Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Another Year, Another Scam!

Oh how this industry attracts scam artists and dodgy characters. Sigh....


Sad but true, there are a number of them:
Dodgy agents (too often)
Agents who overcharge
Creepy photographers (shudder)
Photographers who overcharge
Acting teachers with no qualifications or industry experience
Acting teachers who overcharge
'We can make your child a star' scams (Puhlease!!!!!)

Please note the recurring theme of overcharging here because that is a big one. 
Whether it be joining fees, online memberships, tuition fees, commission, upfront charges for this and ongoing charges for that...make sure you check all the details thoroughly.
Even the most careful of us can sometimes be scammed. I had dealings with a dodgy agent who skipped the country, thankfully I didn't get ripped off but many I know did. 
When searching for agents, photographers, tuition and other industry professionals, do your homework. Google them, ask other industry people their opinion and if it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't!!! My favourite quote that I tell my kids to apply to pretty much every situation is:
"When in doubt, pull out."
Trust your gut instinct and go into every meeting with your eyes wide open.




There are hundreds of talented kids, pretty girls, cute boys, amazing singers, dancers and actors in the world. For some reason, everyone wants to be famous these days, so these scam artists have a huge pool of gullible, desperate wannabes to draw on. 
Don't let their promises of unrealistic stardom and success draw you in.


For most kids, performing will be a creative outlet for fun which will help them gain confidence, body awareness and build communication skills. These are fabulous reasons to perform.  Don't expect them all to become famous or uber successful at it. When you start applying pressure, it's not fun anymore. Those that love performing for the joy of it are the winners.

Stage Mums


I've been drawing on all the experiences my friends and I have encountered in the world of performance and put together a comedy web series called Stage Mums. The characters, Shaz and Trace are besties with 'super talented triple threat' daughters. They will go to any lengths to give their daughters opportunities to showcase their amazing talents! 
As amusing as it is, ironically, all of the storylines are based on facts.

Don't be like Shaz and Trace in Stage Mums.

WARNING - mild course language

In episode 5, Trace discovers a fabulous listing on a casting site. The Mums decide to enter their talented triple threat daughters.



In episode 6, Shaz and Trace realise they paid money to a dodgy company that promised to put their daughters in front of American casting agents.



In episode 7, Shaz and Trace are interviewed on National Television about the scam they invested in.


You can watch all episodes of Stage Mums by following the link STAGE MUMS



This industry is awesome and performing is addictive, just don't be a victim. Learn from your mistakes, research thoroughly, trust your gut and have fun! 


As always, I'd love your feedback so please leave a comment, tell me about any scams you might have unwittingly been involved in, subscribe, like and share with your friends.

Anna :) 

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Scripts....written for kids!!!

Every year I go to eisteddfods and festivals with my students and see the same boring scripts about cats, witches and princesses. Occasionally there are a few Monty Python scripts thrown in, great, but dated. Then there's the ...yawn factor...the old classics of Little Women and Anne of Green Gables or for the older kids, Waiting for Godot. Or the totally inappropriate ones where kids play adult roles!!! What the??? I'm sorry but why would you give a kid a script written for an adult, then get them to put on a poncey accent???  
Am I being to harsh??
Frankly my dear I don't give a damn!
These are not the sort of scripts I think kids should be performing.
Give them something they can relate to.
Give them something written in the language they use.
This is the reason I wrote Cool Stuff For Kids To Perform.




Yes, blatant self promotion here, but it's the beginning of the year so I'm hoping you might be open to something new, contemporary and fun!
I wrote these scripts specifically for eisteddfods, festivals, showreels and audition pieces. They also make great short films. All scripts are 2-4 minutes in length and adaptable, so most parts can be played by males or females. They are written for kids aged 7 to 18 years and there's over 60 scripts in the book.
If you are a teacher, I've also thrown in 20 plus improvisation activities, fab for those days when you don't know what to teach. For goodness sake, do yourself a favour and buy a class set. If you teach privately, suggest that your students all buy a copy. I promise you this book will be used over and over and parents will be happy to buy a book instead of an app!
If you are a kid reading this, why not use the improvisation starters to write your own script?
Here's an example of one:




So I'm guessing now, you are saying, "OMG I really want a copy of this book."


