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"Your profession is not your job.
Your profession is what you're put on this earth to do with such passion and intensity it becomes spiritual in calling."
Vincent Van Gogh

If that’s how you feel about being an actor we’d like to help you.

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Jim's Video Blog

For over a year, Jim posted weekly videos about the business and art of acting. The blog covers topics from agents and managers, to auditions and art-life balance. Below are just a few samples.
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Demo Reel Do’s and Don’t's

Your demo reel is an important calling card. Here are some quick tips for making it as solid as possible.

transcript

Hey everyone,

Welcome back. It’s good to see you. I’m grateful you’re joining us this week. Last week we touched on making sure that the quality you shoot is quality, that the level of script, performance, lighting, camera, sound, everything, is at a strong level if you’re going to use this in your demo reel.

So let’s talk about demo reels. I know we touched on this way back when, but I want to hit on it again.

How long should they be?

How many things should be in there?

Here’s the rule of thumb: less is always more. Two minutes is plenty, and we don’t need the full scene. We just need the money. Within 10-15 seconds, I get your character, I get the emotional life, I get your type. And you want to show as many varied types as possible.

So let’s say you’re a guy. One minute you’re a tough guy, and the next, you’re a very sophisticated professional guy, and maybe the next one has an impediment where you’re drunk (not literally drunk, but you know what I mean), or you’re high or something where it could show that kind of range.

They’re looking for shades and colors, obviously. You’d don’t want to have the same guy every scene, the same character, the same emotional note. You want variety. Put yourself in the buyer’s position, and that’ll help dictate how long the scene should be.

Here’s another good rule of thumb: get in as late as possible and out as early as possible. That’s a good editing tip for any filmmaker, but it’s especially important in your demo reel.

Less is more.

Just get in as late as possible and out as soon as possible. They don’t need much. This is what they do for a living: view and buy talent, and they can tell right away.

So there are some tips. Oh! And always lead with your best stuff. Always have your strongest work up front, and honestly it should all be strong, so there’s that. But absolutely put your strongest at the top. Hope that helps, and we have more coming.

 

I HAVE A GIFT FOR YOU

I’d like to invite you to check out my Artistic Family Newsletter. These newsletters are for any actor in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York, Europe, and beyond because my goal every week is to empower, inspire, and educate any actor living anywhere who has the burning desire to really do this.

I believe these newsletters are the best of what I do as an acting teacher and it’s free to you, so join our family today by going here and signing up.

Alright, we’ll see you next week. We’ll see what we can advance for you. Thanks for joining us.

 

To access the entire blog library, including Meisner Trained - Jim’s video teaching series

Here are just a few of our most popular posts:

Hey everyone,

So last week we talked about creating more opportunities to work because when you do that, you’re going to grow, right? So now let’s talk about taking it to a whole new level. Let’s just say you are working with some friends, coworker professionals, or people you know in the industry, making a film. The number one mistake that early filmmakers make is in sound, in audio. So if you are going to invest time, effort, and even money to go out and shoot this, rent the gear, and do everything involved, make sure you don’t scrimp on audio.

The reason why I’m bringing it up is because you’re not just growing as an actor in front of a camera. Hopefully you’re going to get some good tape out of this to help you build up your demo reel and your marketability to people. There’s the old saying, “You’re only as strong as your weakest link.” Make sure that the picture quality is wonderful, that the audio is wonderful, that it’s lit wonderfully, and of course that the acting is wonderful. Any one of those elements not solid, either in your film or in your demo reel, will pull it down. It will make a bad impression instead of a positive one.

So join us next week. I’m going to talk more about demo reels. We’ve touched on this before, but let’s go a little more in-depth.

I HAVE A GIFT FOR YOU
I’d like to invite you to check out my Artistic Family Newsletter. These newsletters are for any actor in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York, Europe, and beyond because my goal every week is to empower, inspire, and educate any actor living anywhere who has the burning desire to really do this.

I believe these newsletters are the best of what I do as an acting teacher and it’s free to you, so join our family today by going here and signing up.

Alright, we’ll see you next week. We’ll see what we can advance for you. Thanks for joining us.

Your Film is Only as Strong as the Weakest Link

Hey everybody,

As you can see, I got a long overdue haircut and shave! I’m told it makes me look more credible, so everything I’m about to say is much more significant and important. J Seriously, this is an important topic.

This is a topic dear to my heart: how to survive, and actually thrive during the probationary years of your career.

We’ve touched on this over the years in our blogs, but we’re going to come back to it because it’s a constant topic that I am asked to address: advice on how to survive.

So first and foremost, let’s just talk the basics: finding a place to live that’s reasonable that’s not killing you.

Try to keep upgrading. I once moved, I’m not kidding you, 8 or 10 times in one year as an actor. And it’s stressful. It is. I guess that’s what I want to start with. Episode 1: Your Home.

We’re all different. I personally am not a big fan of apartment complexes. It just never worked for me. Other people love it.

They thrive. They like the convenience of it. It doesn’t make anybody right or wrong, but try to find an environment during the probationary years that works for you.

