
A Streetcar Named Desire The Natural
The Bells of St. Mary Going My Way
Metropolis Field of Dreams
Bird Angels in the Outfield
Heaven Can Wait Here Comes Mr. Jordan
A League of Their Own Chinatown
Ed Wood HotShots!
The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean The Guns of Navarone
All of Me A Night at the Opera
Psycho The Princess Bride
A Fist Full of Dollars For a Few Dollars More
The Seventh Cross Torra! Torra! Torra!
Prizzi’s Honor The Doors
The Wrong Man The Dirty Dozen
Destination Tokyo 30 Seconds over Tokyo
Is Paris Burning 12 O’Clock High
The Dirty Dozen The Firm
Crocodile Dundee The Sun Also Rises
Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison Battleground
They Died With Their Boots On The Bedford Incident
Mr. Roberts Wayne’s World
The Love Bug Flubber
Santa Fe Trail Gattica
Lawrence of Arabia Raiders of the Lost Arc
The Thing Caccoon
Ghostbusters Meet John Doe
Network Apocalypse Now
Potempkin The Jazz Singer
All’s Quiet On The Western Front Birth of a Nation
The Day the Earth Stood Still Blade Runner
Forbidden Planet Star Wars
Dark City M
And the list goes on….
Also suggested are the AFI Top 100 Motion Pictures of All Time, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences list of nominated films from the very beginning of the Oscars and additional lists by Leonard Malton and other film reviewers or historians.
AFI TOP 100 FILMS
(VHS, DVD, Posters available for purchase on AFI Internet site)
1. Citizen Kane (1941) VHS POSTER
2. Casablanca (1943) VHS DVD POSTER
3. The Godfather (1972) VHS POSTER
4. Gone with the Wind (1939) VHS DVD POSTER
5. Lawrence of Arabia (1962) VHS POSTER
6. The Wizard of Oz (1939) VHS DVD POSTER
7. The Graduate (1967) VHS DVD POSTER
8. On the Waterfront (1954) VHS POSTER
9. Schindler's List (1993) VHS POSTER
10. Singin' in the Rain (1952) VHS DVD POSTER
11. It's a Wonderful Life (1947) VHS DVD POSTER
12. Sunset Boulevard (1950) VHS POSTER
13. Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) VHS DVD POSTER
14. Some Like It Hot (1959) VHS POSTER
15. Star Wars (1977) VHS POSTER
16. All About Eve (1950) VHS DVD POSTER
17. The African Queen (1951) VHS POSTER
18. Psycho (1960) VHS DVD POSTER
19. Chinatown (1974) VHS DVD POSTER
20. One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) VHS DVD
21. The Grapes of Wrath (1940) VHS POSTER
22. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) VHS DVD POSTER
23. The Maltese Falcon (1941) VHS DVD POSTER
24. Raging Bull (1980) VHS DVD POSTER
25. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) VHS POSTER
26. Dr. Strangelove (1964) DVD POSTER
27. Bonnie and Clyde (1967) VHS DVD POSTER
28. Apocalypse Now (1979) VHS POSTER
29. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) VHS DVD POSTER
30. Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) VHS POSTER
31. Annie Hall (1977) VHS DVD POSTER
32. The Godfather, Part II (1974) VHS POSTER
33. High Noon (1952) VHS DVD POSTER
34. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) VHS DVD POSTER
35. It Happened One Night (1934) VHS DVD POSTER
36. Midnight Cowboy (1969) VHS DVD POSTER
37. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) VHS DVD
38. Double Indemnity (1944) VHS DVD POSTER
39. Doctor Zhivago (1965) VHS
40. North by Northwest (1959) VHS DVD POSTER
41. West Side Story (1961) VHS DVD POSTER
42. Rear Window (1954) DVD POSTER
43. King Kong (1933) VHS POSTER
44. The Birth of a Nation (1915) VHS DVD POSTER
45. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) VHS DVD POSTER
46. A Clockwork Orange (1971) VHS DVD POSTER
47. Taxi Driver (1976) VHS DVD POSTER
48. Jaws (1975) VHS DVD POSTER
49. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) VHS
50. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) VHS DVD POSTER
51. The Philadelphia Story (1950) VHS DVD POSTER
52. From Here to Eternity (1953) VHS POSTER
53. Amadeus (1984) VHS DVD
54. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) VHS DVD
55. The Sound of Music (1965) VHS DVD POSTER
56. M*A*S*H (1970) POSTER
57. The Third Man (1949) VHS DVD POSTER
58. Fantasia (1940) DVD POSTER
59. Rebel Without a Cause (1955) VHS DVD POSTER
60. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) VHS POSTER
61. Vertigo (1958) VHS DVD POSTER
62. Tootsie (1982) VHS POSTER
63. Stagecoach (1939) VHS DVD POSTER
64. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) VHS POSTER
65. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) VHS DVD POSTER
66. Network (1976) VHS DVD
67. The Manchurian Candidate (1962) VHS DVD POSTER
68. An American in Paris (1951) VHS DVD POSTER
69. Shane (1953) VHS DVD POSTER
70. The French Connection (1971) VHS
71. Forrest Gump (1994) VHS POSTER
72. Ben-Hur (1959) POSTER
73. Wuthering Heights (1939) VHS DVD POSTER
74. The Gold Rush (1925) VHS DVD POSTER
75. Dances with Wolves (1990) VHS DVD POSTER
76. City Lights (1931) VHS DVD POSTER
77. American Graffiti (1973) VHS DVD POSTER
78. Rocky (1976) VHS
79. The Deer Hunter (1978) VHS DVD
80. The Wild Bunch (1969) VHS DVD POSTER
81. Modern Times (1936) VHS DVD POSTER
82. Giant (1956) VHS POSTER
83. Platoon (1986) VHS DVD POSTER
84. Fargo (1996) VHS DVD POSTER
85. Duck Soup (1933) VHS DVD POSTER
86. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
87. Frankenstein (1931) VHS DVD POSTER
88. Easy Rider (1969) VHS DVD POSTER
89. Patton (1970) VHS DVD POSTER
90. The Jazz Singer (1927) VHS POSTER
91. My Fair Lady (1964) VHS DVD POSTER
92. A Place in the Sun (1951) VHS
93. The Apartment (1960) VHS POSTER
94. GoodFellas (1990) VHS DVD POSTER
95. Pulp Fiction (1994) VHS DVD POSTER
96. The Searchers (1956) VHS DVD POSTER
97. Bringing Up Baby (1938) VHS POSTER
98. Unforgiven (1992) VHS DVD POSTER
99. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) VHS DVD
100. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) VHS POSTER
Internet Sources For Scripts and Industry Information
(a partial list provided for informational purposes only)
A Prairie Home Companion: Radio Program, MPR (Minnesota Public Radio)
Drew’s Script O Rama
AAA Movie Scripts
Scripts, Scenes and Monologues
Various Entertainment Web Sites
Screen Actors Guild Young Performers Committee
Coogan Law/ SAS/ For Parents of Young Performers
Children in Entertainment
Screen Actors’ Guild
American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers
International Alliance of Theaterical and Stage Employees
Actors Site Los Angeles
Nevada Film Office
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oscar)
American Film Institute
Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (Emmy)
Museum of Televison and Radio
National Film Preservation
Film Foundation/ Actors Rights Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts
Assorted other sources
Backstage- Las Vegas
Internet Movie Date Base
New York Times
National Public Radio (includes Fresh Air, other ent pgms)
Nevada Public Radio
KCRW, Santa Monica Public Radio
LA Business Journal
LA Daily News
Wall Street Journal
AFTRA/SAG Federal Credit Union
Non Traditional Casting Project
Women In Film
Screen Actors Guild Foundation
Entertainment Industry Foundation
Women Stunt Professionals
Screen Actors Guild Pension and Health
Motion Picture and Television Fund
Contract Services Administration Trust Fund
Society of Singers
Industry Labor Guide
National Arts and Disability Center
Los Angeles International Film Festival
Sundance Film Festival
Lady Liberty Fireworks
Academy Players Directory
Pro-Act Links to the Industry http://www.pro-act.org/links.html
UNLV and CCSN (including access to libraries)
National Newspaper Association
Web Search Engines
Screen Actors Guild News
Nevada Motion Picture Division
Directors Guild of America
Academy Players Directory
Pro-Act Links to the Industry http://www.pro-act.org/links.html
UNLV and CCSN (including access to libraries)
National Newspaper Association
Web Search Engines
Novels, short stories, plays and poetry – looking at voice, character, language, symbolism, drama, cultures and settings. Many works of literature also good for monologues and cold and rehearsed readings.
Note: Most authors write in more than one writing form or genre. Most, if not all, novelists also write essays and short stories, which, along with poetry can be found in anthology collections.
Works by: Form most notable for:
Edward Albee play
Maya Angelou poetry
Jane Austen novel
Woody Allen screenplay
Samuel Beckett play
Bronte sisters novel
Lewis Carroll novel
Geoffrey Chaucer narrative poetry
Anton Chekhov play
Flannery O’Conner short story
Charles Dickens novel
Emily Dickenson poetry
James Dickey poetry
Dominick Dunne novel
TS Eliot poetry
William Faulkner short story
Jules Feiffer play
F Scott Fitzgerald novel
Fannie Flagg novel
Anne Frank diary
David Hare play
James Herriott short story (non-fiction)
Joseph Heller novel (Catch 22)
Ernest Hemingway novel / short story
Langston Hughes poetry
Shirley Jackson short story
PD James novel
Franz Kafka short story
Garrison Keillor essay / monologue
Jack Kerouc poetry / narratives
DH Lawrence novel
Doris Lessing short story / novel
Harper Lee novel (To Kill A Mockingbird)
Thomas Mann novel
Katherine Mansfield short story
David Mamet play
Gabriel Garcia Marquez short story
Larry McMurty novel
Arthur Miller play
Toni Morrison novel
Alice Munro short story
Flannery O’Conner short story
Eugene O’Neill play
Dorothy Parker short story / essay
Harold Pinter play
Edgar Allan Poe novel
JD Salinger novel
GB Shaw play
Sam Shepard play
William Shakespeare play, poetry
Hunter S Thompson novel
Leo Tolstoy novel
Oscar Wilde play
Tennessee Williams play
August Wilson play
Thomas Wolfe novel (Bonfire of the Vanities)
Kurt Vonnegut novel (Slaughterhouse 5)
YB Yeats poetry
ALL LISTS ARE PARTIAL AND FOR INFORMATIONAL USE ONLY. THEY ARE DATED. SEE SAGACTORONLINE.com FOR UPDATED INFORMATION. SEARCH THE SIDEBAR.
The following is a partial list of important phone numbers to remember and use as talent in Nevada. The numbers may change or the information may vary, so remember to check on-line with each servive listed for updates.
Nevada Branch Office (702) 737-8818
Union office for the Screen Actors Guild, Nevada Branch.
Kathy Morand, Nevada Executive Director (2002 on)
Steve Dressler, Nevada Branch President (2000-2004)
Art Lynch, National Board of Directors (1994-2005)
SAG Conservatory (702) 226-5620
Mail $ 50 membership to SAG office
Low cost and free workshop sampler and guest professional
lecture seminars one to three times each month
Adrienne Garcia Mann, Chair
Barbara Grant, Vice-Chair for Programs
Book Pals (702) 737-8818
Read in the schools, help encourage children to read
SAG National HQ (213) 954-1600
Union National Headquarters of the Screen Actors Guild
The Nevada Motion Picture Division (702) 486-2711 / 486-2712 fax
Charles Geocaris, Director
Nevada Film Office
State of Nevada
Office of Economic Development
555 E. Washington Ave, Suite D 5400
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Nevada Motion Picture Division Hot Line (702) 486-2727
Updated frequently, at least twice a month. Source of current and future production
Information. Also, read Carol Cling’s “Shooting Stars” on-line at the
http://www.reveiwjournal.com or in Monday’s
Las Vegas Review Journal.
Talking the Talk: The Language of the Craft
An Expanded Glossary of the Entertainment Industry
Whether your interest is in acting, directing, producing, and writing, or as a consumer, the age-old saying that “knowledge is power” remains true. This document has been prepared to assist expanding your knowledge of the now interconnected entertainment and information fields. While geared primarily toward those interested in becoming actors in the electronic or film media, this paper will also help you in your quest to understand and advance in any aspect of the crafts you pursue. There are specialized texts, journals and on-line sites for each individual aspect of the entertainment-information industries, as well as for many of the individual entries in this document. This is by no means a comprehensive directory, and many of these terms are subject to the context used, the experience of those using them and/or may have subjective meanings. We encourage you to continue your quest, and to keep us informed on what you discover.
This is a work in progress, copyright Art and Laura Lynch, 6/2003. Your assistance is reviewing this material and providing feedback is appreciated. Terms omitted or definitions which are confusing are of particular concern. Your help is valuable.
The following is a glossary of the entertainment industry including state, film, television, video and commercial applications. It also contains helpful texts, lists, addresses, information on the Las Vegas and Hollywood markets. This is a partial list and will be periodically updated and expanded.
AAAA - Associated Actors and Artistes of America; umbrella organization for SAG, AFTRA, Equity and other performers' Unions. The four A’s is not a union but a cooperative organization. The letters are more commonly affiliated with the American Advertising Agency Association, one of the entities on the opposite (management) side of the table from the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA.
AAR- Advance Against Royalties. An interest-free loan that will be recouped prior to any profits from an artist’s royalties.
ABBY SINGER - The shot before the last shot of the day. Named in honor of former first A.D., Abby Singer, who used to call the last shot of the day one shot too early. Term is not in common use.
ABOVE THE LINE- The budget to pay for the creative team, including the producers, directors, writers and actors. Below the line budget includes crew, business support and hard costs such as location and supplies.
ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE ARTS AND SCIENCES- An association of professional in all aspects of the motion picture industry formed for a variety of business and networking advantages, including philanthropic activities. The Academy is best known for its annual awards, the Oscars.
ACADEMY PLAYERS DIRECTORY- An encyclopedia of actors photographs published four times a year and provided to casting professionals, primarily on the West Coast, by the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences. The Players Directory is published in association with the for-profit Break Down Services and is also provided, with additional services, on-line through The Link. Casting Directors use this directory to search for looks or individual actors, often prior to releasing role descriptions to the Breakdown Services. Agents use the Directory to draw producers or casting professionals attention to particular talent listed in the book. http://www.acadpd.org
ACTING- the process of creating the entire reality of a character for an audience, and individual or yourself. The art of or occupation of performing parts in plays, movies, etc. Serving on behalf of or representing another person, real or imagined. So, what is acting? Acting, as a craft, a profession and an art form, draws a kaleidoscope of definitions and an interpretation, depending on what point of view is used as the measurement. A proud profession, a noble hobby, a mirror on society, a toy for the aristocracy, the maggots of the earth, the royalty of the arts, all have been used to describe a profession said to be the second oldest in recorded history (and sometimes equated to “the oldest profession”). These are all ways actors have been looked upon or seen themselves over the years. It is also fun, rewarding and challenging.
ACTING COACH- A person hired by the actor or a group of actors to help them prepare for the industry or for a particular role.
Acting schools are vocational training institutions that specialize in courses related to theater arts, motion pictures and television arts. This definition from InfoBeagle.com goes on to present the following view of Acting Schools: The specific curriculum varies rather widely from school to school, but generally you can specialize in the following areas.- Acting - Contemporary Theater - Stage Acting - Acting for TV, Film, and Radio - Specials performance skills - Stunt Acting
All students are given a broad base education in the fundamentals of acting regardless of their desired area of concentration. A good fundamental background is necessary to understand the basic role of each specialized vocation in the theater arts.
Most acting schools have a 1 year course that is broken in 3 or four sections that include the fundamentals, focus on and acting specialty and a project that is not only related to the selected specialty, but also includes acting in a theater production.
Since most acting schools are private institutions they are not eligible for government grants and loans. There are scholarships available for the most deserving students and some schools fund work-study and internship programs to help the students fund the cost of the tuition. Special “Career Training” loans are also available for qualified students.
Tuition varies from school to school and program to program. If you are interested in a specialized 8-week workshop you should expect to pay around $4,000. A one year total emersion program can cost as much as $30,000 not counting supplies and equipment charges. There are even some acting schools that charge by the unit (usually around $1000). Nearly all acting schools provide a diploma to completing students and some even issue BA degrees.
ACTING TEACHER- A person who instructs and sometimes coaches groups of actors on their craft, the business and the skills needed to perform on stage, screen, television or any other venue.
ACTION - The command from the director for the scene to begin. It indicates that the camera is rolling and up to speed, and the scene can be brought to life.
ACTOR – The performer of a role or part in a play, movie, television, video or computer story. A term used for both male and female artist who perform in the capacity of creating characters, the perception of reality and advancing a story. Actress is a term that is incorrectly used to indicate a female actor. The term was created by the studio system in the part of the twentieth century to increase box office and facilitate awards and press coverage. Both men and women are today referred to as actors.
ACTOR ACCESS- A service provided to talent by the Breakdown Services, allowing for casting notices to be viewed by talent. Most motion picture, television and commercial notices are submitted to agents via the Breakdown Services. Only larger searches or sometimes smaller independent productions unwilling to pay he Breakdown Service fees are listed over Actor Access. The service also provides information and other services for talent. http://breakdownservices.com/access.html
ACTORS EQUITY- The union that represents legitimate stage performers, See AEA.
ACTOR’S SITE- a private subscription service providing networking opportunities, seminars, leads, delivery of photos to casting directors and other services for the greater Los Angeles area. http://www.actorsite.com/2join.html
A.D.- The Assistant Director also known as Associate Director (the more empowering political correct term). Often a DGA (Directors Guild of America) position with full authority to act on behalf of the director. There are various levels of AD, starting with First AD, followed by multiple levels of “Second AD” positions. The budget, nature and size of the production often determine their individual duties and responsibilities. The First AD is often referred to as “the first” or “number one”, with the seconds referred to an in order or manner determined by the First AD. http://www.dga.org
ADAPTATION- a play, teleplay or film script based on characters and/or story form already existing material in another media. Many projects are adopted from books, short stories, magazine articles and other sources.
ADDED SCENES- when a project is substantially complete, however producers feel that additional scenes are needed, these are called ‘added scenes’. For talent it means the potential of being called back for addition work on a project.
AD LIB- Extemporaneous delivery without relying on a prepared script.
ADR- Automated Dialogue Replacement. Dialogue or human vocal sounds added to a scene in postproduction. Sometimes erroneously called "looping".
ADVERTISING- The propaganda or promotion of projects through all forms of media. This is usually a significant part of marketing expenses.
AE- Artificial Intelligence. A computer term for self-directing computer images or characters. This technology is being used to augment live actors and background talent, as well as to allow pre-recorded or developed characters in interactive media to make “their own” independent decisions, increasing the entertainment experience.
AEA- Actors' Equity Association; often called simply "Equity". SAG's sister union which represents stage actors. Equity organizes employer by employer, or by geographic area, whereas SAG and AFTRA organize by primarily by industry. http://www.actorsequity.org/home.html
AFI- The American Film Institute. “Advancing and preserving the moving image” is the slogan phrase for AFI, summarizing their mission and their practice. The non-profit organization provides workshops, learning labs for new or interested filmmakers, funds for the restoration and preservation of films and many other projects and services. http://www.AFI.com/
AFM- American Federation of Musicians. A trade union for musicians, not to be confused with AFRA or other unions. http://www.afm.org/
AFRA- The American Federation of Recording Artists (AFRA), representing musicians and others who record music or voice for any media other than broadcast or mass visual media. This organization would take place upon approval of the new AIMA by the membership of the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA in June 2003. http://www.partnershipforpower.org/
AFTRA - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Represents radio artists and news broadcasters, and, in earlier times, television performers. In more recent times, however, television performers may be represented by either AFTRA or SAG, depending on the producer's contract. Discussions about merging the two organizations have been ongoing for several decades, however its defeat in the late 1990’s may make such a merger difficult for decades to com; recent Television & Film and Commercial Contracts have been jointly negotiated. AFTRA represents newscasters, sportscasters, disc jockeys, talk hosts, announcers, on camera actors, video background performers, voice artists, dancers, singers, musicians, recording artists, music video talent, interactive technology performers, a small segment of television and radio producers, a small segment of electronic technicians and professionals in very specific writing fields. While SAG's membership moves rapidly from production to production and employer to employer, much of AFTRA's membership hold regular ongoing jobs, most notably the on air broadcast talent who work fixed hours five or six days a week for a specific employer. AFTRA is structured as both a local and national union. AFTRA locals have widely divergent responsibilities, jurisdictions, dues and sometimes structures. They generate and manage their own treasuries while contributing to the national fund. http://www.aftra.com
AGMA- American Guild of Musical Artists
AGVA- American Guild of Variety Artists
AIMA- Alliance of International Media Artists. The proposed (as of April, 17. 2003) name of a new union that joins AFTRA and SAG under one umbrella made up of three divisions. The divisions would be the Screen Actors Guild representing actors and a large group of artist in the motion picture, television and new media industries. The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists would represent broadcasters who work in radio and television (including news, disc jockeys, talk host and other related fields). The third division would be the American Federation of Recording Artists (AFRA), representing musicians and others who record music or voice for any media other than broadcast or mass visual media. If passed by the membership of the SAG and AFTRA in June 2003, the new umbrella union will allow membership in multiple branches of the overall union. Each of the member unions will be self-governing except for specifics, which are constitutionally empowered to the umbrella organization. http://www.partnershipforpower.org/
AMBIANCE – Ambiance is the mood creates by a room or a physical area and its contents. Ambiance is creative and qualitative.
