Creating The Evidence…Again!

On Friday, June 30th, I will be shooting a new scene for my actor reel. I want to make sure that I keep my arsenal, my actor package, current and marketable. I’ll be playing a computer hacker along with friend and fellow actress, Lindsay Hopper, who will also be playing a computer hacker. I’m excited to add this visual piece of evidence to my actor tool kit because this is a part I can play. I’m excited to share this scene with my reps so that they can use it as another tool to promote me with.

I’m excited that the script and production design are influenced by Mr. Robot to really hone in on a specific world of computer hacking. I’m excited that I asked Lindsay, “Hey, can you write a short scene for my reel where I play a computer hacker?”, and that she wrote the scene immediately. I’m excited that I’ve been working on my character so that on the day of shooting, I can let it go and trust that the work I’ve done will be there.

I’m excited that I have the ability to create the evidence (from filming my own products/projects to writing pilots and feature films) I’m excited that I’ll have a filmed scene for my reel that matches the computer hacker headshots I took earlier this year.

Creating the evidence puts me in the driver’s seat. Creating the evidence opens doors to opportunities.

What are you currently creating and working on? Let me know in the comments section below!

Being “On Go” Update!

Hello my fellow artistic warriors! I hope you all are having a safe and wonderful Memorial Day weekend.

Last Sunday, I posted a blog entry about being “on go”. I challenged myself to be on go for the next seven days for my career. I also encouraged others to share with me how they would be on go for their careers as well. Here is the link to that blog entry: http://wp.me/p8uI5M-cK

Today, I’d like to share my experiences and accomplishments. Now, please understand that this is not about me showing off. Not at all! This is about creating accountability for myself. To hold myself accountable and to see where I backed off when it came to being “on go”. I hope that what I experienced will help others out with being “on go”.

When I look back at the last seven days of being “on go”, I think I did a pretty good job of doing so. I tackled and accomplished a lot of things from my list without hesitation. I reached out. I acted on something. I moved on something. I asked for things. I communicated and expressed. Again, I think I did a pretty good job of being on go. Being on go forced me to not question, to act now. To do it now.

I learned that being on go means that you also honor your instincts. I had an instinct, a knowingness about something on Tuesday morning (May 23rd), but I went against it and now I’m experiencing the repercussions of it. Fortunately, the repercussions are not damaging or devastating or irreversible, but still annoying because I KNEW. I KNEW! My instinct told me to act in a certain way and to go in a particular direction, but I went against it to not rock the boat. To not cause trouble. Lesson learned. I won’t do that again.

I also flinched Wednesday morning (May 24th) on executing the beginning of my social media campaign for a project I have developed. I flinched (to draw back or withdraw from) because I realized I wasn’t ready to launch that social media campaign. I know that this social media plan (plus a couple of other things related to my project) will put me in a position of attention and accountability…and there’s just one dynamic regarding my project that I haven’t mastered yet. So that’s where my flinch came from and why I stopped being on go in this particular instance. I was like, “I have one shot with this. I have to make sure that when I do launch this campaign, that I’m ready to deliver.”

But like my teacher, Richard Lawson, says, “The wrong way is the right way.” Meaning that it’s better to stay in motion than to remain at rest. Cause at least while you’re in motion, you’ll figure out that you’re going the wrong way and then you’ll equip yourself with the right tools or knowledge to start going the right way. I didn’t want to start my social media campaign because I’m still trying to understand this one important dynamic about my project.

That being said, I should have started my campaign and then been on go to get the information I needed. Being on go means that I’ll figure it out. Being on go involves trust and confidence that everything will work out. Being on go means that there are no regrets or what if or would have, could have, should have. I wonder what would have happened if I had launched my campaign on May 24th? I’ll never know now.

However, I won’t stay stuck on that. I won’t kick myself and feel bad for myself. The point is that I identified my stop and now I’m on go again. Since Wednesday, May 24th, I have been on go to get this information and I will execute my social media campaign once the holiday weekend is over. Be on go! I still don’t have all the answers, but I’ll start the campaign and know that I will have the answers and info I need. When the opportunity comes, I will be ready. Trust that, Jorge (“George”)!

