Actor Admin Groups

Administration Groups

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Actors at the Beverly Hills Playhouse have access to support groups, or admin groups, comprised of fellow acting class students who gather once a week to encourage each other’s career administration. Quality of administration is emphasized over quantity – instead of sending out 500 postcards to an impersonal mailing list, identify the 5 people you really want to reach, research them, and write the kind of personal communication that can truly have an impact. Persistence is the key, as well as knowing that there is no such thing as “no.” The only “no” is the one that exists within you.

 

ADMINISTRATION OVERVIEW BY CLASS LEVEL

One of the three branches of the BHP Approach is “Administration,” defined by Milton in his book as “the choices you make regarding the enhancement of your career and your life, and seeing to it that you complete these choices, execute them, get them done.”

Too often actors are very narrow in their interpretation of this, and reduce “Administration” to something like, “what am I doing to get an agent?”

Administration covers a lot of ground, and our emphasis on what our students should be chasing varies by the level of class you are in. Here follows a guide to our expectations:

ORIENTATION LEVEL

We honestly would view it as a mistake for the Orientation level actor to burn barns to meet agents, producers and casting people. You don’t want to blow those opportunities by not being yet truly skilled at what you do, any more than a doctor should want to do surgery before completing his MD, or a violinist who wants to go on stage at Carnegie Hall before really knowing how to play. The most important administrative pursuit at the Orientation level would be a greater mastery of acting. So, the main areas of administration the Orientation actor should be working on are:

  1. Improving his or her craft through diligent scene work in class. An actor who has done 50 scenes in class will be much more skilled than one who has done 5-10. So work on getting to 50. And then another 50. It’s simply the number one way you are going to improve, and to know that you have improved. There is no particular magic to learning how to act other than to act often under the guidance of a teacher you trust. You’ve placed your trust in us to be that teacher, so let us do our job – get up on that stage and act.
  2. Developing an educated background regarding film and theatre. Two good targets here would be to see all films on the AFI 100-Best Films list (or other lists like it). Also find a list of the 100 most influential/best plays and read them. Too often the beginning actor betrays a scarcity of this background through a blank look at the mention of famous movies and plays, and the writers, directors and actors behind them. These blank looks and “I never heard of that” responses show you for an amateur. Don’t be an amateur.
  3. Get the personal life in order. This means paying off financial debts, eliminating gratuitous recreational drug use and other detrimental habits.  If you are financially dependent on parents or significant others, then pursue a break from that dependence – we want you to be a freely functioning, self-supporting artist who works towards knocking off the partying and chaos of early life in Los Angeles and gets serious about pursuing a career in a dedicated fashion.
  4. Read ACTING CLASS, DREAMS INTO ACTION, and Allen’s blog on the BHP website.
  5. Check out some kind of movement class and voice class. Your voice in particular – it’s generally the #2 element anyone knows about you, and when it’s weak or nasally or tight (‘vocal fry’), you are hindering your ability to be cast no matter how well you act.
  6. Get into an Admin Group.  The Admin Groups should exist to provide accountability that the items on this list are getting done.  They are not bitch sessions, complaining about students or teachers or critiques or anything like that.  Anyone who uses Admin Group to discuss a problem in the class should be directed to talk to their Stage Managers.  (See “Guidelines for Admin Groups” at the end of this document.)
  7. Headshots. Everyone needs them, but just know that you will have many headshot sessions ahead of you, and don’t imbue any single one with too much significance.
  8. Commercial agent.  Commercial agents are always looking for new good talent. The demands to book a job generally involve the actor being able to show up at the audition and just be themselves.
  9. When you’re getting ready to move-up to the Intermediate Level you should get registered with all online casting services including an IMDB profile.
  10. Student films. If you yearn to gain experience with auditioning and being in front of the camera, do so through non-union student films.  We would notrecommend an effort to join SAG at this point.
  11. Background work.  Another good way to get experience on a set is to start doing background work.
  12. Begin to engage with the entertainment community: go to screenings, film festivals, volunteer at events. Get business cards.
  13. After having completed everything on this list, schedule a move-up interview with your teachers.

INTERMEDIATE LEVEL

Everything from the Orientation Level would still apply here.

  1. Read the “Trades” (Variety, Hollywood Reporter, Deadline Hollywood).
  2. Research agencies in town – you should be able to get a sense of A, B, C level agents.  Name a few of each.
  3. Start doing your own projects – short films, etc. Try to go for real storytelling and stay away from cute, superficial comedies.
  4. Through work on student films and your own projects, assemble 3-4 minutes of footage that can be uploaded as a complete “reel” or a series of clips. Technical quality is important here. Read Allen’s essay “Reel Thoughts” on the BHP Blog.
  5. Put together a website  and ensure your IMDB Profile is complete.
  6. Take the Audition Class at BHP to develop your audition skills.
  7. Start doing Casting Workshops.
  8. Start keeping track of every person you meet in the business – particularly writers, directors, and producers. Use whatever system you like – pen-to-paper, spreadsheets, more advanced contact management software.  But keep track. You’re going to be writing these people on a 3-4 times a year basis.
  9. Finally, after having shot a dozen or more non-union projects, you can think about joining SAG.  SAG-e or SAG membership is a requirement to move up to the Advanced Level.   There are several strategies for that, including creating or working on New Media projects, getting vouchers as an extra, etc.  These can be discussed with your admin groups and teachers at the appropriate time.
  10. Get an agent and/or manager.
  11. Talk to your teacher(s) about casting.
  12. After having completed everything on this list, schedule a move-up interview with your teachers.

ADVANCED LEVEL

Most everything from the previous levels still applies. And many students come into the ADV level directly, because they already have a certain resume and training when they come to us. Advanced Level students should be SAG as a prerequisite, and some level of agency/management function should be in place.

  1. Maintain contact with every person you know in the business – particularly writers, directors, producers, casting directors. This means a hand-written card 3-4x a year to every person on your list. Ideally you would add 4 names per audition: the casting director, writer, director and producer.
  2. Aggressive research on what’s going on with television and new-media (Amazon, Netflix, etc.) production, research on the show runners and creators there. If there are projects that particularly inspire you, communicate with those people behind them.
  3. Self-Production. Writing and shooting your own projects, films, webseries, whathaveyou – there are many success stories here where students have shot something of value and a producer has come along to fund the project and/or series.

GUIDELINES FOR ADMIN GROUPS

  1. Meet weekly.
  2. Use the items in the above document as a guidepost to what you need to get done.
  3. Also use “The Career Checklist” in DREAMS INTO ACTION as a guide.
  4. Allen’s Blog on the BHP website is 60% about admin. Read it.
  5. No bitching, complaining or other emotional responses.  Treat the meeting like a business meeting.
  6. Come up with at least one thing you need to get done this week to move your admin forward.  Then come up with the actions to get it done.
  7. The group is there for the student to be accountable to.  The group is there to support each other in getting their actions done. If a member isn’t doing what they need to do, the group should support the student in getting it done, or refer them to their teacher or stage manager in class.
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