For those who live in Australia, I can post directly to you, so leave me a comment or reach me on my facebook page. For my fabulous international readers, you can buy from Amazon. Just visit my website and all the links are on there:
I've also made available a few individual scripts for sale. 
You will find them on my website as well.
If you'd like some ideas of how best to use my book, check out this vlog which is packed full of suggestions.


 Now a final message to you all.
 If you buy Cool Stuff For Kids To Perform, and let's face it, you'd be kind of crazy if you didn't, can you please, please not photocopy it for everyone. 
It took me years to write and I'd love to write more scripts but if people keep photocopying them, it's not worth my while.

If you have a copy, Id love to hear from you. Also if you have filmed any of the scripts, I'd love to share them, so please leave me a comment so I can help share your work and thoughts with others.

Catch you in the next blog or find me on facebook, instagram and twitter
Remember to click those buttons on the side and below to subscribe, like, share and keep the creative love flowing.

Anna :) 


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

What if you don't fit the mold???? Growth spurts, teeth, braces, acne and more!

As if it isn't hard enough growing up and dealing with all those physical changes, try doing it in front of a camera!!

These are the challenges faced by every child actor and model. Realise and accept that everyone grows at different rates. Teeth fall out, braces go on, voices break, breasts grow, height can change dramatically in weeks, pimples happen and facial hair can start appearing! No two kids are the same.

Don't despair. Casting agents accept these changes, sometimes they work in your favour and other times they will be compensated for. It's still the same old story, sometimes you don't get the role because you are just too tall, too blonde, too short, too dark, eyes are the wrong colour, they want someone with braces, they want someone without braces, you are too skinny, too pretty....and the list goes on.

As a mother of two kids who have both done their fair share of acting, let me share a few of our experiences and those of other children I know. My daughter, Cleo was cast as Kim in H2O Just Add Water, a successful children's TV show. The original casting call was for a dark haired Italian looking girl on the plump side. I didn't even think she should audition as she is blonde and slim. The producers loved her audition and she ended up playing the role for four years from the age of 12-16. Go figure! Clearly it was meant to be. Thank goodness Phoebe Tonkin, (who played Cleo's sister) has a blonde sister in real life so they decided to go with Cleo.

Cleo Massey (Kim Sertori)  with her onscreen sister Phoebe Tonkin (Cleo Sertori)
Season 1,  H2O Just Add Water
Four years later, Cleo and Phoebe in season 3.
Growing up onset has it's challenges.
Cleo was in her high growth stage during those four years. She was cast as an 11 year old and the producers tried to keep her looking young as long as possible. Time tends to stand still on film sets, but kids keep growing! I'll never forget the day she lost her tooth and they had to film her from the side until the next one grew. She also grew 10 inches in between seasons and all her costumes were so short on her they had to buy new ones.


Teeth are constantly falling out with kids. I had a hilarious conversation with a makeup artist who told me how many prosthetic teeth they had to use on the set of a film with a large cast of children as someone lost a tooth almost every week.
My son, Joey, was perfect for a McDonalds commercial as they wanted a blonde, blue eyed, boy, but they couldn't see him as he had just lost a tooth and the child had to have all his teeth, (a hard call at that age).

A young girl I know is so tall and mature looking for her age that she is more suited to playing an 18 year old than her 14 year old self. Problem is, she is mentally 14 and not emotionally ready for some of the older storylines that come with the teen years. On the other side of the coin, a boy I know in his late teens can still pass for a 12-13 year old but is not at all interested in playing children's roles now.

I know of kids who have put off having braces in case they get an acting role and others who have gone to the extra expense of "invisalines" so they can be removed during filming. My advice, don't put off anything because you never know when or if you will get a role. Also producers are sometimes happy to work with your differences.


The same problems occur for adults. Joey and I had a call back for a mother and son role in a pharmacy commercial. Joey got the job and I was replaced with a dark haired, skinny Mum 15 years younger than me. Alas, as I have found out, blonde mothers don't seem to get cast very much and young mothers are popular with advertising agencies. Cleo was cast alongside a mother who was only 12 years older than her in another TV commercial!