Here is a list of things I was able to accomplish by being on go. And this is not just a random list of things. I’m not trying to be busy for the sake of being busy. I’m pushing a career forward as an actor and writer. All these actions are connected to my DOIN’ (Declaration of Independence) aka my business plan. These actions are connected to what I want to accomplish this year from my DOIN’. For each action, I bolded what area that pushes (e.g. actor, writer, producer, human being)

  • Responded to a contact that used to work with someone I am targeting. (Writer)
  • Printed a series of postcards at FedEx for my feature film project. These postcards will be part of my campaign. (Writer)
  • Typed up and printed mailing labels for postcards. (Writer)
  • Posted new blog entry about being on go and shared it on social media and with my contacts. (Actor and Writer)
  • Responded to post-production timeline on a film I produced. (Actor and Writer and Producer)
  • Returned a ton of emails. (Actor and Writer and Human Being)
  • Found other projects that a casting office casts and engaged with them via Twitter. (Actor)
  • Found out who the casting directors were for two TV shows I could be on. (Actor)
  • Donated to a fundraising campaign for a web series that my friend created. (Human Being)
  • Reached out to a director in scene study class and asked them if they would direct me in a scene. They said YES. They suggested I look at “A Fish Called Wanda” (the Kevin Klein character.) I will watch the movie as soon as I post this blog entry. (Actor)
  • Emailed a showrunner to check in and rekindle communication. (Human Being)
  • Posted two procedural auditions on Youtube and shared them with my agents. (Actor)
  • Followed up with and read the marketing campaign my commercial agency did for me. (Actor)
  • Continued reading articles on pitching movie scripts. (Writer)
  • Sketched the floor plan for my office. (Mogul. Empire)
  • Read three new scenes for my actor reel. (Actor)
  • Communicated with team about my feature film project. (Writer)
  • Met with a student from class to answer questions they had. (Human Being)
  • Helped another student on their journey to secure an agent or manager. (Human Being)
  • Sent self-care reminders to another student. (Human Being)
  • Emailed my agent a proposal. (Actor)
  • Engaged three separate times with a list of individuals I admire and respect. (Artist)

 

Sleeping With James Franco Part 2

Dear James Franco,

I haven’t forgotten about you! I know, I know! The last time I wrote you an open letter was on July 15th, 2015. It was titled, “Sleeping With James Franco For 8 Months”. For those of you who are interested in reading that blog entry, here is the link:

https://chasingthegeorge.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/sleeping-with-james-franco-for-8-months/

Rest assured that I haven’t forgotten about you! I am implementing the next phase to seal this deal! And to make it up to you, here is a song I want to dedicate to you from “The Roar of the Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd”. Lyrics appear below the picture.

james-franco-smile-computer-wallpaper-52853-54571-hd-wallpapers

“Look at that face –
Just look at it,
Look at that fabulous face of yours.
I knew first look I took at it,
This was the face that the world adores.

Look at those eyes –
As wise and as deep as the sea.
Look at that nose –
It shows what a nose should be.

As for your smile, it’s lyrical –
Friendly and warm as a summer’s day –
That face is just a miracle.
Where could I ever find words to say.

The way that it makes me happy
Whatever the time or place?
I’ll find in no book
What I find when I look
At that face.”

Maintaining Healthy Agent Relationships

I wanted to share some cool advice on what I do to maintain a healthy relationship with my agent. I hope this advice will be helpful to you!

Maintain consistent communication with your agent. You and your agent can determine the frequency with which you both communicate because each agency is different. Also, find out what their preferred method of communication is (email, text, phone call, in person) In my case, it’s through email.

