Had a chat with a student this week who ‘fessed up to what I’m sure is a common feeling: “I hate doing the breakdowns!” I get it. The exercise has a certain soul-sucking vibe to it that can wear down mere mortals. I sense that so much of actors’ administration is too narrowly focused around the breakdowns and its generally low-level opportunities. If you get a queasy feeling from sending out headshots and other promo somewhat randomly, if you get sick at the contemplation of looking over breakdowns that rarely describe anything that interests you, and if you take into account that ideally your agent is already doing this chore for you, then…. DON’T DO IT. The administration of your career should not be a depressing activity! If it is, you’ll never do it!
Admin is sort of like eating vegetables. It’s a pedestrian simile, but downing some veggies will probably do some good things for your health, just as admin will do good things for your career. But if you hate peas (as I do with unadulterated passion), there are a lot of other vegetables to eat that you may like better. Ditto the admin. If you don’t like breakdowns and postcards and Actors Access notifications about a zillion jobs that somehow don’t excite you, then don’t eat the damned peas. You’re released! You’re free! Stop punishing yourself!
BUT…. You must do some admin that does excite you. My opinion is that the best and most effective admin centers around reaching to the actual artists (writers / directors / producers) whom you admire and want to work with. So get creative about that. Many actors who are busy “adminning” away cannot name 10 directors who are working in the business past the usual hit parade of Scorsese, Coppola, Eastwood, etc, and cannot name 5 writers at all. Producers? Forget it. So if you want a basic step to start with, then get the names of 10 directors, 10 writers and 10 producers who have been the creative force behind your favorite film and television work over the last 2 years. That’s thirty people to whom you can start writing, and trust me, you’ll have a lot more fun with that. Those 30 people will probably be creating 100+ jobs for actors in the next year, so you’ll be leveraging your communication toward future possibilities. Don’t just wait for and then wade through the current casting opportunities while remaining blind to how those opportunities were created – and by whom. Hit the creators of those jobs on a consistent basis and thus be on their mind when they create them!