How to Make Requests

THE LANGUAGE OF BUSINESS

by Suzanne Lyons

This is one of the hardest things for people in the entertainment industry to do. In other businesses it’s the normal language of business. Making requests is common practice. Here, in the entertainment world, we tend to feel like we are interrupting, interfering or over stepping our bounds, and instead of making request we end up asking for favors. Favors don’t work in business. Requests work in business. It’s the language of business. We tend to ask in a tone of voice that is more like a favor.

In a meeting where the person has shown an interest in your script, you say “I’m really happy you want to read my script, thanks so much for doing this, I really hope you like it.” And it’s the tone that implies a favor… like they are doing you a favor if they read it. I have tons of unread screenplays that have been collecting dust in my office for years that came to me as a favor. A request has power in it and it keeps the power in your court. It would be more like, “thanks so much for agreeing to read my script. I am certain it’s a perfect fit for your company, and can I call you in two weeks to get your response.” They may counter offer and say no, call me in three weeks, but at least it’s in your court.

One of the actors I coached years ago was amazing at doing all the necessary steps needed to get her name out there. She was great at creating relationships, setting goals, getting her head shots and demo reels out, doing follow up, etc. She just couldn’t figure out why nothing was happening. When I asked her if she was actually making requests she was silent. I said, did you say, for example, “here is my demo reel that you asked for… can I call you by the end of the week and get your response?” I could see the light bulb go on in her head when I asked about making this request. She said it had never even occurred to her. And by not being aware of this simple (yet important!) business tool, she’d missed some great opportunities. So she committed to me on the spot that she would go back and make all the calls again, but this time she would add this new tool… she would make requests! The results were unbelievable. By the time my month of working with her was over she was up to five auditions a weeks, getting call backs and roles!

EXERCISE: Okay, now I want you to take your Map of Relationships (your data base of relationships) and call everyone (yes, I said everyone!) on your map and make a request. Get back into relationship and then, tell them what you’re up to and make a request. Maybe it’s asking for a referral to someone on your Target List. Always, end those calls with “and is there anything I can do for you?”

How to Prepare for Your Audition or Performance

by: Kimberly Jentzen

Have a ritual of working out both your body and voice in the early part of the day prior to your audition. You’re body needs to be tuned up and present. Also, by executing a few vocal exercises, you won’t squeeze your throat from nerves or tension, and you will be able to drop that voice into your body.

Next is the mental preparation. Make sure you take a minute to close your eyes and quietly envision your audition from stepping into the building and meeting the casting director’s assistant to walking into the room and meeting the casting director; or if it’s a call back the director or producer. Experience being free from nerves and feeling a sense of confidence and enthusiasm for the project.

Visualize yourself doing your cold reading from beginning, middle, to end. Experience your intention, beats and emotion. (Let the emotion be held within, save the full-out emotion for the audition.) Then experience a sense of satisfaction and gratitude and see yourself leaving the audition room feeling like you did what you set out to do. Open your eyes and write down any realizations you may have about the process.

When you drive to your audition, listen to music that builds your confidence and gives you the added energy of emotion that will relate to your reading. Before you leave your car, take a moment to connect to your surroundings. Breath, relax and say to yourself, “I’m ready.” Even if you don’t believe you are, a part of you actually will.

Writing in the “ZONE” – Part II

by Minda Burr

In my last entry, I talked about the difference between the right and left brain and how important it is to give the RIGHT BRAIN FULL REIGN in the first draft of anything because it’s where our intuition, imagination and creative impulses come from! And today we’re going to talk about how you can enhance and stimulate the right brain to allow yourself a more brilliant and joy-filled writing experience. But allow me to digress for a moment for an important reason:

We are all born with “playful” spirits… It’s the ESSENCE of who we are when we come into this world. We don’t even start to develop our critical mind, as well as logic and reason until we are about seven years old. That’s why children’s imaginations are so HUGE and they have so much freedom to play and create. It’s also why they believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy and the Easter rabbit because it tickles their imaginations and lets them live in a world of WONDER.

