Dear Acting Diary: Burning DVDs, Duplicating DVDs, and More Actors Connection

Dear Acting Diary,

Friday I worked on burning my DVD reels. I used iDVD on my mac. it’s a pretty simple program to use. I used the template with the theatre curtains that seperate and show the menu. I took out their music and added Three Dog Night’s Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog. I also pulled some footage that I didn’t use in my reel to make a little movie that plays in the DVD Menu. After that I decided to add a bonus feature, a short film I made The Cry of Dracula .

In iDVD it takes a while for the iDVD project to burn a DVD, but after the initial DVD is burned its easy to make copies of that DVD because iDVD prompts you to insert another DVD burned. You just pop in a new DVD and it burns one in a fraction of the time it took to make the first one. This works fine, but after a few I accidentally closed the iDVD window asking if I wanted a new one made.

I started swearing at myself because I knew it was a tricky process to burn copies of DVDs on macs as opposed to copying CDs or data DVDs, it has to be formatted right to play on a DVD player. Also, it would take an hour or so to start over again straight from iDVD. After my mumbling died down I found this great site with simple instructions on how to copy a DVD on your Mac: http://www.gbradhopkins.com/archives/2004/09/duplicate_dvds.html

This allowed me to burn the DVDs pretty quickly. I think I have around 8 so far. I was able to attach my labels easily too with the “ExPressIt DVD/CD Label Maker” from Memorex. It worked pretty well, Memorex has this device that you put your label on face down then just press the DVD onto it. I didn’t have any problems with wrinkles. And the DVDs played in my wonky DVD player from circa 2000.

After I made my DVDs, I went to Rite Aid and found some DVD/CD envelopes. They also sell jewel cases but (a) I think that’s too bulky and (b) at my last desk job when we had a lot of people submitting things such as DVDs and various other files, the more packaging (folders, etc.) made it more annoying from a file keeping standpoint. I think the more streamlined my mailings are the better. I just have to think of some clever way to bind the cover letters, DVDs, and headshots. I might just use a paper clip or manila folder. After my previous job I was always happy to get people’s job applications already in a manila folder because it made it easier to file.

Then last night, I went to Actors Connection and had a seminar with a commercial agent from a large NY/LA agency. The agency covers all fields but this agent worked for the commercial division. Like usual, the agent seemed nice, very honest (but not critically so), and professional.

At Actors Connection the “seminars” start with around a 30 minute Q&A with the guest and the rest of the group, then you have an individual 4-5 minute session with the guest (agent, casting director, etc.). I took some notes from the Q&A:

  • The agent freelances occasionally, byt mostly works with signed clients. Although the Actors Connection staff member that ran the seminar said that she freelanced with the agent and got two national spots.
  • The agent will work with union and nonunion talent but will only send the non-union talent out for union projects if they’re willing to join the union. She also mentioned sending non-union talent out for foriegn jobs.
  • Someone asked about the commercial market in NYC. The agent said it’s depressed with the rise of non-union commercials and the internent but there is still a market. She went on to say that its pretty rare these days that people will make $40-60K on a national spot. She said $20K is a more realtistic figure.
  • She said they do communicate about certain clients with the LA office.
  • Someone asked what kind of traits make a good commercial actor. The agent responded that she doesn’t like the term commercial actor and that all actors are actors. She continued that with the increasing number of film directors directing commercials, directors expect “good” actors, i.e. actors with training and acting experience. She also mentioned that an actor who wants to do commercials should have a pretty good idea of who they are personality wise. “Own what you are,” she said. Actors wanting to do commercials should also enjoy the process of auditioning and performing. She said there’s a great many who look down on commecial work and they don’t get booked as much.
  • In regards to training, she said the more high caliber the better: Julliard, Steppenwolf, etc. She also mentioned that there a good studios in New York: William Esper, Micheal Howard, T. Schrieber. She named a bunch more but the names escape me. She also mentioned that improv training in is important for commercials. She mentioned something about if you don’t have a strong theatrical background to maybe get a strong improv background. She mentioned the Upright Citizens Brigade as a good place to take classes. Lastly she also mentioned that a good commercial technique class in valuable. She mentioned a few names but I was distracted by the woman sitting next to me shaking her head and making audible affirmations, but the one I remember is the Brooke and Mary class.

After the Q&A everyone had their session with the agent where we had to read commercial copy. i didn’t have any of my own so I looked through the Actors Connection binder of copy. I found one that I remembered doing a while ago. I remembered the agent I did it for said it was good for me. After reading it a few times I grew to hate it. There was lots of repetition. I rationalized that as an actor it was my job to make it interesting.

My audition went OK. I wasn’t too happy with it. When I walked into the room I felt the agent had an indifferent attitude, which may be the poker face one has to have after seeing so many readings, but I felt like I was already disliked. The agent had me read my copy, directed over her left shoulder. I then sat down and we chatted. She seemed more friendly then my initial impression.

Here are the questions she asked me, which seem pretty standard for meeting an agent:

  • What types of roles do you see yourself going out for? I kind of babbled on this one, but I said “the temp who never gets hired.” She liked that answer and told me of a spot one of ehr clients got with a similar role.
  • Who do you remind people of? I didn’t like my response to this one, lots of babbling. I named a couple celebrities. I hate doing that.
  • Where are you from? I think this was the first question.
  • How long have you been in New York?
  • She looked over my resume and noted my improv experience and training at Michael Howard. She also asked about what I did on The Naked Brothers Band , a TV show on Nickelodeon that I was on a while ago.
  • Who took your headshots?

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That was my Friday. Next week, I want to focus on mailings, one or two more seminars at Actors Connection, and EPAs. And comedy writing!

Some work habits I learned this week: I need to have a daily schedule (which includes meals and exercize), I can’t spend all day in my apartment doing computer work (email, design, videos, resumes, etc.), I need to seperate my tasks, and I need time to review my work and plans.