Long story short....you never know what the casting agent, producer or director is looking for. Don't despair if you think you are too tall,  too short,  too plump,  too skinny, plain, pretty, redheaded, freckly, wearing braces, wearing glasses, have teeth missing, WHATEVER, because you will be just what someone is looking for at some stage.
EMBRACE WHO YOU ARE and what stands you apart from others. Sell yourself, according to your differences eg:  the girl next door,  the nerd,  the preppy bimbo, or the sporty jock. Don't compare yourself to others. Love all your points of difference and above all else.......have fun!



Saturday, 16 August 2014

Ego vs Humility

In this industry confidence is one thing, egos are quite another.



A touch of humility is a big asset and every actor needs to remember that.
In an industry where confidence, promotion and marketing is so important it's easy to over step the mark. I was brought up in an era when, if you talked too much about your accomplishments you were considered vain, boastful,  'on yourself',' 'stuck up', 'too big for your boots' and the list goes on. At first it was hard for me to promote what I do because of this. So this is what I have learnt to do...

1. Write down your accomplishments.

Don't exaggerate. Just list every production, short film, eisteddfod, festival, tv show, feature etc that you have ever been in. Now list the most prestigious ones in a second list which will be way smaller. No one needs to know that you performed in 57 items in last year's eisteddfods, cut to the chase and make that list a list of the most impressive things you've done. Did you win an award, work with a well know actor, have a role in a TV show?

2. See yourself objectively, as a product that needs marketing.

I will never forget hiding in the bathroom cubicle at a club when I started singing in bands, waiting for the horrible girls to leave who were talking about how 'on myself' I was. I realised then that I had to create a persona "Anna, the performer" and that "Anna the person" was the everyday me. The performer has to perform and do so with confidence and if jealous people have a problem with that, then it's their problem not mine. The performer is the product that needs marketing.



3. List your strong points.

Be realistic here, you might sing fabulously in the shower, but faced with an audience, band and microphone would you really call yourself a professional singer? Your cartwheels might be impressive but they don't really qualify you as a gymnast. Nor does one term of Tae Kwon Do, make you a martial artist. Keep it relevant, even though I am really good at sewing, unless I'm looking for a job in wardrobe, it's not relevant.

4. Review your lists. Look at everything objectively.

Now you should have a realistic product to market. Use this info on your website, facebook page and any other marketing tools you have.
(See my previous blog Marketing Yourself )

5. Use your accomplishments to promote the product- YOU!



Be humble with your posts. Everyone has that friend on Instagram and Facebook whose constant narcissistic posts and bragging updates are the butt of all jokes. Don't be that person.

EGO vs HUMILITY

Everything is now in place, so let it speak for itself. Don't brag about what you've done, or list all the projects you've worked on. Don't name drop and constantly pull up your work to show others on your smartphone. Parents, this goes for you too. We know you love your child and are proud of them, but keep a lid on it. Less is more. It's okay to mention a few of their highlights, but then point people to their website and let it speak for itself.
The hardest thing in my opinion, is getting the balance just right. You need to sell yourself with confidence and a mix of humility so that you don't come off as being egotistical. This way you will appear competent, professional and a pleasant person to work with.


Monday, 7 April 2014

Posting your creativity online

For actors and performers the big world of the internet is fabulous for so many reasons:

THE GOOD STUFF :)
-you can promote yourself for free
-you can upload your showreels, photos, songs etc, instantly and share them with the world
-you can share all this info on multiple platforms including facebook, youtube, instagram, twitter, tumblr...
-you can access other people's sites and see what they are doing
-you can converse directly with others in the industry
-you can learn so much for free by searching sites and blogs
The possibilities are endless.

But all these great aspects have a few pitfalls for the sensitive, creative souls that we actors and performers are.

THE NOT SO GOOD STUFF :(
Unfortunately the internet is full of gutless people with nothing better to do than post negativity. So keep these points in mind when you share something you have created:
-BE PROUD OF YOUR POST
Make sure you are happy with and proud of what you have posted and don't look for endorsements from others. If they happen that's a bonus.
-DELETE & BLOCK
Get rid of any negative comments and negative people. Leaving them gives the bullies or trolls power. On Youtube you can approve comments before they are posted.
-FEW LIKES OR COMMENTS DOESN'T MEAN ITS NOT GOOD
Remember not everyone will comment or like your post, that doesn't mean it's not good. They may not have seen it, they may be jealous, they may be having a bad day and don't feel like congratulating you.
- IGNORE THEM
A number of people create "cliques" and comment and promote each other's work constantly but never anyone else's. These people also constantly tag each other so you feel left out. Ignore them, don't waste your energy by letting them affect you.

