ARE YOU COMPETITIVE?
By: Brian Gilleece
1. RELATING TO OR CHARACTERIZED BY COMPETITION. "A COMPETITIVE SPORT" SYNONYMS:RUTHLESS, MERCILESS, AGGRESSIVE, FIERCE; MORE
2. AS GOOD AS OR BETTER THAN OTHERS OF A COMPARABLE NATURE. "A CAR INDUSTRY COMPETITIVE WITH ANY IN THE WORLD"
I wanted to start by giving you the two definition of the word, and how they are used because they both come in to play here. When we are talking about "are you competitive" in this sense we are talking about #2.
ARBITERS OF COMPETITION Many of you seem to be under the impression that agents are the gate keepers of good acting, that they know what good acting "should" be and that's who they want on their roster, or who they send out. First off, we know that strong acting is not just one thing, it's many, and it's different for every actor BUT also, your agents, DO NOT know about acting. They DO NOT know what good acting is for the most part. Hate to break it to you. Talent agents are, however, exceptionally skilled in several areas and one of them is judging "competitiveness."
Ya'll know, I hang in some circles, so here is a real conversation I overheard about a name actor for the lead on a name show by an agent and an assistant at a top agency here in town that I play softball with, and bare with me on the language, because this is one of the best sentences I have ever heard, sorry its coarse:
ASSISTANT: "HOW WAS XYZ ACTORS TAPE FOR THE SHOW? DID IT KILL?"
AGENT 2: "IDK MAN, I DON'T KNOW WHY EVERYONE IS ON HIS TIP SO HARD, IT WASN'T THAT SWEET."
So what did we learn here? Check this, this actor, a big name, DID NOT ultimately book this show, so while this agent most likely does not know much about acting, spot on with the competitive judgement.
"it's not that sweet, it does not compete"
COMPETATIVE REGOGNIZE COMPETATIVE It makes sense, in order to be a top flight agent, you need to be competitive, the #1 version: ruthless, aggressive, fierce. BUT, that is all in service of #2 version. Finding people who are competitive, as good but hopefully better than the competition.
Agents are PRO's at knowing the landscape, and knowing if an actor is competitive or not in their category or in general. They have watched more audition tapes, seen more breakdowns and touched base with casting more in one week than you most likely will in 5 years.
So as swag as you think your skills are, when it comes to knowing the landscape, they got ya beat, and you really need to take their lead. This goes for Sarah Baker Grillo , Jess Canty & Bay Dariz as well. The amount of tapes, interaction with casting, and purview to what the industry is looking for they take in, in one month, is markedly more substantial then you will see in 5 years.
So, if a suggestion of a change is made, I would suggest opening your mind, because they are seeing things you are not, but if you are, how do you keep that edge or push it further?
AM I SWEET ENOUGH?
When you see a role on TV or Film you think you could have played, what does that actor's career look like? What does their training look like? What do they look like? Then look at yourself. What do your credits look like? Training? Style? Have you fallen behind the curve of people in your age, look, casting? Are you ahead of it? What does your WORK look like, does it transcend an on-paper comparison to your competition?
The expectation of what is "competitive" is a sliding scale and it changes as we age and grow as actors, but it does not change in value. If your category has people throwing on guest stars left and right and you can't seem to hang in that game, something is wrong.
You may not be competitive, and you need to take a look because the train don't stop and you need to figure a way to be on it, but then again, if we're rocking and rollin and bro's think your work is sweet, how do we push that? How do YOU really turn into a rock star?
BE LIKE, SO EXTRA
Here is what this job of being an actor actually is right now as we stand... The job is to bring EXTRA, do the damn most, bring something that the paper will not say when you are being seen in a group of folks similar to you with resumes slightly better and slightly worse.
Transcend the breakdown, the type, the 36 actors being brought in. Self tapes? You need to WOW your agent and manager. Wow them. Literally get them to say WOW, "if they don't book you, I don't know what to say."
This is your job. To continuously wow the people that will vouch for you as competitive to the industry, AND make them feel like when you're submitted, and they click that button that you REALLY REALLY have a shot to book it, and they are excited you are in the mix! EXCITED, like smiling, like get up from the desk and tell someone about it like....
"I SUBMITTED XYZ ACTOR TO THIS ROLE, F*CK THEY BETTER CALL THEM IN, IT'S SO PERFECT! THEY WOULD ROCK ON THAT SHOW"
Agents and managers more than anything want to be excited about their clients, and about their potential. I can tell you, from helping build up this business, and my limited interaction with the breakdown side, it is quite disheartening to click a headshot of a client, and just fundamentally know that their stuff is not competitive enough to even be in the mix. That the work, the credits, the preparation they will give etc... That the submission will ultimately yield nothing. And I'll tell ya, once you get that stink on you, it is hard, if not impossible, to get off.
There are lots of ways to be competitive, but number one is nailing every single opportunity you get! Sending the most bomb tapes, doing the most, getting creative, putting on a show! PERFORMING, and wowing your people, because if you can wow them, you can be sure casting is not far behind.