Two Roads Diverged in a (Holly)Wood... and also Paris.

By: Jess Canty


For those of you of the iPhone persuasion it has been great to hear your voices in various rooms in Clubhouse. For those of you in android land - I want to make sure that I am spending some time synthesizing some of the conversations that are happening over there until the app is open to your phones!


After doing a lot of listening to casting directors, producers, directors, agents, managers and other actors I feel like I recently had an epiphany. While everyone's path into a career in this business that allows you to quit your day job differs - it seems to me that there are a couple of big boulevards that provide a way "in."


THROUGH THE GATEKEEPERS

Managers and Agents are the gatekeepers to get to Casting. Casting are the gatekeepers for the productions that they work on. The Showrunners, Producers, and Directors are the gatekeepers to the Networks and Studios. And they are the gatekeepers to the conglomerates that own them.


Navigating this path is all about your pitch. Your profiles on casting sites, submitting you to projects, working with you to find the other members of your team. To change that team when/if necessary. To strategize about which opportunities to take, when to push for more (more money, more recognition, bigger roles). This path is largely about proving yourself over and over and over again until you have done this with enough offices, and on enough sets, that someone will give you the chance to break out.


Think of this road as one of the enormous Parisian boulevards. There are people you perceive to be "ahead" of you, there are people getting on "behind" you - some may turn off - meander on a side street etc... and get back on. You can try cutting in and out of lanes and doing a lot of work to "get ahead" only to find the car has been driving along minding their own business is arriving at the destination at the same time you arrive.


Adam Driver is a classic recent example of this path. He auditioned for years and years in obscurity. He had fans at a number of offices, and he came close over and over again. And then Girls came along, and the rest is history.


This path takes grit, determination, perseverance and being in it for the "long haul" - with no pre-determined time of "when" you need your success to come.


THROUGH THE CREATIVES

There is another way into this business of show. This is the one forged by relationships with people who are making the things you want to make. Some of this is luck - and some of this can be cultivated. This is about connecting with the writers / directors and producers who are in the position to hire you. Why? Because many of these projects - especially in Film - never post a breakdown. They simply hire the people they know and like working with.


This business is expensive, frustrating and difficult. It is a miracle every time anything gets made. It is another miracle anytime anyone sees anything that gets made. It is an unbelievable unicorn of a miracle that these miracles connect with an audience and start conversations. That they make us laugh and cry. That they win awards. For all of these reasons, as my partner Bay often says, people just want to work with people who are "a good hang." It is just too hard to do anything differently.


Frances McDormand and the Cohens are a perfect example here. They banded together with some other incredible creatives and made some really amazing movies. They created roles in which she could shine and eventually the business took notice and she was able to branch out.


This path takes grit, determination, perseverance and being in it for the "long haul" - with no pre-determined time of "when" you need your success to come.


THROUGH... YOURSELF

And still there is another way. In this business you can also go "through" the creatives is to be one yourself. If you have the skill, will, talent, and ability - you can become your own best advocate and create your way in. Produce your way in. Direct your way in. Write your way in. Gather your friends. Make something that the industry can't ignore. And then make something else. And something else. Up the ante until people wake up.


Rachel Bloom, Rami Youssef, and Michaela Coel are who you need to look to if you are going to forge this path. If you want to break through this way your shit eventually needs to not just be good, but be excellent. If this feels like you, you may be able to write your own success story.


This path takes grit, determination, perseverance and being in it for the "long haul" - with no pre-determined time of "when" you need your success to come.


WHICH ROAD TO TAKE?

This is an entirely personal decision.


For some of you, singular focus on the "gatekeepers" is the right way to go. Not all of us has the desire to create our own material. THAT IS FINE! But you have to make sure that in your efforts to become known through this path you aren't in danger of "doing other people's jobs." What I mean by this is that once you have your team in place it is your job to simply focus on your acting. Focus on knowing the business. Knowing the landscape. Knowing how to nail an audition for all of the kinds of shows you want to be on. Do you know the names of the heads of the networks that produce the shows you want to be hired on? Do you know the difference between auditioning for a multi-cam comedy and a single cam? Do you know the names of the casting assistants in all of the offices you have auditioned? (hint: we send you this in the breakdown for your auditions).