Please know that agents are incredibly busy people, so make sure that your communications are clear, to the point and not filled with filler and bullshit. Don’t waste your time, don’t waste their time. Make the communication effective and business-focused. This is your agent, not your best friend from college. The communication should be about something that can move your career forward (e.g., you signed up for a new improv class; you are taking new headshots; you updated your reel and are providing a link for them to watch it; you are taking a casting director workshop; you took a casting director workshop and you are providing your agent with quotes that the casting director said about you; you are reaching out to see what materials they need from you, etc.)

Use communication to work together towards the realization of your dreams. Is there a series you’re passionate about and can see yourself on? Let your agent know and have them keep their eye out on the casting breakdowns for that series and possible characters on it that they can submit you for. If your agent knows you’re passionate about a series, then their attention will be on it. They may even encourage you to target the series as well!

Return their communications in a timely manner. Don’t have them chase after you. If they ask you to do something that could benefit your career, consider it and do it. The relationship between you and agent is a dance partnership. Present your viewpoints and listen to their viewpoints. Fight for the stuff you believe in and consider their ideas as well. Be open and “yes, and…” The cool thing about this dance partnership is that when you first interview with an agent, be clear about what you want for your career and how this partnership can support that. Be clear about what you want from jump street so that all communications and actions can be in support of your dream.

Update your materials on a consistent basis and send to them. Headshots, reels, etc. In addition, email them auditions you’ve done in your on-camera audition class. Email them links to projects you’re in. In this way, you’re giving your agent tools that they can work with and pitch you with. In addition, they’ll also see that you’re active about your career. Keep them excited and invested in you by involving them in your journey. Make the effort to stay in their minds.

Be in a good acting class to continue training and growing as an actor. Scene study, improv, on-camera audition class, etc. I don’t care what it is. Be in class and stay sharp.

Be prepared for the auditions you are sent on. Prepared from confirming the audition with your agent to knowing what the project is about to being off book to getting there on time to sending thank you cards to the casting directors afterwards, etc.

Be enthusiastic about your career and be committed to it! If they see that you are enthusiastic and committed to your career, then they will be more inclined to go to bat for you and prolong the business relationship longer.

Thank them for the work they do for you! Whether it’s in the form of words or gifts, appreciation goes a very long way! Agents do a lot of work and don’t get paid until their clients book work. Show them that you appreciate them. Thank them every time they secure an audition for you. Thank them for going through the casting breakdowns every day for you. Appreciation goes a very long way!

Understand that we have to do the majority of the work in this business relationship. It’s your career and so it’s your responsibility to put in the hours and work. Don’t rely on your agent to do it all for you. That’s not how this works.

Leave me a comment and share what you do to maintain healthy relationships with your agents! I’d love to read them and possibly implement them as well!

How I Secured An Agent In 6 Weeks

In June 2015, I had 4 agent meetings in 2 ½ weeks. And not just any old agent meetings. These were agents that were on my target list. By June 30th, I signed a year-long contract with one of them. The length of time it took me to secure a new agent was about six weeks. Let me share what I did.

In mid-May, I received an email from my former agent saying that they were dropping me. I had been with them for a year and I sensed that the writing was on the wall because our year-long affair didn’t produce any results. I won’t sit here and point fingers and blame because I’m all about learning from the lessons and applying them to the future.

So, I didn’t have representation. I felt naked. I felt like I was starting all over again. This was the first time in years that I didn’t have representation. The prospect of starting all over again was daunting at first. But then again, I love rising to challenges. I definitely knew that I didn’t want months to go by without having representation. I knew that I wanted to secure great representation in a short period of time.

The first step in assembling my dream team was to be clear about and to identify the type of relationship I was looking for. I had to be clear about the relationship I was going to have with this agent(s) for the next six months to a year. It’s no different from online dating. You set filters and parameters in terms of what you are looking for. You are very specific so that your search results yield close to or exactly to what you’re looking for. So if you’re going to be that specific when it comes to online dating, why not be as specific as to who you are going to have on your team for your career? Or as my teacher and mentor, Richard Lawson, says, “Who is on your career bus?” I reached out to my friends and shared with them what I was looking for–and if they liked their agents, could they refer me.