What’s important to be reminded is that our playful spirits never leave! They don’t abandon us when we turn 30 and say, “See you later sucker!” No, they STAY with us for the rest of our lives. But unfortunately, here’s what happens: we start to get conditioned by society’s left brained “logic and reason” and our playful spirits get pushed down with all the “shoulds” and “have tos” of life. We are forced to make responsible, sensible and often times money-making (rather than creatively satisfying) decisions. Then we eventually become hostages of our own left brain -. the so-called logical, rational part of our brain. You know the part of us – who wants to make smart decisions. And our spontaneity gets suppressed, then our playful natures get suppressed, then our imaginations get suppressed and our creative genius gets pushed even further down into our psyche.

And when that happens, it gets pissed. We can literally feel the tension and stress in our bodies because our playful spirit – which is the essence of who we are when we’re born – has been moved to the back of the bus and it is NOT happy. The worst part is, our playful spirits are our IMAGINATIONS greatest ally! They are the best of comrades because they fuel each other… We know nothing works well when we are constricted – not work, not relationships, not sex and most certainly not the “creative process” – whether it’s acting, painting, dancing or writing – you name it.

I am a big believer in Source energy… I believe that we are all conduits of the Creative Intelligence of the Universe, and we are either open conduits or we are painfully CLOSED. Which one has the better chance of accessing brilliance? Which one has a better chance of ENJOYING the process along the way?

So, it’s very important to cultivate being an OPEN VESSEL for the creative energy to FLOW brilliantly to and through us. And when that happens, it is so delicious. And you might ask, what about some of the tortured artists like Hemingway who created such brilliant classics? My answer to that is, he was DRUNK most of the time! His critical mind was out of the way! He let go of his resistance when he was fueled with alcohol. Unfortunately, he probably woke up with a hangover every day. But Hemingway was also a big adventurer and life LIVER. He was a world traveler, lived by his own rules, didn’t give a damn what anybody thought and was a hedonist of the highest order. He had great PASSION for life and women and FUN — all great fuel for freedom of expression.

I am in no way suggesting that we should be drunk when we write, but it leads me to one of the best ways that we can stimulate our right brain: Delighting in our senses is at the top of the list. We literally experience the world through our five senses and they are all right brain stimulators. How can we invite a reader into a vivid story of sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touch – as well as deep feelings – if we are not present with and delighting in our own five senses? How can we immerse anyone into a world we are creating if we can’t even immerse ourselves?

So, how do we do that?? Delighting in your senses means to be fully “present” with them and GRATEFUL for them, whether you’re savoring delicious food, listening to great music, laughing your ass off at something funny, touching and being touched by people you feel love and affection for, singing, dancing, allowing yourself to be in awe of the beauty of nature. Getting out in nature, moving your bodies and paying attention to all there is to experience and enjoy in life. Watch how your creative channels open up, the more you feel ONE with Life… Meditation is also a great right brain stimulator, as well as other creative endeavors. I am also a jewelry designer and I truly believe creativity begets more creativity. Amen.

There’s No Award for Drama Queen

How to Stay Focused

by: Suzanne Lyons

When you’re watching the Academy Awards this weekend you might notice that there’s no award for “Drama Queen.” So take the drama out of your life. Don’t talk about anything that does not inspire and empower you. Don’t listen to anyone’s (family, friends or colleagues) stories unless they inspire and empower you. Cut out the drama. Talk about what thrills you. Create conversations that excite you! Put the drama on the stage and screen where it belongs!

The quickest way to lose focus is to tell your story of how it won’t work, or how difficult it is or how ___________ (you fill in the blank). ONLY tell the stories that get you excited, bring you joy and cause you to expand.

