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Dear Ms. Bubbette: November 2002
by Ms. Bubbette
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
I need to start using a stage name. Do I need to file a "doing business as"? How will people know not to write checks to the pseudonym? So far I've used just a first name so people always asked before filling out a check. Is there a way that I can cash checks made out to my stage name? Would that be covered in the DBA?
I doubt if it's necessary to go to all the trouble of filing a DBA (Doing Business As) just to use a stage name or first name only. The way I see it, if there's money (checks) involved, then there should also be a contract you should sign before working. On that contract you should be writing your real name along with your social security number for tax purposes. You could add your stage name in parenthesis ( ). Then point out to the person responsible that you want the check made out to your real name and not your stage name.
That should solve all those problems. May many checks come your way!
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
My name is Hallie and I'm a 13 year old girl who's very interested in becoming an actress. But I was wondering about a few things: for instance, is it okay if I use my school picture for a headshot? And, when they say in an audition posting that they're "seeking a non-paid cast" or something, I know that they probably don't need teens my age, but should I submit anyway? Lastly, how should I submit my headshot and resume for a part? I mean, should I write a letter explaining the part I'd like to have? Thanks!
Here's an easy and inexpensive way for young new actors' first headshots. Take your school photo to Kinkos and have them run an 8"x10" black & white from it on the heaviest paper they have. Add your name neatly typed - 1/2" size is good - caps or upper and lower case at the bottom of your first B&W print. Then make a few extra copies from that B&W print with the name. (Again on their heaviest paper)
Make an acting resume to put on the back. If you have never done this ask your drama teacher at school how to set it out. Or another actor. It should have your name and vitals - hair, eyes, height and weight. What acting you have done(if any), what classes you have taken for acting (if any) Special skills - things you are really good at like music, dancing, sports etc. Be specific e.g. piano, singing, skate-boarding, horse-riding, ballet Cut it down to 8"x10" to fit the back of the photo. Staple it to the back of the photo on the top two corners, resume facing outwards.
Independent movies (mostly unpaid) usually print out a Cast list along with the ages they're looking for. They often need every age group so check them all out carefully. If no ages are mentioned, e-mail them for particulars before sending your 'headshot'. You don't want to waste your photos or their time. You could add a brief cover letter mentioning the role you are interested in auditioning for. When you've landed a role or two and decided acting is for you, then consider having professional headshots made - always black & white - never color.
Good luck with this, Hallie. Let me know how you get on. Ms. Bubbette
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
First, thanks for your column and for all the great information that AustinActors.net provides!! Second, I have browsed your archives and found partial answers to the questions I post below, but I wanted to write to see if you have even more insight.
Here it goes...my husband and I are "forty-something" and can both pass for "thirty-something" and have recently, through working in community theatre (outside of Austin), revived the acting bug that we both had as kids. Here are our questions: Where in Austin should we go for headshots? What other ways (besides AustinActors.net) can we find out about theatre auditions (in Austin and south of Austin)? My husband is attending a Donise Hardy workshop -- any other suggestions for getting us going? And finally, since we are forty something, me with a full-time job and bills to pay, him with our kids to raise and our house to build -- are we crazy?
Thanks and sign me,
Love, Love, LOVE Acting!
Dear Love, Love, LOVE Acting!,
Good for you two, reviving your childhood dreams! If you are really serious about all this I fully recommend you buy the BIZ Directory - phone (512) 323-2090 for information. All your questions will be answered by one of the top professional actors in Texas. For instance there are 18 pages on Headshot photographers in Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio & a couple in Los Angeles. Another 19 pages show examples of headshots - what to do and not to do. For the serious actor, this book is their resource Bible and should always be within hand-reach! Where else can one get insight, through written interviews, on Casting Directors and Talent Agents? It's all there.
Second question. Theatre auditions. Join ACOT. Austin Circle of Theatres. Phone (512) 454-9700 or go to acotonline.org. $50 per couple for a year (HS students only $15) will give you a 16 page monthly magazine "Curtain Call" including all the latest theatre auditions in and around Austin; free previews & ticket discounts; workshop & job referrals; Annual B. Iden Payne Awards; Discount Membership Card; Headshots maintained on file for local directors and casting directors to view. For other audition postings get on the main theatre mailouts: www.statetheatercompany.com; firstname.lastname@example.org (Mary Moody Northen Theatre); There are over 26 more theatres - all listed in the BIZ Directory.
Other workshops? Get on the waiting list for JoEdna Boldin's workshops (Casting Director currently working on 'Alamo') John Lansch - email@example.com - often has a free class for new students. ACOT also lists local teachers and what they specialize in. The BIZ Directory lists many more. Your husband is attending a fine workshop right now with Donise.
As to your last question - are you crazy? Probably! But aren't we all - that's what makes us actors! And the bug will spread to your kids and it will become a family 'thing'. Have a blast you two.
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
I am sixteen years old, and my greatest dream is to become an actress. I REALLY need an agent. I've looked SO hard for agents here in the Austin area, but they aren't listed in the phone book and whenever i look on line only online agencies and sites that help you find agents fro money pop up. Austin is such an artsy city and a lot of films and shows have been filmed here; surely there MUST be some acting agents around here?? I need help finding them.
Well, they are listed in the phone books but, would you believe, not under Agents!! Try Talent Agencies in the Yellow Pages. At least eight acting agencies are listed there. Or if you want to be absolutely sure you are getting legit. agents licensed by the State of Texas (they cannot charge any advance fee - they work on commission after they have signed you up for a job) the BIZ Directory - see letter above - phone (512) 323-2090 - has 16 pages of reputable talent agencies throughout Texas, 4 pages of which are in Austin. Another source is through the Texas Film Commission, (512) 583-7203. Ask for a copy of local talent agencies. And let me quote from the Director of the Texas Film Commission, Tom Copeland, on the BIZ Directory "A first-rate tool for any actor at any stage of their career. I recommend the BIZ every chance I get."
Never, never, never have anything to do with online talent agencies and especially when they mention money. They are usually rip-off artists preying on the ego of would-be actors.
Now, go look into these agents, take classes, talk to other actors how they do it, go to Open auditions i.e. Cattle-calls for extra work, try out for Independent Movies (usually non-paid but great experience) and get out there and learn the ropes of the business. If this is your big dream do it the right way. Good luck!
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
I have taken classes for radio commercial and voice overs for animation and similar venues, however I do not know where to look for auditions for this type of work any recommendations?
Dear No Name,
Did you ask the teachers at those classes where to apply for this kind of work?
Any voice-overs I have done have been booked through my agents. One agency in Austin who specializes in Voice-over work is dbTalent. You might email them for information firstname.lastname@example.org or call (512) 292-1030. Mention that you have taken classes in this work. If you have a Voice-over demo tape, mention that too. If you haven't made one you might consider contacting Joel Block of The Production Block (512) 472-8975. He sometimes contacts V/O talent for commercials, remembering them from the demo tapes he made on them.
In Austin there is Horizons Technology who uses voice-over talent for CD Rom games. I once 'voiced' 3 characters in the CD Rom Interstellar Game "Wing Commander" It was loads of fun and quite lucrative.
Another suggestion is, take note of local ads on the radio and visit the store(s) advertising, leaving them your resume and demo tape. One has to be fairly aggressive in this work and do the leg work yourself. If you have an unusual quality to your voice, that would be very much in your favor especially for animations.
Good luck - once you have a foot in the door you should be in fine voice! Let me know how you get on.
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
I have a 5 year old daughter who stops traffic. Ever since she was a baby, people have told me she should model/act, especially family members. Naturally,I've felt so, too, but I've always discounted the advice, knowing everyone thinks their own kid is the most beautiful. However, in 5 years' time, I've come to think I should at least investigate since there seems to be so many -- including strangers -- who so say.