AMBIENCE- Ambience, not to be confused with ambiance, refers to the acoustical qualities of a room or area, including background noise, echoes, reflections and reverberations. Ambience is physical and technical in nature.
AMERICAN THEATRE WING- ATW is an association of Broadway Theaters, best known for sponsoring the annual Tony Awards. ATW is a philanthropic and service organization established to serve the overall theater and at large community in New York. As AFI does for film, ATW provides workshops, training opportunities and many other programs. http://www.tonys.org/about/wing.html
ANALOG- Analog signals are the pure linear signals of sound or video, recorded, stored and played back in real time sequence (although they can be edited). Analog recordings have many physical variations in levels and subtleties. Analog recording captures and softens the imperfections of sound and image in ways similar to human eyes and ears, as oppose to recording the exact impulses in as precise a detail as digital recording techniques. Many artists prefer analog masters over digital recording.
ANGELS- Theater patrons who donate large amounts of funds, or invest heavily in theater productions or corporations are called “angels”.
ANSWER PRINT- When film is used the fully edited and refined master print that comes back from the lab ready to be used for producing the release prints used in film distribution.
A&R- Artists and Repertoire. A department of most recording companies responsible for scouting new talent and songs and then coordinating recording producers and artists for possible release under the company’s label.
ARBITRON- a procedure to resolve contract disputes without having to resort to litigation in a court of law.
ASSIGNMENT AND DELIGATION- A contractual clause regulating the transfer of rights and duties under a contract.
ART DIRECTOR- Person who conceives and designs the sets.
Artistic Control- The artist contractually retains all or partial control over the artistic integrity of the material to be recorded, performed or rendered.
ASCAP- The American society of Composers Authors and Publishers, a music industry performing arts organization registering copyright’s and dealing with other artistic and business issues, primarily in the music industry. http://www.ascap.com/
ATMOSPHERE- another word for extras, background talent or background actors. Those people who populate a scene but do not have lines or contribute in a significant way to the primary action (applicable under commercial contracts).
AUDITION- A tryout for a film, TV or stage role. Usually auditions involving reading from the script, but can also require improvisation.
AVAIL - A courtesy situation extended by performer or agent to a producer indicating availability to work a certain job. Avails have no legal or contractual status. The term also applies to the sales of advertising placement into a broadcast schedule or print layout.
BACKERS AUDITION - In theater a small run-thru of proposed production held for investors is called a backers audition. Usually these auditions are abbreviated versions of shows highlighting specific music or dialogue.
BACKGROUND - The Extra performers. On the set, "Background!" is a verbal cue for the Extras to start their action. Extras are often referred to as “Background Actors”, “Background Artists” and “Background Extras.”
BACKROUND ACTION – The cue for background talent or extras to begin their predetermined movements. This precedes the call of Action for talent, but is after “rolling” or “speed”.
BACK STORY - Relating to how characters in a story get to where they are today. This may be written, implied or created by various creative individuals including the writers, directors, producers, actors and in some cases consultants. Back-story should be developed at every level for a story to be believable and have continuity.
BACK TO ONE - The verbal cue for performers to return to the mark where they started the scene.
BEAUTY SHOT - On TV soaps, the shot over which the credits are rolled.
BELOW THE LINE - Production expenses related to the physical production of a movie or television program, including but not limited to sets, crew, equipment, location, transportation and business services. Above the line refers to the cost for the creative elements such as producers, directors, writers and actors.
BEST BOY - Usually used to refer to the assistant to the Chief Electrician, or Head Gaffer, the term has been extended to include others including the key grips assistant.
BETA - Beta is a professional broadcast video recording standard, also available in Beta Digital. It is tape based and provides both over scan and monitor quality recording scans. While high definition and other forms of tape based digital standards are available, Beta remains the most common form of broadcast recording at the local and regional levels. Sony developed beta.
BILLBOARD MAGAZINE - a weekly trade publication primarily for the music and music distribution industry, with additional subject matter covering the entire entertainment in information industries. http://www.billboard.com
BILLBOARD TOP 100 - A chart of the most played songs in the music industry for each week of the year, as collected and interpreted by Billboard Magazine, a music industry trade publication. http://www.billboard.com
BILLING - The order of the names in the title of opening credits of a play “card”, a film or TV show credits. Billing also applies to where, how big, and the overall presentation of the names of the actors, authors, producers, directors and others appears on advertising, particularly print or on theater marquees.
BIO - Short for "biography" - A resume in narrative form, usually for a printed program or press release.
BLOCKING - The actual physical movements by performers in any scene. Also can refer to the movements of the camera. It is important that actors are able to recreate exact movements for purposes of camera angles, editing and continuity.
BLOCKING REHEARSAL - Setting the movement and locations of actors for a scene. Used in all forms of media, for television this is done to set camera angles, in film to plan location schedules and for state to provide a pallet on which to develop the plays actions.
BLUES - Blues are a draft revision of the script, usually the first revised draft used in the actual shooting of the project. As revisions are made, new pages of differing colors are substituted for the sections changed. Various drafts may be “pinks”, “teal” and so forth.
BLUE SCREEN - Shooting in a studio against a large blue or greenish backdrop, which allows a background to be superimposed later on the final image. The actors must imagine the set they are on and be aware of the limitations of their movements. Blue Screen shooting is often used to create CD-ROM video games using actors.
BMI- Broadcast Music Inc. – a music industry trade organization concerned with performers rights and licenses. See also a related but separate organization: ASCAP. http://www.bmi.com
BOOKING - A firm commitment to a performer to do a specific job.
BOOM - An overhead microphone, usually on an extended pole. The Boom Operator is the member of the sound department responsible for holding the boom pole, with mic attached, over and sometimes under the actors. Also usually responsible for placing radio mics on actors. The member of the sound crew who control the microphone by holding it in the air or working the mechanicals may also be referred to as the “boom”, short for “boom operator.”
BRANCH – A union local organization or charter for the Screen Actors Guild. SAG branches bring government, committee participation and identity closer to the geography of the membership. AFTRA has Locals, which carry much greater autonomy and governmental responsibility than SAG Branches. Either can exist without an actual physical office, as both are member driven and supported.
BREAKAWAY - Specially designed prop or set piece that looks solid by shatters easily. Breakaways props are often glass items.
BREAKDOWN - A detailed listing and description of roles available for casting in a production. A list provided to agents and managers by casting professionals through the Breakdown Service, indicating the specific types of talent needed for upcoming productions. The list is often specific in its needs for height, weight, age, skills and other elements for talent screening. It also includes a plot synopsis. Agents use this list to send in photographs and in other ways submit their talent for consideration, the first step in the casting process. Founded in 1971 this service has expanded to include Showfax (a source of audition scripts and entertainment news), the Link (the on-line version of the Academy Players directory) and other services. While most are for agents and other industry professionals, some are accessible free or for a fee for talent. From the web site of the Breakdown Services “Breakdown Services, Ltd., is the communications network and casting system that provides integrated tools for casting directors and talent representatives. With offices in Los Angeles, New York and Vancouver, Breakdown Services maintains affiliate relationships with sister companies in Toronto and London. Breakdowns are complete synopses of the characters contained within scripts…Talent representatives…download 50 to 60 pages of casting information. They use the resulting Breakdowns to understand what roles are available and then submit their actors and actresses for these roles. The Breakdowns that are released to talent representatives include episodic, pilots, feature films, and movies for television, theater, student films, industrials and Internet projects. A separate division called Commercial Express delivers commercials instantly to talent agents via e-mail. Use The Link and your Link code to submit Breakdowns for Commercial release (www.submitlink.com). http://www.breakdownservices.com
BREAKDOWN WRITER - In soap opera or daytime drama, the person responsible for coordinating work on day-to-day plot development (as opposed to developing overall plot line or character development).
BREAK-EVEN - A schedule projected for the number of tickets needed to be sold, and at what cost, to cover weekly operating expenses in a theater production.
BROADBAND- is a technology for transmitting large amounts of data at a simultaneous rate, resulting in the ability to process massive amounts of date rapidly. For actors, the significance of broadband is the transmission of their moving image and their work in real time or faster over phone lines, cable, satellite, broadcast sub-bands and other methods ranging all the way up to and including high definition quality. Broadband transmission has made most union contracts less than effective, by redefining how actor work is viewed or even used by the consumers. The digital nature of broadband also opens the door to the re-use or manipulation of actor’s images or work without out additional compensation.
B-ROLL - Extra footage shot for possible use in the project, or for use in a future project. This may be planned as second unit work, or simply on the whim of the director, first assistant director or director of cinematography (camera operator with video).
BUSINESS - Action, usually small or subtle, given to an actor by the director to assist in portraying a character trait or advancing the plot. Sometimes the actor develops his or her own business. See also Blocking.
BUSINESS MANGER - Someone artist hire to look after their financial arrangements. While this can be limited, the most common form is a manger who takes over most business accounting and contracts. In California a Business Manager may take up to 25% if they also provide other managerial services, or 15% if they handle only monetary business.
BUZZER - A sound, not always a buzz, used on the set to send specific signals. For example, a single long blast means to be” quiet on the set” and two short blasts mean “all clear” and it is once again permissible to make noise.
CAA - Creative Artists Agency, one of the larger talent and talent management agencies in the country. http://www.caa.com/
CALLBACK - Any follow-up interview or audition.
CALL SHEET - A sheet containing the cast and crew call times for a specific day's shooting. Scene numbers, the expected day's total pages, locations, and production needs are also included. Usually equipment and location details are also listed. The call sheet serves as a method of assuring that the basic details of each shoot are met in advance and proper preparation are made. It is often important to collect call sheets and reference them in preparation and research for future work.
CALL TIME - The actual time an actor is due on the set. Also known as “call”, this usually includes details on where to be, when to be there and to whom to report.
CAMERA CAR - The camera car is used in filming moving shots, usually of actors while they are in vehicles. A camera is mounted to a car or truck to film other moving objects or vehicles.
CAMERA CREW - With the D.P. (Director of Photography) as its chief, this team consists of the camera operator, the first assistant camera operator (focus puller), the second assistant camera operator (film loader and clap stick clapper) and the dolly grip.
CAMERA OPERATOR - The member of the camera crew who actually looks through the lens during a take. Responsible for panning and tilting and keeping the action within the frame.
CAMERA REHEARSAL - A rehearsal in television to determine what cameras to position where and when, and plan ahead what shots to capture for the final product.
CAMERA RIGHT - A direction used to refer to or tall actors to move to the right of the camera, from the perspective of the camera and camera operator. This is the opposite of stage right. Camera left is to move or refer to the left direction from the viewpoint of the camera.
Camera right is also referred to as right frame. Camera left is left frame. Stage right is camera left and stage left is camera right. Stage directions are given from the perspective of the actor, while camera references are given from the perspective of the camera/viewer.
CAPITALIZATION BUDGET - in theater this is the budget to determine the amount of money that will be needed up to the opening day of the show, including all aspects of production and marketing.
CASTING DIRECTOR - The producer's representative responsible for choosing performers for consideration by the producer or director. The job of a casting director is to weed through the forest of potential talent to portray a role and find the handful that come closest to meeting the vision of the producer or director. In some cases casting directors also negotiate with named actors or working actors who are offered the role without an audition, find alternatives should negotiations fall through and help keep the talent part of the ledger within budget and under control. Casting directors do not work for actors. They are management.
CASTING SOCIETY OF AMERICA - CSA is a voluntary association of professional casting directors, formed to assist in bringing positive ad uniform standards and practices to and industry soiled by the ‘casting couch’ image. To place CSA after their name on their business cards members must qualify to join through sponsorship by existing members and actual major casting credits. Since participation is voluntary, there is no guarantee that even members abide by their own guidelines, however membership is a first test in determining how legitimate and professional a casting director is. As a disclaimer, be aware that many working casting directors who are legitimate choose not to become members of CSA. The CSA web site also contains information concerning the industry for actors and those interested in careers in acting, casting or production. http://www.castingsociety.com
CASTNET - One of the two most reputable and used Internet casting submission services. This subscription-based service allows actors, agents, managers and other individuals to submit talent for specific roles or general consideration directly over the Internet. Unlike The Link, actors may submit their own work (The Link requires photos and support materials be submitted by a union franchised agent). The service also provides scripts, interviews, on-line chats and other services to assist actors and other talent in learning more about the field and networking. For extra fees additional photos, résumé’s, audio, video and even personalized web pages may be linked to the service, which also allows casting directors and others to search for talent from their end. This is a well-financed service, used by an increasing number of younger casting directors in every entertainment field. The caution is that since the Breakdown Services are close to monopoly in status and that service is attached to Castnet’s competitor, The Link, there is a significant portion of the industry that cannot be reached through Castnet. How serious is the company’s investment in the industry? They occupy much of the first floor of the office building in which AFTRA and Equity have their west coast offices, and where SAG’s national offices are located. The office is also close to the offices of Billboard, Hollywood Reporter and Variety.
CATTLE CALL – A casting session similar to a modeling “look see”, where large numbers of actors are called to the set or a casting location at a single time, were casting professionals select or weed out groups until they eventually find what they are looking for. As a rule union actors must be paid if they are at a cattle call for more than an hour. However this contract only kicks in if there is an actual project being cast. If the cattle call is for general talent files or recruitment, actors may face long lines or waits. An alternative definition that is also used is the the actual time you are due on the set, however most actors identify with the first definition while the second may be referred to as “call time.” The most interesting “cattle call” story come from Billie Crystal, who tells of the time on the set of “City Slickers” when the director took one look at the calf selected to “play” Norman, and decided it was too ugly. The calf was of the same breed as the herd, but that did not matter. One by one calves of every breed they could find were paraded to the directors trailer until one was “cast” as Norman, the cow Crystal helps bring into the world and later adopts as a pet.
CATERER - Responsible for breakfast, lunch and dinner on a set. Different from Craft Services, which provides food and drink on the actual set available all crew working hours.
CATV - Community Antenna Television, also known as cable television. Transmission over cable television networks or local use fall under different contracts than broadcast networks or local stations, and traditionally pay talent at a negotiated lower rate. As of this writing courts have determined that transmission over satellite and over the air on the “side band” or “multi-plex” signals using high definition television falls under the cable contracts and compensation, despite being “broadcast”.
CD - Compact Disc. A 4.5 inch plastic disc containing digital audio recording, and sometimes additional data, played back optically on a laser equip disc player.
CD-G - Compact Disc with Graphics. In addition to audio, this format captures and allows the end user to view graphics such as text or still images. Also known as “enhanced CD.” Sometimes used in storyboarding, this technology is not uses as often as CD-RW or other computer based formats.
CD-R- CD Recordable - A home or small studio recordable CD, used for demonstration audiotapes in the voice over and music industries. Also used to copy music, voice and other audio files for achieve or future playback.
CD-RW - A format where CD’s can be recorded on more than once. This format is also used for transfer of CD computer data and programs. DVD-RW is used for video.
CD-ROM - Compact Disc Read Only Memory. A compact disk that holds text, music and images. One of the principal new venues for interactive video games as well as for full motion video films. Acting for CD-ROM's is a new arena for actors. SAG 's Interactive Media Contract covers salaries and working conditions for this new medium.
CG - Computer Graphic or Computer Generated image. This refers to the words or images added either during recording or on “post” editing. The most common use of CG’s is in commercial or news programming and in rolling ‘credits”. CG space refers to leaving room on the visual image to superimpose graphics at a later date or in “post”.
CHALKS - Chalks are another name for ‘marks’ or anything used to remind the actor where to stand at a specific time in the sequence of a scene. Chalk, tape or objects are used during rehearsal. They may or may not be in place while the cameras are rolling.
CHANGES - Outfits worn while performing. The number of times a performer must change wardrobe for different shots and/or character portrayals.
CHARACTER DESCRIPTION - a description of the character usually found at the beginning of the script or just before the characters first appearance. Character descriptions are guidelines subject to the creative interpretation of talent and of the director.
CHARISMA - An exceptional quality or magnetic power an individual has that allows them to stand out in a crown or draw followers to that person’s cause, talent or career; a characteristic that often leads to stardom on stage and screen.
CHEAT - The actor's adjustment of body position away from what might be absolutely "natural" in order to accommodate the camera; can also mean looking in a different place from where the other actor actually is. Also used to “open up” the performance so that the camera or audience may best read the emotions or intentions of the scene or shot. In its historic and simplest definition, “cheating” refers to the tendency for action upstage to grab attention from downstage action, and a series of techniques used to compensate and direct the audience where the direction feels their attention should be.
CHECK AUTHORIZATION FORM - The CHF is a standard form used by production offices for actors whose contracts require, or who choose, to have the check sent to their agent, who then deducts the commission or fees and issues the actors an agency check. This is not required, but is a common accounting practice with working actors.
CHECKING THE GATE! - A verbal command to check the lens on the camera; if the lens is “OK” the cast & crew will move on to the next scene or shot.
CHIEF ELECTRICIAN - Heads the electrician crew; also called the Gaffer.
CINEMATOGRAPHER - Director of Photography (DP) or in larger productions the DP’s boss. The cinematographer is hired to add their vision or to execute the creative vision of the producer and director onto film or video tape (where the same job is often referred to as videographer, shooter or shootist). All camera operators and camera crew are responsible to the DP. Cinematography is an art form that simply means images with film, as opposed to photography, which means capturing images with photographs.
CLAP BOARDS- Clap Boards are most commonly known as “slates” because at one time they were made of blackboard slate. These boards are used to mark significant scene information for the camera, to allow for the director and editor to find specific takes or camera “rolls”. The most common information includes the production name, production number, date, scene number and letter; take number and letter and the director’s name. Additional information can be added. Today clapboards are mostly digital, including a synchronized digital time code read out with the camera and any audio recording device. The clapboard itself is on top of the slate and makes a ‘clapping” sound at the start of each camera toll. The clapping of the board provides an audio and visual marker for both sound synchronization and film or video editing. In motion picture work the audio is usually recorded on a separate device from the camera, often called a Naugra (after the manufacturer of audio equipment most popular within the traditional film industry). DAT equipment and digital sound stripping on film and video are replacing Naugra style multi-track tape in most production.
CLEAN ENTRANCE- a clean entrance or exit means moving in a natural fashion completely in or out of the frame of the shot before breaking character or changing the way you walk. It is one of many marks of professional talent.
CLOSE-UP (CU) - Camera term for tight shot of shoulders and face A close u (CU) is usually head an shoulders, or inclusive of not much more then the actor’s face, or whatever item is specified in the script. Extreme Close Up (ECU).
COLD READING - Unrehearsed reading of a scene, usually at an audition.
COMMERCIAL - A video or film used to advertise a product or service, generally with a “call for action” which request or requires the consumer to buy, do, support or believe something. Lengths vary, but the most common durations are one minute, 30 seconds, 15 seconds and 10 second. In union production each version is considered a separate commercial. Compensation may vary by market or length of time used on the “air”. Contact SAG or AFTRA with any questions or for details.
