A quick look inside the life of a writer. Let me know in the comments below what I left off and what you do as a writer!
Hey everyone! It’s that time of the year when I like to stop for a moment, recap and catch everyone up on the exciting blog entries I’ve posted over the last 4 months. Ranging from When To Get An Agent to When To Leave Your Agent to What Is A Win to me dropping off my feature film script to James Franco’s production company, let’s take a stroll down memory lane from oldest blog entry to the newest:
Happy Birthday! https://wp.me/p8uI5M-iN
Taking It To The Next Level: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-jx
A Big Win With James Franco: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-jR
What Is A Win? https://wp.me/p8uI5M-mS
The Revolution Begins: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-os
When To Get An Agent Or Manager: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-6T
Happy 15th Anniversary! https://wp.me/p8uI5M-qq
Happy Labor Day Weekend! https://wp.me/p8uI5M-rq
Self-Tape Audition Adventures: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-rA
The Showrunner In Me: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-sx
Do You Celebrate? https://wp.me/p8uI5M-uj
A New Journey Begins: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-wo
The Power Of The Human Spirit: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-x6
Quick Tip: Callbacks https://wp.me/p8uI5M-xn
Pre-Production Begins! https://wp.me/p8uI5M-xx
When To Leave Your Agent: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-y5
“When should I leave my agent?” This is a question I receive often from actors. I’ll do my best to offer my perspective because it’s a great question.
First, actors need to understand and realize that they are entering into a business partnership with their agents. And like any business partnership, there has to be a constant exchange that occurs between the two parties. In the partnership between an actor and agent, the actor is the one who needs to put in more work. Some actors expect the agent to do ALL the work for them. And these same actors sit back and complain that their agent is not getting them out enough or not getting them out at all for auditions.
Remember, when you book an acting job, you typically receive 90% of the pay and your agent receives the remaining 10%. So just these percentages alone should clearly indicate that you are the one who is driving your career bus. You are the driver. You are the one that is in charge of developing the relationship with your agent. You are the one that is in charge of sharing your dreams, your business plan, your goals, your hustle, your materials, etc. to your agent. It is your responsibility to keep the exchange in this business partnership alive and exciting.
Some actors do not do that. They don’t navigate their own journey and expect the agent to do all of the work for them. And in this day of technology, social media, insta-fame and insta-celebrity, people want things YESTERDAY. I want to be a star YESTERDAY. I should be working YESTERDAY. And so when an actor signs with an agent, some want to jump ship if their agent doesn’t produce results in a month! I’ve known actors who have jumped ship after being with a new agent for a few months. I’m like: What the fuck?!
It’s like those actors who jump from acting class to acting class and expect to receive a fully-realized education and experience in a few months. “I’ll take scene study for three months here and then I’ll jump into this on-camera acting class for four weeks.” I’ve had actors ask me what they can get out of a scene study class in two months. What the fuck?! It doesn’t work like that. When you enroll in an acting class, you need to commit time to it. You have to let the teaching work. It takes time, commitment and application to really get a handle and understanding of a particular acting approach. Your career is a marathon race. Your career is a life race.
Look at it from this perspective: Are you going to enroll in a gym and expect the long-term results you’re seeking to achieve in one month? Are you going to declare a college major and expect to master that discipline in a few months?
So, why do some actors jump ship so quickly when their new agent hasn’t secured an audition for them in a month? Give this relationship time. The agent is learning about you. They are learning about where you fit and belong. They are learning about your strengths. At the same time, you have to be present in this exchange and make them excited to have you on board.
So, going back to the original question (“When should I leave my agent?”), my personal advice is:
*Leave when you have been with your agent for a year and have exhausted every single avenue to get yourself out there. Meaning, in the year that you’ve been with your agent, did you do everything to update your headshots and reel; to be in an acting class; to utilize social media as a way to build relationships with industry people; to create evidence for yourself that you can share with your agent and the world; to give your agent a list of shows you can be on right now; to pitch you for projects in production or in development; did you ask them what they need from you; etc.