For some of you - you may find you need to walk two paths simultaneously - one where you have your "gatekeeper busting team" in place and then you can go off and create or forge relationships with creators who will hire you directly.


Think of "Hollywood" as the Arc de Triomphe. It sits at one of the craziest roundabouts in all of the world. But leading to it are a number of wide boulevards that come from across the city - like a star. Between these boulevards, connecting them, are the cobblestoned streets of Paris.


The Champs Elysees, Avenue Victor Hugo, Avenue de la Grande Armee, Avenue Foche. Each lead right to the same place.


Your team - we here at Cinterra, your agent (if you have one currently) we are on the Champs Elysees. Helping actors navigate this busy (and fancy) boulevard (like Julia on Rodeo in Pretty Woman) filled with the gatekeepers. We're your Richard Gere. The great thing is, once you've got us running up and down the Champs on your behalf, you may be able to find the time / freedom to check out one of the other roads.


The producers / directors / writers you need to meet? They're over on Avenue Victor Hugo - not too far away, but nonetheless a different road leading to the same place. It is a road of artists, of creative discussions in cozy cafes (or Zoom). It is finding your people - those who will champion you creatively - who you can make art with.


Making your own content and doing it so well that the industry finally turns its head to you and takes notice? That's the Avenue de la Grande Armee. This road is named in honor of the Napoleonic Wars. Seems a fitting metaphor for leading the charge ahead with your own voice. Of having something to say and saying it so boldly and strongly it cannot be ignored.


But what about Avenue Foche? This boulevard is for the as-yet-to-happen path. Through the garden. There's not as much traffic here, but the way is also a lot less traveled. Maybe you will be a Cameo star that breaks through. Or Tik-Tok. Perhaps you will discover a way to create content on Clubhouse that everyone is into. Or launch a narrative podcast that grabs the attention of the masses and Hollywood comes calling. There is always a new path that can be forged to get to the triumph of a career in this town (see what I did there?)


YOUR ULTIMATE PATH

Ultimately, your "road" into Hollywood will be your own. It WILL be - once you are at the vantage point of the end of your career and are looking back - a road less-traveled (did you think I was going to forget the title of this post? Oh ye of little faith...) Because nobody will forge it quite like you.


What we ask of you all is simply this - whichever road or roads you choose to walk - keep us informed. Keep us in the loop.


If you want to head over to Victor Hugo, tell us before you head over there! We want to go with you and see if we can help. We have other clients and friends who have spent a lot of time on that road. We may be able to tell you how to avoid the one cafe over there with the roach problem - those scammers that are there to take advantage of your dreams. It doesn't mean we will be working any less hard over on the Champs Elysee for you. And if you keep us up to date about what is happening over on Victor Hugo - while we keep you up to date on our road, maybe just maybe the two will come together.


Jumping over to the Grande Armee? Bring us in EARLY! Like "hey I'm thinking of creating my own thing" early. Bay and I both have experience producing. We can absolutely help you avoid mistakes. We can make sure at the script stage, that what you make will be competitive. But only if you get us involved. It is much harder for us to help when you give us a call because you have been on Grande Armee for months (and we didn't know it) and now you can't tell if you are headed toward the Arc or away from it.


Whew - that was a lot of road metaphors. I'm tired from all this walking.


At the end of the day, it is a blessing to have each and every one of you to walk these streets with - the big boulevards and the winding cobblestoned alleys. It makes our days interesting and fun. It is why we are here.


Our paths take grit, determination, perseverance and being in it for the "long haul" - with no pre-determined time of "when" we need our success to come.

34 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All