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What’s In A Name? Should It Be On Your Resume?

Let’s dive a little deeper into the psychology of your resume and the effect of names, or in fact the words in general, that you put on it.

Of course your name should be on it…big and bold and at the top of a hard copy or PDF version along with your contact info.  Your online profiles place your name prominently by default. But what about names of directors, teachers, or even stars that you’ve worked with?  Should they go on there too?

In a word YES, but ONLY if they are just as, if not more, recognizable as yours and give influential meaning to the reader of your resume.  I’ve seen in the last few years the trend of adding a 4th column or replacing a production or theater company with a director’s name.  Why?  Because someone told you to or because everyone is doing it?

That’s called the blind leading the blind.  Mass mentality.  Not knowing how to market yourself correctly.

Why would you put student director, Joe Blow, on your resume?  Wouldn’t Columbia Film School or USC Grad Film seem a better visual and psychological connection for an agent or casting director to view and evaluate you on rather than an unknown person that has no meaning to them?  Industry professionals appreciate work done at the University level and of course these schools have a credibility and history so it explains more about YOU to see the recognizable school names…so take Joe Blow off.

What about Steven Spielberg?  Do not put his name there unless you had a speaking role in a recent feature and were actually directed by him.  The industry can certainly tell based on your union status and other credits if you were a background actor and putting Steven’s name on your resume now doesn’t enhance your status it hurts it.

In fact, agents and casting directors connect more to production companies and theater companies/producers because of their (most likely) multiple and prominent projects over years.  The more well known the name of the person, company, network or school is, the better for you!

The same thing applies for stars.  If you worked with them in a speaking role but the play, webisode, indie film, or other work title isn’t well known, putting the star’s name raises the visibility of the project, and you by association.

How about those teachers?  Absolutely…and it’s even better if those teachers are known and respected by the industry.  Take this into consideration the next time you’re looking for a great class and skill set to add.  Your talent agent (or perspective rep) would certainly like to see an audition technique class taught by a working casting director as that then becomes a connection for them to leverage in a submission for you on their next project.

And if you want to get to the nitty gritty of the psychology of words in general, consider the example of an @aol.com email address these days. You know immediately that anyone using one is over 40! (Yes, I still have one!)  It’s all about the immediate and automatic psychological connection we make between the words we view and our thoughts about them.

The names of the characters or kinds of roles you played can have a great impact.  For example, if your brand and product is an innocent/ingenue and you played a character named Gladys, that’s a disconnect, as we stereotypically think of Gladys being an older person’s name.

If you’re a leader type and you’re carving this perception with the credits on your resume, seeing the words (roles) Lawyer, Politician, Judge will have the reader of your resume understand this.  This does help in the beginning of your career when you have background credits or non-speaking roles in projects.

This is not to say you will be making things up that aren’t true on your resume, it’s saying that you can position your credits, take things off that don’t belong, and have complete creative control over the perception and product you’re selling.

There’s a ton of marketing psychology in play when industry professionals are reading your resume and looking for that “gut check” (at a glance most of the time) so the more you know about proper placement of words and name value, the better odds you’ll have of getting in the door to show your stuff.  After all, your resume is the tool that, along with the picture(s) that they see first, will get you that audition or not.

Have any comments or stories to tell?  I’d love to hear from some of you that I’ve worked with and hear about the adjustments we made on your resume and how they’ve impacted your audition rate.

Rescue Your Resume – Before It’s Too Late

Rescued from what you ask? A HUGE and most common mistake! Thinking that your acting resume is nothing more than a compilation of all of your previous work is folly. Why? Because that’s not how casting directors, agents, or anyone else in the industry view it.

Yeah, I thought I might get a “huuuhhhhh?” on that one.  Your resume is a living, breathing document that, at a glance, needs to tell agents, managers, casting directors and ultimately the creative team that will be hiring you, exactly what you’re capable of…now or in the immediate future!

Getting the right info on exactly how to position yourself for the roles you want can be tricky, but there is a strategy and system that works.  The first step is to change your thinking. You need to look at your resume from the reader’s point of view and realize it is simply the marketing tool that gets you in more doors, garners more auditions, and identifies what you uniquely have to offer.