When you have done everything in your power to build this relationship in a year, then you can leave. You’ve exhausted every avenue.
And look, I know that some agents are better than others in terms of their ability/clout to get their clients into the door. I totally know that. Some agents have better/great relationships with casting directors and other industry people. So I know that all agents are not created equally. But don’t jump around from agent to agent when you haven’t done your part to build the relationship first and foremost.
Also, leave if your agent is hostile or unsupportive. If the atmosphere is hostile and unsupportive, leave. But you should have already sensed that from the first meeting with them. You’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you. You know in your gut if something is not a right fit. I remember meeting an agent–who on paper–seemed like a great fit. But as soon as I stepped into their office and met them, I could feel this was a hostile environment. When we talked, they had a hostile point of view about how an agent-actor relationship should work. They believed that an actor shouldn’t tell an agent what to do, they shouldn’t ask an agent to pitch them for things, etc. Basically, the agent runs the show and the actor is the passenger with no voice.
I clearly was not down for that. I’m looking for collaboration. I discovered during this meeting that the agent was a former actor and I understood why they were hostile: They had a failed purpose with acting and they were taking it out on other actors. No thank you. I was out the door for that agency.
Sometimes, when an actor has momentum and trajectory, they leave their agency for another one that can open bigger doors for them. If you are booking a certain level of work with one agency and find that you’re stuck on that level for a while–and that agent can’t get you bigger auditions–then you can set your sights on a higher-level agency that can get you bigger auditions and opportunities. So, as your career progresses and gets bigger and bigger, you can move up to an agency that can handle that higher level and caliber of your career status. So if you’re stuck in co-star land and want to graduate to guest star, recurring guest star and series regular status, then look at a higher-level agency that can get you those auditions. Just make sure that you leave your current agent cleanly, with a sense of integrity and ethics. Express gratitude to them for getting you to this level and now you’re ready to go with another agent who can get you to a higher level.
So my advice is to leave after you’ve done everything you could to build that relationship in a year’s time. Or leave if the environment is hostile and unsupportive. Or leave when your career evolves into a higher status and you need a higher-level agency that can support that status.
See you next week! Maybe next week’s entry will be another video blog!
Hey everyone! I’m excited to announce that pre-production has begun on a new film that I wrote and will star in. On September 30th, I posted a blog entry titled “A New Journey Begins” (http://wp.me/p8uI5M-wo) in which I wrote about outlining my new film in 32 minutes. Shortly after, I wrote the first draft of the script in 1 hour and 25 minutes. I was thrilled to see a finished product before my eyes. I was thrilled to see this outline transform into a script!
Now, the pre-production phase begins. The excitement and nervousness. Yes, nervousness. I still get nervous before embarking on a new project that I’ve originated and that I will be leading. But that nervousness is channelled into excitement and action. To be on go! I’m putting another product out into the world and I can’t wait!
I’ve created a pre-production plan. I’ve registered my script. I’ve reached out to an actor friend of mine to pitch my film and email the script. He loved the script and is in. I’ve reached out to a DP and cinematographer I’ve worked with before to shoot my film. I’ve begun identifying and writing down potential crew members I’d love to work with again. I’m looking at a shoot date and location. I’ve begun downloading pictures from Google Images to inform the art direction and the storyboards. I’ve created a list of production equipment we’ll need for the shoot. I’ve already come up with a concept for wardrobe and how I want my co-star to physically look. I’m excited to start rehearsing with my co-star and making any tweaks to the script during our rehearsal process.
Hiring a producing team to help me execute certain things like securing the perfect location to filling out SAG paperwork.
I already know how I want to edit the film. I see how the whole film plays out in my head.
And many other things that are involved in the pre-production process!
I’m excited to create another project and see how much further I can take this one in terms of the writing, the storytelling, the acting and the technical aspects. My aim is to always get better with each project. I can’t wait to bring this project out into the world as another example of my work and voice as an artist.
