Savvy Actor Business

How to Bridge the Gap Between Actor and Working Actor

by Savvy Actor Co-Founder Kevin Urban

Let’s talk business. Starting a business is one of the riskiest things anyone can do. If an entrepreneur were starting a business, there are certain beginning steps that would be followed. They would…

  1. Create a Business Plan Which would include: (Download the 6 Savvy Steps eBook if you haven’t already!)
  2. Company Vision
  3. Action Steps to achieve that vision
  4. Branding/Product Definition
  5. Marketing
  6. Sales
  7. Financials
  8. Define Their Product
  9. Design a logo
  10. Create Their Sales Pitch
  11. Gather Financing
  12. Implement said Business Plan

Being an artist is a risky venture, yet most artists forgo step 1 mentioned above and start with steps 3 or 4. It’s understood that actors need to market, but so many leave out the product definition phase or branding. They let others define them because they are scared to make a choice and uncertain because they assume they have no control over their career.

I’m here to say that a business plan will give you the who, the how and the why of your business, while also giving you direction to the career that you desire. And ultimately, it is up to you to understand your vision, so that you can communicate that vision with the people who can help you…agents, casting directors, directors, producers, grandma…you get my point. By effectively communicating what you want, you can drive your career.

When you wing it…you take a risk. I say, why add more risk by not having a plan?

Be smart, be savvy, and be successful. Know what you want, what you sell, and what your strategy is to achieve your success. Create a business plan for your career and help yourself feel empowered to achieve your goals.

Interview with Carol Goldwasser

In the Moment: Interview with Children’s Network Casting Director Carol Goldwasser

Have you ever wanted to know the ins and outs of casting Children’s TV, such as Disney or Nickelodeon shows? Well, you’ve come to the right place, because today we have the Award Winning casting director, Carol Goldwasser, here for Part I of an interview with me, Diane Christiansen, exclusively for Master Talent Teachers.

Carol’s tips for kids, teens and even adult actors are so invaluable if you really want audition advice. She has taught me a thing or two in these interviews that even I didn’t know. You can never stop learning, right?

Diane: Welcome, Carol, it’s so great to have you here, thank you for joining us.
Carol: Thank you for having me.

D: We should get started, because there is a lot that our viewers and readers want to know about casting Disney shows and you are our gal. What made you decide to cast kids and teens TV?
C: Well, it was more like the Universe decided for me. I was working more in Network Television, in comedy, with a partner, and we were looking to expand our business and we sent our casting resume to one of the Children’s Networks. We got hired on one project and then we had some fairy dust on us from that because it was a highly successful project and the work just kept coming and we never looked back. We both work solo now and the work has pursued me. It wasn’t necessarily a choice that I really pursued in a major way, but once I got into it, it felt comfortable, it feels good and I enjoy it, obviously, because I’ve kept doing it.

D: What has been your favorite project to work on?
C: Probably a Disney XD show called “I’m with the Band”. Even though it was a children’s show, it had a lot of adult series regulars. The writing was more sophisticated, but it still played to kids. It had a lot of physical comedy. It was like the 3 Stooges in a rock band. So, it was a really just a group of people who really gelled and who came to the set each day and had a lot of fun. So, I could cast adults as well as kids and teens and it was just a great experience. Interestingly, it was probably the least successful show I’ve worked on, but it was such a joy to show up to work every day. My impression was that the Network hoped that it would be a real flagship show to luring a lot of boys to that Network. They see that as the Network that attracts boys. The Disney channel being the one that’s more girl oriented and Disney XD more for boys. But, for some reason, the numbers didn’t support it continuing. I guess, even though it was joy for the adults to work on, maybe the fact that there were so many adult regulars meant that the kids couldn’t connect as much to what they were seeing on screen. That’s their formula, that the protagonists on the show are actually the same age as their audience.