COMMERCIAL COMPOSITE - A commercial composites is an expanded version of a “headshot” containing more than one image. Usually two sided, the commercial composite usually features four to six images of an actor in different characters. It is important that real emotions be present, instead of simply changing clothing and props. Composites go in and out of popularity in the commercial production industry. A rule of thumb is that the primary shot should be “friendly”.
COMMISSION - Percentage of a performer's earnings paid to agents or managers for services rendered.
COMPOSITE - A series of photos on one sheet representing an actor's different looks.
CONFLICT - Status of being paid for services in a commercial for one advertiser, thereby contractually preventing performing ser ices in a commercial for a competitor.
CONTINUITY – Being able to match scenes, keeping action, props and all aspects of the physical identical for the purposes of editing or matching shots. Continuity also refers to the keeping of detailed notes and records for use by the director and the film editor. The work of the continuity crew is vital to the final editing and production process. Continuity is also the British term for the Script Supervisor.
CONTROL ROOM - the room where all technical is run in theater or television, including decisions on lighting, camera movement, deciding what is goes on tape or film and in the case of live broadcast, what goes over the air.
COPY - The script for a commercial or voice over. The actual words in a commercial script or any body of print advertising.
CORPORATION - A form of business structure that offers protection for individuals involved and their personal assets from most liabilities and lawsuits. Creates a new entity capable of doing business in its own name. Owners are free from most personal liability for the obligations of the business. Artist as individuals are often encouraged to form personal corporations or limited corporations to protect their own interests and assets.
CO-STAR - On screen credit below the star or series regulars. When a performer has a major roll, their agent negotiates the “billing” or positions the performer places in the credits (in fact not all actors under the Theatrical Film and Television Contract are guaranteed on screen credit, so it is vital an agent negotiate proper screen credit). Regardless of on-screen credits, “co-star” can be used in professional resumes and credits for major roles performed.
COST PLUS - An approach to business that allows the actual production costs to be paid for by the studio, distribution company or record label. This approach allows the entity paying the costs considerable creative control and a larger interest in any potential profits.
COVERAGE - multiple cameras shooting the same scene or additional shots taken of a scene to cover all possible editing uses. For example close up reaction shots may be needed, long shot establishing shots, two shots, close up of action with props, point of view shots or static shots to be used as inserts. All camera shots other than the master shot; coverage might include two-shots and close-ups.
CRAFT SERVICES - On-set beverage and snack table. Different from the Caterer, as while it sometimes may provide breakfast food or sandwiches, craft services is primarily to provide snacks, access to energy foods and beverages for the cast and crew during filming (all work hours for the crew). Catering provides three full, in most cases, hot meals a day and must meet union contract requirements.
CRANE SHOT - A camera shot raised over or above the set or the action.
CRAWL - Usually the end credits in a film or TV shot which "crawl" up the screen.
CREDITS - Opening names in a film or TV show; also refers to a one's performance experience listed on a resume or in a program
CREW - anyone who works behind the scenes on a production. Crew includes, but is not limited to, camera operators, lighting technicians, make-up and wardrobe, sound technicians, drivers and production assistants.
CROSS - Movement or blocking from one point to another. Often done for emphasis or to balance the stage or camera frame.
CUE - Hand signal by the Stage Manager. A cue can also be a spoken word of physical movement which indicates when a performer is to say a line or taken an action.
CUT - The verbal cue for the action of the scene to stop. At no time, may an actor call, "cut!" This is usually the sole responsibility of the director or of someone delegated the authority by the director.
CUTAWAY - A short scene between two shots of the same person, showing something other than that person. Cutaway may also refer to a set specifically designed with a portion of a structure or vehicle missing to allow for the unobstructed filming of the scene.
DAILY- .A contract for a single day of work. ‘Weekly’ is a contract for weeks work, as a base pay whether or not the actor works every day of the scheduled week.
DAILIES - Screening of footage before it is edited. These “rushes” are sent from the film lab to the set as soon as they are processed, for review by the director, key crewmembers, and often the producers. Dailies are still used to check film quality, however digital “video assist” tapes now provide immediate feedback, decreasing the important and urgency of traditional ‘dailies’. Reviewing the actual film print, or digital video, of the work captured on a given day. These assist the director in selecting takes, and in making decisions concerning future shots or retakes.
DAILY VARIETY- the daily (Monday to Friday) newspaper version of Variety (a weekly entertainment news magazine our of New York). Daily Variety provides production updates that can be used as employment or contract leads by actors and other professionals in the entertainment industry. It tracks trends, personnel shifts and other entertainment business news. Variety is well known for “industry-speak”, the often-colorful shorthand or abbreviation of industry concepts both in headlines and within the body copy. Major competitor: Hollywood Reporter. http://www.variety.com/
DAT- Digital Audio Tape used for recording and playback. Most often used for portable recording equipment, the format has been replaced in most other uses by the CD-R and CD-RW formats.
DAY PLAYER (DAY PERFORMER) - A principal performer hired on a daily basis, rather than on a longer-term contract. This is the most common method of gaining entrance into the Screen Actors Guild. Simply put, if an background artist, or any other form of talent, has a line and it is scripted or given to them in an exact way by the director, they become an actor the entire time they are on the project and become eligible to join the Screen Actors Guild (assuming the production is a SAG signatory production).
DAYTIME DRAMA - Soap opera.
DEMO TAPE - An audio or videotape that agents use for audition purposes
DGA - Directors Guild of America. The union of professional directors of film, television and other media projects. http://www.dga.org
DIALECT - A distinctly regional or linguistic speech pattern.
DIALOGUE - The scripted words exchanged by performers. Monologues are a form of Dialogue in which the other performer or character is implied, is not seen or does not respond verbally.
DIALOGUE DIRECTOR – Personal available to run lines with actors between scenes.
DIGITAL - Digital refers to any recording system or information system that uses numbers or a pulsing of information to record or store visual, audio or textual information.
DIGITAL CONVERGENCE- The merging of product and product distribution where all forms of productions either consist of or at one point are processed through computer digital technology. This include transmission to digital television, HDTV, computers, iPods, DVDs, CDs, Digital tape, MPEG players, TiVo, cell phones and other transmitters, storage or receiving devices. Program, entertainment, news, information and other product are no longer classified by the originating medium (film, video and so forth), since other than creative decisions, the medium utilized initially may no longer have much or little to do with the final product and distribution.
DIGITAL MANIPULATION – The altering of a performance through digital electronic means. This includes, but is not limited to altering appearance, movement, voice or location. A strong example lies in the use of the performances or images of deceased performers in commercials and films, or on the Internet.
DIGITAL RECORDING- a system where information is converted into a series of pulses that are translated in binary code and stored on magnetic or optical media. Digital recording is pure in that it records precise information. It is often stored out of sequence.
DIGITIZATION- An umbrella term used to describe the use of computer or digital production and distribution in any from during the process of creating, crafting, editing and distribution of entetainment or information video, audio or still image product.
DIRECTOR - The coordinator of all artistic and technical aspects of any production. In film the director is usually hired by the producer, or a producer themselves, to bring a creative vision to a project and execute that vision. The director is responsible for all creative aspects of the film, from advance planning to final edit, however as an employee they can and frequently are replace during the process. In episodic television, the director is usually hired to supervise the actual shoot, with lesser casting and supervisory responsibilities than their film counterparts. In commercials, the director usually is over the crew only and while they are a key part of the creative team, they are primarily responsible for what gets on film or tape. In theater the director works with the producers or in new works, the writer, as a member of their team.
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY (D.P.) - Supervises all decisions regarding lighting, camera lenses, color and filters, camera angle set-ups, camera crew and film processing.
DISSOLVE- when a scene fades into another scene, as opposed to a fast cut, it is called a dissolve. For actors this means it is important to establish and hold your character both before the scene officially begins and after you have completed the scene. It is best to make sure you are in character before “action” and to hold it a few seconds after the director calls “cut”.
DOF - Depth of Field is the range of what’s in reasonably good focus, in front of and behind the main subject of the image. The range of items seen clearly in a photograph or moving image. Also known as depth of focus.
DOLBY - Dolby is a system of noise/his reduction invented by Ray Dolby. It is used to “improve” sound my reducing imperfections. It is also the basis of Surround Sound Technologies.
DOLLY - A piece of equipment that the camera sits on to allow mobility of the camera. Often used for following moving action, creating the illusion of movement or to smoothly move toward or away from the action of a scene. Such equipment is referred to as a “mount” for the stand on which a camera sits.
DOLLY GRIP - The crewmember who moves the dolly.
DOUBLE - A performer who appears in place of another performer. There are body doubles who work whenever an actor cannot do the scene, usually when the actor is in the background of a shot, in the distance or there is a compromising situation. Stunt Doubled perform any stunt where there is a chance of injury, rather than risk the lost revenue of an injury to an actor. While publicity may say otherwise, in most cases actors do not do their own stunts or appear in compromising situations.
DOWNGRADING- Under the SAG/AFTRA Commercial Contract someone who was intended to be a principal (lead or key to the commercial, usually with their face recognizable in a commercial) can be downgraded to background performer if they are not used or in other ways cannot be considered a principal in the final production. While the actor retains their principal session fee, they are not entitled to use-fees, residuals or additional compensation.
D.P. - Director of Photography or Cinematographer.
DRAMATISTS GUILD – Professional association of playwrights, composers & lyricists.
DRAMATURGE – A professional who reads, catalogues, and circulates scripts, knows history of theater and a wide range of plays; there are accredited programs specializing in this major.
DRESS THE SET - Add such items to the set as curtains, furniture, props, etc.
DRIVE-ON PASS - In Los Angeles, a pass to drive onto and park on a studio lot.
DRY RUN- a rehearsal on the set prior to shooting on film or video.
DUBBING - Dubbing reefers to the transfer of an image and/or sound and/or data from one tape to another, or one media to another. This can also include adding tracks or altering tracks in the video or audio of the production. For example: foreign language dubbing, looping and layering audio.
DUPE - A duplicate copy of a film or tape; also, a "dub"
8x10 - Commonly used size of a performer's photos, usually in black and white.
18-TO-PLAY-YOUNGER - A performer legally 18 years old, who can convincingly be cast as a younger age.
EDITOR- The editor decides what will be in the final product. They are the artist who fineness the video in postproduction or who physically cut and supervise effects with film. While they work with the director, often their final contracts, and thus their final work, reflects the desires of the producer and the eventual consumer marketplace.
ELECTRICIAN - In film, crewmembers who place lighting instruments, focus, gel and maneuver the lights.
EMPLOYER OF RECORD (EOR) - the Company responsible for employment taxes, unemployment benefits and workers compensation coverage.
EMMY – TV’s highest award, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Los Angeles, presents the prime time Emmys. The New York based National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences handles the rest, including those daytime, sports, news and documentary shows.
END CREDITS- The rolling of credits at the end of a film or video production, in which the actors name appears, usually next to the character they played. Current SAG and AFTRA contracts with the industry do not guarantee your name will be on the screen, so it is important an agent negotiate such credit into your final contract. The Screen Actors Guild is also attempting to stop the practice of “squeezing credits” at the end of programs and films to allow networks to put on audience capturing features, promotions or even commercials. Another contested issue is the logo or “bug” which appears frequently over the intended image on the screen, or its cousin the “information” flag across the bottom of the screen.
EPISODE- One show or program in a series.
ESTABLISHING SHOT- The EST is a shot that can be edited in later to establish the time, a location, a situation or a mood. Often these are exteriors, such as a home, a hospital, the courthouse, or of a landmark (the Welcome to Las Vegas sign, the Hollywood sign, the Statue of Liberty or of a mountain range).
EQUITY - Actors Equity Association (AEA) Union representing stage actors. See also Actors Equity. The Nevada Equity information line is (702) 452-4200. It includes regional casting calls, since there is little equity work other than “guest artist” contracts in Nevada. In England and much of the British Commonwealth, Equity has jurisdiction over film and television as well as theater. Most foreign Equity film or TV contracts are buy-outs and do not contain the residuals or use fees found in American union contracts.
EQUITY WAIVER - In Los Angeles, 99-seat (or less) theatres which were otherwise professional, over which Equity waived contract provisions under certain circumstances. Now officially called "Showcase code", the term "Equity waiver" is still used informally.
EXECUTIVE – A union executive hired by the membership of AFTRA or SAG to perform the duties and responsibilities of the legal day to day operation of the union, including but not limited to Field Representation, Contract Enforcement, Organizing and assisting local governments or the national organization.
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Person responsible for funding the production. In most cases the Executive Producer plans the project, supervises other producers, and stays with a production from when it is first thought up until it is completed.
EXT. - An Exterior is a scene shot outside. Often these are used as establishing shots to show relative location or time of year. Sometimes the primary action is an exterior action.
EXTEMPORAINEOUS- A presentation made without notes or script, but best done well prepared, through our and researched in advance. Similar to Improvisation, however improvisations may have been rehearsed or made to follow strict guidelines and goals.
EXTRA - Background talent, used only in non-principal roles. The term extra exists in the Screen Actors Guild Commercial contracts. In other contracts the terms background performer, background artist or background actor may appear. At issue among many performers is whether background extras are actors, skilled labor, or simply a needed tool for production, such as sets, cameras and lighting. Also, new technologies are decreasing the need for extras using computer generated Synthespians, shot duplication, digitally adjusted stock footage (or “B”-roll), animation, robotics and other techniques.
4-A's - Associated Actors and Artistes of America; umbrella organization for SAG, AFTRA, Equity and other performers' Unions. The four A’s is not a union but a cooperative organization.
FAX – Short term for studio facilities.
FAX TIME – Time spent in the studio (most expensive element of the production process).
FEATURED- any role in a television series or film that does not qualify as a starring lead, or co-star designation. Not everyone with speaking lines gets the featured billing on screen; an agent must negotiate it. However, everyone who has lines can use the “featured” billing on their resume and professional credentials.
FICA - Social Security taxes (Federal Insurance Corporation of America).
FIDELITY- Fidelity is the degree to which a recording or playback devise accurately reproduces a sound or image.
FIELD REP. - Union staff member who ensures contractual compliance by signatory productions on sets. These employees of the unions may be dispatched form central locations or may function as branch or local executives or contract administration employees.
FINAL CUT- The final edit of a project, as approved by all parties who have a say (usually the producers, sponsors, director and sometimes contractually the star). This “cut” is not the print, which is duplicated, as often adjustments need to be made in image or sound, often the adding of additional music or sound effects.
FIRST A.D. - First Assistant Director; person responsible for the running of the set. Gives instructions to crew and talent, including calling for "first team," "quiet," "rehearsal," and "take five."
FIRST ASS'T. CAMERA OP. - First Assistant Camera Operator is responsible for focusing the camera lens during the shooting of a scene; also known as the Focus Puller.
FIRST CUT – Initial assembly of the film by the editor and/or director; notes of the script supervisor are usually used at this stage. Films may or may not be filmed in sequence, i.e. first scenes may be filmed later and later scenes first; scenes may be filmed in one take or broken up into cuts.
FIRST TEAM - The production term for the principal actors in a scene.
FITTING FEE or WARDROBE FEE. If talent is asked to report at a time other than their schedule shoot to be fitted by the Wardrobe Department, the are paid additional compensation for doing so.
FOLEY ARTIST – Creates sound affects for digital recording onto film. Usually working in teams of two or three individuals, foley artist know how to create the specific sounds that augment those recorded on the set, often sounding more realistic than the sound they are meant to augment or replace. The profession has its roots in radio sound effects technicians and theater audio effect artists.
FORCED CALL - A call to work less than 12 hours after dismissal on the previous day. See TURNAROUND.
FORCED INTEGRATION- A term used by performance unions to indicate the use of technology to allow producers or marketers to turn any product utilized in a production into a sales tool for that product, without compensating the talent for product endorsement. This may include the simple placement of product on a set or go as far as making that product an intricate part of the plot or dialogue of a production. Forced integration also includes
FOREGROUND- Objects or actions close to the camera.
FOREGROUND CROSS - Action in a scene in which an Extra Performer passes between the camera and the principal actors; sometimes called a "wipe".
FOREIGN FILMS- Films produced for distribution outside of the United States by companies based outside of the United States. Foreign films can be filmed inside the US and maintain this status if their intended market and distribution is outside of the US. Under SAG Global Rule One, union actors may not work on foreign films without a SAG contract.
FORMAL PROSPECTUS – A numbered document describing an offering.
FRAME- Frame refers to the image seen on a screen, as if real life were placed in a picture frame. Aspect ratio is related, because it refers to the length, width and depth of the frame. Each still image represents a single frame. Each “pane” of film represents a single frame. Frames are “animated” by flashing the images or by video scan, into a moving image. Standard American Television has 30 frames per second (fps) at 525 line scans.
FRONT MONEY-Funds invested in a project prior to the start of actual production. Front Money is usually used in the pitch, early pre-production and legal contracting involved in a given project.
FULL MOTION VIDEO – A new web and CD ROM based synonym for traditional television video or clean moving images / moving pictures.
FUNDS APPROACH- In the music recording industry, a negotiated advance to the artists representing projected recording costs.
FX (Effects) - Special Effects.
GAFFER - The Chief Electrician or the chief electricians assistant. The case of the assistant their role on the set has been used to name a common tool utilized by gaffer’s in productions; electrical or “gaffer’s’ tape.
GARAGE PRODUCTION- refers to video and other forms of production, often using home computes, done in at a residence or in a garage. These lower budget productions are often released directly through the internet, without profit or for low fees. Digital video and computers with greater processing power have made garage production a growing alternative to being an apprentice in traditional film or television studios. There are those who believe that the video camera and computer will do for video and audio what the printing press, typewriter and later keyboard did for the written word. These people argue that we are entering and age of video and audio literacy.
GATEKEEPERS - individuals representing a series of business “hoops” artists need to negotiate and/or get past to achieve financing, distribution and potential commercial success. In the recording industry these would be executives, company employees, booking agents, producers, publishers, video music channels, broadcast programming organizations, concert venue ownership, or any other person or business that can deny access to commercial success. In film and televisions this may be not only the corporate marketing and distribution channels, but individual exhibitors, film or video buyers, networks, uplink providers and independent resource providers.
GENERALS- a term used for a look-see of talent by a casting director, agent or producer who is not currently casting a project or who is looking ahead toward future projects. Generals” is the industry term for when a casting director views talent he or she may not be particularly in the market for, but whose photo and resume grabbed their attention.
GLOBALIZATION- The trend for all creation, production, distribution, consumption and use of any product or service across all national and international lines. Digital technologies, transportation, labor costs, education levels and vast variety of other trends, issues and developments have contributed to an increased globalization of the entertainment, information and just about every other industry.
GOLDEN TIME - Contractually called 16 Hour Rule Violation for Extra Performers, is overtime, after the 16th hour, paid in units of one full day per hour.
GREEN LIGHT - The commitment from a studio, network or record label to go forward with a project.
GREENS - Green is color use to signify a revision of a script, usually the third revision. Each time a script is revised once filming has begun, the pages come in a different color to differentiate them from previous drafts.
GRIPS - Members of the film crew who are responsible for moving set pieces, lighting equipment, dolly track and other physical movement of equipment.
GUARANTEE - A Guarantee is the minimum amount guaranteed to a performer in a contract.
HAND MODEL - A performer whose hands are used to double for others.
HEADSHOTS - a headshot is the calling card photograph for an actor. It is usually 8 x 10 black and white low cost reproductions, or “litho” with the actors name printed on or below the photography. Usually the photo is limited to an actors head or head and shoulders. Three Quarter body shots go in and out of popularity, most of the time in the commercial as opposed to theatrical market.
HIATUS - Time during which a TV series is not in production
HIGH HAT- High Hats are the name given to low to the ground camera mounts, both for the illusion of height the position can give to those being photographed, and because in the early days of film they stood at the same height as a “high formal hat” placed on the ground.
HOLD FOR PLANE - “Hold for plane” is said to be the most expensive words on an outdoor location set. Simply put it means to wait to film until after the noise from an airplane has passed and is over.
HOLDING - The designated area to which the Extra Performers (Background Actors) report and stay while waiting to go on set.
