Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Self-Submit and Ye Shall Audition … Sometimes

In The Business of Acting book, chapter 5, I write about the issues associated with actors who get a hold of materials from Breakdown Services and then self-submit on every role they think they are right for.

When this current edition of the book went to print, Breakdown Services had just gone online. With some, but not enough, security safeguards in place at the time, Gary Marsh soon discovered that a number of unscrupulous agents’ and managers’ assistants (and others) were supplementing their incomes by selling the new version of the Breakdowns to anyone who was willing and who could afford to pay for them (the practice also preceded the arrival of the online service when it was easy to simply copy the hard copy packet that arrived every morning).

It was simple enough for these people to violate the copyright laws that apply to Breakdown Services’ material. As individual breakdowns were issued, they were forwarded to the criminal’s “subscription” list.

Quickly and thankfully, Marsh and company created a system that identified each online breakdown with an imbedded code that identifies each authorized Breakdown Services subscriber and each authorized submission that subscriber makes. It’s all traceable.

Three things have resulted from this action: One, theft of Breakdown Services materials and illegal self-submissions by actors is way down; Two, those who have continued to break the law and steal the breakdowns for fun or profit have been caught and prosecuted; and Three, the creation and availability of actor-specific self-submission sites have flourished (particularly the Breakdown Services’ own ActorsAccess.com).

When I wrote in the book that I had never known of an actor who self-submitted on a project and actually got an audition from that self-submission, I was specifically referring to actors who submitted on illegally-received materials from Breakdown Services.

ActorsAccess.com and L.A. Casting, in particular, have, in many ways leveled the playing field for actors. Casting directors who place casting notices on these sites actually want actors to self-submit on these roles. While not all roles for all projects are posted on self-submit actor sites, many are – and many actors regularly do get auditions and jobs as a result of their self-submission through these sites.

Sarah, an actress in Los Angeles, wrote to tell me her story. She wrote:

I known that you are not fond of actors getting and submitting themselves from breakdowns and I completely understand your stance in this matter. Many actors may not really know how to submit themselves. But there is another side to that. In your book you mentioned that you have never known an actor who self-submitted for a professional project and got an audition as a result. Well, … I have! I have in the past submitted myself and, of course, then gotten an audition through my agent. How do I know that it was my submission that got the audition and not the agent’s? Well, I had some pictures that my agent didn’t like, but I used them myself. When I entered the room I saw that picture sitting on the casting director’s desk. Sometimes I’ve even seen the sticky-notes with my own handwriting still attached to pictures. And I’m talking about major network TV shows and films. It doesn’t happen very often, but it does sometimes. My agent wasn’t mad that I got myself an audition. We’re all on the same team.

Bravo, Sarah! The Business of Acting empowered pro-activity in action! Congratulations.

Do you have a relevant experience in the business of acting that you would like to share with our community? Post it here or e-mail me at blemack@TheBusinessOfActing.com.


No comments: