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The best place to find advice, analysis, and information on demo reel services Los Angeles, whether for actors, singers, dancers, journalists, or anyone else with an interest in promoting themselves.

Dance-tress Acting Up: Murder Book

Hey Kids!

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Well, that was an amazing week. And when I say amazing, I mean UGH-MAZE-ING. Like whoa. Here’s what happened. I was in San Francisco this past weekend having BLAST, and I woke up to an email saying that the producer would like to book me on the Investigation Discovery Network show, “Murder Book”, am I interested? No audition (direct booking from my reels) and I get to be on a show? #YES

So after making several checks off my bucket list (Alcatraz, Full House house, Golden Gate bridge, etc) I left my SF trip early and headed on home for my Monday taping. Turns out I was actually scheduled to work Tuesday AND Wednesday as well. I misunderstood the letter from the casting director. She has sent me an email saying they were filming M/Tu/W and I interpreted that as I’ll be working one of those days, not all of them. Opps. So I had to do some last minute scrambling to give my work as much notice as possible. Aye, a day is not much, I know, sorry.

Director

This will have to be another topic one of these days. You NEED your j.o.b to pay for your bills in between jobs, but when an opportunity comes up to do what you came out here to do, you DO NOT say no. Nobody wants to become a professional at their day job, but you also don’t want to risk falling down a hole if you lose that job.

70's

Back to the important stuff, filming was awesome. It feels really nice to be back on set. Now, I just have to figure out how to do that more often. It’s such a tease, but I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity.

I don’t want to go too much into depth, but it is a reenactment show based off true stories. The event of the crime happened in the 70’s, so it was really fun to dress up in bell bottoms and flannel. There were so many scenes to film, so everything went pretty quickly. Most of the scenes had a general guideline of what the scene was about, and the rest was improvised. We did a quick run through then it was time to film. I pray I did a good job.

I usually need a quick moment for things to process, sink in, and relax, but there wasn’t time for that. I admit, my insecurities started creeping up on me, but that’s something I need to work on.

On top of all this awesomeness, I finally got to see Janet Jackson at the Forum Friday night. I still can’t get over how awesome it was. This was a HUGE bucketlist for me. Watching Janet and Britney dancing in music videos inspired me as a kid to get into classes. If it weren’t for the inspiration, I wouldn’t be here pursuing what I’m doing. Now, give me a beat!

Dance-tress Acting Up: Happy 25th Bloggerversary to Me! Part 2

Feeling optimistic, I drove my butt over to the Samuel French book store to pick up a copy of this falls "Actor's Guide to Agents" book. I wrote a new cover letter and also attached a headshot that I had designed to look like a magazine cover. Everything written on it was a pitch of who I am. Dancer/actor, great at comedy, girl next door, etc. I also attached all of my links and contact information below the picture. I spent days and hours submitting to EVERY single agent in the Los Angeles section that would allow email submissions. BTW, it's 2014, everything should be done electronically. Sending actual hard copies is not only an extremely costly practice, but it is a complete waste of paper that will 9 times out of 10 be thrown in a trash.

For the first time EVER, I got a response right away. Wow! I've done this process many times and I've never gotten a response before let alone an hour later. Boy was this an awesome feeling. The next day I got another response followed by two more the rest of the week. I couldn't believe that I actually had options. This must be how lucky people feel.

After doing some research, and scoping IMDBpro, I noticed that option 1 had a LOT of red flags. There were a lot of really awful things written online by many different people. This was definitely alarming, but I decided that I should set up a meeting to decide for myself. I show up early to the address that was listed on Google and I couldn't find the office I was supposed to be going to. I wandered the area for about 10 minutes until I called them up and realized that their office was listed incorrectly on Google than on their website. They knew about this, but why hadn't it been fixed? Well, as my luck would have it, I missed my meeting because I was at the wrong location. Oops.

Let's move on to my next meeting with option 2. We schedule a meeting in Glendale early Thursday the morning. Glendale is not the easiest to get to from where I live. This was the second time we have had to reschedule because the agent I was meeting with had a family emergency in Colorado. 150% understandable. After getting ready, sitting in morning rush hour traffic and preparing a scene I show up at his office ready for my meeting. Specific instructions from the email say to call from the lobby when I arrive. Once I freshened up in the ladies room, I made the phone call and it went straight to his voicemail. I left a message and sat around for 15 minutes assuming he will send someone down when he is ready. Nothing. So I call again and it went straight to his voicemail. Hm.

