as if you were starting a cookie factory.*
1. What cookie am I selling?
When you are in Los Angeles you will hear this sentence many times. No, not the cookie one, this one: know your type. I was always like “But I think I can play lots of different roles!” And perhaps I can, but when you’re just starting out as an actor, knowing what you’re selling a.k.a. what type you are is vital. Of course lots of ingredients go into one cookie. And of course it can be candy as well as desert as well as a space cookie. But when you send out headshots and go to auditions etc. you’re essentially selling a product. And if you always do your mysterious murderer type but every casting director sees you as cute boy/girl next door, you sell the wrong product and it can really stand in your way. That’s why asking others what they think is your type is important. They see you differently than you do. Even though it can be frustrating to hear what people see as your type, you just have to embrace it. For example my acting teacher saw me as the happy-go-lucky innocent blondie that always agrees. Now I felt this wasn’t completely (or completely wasn’t) accurate, but that doesn’t matter. Every person is so complex that no type is ever going to be accurate. Yet every one has that special thing that you remember them for: a type.
2. A business plan for Cookies Inc.
I recently really started noticing how much a good plan and organization can help you as an actor. And trust me, these two things are far…FAR from natural to me;) Of course in my case it is especially vital, because there’s really no way you can move to Los Angeles and live there for a while without having a plan first. But it can help you with everything. For starters: create a directory on your computer for acting and organize all your acting related stuff in there. I for example have several subfolders like Headshots in which I save my headshots (surprise!) and Projects in which I save pictures and film clips from acting jobs. You should also make a document where you list all contact details for casting directors, actors, agents and other industry people. I for example have a file with e-mail addresses from all the casting directors I know. Every time I’ve done a new project I copy and paste and send all of them an update. That way I’m fresh in their memory and they’ll hopefully invite me for a new audition. Do note that it’s better to put them all in the BCC line. It’s not very appropriate to show them they’re just part of a mass e-mail…
3. What should the cookies cost?
What should you earn as a starting actress? This is the part I’m really horrible at and it always makes me feel bad so I’m in now place to be giving advice on this. But hopefully I can save you some trouble by giving you the chance to learn from my mistakes. It’s really all about finding the right balance between standing up for your rights and preventing people from thinking you’re a diva or whiny. I think one thing that can help is this: Never respond to an offer immediately. Even if you feel pressured or if you feel angry because your cookie is worth much more. Just let it sink in, ask some people about their opinions and then decide what the best course of action is. And then just work towards that wonderful moment you sign with an agent or manager and you never personally have to be in negotiations again…
4. Keeping in touch with the costumers
The way normal companies have account managers and sales people that cling to you like skinny jeans on a hot day, you need to keep in touch with your costumers a.k.a. the people you worked with on projects. I have to admit once again that I’m not too good at this myself because I’m not the best with names, but social networking sites help. I kind of don’t want to encourage you getting a Facebook though, after seeing that Social Network movie…I kid! Facebook is awesome. It’s what kept me in touch with my LA friends for years and got me to meet up with them here in Amsterdam. Also, usually you want to know what your previous colleagues are up to anyway, at least I do. So this might be the easiest step!
Well, that’s it for my advice. I’m only a beginner myself so don’t think I see myself as a guru of any kind, but these are lessons experienced people in the business thought me. So, what do you think? Will it help you? Is it clear? If you have more tips or want to share mistakes you made yourself, please do!
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* Yes, I am aware Donald Trump doesn’t own a cookie factory, those two things are unrelated. To be honest I wouldn’t know what his companies sell.