I knew that I wanted to create a career marriage, a career partnership, between myself and the other agent(s). Where there would be accountability, communication and hustling. Where I would receive their support and belief in my vision and dreams. I think it’s important and vital that an agent supports a vision that an actor has for themselves. And that the agent is willing to say, “Yes and…” and “Have you also tried this?” and “How about exploring this over here in order to help get what you want?” An agent that loves actors who are pro-active in their careers and administrate it on a daily basis. An agent who loves actors and loves what they do.

The second step I took, after I identified the type of relationship I was looking for with an agent, was to go on IMDb Pro. Not sure how many people are aware of this, but just as IMDb has a “Star Meter”–which ranks every single person in their database according to their popularity for the week–they also rank companies. When you log onto IMDb Pro, there is a link that says “Company”. Click on it and you will see a drop down menu which ranks agencies, management companies, production companies, etc. I selected “Talent Agencies”. At the time of this writing, the top 10 agencies included CAA, ICM, UTA, WME, Paradigm, Gersh, APA, etc. Now, looking at where I am in my career, my skill set as an actor and my credits, I probably would not be targeting these agencies. However, if I had an undeniable product that HBO or Showtime or The Weinstein Company wanted to acquire from me, then I would call any one of them for a meeting and representation.

So I knew that my target had to be boutique agencies who have working actors. They’re not A-listers, but B-listers who work all the time. And so I knew that I would start looking at agencies within the rankings of 75 to about 400. I didn’t want to look at agencies with rankings beyond 400. I didn’t want to look at any agency that had a ranking of 1,000, 2,000 or 3,000 because it makes me wonder how much pull, clout or influence they have to make a phone call and/or get me into the doors of different casting offices. **If your experience has been different, please let me know. But that was the policy I created for myself.

Another element important to me was to find an agency that was SAG-AFTRA franchised. “A ‘franchised agent’ is a person, firm or corporation that has entered into an agreement with SAG-AFTRA under which they agree to abide by certain rules and conditions when dealing with performers who work within SAG and AFTRA’s jurisdiction.” (taken from the SAG-AFTRA website) This ensures that the agency is working with your best interests in mind as a union, professional performer.

Now here comes the tedious part. Here comes the work. But when you do the work, then everything else flows quickly. Don’t believe me? Again, refer to my first paragraph and see how quickly I got an agent…because I put in the work. I clicked on every single agency on the list between rankings 75 through 400 and looked for a few things. I looked at how many agents the agency had. I looked at how many clients they had: Too many clients, I may get lost in the shuffle. I looked at some of their clients’ credits to see what they have booked. I looked to see if the agency had a website. If they did, I visited it. It helps when they have a website because it gives me a personal insight into their company. When I would visit the agency’s website, I would look for their mission statement, their company philosophy, “what we do”, “who we are”, “about us”, “about the company”, etc. Again, think of online dating. You read through a person’s profile to see if their statistics, their bio, their status speaks to you and what you’re looking for. If any agency didn’t speak to me and what I was looking for, I would move on to the next one. The agencies with mission statements or company philosophies that resonated with me, I entered them onto an Excel spreadsheet and took notes.

So once I compiled my target list of agencies that spoke to me and what I was looking for, I started crafting cover letters for each one. I wanted to make the letters specific to the agency that I was writing to. This is where I would refer to the notes that I jotted down next to each agency. If there was something cool or unique that stood out on their website, I would include that in the cover letter as well. I made the cover letters short, but effective. Remember, these are agents. They are incredibly busy people who don’t have the time to read a very long letter. All day long, they are on the phone pitching their clients, going through the breakdowns and submitting their clients on many projects, taking meetings, negotiating contracts, working out conflicts and receiving tons of submissions from other actors as well.

