My friend Donald just landed a role in the Disney Channel movie “Girl Vs. Monster”. It’s his first big break and his question to me was, “what should I do with the money?”.
He is in his twenties, lives at home and is still going to school. Since we have both been too busy to get together, I thought I would write to him here. Maybe other actors would be interested in my advice. After all that was the idea behind this site. Actors helping actors.
First let me tell you how envious I am of you. Not because you are booking acting work. I have seen how hard you work in class and you deserve your success. I am envious because if I had had someone mentor me in personal finance when I was your age, I would probably be able to retire by now.
The thing I love most about being an actor is that every week is different. Monday I got to be an extra on the AMC show “The Killing” and play a detective. Tomorrow I am going to photo-double on the CW show “Supernatural”, and today I had a commercial audition.
I got up at 7am, got my picture and resume organized, figured out where the studio was, had a hot shower and a cup of coffee, put on a shirt and tie and headed to the studio.
I always find auditioning humorous because they often have one holding area for all the actors and then several different studios, each one filming auditions for different commercials. When your name is called, you go into the door corresponding to the spot you are auditioning for. You often end up waiting in a room where half the guys are dressed like cowboys and the other half are dressed like lifeguards.
Today there was an audition for “hot chicks”, an audition for “good-looking guy in suit” and an audition for “middle management type with a dead-pan face”. I was in the latter group…
- BCE (Bell Canada) announced a $3-billion dollar deal to buy Astral Media Inc. The deal, announced Friday, gives the country’s largest communications firm a stable of French-language television and radio stations. Since 2010, BCE has announced deals worth nearly $7-billion to buy control of CTV Inc. and Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment Ltd.
- The Vancouver Airport Authority confirmed Tuesday that it’s in talks with London-based developer McArthurGlen to bring a premium outlet centre to Vancouver Inter-national Airport land slated for commercial development. The site of the proposed Sea Island outlet mall would be next to the B.C. Institute of Technology campus on Russ Baker Way.
- Tsawwassen First Nations plan to build a mega-mall near the BC Ferries terminal. The plans include two shopping malls on 180 acres, which together will include 1.8 million square feet of retail space – 20 major retailers, and nearly 200 smaller shops, restaurants and kiosks. The first shovel is expected to turn the earth this summer, while the grand opening is scheduled for mid-2015.
- I have been keeping an eye on Le Chateau stock over the last year trying to figure out if it was a buying opportunity. The stock had dropped and was paying a juicy 10% dividend. The company has since cancelled its dividend and dropped sharply from $11.55 in April 2011 to $1.37 today. In the past month they have closed their 4th Ave. store and their South Granville store. Will they still be in business in 2013?
- People lined up all across Canada Friday to get their hands on the new iPad. Since November, Apple’s shares have risen from $363.57 (U.S.) to $600 in trading on the Nasdaq market. On Thursday, they rose as high as $600.01 before dropping to close at $585.56, down $4.02 from the previous day. This week, several analysts raised their target price on Apple shares to a once unheard of $700.
- Bloomberg reported this week that the dividends being paid by companies in the S&P 500 (American’s top 500 companies) have reached a record level. A sign that American companies are feeling better about the economy?
- Disney’s “John Carter” cost $350 million to produce and market. The opening box office in the U.S. was a disappointing $30 million.
- In the U.S., the Federal Reserve completed its annual “stress test” on the major banks. The Fed said on Tuesday that 15 of the 19 banks tested would have enough capital, even if they suffered a financial shock that would see unemployment hit 13 percent and housing prices drop 21 percent. The results paved the way for many of the passing banks to announce highly anticipated plans to boost dividends and buy back stock.
- My own company got a boost this week when I signed on to work on the film “Twelve Disasters of Christmas” which will shoot outside of Vancouver for the next three weeks.
One of the bad things about being an actor is that in order to get a job and get paid, you must first attend an audition.
With all the modern advances in computers and communication, the casting directors still prefer that you drive across town, sit in a waiting room with a bunch of other nervous strangers and wait for your chance to read for them.