And if it doesn’t, be proactive. Be consistently proactive in trying to find a place that does work..

And it’s competitive. I don’t need to tell you that. I’m in San Francisco, and our students will tell you – it’s crazy up here.

But I also know of a situation that just came up where the landlord doesn’t need money. He doesn’t.

You know what he’s looking for? He’s looking for somebody quiet to take care of his plants and his animals when he’s out of town, and for that, he’d rather have somebody at a lower, reduced rate who will be there for a long time.

So I just want to really stress the importance of your home and your home environment during the probationary years.

It will help you survive and thrive when you have a place that is not only safe but also nurtures you, whatever that definition is.

I want to be an advocate of that. This is going to be a 5 part series, so I want to talk about a bunch of different things. Next up is going to be the type of job that is important to take during this time. See you next week.

 

I HAVE A GIFT FOR YOU

I’d like to invite you to check out my Artistic Family Newsletter. These newsletters are for any actor in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York, Europe, and beyond because my goal every week is to empower, inspire, and educate any actor living anywhere who has the burning desire to really do this.

I believe these newsletters are the best of what I do as an acting teacher and it’s free to you, so join our family today by going here and signing up.

Alright, we’ll see you next week. We’ll see what we can advance for you. Thanks for joining us.

 

Thriving vs. Surviving, Part 1 of 5

Hey everyone,

Here we are, Part 5 of 5. Headshot tips. Okay, choosing the photographer. Now, if you’re in a small market, you probably don’t have a lot of choices. But be careful. A lot of people who are “photographers” are not used to shooting headshots. You want to go online.

Go do some research. Google “top headshot photographers.” Go to their websites, see the looks that you like. If there’s an agency in your area and you’re not signed with that agency, ask somebody if there’s any way that you can get a sense of what they consider to be a good shot.

Do your research. Do what you can to see what you like and what’s in your market, and then of course, when you go to interview potential headshot photographers, you definitely want to look at their book, you want to look at their style, you want to look at the things that they’ve shot. You want to be able to say, “That’s the lighting and the look that I’m looking for.”

But now let’s just say you’re in a larger market. We’re in San Francisco. There are headshot photographers all over the place. Nothing like LA, but there’s plenty.

And so, who do you pick? One’s $500 to $600 a session. There’s one woman in this town who charges a lot. She’s very well known. She’s very, very good, but there’s somebody that charges $200 who’s just as good as she is. We just came somebody recently. I saw his shots and thought, “Well those are gorgeous. Those are beautiful, well lit. Everything’s solid.” He charges $200.

So you don’t necessarily have to pay the most to get the best headshot. You just have to find a style that you like, and just as importantly, a person that you like. Remember, when you first meet them, they’re trying to sell you.

They’re going to be in a really good mood, so you’re going to have to trust your gut because they’re trying to get you to book them. It’s just a one shot deal, so all the more reason why it’s a bit of a hustle. So be wary of that, trust your gut. Because you’re going to be working with them.

There is somebody in LA that I strongly recommend. I will add, right up front, that he’s an old, dear friend of mine, but that should say a lot. I’ve known him for 25, almost 30 years now, and he’s one of the top shooters in LA. His name is Michael Sanville and he’s just incredible.

He’s incredible – he was an actor, and he knows. He knows how hard it is to be on this side of the camera. He knows how important this is, and he cares, and he’s a really good man, and so he’ll help you. He’s warm, he’s relaxing. He’ll put you at ease.

And that’s really what you’re looking for, someone’s that’s not just collecting some money, but really loves what they’re doing and is trying to help, and you’ll feel the difference. So I cannot recommend enough the process of interviewing several and trusting your gut and just knowing that the most expensive does not necessarily mean the best. Okay? (Here’s Michael Sanville’s website if you’re interested in checking out his work – http://www.michaelsanville.com).

There’s a bunch more stuff on all of this, but for now, we’ll leave it as a 5 part series, okay? As always, thank you for your time. Thank you for your support. Share these, let others know. We greatly appreciate your time. We do. It’s really been an enjoyable process as this has been getting louder all over the world, so thank you for your support. Hope it helps.

 

I HAVE A GIFT FOR YOU

I’d like to invite you to check out my Artistic Family Newsletter. These newsletters are for any actor in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York, Europe, and beyond because my goal every week is to empower, inspire, and educate any actor living anywhere who has the burning desire to really do this.

I believe these newsletters are the best of what I do as an acting teacher and it’s free to you, so join our family today by going here and signing up.

Alright, we’ll see you next week. We’ll see what we can advance for you. Thanks for joining us.

 

How to Take a Great Headshot, Part 5 of 5

REVIEW OF THE WEEK
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William Patrick

While I have had countless memorable experiences here on these islands that I consider home, I must honestly say that I am today in a deep place of gratitude to Jim and Melissa for providing me with some of the most beautiful experiences I have ever had not only here in Hawaii but in my life in general.

What I learned today

Today we are sharing a “What I Learned” video from recent graduate Andrew Spach, who says that the number one thing he learned about acting is that acting is about giving.

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