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Have a Personality

When I worked in casting I met great people.  I also met not great people.  Not to say they weren’t nice or that they weren’t good people.  They just weren’t great.

Some people would walk into the room and immediately not only shake my hand, but also drum up a conversation with me.  From the second they walked in the door the oozed of kindness and friendliness.  I actually believed that they wanted to be my friend, me, the lowly casting associate.  Other people only said hi and sat down and re-read their lines.  They didn’t speak to me unless they were asking me to get them something.  Not bad people at all.  They were just busy.

Guess who got on my good side and I fought for?

You’d be surprised how many times my lowly opinion meant something.  If I didn’t like someone, sometimes the casting director would listen to me.  Now, I did work on a major motion picture, so my opinion didn’t matter on the lead roles so much, but it definitely did on the minor roles.

So, next time you go into an audition, remember the little people.  No one knows that you’re a great person unless you show them.  That will significantly help your chances of getting any role.

Remember, they’re not just hiring you.  They’re hiring a potential friend that they’d want to work with.

Due Dates

I’m not great at getting things done.  When I was in college, if a paper was due on the 22nd of April, I didn’t even remember that I had to write that paper until the 21st.  I would get a text from a friend asking what book I cited for the paper and I would say something jokey like, “Get your own books!”  Then I’d freak out and write the whole paper in one night.


Why does this keep happening to me?!? Oh wait, it’s because I’m a moron.


At least that’s what I did when I first started out.  After a while I bought a day timer/ planner.  This saved my soul.  Then I started giving myself due dates that were months previous to when the project was due.  That would give me plenty of time to actually read through my paper and check for mistakes.

What a concept.

Now, however, I don’t have due dates.  At all.  If I decide that I want to write a script, I write down the goal, but it never gets done.  This is where I’ve incorporated self-imposed due dates.

Do this.  It helps.

When you decide that you have a goal to achieve, immediately decide when that goal should be done.  Then use that motivation to get it done!

If, on the other hand, that still isn’t enough for you, there’s a website named StickK that has more motivation such as accountability, time constraints, and money on the line.  It’s pretty great.

The point is, get moving.  You’re your greatest mountain.  It’s time to get past you and get things done.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/wheatfields/4774087006/”>net_efekt</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>

How to Eat an Elephant

When I was in the 4th grade, I had a teacher named Mrs. Dyson.  No she didn’t make vacuum cleaners.  But she did make me crazy.  She used to say one phrase over and over. I’d go to her desk with a math problem and she’d inevitability ask, “How do you eat an elephant?” and I’d have to answer, “One bite at a time” before she’d break it down into tiny pieces and walk me though the first step. It was a cadence that we had to say all the time.  I used to hate that.  Can’t you just help me without making me repeat your stupid sayings?

However, as I got older, every time something overwhelmed me, I’d take a deep breath and say, “One bite at a time” before attacking the problem.  It took a lot of pressure off and helped me focus on the first step rather than the whole problem at once.

I guess she wasn’t totally crazy and MAYBE she permanently changed my life for the better.  Not that I’d give her the credit.

So, when you get stressed and everything seems out of your control or your problem is too big for you, just ask yourself, “How do you eat an elephant?”

It’ll surprise you.

My Three Jobs

When starting out I think every artist should have three jobs.  Sounds stressful right?  Well it is, but it’s a worthwhile process.

Here are the three jobs I’m talking about:

  1. Your full time job.  This is a job you don’t necessarily want, but it pays well. This is a job that you have to force yourself to enjoy.  This is the job that bank rolls your dreams.
  2. Your skill set job.  This is where you start your own business.  This is something that you’re good at and you enjoy.  It’s a job about creating something.  Photographs, making crafts, any hobby that you like doing.  This is not necessarily your dream job, but it’s a flexible job that pays well and you like doing it.
  3. Your dream job.  You don’t get paid for this.  In fact, you often have to pay for it.  You have to make it happen.  This is a job that you would do for free and you likely already are.