HOLDING FEE - a holding fee is a fee paid to talent to keep them available until the start of a project, until shooting resumes or until a project airs.
HOLLYWOOD REPORTER- a daily Monday to Friday magazine format newspaper covering the entertainment industry from a Los Angeles perspective. It is all-inclusive as a theatrical and entertainment news publication. The publication includes weekly production charts that provide leads for actors and other professionals in seeking work or contracts with projects. The advertising is sometimes as impressive as the actual news content. Major competitor is Daily Variety. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/
HONEY WAGON - A towed vehicle containing one or more dressing rooms, as well as crew bathrooms. On larger shoots this also refers to the vehicle containing portable toilets. The name was given, so the story goes, because in the days prior to air conditioning and more efficient chemicals, honey was used to cove r the smell of the portable facilities, of sweaty wardrobe and of body odor associated with the often-cramped trailers or mobile homes.
HOT SET – A set where items have been positioned in a way where any movement or change could interfere with the continuity or realism of the image. Hot Sets are posted so that all who work on or near them know not to work on or disturb the set between shots or shooting days.
IATSE - International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees; the union that represents most off-camera crewmembers. http://www.IATSE.com/directory.shtml
ICM – International Creative Management. A major entertainment packaging company for talent in all areas of media and entertainment. Launched as an alternative to traditional and often restrictive agencies, ICM provides a full package of services to its clients, including investment and production financing.
IMPROVISATION- The presentation of unscripted material. This technique is becoming increasingly common for auditions and in performance due to changes made possible by the new technologies and a shift in the industry from writer driven to camera driven production decisions. Improvisation does not have to be comedic or follow any of the “theater game” formats. Its value lies in creating believable characters, situations, environments and conflicts in a natural fashion.
INDUSTRIAL - Non-broadcast film or video, usually of an educational nature. Industrial may also apply to a fixed continuous loop presentation used to inform or advertise services in the context of a hotel or other property. Employee training or orientation presentations are also examples of industrial videos or films.
INFO-TAINMENT- is a term coined to refer to entertainment product that is used primarily to promote a commercial event, property or product. The first infotainment on a large network scale may have been a television adventure crafted to promote the opening of a Las Vegas Strip Hotel Resort, the Treasure Island. The event, produced by hotel owner Steve Wynn, had major creative talent behind it, name actors, a plot and full television film adventure production values. It was, however, primarily a vehicle to make audiences aware of the new hotel-resort and draw audiences to Las Vegas. By being a full-scale film, the two-hour NBC-TV Sunday night event was able to get around prohibitions on advertising gambling in many states. Today “infotainment” has been expanded to include a wide range of exercise, diet, get-rich-quick late night paid programming. Actors are compensated for their work, but beware the nonunion work as it can result in heavy exposure with no additional compensation, and actually get in the way of future work opportunities.
INSERTS - Shots, usually close-ups of hands or close business, inserted into previously shot footage.
INT. (Interior) - A scene shot indoors. Also see Exterior.
"IN" TIME - The actual call time or start time; also, return time from a break.
JURIED COMPETITION - A process for reviewing material, presentations, creative ideas or performances whereby a panel of neutral parties makes an evaluation of the value and quality of the work, usually in either an advisory role or in a trophy or cash prize competition.
JURISDICTION CLAUSE - The element in a contract or agreement that specifies which specific country, state, county or city will be used as a basis for interpretation of law in enforcement of the agreement.
KEY GRIP – Person responsible for rigging, leveling and moving equipment; reports to DP.
LA CASTING- A private company that has made great inroads in on-line casting, particularly in the national commercials category. The company holds information on all actors currently represented by LA based talent agents, including photos, which it provides free to producers, directors, ad agencies and casting directors. For fee actors are encouraged to update their own information, post video and audio and links to the talent’s own web sites. The system submits and automatically sets up casting session times for agents via –mail. http://www.lacasting.com/la_home.html
LASER- Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation. The basis for information transfer or transmission using light beams. Most computer based media, including CD’s, use laser technology. Yes, high intensity radiation can be used as a weapon, but there is no potential of being zapped out of existence by your CD player.
LASERDISC- a flat disc resembling a phonograph album, designed to play a pre-recorded video with a high standard of line or image resolution. While higher in resolution than DVD, the size of the disc, cost of manufacturing, lack of easy interface with laptop or portable computers, and limitations on both amount of programming per side and amount of data recorded, have relegated this format to professional storage media rather than consumer use.
LIABILITY INSURANCE- Insurance protecting the production company against negligent acts by those hired to do certain professional tasks, usually high-risk tasks. The most common application involves driving vehicles.
LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY (LLC) – Combines the limited liability of a corporation with the lack of formalities found in a partnership.
LIMITED MANAGEMENT- a manager, business manager or other arrangement where there may be some direct consulting concerning the investment or management of funds. Limited management agreements free of the “consultant” manager of most liability, putting legal and financial responsibility on the talent being managed.
LIMITED PARTNERSHIP – Most common way of arranging finances for a show, also can be used in financing film productions.
LINE PRODUCER – Has the task of weekly show production in television.
LINK- One of two major on-line submission services in the United States and Canada, “The Link” is the primary service used by motion picture and television production companies, and to a lesser extent commercial and theater producers, to transmit casting information to talent professionals. Run by the Breakdown Services, The Link is described on their web site as “a service provided to talent representatives in partnership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Link combines various databases of actors with the Breakdowns. It gives talent representatives the ability to submit their clients’ pictures and resumes to casting directors over the Internet for the specific roles mentioned in the Breakdowns. In Los Angeles, the database of pictures and resumes is based on the Academy Players Directory. In New York, the database is Players’ Guide. In Canada, the database is all union actors in the Union of British Columbia Performers. (www.submitlink.com)
Casting directors can access the leading databases of actors through our website by obtaining a password from Breakdown Services. This password will give the casting director access to the Academy Players Directory (www.playersdirectory.com), Players’ Guide (www.playersguideny.com), and UBCP Talent On-line (www.ubcptalentonline.com).
LINE PRODUCER - The producer responsible for keeping the director on time and budget; generally the most visible producer actually on the set. The Director in film is responsible for the creative vision of the product. This varies with televisions and commercials between producers, networks, clients and other interest. In Theater the creative vision may be the producers’ or directors, but is most often that of the writer.
LIP-SINC – indicates making a voice fit the movements of the on screen talents mouth, or visa versa where the actor makes their movements’ fit pre-recorded sound tracks or lines.
LLC - LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY- a form of business organization designed to offer some of the protection of a corporation while allowing the flexibility and some of the informality of a partnership. This structure is preferred by management and in many cases talent, for single project or small groups of projects.
LONG SHOT (LS) - A camera shot that captures the performer's full body.
LOOPING - An in-studio technique used to fix dialogue already performed during principal photography by matching voice to picture. See also ADR, which is often referred to as “looping” because ADR work is done on the same stage or at the same facility as looping.
MANAGER- see Personal Manager, Business Manager and Total Management.
MARK - The exact position(s) given to an actor on a set to insure that he/she is in the proper light and camera angle; generally marked on the ground with tape or chalk.
MARKER - A verbal cue that the take has been identified on camera both verbally and with the slate board.
MASTER SHOT - A camera shot that includes the principal actors and relevant background activity; generally used as a reference shot to record the scene from beginning to end before shooting close-ups, over-the-shoulders, etc.
MATCHING ACTIONS - The requirement that the actor match the same physical movements in a scene from take to take-in order to preserve the visual continuity. A MATCH SHOT is when the actions in two shots are matched so as, when edited, the action appears to be natural and part of one continuous flow.
MEAL PENALTY - A fee paid by the producer for the failure to provide meals or meal breaks as specified by the contract.
MINI-DISC - a 2.5-inch optical disc encased in a sleeve for use in portable audio players and recorders. Used in file d audio work, however MP3 and other formats are making the disc less popular.
MINISERIES - a “long form” dramatic presentation that airs in multiple parts, usually in the same calendar week.
MIXER - Chief of the sound crew; responsible for the quality of the sound recording on a shoot.
MOBISODE- a video or computer generated product produced or adapted for use on cellular phones, video phones, iPods, MPEG and other portable digital electronic viewing devices. The first commercial mobisode drama was a spin off of ABC TV’s “Lost”. Music videos, segments or excerpts from film and television products proceeded product produced specifically for new digital media.
MODIFICATION CLAUSE - A protective clause in an agreement or contract stating that once the document is signed, any alteration must also be signed by all parties responsible. Artist and management both use this to protect the creative, financial and intellectual property of a project, business or artistic work.
MONEY LINE - The advertisers slogan or the key line in a theatrical script, upon which actors’ interpretation is not only key but also said to influence the casting decisions of the advertiser, producer, director or decision maker. The way a specific key line in any script is interpreted and presented to best communicate the intended message in a memorable fashion.
MOS (Mitt Out Sound/Motion Only Shot/ With Out Sound) - Any shot without dialogue or sound recording. “Mitt” is German for “with”. When the predominantly German and/or Yiddish-speaking immigrants who helped launch the motion picture industry gave commands, the word remained. Many spoke fluent English, but still used that word in place of with in every day conversation.
M.O.W. - Movie of the week often extended to include “long form” or “miniseries” formats as well.
MP3 - M-Peg 3 is a computer based digital audio storage program and format. Other formats including M-Peg 4 are in use or development on an ongoing basis. His format allows for the transmission over long distances of high quality audio, including but not limited to the recording of professional audio for music, video and film applications.
MS - is short for MEDIUM SHOT, or a shot where most of the talent body can be seen. This can also mean the shot between a long shot and a close up of any object, or a shot where only portions of the bodies of a group of people are seen.
NATAS – National Association of Television Arts and Sciences.
NEW MEDIA- an umbrella term for all of the new technologies which have evolved over the past ten to fifteen years (including the cable industry as we know it, the Internet, CD-ROMs and all forms of broadband transmission), often falls outside of or at the fringe of union contracts with minimal compensation for the use of talent.
ND MEAL (NON DEDUCTABLE MEAL) - A 15 minute meal break provided to actors by the production company to bring actors in sync with crew break time. It must be completed within 2 hours of performers call time.
NOTES – Critique of a performance, usually done live as part of a clean-up process.
NTSE - National Television Standards Committee. North American television standards, named for the committee that adopted it in 1948, updated for color in 1948. The standard uses 525 scanning lines, though not all of them are ‘active’ (visible) on the screen.
NIGHT PREMIUM - A surcharge for certain work performed after 8 p.m.
NOVELLA - a method of presenting novel, or novel-like stories on a continuing storyline basis over weeks or programming. The difference between a Novella and a Soap Opera, is that Novella’s, like books, have beginnings, middle s and a specific ending.
OFF-CAMERA (OC or OS) - Dialogue delivered without being on screen.
OFFERINGS – Opportunities to invest in a show.
OPEN CALL – A set time for auditions.
OPERATING BUDGET – How much it will cost to run a stage show each week.
OPERATOR - the person who runs something, usually an assistant cameraman running a camera dolly or crane. The person who runs the camera on the actual shot, after the shot has been established and set up by the Director of Photography (DP) or Camera Operator (CO).
OPTION - is a contact where the production company has the right to use an actor during a specialized period of time, or to have first right of refusal on a renewal of contract or on new projects.
OPTION AGREEMENT – Producer buys the right for a specific length of time, to produce an author’s work.
OS - is short for Off Screen in the script, indicating voice or sound occurs outside the field of vision of the camera.
OSCARS - The Academy Awards, from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science.
OUTGRADING- is when an actor does not appear as a principal in the final produced version of a commercial. When an actor is “out graded” they are not entitled to additional use fees or residuals.
OUT OF FRAME - An actor outside the camera range.
OUT TAKE- a scene or segment of film that is rejected for reasons of performance or technical standards. Those that are comic when viewed may be reserved as “bloopers” or “post real b-roll”
"OUT" TIME - The actual time when you are released after you have changed out of wardrobe and make-up.
OVERDUBBING - In studio singing or voice work, the process of laying one soundtrack over another.
OVERSCAN – The actual image captured on the master film or tape. This image is greater and shows more then will be seen in the “cropped” or “scanned” image in the final product.
OVER-THE-SHOULDER - A shot over the shoulder of one actor, focusing entirely on the face and upper torso of the other actor in a scene; generally shot in pairs so both actors expressions can later be edited together.
OVERTIME (OT) - Work extending beyond the contractual workday.
P.A. - Production Assistant. The grunt workers and apprentices of the industry, PA’s assist the producers, director, assistant directors and crew as needed. They work in all aspects of the industry, from the office to locations, studios to assisting location mangers. The PA also refers to the “Performers Alliance”, a political group within the Screen Actors Guild in the 1990’s.
PAL- Phase Alternation by Line. A common composite color transmission system used in most of Europe, Africa and elsewhere. Competes with NTSC, the North American Video Standard.
PAN - A camera shot which sweeps from side-to-side.
PARTNERSHIP - Two or more people agree to combine resources into a business. Limited Partnerships limit the scope of the business agreement and the responsibilities of those involved.
PAYMASTER - An independent talent payment service acting as the employer of record. This title may also apply to the individual with whom the responsibility of an accurate and on time payroll is placed.
PENSION & HEALTH PAYMENT - An additional amount of money paid by the employer to cover employee benefits under union contract
PER DIEM - Fee paid by producer on location shoots to compensate performer for expenditures for meals not provided by the producer.
PERFORMANCE CAPTURE – The use of an actor to create the actions or to act our movements and scenes which are then digitized and used as the basis of a “computer generated” character or object. Also known as “Movement Capture” or “Motion Capture”. Actors are championing the term “performance capture” because it implies an actor’s creative control over character through movement and performance. Producers go for the more technical “motion capture” because it implies that the real art and creation is not in the movements caught on the computer, but in the work done by technicians on characters who never existed in the “real world.” http://www.jerrygelb.com/movies/PerfCapsm.mov
PRE-PRODUCTION - The phase of filmmaking before shooting begins; includes writing, scouting locations, budgeting, and casting, hiring crews, ordering equipment and creating a shooting schedule.
PERSONAL MANAGER - A manager who assists artist or projects by suggesting or mandating specifics in image, training and marketing. Managers also may secure employment for artist, except where prohibited by state law. A William Morris Agency talent agent described personal managers as ‘human day-timers’ who ‘keep on top of their artists’ schedules, images and practices’.
PHOTO DOUBLE - An actor cast to perform on camera in place of another.
PICK UP - Starting a scene from a place other than the beginning.
PICTURE'S UP! - Warning that the sequence of cues to shoot a scene is about to begin.
PILOT- a film or video project designed to sell a television series for further production. PILOT SEASON, while in readily year round, traditionally held auditions in the fall and later winter and shot or lensed the actual programs in the early Spring for display at programming conventions or “shopping around” to the networks.
PINKS - usually the color paper used for the first set of revisions of a shooting script.
PITCH - Sometimes called ‘pitching ideas’ or ‘concept pitch’, in television and film the pitch involves telling the highpoint of the story line and focusing on its selling points to find financing or distribution for a project. Part of the marketing process, the pitch usually involves those who have the original idea and whatever creative team is assembled early on.
PIXEL - A single element of digital projection, or the tiniest point of a TV, scanner or print image.
PLAYERS GUIDE - A directory of talent similar to the Academy Players Directory, only specializing in east coast talent based out of or near New York City. This publication is a partnership between the Spotlight (a directory of United Kingdom Talent) and the Breakdown Services. http://www.playersguideny.com
POLLSTAR - A trade magazine used to promote and provide tour information for the live and recording artist industries. The magazine provides tour schedules, concert grosses and additional information about major artist, performers and groups.
POST-PRODUCTION - The phase of filmmaking that begins after the film has been shot. Includes scoring, sound and picture editing, titling, dubbing, and releasing.
POV SHOT - Point-of-View shot; camera angle from the perspective of one actor.
POWER OF ATTORNEY- a legal document allowing someone to act as a manager, agent, attorney or decision maker for another person. This is most often used to allow manager, agents or attorneys to handle funds directly and to sign agreements for talent.
PRESS AGENT- The person or company hired to promote an artists career, specific product or business. Press Agents are also utilized to provide damage control or protect an artist right to privacy.
PRESS JUNKET- the media interview and photo opportunity events arranged by Press Agents to promote and artist, project or company. Usually these involve travel to multiple markets or meetings in locations attractive for press participation.
PRESS KITS- a marketing tool assembled for presentation to members of the media for purposes of promotion of an artist, project or company. In the recording industry such kits usually contain at least two black and white glossy photos, a color ‘album cover’ glossy photo, a biography, select reviews, a sample (CD, video, CD-ROM, DVD, or demo tape) and other pertinent content. DVD’s and DVD-ROMs are rapidly becoming the currency of choice for press kit promotion, containing audio, video, print and other resources easily accessible by the media on their computers.
PRINCIPAL - A performer with lines.
"PRINT!" - A call from the director at the end of a take that that particular take is good enough be printed.
PROCESS STAGE - the soundstage where special effects are filmed against a blue or green screen. In the pre-computer age a process stage would be where projections occurred behind the action to show moving backgrounds or special sequences without endangering the actors.
PRODUCER – The person who assembles all of the business and creative elements of a production, sometimes the primary source of funds or the individual who assembles the funds needed to produce a play, film, television, or music project. The Line Producer is the person responsible for the day-to-day decision-making on a production. As creative or decision-making powers are enhanced writers or other talent may grow into the title producer, either by merit or contractual negotiation. Beware the title ‘producer’ as in today’s marketplace the use of the title has become epidemic in scale including many who have minimal contribution to the project.
PRODUCTION COMPANY - The company actually making the film or television show.
PRODUCTION DESIGNER – Responsible for designing everything you see on film that does not move (meaning the actors).
PROJECT- The product to be marketed, bought and sold is most often described as the project.
PROMOTIONAL AND TOUR SUPPORT - Funds negotiated from the motion picture, television, recording or distribution company to assist in paying for promotional tours, events or tools.
PROPS - Any objects used by actors in a scene.
PSA - Public Service Announcement.
PUBLICITY – Unpaid advertising.
PUBLICIST – Responsible for publicizing actors, directors, writers and film or theater projects on a per project or long-term basis (see Press Agent).
PUNCH-UP - Taking a script and working on improving it or to make it more marketable is referred to as punching-up a script.
QUICK CHANGE- In theater and in live television talent is sometimes required to change clothing or costume rapidly. These changes are referred to a quick changes.
QUIET LIGHT- a light on the soundstage that when lit means that there should be ‘quiet on the set”. In live broadcasting a red light reading “on air” or “recording” is lit outside of the broadcast area and in the studio when the facility is live or tape is rolling.
RECURRING- a role in which an actor will appear more than once on episodic television or in a series of film portraying the same role. While stars and series regulars are recurring roles, the term recurring applies to guest stars and featured players only.
REGULAR- a star or co-star in episodic television, or a member of an ensemble seen in almost very episode. SERIES REGULAR may also be used.
RELEASE PRINT- Release print refers to the actual film released to theaters or other distribution channels, read for commercial projection or duplication.
RECOUPMENT – The point from which profits flow.
RESIDUAL - The fee paid to performers for rebroadcast of a commercial, film or TV program. With commercials these are referred to as “use fees”. In the recording industry similar forms of compensation are referred to as “royalties”.
RESOLUTION - Resolution refers to the amount of detail in a displayed image. It is usually referred to in terms of amount of pixels (picture elements) for horizontal and vertical. Scans.
RESUME - List of credits, usually attached to an 8x10 or composite. While printing or glue may be used, it is usually recommended that staples on all four corners are the best method of attachment to assure that photo and resume remain together in an agent or casting director’s files.
RETAKES- having to shoot the same scenes again, usually because of a technical difficulty or cast change.
REVERSE SHOT- Changing the camera perspective to the complete opposite or reverse of where it was before. Often used in POV or point of view shots.
REWRITE - Changes in the script, often using color-coded pages to indicate most current version.
RF- Radio Frequency, of the frequency radios transmit on. RF on a set is usually used to refer to interference with radios or recording equipment caused by the use radio frequencies for outside the production, such as passing planes, television transmitters and cordless telephones.
RIDER- any additional requirements added to a contract. In the recording and live music industries riders may include the availability of a humidifier, specific food or beverage needs, certain sound or lighting requirements, specific transportation, specific housing accommodations, the availability of comp (complimentary or free) tickets and so on. Tech and Hospitality are two common forms of riders.