Sometimes the casting director will allow you to submit your audition on tape which I think is a much more sane way to proceed. This way the actor is able to work with his coach in a relaxed setting, record the audition a few times and send in the best take. I think casting gets a much better idea of what that actor is capable of this way.
Rachel McAdams auditions for “The Notebook”
This is an example of a near perfect audition. There is a reason this talented actress went on to become a big star. And she’s from St. Thomas, Ontario!
She is 100% focused and connected to the person she is reading with. She brings in a simple prop and makes it work for her. The scene has structure and she is clear on the beat changes and when she is going to turn away and when she is going to come at the reader. And the main thing is she is emotionally full and trying hard to cap those emotions (but fails beautifully).
More celebrity auditions: Continue reading
One of the things I always ask myself before I invest in anything is whether the rate of return I am receiving is superior or inferior to inflation. To me there is no point investing in an ING DIRECT account offering a 1.5% rate of return (before tax) if the inflation rate in Canada is 3%. Hard to get excited about only losing 1.5% of my money instead of 3% every year!
Well did you know that this same rule applies when you are acting?
One of the things I really enjoy about training at the Actor’s Foundry in Vancouver, is that you never know who will be hanging around the school. I was fortunate enough to be there when producer/director/writer and all around good guy Michael Nankin decided to sit in on our class.
He taught me an important lesson that I use in all my acting work today.
Being an actor is a hard profession. It’s hard to get an agent, it’s hard to get in the union, it’s hard to get an audition and it’s hard to book a gig.
All this struggle can leave a person with the stink of desperation on them. Many actors constantly give their power away by talking non-stop about how their career is going nowhere, how their agent never get’s them auditions, and how this great TV show has put them on hold 3 times now, but never booked them!!!
It’s uncomfortable to be around these people. They suck the energy out of the room. They do extra work and constantly ask the A.D. for an upgrade. They ask the actors on set who their agents are. They ask the union members how they got their credits. They’re like a shark, constantly moving, looking for the trick, the secret, the loophole that will get them their “big break”.
The trick to getting your career going in the right direction is to stop looking inward and asking what people can do for you. Instead look outward and ask…
What can I do for you? Continue reading
The hardest part about being an actor is hanging in there and believing that all your hard work will pay off one day and you will be earning a good living doing what you love.
The same is true for investing. You set up an investment account of some kind, you deposit money into it, but you still feel broke all the time. It feels like all that discipline isn’t getting you ahead in life.
For me this month, it finally started to work.
I received three types of income this month, but only one of them required me to do any work!
- Residual income. I did a Milk commercial in 2009 and they have decided to re-run it on the internet. (I’m the guy smiling at the office party in the commercial above).
- Dividend income. On Jan. 10th and 27th I received payments from stocks I own. One dividend was automatically reinvested the other I will spend as I please.
- Earned income. I worked several days as a stand-in on Man of Steel.
Having other sources of income is great because it puts more cash in your pocket, but the real benefit is the freedom it buys you.
Last week I had an audition for the TV show Supernatural. Yesterday I audited a class at the Actor’s Foundry. This weekend I am doing a 2 day comedy intensive workshop.
I consider all of these activities part of my job although I don’t get paid to do them.
The only way I can afford to work and not get paid, is if I also get paid not to work.
I just finished a 3 part series on how actors can use the internet and social media to their advantage. Below are a few examples of people I know and how they are marketing themselves on the internet.
Chris Boyd and Pierre Wolff are a couple of actors producing their own work. They started a YouTube channel called The First Game Plan where they post short demo videos of projects they are working on. When they submit a pitch package to a network or production company, they can then include a link showcasing their ideas.
Michael Rowe is a gifted dramatic actor who I have the pleasure of working with at The Actor’s Foundry. He is also part of Wild Driver a comedy sketch channel on YouTube that his brother Andrew started three years ago.
Mac Faoro is a 17-year-old high school kid from North Vancouver. He wrote and produced this song which he plays guitar, keyboard and sings on. He has his promotion totally synched up with YouTube, FaceBook, Twitter, and MySpace.
What are you working on? Do you have a website? A YouTube channel?
Send me a link and I will post it on here, so we can all continue to network and support each other!