The idea is that this is a process.  It’s a refining process that will carry you into a place of success.  You start with all three, then slowly whittle down to one.


This is going to take forever to become a tooth pick.

Most of us graduate college with debt.  Some don’t have education debt, but they tie themselves down with needless car payments, credit card debt, etc.  When you have the burden of life on your shoulders, you don’t have the luxury to make very little money.  You must pay the bills yet find a way to keep your dream alive, hence, my snowball-like process.

The idea?

Step one:  Get all three jobs going.  For example:  Get your full time job at an accounting firm going.  On the weekend, make a craft and sell it on Etsy, and on a couple of weeknights take an acting class while at the same time spending some time writing a script.

This is just an example, but you get my drift.  Work hard and get things moving.

Step two:  After doing this for a long time and making enough business at job number two, quit job one.  The time it takes to get to this step totally depends on your creativity and hustle.  CAUTION:  If you quit job one too early (Your full time job) and you’re not prepared then when you quit job one, you won’t have enough business in job two to sustain your life and/or your debt and you’ll financially die.  This is no fun.  Be SURE that your new business is ready before you drop your day job.  However, if you are ready, this is an exciting time.  You can quit your day job!  This gives room and flexibility to only do jobs two and three.  At this point you can use all the momentum that you were previously using to make jobs two and three a priority.  This is one step closer to your dreams!

Example:  You’ve quit your accounting job and now you can support yourself only making things for Etsy.  Now you spend your weekdays doing Etsy work and your weeknights and weekends acting and writing!

Step three:

At this point you have a successful second job and third job.  You can now support yourself completely through your third job and no longer need your second one.  You then have three choices:

  1. Quit your second job and sell it making some sweet cash.
  2. Keep your second job and just do it whenever you want
  3. Just quit your second job and keep it stowed away for a rainy day.

Example:  Your acting has taken off and your getting booked all the time.  You now write for a TV show that you star in.  You then can quit making things for Etsy and just live out your dream job, putting all that energy into doing what you love.

This is a long, sometimes painful, process.  However, it’s possible.  It’s real and it can be done.  It’s all up to you.

Only action is real.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/koonce/6296527293/”>Josh Koonce</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

Prioritizing Life

I’ve never been good at remembering things.   I tend to let things go easily.  Mostly, this is the worst when I’m texting.  I have this terrible tendency to be busy, see a text from someone and think to myself. “I’ll respond the second I’m not busy.”  Then I forget forever and people end up thinking that I’m a jerk.


Why doesn’t he answer my texts?!? Does he hate me???


Upon noticing that this is a common thread in my life, I decided to do something about it.  I started writing things down when I needed to remember them.  Not texts of course, I still clearly forgot those, but other tasks and things that I remember are important.  This is an example how my list started:

  1. Take out trash
  2. Call My Brother
  3. Shop for new TV stand
  4. Return all work related emails

This worked well for the first week until my list started reaching over 50 tasks and started to scare me.  I also, noticed that things still ended up being late because they weren’t sorted by priority.  At the time I was reading EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey and in his book he suggests a plan to prioritize your day.  So I started his plan by sorting them to know what’s most important.

A – Most Important (Done in beginning of today)
B – Medium Importance (Try to do today)
C – Important – (Can be done later)

  1. Take out trash – A
  2. Return all work related emails – A
  3. Call My Brother – B
  4. Shop for new TV stand – C

Then I had to further break it down to importance in each category.

A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2, etc…

  1. Return all work related emails – A – 1
  2. Take out trash – A – 2
  3. Call My Brother – B
  4. Shop for new TV stand – C

This has literally, saved me on multiple accounts and got me in a place where I actually started succeeding.