Then, I ask some of the girls working in the downstairs lobby if they could call him. Maybe I misunderstood the directions and they were supposed to make the call for me. Their response was, "oh, he's out of town". Followed by my eyes widening the size of Texas, "no, we rescheduled for today. He said he would be here". Confused, I sat down for another 10 minutes hoping I'll see someone coming to get me within the next few minutes. Nobody came, but my phone finally rang. Turns out he had to return to Colorado and apparently the 3rd rescheduling email he sent last night did not go through. Or in other words, "I forgot to send it".

*We did end up meeting and just chatting for about 25 minutes. He never had me read the scene he asked me to prepare, but he did offer me commercial representation. 

Option 3 did not respond to any my follow up emailS.

Time to set up a meeting with option 4. It was an agency that I have never heard of before, but I wanted to give it a shot. He had me prepare THREE scenes before my meeting. For an agency that nobody has ever heard of, that is quite a lot. But whatever, lets do it! The agent I met with is a young guy. Not only is he an agent, but it is his agency. This could be good. He's young, fresh, and probably ready to work. They just opened their theatrical department last month and are looking for new clients. This was perfect. I liked the idea of being fresh on someones mind as opposed to being lost in the crowd. He offered me both commercial and theatrical representation right then and there. This has NEVER happened to me. 

I'll spare your curiosity. This is who I decided to go with for a 90 day trial contract. If at the end of 90 days I haven't gone out and made X amount of money I can leave and go elsewhere if I choose. The decision to go with this agency can either be really good or just so so. Because they're new, they can either be 1) completely young, unprofessional and naive- I didn't get that vibe from them at all 2) lack connections or 3) incredibly motivated and ready to work.

I guess time will tell. Unfortunately, it is holiday season so I'm not sure how much work is out there right now anyways. I'll keep you posted and feel free to share your stories. If you have any suggestions, questions, or comments, let me know!

Dance-tress Acting Up: Young and Beautiful

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A few blog’s back, I featured a picture from my friend Jimmy Bui’s “Music to Life” series. It was “Fear” by Sarah McLachlan. Well, we also did a shoot inspired by Lana Del Rey’s “West Coast”. I was excited to not only shoot with Jimmy again, but to also to shoot something that was inspired by Lana. As a dancer, music runs through my veins. To some this may sound ridiculous, but it moves me, literally I can feel it. It’s like being high without the high. It puts me in a different world. I suppose it’s a combination of her voice along with her throwback hippie/ 50’s persona. One of my favorite songs from her is called, “Young and Beautiful”. I would be lying if I said that it doesn’t relate to me during this time period in my life.

I am well aware that a career as an actress can be very short. Youth is glorified and fifteen years from now I won’t look the same as I do now. I won’t be the same person and I don’t want to be. Hollywood doesn’t believe that people would watch films with older women in them, especially as leads. They’re “not sexy” and they won’t sell tickets. They would rather shove a barely mature 18-year-old girl down our throats and expect women of all ages and color to idolize them.  Unfortunately, they do and it works. Sex always sells. 

Caslin_Photograph

Luckily for me, I finally caught onto this. I get older everyday. I know that if I want to have a career in this business I have to find alternative ways to make a living. I want to create films that empower women in a positive way. Men too.  I would love to change Hollywood’s view of the mature female. I believe their stories are more relatable to a broader audience hence having the ability to sell more tickets. Women are amazing role models. They have the potential to be just as popular and money making as the teen stars, but also the maturity to use it in a positive way.  Opportunities just aren’t there yet. You don’t hear about older actresses dancing on tabletops or entering rehab. However, I would like to state that dancing on table tops can be extremely fun, but it’s nothing something you want to be doing in your 50’s. Ok, well maybe for some random grand celebration. ONE time.

Right now, the male to female ratio in castings are so inequitable. The new Star Wars movie initially had a cast of 11:3 male to female roles. Lets pretend one role went to an original cast member and one went to the director’s niece. That leaves ONE role available for ONE actress. We all know that there are thousands of actresses here just in Los Angeles. That needs to change and I want to be a part of this revolution. It’s happening and its happening now.  I want there to be more opportunities, even options. I don’t want to get into my 40’s and have to compete against a 21 year old to play the role of a mom. That’s nuts.

It’s sad that as a young adult and actress I fear growing old. I have read too many articles where award-winning actress’s comment on the lack of roles available for them. If they are struggling, what about the actresses that don’t have a name? It has to be tough.  These women are older. They have more experiences and stories to tell. Why don’t we want to hear them? I know that I do. I want to learn about their families, struggles, jobs, adventures, parties, marriages, divorce, etc. The world would probably be a better place.