One way to help you stay in an empowering story and to ensure you stay focused and in touch with your excitement and commitment is an exercise that I call “The 35 Year Plan.” Look at all the different areas of your life and talk about where you will be in 35 years. It is a great exercise and it takes you out of the daily content of your life and has you put everything in a context (a bigger picture). As you make the commitment to who you’re going to “be” and what you’re going to “do” in the future, it actually alters who you are in the present… today… right now. A very powerful exercise that will not only inspire you, it will help keep you focused.

Accountability: It’s Time to Put Your Butt on the Line

In my last article on ‘Goal Setting’ I stressed the importance of setting goals, creating a strategic plan for your career, and following a timeline with clear specific actions to ensure that your goals happen.  It’s all great… in fact, it’s all fantastic if you’re the type of person who jumps out of bed in the morning eager to get started on the tasks for the day, loves a challenge and can’t wait for that first obstacle to get in your way, that rock to fall in your path.  My guess is, that’s not the case for many (if any) of us.

You’ve heard the saying, “when the going gets tough the tough get going.”  Well in the entertainment industry the “going gets tough” a fair amount of the time.  We deal with more rejection and more competition than probably any business in the world.  The solution… being held accountable for your goals and actions.  It works.

I’ve been in this industry for over twenty-five years and I’ve had ‘accountability partners’ or ‘accountability teams’ for every one of those years.  I’ve had a partner with whom I’ve done weekly calls.  And for years a group of five of my colleagues (from different aspects of the industry) met once a week to talk about our goals and what actions we were going to take that week.  On Friday we would email the team with an update of what we had done so far and what was still left to do before we met the next week.  It kept us focused and on target and the coaching and brainstorming we gave each other was priceless.

When I was interviewing professionals from the entertainment industry for my MTT video, Goal Setting Part II, I specifically asked them for their thoughts on the importance and the power of being held accountable.  Director, Mark Rosman (“A Cinderella Story”) says that he makes a point of getting together with people on a weekly basis.  “I’ve directed over fifteen TV movies and tons of episodic TV and feature films,” he says, “and I’ve found that especially when I’m in between jobs and I need that kind of help to keep going, an accountability group really is the thing that drives me.”  Bob Stewart, CEO NowCasting/Players Directory, recommends “a breakfast club with likeminded people.  Actors, directors, writers… even if it’s a mix of people… you make yourself accountable to them.”

Actress Mary Stein (“Changeling” “Babe: Pig in the City”) feels that accountability is key to success.  “When you’re sharing with someone on a regular basis,” she says, “it lets you know if you’re keeping your word or not.  What’s the truth here?  Am I really doing what I said I was going to do.”   Kris Emery, Production Executive at Comedy Central, told me that for her having somebody to talk to keeps her on track.  “I have a very good friend in Texas who I’ve known for over 20 years, and we have done goal setting over those years.  We have a personal blog where we correspond back and forth on a daily or weekly basis depending on what we’re doing.  We report in, talk about our accomplishments, our goals and where we need support.”

People at all levels and facets of the industry have accountability partners or teams.  I had the pleasure of co-leading a workshop with Film Producer, David Valdas (“Unforgiven,” “The Book of Eli”) and when I was speaking on the topic of accountability, David said that he has a team of other film producers who get together every Tuesday morning.  All of whom are extremely successful people in our industry.  It just proves the point… everyone can use that extra support.

So whether you’re taking on a new learning curve, a huge goal, or just going through the day to day routine with your promises and commitments, having a partner or team to check in with is essential. We’re all human and sometimes we need a little help to keep us on track.  Being held accountable for your actions and promises will work miracles.

In my video, Goal Setting Part II, which you’ll find on the mastertalentteachers.com website, I’ll be interviewing industry professionals on the “Seven Steps to Goal Setting” and we’ll address this fascinating topic of accountability.

Go to www.mastertalentteachers.com and enjoy my video on “Goal Setting – Part II.”