Shout out to my younger brother Bobby who encouraged me to do a video blog this time around! He reads my blog every week and is a big supporter of my career! I’ve only done one other video blog before (In 2016, right before I shot a film and I was sharing my character’s wardrobe with everyone)
Click on the link below to get a quick tip of the day regarding callbacks! (Shout out to the motorcycle gang at the end of the video!)
As artists, we need to continually be in creative motion. We need to be involved in a handful of projects at any given moment so that we stay on path and remain artistically fulfilled. In other words, if one project doesn’t work out or doesn’t quite take off, then you have these other projects you’re working on. Conversely, if one project takes off and then that chapter finally comes to an end, then you have other projects to jump into. Let’s say you’re in a series and then it goes on hiatus for the summer. Cool. Now get back into class and put up some new scenes or shoot a short film over the summer based upon that script you wrote while you were shooting your series. Staying in creative motion is a cool, built-in defense mechanism. An artistic shield that keeps you moving forward from one project to the next.
I say all this because a few days ago, I outlined my next film script in 32 minutes! I am a huge fan of The Twilight Zone and Black Mirror and my script will pay homage to these great shows. I am so excited and proud of myself because as soon as the idea flashed across my mind, I jumped on it and didn’t question it. I didn’t throw away my idea because it was too big or too crazy or too this or too that. If you remember, my first blog entry of 2017 was a passage from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance”:
To believe our own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost,–and our first thought, is rendered back to us by the trumpets of the Last Judgment. Familiar as the voice of the mind is to each, the highest merit we ascribe to Moses, Plato, and Milton is, that they set at naught books and traditions, and spoke not what men but what they thought. A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else, to-morrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.
I detected that gleam of light that flashed across my mind and jumped on the opportunity to outline my script. In 32 minutes. That is the power of following your genius. I can’t wait to write the script and shoot it in the near future. I’m clear that I am the protagonist in this. The focus of the story. And I want to go the other way in the casting of my co-star. And my instinct is right about how I want to cast my co-star and present this casting as the paragon of what I’m looking at in my story.
Creation is definitely tied to the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary definition of “Imagination”:
We would define imagination to be the will working on the materials of memory; not satisfied with following the order prescribed by nature, or suggested by accident, it selects the parts of different conceptions, or objects of memory, to form a whole more pleasing, more terrible, or more awful, than has ever been presented in the ordinary course of nature.
And I’m excited to get to work!
Until next time, keep Chasing The George!
P.S. I outlined my script in 32 minutes and it took me 32 minutes to write this blog entry! How synchronistic is that?!
Happy Sunday! Not too long ago, I posted a blog entry about what a win is and what defines one. For example, is it only a win when you book a job in the entertainment industry? I wanted to shed some light and a new perspective on what a win is. Here is the link to that particular blog entry: http://wp.me/p8uI5M-mS
Well, now that you have a greater understanding of what a win is, and you’ve had some wins in your life and in your career, what did you do to celebrate them? Did you take the time to celebrate that win or did you forget about it and move on to the next thing on your “to do” list? You know, that list of things you keep crossing off and you keep crossing off and don’t ever acknowledge the progress you’re making because you’re only focused on the end goal? “I just want to keep crossing things off my list and then I’ll celebrate! I can’t stop moving now!”
Celebration is important. The definition of celebration is: To observe (a day or event) with ceremonies of respect, festivity, or rejoicing.
How cool is that?! To observe a win you’ve had with respect, festivity or rejoicing. Sing praise! Rejoice! Hallelujah! Give back to yourself for the work you did to achieve that win. Celebrate! Woo hoo! Sing out loud from the rooftops how kick ass you are! But wait. How many of us actually celebrate? How many of us actually carve out time to celebrate that win we just accomplished? Remember, now that you have a clearer understanding of what a win is, celebration should be a frequent part of your journey.
