In a business that is, arguably, more about who know you than actual talent, it can be hard to navigate the murky waters of your “network.” Many of us struggle with the etiquette of how to approach an industry contact. So, I’m here to offer my best advice from both sides of the “asking.”
In this first part, we’ll discuss how to get yourself “set up for success”!
Before approaching someone in a position to help you, you must make sure that any proof of your awesomeness is ready to be seen. For example…
If you’re an actor:
Have you taken an ON-CAMERA audition class?
Trust me, you don’t want that casting director you’ve been pinging on twitter to FINALLY call you in, only to bomb when you don’t know where to look. Or if you’re still asking “should I sit or stand?” Taking an on-camera class gives you the rare opportunity to observe the way you behave under pressure. It builds confidence, and confidence is something that gets you the job!
Do you have a good reel?
If you don’t have any work to speak of, or you haven’t been able to track down any of your tape, it’s time to make one yourself. You can write your own scene, or LOOSELY mimic one from a program that showcases your “type”. Do it. Do it now!
When I was casting my comedy pilot, I only looked at actors with reels to see if they were funny. It’s not because I’m a big jerk, it’s because I didn’t have enough time slots to gamble on someone that might not have comic timing. Take the guess work out of it and just show us what you can do!
Do you have a GREAT headshot?
A great, professional quality headshot says “I’m here to stay” and gives people more confidence in you. When your products and business tools look legit, it conveys the idea that you are not a risk. You are someone to be trusted to get the job done. And really, that’s what producers/directors/casting want to know.
If you’re a writer:
Do you have, at least, two scripts to show? I mean, really, really good ones?. People who love your work are always going to want to see more. They want to be sure you’re not a one-trick-pony. Make sure all of your material is in proper format, free of spelling errors and, if it’s meant to be funny – be sure there are jokes. You want an actor to read your material and be excited to deliver these lines. Until your stuff is on this level, you MUST wait to send it to your industry contacts. Do not risk blowing your one chance!
How do you know if it’s ready? Personally, I would order coverage from an unbiased source. I love to use Screenplay Mechanic. I think his prices are fair and he gives great notes. We don’t know each other at all, and that’s why I trust that his notes are completely unbiased.
If you’re a director or producer:
Do you have anything to show your skills? And I mean anything! I have no doubt you have incredible ideas. You just need a little help getting them made. Problem is, you can’t expect someone to stick their neck out for you if you don’t have tape of your work to show them.
Your first works won’t be masterpieces. They’re simply a stepping stone to prove you’ve got the potential. Buddy up with another filmmaker and film something, pronto.
Okay, you’ve got your stuff. Now what?
It’s time to make all of your stuff findable. If you have tape, throw it up on Vimeo or Youtube, and brand the channel so that people can find you. If you send me the link to one youtube video, I can surf around your other stuff as well. It makes it very easy for people to get to the goods!
Make an email signature with all of the relevant information! Careful, not too much. You don’t need to have links to every. single. thing. you’re signed up with. Too many links to choose from may work against you. Just add what you think would benefit you the most if a contact were to go down the “you wormhole.”
For example, in my simple email signature, I have my headshot thumbnail, a clickable link to my website, phone, email and clickable icons for Youtube, Twitter and IMDB. In my case, I don’t need LinkedIn or Facebook. It’s just too much. I would rather folks find their way to my youtube videos, as I think they showcase what I’m selling in the best light. Also, any additional info can be found on my website, if someone is really interested in all that.
Great! Now you’re really ready to rock! In Part two, we’ll cover how to go about approaching your network to create opportunities! YAY!