RIGHT-TO-WORK-STATES - Those states that do not honor certain union provisions. Referred to as “right to work for less” or “right to fire” states by union activist, these states may allow work to be performed on union worksites without requiring the worker to join a union.
ROAD (THE) – Touring with a show.
ROLLING! - The verbal cue for the camera film and audiotape to start rolling. In the digital age the call “rolling” indicates that the camera is in use and capturing images and/or sound. With video “SPEED” is usually substituted, to let the director know that the image will be captured on the tape. Most modern equipment is almost instantaneously at “speed” but the tradition of marking the sound and video with “speed” continues to assist in the performance and editing functions.
ROOM TONE - A sound recording (sometimes made upon completion of a scene) to record existing noise at the location. Also called "wild track”, “ambient sound” or “cloud noise”.
ROUGH CUT- is the editors’ first version of the final product, usually presented to show the editors vision of the film or project. Such additional sweetening as soundtrack, sound effects, Folly work and other special effects are usually not included in a rough cut.
ROYALTY - A percentage of the sale of an artist product paid to the artist by the distributor of the product. This is the major source of income for most recording artists. It is similar to residuals in film and use fees in commercial television.
ROYALTY POOL - To speed up recoupment of funds invested, in a profitable week 40% is set-aside for investors in a special account labeled the royalty pool.
SAG - Screen Actors Guild. The primary union for performers in motion picture and television productions. Shares jurisdiction with the American Federation of Radio and Television Artist on in joint contracts including ‘theatrical” and “commercial”. SAG is a national union, with a structure that centers on elected officers and a national board of directors. Local branches assist in providing services to local members and recommending any local contracts or variations from national contracts to the national board. All funds are distributed through the national office, with general budgets and appropriate specific request administered by the elected treasurer and voted on by the National Board of Directors. Today the Guild represents a wide range of “on camera” and “voice over” talent (on film, on video and digital media), including actors, background extras, dancers, singers, stunt performers, puppeteers, “foley” and sound effects workers. Formed as a performers union for the motion picture industry, as video evolved as a production format, organization of the video media extended Guild contracts jointly with sister union AFTRA to actors and performers on video and in interactive projects. http://www.sag.org
SAG ELIGIBLE - means an actor has fulfilled the requirements to join the Screen Actors Guild. This term, while in regular use, is considered to be a violation of copywriter and trademark by SAG, and therefore discouraged from use on résumé’s or with agents.
SCALE - Minimum payment for services under union contracts. Representing the negotiated minimum fair compensation for professional labor, “scale” is a floor and not a ceiling. Agents and talent are free to negotiate for additional compensation.
SCANNING - scanning refers to capturing or presenting an image with horizontal and/or vertical movement of light or electronic capture. Scan resolution determines the detail and qualities of an image.
SCENIC DESIGNER – Creates the physical look of a show.
SCRIPT - The written form of a screenplay, teleplay, radio or stage play.
SCRIPT SUPERVISOR - The crewmember assigned to record all changes or actions as the production proceeds. The Script Supervisor is part secretary, part clerk, part artist and part craftsperson. Keeping shots coordinated for continuity, or the logical uninterrupted positioning of props, costumes and other items in shot order, is an important part of the job for the Script Supervisor. The Script Notes are used during the filming and editing process to keep track of takes, camera lenses and other technical usage, reel or spool numbers and everything else needed for the Director and Editor to assemble the completed motion picture. Outside the US this position may also be referred to as Continuity Supervisor.
SDI - State Disability Insurance.
SECOND ASSISTANT DIRECTOR - Often two or three on a set, they handle checking in the talent, insuring proper paperwork is filed, distribute script revisions. Actors check in with the 2nd A.D. upon arrival on the set. The Assistant Directors carry the implied authority of the director in all areas of production, depending on specific production protocols. On larger productions there may be multiple second assistant directors, one of whom will be responsible for supervising PA’s or directly instructing background talent before, during and after the shot.
SECOND TEAM! - The verbal cue for the stand-ins to come to the set and be ready to stand in.
SECOND UNIT – A complete second production unit, including Second Unit Director, Cinematographer and crew, often used to capture exteriors or to assist in keeping the overall production on schedule by allowing the filming of two scenes or shots at the same time in differing geographic locations.
SEGUE - In film or tape editing, a transition from one shot to another. Also used in music and in music scoring.
SELF MANAGEMENT- Artists handle all aspects of their own career.
SERVICE MARK - Denotes origin of service.
SESAC - The Society of European Stage Authors and Composers, a performing arts organization-representing artist internationally. A second organization has formed in America using the same name, but applying to American Music as well as music around the world. It describes itself, as “Performing rights organizations, such as SESAC, are businesses designed to represent songwriters and publishers and their right to be compensated for having their music performed in public By securing a license from SESAC, for example, music users (i.e., television and radio stations, auditoriums, restaurants, hotels, theme parks, malls, funeral homes, etc.) can legally play any song in the SESAC repertory. Without a license from a performing rights organization, music users are in danger of copyright infringement." http://www.sesac.com. The same organization has an interactive site at .net.
SET - The immediate location where the scene is being filmed.
SET-UP - Each time the camera changes position.
SFX - Sound effects.
SHOWFAX- a talent paid service for delivery of scripts and portions of scripts used for audition (sides) originally over fax lines, but not primarily by computer. Prior to Showfax talent had to go to their agent’s office or to the casting directors office to pick up scripts in advance of the audition. From the Breakdown Service web site, the service “provides actors with Sides, which are the portion of a script that an actor will need to prepare to read for a part at an audition.” If the casting director or agents office is convenient, sides are still available free of cost for most projects from the agent or casting director. (www.showfax.com)
SHOW RUNNER – Same as an executive producer, referring to the producer who is actively involved in the project from beginning to end. Usually the SR Executive Producer is creatively responsible, with writers, directors and others reporting to them. It is a high-level “middle management” position in that the network, stars and financial backers also have a say in production decisions. In many ways, given current high budget lines for television, the SR produces the equivalent of ten to fourteen “movies” a year and is responsible for their success or failure. The term will not show up in credits, but with the long list of producers know that one of them is the Show Runner.
SIDES - Pages or scenes from a script, used in auditions or (if on a film set) those scenes being shot that day.
SIGNATORY - An employer who has agreed to produce under the terms of a union contract.
SINGLE CARD- indicates production talent who are established enough to have an agent negotiate having their name on the screen on it’s own, with no other name listed at the same time. In the Opening Credits the list is usually limited to the producers, director, stars and perhaps author or casting director. In the final credits a “single card credit” would have the actor or production professionals name on screen prior to the SCROLL.
SIMULCAST- Simulcast refers to transmission of an enhanced audio or video at the same time as it is transmitted on a lower or lesser standard. For talent radio simulcast may mean additional compensation, and in some cases if an image is transmitted at the same time over multiple networks or transmitters, additional compensation may be possible.
SIT-COM – Situation comedy format on TV, usually in a half hour format, often filmed before an audience, with rehearsal to filming taking place once a week.
SLATE - A small chalkboard and clapper device, often electronic, used to mark and identify shots on film for editing; also the process of verbal identification by a performer in a taped audition (e.g., "Slate your name!").
SOAP OPERA- A continuing storyline dramatic form in which both story and complications of the story are exaggerated and expanded to cover a long period of weeks or years. Differs from Novella’s in that soap operas have not specific beginning, middle or end to the ongoing drama. The term comes from the days of radio drama and later the early days of television, when this predominantly female-targeted commercial programming was sponsored exclusively by the manufacturers of soap and household cleaning products.
SOLE PROPRIETORSHIP- A form of business where the owner is the boss and open to unlimited liability. The most common form of business organization, implied for artist who do not select another form of self-business structure, this is also the most vulnerable, because all assets, personal and business, are subject to collections or legal ramifications.
SPEED! - A verbal cue that the audiotape is up to speed for recording.
SPIKING THE LENS - Looking directing into the lens during a scene; since it destroys the illusion of realism, actors should never spike the lens unless specifically directed to do so for specific effect.
SSDC – Society for Stage Directors & Choreographers.
STEP SHEET – Skeletal list of scenes.
STAFF WRITER – An entry level writing position on a sit-com.
STAGE MANAGER (TV) – Onstage manager f the actors and their performance cues, liaison between cast and crew.
STAGE RIGHT - To the performer's right side, to the audience's left side. Likewise, STAGE LEFT is to the performer's left, the audience's right. Stage directions are for actors, not audiences; therefore they are always given from the actor's point of view to the audience.
STANDARD UNION CONTRACT - The standard format/contract approved by the Unions and offered to performers prior to the job.
STANDARDS & PRACTICES - The network TV censorship departments.
STAND-INS - Extra Performers used as substitutes for featured players, for the purpose of setting lights and rehearsing camera moves; also known as the second team. Stand-ins are often but should not to be confused with body doubles, stunt doubles or camera doubles, all of which appear in some way or another on film or tape.
"STICKS" - Slate or clapboard. The board itself, the writing and sometimes digital visual images on the slates are used to mark the shot and scene designation for later use in editing, to track film or video tape location and allow for organization in an industry where content is often shot out of chronological order. The clap or “stick” is used to produce a noise to synchronize sound to the visual image. A second definition would include any tripod or method of mountain and keeping a camera stable while filming.
STOP DATE- the date a production promised to be the final date for which an actor is on hold for a production, and therefore the date after when the actor can book other work.
STORY BOARD- a method of planning out camera angles and shots, usually represented in drawings, photographs or clipping presented with the dialogue or script scene description below each “frame”, comic book style. Video story boarding has also become popular, in conjunction with laptop computers and portable video or DVD playback. The classic examples of story boarding for film can be found in the works of Alfred Hitchcock.
STORY OUTLINE – A scene-by-scene narrative.
STUDIO FLOOR – Performance area.
STUNT PERSON – Doubles for the actors in situations beyond the actor’s physical ability or reasonable level of risk.
STRIKE- To take down or take apart a set and leave an area as it was prior to filming or a stage clean and ready for the next set. Another meaning of the word ‘strike’ is a job action whereby members of a union withhold their services in an organized working conditions and benefits dispute.
STUDIO - A building, recording room or sound stage that accommodates film or TV production.
STUNT COORDINATOR - The person in charge of designing and supervising the performance of stunts and hazardous activities.
STUNT DOUBLE - A stunt person who performs stunts for a principal.
STUNTPERSON - A specially trained performer who actually performs stunts. Also STUNT MAN, STUNT WOMAN, STUNT PLAYER and STUNT PROFESSIONAL.
SUBMISSION - An agent's suggestion to a casting director for a role in a certain production.
SUBSIDIARY RIGHTS – A share of an author’s profits from film, TV, and fees paid for amateur productions.
SW - A notation on a call sheet that an actor is starting on that day and working on that day.
SWF - A notation on a call sheet that an actor is starting, working, and finished on that day.
SWEETENING - In singing/recording, the process of adding additional voices to previously recorded work.
SYNC LICENSE - A license required when music is used to accompany film, video, on-screen images or in commercial settings.
SYNDICATION - Selling TV programs to individual stations rather than to networks.
SYNTHESPIANS – Computer generated actors used to replace live action, create life like animation or allow for major physical morphing and alterations. See also Motion Capture, Performance Capture and Special Effects. Synthespians may involve the use of live actors or voice artist or, in the very near future, may be done by computer artist using existing databases. Synthespian technology will make possible the creation of new works using artist who have passed away, or the merging of characteristics of two separate actors or artists.
TAFT-HARTLEY - A federal statute that allows 30 days after first employment before being required to join a Union.
TAKE - The clapboard indication of a shot "taken" or printed. A take is what is captured on film or video between “speed” or “action” and “cut”. It can also mean on actor or creative professionals view of how a scene or segment should be done.
"TAKE 5" - The announcement of periodic five minute breaks.
TALENT SCOUT- a term, usually made-up for business cards, which could mean anything from an employee of an agent or casting company to someone selling products or services to actors, models and wanna-bes.
Do not assume they are legitimate or not-legitimate. Find our what is really behind the title and business card and move forward accordingly.
TELEPROMPTER - The brand name of a device that enables a broadcaster to read a script while looking into the camera lens.
THEATRICAL - TV shows or feature film work, as opposed to commercials or industrials. The term comes from the days when primary exhibition was in “movie” theaters and should not be confused with “legitimate” or “legit” theater, which refers to the live staging of plays or theatrical entertainment.
THREE BELLS! - An audible warning for QUIET because a scene is about to be filmed. This warning is heard on soundstages or at major studio complexes.
THREE DAY - a three-day contract in television.
TIGHT SHOT (Go in Tight) - Framing of a shot with little or no space around the central figure(s) of feature(s); usually a close-up.
TILT - The up and down movement of a camera.
TIME-AND-A-HALF - Overtime payment of 1 1/2 times the hourly rate.
TIME CODE - Box insert at the bottom of a screen indicating time in hundredths of a second.
TOP OF SHOW - The top salary other than the stars can expect to make on a given television production, regardless of role or experience.
TOTAL MANAGEMENT- Another name for personal manager, responsible for the entire packaging of an artist or project.
TRACKING SHOT - A shot taken while the camera is moving, either on a dolly or a mounted on a moving vehicle.
TRADEMARK - A legal protection indicating the origin of goods or images. Similar to a copywrite, but not necessarily tied to a specific work.
TRADES - Short for "trade papers" - The newspapers and periodicals such as the Hollywood Reporter and Variety that specifically feature information on the entertainment industry.
TRAVEL TIME- the time required to go to and from a set. There are limits set contractually to travel time. When these limits are exceeded, talent is paid additional for the time they spend traveling.
TREATMENT – A synopsis with main plot points.
TURNAROUND - (a) The number of hours between dismissal one day and call time the next day. (b) To shoot a scene from another direction. Also referred to as “REST PERIOD”.
TWO-SHOT - A camera framing two persons.
UNDERSCAN – The opposite of over scan, this image is the tightest possible, minimum image seen on the worst possible home receiver or theater projection. All directors make sure that any essential image or cue is contained within the under scan area.
UNDERSTUDY - A performer hired to do a role only if the featured player is unable to perform; used primarily in live theatre.
UPGRADE - The promotion of an extra performer in a scene to the category of principal performer.
UPM - Unit Production Manager - Oversees the crews and is handles the scheduling and all the technical responsibilities of the production.
UP STAGE - (a) The area located at the back of the stage. Down Stage is the area in front of the performer. (b) To draw attention to oneself at the expense of a fellow performer.
VARIETY - A weekly newspaper version of Variety, often called the “new bible” or “ongoing history” of the Entertainment Industry. Variety provides production updates that can be used as employment or contract leads by actors and other professionals in the entertainment industry. It tracks trends, personnel shifts and other entertainment business news. Variety is well known for “industry-speak”, the often-colorful shorthand or abbreviation of industry concepts both in headlines and within the body copy. Daily Variety is the Monday to Friday daily version published in Los Angeles. Major competitor: Hollywood Reporter. http://www.variety.com/
VERBAL - Primary meaning is words and the use of words or symbols. Alternative meaning, also known as “vocal,” is the use of the voice, which may include inflection, accent and other tools, to communicate a thought, idea or action.
VHS - Video Home System. The most common home application for video reproduction. Used in the industry to distribute demonstrations or to see how the final product will look in its lowest audio and video quality (240 lines) distribution application. S-VHS, or Super VHS, is an improved and only partially compatible form of recording with a higher picture quality (400 lines). S-VHS is used for time shifting by local television stations and for fast transfer of demonstration “dailies” to production offices from remote locations.
VISUAL - What is seen. The use of the image to communicate a location, time, thought or idea. This may include facial expressions, body language, cinema or graphic shorthand (such a crashing waves or a clock face), location and camera or special effects related to or used in necessary communication.
V.O. - Voice over. An off-camera voice coming either from an actor not in the frame, or from a secondary source such as a speakerphone or answering machine.
VOUCHER - Time slip with all pertinent information needed for getting paid properly.
VLA – Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.
W - A notation on the call sheet indicating that an actor is working that day.
WAIVERS - Union-approved permission for deviation from the terms of a contract.
WALKAWAY - A meal break in which all cast and crew are on their own to get lunch.
WALKEY - “Walkie Talkies” is the old technology term that remains with modern communications technologies used to communicate on the set. Everyone from the director to the production assistants, department supervisors and drivers use radio or cellular channels to communicate with each other in coordinating the many details of production locations, studios and sets.
WARDROBE - The clothing a performer wears on camera.
WARDROBE ALLOWANCE - A maintenance fee paid to on-camera talent for the use (and dry cleaning) of talent's own clothing.
WARDROBE FITTING - A session held prior to production to prepare a performer's costumes.
WEATHER PERMIT CALL - Due to weather conditions, the production company has the option to release an actor four hours after the call time (if the camera has not started to roll) with a reduced rate of pay for the day.
WGA – Writers Guild of America – a trade association of writers for film, television and theater. http://www.wga.org
WHITES - the original pages of the shutting script, prior to dialogue and other alterations made in the process of a shoot.
WILD LINES, like WILD SOUND, are adlibbed and used to assist in creating a natural background ambiance for a scene.
WILLIAM MORRIS AGENCY - The grandfather of American talent agencies, still one of the largest and most influential in the world.
W/N - Will Notify. A notation on a call sheet that tells the actor that he/she will probably work that day but the specific time has not yet been decided.
WORK CALL - the time, place, details of and who performers are asked to report to, usually issued for the next day and considered a contracted shoot.
WORK LINES - dialogue or sounds said into a microphone for use as possible editions later in the production process.
WORK PRINT - The first full print of the video and sound. The work cut is used when there are additional effects, sound, dialogue or editing to be done, or when differing version of a project are needed.
WRANGLER - handler of animals, insects or other living creatures used in a shot. Also the employee who makes sure actors knows how to interact with, work with or in the case of horses, camels and other large animals, and ride livestock of any kind.
WRAP - The completion of a day's filming or of an entire production.
X, Y, Z
ZOOM - A camera technique with a special lens to adjust the depth of a shot, accomplished without moving the camera.
Veteran Casting Director
“There is a big difference between a supplicant and an applicant. Actors will not be taken seriously until they approach casting directors as applicants.”
“We prefer local hires,” says casting director Joe Reich “but in a changing environment we also keep Hollywood actors in mind as a ‘just in case’. Many New York and Hollywood actors are willing to travel to locations and work as ‘local hires’. It’s a mobile industry. You have to be as ready, as prepared and as good as every competing actor no matter where you live,” is the advice Joe Reich, a single card casting director, meaning his name appears alone on the screen at the beginning of many of the projects he casts. Reich adds that when you audition the casting director already knows who they will bring with to do the job and how to reach them, should he not find the talent he or she wants during local auditions.
“Your photo must communicate your inner life, it must project through.”
“What I care about is your eyes, the emotion behind those eyes and that takes an old fashioned close-up head shot.”
The project casting director will usually work through a local casting director for day players and extras.
“If that person is not up for the job, then my impression of the local market will be a poor one and I will bring more talent with me.”
Reich’s almost 50-year career includes 21 years as a staff casting director for Universal Studios on such series as “McHale’s Navy”, “Quincy”, “Simon and Simon” and “Airwolf”. He has cast well over 2,000 hours of television, plus motion pictures, live theater and most recently interactive media. Along with Stephen Spielberg’s casting director Mike Fenton, he founded the Casting Society of America (CSA), a voluntary association created to set standards within the casting industry.
Cautioning first that every casting director’s expectations and requirements are different, Reich told a conservatory audience his feelings on the key tools of our industry.
“Do the best you can do. Remember that you may be the best apple, but if I am hiring oranges...”
“A casting director is middle management, the funnel, the gate. We take the grocery cart down the aisle and fill it up, to give them what they are looking for. I cannot get you the job. Only you can do that. If you impress me as being right for a role, you still have to sell the director and many times the producer before you are hired.”
“There is a big difference between a supplicant and an applicant. Actors will not be taken seriously until they approach casting directors as applicants. Remember, qualified professionals do not beg for a job. They apply and if they do not get the job, they move on and apply someplace else. If they do not get the job and another one opens, perhaps that application will be reviewed and they may get the next opportunity to come around.”
