Everyone I know had low expectations for Ant-Man. Besides the occasional comment about how “Marvel hasn’t let us down so far,” everyone in my nerd community has been very pessimistic about the movie. Objections ran anywhere from not liking Paul Rudd to hating the entire concept of Ant-Man to begin with. I personally came to the theater excited, but prepared for the worst. However, I was pleasantly surprised.
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.
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.”
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>
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.
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.
- You’re a leading man
- 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.
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…