Every resume will be different of course so you’re going to have already done the work of determining what you are “selling”.  Your resume (along with your headshots and media clips) are simply the “brochure” that gives the industry professional you want to attract, the “first look” to determine whether they want to “taste” (audition) the real thing in person.

Your talent agent knows that this is the same tool, the one you’ve created, that they will be using as well.  The casting directors they submit to are looking for first and foremost a few things to connect to and you’ll need to make these easy for them to find.

Psychologically the resume is a “mind map” – images for the reader that identify the roles you’re right for but haven’t played yet.  Remember, they are looking to see if you’re a match to the future role and looking for evidence that you’ve done something similar or have the training and “industry proof” via other people that have hired you in the past.  Everyone out there is reducing risk, valuing time, and need exactly what they need when they need it.

Your resume has to give them this info fast, clearly, and also create a big gut reaction that says “YES”.  Because if it isn’t a “hell yes”, it’s a “hell no”!

Here are a few tips for you to apply to your resume today that will help you immensely:

  • Do keep a separate electronic version 40K or less in a Word or PDF doc ONLY
  • Do put your NAME in file title extension
  • Do keep it easy to read, 3 columns, not 4 – forget those directors no one has ever heard of
  • Do put degrees earned even if not in theater studies
  • Do make sure it’s only 1 page, fits 8X10 should they choose to print it out

 

  • Don’t reference any years or dates EVER
  • Don’t put credits no longer valid (like Matlock or Annie when you were 10)
  • Don’t put non-special skills (you must do this better than 90% of others)
  • Don’t put your address on your resume
  • Don’t use funky or fancy fonts to stand out

Though we typically submit for representation and work through online casting sites, for now you’ll still need the old fashioned printable version that you can also email separately.  Make sure these have the same credits and are consistent.  Though some platforms limit you to the actual structure, try to keep the experience, people, and training the same.  You may want to move credits of your focus to the top to make them easier to find quickly.  The example here would be to put commercial credits at the top of the resume on LA Casting, though you may only put “list upon request” on the pdf version.

I’m sure I’m ruffling a few feathers here and may even illicit some contrary comments, but would love to hear your thoughts.  I can tell you that actors who have employed some of these simple changes have seen fabulous results!

Your Roadmap to Success – Your Resume

It seems like it should be much easier to convey your artistry and skills as an actor than through the process of submitting a picture and resume online among hundreds, if not thousands, to even GET THE CHANCE to show what you’ve got in person to get work.  A lot has changed with technology and the primary use of the internet as a vetting process before you can show off that great talent of yours.

It used to be that your credits were confined to one single 8×10 piece of paper attached to your headshot (electronically or hard copy no matter), but even with online casting profiles being prevalent, no matter the format or delivery system, exactly what and how much to put on your resume is a topic of consternation, frustration and/or mystery.

So how do you inform the reader of your resume “at a glance” (’cause that’s what it’s gonna get at best in the rush of this biz) that you are the RIGHT ACTOR for the job?  Or, if wanting representation, what is your future talent agent or manager looking for (again quickly) that speaks clearly, concisely, and most importantly stands out and shows you off as as potential income producing possibility?

Most actors have been taught to list everything they’ve ever done on their resume…especially when just starting out. Then, when there are many credits to choose from, you can start eliminating some of them…but which ones?

I have news for you.  “They” are wrong.  When  looking for a guide, consider your resume to be road map.  Do you take out a map to see where you’ve been? (OK, there’s a few in every crowd!)  Or do you take out a map to see where you’re going?

The first thing to consider is that your resume is the road map to your success.  What kind of success?  YOU get to say, and that’s the beauty of  it.  Instead of putting every darned thing on it that you think someone might possibly be interested in, who needs an actor for any given project of any and every kind, what are the projects that you want to be in?

How about being the designer of your future success, and creating the resume that reflects that instead of confusing the reader of your resume.  They are always  looking for a specific kind of actor for a specific role or addition to their talent stable.  Honestly, you can’t be all things to all people as you’ll end up being nothing to no one.

The first step is to cut out all of the things you’ve ever done that don’t reflect what you can currently do (get cast in).  Take off all of those roles that no longer support your “brand” or archetype you’re most likely going to be paid to play.  You do like that word paid don’t you?