“The difference between a supplicant and an applicant usually is that an applicant says to themselves ‘I hope you like me but if you don’t it’s OK because somebody else will.”
“We have to interview and audition for jobs the same way you do. Even after all these years I usually read my resume before every interview to remind myself that I am right for the job!”
Being In Character:
“Do not come dressed as the character! I hate it. Wardrobe is not your job. If you have to have the hint of a costume to help you in your audition, do that, but not an entire costume.”
Remember that every casting director is different in what they prefer or expect. A few like to see you come in costume, most prefer you come in the suggestion of a costume, but “I want to see the actor, not a costume.”
On Your Marketing Tools:
“If you don’t think a lot of yourself, why should I?” explains Reich.
“Your photos, resumes, cover letters, tapes and ongoing study of your craft tell me whether you care enough to be a professional.”
“Don’t send me flowers, handwritten cover notes, your panties or lollipops. Gimmicks and un-professionalism get tossed, thrown away.”
“Your entire package, from envelope to cover letter, photograph to resume must be professional and tell me you know what is expected in marketing yourself within your craft. Computers have made letter perfect the rule, with attention to typesetting, spelling, grammar and the full presentation. That is a business reality and as actors you should be aware of it.”
“Your photo must communicate your inner life, it must project through.” says Reich, who adds that for headshots, actors should always play to the lens, not the photographer or any off camera object.
“You get three to five seconds to sell me, that’s all the time I have. Make it the best opportunity!”
“Too many actors present old photographs or pictures that do not represent them properly. If you walk in the door and do not look like your photo, then you are wasting both of our time.”
“Your photographer is your doctor, your agent, your personal salesman. It is as important to pick the right photographer as it is the right doctor or lawyer. Eyeball the photographers work, pick what is best for you. Pictures are the only representatives you have to get to me if you are not already known by me.”
“Composites are no longer in vogue. Another fad that is fading is the three-quarter shot. They are to be used only when they do actors justice. Remember that trends come and go, so be sure to keep up with what is happening on the streets of Los Angeles or New York. Who cares how you look when you are twisted or wearing your Sunday clothes, what I care about is your eyes, the emotion behind those eyes and that takes an old fashioned close-up head shot.”
Three shots are suggested, but one good shot is all you need to start with. Reich suggests that any photograph should say who you really are.
“An actor should have ‘a studio executive shot’, a casual shot and a commercial shot.”
“I am looking for a commitment to the profession. I want to see that you are serious about this, that you are current and that you have training.”
“Don’t list extra work or high school theater from ten years ago, but do list anything that will tell me who you are.”
“There is an exception if that’s all you have to show, since I will know you are starting out. However, do not try to make yourself look like a star based on community theater and extra work.”
Who you are includes, if it is applicable, something about yourself. For example, if you are an attorney, say so. If you are a rodeo cowboy, say so. Acting starts with the reality of yourself, who you are and what you do and experienced in your own lives.
If you are out of the profession for a prolonged period but the job you were doing includes skills or character types that you feel could be put to use as an actor, put something on which explains why.
Do not say it in so many words, but perhaps under skills you can write “cab driver” or “corporate executive.”
“Use your judgment and ask if this life experience will be seen as a benefit by those auditors who look at your resume.”
“It is important to an actor to have film on themselves. If you present a video, remember that I am giving you my time in viewing it. Make sure it is professional, preferably from actual performances. A poorly lit or unprofessional video will be tossed and fast! It has to be your best work presented the best way you can. It does not have to be featured performances. One lady turned “walk-ons” and a few lines on ‘Murder She Wrote’ into a great tape!”
DVD is becoming the currency, just as CD’s are for audio, but “I will still look at a VHS tape if you have one.”
“The best training is four or more years academic. Acting is the study of the world around you, of people, or events. A well rounded four year degree will give you more than any single acting coach.”
“This is a young business, so do not put your career on hold while you pursue your education, but do not neglect your education either. There are ways to do both, actors do it every day.”
“Study life, read, experience things you have never done before, explore the world around you and remember it when it may come in handy for a character, scene or situation.”
“Actors should continuously study, continuously be working.”
On Casting Directors Who Teach:
“As a professional I should be paid for my time teaching, but I cannot promise you work. I will know you, have a chance to see you, nothing I do can change that, but that does not mean you will be right for something now or remembered when the right role comes across my table.”
There has been much controversy within the CSA and in the California legislature over the implications of a casting director teaching, primarily that there is an implied but unspoken promise of the potential of a role. No such potential exist, according to Reich, unless you are right to the part and even then “I am more likely to find you by seeing a play or from your previous work than from coming to a class I may be teaching.”
Reich says casting directors can offer an actor the opportunity to look at themselves through a casting director’s eye, and indicate areas to work on, scene study and some insight into character. But Reich cautions that just because someone gets a job as a casting director, that does not mean they know how to teach or that they understand the craft of acting.
“But I am very good at both.” he jokes.
On The Interactive Future.
We are entering a new age for actors, according to veteran casting director Reich, the interactive age. Reich whose interactive experience includes casting and production supervision of “Netrunner.” “Netrunner” utilized 85 actors and several hundred extras in a Hollywood motion picture style interactive game format.
Interactive games and the technology they create will mean more work for actors throughout the country, including Las Vegas. Unlike motion pictures, they are not star driven. “The game and not the actor marquee value are what makes the cash register ring,” relates Reich.
“Improvisation and strong short term memory are skills for the future actor, as technology not only makes it possible to try new things, but to do them live or as if they were live, without fear of a loss of quality.”
“The producers need better actors, who can improvise, read the same lines with multiple meanings and emote along multiple story paths, or dialogue trees.”
For example, depending on the actions of the person playing the game, an actor may respond “yes”, “no” or “maybe” sending the player and the actor into an entirely different chain of events, entirely new scenes. This means more dialogue, more action and more work for actors.
Most interactive has been in high tech and high special effects genres, but that is changing as the technology matures.
SAG has an interactive contract, with Reich indicating that the union will seek residuals in the next contract. “You have to start somewhere and SAG was the first union in the industry to start with a base contract.”
Changes In How We Do Business
“The industry is becoming more and more mechanized, computerized, automated and less and less human.”
Reich sees fast moving changes in how casting directors do business and how actors will have to function in the technology age. Already video reels are replacing or required with photographs for many roles, letter perfect computer generated resumes and polished production broadcast quality audio and video demos have become part of the required actors sales tools.
When working as a staff casting director at Universal Studios in the 1960’s and 1970’s, Reich said he was allowed to be creative. There was the time and incentive for casting professionals to attend plays, interview newcomers and new faces and to work with the talent. Casting directors were a part of the creative process.
“In the 60’s, it was you and the director, and if you had a good relationship the director would allow you many choices and a great deal of creative control,” says Reich, “But in the 1970’s came the producers and the corporate types, increasing into the 80’s until on some projects you have to deal with as many as twenty decision makers after you have presented the actors you feel are right for the roles.”
Even though he uses computer bulletin boards, and is on “the Vine”, Reich will not use such services in the casting process because he feels it is dehumanizing. On a practical side, he says, why should he need computer photographs “when I already have more than my files can handle and receive more every day.” Making decisions by computer bulletin boards, committees, by resume and film credits are becoming more and more common. It’s not what an actor can do but what you have done. When you add videoconferences and high-speed computer transmission, it will not be how talented an actor is at their craft but how many of the tools they can afford and how well they know how to use them.
“I don’t understand an agent who submits more than the required two or three people for a role. Shotgun agents do not get called again. It works against their actors to be caught in the middle of the mob.”
Being an agent is about relationships, about how the agent, who works for the actor, interacts with the casting director, who is “middle management” for the producer. A good agent will know if you are right for a part and know enough to take a chance if they feel the casting director is open to alternatives.”
“Management contracts are bull! You have to be aggressive. You are better off spending your money on cold reading workshops.”
Reich reminds actors that cold reading is key to landing the job and in television and interactive, your ability to do the job once you are hired.
While acknowledging the occasional need for professional management, Reich indicates that the professional managers are few and far between.
“We keep a list on who these so called managers are and if they are on your resume, I will toss it! You will not get in the door.”
Showcases and Generals:
Showcasing remains a positive way to be seen and potentially “discovered”.
Each casting director is different in how they approach viewing talent. Reich says he no longer has time to see entire plays or stay for entire showcases, but he may show up for one act or for a few scenes if time permits. He will interview talent he finds interesting or feels has potential.
“We all want to be the casting director who discovers the next rising star. It may not be practical, but it is a matter of ego and pride.”
“Generals” is the industry term for when a casting director views talent he or she may not be particularly in the market for, but whose photo and resume grabbed their attention. Reich tries to do this on a weekly basis. He is open to photograph submission.
Live Up to a Standard
“I am an actor” is how Ray Favero feels every member of SAG should introduce themselves, and mean it. Favero is a member of Screen Actors Guild, AFTRA and Equity. He is a Las Vegan whose training includes former Lee Strassburg Studio New York and Hollywood Studio Director, fellow Las Vegan Joseph Bernard. Favero has turned down casting projects in favor of stage or film acting roles, and in turn turned down other roles because of commitments to casting projects.
“The term ‘actor’ is frightening to a casting director, whose primary goal is to find talent who will look on camera as if they are real people and not actors” freelance casting director Ray Favero told a SAG Conservatory session.
“They are looking for reality, not the stage.”
“With the technology of the camera, microphones, video studio and computers audiences do not buy acting. They buy reality.”
Favero assisted Marilee Lear and Ellen Lewis (casting director for 1994 Best Picture “Forrest Gump”) in the casting process for the movie “Casino”. He learned that the words of the famous Stella Adler ring true, when she said, “you do not have a profession today. When anybody on the street can do it...there are no standards.”
Favero says that she goes on to preach that we, as actors, have to take the time and have the pride to have standards, despite the system.
“We have to base ourselves in a standard” believes Favero. "It is a profession we have to work at to prove to them that they can trust us with more than one line.”
He told of actors flown in first class from LA or NYC to deliver five and under roles “because the director knew they could do the job”.
Favero advises even the most experienced actors to continually perform, study and to take the time to observe “real people” to see how they act, what they do.
“The people who get the work in this town are people who study their craft, their art form, who are reliable, who are relaxed and confident at an audition and who know how to be known.”
“I saw some pretty bad auditions here in Las Vegas.” In general single card casting director and professional speaker Gary Shaffer says “Las Vegas actors lack experience, training and audition skills.”
“Most Las Vegas actors are not prepared to do larger roles and producers know that. Until that changes, Las Vegas will remain a good place to earn your union card and get ‘film’ before you move on.”
“The audition is your time, do not feel rushed and never apologize,” were the first two suggestions made by casting director Gary Shaffer, who shared his expertise at a UNLV / SAG Nevada Conservatory Master Class session.
His almost 35 years as a casting professional has included many stops in Las Vegas, most recently with United Paramount Network’s “The Watcher”. From 1978 to 1980 Shaffer cast “Vega$. In 1991 he cast Aaron Spelling’s “Hearts Are Wild” for CBS. Among Shaffer’s other credits are “Dynasty”, “Medical Center”, “Trapper John, MD.” “Matt Houston”, “Norman, Is That You” and “Kansas City Bomber”.
The casting process, according to Shaffer, is not mysterious. First you have a script, and then someone does a break down of the script detailing the characters, that breakdown is used by talent agents to submit actors to play those characters. The casting director, and often the director, select the actor to be cast and the casting director then negotiates how much the actor is to be paid.
“In Las Vegas the pay is usually union scale plus ten, with that ten percent going to pay the actor’s agency,” explains Shaffer, who works directly for the producer.
However, Shaffer adds that “The talent here has improved to the point where I consider locals for major roles, but remember that I work for the producer and my reputation is on the line.”
During a Nevada SAG Conservatory Master Class, Shaffer offered the following observations and suggestions for Nevada based actors:
• Never start until you have made eye contact with the casting director. Do not say a word until you are sure you have made contact.
• Keep your eyes up from the paper and focused on the auditor as often as possible.
• Do not break character. If you have to take a beat, find your place and pick up as if nothing ever happened
• Be aware of your surroundings and what you are auditioning for. As often as possible start with what is really there, in other words the real time, place and environment. The more of the situation you make real to the character, the greater energy you can put into your performance.
• If you have questions concerning the audition or your sides, ask them, professionally and to the point.
• When reading with another actor, do not upstage yourself or them.
• Roles get cut or changed all the time. If this happens to you do not take it personally and keep on trying.
• Chewing gum is not a good choice. If you must make that choice, do not chew gum for the entire audition.
• Playing nervous is also a poor choice, because most auditors will assume that they are seeing the real you, and be afraid that you will be nervous on camera.
How to Overcome “There are No Actors in Nevada”
“There is talent in Nevada, the problem is that all too often those who come in to cast to not see it, or it is buried in massive cattle calls of people with little or no training, models and glamour seekers” says casting director Bill Dance, “but what I know is that it is worth the looking and there are diamonds in this desert.”
“Sergeant Bilko”, “Indecent Exposure” and other Bill Dance cast projects that have filmed in Nevada employed many local actors and background extras. Dance’s credits include “Seabiscuit”, “Legally Blond II”, “A Beautiful Mind”, “Bilko” and “Exposure”. Casting Director Bill Dance has returned many times to Las Vegas, and upon volunteers with the Nevada Screen Actors Guild Conservatory, where he shares his unique presentation on performance level auditioning.
“The line is not important, it’s what’s underneath it. Find the subtext, put life underneath even one line,” advises Dance, who is an actor, singer, dancer, writer as well as casting agent. “Start with being yourself and add the character to that foundation.”
Dance warns that your audition begins the moment the casting director or any member of their staff sets eyes on you.
“I watch people as they come in, catalog them and pretty much make my initial decisions long before the actual audition begins. My decision is made as you walk through the door, and usually before you ever open your mouth to speak. You can tell a great deal from the eyes, how you carry yourself, your gestures and physical type.”
When you prepare for an audition, remember, “they may not listen to the lines. They have heard them a thousand times before. The casting director and director will be looking at you, looking into your eyes, your soul.”
“Prepare before your audition. Do relaxation exercises, do whatever it takes to have your energy in the right place and focused. Energy gives life to what an actor does. Avoid negative energy, avoid negativity. Think and feel positive!”
“Young directors want a performance,” believes Dance “from the first moment they see you. They do not understand artistry and the building of a role. They will take the person who fits the role now, who is most prepared and who is ready to handle the job, now! Do your best work the first time, right there at the audition.”
Consider the audition to be your performance, the chance to “show your art form” and talent. The audition is where actors get to do what they live for, act. It should not be a test or a stress. An audition should be when you proudly showcase your best work and enjoy doing it.
Auditioning is part competition, part chance and part a numbers game. “There may be 500 actors right for each part. You have to keep on trying. The more you do, the better your odds become.”
If you have an opportunity to take the sides home and study them “live the sides” says Dance, “Study them, take them with you everywhere...because someone else is!”
Do not make the “obvious choice”, put a “human being” behind the character with a full life and a point of view.”
Get together with friends and simply have fun with the scripts. Work them until you feel you are comfortable doing them a variety of highly different ways and all of them work for you.
And finally, “Study. It does not matter who with, at first, just that you are doing the work and working at your craft, your art. Talent, time and dedication are what it takes to make an artist.”
Dance has developed an ongoing performance art play based on his own experience and observations titled “Mindgames”. His first love is and always will be the theater.
MARY LEE LEAR, CSA,
Auditioning in Las Vegas
“Casting directors have 2 minutes for each person, our first and probably only impression is from your photograph, followed by your resume” Casting Society of America Casting Director Mary Lee Lear told the Nevada SAG Conservatory on August 19, 1995.
Mary Lee Lear, along with her husband John, owns Lear Studios in Las Vegas. She is also the owner of Lear Casting, the longest continuously operating casting company in Southern Nevada. She related that to get the audition you need quality professional photographs that show you, as you could easily appear, without outside help, professional make-up or hair design, within one hour or receiving a call for an audition. The photographs must show your eyes and also reveal any major facial trait or blemish.
“Sometimes it is the blemish or unique aspects of your face that will get you called in for an audition.”
Her preference is a glossy 8 by 10 that looks like you. Mary Lee Lear explains that most racks and files are set up for 8 by 10’s, so over or undersized photos can be a problem. Black and white prints show you the best and remain the industry standard, although an increasing number of people are using color in an attempt to cut through the clutter.
She says a clean, neat and easy to read resume, using one of the standard formats of the industry, should be either printed on the back of your 8 by 10, or stapled to the back at all four corners and cut to size. Since it is not uncommon for the resume to be detached, your name and a contact number should be printed on the photograph as well as on your resume.
Her advice is to use a contact service or number that will notify a pager or phone, and if possible to use your agents name and number. Home phone numbers should be avoided, since they can be traced through reverse directories and not everyone who gets or sees your resume, or pulls it from the trash, will be honest. For the same reason, never put an address on your photos or résumé’s unless your agents tells you to place their address. In most cases they will prefer to list their phone number.
Glasses are optional, but should not be used in your headshot unless you “wear them all the time,” as they hide the eyes, which are what most casting directors look for first. In most cases, your eyes sell your photograph.
As to how tight to crop your photo, that depends on current trends and what you are auditioning for. Tight headshots are classis because they show your eyes and face the best. Three quarter shots and photos taken outdoors are trends that come and go, and may or may not be fashionable when you read this.
When you walk in for a reading you may know many of the people there “but do not socialize” and concentrate on the job at hand, doing your best possible audition.
It is possible that the casting director may be sitting in the lobby observing you, or may have one of their employees observing you, and Lear says more than once someone has been eliminated for unprofessional attitude or for negative comments made in the lobby.
“What ever you do tell the truth, on your resume and in the interview” advises Lear, “it’s a small industry and word gets around.” Never list background or extra work as speaking roles, lie about credits or claim you have done or can do something you haven’t.
As for how to dress, Lear suggest wearing just the suggestion of the character, enough to assist you as an actor and to give a slight feeling to the audition piece for the casting director or readers. Never wear flashy clothing or jewelry that will detract from your performance. Avoid clothing with words on it, other than the small designer labels if you must wear that type of clothing. Always be the most relaxed and comfortable you can make yourself.
On the subject of unions, Lear believes that actors would get paid next to nothing if it were not for union scale or minimum base pay. Union scale also makes it necessary for nonunion production to pay what wages they do, since the truth be known most actors would do what they do for nothing if it weren’t necessary to eat and have a roof over their heads.
Commercial Casting Director
"All you can do is give the best audition you can, to please yourself" is
the advice of to Los Angeles based commercial casting director Danny
Goldman. "Work your craft, polish your skills and trust your talent while
you focus on one audition at a time."
"You can psych yourself out of a part" warns Goldman, be positive, enjoy the work and do your best. Never feel as if you live and die by any single audition, it's only applying for a job, auditioning for yet another possible role."
"Remember there is no rule, there is no right way, there is only what
you bring to the audition and your way for your audition."
It is important to understand the industry, but not to inherit its
stress or problems. "They exist and you need to know how they work, but in the end they exist only to give you the opportunity to work and earn a
There is a sense of constant pressure, high stakes and heads will roll
when you work within the adversity, according. "We deal with a very nervous set of management and creative people who must live with the constant pressure of remaining hip, very smart and very successful."
Actors need to understand the pressure others in the industry are under the same or in many cases much worse than those of a struggling actor.
"We all face the same industry trends, we are only as good as our most
recent job, and we all have car payments, mortgages and ways we want to spend our retirement."
Creative people "care about being innovative and remaining at the top of their game", directors about "finding that hot commercial", clients about moving product and pleasing their distributors, ad agencies about "getting clients to spend increasing amounts of money" and everyone wants to have those awards in their conference rooms or lobby's.
Goldman says that actors need to learn about how the industry works, but not to worry about the politics and pressures behind advertising.
Goldman's advice on auditioning comes from seeing between 200 and as many as 2000 actors for each role, every week for over 25 years. He says that while there are still vestiges of the traditional ‘commercial actor’ voice and image in New York, most national commercial casting now looks for real people. While they will see actors in one to as many as four cities, most national commercials now make sure to have a Los Angeles casting session. The youth oriented LA approach is the current standard, but the image remains Americana.