Where would I get started? I've always read (even in your column) not to pay, but where does one find a legit agency for consultation? Can you recommend anyone in Austin?
'Tis true! Everyone's kid is the best!! And in their own way they are! But every now and then a really beautiful child will stand out in the crowd. No harm in giving it a shot if you are prepared for some expense in doing it right with professional headshots and all. Osh B'gosh has hit Austin a few times looking for the beautiful children in all ages - up to about 9 years. And there have been local Mall bookings. Auditions are usually done through local agencies. Read the letters above on how to find them in the phone book, the BIZ Directory and through the Texas Film Commission. Make sure the agency is licensed with the State of Texas. That will protect you. No money in advance!
I don't normally advise any agency over another - if they are legit they are all equally good and accepted by Casting Directors. But for children in Austin I will recommend CIAO! Talents. (512) 930-9301. Talk to Liz Atherton. The agency is located in Georgetown. WEBSITE www.ciaotalents.com
Let me know if I'm going to see your beautiful daughter anywhere.
Dear Ms. Bubette:
Hello. I'm wondering about how much one's "height" influences one's chances in being cast in a principle (sp?) role in any given film? In other words, at what point are the casting powers that be likely to consider someone "too tall" or "too short"? I realize that there are exceptions, but I'm speaking in general. Am I right in thinking that most leading men are between 5'8" and, say, 5'11"? I'm 6 feet and weigh 158 pounds, myself. Thanks!
Hmmm! If you were thinking modeling I'd say height is very important and you would probably be considered too tall.
But not in acting. Of course if the leading man was short it would be difficult to cast a tall leading lady - and yet they did it for Alan Ladd! Didn't they stand him on boxes with his feet out of view?
The casting goes more on talent than height , shape, size, looks. Take for instance Dustin Hoffman. For the Graduate they were looking to cast a tall, handsome, basketball-type jock. At the time he was being persuaded to try out for a Broadway musical which he didn't want to do. He couldn't sing but the casting director saw him in the role of the Graduate. He was short, had a big nose, not really handsome - but did he have charisma! Five minutes with him and they were spell-bound. After months of searching all over the country, the unlikely one was cast. He has never looked back. TALENT - that's the most important thing. And yes, there will be exceptions but I think you'll find many leading men are over 6'.
If you're right for the part I doubt if your height will be too much of a problem. Just get out there and do it. Think of yourself as being 5'11 1/2" ! Put that on your resume - psychologically it may help you and the casting directors!!
I am a fine arts academy student and I have a question that I was hoping you might have the answer to. I am very confident that I have a good acting ability but when I go into auditions, I look at the material given to me and I think up characterization in a short amount of time but when I go onstage I shrink and my characterization is shot down by my fear of auditioning. Are there any pointers you could give me that might help me calm my nerves and have better auditions? If so, it would be greatly appreciated.
Deer in headlights
Dear Deer in the Headlights,
Oh how we have all gone through that agony. Even today at auditions I question myself "What on earth am I doing here?" And then I pull my self-esteem together and do it. Don't be tempted to gossip with the other actors. Concentrate on your part - don't let them mess up your audition by getting you off balance.
First of all take some good big breaths before you go on. Oxygenate your brain for clear thinking. When you walk into that audition room, (stage) it's normal for the adrenalin to take over - that's what makes us actors react - the excitement of competition. Just remember though that the only competition you have is yourself. Forget all those others out there . Walk onto that stage (or in front of camera) as if you own it. Stand tall, confident - you are the best. Have fun with the part. Be willing to take chances. Let it rip - the director will pull you back if you're too big. Work on the subtext - what is really going on in your mind when you are saying certain lines? That's what will show in your body language. When you can forget about yourself and your fear and concentrate on the character, that's when you'll give your finest performance. Fear, in a way, is a form of selfishness - thinking about ourselves - how do I look - do they like me - do I sound OK? Toss that out the window and you'll have a great audition.
Best of luck and remember - every actor has been there - even the greatest!