In show BUSINESS, your talent (the product) is purchased to fulfill a need (acting role) and this is not a one size fits all business.  What “size” are you?  You can’t be all of them (though your acting teacher told you you could – and that’s your problem!)

Figure that out first – what you have defined as the type/product you’re going to market and then your resume (brochure) reflects that!  Actors that do take the time and lay that groundwork initially make far greater strides faster than those who continue to insist on the ability to “be and do” anything.

What’s you’re take on the subject?  Still have point 8 type on your resume so you can fit it all on a page?  Still listing unknown directors?  Still have the starring role of Annie on your resume but you’re 28?  Stay tuned for more info in coming posts about everything that should and should not be on your RESUME!  Love your comments below as per usual!

Usage of Your Likeness and “In Perpetuity”

I’m all for actors working.  Of course I am and of course you want to work.  But what KIND of work?

When I worked as a rep at 90210 Talent, I got a big taste of the different “levels” of talent and also the different “levels” of jobs available to actors directly and via agency representation.  It truly amazed me how many gigs were put out to agents in the first place with horrible rates and usage terms.  In fact I had a threshold of “suck” that I wouldn’t even bother with if the rate or other terms around the job didn’t pay well for the actor (and thus for the agent).  It truly wasn’t worth the time to push the submission button.

But even before I worked with the agency and still now, I get pleas for help to refer actors from people casting things directly.  Because of my large roster of clients like you who I could refer to them to and having cast several projects myself in the past, they trust me to send them the cream of the crop.  I just turned down the opportunity today…here’s the email exchange (names are omitted to protect the not so innocent):

Hi Lisa,

We have a commercial print job we are shooting on Saturday. We are in need a female model for a client for our shoot.  Its for a bedding company.  It would be for most of the day.

The client has budgeted $200 for the model which we know is really nothing. But I wanted to see if you might have a few clients that might want to build their book with this project. Thanks so much and I look forward to hearing back.

Hi So and So,

Hummm.  Let me see if this is something I could post on social media or target in an email but I need some more info first.  I would send them directly to you to vet or just give you a handful of my “top of mind” list.

I need a breakdown…age, hair color, height or weight a consideration?  This is print right, so what’s the usage?  How long and in what media?  If in “perpetuity” I’m a big believer in NEVER EVER EVER…for actors at least.  It’s great for the company of course…So again, if still looking let me know and I’ll toss it to a few folks on my short list or maybe actors in my membership who would be most likely interested after getting the answers.

Best, Lisa

Hey Lisa,

Nice to hear back.  Its print.  Its a super small company so it would be in perpetuity.  It would be useful for portfolio usage and then the day rate.  It would be 6 hours of their time or so.  Let me know.

Age: 25-32

Hair: brunette

Ethnicity: Caucasian

Height: 5ft 6 – 5ft 9

Weight: 110-135

Hey So-and-So,

So I’m not able to help with this. Even before I was in agent land I was a big NO to recommending actors doing stock photography or anything in perpetuity. I know there are a ton of folks who would love a $200 payday but I just can’t be a stand for anything without a closed end usage. Suggest you put it out on your Facebook page. You’ll get a ton of responses. xo, L

Thanks Lisa,

Got it!  I still love ya though!

Sooooo here’s the TAKE AWAY lesson for you.  DON’T be one of the folks who are part of the ton of responses to this kind of work in a breakdown, social media or through a referral.  Why?

The reason I declined is because if you say yes to a “trade for photos” or even being paid for a job that has no usage end, that company or photographer owns the RIGHT to your likeness…forever!  They can use those shots years from now and when your career and image have taken off and you are a more visible presence, these shots you did eons ago will be dug out of the drawer because you’re famous now.  Or with stock photography, they can simply take that lovely headshot picture of you, your likeness and image,  and sell it themselves to any company they want.  Any and all of them, over and over, and you get bupkis!

It’s a never ending, with no legal recourse, BAD IDEA.  I’m pretty protective of you all and I’m very protective of my own time and stand on certain subjects. So I hope you understand why I said “no”.

And I’d like you to say it MORE OFTEN than you do.  There is power in saying no sometimes!  Own it!

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below on TFP (trade for pics) or stock photography.  Also, if you’ve turned down a gig recently for any reason, please share your powerful no.  We’d all love to know!