“Will you still love me when I’m not longer young and beautiful? Will you still love me when I’ve got nothing but an aching soul?”- Lana Del Rey

LA Advice: A Different Path to Success In the City of Angels

Here’s The First Thing You Should Do When You Move to LA

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Whether you’re a college grad moving out to LA for the first time, or an acting veteran looking to break into a new corner of the industry, you’re going to receive a lot of conflicting advice on how to get your foot in the door.

Maybe you’ll do what your college recommends and get an unpaid internship. Maybe you’ll sign up for a highly-rated acting class with a world-renowned teacher. Maybe you’ll pull all of your friends together and max out your credit cards on an independent web series.

Those ideas have worked for some people, and maybe they’ll work for you. But if you really want to guarantee yourself an ongoing chance at success — not just a one-time gamble — here’s the first thing you should do: Start a business.

Why a business? Why not just a “project”?

When I moved out to LA in 2008, I was a naive film school grad with no idea how to make a living in the industry. My college had taught me how to load a camera and cut film on an old-fashioned editing machine, but they hadn’t shown me how to apply those skills to make a living. In fact, many of those skills were already obsolete.

I sunk a lot of time and money into projects that I thought would bring me success at film festivals or on Youtube, and after my first year in LA, I was flat broke.

If I wasn’t going to get my big break, I thought, I could do the next best thing and become a freelancer. I had a camera and a copy of Final Cut Pro — how hard could it be?

What I didn’t realize was that making a living wasn’t as simple as having the required skills and equipment. There was a whole business side of things — marketing, invoicing, even just getting a website together — that I hadn’t considered.

Five years later, I’ve turned my freelancing career into a business -- complete with an online mailing list and e-books for sale -- and every day I kick myself for not starting sooner.

Save yourself the trouble, and brush up on these skills before you get to LA. Bring a copy of The Personal MBA or The Lateral Freelancer on your cross-country road-trip or your flight to LAX.

But I’m a creative person, not a businessman!

Starting a business doesn’t mean that you’ll be putting aside your creative life — it means you’ll have more opportunities to invest in it. Instead of working a low-paying day job, or a full-time position on somebody else’s project, take control of your time and finances.

Many big-name actors and filmmakers are also businessmen, from Ashton Kutcher, who’s become a savvy tech investor, to Francis Ford Coppola, who owns a winery in Napa Valley. If you’re serious about building your acting or film career, you’ll want to be just as serious about developing an income stream to help fund it.

A few years ago, Darwin embarked on a feature-length project that took over a year to shoot. Without any investors or a side business to depend on, he had to rely on his day job — or rather, night job — to pay his actors and for other expenses.

He would spend weekday afternoons in pre-production, head off to his editing gig until midnight, and shoot two or three scenes every weekend. Imagine how much easier it would have been if he’d had a side-business to help cover those expenses!

With First Class Reels, he has exactly that: a business that allows him to hone his skills, connect with other creative folk, and even act as a launching pad for a new project.

Your small business doesn’t have to require a big up-front investment or time commitment. Check out The $100 Startup for some low-cost business ideas, or The Four-Hour Workweek for ways to cut down on the amount of time you spend running your business.

What kind of business? It doesn’t matter.

Whenever my one of my friends tell me that they want to make a documentary or shoot a short film, I always ask them how they’re going to fund it. Grants, they might say. Or Kickstarter.

Why not tie it into a business instead? If your goal is to write and direct horror films, for example, consider starting a horror podcast or subscription box service.

My friends at LootCrate started up a “geek and gamer” subscription box with very little up-front cost. They now have thousands of subscribers, and each month, they put out an original Youtube video related to that month’s theme.

A built-in fan base + steady revenue = creative freedom.

Capitalize on all of your skills

If your first business idea doesn’t take off, try something new. The more ideas you have on the table, the more chances you have of your business becoming a success.

Start a blog. Design T-shirts. Sell prints of your photos.  Run a Patreon campaign.

Over at AppSumo, Noah Kagan challenged himself to make $1,000 in 24-hours by starting a jerky delivery business. This Instagram photographer made over $15,000 in a single day selling prints to his followers. Dustin makes science videos for YouTube and earns $3,000 every time he puts up a new one. Your business can be as simple or complex as you want it to be.

Stop waiting for someone else to greenlight your project. Be proactive about building a revenue stream, and you'll never have to depend on industry insiders again.

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How about you? Have you tried starting a small business or side-hustle? For more ideas, check out Saul’s e-book, The Lateral Freelancer, which contains dozens of resources for freelancers and entrepreneurs.