D: What makes an actor stand out in the audition room?
C: When someone comes in, and this happens with kids and teens a lot, they are looking to me to give them the keys to the Kingdom. They’re looking to me to tell them this is where the joke is or this is how the character is. When someone comes in and they show ME how the character should be played and they not only find every joke on the page, but they elevate the material and they add stuff of their own that really makes the character sing. Then you’re like, “Well, my job is done”. That’s when it’s a joy and that’s what makes people stick out. When they commit to the character, they make choices – sometimes the choices are surprising, but comedy is surprise! I always think comedy is much more difficult to cast than drama because you actually have to find people who can deliver comedic material. In drama, if you look a little bit like what the Producers are seeking, you have a naturalistic acting style and you understand the rhythm of that particular writers words, then you move the exposition along. That’s pretty much what you have to do. In comedy, you have to do all that AND land a joke and in multi-camera sit com, which is the bulk of what I work on, for kids Networks, there’s a rhythm to the language and it’s not honestly naturalistic at all. It’s very theatrical. It’s much harder to come in and nail a comedy audition, I think because it requires a very specific kind of work. You have to understand what the rhythm is, understand where the jokes are and you have to have a little extra something that makes us want to watch you, that makes us want to hang with you and makes us want to turn on the TV set.

D: Like a naturally funny person.
C: Exactly. You’re right and you know you hear people say comedy can’t be taught. The elements of comedy can be taught. But if you read a page and you don’t understand “funny”, and you don’t know where the jokes are, you probably won’t be cast as a funny actor. Unfortunately. I read comedy scripts for a living, so when I read a comedy script, it’s like a road map to me. It’s like joke, joke, joke and I understand where they are. But someone who is unfamiliar with comedy material doesn’t necessarily do that. But if you have a comedy kind of mind and you have a bent for comedy, then hopefully the particular comedy gimmicks can be layered on top of a natural affinity for comedy.

To be Continued…

This has been Part I of a two-part interview with Carol Goldwasser. We wanted to thank you for joining us and invite you to stay connected at MTT for Part II. Have you subscribed yet?

Carol has had 5 nominations for Artio Awards, which are given out by the Casting Society of America (CSA). She’s won two times. Once for outstanding achievement in Children’s Casting Series programming for Hannah Montana and once for Best Children’s TV Programming, also for Hannah Montana.

Carolyne Barry Commercials

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Teacher

By: Carolyne Barry

There are numerous acting techniques and methods. The more popular ones in the United Stares are Meisner, Strasberg, Adler and Hagen techniques. Most teachers have their own version of the established approaches. Some combine styles and others create their own technique. Investigate to see which one feels like a fit for you – the way you process and create. Then audit the teachers who specialize in that approach until you find the one with whom you connect.

AUDIT: As it relates to acting classes: to be a non-participating observer. Auditors watch and are not allowed to work, ask question or give comments.

When you audit, do you know what to look for and the factors to evaluate?

I suggest you ask about and contemplate the following:

  • * it the teacher your auditing (YOUR Teacher)
  • * compatibility
  • * number of students in the class
  • * how often you will work in each class
  • * class policies
  • * cost / payment policies
  • * class level(s)

VERY important is the teacher’s approach and atyle. To determine that: Ask yourself these questions in order to determine if the teacher(s) you are considering is a fit for you:

  • * Does their style or approach make sense and appeal to you?
  • * Is there a technique that the students understand and can apply or is he/she just teaching tricks or giving direction that produces flashy, instant performances?
  • * After he/she works with actors, do you see an improvement in their work?
  • * Does the teacher utilize the class time well: starting punctually, allotting time and giving attention equally to all the students, dealing directly with what is needed and not going off on ego trips or telling too many stories of their accomplishments or bad
  • * Is the teacher constructive and supportive as he/she critiques and directs students?

Audit several teachers and then compare the answers and then you can make an informed decision on who will be the best acting teacher for you and who you will want to stay with for a year or two or more.

The Dropped “R”

by Donald the Dialect Coach

When working on your dialect training, it’s important to remember that the “R” sound is a HUGE part of every dialect.

Depending on the dialect, the “R” sound is either dropped, used heavily, or rolled.

A few dialects that drop the R sound are: British, Cockney, New York, Australian, Southern, South African

Remember we only drop the “R” when it isn’t important in the word.