This is where the six-week journey began: The first round of emails went out on Tuesday, May 12th. The following Tuesday, May 19th, I followed up by mailing out a round of postcards to my target agents that said I was seeking a new dream team. A week later, Tuesday, May 26th, I followed up with another round of emails to my target agents. The email communication was slightly different since it was a follow up. That same day, I heard back from three different agents. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the answer I was looking for. They each informed me that they already had someone like me on their roster and so they didn’t want to create a conflict of interest. They were very nice and thanked me for reaching out to them. A couple of them even encouraged me to follow up in six months to see if they still repped the same person.

Later that same week, I started getting the answer I was looking for. Two agencies reached back to me and wanted to schedule a time to meet for next week (which puts us in the first week of June.) So that first week of June, I had two meetings set. When the first week of June arrived, I also received another request from an agent to meet the following week (the second week of June.)

I knew that outflow equaled inflow. That because I kept up the momentum, I finally started impinging on their universes. That’s three meetings right there. The fourth and last meeting I secured, interestingly enough, was an agency that I had somehow skipped over. On Saturday, June 13th, something compelled me to go back to the agency list on IMDb Pro. I did, and boom, I ran across this particular agency I somehow missed the first time around. When I clicked on their website, I was blown away by the company’s philosophy that actors need to treat themselves as a business. They want actors who are professional and who go after the careers on a daily basis. I was like, “Hell yeah! How did I miss this agency?!” I composed an email and sent it out on Monday, June 15th. Tuesday evening, I received a request from the owner of the agency to meet on Friday, June 19th.

To recap so far: First meeting June 2nd. Second meeting June 4th. Third meeting June 11th. Fourth meeting June 19th. Roughly 2 ½ weeks starting with the first meeting on June 2nd.

What I discovered in each and every meeting was the importance of being yourself. Because inevitably, the question that every single agent asked was, “So tell me about yourself?” That’s a question that’s hard for a lot of people to answer. People get tripped up on that question. But because of my training with Richard Lawson, and understanding the principles of politics, personality and craft, I was able to be myself and talk about myself. And not about being an actor. They know that. I talked about topics of interest with charm, humor and irony. I talked about growing up in Brooklyn when Brooklyn was the place you wouldn’t be caught dead living in. I talked about my ethnicity and how my older brother would call me a “dumb Rican” (I’m Dominican and Puerto Rican). I didn’t talk about my acting first because I knew that we would eventually get to that.

Which leads me to my next point: When the acting discussion eventually comes up, you have to know your product inside and out. Be prepared to tell them what you want and see for yourself. Be prepared to talk about your casting. Be prepared to talk about why you’re at the level you’re at in your career.

Your resume better be clean and professional. Your headshots better be clear and professional. You better have a monologue ready. You better have a scene prepared. You better understand the state of the industry today. You better understand writing and how to create content for yourself a la the Lena Dunhams, the Tyler Perrys, the Cristela Alonzos, the Mindy Kalings, the countless Youtubers, etc. You better know how to put yourself on tape for an audition as more and more casting directors are requesting taped auditions.

These agents wanted to see that I was clear about my product. These agents wanted to see that I was not green or inexperienced, pleading for a job. Pleading for them to hold my hand and do all the work for me. Because the reality is that they want you to do the work. You are a business. You are supposed to clock in and clock out like any other business. And many actors don’t seem to understand that. Every agent said to me that the actor is supposed to do the work. It is our job to be in class, to keep our headshots up-to-date, to understand the business of show business, to understand and utilize social media, to hustle, etc. When you come into the room with confidence, with life force, with your guns blazing, they appreciate that. Even if at the end of the day they don’t sign you, you at least booked the room and you’ve made an impression on them. They can look back and say, “This person is clear about what they want and they’re not new to the game. They’re serious about this business. They’re in it for life.”

In the end, two of the agencies passed on me. One is actually a manager who is deciding whether to take me on as an actor or as a writer (she’s currently reading two of my television pilots.) And the fourth agent–the one who I somehow missed the first time around on IMDb Pro–offered me representation on Monday, June 22nd. He was very excited to offer me representation and gave me up until June 30th to look over the contract, sign it and then get it back to him.

And there you have it. Well, my experience at least.