"They are looking for America, for real people. They hire actors because
actors can look comfortable and real on television and know just how much additional energy is needed to appear real on tape or film."
"Slow down when you read. Fast says you feel unworthy. Be sincere and real, do not put on an act." Goldman explains that being a character is not the same as trying to impress by overdoing characteristics or "showing off."
Do not sweat over your mistakes because "flubbing an audition is not as critical as you think. It can bring drive to the present moment, reality to your read."
Casting directors hear the words so often that what they are listening to is your voice, your energy and your personality. They can tell in a few
seconds what will work right on camera and over the radio for their client.
"Your job is to enjoy yourself. Everything else, all the decisions, have
more to do with the needs of a specific client for a specific project then
they have to do with your talent or look."
On the tools of the trade Goldman says your photo and your tape are key.
Photographs should show the definition of your skin, reflect you actual
age, not be glamorous unless that is who you truly are, and above all show your eyes and the quality behind your eyes. Goldman prefers tight headshots, but is acceptable and even desirable "if there is something about yourself that I should know."
Goldman recommends you are at a slight angle in your photographs, not head on, and that you have a real expression instead of a broad smile, again unless the broad smile is how you are in everyday life. Make it a positive or neutral expression for commercials, "leave the doom and gloom for film auditions."
Don't worry too much about a lack of credits on your resume, because "if we are having auditions we are looking for new people, all the time."
Commercial producers want "experienced virgins," people who are new and fresh but know how to perform and maximize the use of their time on the set.
Goldman likes to see theater on your resume. "It tells me more than TV".
He wants to see the amount and quality of your training.
List your special skills, including what your role is in real life.
" I like to know what you did and who you are."
The most important advice Goldman can give to an actor is "come in with a fresh attitude, do not appear to be burnt out or thinking about other things."
Nevadan on Being A Hollywood Agent
"Being an agent is a 24 hour job," says Northern Nevada native Gary
Fuchs, who moved on to other aspects of the industry after 17 years as an agent with Contemporary Artists in Santa Monica, California. "If someone doesn't show up on the set, is drinking on the set or has a gambling problem it becomes your problem. Then there are the calls from actors at two in the morning saying they are thinking about their career."
Born and raised in Yerington, Fuchs earned a degree in theater form
UNLV and was part of what at the time was an active and often-controversial improvisation troop as an undergraduate. Heading off to Hollywood to become an actor, his direction changed as he grew with the prosperous Contemporary Artist during the 1980's and 1990' production boom years. Among his clients was Las Vegan Pat Morita of "Karate Kid" fame. Fuchs is now juggling roles
as a manager, producer and casting director for multiple projects. His only on screen role was a cameo in one of the Naked Gun films.
An agent's day is a long and varied one, usually not predictable and
Fuchs says it begins before 5 AM reading scripts, updating himself on
entertainment news or making early business calls to the East Coast or
Europe. Then it is off to breakfast with a producer or casting director,
followed by a second breakfast with another producer or a director.
When you finally get to the office there are more morning phone calls,
with a read through of the daily breakdowns as you make the person you are talking to think they have your undivided attention.
Midmornings agents have a table meeting in the conference room with the other agents and staff to go over the breakdowns, discuss talent, review new talent and do what is referred to as strategic planning. Between that meeting and lunch you may shoot off to a studio to meet another producer or to set to check up on an actor.
It's lunch with yet another producer or grabbed at your desk while you
read still more scripts and go over your e-mail. After a busy afternoon it's
off to dinner or the first round of drinks with some producer or actor or
other networking experience. After dinner, off to a play or showcase or
party or event or to another set to visit or work on signing one actor or
Late night to escape or relax, Fuchs listens to his favorite bands, in
clubs or on his home stereo.
As for advice to actors, Fuchs reminds them that they have at best two
minutes from when they meet the agent to impress them, be their best, show their work and sell the agent. Without actual experience and tape of that experience, it is almost impossible to get an agents attention in Los Angeles. His advice is to cut your teeth, take lessons and earn your first real on camera jobs in Nevada before relocating to LA. If you sent your photo or tape to an agent, keep the cover letter brief and remember that this is a business. Obviously the photo should look like you and be your best professional sales tool.
A positive thinker, Fuchs says that there in no room for doubt, as "the
true actor knows something will happen." Believe in your self and stay on
top of things.
ALAN BERMAN: TV DIRECTOR
It’s Hard Work Becoming a Star
A few choice gems to start off with from an interview with television and film director Alan Berman:
“The more prepared you are for this business, the greater your chance of success when someone discovers you.”
“Be on time, be prepared, be professional and love what you do.”
“You think you can become a movie star in a few easy lessons, the fact is just because somebody hits the lottery, it’s no reason for you to risk your rent money!” is how Berman encourages actors to continue to study, no matter what their perceived talent level or how much experience they may have on their resume.
“There is no wrong type,” Berman told Nevada Actors, “Somewhere, sometime, some place there is a part for you. Just keep working and you’ll find that part.”
Berman’s many credits as a television director include episodes of “Night Court”, “Barney Miller” and “Laverne and Shirley”. His aspiration was to direct feature film, and his roots that of a working actor.
“I made the mistake of accepting a job directing an episode of a sitcom and I have been typed as a situation comedy director ever since. You see, it happens to us too! Type cast!”
Berman’s face is familiar from many films, adventure series, situation comedies and, “If you are real lucky, live theater.”
Being discovered is Hard Work
The key difference between LA and New York, believes Berman, is that “many LA Actors do not want to work at their craft. They think they will be discovered that all that is needed is a look, being at the right place at the right time and a little bit of luck. Unfortunately, sometimes they may be right, but more often than not they face a rude awakening.”
The key difference between LA and New York, believes Berman, is that “many LA Actors do not want to work at their craft. They think they will be discovered that all that is needed is a look, being at the right place at the right time and a little bit of luck. Unfortunately, sometimes they may be right, but more often than not they face a rude awakening.”
Berman says that there is life beyond Hollywood, in fact he has discovered talent throughout the country, “a country where they still see acting as an art and not as a job.”
“This is your art, your craft and your profession.” Berman goes on to add that ”this is a profession you should approach with as much honor and respect as you would approach becoming a doctor or a lawyer. Take your classes seriously, do them seriously, work your scenes as if the patient’s life depended on it.”
“Do not butterfly from class to class, instructor to instructor. Audition instructors, audit if they allow it and pick one that has the right chemistry for you, then make a serious long term commitment to a good class.”
“Read plays, scripts and books. If you are a serious actor, you’ll read the great dramatic works: O’Neill, Miller, Chekhov, Ibsen, Shakespeare.”
Berman is always open to new talent “But I do fall back on a collection of actors whose work and depth I know I can rely on. I am always open to new talent, to taking chances.”
Comedy is Truth
Comedy has become his profession, and comedy is what he uses in helping actors develop their audition skills.
“Truth is the essence of playing comedy, timing is an instinct but character and reality comes from truth.”
“Ask yourself what the scene is all about, what your character is coming in to do and what is the truth in the scene. What is the relationship between the characters, at what point does it change.”
“Words are crafted, with meaning and undertones of their own. Use the words as written, unless directed to do otherwise, because words are as much a part of your craft as what comes from inside you.”
“Every scene is written for a purpose. In half hour television, writers do not have the time for long exposition and development, often the actor inherits the job of bringing that with them to their performance.”
“Know the back story,” advises Berman, who explains, “back story is television jargon for what has gone on before, both in the script and in the characters life prior to the script.”
“Always have something underneath. It is good if it is based on the full script, but if you have to, invent it! Use it in your scene. “
“An audition is your time. Don’t feel rushed or pressured, just use it to your advantage.”
“Be on time, or early, develop your skills before you walk through the door, know what you want to do but be ready and willing to let go of it, let your inner life show through and always be professional.”
“Make strong choices, even if they are the wrong choices. If they are, at least they’ll know you’re an actor! If you’re gonna lose that job, lose it going down fighting!”
“Listen to the other actor, really listen. Cues are not the end of a written line; they are ideas, reasons for reaction and the motivation for your line. To pick up your cues on a cold reading you have to really listen.”
Stand whenever possible because standing gives you a greater strength “and energy flow. Sitting drains energy and covers conflicts. Scenes are about conflict, so let that conflict flow.”
Avoid props unless they are absolutely necessary to assist you in your character or in the action of the scene. If they are needed, use props if you can, because improvising or miming takes away energy and concentration you will need for your scene. Be ready if there are not props to do whatever is absolutely necessary, including mime objects. Do not do what is not needed, because the action is in you not in your movements.
“If you are reading with another actor, make eye contact with that actor. If you are reading with a director, make eye contact with the director. Acting is about relationships and eye contact is an important part of the communication in relationships.
“It’s OK to pause in an audition, but be aware that comedy is pace and any pause must make sense in the scene. It’s also OK to wait to start, let the moment happen.”
“Act as much and as often as you can. Do workshops, classes, study at the university, do plays, just keep on doing. The more you do, the more you will learn.”
“There is no wrong type. Somewhere, sometime, some place there is a part for you. Just keep working and you’ll find that part.” –Allen Berman.
Actor and Las Vegas Acting Coach on Cold Readings
Perhaps the most important skill for an actor to have is the ability to bring a script to life without memorizing it. The process of presenting a script in this way is called “cold reading” and applies whenever an actor still has the script in his or her hands. According to actor Joseph Bernard cold reading is a skill and part of what you need to know to utilize your other skills and talents and to land parts. The name we have given it is not accurate, because they are really “prepared lines. Lines you have worked on and asked what is it all about, what is the other person saying to me, where am I going with this and why?” Also a cold reading involves a real time chemistry and relationship with another actor or whoever is reading the lines with you. Even though it is not memorized, you must make it real and bring the script to life.”
“Put something under the scene, a motivation, which may or may not have to do with the scene. For example, think about this character having to go to the bathroom, being annoyed by a fly, or like my friend Rod Steiger, preoccupied with a little lint on his jacket, lint that is really not there.”
A veteran of what is now called Vintage Television, Joseph Bernard appeared in many television series including working for Rod Serling in several “Twilight Zone’s”, appearing on the original “Star Trek” series and many detective series and situational comedies. His film resume includes major films including “Judgment at Nuremberg” and “Ice Station Zebra.” He has many Broadway and West Coast theater credits and is a member of all three primary unions.
“The pension and health for Screen Actors Guild is excellent, it has saved my life and my pocketbook many times over the years. Anyone who is serious about acting must join and support their unions. They are why we can make a living and raise families in this industry.”
Besides his grandchildren, Joe’s pride and joy was in being a personal friend of Lee Strassberg and running the Lee Strasberg Studio, at first in New York and later in Hollywood. Among his former students, who he still coaches and mentors, are Jerre Lewis and local Nevada Casting Director Ray Favero. For over 20 years, until his wife’s death, Bernard has ran an acting studio in Las Vegas. He still teaches and coaches beginners as well as advanced actors.
When sound came to Hollywood the industry began to have actors read to see if they could act. As a stage actor used to memorize performances that could be confusing or even difficult, but it is needed. Bernard says that the quality of the reading reveals how much intelligence and sensitivity an actor has for the role. The more you know and the more you bring to the reading, the better your performance.
“Cold reading has become and actor’s bread and butter” explains Bernard, who relates about his friend stage director Gene Sachs (who directed many of Neil Simon’s works) believing that a good director can simply look at an actor and decide if they have what it takes, and that “the first moments of a cold reading either confirm that feeling or tell the director that the actor is not ready to work professionally yet.”
If you did your best work and did not get the part, don’t take it too personally. There are lots of possible reasons, and besides “rejection is a part of every actor’s life. Do not take it personally.”
Bernard says that the act of reading for a professional actor is quite different than for most people. “The psychology of what is in your mind has to do with how your read, how you deal with this in your mind.”
Look at and read the entire scene, not just the section that has your lines. If you have time and access, read the entire script and get to know the characters and the action. Figure out how you want to portray the character and then live that portrayal. “Never go in before you are ready, take your time and know in your mind that there is no one better for the role than you.”
“Instead of talking about the view, go in and see and experience it, look at the view. Take time before or between the lines to live and experience the life that is going in during the scene. And when you are done, don’t just end the scene, take another look at that view.”
A teacher and believer in Method Acting, Bernard believes that it is what you put behind you reading, your heart, soul, experiences and knowledge, that make it come to life.” Casting directors can sense who is just messing around.”
“Go into each audition with the attitude that you will do your best, that they are lucky just to see you perform, that you have something to give them and if they don’t choose you it’s their loss and not yours.”
“As Lee Strassberg said, ‘relax, they don’t pay for nervous actors.”
“Fear is the enemy” teaches Bernard. “There is nothing to fear. Fear defeats most actors. Fear of what? Will the world come to an end? Are they the sole arbiters of talent? No, there is nothing to fear at all. Are they going to put you in jail if don’t get the part? Will you starve?”
“When they call you, they need you. You already have the part and must approach the audition in that way. You have something others do not, use it and showcase it. There is only one you.”
DAVE SABASTIAN WILLIAMS
Voice Over as a Profession
“Your tape should say ‘this is what I’ve done’ not ‘this is what I want to do’” believes Los Angeles based national voice over and broadcast artist David Sabastian Williams. His voice is familure as the former spokesperson for Apple Computer and as the current voice of Builders Emporium, among others.
“You have to sound as good as you will become after doing this ten thousand times! You have to sound that way the moment you audition.”
This is not a Catch 22, as many might think, since amateur and beginners can take voice workshops and pay for the production of tapes, which will fool an agent or potential client. “But they must sound convincing, as good as the real thing, national commercials, industrials and animation tapes.”
Be a Professional
Known to Los Angeles and national radio listeners as “Dave Sabastian”, Williams says that if you want to make a living with your voice, you have to commit to the profession.
“If you cut corners at all, you are barking up the wrong tree...take workshops, read out loud for an hour each day, take a tape recorder wherever you go and tape record yourself. Experiment. Practice using your voice as an instrument.”
First Step: Be Ready.
“First of all, treat this as a business. It is a business. Real money is being spent on your talent, on the writers talent, on production facilities and time and on the final air or distribution of your voice over product. Believe me, it is a business. And if this is your business, you must be willing to invest in the training and the tools.”
Williams is one of many qualified voice instructors, or “voice doctors” in industry terms. He offers workshop opportunities and individual instruction through his company “Dave and Dave”.
“Just as with any form of acting, you have to understand the industry and be ready to provide a professional performance before you walk in the door. This means study, practice and study some more.”
An instructor himself, Williams will take other instructors classes “to keep on top of the industry and in practice.”
“All workshops are breading grounds for information, even if you know what your are doing going in. There is always another angle, another trend or the eventual leads on jobs.”
The Demo Reel.
The next step is to have a professional demo reel. This does not mean a reel recorded in a recording studio or at a radio station. Ideally it means a reel of actual national commercials or at least a reel of voice work produced by the same professionals who produce real commercials and industrials.
“Try to make each track sound like it comes from a different producer. One may have music, another effects or the sound of your voice may be different.”
“A pro will make each segment of your demo sound different, by moving or changing the microphone, adjusting the controls, creating a different background or texture.”
“Go in and record your voice, then leave and let the professional engineers do what they have to do.”
“Leave them wanting more.” A commercial demo real should be only one or two minutes of “great stuff”. A character reel should show your three or four best character voices. An industrial reel can go as long as 20 minutes as long as it is not 20 minutes of the same old stuff.
“Do not mix tapes.” Willliams says a voice artist should produce separate tapes for each type of voice work they do. “There are commercial narration reels, commercial character reels, animation character reels, game show host reels, movie trailer reels and so forth.”
Except for the rare individual who excels in all areas, most of the time it is best to “find out where you fit in, who you are as a voice artist, and concentrate on one or two areas.”
“If you don’t have an agent, then they look at you as if you just fell off the turnip truck!”
Step three, at least in Los Angeles, is to secure and agent. Los Angeles based advertising agencies and production companies will not accept your tape, unless it comes through an agent. In some other markets the best approach may be to send your tapes, unsolicited, directly to producers.
Voice agents are easier to land than theatrical agents, because they survive on the quality and quantity of voices they can provide.
“To use a sports analogy, they have to have a deep bench.”
When they review your tape, agents listen for four basic things:
1. Does it sound real? Is this person a real person? Does their voice communicate emotion, ideas, concepts, and words?
2. Do they have talent? Each agent’s perception on this one is different, but they all have to make this judgment and make it quickly.
3. Have they ever made money? Catch 22 once again, but if your tape or reel sounds as if it is composed of national commercial work, it is possible to get past this objection.
4. Do they fill a niche? This means does your voice fit into a slot open on the players roster, a need for that particular agent. You may be the next Orson Wells, but if they already have four other Orsons, they will not add you to their client list.
Breaking Down the Script.
“Read everything on the page, study the script and what it is saying. Pay attention to the title given to the script, to the product, to the length and to the different voices implied through the written page.”
“When you are handed a script, do not read anything out loud until you have answered the hidden questions in that script.”
• What are they trying to say?
• Who am I to say these words?
• Who am I talking to?
• Where am I?
• Where is my audience?
• Am I withholding information?
Work on the script and before you ever open your mouth, know how you are going to read each word, phrase, and idea.
“Say the words as written, remember that the ad agency and client have had to live with this piece of copy for weeks or even months.”
Next, be ready for an open to change. This could come in the form of word changes or directions. Never record a change until after you had the opportunity to rehearse it first!
How to Get Hired Again
“Be shape-able, mold-able, adore-able. Take direction, do your best and always be the professional.”
Williams suggest learning the engineers name and making them your friend. This is as simple as doing what they tell you when they tell you to do it and avoiding making their job harder.
“The engineer is the one who will make you sound good. They also have the ear of the director and the client.”
He also suggests learning the names of as many people “in the booth” as you can.
Use first names in communication; unless it is obvious they are being formal. Send ‘thank you’ notes, when applicable.
UNIONS AND THE FUTURE:
On Actors, Acting, Business, Unions and the Future
If you are interested in earning even part of your living working in the entertainment industry, specifically as an actor or performing talent, you need to take the time to learn about the craft, study the craft and get a handle on what in the musical “Mame” is referred to as “this business called show.
Looking at acting as a profession means agreeing that as an actor, you are in business for your self. You are an independent contractor going from job to job and task to task.
Thinking of acting as a business is a stretch for many actors, but a necessity to put food on the table.
Actors need to learn early that if they intend to earn even part of their living with their talents, they need to organize their lives as a business. There are considerations such as marketing, financing, production and distribution, just as there would be in any business. Photographs, audio and videotapes, training, networking and selling your talents and services are vital for your future success. They are the tools of your trade. Investment of time, money and compassion are needed to succeed in show business. There may be magic, but it is necessary to eat and make a living while creating and enjoying the benefits of that magic.
Understanding the craft of acting, how to market you as an actor, and of the ever-changing market place and distribution systems, may be essential to modern financial success in a very ancient profession.
The Myth that Actors Are Different
So why should actors be looked upon as any different from anyone who works for someone else to pay the bills and earn a living?
When corporations and large single ownerships began to monopolize the American Theater Circuit, it was only natural that a move toward solidarity and unionization would follow. So it is, that we have actors unions, unions undergoing a major change in definition, structure and potentially mission, entering the twenty-first century.
Labor Unions for Actors
Labor unions, born of the struggles of the nineteenth century, continue to face changes in management, economics, technology and public opinion. The pace may be increasing exponentially. One group, professional working actors are faced with the impact of technology, decentralization and the rapid growth of the number of qualified professional performers.
There are many performance unions, but three unions directly affect actors wishing to work in commercials, television and motion pictures.
The first is Equity, which has jurisdiction over live theater and works closely with the two electronic and film unions. While Actors Equity membership is not required to work in film or television, however those casting often perceive an actors membership in the stage or “legitimate theater” union as an asset when making casting decisions. It is necessary to move to a market with and active professional theater community and Equity casting to earn membership into the union. Becoming Equity is a major commitment and will end your flexibility to do community theater (allowed by the other two unions).
The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists share jurisdiction in television and with commercials and work jointly to negotiate film and other contracts. The differences betweens these unions are explained in the glossary that follows, however at this time there is strong movement toward consolidation to minimize the differences and draw clear and unified lines as to contract jurisdiction entering the digital “info-tainment” age.
