The three most important things to know, in order to succeed in
the entertainment industry are (1), don’t let any thing or
any one stand in your way, (2), always be on time and do what you
say you are going to do, treating your career as a business,
which it is, and (3) always know that there are never just 3
things. – Bruce Edwin
GET A CAR: If you just arrived in Los Angeles, ready to become a star, there are tons of things you must learn and know, in order to make it, what ever you think IT is, and in order to not fall flat on your face before running back home. The first thing is a car. The cliché is true, you should have one in order to live in Los Angeles, unless you are very wealthy and can afford outrageous taxis. Public transportation is an option, but a miserable one at best.
GET A CELL AND ANSWER IT: The second thing is a phone. You must have a cell, and it should have a local area code, preferably 310, 818, 213, or 714, which we call THE TRIANGLE. The triangle is the area of power where the power players are supposed to live and work, where the deals are mostly done in this town. Beverly Hills is in this triangle of course, and BH has its OWN triangle of power, which for the sake of space, I will exclude here now. Casting and agents frown at non local area codes. Now having a phone is great, but if you don’t answer it readily, or keep a working empty voicemail that can take messages, or call back casting or your rep very quickly, you might as well drop it in the toilet, where many models phones end up any way.
HAVE A STABLE PLACE TO LIVE: After your car and phone, it would be a good idea to have a place to live. I have seen far too many talents living in their fancy cars. Not cool. I knew another actor who lived in a Wall Mart parking lot in his small mobile home, which is a little better. Another talent I know doesn’t hit the waves in Malibu, but she is a great couch surfer. Tent city has no showers or toilets, so that is not an option.
BE FINANCIALLY VIABLE / DO EXTRA WORK / GET SAG: After you get your own place to live, making money is a good idea. If you are a talent, you should go the background mafia to register, which costs about 50 bucks cash, in order to do background work. It is here that I love to hear talents tell me if they have to pay it’s a scam. Tell that to Burbank. If you are super hot and a good schmoozer, or just a cute girl with a great manager, we can often help get you SAG vouchers if you are willing to play sexy for a film or network or cable TV show. Getting SAG eligible these days of course, has little to do with talent, and a lot to do with nepotism and showing skin. In fact, I have seen my share of breakdowns stating that no acting experience is preferred. There are not enough good actors out there. Hopefully that will change soon.
SISTER UNION: SAG costs money to join, and should be the goal of every actor, and model for that matter, since models have a shorter shelf life. Aftra is the other main union for talent, SAG’s sister union, (they fight like crazy) and is mainly for soap opera work.
BAND MATERIALS: Musicians should register all work with ASCAP or BMI, as well as copyright all materials. Bands should not put covers on demos unless you have legal right to perform them. Band names should be registered and trademarked. Musicians, get pro ear plugs that are molded to the ear canal and keep in all the ranges. Trust me, I know way too many musicians who have lost hearing. Bands should never have to pay for photos. If you are a good enough band, you can find a good fan photographer to do it for you. If you can’t get this, you should reconsider being a band. Bands will also need 3 top tracks on cd and online via myspace, as well as a press kit.
MODEL MATERIALS: Models and talent should plan on paying for photos, unless you are SAG, have major tearsheets (pages of big ads from magazines you have been in), major credits, or have major nepotism (can pull favors based on connections) going on. Super hot models may get away with TFP’s (trade for prints) and get signed with those, but girls should be 5-10 or up to get away with this, or be Playboy material, unless again, you have nepotism in your favor.
BE PREPARED TO INVEST IN YOUR CAREER: Models and talent, don’t expect an agent or manager to walk you through development of your portfolio if you do TFP, as we don’t get paid for that, and the odds are the model will flake any way, so it’s not worth our while. Unless you have major talent going on, or are major fashion material or super sexy willing to do sexy work, realize you are easily replaceable by about 25 to 100 thousand other new people per month that flood in to town.
START YOUR OWN BUSINESS: It is legal for an agent or manager to give you a list of photographers to consider shooting with. Who you shoot with is up to you, and who an agent or manager signs is up to them. All of the top modeling agencies have their own photogs they like to refer people to, and these costs are usually paid in advance by the model, or deducted out of his or her future earnings, with a red or black balance or account owed. Start your own business, with yourself at the core, and write off any thing for taxes you legally are able to.
CONTRACTS: Never sign an exclusive for an agency unless you know they are getting you work. Sign an exclusive for management if you know they will get you work. Most management contracts are exclusive. Most upper level agency contracts are as well. You can have an agent and a manager, and there is no conflict with this as long as both know of each other. You should have your pictures on the walls of as many reputable agents in town as possible until you are established, but do make them all aware of who you have. Make a list, and check in with them all at least once a week, as often as they ask, and by whatever method. Most agent and management contracts are one sided, and will be, until you have more star power, so you may have to just deal with it, if you want signed by them.
TALENT- WEB BASED PUBLICITY & BUSINESS: Bands especially here, and models and talent as well, you should all have a myspace, you tube, facebook, linked in, twitter, and any other thing in this regard you can think of. Bands should strive to reach at least 10 thousand to 1 million listeners, and then network all back to your website, where you are selling product via E-commerce, mail order, and brick and mortar. Talent and models should do the same. Talents and models should strive to also become producers, or co producers, and create your own webisode’s, and eventually spin it off to a pilot and VOD and cable or network show, which we do for our clients. The net can create stars these days, and is a money maker, so it must not be ignored.
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