Celebration should be immediate. It should be done quickly in order for you to cement the win. To cement the accomplishment. Don’t let time pass because then you will forget the win you had. When you celebrate, you are planting your marker on the ground as an acknowledgement of what you’ve achieved. You are staking your claim with celebration. You are claiming for yourself. When you celebrate, really give it to yourself. Remind yourself why you are having this celebration in the first place to really cement it in even more. For example, when I get celebrate with a massage, I think to myself during it, “I’m getting this massage for that kick-ass callback I had. I’m getting this massage for that kick-ass callback I had.”
Celebration is a form of respect for you and the work you’ve put in to achieve something. Something you’ve moved forward. A discovery you made in the journey of your life and career. Life and this career is already challenging as it is, so celebration keeps us on the path. It reminds us that we are winning and advancing forward. If you don’t celebrate along the way, you lose perspective. If you don’t celebrate the little things along the way, you’re not going to celebrate the bigger things either. Crazy, right? You’re thinking you’re only going to celebrate when you win that Oscar. Or that Emmy. Or when you get your first series regular role. Or when you sell your first script. “I’ll finally celebrate when I get that big thing!”
The irony is that if you wait to celebrate until you achieve that big thing, you won’t enjoy nor celebrate even then! You’ll finally get that series regular role but you won’t celebrate because you’ll think to yourself, “But yeah, it’s a series regular role on a smaller network. I wanted a series regular role on HBO!” Or “I won an Oscar, but it’s only for supporting actor!” “I booked my first role, but it’s only five lines!” Your expectations are higher than your gratitude. Celebration keeps you in gratitude and it helps you to see the through line of your journey. Celebration keeps you present versus you only focusing on the goal ahead and not taking stock of your progress.
Celebrate and honor the audition you had just as you would celebrate the series regular booking. Celebrate it all because it’s all part of the journey. They are all connected. The audition led you to the callback and the callback led you to the network callback and that led you to your booking, etc.
You can’t and won’t enjoy the bigger things if you don’t acknowledge and celebrate the little things as well along the way.
And celebrations don’t have to be expensive. They don’t have to cost you a ton of money. Actually, you will discover different categories of celebration. One celebration will be appropriate for one type of win while another celebration will be appropriate for another type of win. For example, when I have an audition, I’m not going to celebrate afterwards by taking a trip to a beautiful, tropical island. I’ll most likely save that for when I sell my first feature film script.
So, as you move forward, start looking at ways you can celebrate and how you can organize them into different categories like small, medium and large celebrations. In my DOIN’ (Declaration of Independence) aka my business plan, I have my celebrations categorized into small, medium and large celebrations. I even took it a step further and defined for myself what wins would constitute a small, medium or large celebration. This helps me so that I can apply the right level of celebration to the win I just had.
Check them out below and I hope to hear from you about your own list of celebrations!
**Below is just a few examples of what kind of wins would constitute a small, medium or large celebration for myself:
Small celebration: Audition; callback; put up a scene in class; film festival acceptance; film festival screening; finish writing a scene in a film script or episodic script; submit script to a writing competition; etc.
Medium celebration: Booking paid acting work on TV (co-star; guest star) and feature films (supporting; principal); finish producing a short film; etc.
Large celebration: TV series order; feature film script sold for development and production; series regular booking; earn a significant pay increase; winning one of the following awards: Oscar, Golden Globe, Emmy, SAG, etc.
Small celebrations (sampling)
Get a full-body massage
Buy a nice bottle of champagne
Go to a drag show with friends
Go to a movie
Buy a new chocolate I haven’t tried before from Trader Joe’s
Medium celebrations (sampling)
Veuve Clicquot or Krug Rose with friends
Buy clothing from Rik Villa or Brandon Kee
Have dinner at a nice restaurant with friends
Purchase painting from a new artist
Large celebrations (sampling)
Buy a luxury car
Buy a home
Take a vacation in Hawaii, Cape Cod, the Dominican Republic, France, Spain or Australia
Purchase painting from Kehinde Wiley, Keith Haring, Roy Nachum or Jean-Michel Basquiat