Actors have seen increasing challenges in making a living while pursuing their craft, their art form, and their professions.
The entertainment and information industries are merging, under the control or umbrella of as few as six major international corporations as of the end of 2002. The line between reality and theater is blurred, with an accountant’s pen often deciding which vision of reality or art is presented to the mass audience. In recent years the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA has been faced with the shift by employers (who were themselves creative producers of product, entertainment and art), to a world with a half dozen corporate entities controlling most of the worlds information and entertainment, utilizing the concepts of accounting and stock value to make decisions more often than story or social value.
The methods, compensation and ability of actors to earn a living using their craft are evolving, often to the disadvantage of the working actor. Actors face the reality of a decrease in potential earnings, known as salary compression. Producers are in a position to offer roles at union scale to experience and sometimes “name” actors and to cripple the union in their efforts to make significant inroads in the areas of salary and benefits. New Media, an umbrella term for all of the new technologies which have evolved over the past ten to fifteen years (including the cable industry as we know it), often falls outside of or at the fringe of contracts with minimal compensation for the use of talent.
On Actors, Acting and Union
Being an actor is perhaps one of the most difficult ways to actually make a living. While there are actors who have forged full time careers in theater, commercials and convention work in cities coast to coast, the vast majority of work lies in Hollywood and New York City.
It may take one or several hundred non-paid auditions to land one day's work. An actor may work dozens of days a year or none at all. Then too, there are the expensive classes necessary to keep up their skills; the cost of professional photographs, video and audiotape, of postage and time spent marketing themselves to potential employers.
Actor Paul Napier, whose credits include portraying the original Mr. Goodwrench, and who remains active on both the SAG and AFTRA boards of directors, tells of his children being asked by their teacher what their father did for a living. Their response was “audition”.
Casting Director and producer Donn Finn says of actors, “They are not acting for a living, they are acting for their craft. What they are doing for a living, besides waiting tables and taking 'day jobs', is auditioning. You might as well call them auditioners”. Finn went on to point out that each actor "should think of themselves as their own little corporation," and part of the requirements to be a successful corporation is to join and participate in one or more professional actors unions. Finn is a casting partner in the office of Mali Finn Casting and is a professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at California State University in Fullerton. Recent casting credits include: Eight Mile, Phonebooth, Titanic, LA Confidential, Wonder Boys and The Matrix I,II, and III.
Longtime SAG Board member Joe Ruskin, whose career includes appearances on the original "Star Trek" and many other television and film projects, states that, “Actors live in fear of rejection each and every day. If they are successful they fear it will end, if they are struggling they fear they will have to do something else for a living and give up a very important part of themselves”.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics provide this description of the profession of acting:
Acting demands patience and total commitment, because there are often long periods of unemployment between jobs. While under contract, actors are frequently required to work long hours and travel. For stage actors, flawless performances require tedious memorizing of lines and repetitive rehearsals, and in television, actors must deliver a good performance with very little preparation. Actors need stamina to withstand hours under hot lights, heavy costumes and make-up, physically demanding tasks, long, irregular schedules, and the adverse weather and living conditions that may exist on location shoots. And actors face the constant anxiety of intermittent employment and regular rejections when auditioning for work. Yet in spite of these discouragements, the “passion to play,” as Shakespeare called it, still motivates many to make acting a professional career.
Actors need to consider not only membership in one union, or even all performance unions, but also the overall market place in which they compete. There are estimates of four to as many as ten times that number of qualified non-union actors available in the same talent pool. Many times that number consider themselves “actors” and are free to compete for roles in the overall talent marketing. The standing joke in Los Angeles is that every waiter, store clerk, cop or even doctor is really an actor waiting for their break, writers who have yet to have scripts purchased or producers looking for financing.
Actors make judgments and can be called on the carpet when they voice their opinions or present their art in ways that many in the public may disagree with. This is the nature of art, to mirror, to reflect, to comment on and to challenge the world around us.
When on the set the hours are usually long, schedule less than ideal and locations uncomfortable and sometime dangerous. Depending on the production team, actors can be made to feel like cattle or like kings and queens. The environment changes from one job to the next.
And then there is the lack of work. Mel Gibson, already a star, did not sleep the evening prior to the start of the filming of Lethal Weapon because of apprehension at not having been on a set for well over a year.
Actors may classify themselves as a social group, or into smaller sub-sets based on the specifics of how often they perform as actors (full time, part time, occasional, "wanna-be," community theater, hobbyist, has been).
Hollywood, and with it Greater Los Angeles, may be looked upon as a company town for the movie and entertainment industries and the 42nd Street / Broadway Great White Way area of New York a part of that city's identity and chemistry. Actors play a key role in each of these company or trade settlements and how they make their livings effect the social interaction of these communities.
By virtue of the demands of the craft, of the need to study and to observe, working or long-time actors tend to be educated, articulate and well read, defying a social stereotype presented in contemporary media.
Acting is a key part of the larger social world of the entertainment industry, mass communications and leisure aspects of society as a whole.
Do not forget, if your quest to be an artist, that you are dependant on your fellow artists, on the other trade unionist who work in this industry and on the support of others for your own success and well being.
Screen Actors Guild National Director of Education, former Performers Alliance founder Todd Amore, having spent 17 years of his life as a full time actor, spoke to a Nevada Branch membership meeting in May, 2003. He shared the findings of Screen Actors Guild historian Valerie Yaros. Rule One, which now states that union talent does not work nonunion, once spoke of an still echoes anther statement: that union actors work with, for and are in solidarity with their fellow performers, no mater what stature or place in the industry.
Keep that in mind.
A BRAVE NEW WORLD
Technology and the Future
“As celluloid turns into byte, it’s a new beginning for all of us!”
"If you want to know where your future as a performer lies, go talk to any twelve year old"
Former Sr. Administrator
Screen Actors Guild
Virtual actors, robot extras, thousand channel universe, on demand movies, wireless communications and instant audience feedback are already a part of the entertainment production universe, in ways that twenty years from now will seem as old and quaint as riding in a horse drawn carriage or sitting on the front porch watching the sun set. The world of entertainment, the world of actors is changing faster than anyone would ever have dreamed and in ways no one could have predicted. It is already possible to make your own movies for pennies on the dollar compared to a few short years ago, to distribute digital prints to highly specialized smaller and smaller segments of society and turn a profit in doing so, and to use the same performance image dozens of times in hundreds of contexts, each telling a different story.
What does this mean to Nevada actors?
"Las Vegas will become a major center for the new interactive technology. You have what tomorrow's producers want: singers, dancers, martial artist, a wide variety of ages and looks, a strong background talent pool, glamour, sparkle and a healthy climate to live and work in.
Interactive multi-level performance uses every skill you ever studied. Improvisation, voice work, movement, scripted and unscripted scene work, stunts, ADR and character voices, singing and dance..." predicted former Screen Actors Guild Senior Administrator for Industrial/Educational and Interactive Contracts Michael Prohaska nearly a decade ago at the Nevada Screen Actors Guild membership meeting. While the rate of technological and business change has been so rapid since then that the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA will be voting the June (2003) on consolidating into a new union, the International Association of Media Artists (IAMA), much of what Prohaska said has come true and still more may be in the near future.
The actor now faces a world where Tom Hanks can play several roles in a live movie for Sony, “Wonderland Express” without ever actually acting any of the scenes, where virtual robots make decisions with computer generated images and almost human qualities, where dead actors can be resurrected from Forrest Hills to perform new roles with new movements and new dialogue, where major motion pictures top a quarter of a million dollars in production expense alone while digital video films cost one tenth of their predecessors and can deliver intimate stories once reserved for the theater. The Federal government says acting is a growth industry of the new century, with geometrically greater demand for our skills, while the realities of business have yet to determine how or how much we will be compensated for the use of our talents.
We are at the beginning of a brave new world of media, which is already changing how Americans do business, receive their news, and communicate with loved ones and how models, actors, entertainers, writers and the creative professionals make their livings.
The every expanding Internet, and with it the much trumpeted interactive highway, with all of its way stations and trunk routes, will mean increased work opportunities for all actors but at a more competitive and breakneck pace. Our agents, managers, the casting directors and producers will all radically change the way they do business or go out of business themselves. The group most affected will be young people and younger adults. Early applications of cutting edge technology will by nature be action packed games and contemporary based instructional CD-ROM's or Internet sites. Both applications must appeal to children, teens and young adults, who identify with their own youthful self-image of the world. Both need to be fast paced, easy to navigate and if possible, entertaining.
Prohaska, who has returned to the his previous profession of industrial and commercial producer and director, sees the eventual full evolution of interactive media, far beyond the initial application of today, into medical research, corporate training, archived retrieval, advanced education and a broader base of home entertainment.
CD ROM and DVD ROM, Wideband Internet, two way digital satellite and home high definition digital video are only the start of a new generation of consumer electronic products, using the printed word, voice talent, animation, graphics, video and film clips as well as music to guide the user to specific information or through a self determined path. A disc may include a video encyclopedia, with narrators explaining specific entries. Another disc features a self-guided tour of the San Diego Zoo, including narration and on camera talent. It could be a video game using live actors whose destinies are determined by the steering of a joystick. It may be a catalog displaying a company’s product with film, voice over and text. The possibilities are endless, as are the potential for actor's employment.
New Challenges for Actors
Ten short years from now, actors may be called upon to perform as part of as yet unheard of new media, ranging from CD/DVD ROM classroom instruction to direct to home sales videos, from interactive video novels to personal communications terminal entertainment and virtual reality. MPEG 3, MPEG 4 and generations of future digital information and media recording and transmissions will only increase the potential use of actors, and increase either the specialization or the variety of tasks, skills and talents required to be a professional performer.
There will be actors employed as live talent in the much-publicized field of virtual reality. They act as guides and characters in the "hyper-space world", sharing the experience with paying customers and helping to make that experience more enjoyable.
Then too, consider the amount of work generated by a competitive 500, 1,000 or even 3,000 television channel universe. What about the opening of new world markets to American produced programming, videos, CD-ROM and other form of media?
Studios Planned for Las Vegas
Recently Las Vegas lost its native born Westwood Studios, the interactive studio begun in a garage that grew into a leading producer of video and computer game products. Electronic Arts, the large corporation that purchased the company, relocated Westwood to its new Long Beach Interactive and Entertainment studio complex.
However the best may be yet to come for Las Vegas and Nevada.
In addition to plans for up to four private production facilities, large companies including FOX, Warner and Universal have plans on the drawing board to build new technology based pre, post and sound stage facilities in Las Vegas. Keep in mind that such plans have been on the drawing board for years, and just as films rewrite the script, the world of business, particularly in the international industry of information and entertainment, can change on a dime and shift with the wind. As of this writing there are heavy incentives toward trends to bring production studios back to Los Angeles and to lure them to Canada, Mexico and other overseas location such as New Zealand and Ireland. Eliminating our state from their plans or adding it in are both accounting pen strokes away, as the land in Nevada is already owned, leased or optioned by the large studios, most of which have satellite warehouses or offices already located in our state. DreamWorks and Fox both looked into Las Vegas for location of their animation and new technologies production centers, before locating elsewhere. “Close but no cigar” really means that in the future the answer may well be yes. Warner Brothers, Disney and other studios already have costume, property and set storage and/or manufacture facilities in Nevada. Once local lighting, sound and technical companies have been purchased or merged with larger Hollywood or New York based corporations investing in the future of Las Vegas and Nevada.
To Nevada’s advantage, Las Vegas is now the most used and largest live convention market in the country, bringing with it not only high profile events but the high tech entertainment industry support that is also needed for film, video and digital entertainment production. The infrastructure needed for the studios, with the exception of film laboratories, is already active and growing in Nevada.
The first ever digital transfer for theater projection was for “Star Wars: Episode One: The Phantom Menace”. That technology was developed tested and polished in Las Vegas.
Many of the effects for “Independence Day” were developed and produced in Nevada.
There is even further good news for Las Vegas. Most new technology does not rely on the large sound stages, film processing or duplication houses and the mechanics of Hollywood. New technology means new equipment, new smaller plants and a new way of doing business. Facilities may relocate in Nevada because relocation is less expensive than retooling their existing plant or because they are new and in this age of fax machines and computers they can open anywhere they like. No longer do production houses have to be located in LA...or Manhattan. Companies are tired of earthquakes, crime and urban decay.
A Return to Live Theater
Live theater transmitted or augmented by video camera coverage is increasing. Pete Townshen's "Psycho-derelict" world tour featured live actors (or theater in concert!). The third highest grossing concert tour in 1997 was "Jesus Christ Superstar" (musical theater). More Americans attended live theatre in 1993 then in any previous year the century, but that theater is now augmented with microphones, video walls, robotic lighting, digital sound systems and laser effects. There were more licensed theater companies in 2001 than 1991 or even 1941.
A consumer electronics revolution is underway.
It changes the way we live and bring wonders into our lives, wonders only imaged by science fiction and fantasy authors of decades past. At least that is the way things may go if everything happens as planned, there are no governmental obstacles, no economic obstacles, and no unforeseen national or international crises over the next six years.
The crystal ball is open for business with the following disclaimer: "product may vary from picture, not responsible for changes in supply and demand, may be subject to government regulation and subject to delay or cancellation."
The buzz words are "digital", "interactive", "automated", "Virtual Reality", "robotics”, "liquid crystal", "PDS" or "PDA", "laser", "channeling" and "high definition". Those words are already being overused or misapplied. They are losing their meaning and with it their impact.
The media of the next few decades will range from large flat high definition television screens replacing projected motion picture film (a giant savings to any films marketing bottom line) to tiny personal telephones with Internet and video capability kept in your pocket or worn on your wrists.
A handheld "does everything" Personal Data System Card is the projection of Microsoft Founder Bill Gates, who says that someday we will all be interconnected, able to communicate and transact business without political boarders or computer systems limitations. Business and social interaction will no longer be limited by physical distance. The world will be one big community, drawn together by a common communications technology.
Mergers, cooperative ventures, compacts, stock swaps and international investment have positioned most major companies for the coming of the information highway, the digital age. Satellite technology and the ever shrinking, ever improving microchip are the engines driving the electronics and communication revolutions, which some say will be viewed historically as we now view the industrial revolution of the last century.
Understanding New Technologies
To understand the "new world order" you must understand that information technology is driven by hardware and software. The hardware is shrinking in size, increasing in power and flexibility with each new generation the engineer’s design. Software is any information developed for dissemination, including but not limited to motion pictures, television programs and even this magazine!
The landscape is ever changing with even the Wall Street Journal and Variety having trouble keeping track of who owns whom or who controls what. One thing is certain, six integrated multi-media information corporations now control the overwhelming majority of information and entertainment distribution and with that a tremendous amount of the decisions made in production and in what people see or hear and why.
A few historic snapshots to consider:
In January ‘94 Viacom (a cable system operator and program syndicator, best classified as an information distributor), months before winning the Paramount takeover bid (considered a software producer), merged with Blockbuster Video. In addition to a nation wide chain of video rental stores, Blockbuster also holds investments in live performance venues, theme parks, transportation and international communications.
For example: Aaron Spelling Productions ("Charlie's Angels" among others) is a Blockbuster subsidiary. A joint venture with Phillips Electronics will put Blockbuster at the forefront of narrow band digital direct satellite transmission. In purchasing Blockbuster, Viacom not only picked up a video chain, but a future provider of movies and programming over satellites and an extensive network of retail locations to service any reception hardware and collect for services rendered. The same satellites will put Blockbuster into the direct to satellite personal telephone market, projected to eventually replace cellular and possibly land based telephone services.
Also in January ‘94, American Telephone and Telegraph (a name left over from the "old" technology and an icon for the new), Sony and Motorola agreed to join forces to create an interactive network for voice, video, text and information. AT&T is a major telecommunications company. In addition to hardware, Sony's holdings include Columbia and Tri Star Pictures, Sony Television, Columbia Records and Sony Classics. Sony’s media is turn is owned by NewsCorp (a British corporation), the Rupert Murdock (and Australia) dominated corporation that owns Fox television and Fox Studios. Motorola is launching of a system of low altitude satellites that will pick up digital signals from personal telephones and is in use today for relaying high end walkie talkie and radio messages, used by emergency personnel, the military and large corporate communications. Some of the distribution of Internet signals already go through space over the Motorola system.
Within a decade, and probably sooner, it will be possible to contact any point on the planet from anywhere else on the planet without once using land lines or microwave transmission. You will be able to watch movies on demand on your telephone; portable video screen or you’re your clothing. What makes this possible is combination of micro technologies including both broad and narrow band digital transmission.
The revolution is not HDTV, Virtual Reality or any other specific product or software. The revolution is digital!
Technology is moving so rapidly many engineers have trouble keeping up, much less manufacturers, educators, students or the common man. Most of what you buy today that is “cutting edge” is obsolete long before it hits the consumer shelves. The marketplace, warehouses and specialized production facilities dictate release of new produce from India to China, England to South Africa. Intel already has supercomputer processors that are only atoms wide, far beyond anything you can buy off the shelf today.
The consumers must adapt to any new technology. Computers only recently surpassed a 60% household penetration in the United States and HDTV sets (which will make the first generation of DVD obsolete) are only now starting to pick up in consumer sales.
Perhaps Geraldine Laybourne, President of the Nickelodeon cable channel has the answer.
"Kids were the ones who drove the whole video game industry, now a seven billion dollar a year business, they will drive the next generation of technology...My kids learned to use computers long before I did."
If Laybourne and Prohaska are right, the role of the actor in the communications revolution is in the hands of the generation who will benefit the most.
What’s In it for Me?
New technology has an additional up side. High volume distribution also brings with it a high demand for ‘software’ and for talent!
Talent in Las Vegas, in Nevada or anywhere will need to be competitive with the best talent available on the planet. Training, practice, skills and learning how to enjoy every aspect of the process will be vital to survive and compete in the new wired world of digital communications and technology. Increased opportunities will bring with an increased need to understand the business, know the language, walk the walk, talk the talk and be able to use your considerable talents.
THESIS PRESENTATION PROJECT PROPOSAL
There is a need for this book, and for the three primary segments of this book: basic localized industry information, an integrated and approachable teaching tool in the form of a glossary, and a series of interviews with industry professionals.
There is no honest and open source for basic industry information and
advice specific to the Las Vegas market. There is no single directory,
although if they search several directories aggressive talent can find most
of the information they need on line or in local publications. It is
scattered and not centralized.
While there are many books and resources available on entering the
industry, there are few that are up to date or that look forward to the new technologies, and none that I can find that is specific to Nevada.
There are glossaries and dictionaries available, but none that I could
find that is comprehensive to the merging of the entertainment field and
none with the voice I intend on using, a casual first person teachers voice
with examples and interesting or entertaining tangents.
The entertainment and information industry are glamour industries
attracting would-be actors, broadcasters and performers in record numbers. In Las Vegas alone, many hundreds of would-be actors register at local agencies whenever a single production requiring actors and background talent shoots on location in Clark County. There are businesses that make sizable revenues off of these entry-level potential actors. Most of these businesses paint rainbow images of success in the industry without informing this new talent of the training, time or the other resources needed and available to them.
The resources exist, with many texts written about surviving or entering the business in Los Angeles or New York
This book draft is a work in progress, with editing, format and most
certainly fine tuning in focus and voice required to produce a final
Additional references and resources are available. A library of
interviews conducted by the author, as well as notes taken at seminars and courses, is available for primary source elements, as well as access to other professionals in the industry as needed. I have the full resources
discovered during the preparation of the Youth Theater Project Proposal, my Screen Actors Guild Communications Thesis and the previously submitted Screen Actors Guild Merger proposal.
Interviews are scheduled or planned with Nevada and Los Angeles based casting directors, agents, managers, directors, actors, and others who work within the entertainment and information industry. The Nevada Film Commissioner has agreed to cooperate on this project, as has one of my current employers: John Robert Powers. Interviews that would have to be made to write the Nevada Community Theater and Rainbow Company proposed papers would also prove useful in the completion of this book as a Masters Project in Theater.
Ignorance is dangerous. The book or books that could result from this
proposed Masters Project could help would be actors to avoid a few costly
traps, delaying missteps and wrong decisions as they are lured by the
illusion of Hollywood in Las Vegas.