GENERAL RULES FOR THE INTERNET
-Only post things you are happy with and proud of.
-Reread everything you write before pressing 'post'.
-If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.
-Imagine your employer's/teacher's/parent's reaction to your post. If you think they wouldn't react well, don't post it!

As always, share and leave me a comment.
PS: If you say something nasty, I'm gonna delete it. SO THERE!!


Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Marketing Yourself - advice for young actors & their parents

Before reading this blog, make sure you've read my previous blogs "So you Want to Work in Film & TV" Part 1 and Part 2.

Now you should have everything in place to start marketing yourself and approaching producers, directors and filmmakers.
I'm often asked by parents how they should market their kids and there are a few things to keep in mind. With a new year comes a new opportunity to market yourself, so here's a few of my tips. A lot of my advice relies on the internet and social media, so if you are underage, make sure your parent does all this for you.

PUT EVERYTHING IN PLACE
As discussed previously, you should now have a good headshot, a resume, a showreel and possibly an agent. You should also be on any online casting sites your agent recommends. Now remember, your agent can only do so much. They will submit you for any castings that you are suited to, and this can be very specific. If you are blonde, blue eyed and 12 years old, you wont be submitted for the 15 year old role specifying brown hair and eyes. If you have no experience or showreel, you may not get submitted for a lot of roles. You may be submitted by your agent but not get called up to audition. Don't lose heart. There's still lots you can do :)

FREE PUBLICITY
Take advantage of free publicity. Make yourself a Facebook page and a Youtube account. You could also make a website. It's pretty easy to create free websites online now. If you want to register your name like I have, annawatersmassey.com.au, it's relatively cheap, as little as $25 per year.
My advice is not to use a facebook personal profile as these have very limited privacy settings. Instead set up a page. People can then "LIKE" your page and it protects yours and their privacy. Only load professional photos on there such as your headshots, or still shots from any films/TV work you have done. I'm sure I don't need to tell you about stranger danger and the weird people out there on the internet. Keeping this in mind, don't ever reveal personal information or give out your phone number etc. If people are interested in casting you, they can message you on your facebook page or call your agent directly.
Load any showreels or commercials you have done onto your Youtube channel and put links to them on your website or facebook page in the 'ABOUT' section along with your agent's details. Use tags on Youtube so you pop up in searches eg: actor, childactor, talent.

FACEBOOK PAGES
Facebook pages are different to personal profiles because you don't have 'friends' you have 'likers' or 'fans'. You can switch between using facebook as your personal profile and your page by clicking on the cog on the top right hand side as shown in this photo.

These are two of my pages. One which is specifically for children
and the other which promotes me as a performer.


Once you are using facebook as your page you can then 'LIKE' other pages, such as actors, casting agents, producers, filmmakers etc. When you comment on their page, it will be from your professional page and they can then click on it and find you. This makes networking much easier and more professional.

BE PROACTIVE
Now start networking on your facebook page. Use your online casting sites to apply for any student films or short films you hear about. Join acting community pages online as these are a great source of work. Email the film departments at your local Universities and any production houses or filmmakers you know of. Check with your agent before you send any material to casting agents as they will have specific requirements and don't like being bombarded with emails.
The basic rules are:
1. Keep it brief.
2. Outline any recent work or training you have done.
3. Include a link to your online site or showreel (this should have photo, resume and showreel on it).
4. If you include a headshot make sure it's small (no one wants a giant photo clogging their email ).
5. Include your contact details and your agent's.
DONT: send massive emails, huge photos, numerous emails, beg for work, send unprofessional photos or showreels, use bad grammar and spelling mistakes. If your Mum or Dad are sending the emails, DON'T act like an overbearing, pushy, stage parent. Pick your words carefully.

I hope this helps.  Feel free to ask me any questions or leave any comments below.
Good luck. :)

LINKS
My facebook pages : Cool Stuff For Kids To Perform
                                 Anna Waters-Massey Actor/vocalist
My website: annawatersmassey.com.au