Give it a shot.  You’ll be surprised how much less stress you’ll endure.


photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/barkbud/4257136773/”>bark</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>

21 Reasons You Don’t Need to Get a Job if You’re an Actor

21 Reasons you shouldn’t get a job if you’re an actor

  1. You love the taste of Ramen.
  2. You think welfare was made specifically to support actors.
  3. You use food stamps to buy protein bars.
  4. You think dental care is way overrated.
  5. Instead of going to bars, you’ve gotten really good at making your own moonshine.
  6. You can go to the bank and get all the free suckers you want.
  7. You only keep friends that wear your exact size in order to get their hand-me-downs.
  8. You think hot water is a luxury for lawyers and senators.
  9. Your parents send you gift packages with food that you can stretch out for a month.
  10. You love going “out to lunch” (AKA getting free samples from Costco).
  11. You find that living out of your car eliminates the need for roommates.
  12. You’re a professional at going to buffets and lining your packets with used zip lock bags.
  13. You’re version of steak is a “good can of tuna.” You know, the one with the white meat?
  14. You think having a bed is a sign of weakness.  The floor makes your back straighter.
  15. You know your neighbor’s password for everything is “Password.”  Free Wifi!
  16. You don’t need running water because you’ve mastered the art of cleaning your body with a wet wipe in a restroom.
  17. Due to the hipster movement, your glasses from the 5th grade are now stylish enough to wear again. No need in buying new ones that actually help you see.
  18. Your idea of a good first date is taking a girl to the Wal-Mart Aquarium (AKA the pet section to look at the fish).
  19. You call the hole in your ceiling from that falling tree your “sun roof.”
  20. You’ve named all your pet cock roaches.
  21. You enjoy checking your own prostate, medicating yourself with home remedies you find online, and finding medical students on Craigslist who need “practice” when your appendix explodes.

How to Make Job Connections When You’re an Introvert

As much as I say that I’m an extrovert, I have introverted tendencies.  A lot actually.  If I had a choice between going out after a long day of work to hang out with friends, or just sitting at home in front of a TV with some snacks, I’ll  always chose the snacks.  Why?  Because I love salty snacks and stories. It’s nice to get carried away in someone else’s problems for once.

The problem with my introversion is that I don’t make connections while sitting on my couch.  My TV isn’t going to get me a job contrary to those online college commercials.


You can be successful enough to sit on a couch just like this woman after you get your degree at FakeUniversity.com


If I want to succeed in life, I need other people.  Plain and simple. Though, how do you go out if you don’t want to?  Should I just force myself?

Nah, just make it simple on yourself.  Start small.  What do you like doing?  What are your hobbies?  If you go online, you can find a multitude of groups to join.  If you like watching football, why not play football? There are several flag football leagues in LA.  If you like reading, why not find a book club?

The point is, you don’t have to be going to creepy industry parties at 2am where someone is doing drugs in the corner to make connections.   Most of the connections that you’ll need to find a job are going to randomly show up, like at your son’s soccer matches.  When I worked for Alexander Payne he told me that he found a girl for a role he was looking for because he heard some woman complaining about a neighbor.  How random is that?

Life doesn’t need to be as hard or as complicated as you’ve made it in your mind.  You can make connections easily by doing what you love.  You can’t make connections by never leaving the house.
That and you’ll be super lonely.  Trust me.  Lonely people eat a lot of cheese puffs.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/mskathryn/4869311983/”>mskathryn</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

Unrealistic Goals

“Success is the progressive realization of worthwhile goals.” – Dan Miller

I’m a talker.  Ask my wife.  When we get in public places she is always telling me to talk quieter or that I’m embarrassing her.  She gets embarrassed easily because she’s shy and hates to draw attention to herself.  That is just how our personalities work.  She is the introvert and I’m the extrovert.  She’s the planner and I’m the dreamer.

One of the many, many giant flaws with my personality is that I don’t follow through on my plans.  I tend to have a thousand ideas and executive none of them.  At least that’s how I used to operate.  After a while I got tired of living that way and getting nowhere.  So, I decided to make a set of goals.  I started with a ten-year goal, then a five-year goal. After I did that I noticed that it was easier to make decisions about what I was currently doing with my life.  I could dissect my five-year goal and make steps on what I should do to get to that goal.  However, what surprised me the most was how much movement my life started to make after that because I started to learn more about what I love to do as compared to what I thought I’d love to do because I was actually doing something.