For Example, let’s use the word “Race.” If we dropped the “R” in “Race” it would become “Ace.” That won’t work at all! If you drop the “R” sound in that word it COMPLETELY changes the word and it’s meaning. The “R” sound is to important to drop in the word “Race.”

A good rule to follow is IF A WORD BEGINS WITH AN R, DON’T DROP THAT R.

Now, let’s look at the word “Heart”

If drop the “R”, it becomes “Hahht.” If you drop the “R” correctly, the word “Heart” will still make sense. Always use common sense and say the word out loud to make sure that it still sounds right.

Lastly, let’s look at the word “Other”

We can easily drop the “R” and still have the word make sense.

A good rule to follow is IF THE WORD ENDS WITH AN R, DROP IT.

Knowing when to drop the “R” will speed along your dialect training tremendously. The more you practice, the easier it becomes. The easier it becomes, the more awesome YOU will become.

Student Films Make an Excellent Credit and a Great Real

By Diane Christiansen

Acting is a competitive sport.  The supply of actors is much greater than the demand of roles.  Nowhere is this more true than in major motion pictures.  The production powers that be do everything they can to protect the huge monetary investments they make in a film, which often means casting “name talent” to help carry the film into box office success.  So how do you become a “name” that the industry knows?  This may come as a shock, but student films are a great place to start and go a long way toward getting your name out there.  Think about it.  Today’s student filmmakers are the big ticket directors and producers of tomorrow.  Getting in on the ground level and establishing a name for yourself at local film schools can be a launch pad for future projects long after the once student filmmakers have graduated.

In addition, several film schools in Los Angeles have a great reputation for cranking out talented young filmmakers, including University of Southern California, American Film Institute, UCLA, CALARTS and Loyola Marymount University, to name a few.  Having film credits from these top-tier schools on your acting resume is an impressive feat that can help you stand out to casting directors.  You may even run into alumni of the schools on your resume in the audition room.  Upon glancing over your resume, they will almost surely make mention of your mutual affiliation with their alma mater.  You can then take the opportunity to establish rapport and familiarity just by virtue of having a common institutional connection.

Finally, student films can provide great footage for your demo reel, especially if you can happen upon a senior or graduate level film.  Advanced students are typically more experienced at making quality films.  Plus, they are even more likely to produce their most quality work when the film is part of a final thesis project that will represent the full culmination of their studies.  So if you are cast in a thesis film, consider it a big accomplishment.  Not only have you added another credit to your resume, but you can bet that your student filmmaker will be working overtime to ensure that both of you look your best.  The thesis film is the student filmmaker’s baby, and nobody wants an ugly baby.  So you can be sure that they will work their hardest to create a quality film in all aspects from directing, to cinematography, to editing, and everything in-between, which all adds up to golden reel footage for you!

SPECIAL SKILLS – A Commercial Audition-Getter

When new actors first start auditioning for Commercials and they don’t have many credits, their special skills can be a major asset in getting auditions.  Many commercial and often theatrical roles are looking to cast actors with specific skills.

Skills and hobbies can be almost anything in which you excel, do well or have some experience doing and should be listed on your resume. AND how you list them is very important.  Your level of proficiency should be included when appropriate.  It can make your skill mores impressive to the casting directors and make you more desirable for their auditions. Some of the adjectives you might use to describe your expertise are: basic, experienced, intermediate, excellent, professional, etc. -whatever is descriptive and appropriate for you.

Here is a one-paragraph, format example of how to make the listing of your skills more effective:


Volleyball (state champion), singing (mezzo soprano, two- octave range), Japanese (fluent), Spanish and Italian accents, soccer (B-rated), Running (competitive), experienced cat breeder, excellent wood carpenter, intermediate saxophone player, miniature doll house expert, computer programmer, collector of Madonna posters, trained in archery, juggling, basic martial arts, crew rowing, Survivor contestant, balloon sculpting, valid drivers license and passport.

The order of how you state these attributes also significant. Start with your most proficient ones and then list those for which there might be a greater demand. Follow those with the ones you have less experience doing or are more obscure.

You could get lots more auditions when you have lots of skills, hobbies, talents and life experiences.