Rob Ostlere blog posts

Bloomsbury at Surviving Actors

Last week Bloomsbury were once again at the excellent Surviving Actors convention. The seminar’s main focus was on how actors can effectively market themselves while not stepping on their agent’s toes and potentially damaging that relationship.

The panel was chaired by Lloyd Trott, editor of the Actors and Performers Yearbook. I joined Lloyd, alongside agent Matt Chopping from Waring & McKenna and BBC Drama casting director Derek Barnes. Here are the main points from a great session.

Actors need to take care of business

Once an actor signs they can easily neglect important aspects of their career, leaving responsibility for their marketing in their agent’s hands. Sometimes the opposite problem occurs; actors want to market themselves but feel frustrated because their agent has tried to restrict them. Or perhaps they feel the relationship with their agent is unstable and are uncomfortable discussing submissions or suggesting roles they would like to be seen for.

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How to get the most from advice part 3: how to separate the good from the bad

The sheer amount of career-advice on offer for actors from books, blogs, websites, podcasts, Twitter-feeds, colleagues, agents, and actor-friends can be overwhelming. And for every opinion offered it is possible to find an equally valid but directly contradictory one from somewhere or someone else (see part 1 of these posts).

Below is a simple system with two easy steps that will show you how to sift through the mountain of available advice. It will help you to find the most effective tips and strategies to fit your personality and the particular demands of any problems you face. At the end of the post is an example to show you how it all works.

Step 1: Collect a range of options around any problem you are facing

Options’ are the range of opinions that you come across on the best way to solve the problems that actors face. They come from casting directors, agents, actors, coaches, bloggers, etc. They create an arsenal of solutions that you can then choose from to help …

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How to get the most from advice part 2: consider the source

Part 1 of these posts looked at some of the problems involved with career-advice for actors - how can you find useful tips when there are so many opinions available, springing from all corners of the industry? This post will look in detail at one key aspect of sorting through the opinions and finding the best advice - where or who it’s coming from. 

The 5 questions below will help you decide whether someone’s advice is a good fit for you, your career-aims and the challenges you face.

Which area of the industry does the person specialise in?

Some advice will come from industry-figures that specialise in one area (TV, theatre, film, radio, voiceover, commercials…). Their suggestions might be brilliant if you are facing a problem related to their medium but might be the wrong option if you are working in another. For example, a UK-based casting director specialising in theatre will give you a different opinion on line-learning, head shots, what to wear at an …

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How to get the most from advice part 1: the problem with acting advice

There is a huge range of career-advice available from blogs, books, podcasts, Twitter-feeds and directly from agents, casting directors, mentors and colleagues. Despite this, actors still struggle to solve career-related problems. This post will explain why seeking out career-advice can sometimes create more problems than it solves. I will also outline the potential pitfalls to watch out for. The next two blogs (publishing next week) will show you how to sift through the mountain of opinions and information out there to find the most effective pieces of advice…

Any solution to a problem must take into account at least two variables:

  • that every actor is different - there are variations in personality, look, ability, level of experience, profile, power of agent, training, self-marketing skills, finances …. 

  • and in almost every situation where an actor faces a problem they are dealing with different directors, agents, casting directors, producers, writers … who …
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Writing and Emailing Opportunities: When You’re Out of Work

Use the ‘just been in work’ grace period

Even if you’ve been out of work for several months you can still use your most recent job as a selling-point. ‘I was recently working at … ’ or ‘I was recently working with …’ are especially useful if your last job is relatable in some way to the person you are writing to e.g. you ‘recently’ did a laugh-out-loud play and are writing to a casting director specialising in comedy.

Send out new promotional material

Being out of work doesn’t mean that nothing’s happening and if your new showreel or voicereel has finally been put together, the telly-job you filmed 18 months ago is about to air or your new photos have just been printed then you have something to advertise. Use the ‘Quick Update’ subject-heading (described in my last blog) and you’ve got yourself a mail-out.

Follow up on what you’ve seen and loved

Write to directors and casting directors, tell them that how much you liked their work and that you would like …

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