Head in Hands

He just found out that he’s has to take advanced math to be a computer scientist.


A teacher once told me that I should set my goals just slightly higher that what I think I can actually do.  I think that’s awful.  What if I think I’m a loser?  What if I don’t think I can do anything?  If everyone thought that then no one would have even gotten to the moon.  I think you should dream and dream big.  I think you should make ten-year then five-year goals, with your dream at the end then take practical steps to get there.  Do some research.  Find out how others got to your dream and try those things out.

No one can stop you from you making your dreams come true but you.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/proimos/4199675334/”>Alex E. Proimos</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>

Creating Content

“To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.”  – Leonard Bernstein

“I don’t have time.”  “Really?” I asked my brother, “You can’t carve out even a few minutes?” “Oh, I don’t know.” He responded.  “I might.”

This is my challenge to you and slightly a back handed public challenge to my brother.  Start creating content.  Not tomorrow, or the day after, right now.  There will always be excuses to why you won’t start.  Notice that I didn’t say “can’t,” because you can and you should.

What’s the difference between someone successful and you?  They didn’t need to get paid to do what they love.  They did it for fun and they did it a lot.

Life is complicated.  Most of us have either busy jobs or jobs that we dislike that drain us.  It’s not often that you work 40 to 70 hours a week then decide that you want to make something.  However, as an artist, you can’t grow if you don’t take the time to create something.  Is your dream important to you?  How bad do you want it?  Do you keep telling yourself that you’re going to quit your job and then you’ll have time to do what you love?

You’re full of it and you know it.  Stop making excuses.  Whatever kind of artist you are needs to be cultivated.  If you don’t practice you’ll never get good at what you love and you’ll never get to do what you love full time.  That’s a promise.

You don’t have to start big.  Decide that you’re going to wake up 30 minutes earlier in the morning and do what you love for just 15 minutes.  Drink a cup off coffee then paint, write, practice monologues, etc.


Seriously, coffee first. Writing second.


Starting small will make doing what you love a habit and will give your life purpose.  You’ll be surprised at how 15 minutes will turn into 2 hours and how inspiration and passion will fill your life.  You’ll start to be you again.

There is never enough time.  You’ll never find it no matter what job you have.  Find your passion and pursue it or you’ll live in the land of “what ifs” forever.


The Power of NO

In college, a professor once told me, “Saying yes to everything means that you’re saying no to something else because you don’t have the time to do it.”

A while back, I quit a job because it made no money.  I worked as a barista to bring in some extra income.  I didn’t want to take the job, but honestly I felt the pressure to survive and my photography business hadn’t taken off yet.  So, I took it.  It paid too little and I had to quit.  It was a dumb move to take the job in the first place, but I needed something and I had high hopes that I’d get a raise.

Dumb Topher.

Anyway, I quit right as my photography business was starting to take on some steam.  Things were going great at first…  Then work slowed down.  So, I started trying to get creative to bring in some extra business.  At a random chance meeting, a local business owner was telling me about his struggle to maintain a presence in social media as well as getting high quality photos of his clients.  My ears immediately perked up.  After asking a few questions I offered up some help.  I told him that I was a bit of a social bug and a photographer and he was thrilled to set up a meeting with me.

I was excited.  “Look at me,” I thought, “I’m so clever.  I can make lemonade out of lemons.  I’m a real Guerrilla marketer.”


If I market well, do I get free bananas?


When we finally met, I went over what we had talked about, but then suddenly I was asked if I had experience with web design.  I told him that I had some but I wasn’t able to create anything.  He insisted that I do some minor tweaks to his site.  I didn’t want to, but I’m a giant push over with the inability to say no.  So, I agreed.  That turned into major tweaks, redesigning whole pages of the website, filling out spread sheets, making a video, working on creating logos and signs, and basically being completely in charge of the financial stability of his store.


What had started as a small offer to help out, turned into me running the show.  Not only that, but I felt so much pressure to make everything perfect and have immediate results.  We had agreed that I would be paid hourly and when I spent hours and hours  getting everything running and presented him with an invoice, he was upset because he didn’t see a lot of results and he didn’t want to pay for something that wasn’t making him any business.

This was a disaster.  Not only had I wasted my time, was not getting paid, but I was also doing a ton of work that I wasn’t qualified to do nor did I want to!  I didn’t even take one picture which was my entire goal in the first place!  I hadn’t set up any guidelines and when I was asked in the beginning if I could do something that I wasn’t good at, I didn’t say no.

The worst part of all of this?  It was all my fault.  I had to pay a stupid tax.  If I had been clear from the beginning about what I was willing to do and what I could do well this would have never happened.  And why did I do this?  Because I needed to survive.  The problem was, I needed money and when you need money you tend to take jobs that you would never take.

If I could go back, I would have just been honest.  I would have been tough.  I would have said no in the beginning and saved myself tons of stress.

Say no.  It means saying yes to what you actually want to do.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/ucumari/5980792927/”>ucumari</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

Should you be the Leading Man?

When you decide that you want to become an actor, you always imagine that you’re the next big thing.  You imagine that you’re Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, or Gerard Butler.  You see yourself as the leading man.  The Hero.  The guy who rides in on a white horse and saves the damsel in distress while making a funny joke that shows how cool you are under pressure while an explosion goes off behind you that you don’t notice.

You never imagine yourself as Gomer Pile or Ernest P. Worrell. You never see youself as the goofy screw up, or the gay best friend, or the annoying older sister and you certainly didn’t become an actor to portray such demeaning roles.


He just wants to be taken seriously as an actor.


On Monday, I posted How to be an Extra.  Right after I did so, I got a message asking me how to become a principal actor.  They wanted to know how to get a leading role.  The problem with that question?  There are a million answers.  There’s no one way to break into the industry today.  Granted, there are things to do that will increase your chances of being successful.

The first I’d say, is to be a character actor.

I used to work in casting.  When we started casting the film, the director didn’t even want one leading man.  The project had dozens of actors in it and every character in the film was either old, ugly, stupid, or evil.  Everyone was a character actor.

That’s the thing with LA and NY especially.  There are thousands of extremely attractive men and women that have more talent in their pinky than you have in your whole family and those people aren’t even getting booked!

In an interview at the Sunscreen Film Festival, Alexa Vega from Spy Kids said that she hated pilot season.  She said that every audition that she went to had hundreds of girls that looked just like her, but were even more attractive.  This confounded me.  This was a very pretty girl with tons of experience and all the connections in the world.  How could she not get a role?

What would I do?  Find someone honest around you.  Get someone who won’t lie to you and tell them that you won’t be angry, but they need to answer this question honestly:

“What roles can I play?”

They’ll answer one of two ways.

  1. You’re a leading man
  2. You’re a great garbage truck driver

OK, so there may be more roles than garbage truck driver, but you get the idea.  Are you a dad?  Are you a nerd?  Are you the school bully?

If you’re the leading man, then fine.  GO TO THE GYM.  You need to get an edge on every other handsome devil in town.

However, if you’re a character, then you just have to fit that role better.  If you can figure out what kind of character actor you are, you immediately have a jump on so many people.  You’ll know what makes you different.  You’ll know what characters you can play and you’ll know how to talk, dress, and act like those characters.

A friend of mine with long black hair told me, the other day, that he was going to cut all his hair off and then try to get an agent.  I almost slapped him in the face. Why cut off the thing that that differentiates you from everyone else?  Instead of going against 3,000 other actors with short spiked hair, he’ll be competing with 300 other actors with long black hair.  Personally, I like those odds much better.


This woman knows how to get booked.


Find your look.  Make yourself different.  If you’re a funny fat guy, then don’t lose weight!  You can always change your look  once you’ve established yourself.  This is just a way to jump start your career…

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/ncaranti/5323819392/”>Niccolò Caranti</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/urbanwoodswalker/4029336310/”>Urban Woodswalker</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>