Braving Social Media at Award Ceremonies

Actors are great at developing hype to draw their fans to anticipate the results of an award announcement. They bring their fan base into the ballroom vicariously through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Periscope. The progressive evening puts fans on the edge of their seat and then…nothing. The actor stops the stream of updated posts because he or she doesn’t know what to do when the award goes to another artist.

Publicity boutiques coach their talent on how to push through the loss with skills that increase their fan base. That’s right, the loss can increase the actor’s fan based when it’s handled properly. Here are some of the points taught:

KNOW HOW FANS THINK
Fans love to follow their favorite actors down the red carpet and into the ballroom. Why? Not to watch them win or lose, but to watch them interact with other stars. Fans love to know that “their” star is well connected. This sense of ownership generates compassion and pride every time their actor chats or poses with another. And, if the actor is at a table of stars, all the better. One thing is certain; it’s not about the win. Only the actor is concerned about who receives the statue.

CROSS PROMOTIONS
Networking with other actors that promote through social media increases both actors’ fan base. “Reconnecting” at a ceremony increases the interests of the fans to promote the actor through word of mouth. The more connections made at the ceremonies, the wider the distribution of word of mouth advertising.

THE HUMAN FACTOR
Fans want to be there for the actor’s win, but more importantly they want to see the human experience played out. The fan wants to know the star is just like them – disappointment and all. Fans want to learn how to handle those same types of responses in their own life and they want to learn it from their role model.

BUDDY SHOTS
Taking a great photo with each of the nominees in the actor’s category is a golden opportunity to share respect with peers before the winner is announced. It’s also an ideal moment to snap a picture of the actor sharing a smile with his or her winning “friend.” After all, promoting a congratulatory picture of the actor smiling with the winner will get massive traction in social media – Extremely valuable promotions. And, knowing that the actor’s circle of “friends” are award winners, means it’s only a matter of time before the fans see their actor make it to the big time – Instilling greater loyalty.

There are many more tips given by PR coaches, but the above will greatly accelerate the career of the average actor. It’s all about entertaining the fan base, while revealing the human condition. There is no better set of circumstances for developing true loyalty in fans. Actors must embrace and get excited about the great benefits of a well-promoted loss.

Copyright © 2016 by CJ Powers

 

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Building an Entourage

EntourageThere are two types of entourages: those made up of yes men that eventually take you out of the game; and, those who work with you to build mutual success. The motion picture star and his entourage is the first that pops into mind, but the Ford, Edison, and Firestone entourage was legendary.

Thomas Edison encouraged his employee Henry Ford, an engineer at Edison’s Illuminating Co., to build his horseless carriage on weekends. Ford was a devoted employee until he was fully funded for his automobile. During his tenure, Ford was the recipient of Edison’s numerous introductions to all kinds of businesspeople, including Harvey Firestone who owned a rubber company. All contributed to the development of the automobile and benefited. Firestone’s most noted benefit was the launching of his tire company. Edison’s provisions included the alternator, wire and lights.

The best entourages in Hollywood provide mutual success to all involved. Every member is trustworthy and paid for his or her workload. Mutual respect positions the team for success, as everyone handles his or her portion of the business with excellence. The best teams are made up of people that work “with” each other and not “for” anyone.

While some entourages are first staffed with friends, most are staffed with experts that soon become friends. There is also a form of like-mindedness involved in the decision making process that moves the team in a unified direction. Dan Aykroyd’s entourage shares his vision with fervor, and all have become motorcycle enthusiasts that dress in black and ride together.

The first person to join an actor’s entourage is typically an agent. The publicist is the second to get on board, followed closely by the personal assistant. Soon a business manager is required, which forces the need for a personal manager. Next is security, if a hint of over zealous or crazy fans get involved. Make-up, wardrobe and a hair stylist also plug into the mix when the timing is right based on the type of work generated. If success continues a producer is added. This is then followed by the necessary connections needed to support a development team.

All above line cast and crewmembers pull entourages together. Some times department heads follow suit with smaller or department based entourages. The number one purpose is for mutually beneficial networking. It is not for narcissists. A person who sets out to create an entourage for their own benefit rarely finds success. However, leaders who pull people together to help those on the team, finds even greater rewards flowing in their direction.

Copyright © 2016 by CJ Powers

12 Essentials of Directing Actors

Movie director.In watching and chatting with numerous actors and directors over the years, I’ve learned a few things that directors do poorly and several they do well. During this time frame the ideals have changed within the production world, so I’m writing only those key points that relate to actors giving a truthful performance. I hope directors will find these recommendations helpful.

  1. TAKE AN ACTING CLASS. Actors are vulnerable and sensitive people who need encouragement and an understanding director.  The best way to inspire great performances is by understanding the acting process. To keep up with the latest trends, I take acting or an improvisational class every so often.
  2. MAKE A CONNECTION. An actor’s job is intense and exposed, which can cause them to feel overly sensitive or vulnerable. The director needs to come along side of them as a trusted advisor. Actors rarely need to be challenged or have an authority figure bear down on them, as most self-critique or compare themselves to their own detriment.
  3. KILL CRITICAL SPEAK. The director owns the set and must stop any cast or crew from saying anything negative to actors. Direction must only come from the director who fully understands the vision and can give proper and affirming recognition. If anyone on the set feels a need to make suggestions or confer with the director about someone’s performance, it must be done in private, if at all. The director MUST protect the actors.
  4. ASK QUESTIONS. The last thing an actor needs on set is an authoritarian or a director that bellows out commands or instructions. Each actor is an expert at her character and because the director is focused on everything, the professional actor will maintain that expert status. It’s therefore prudent for the director to change the actor’s performance inductively by asking questions. By drawing the actor into the thinking process, she is able to discover for herself what the character needs to do. This activity strengthens the actor’s ownership of the character and enhances her performance.
  5. TREAT ACTORS EQUALLY. An actor’s emotions can take its toll throughout the shooting day. Great directors try to keep an eye on each actor’s emotional status and take specific time to remind her that she is liked and respected. The director is a powerful leader that must share this treatment equally with all actors to maintain a mutually warm environment from which the actors can safely perform.  Leaving an actor out of this personalized attention can send her reeling out of control.
  6. BE COURTEOUS. Directors can raise the performance bar by being courteous and avoid the common mistake of telling an actor how she blew it. By saying, “What was that? You can’t bellow out your lines. Let’s do another take and give me less,” the director increases the actor’s fear and stiffens her next take. Instead, a director might consider saying, “I’d like to try something a little different on this next take. I wonder if you could maintain your emotional intensity and drench the other character with a dangerous calm.” This gives the actor more to work with and inspires creativity and performance.
  7. AVOID COMMON ACTING PROBLEMS. Acting is self-conscious and self-judgmental, which many times can cause an actor to act from her head instead of her heart. The director must work with the actor to make sure she is focused on the character and not herself. This approach will avoid numerous problems that typically rise during any given shooting day and help to draw out an honest or truthful performance.
  8. PROMOTE RELAXATION AND FOCUS. Relaxation is important to make sure the actor doesn’t project her voice as if on a stage. It will also impact the way she carries herself. When a scene calls for tension, it will naturally grow from the relaxed state and appear in her hands, walk, voice and face. Anytime anxiety creeps in, the actor becomes stilted in her performance. A director can improve the performance by reminding the actor of what she’s done well. Even redirecting her focus off of her feelings and back onto the character will reduce the temporary lack in confidence.
  9. CLARIFY SUBTEXT. Reviewing subtext during rehearsal will help an actor focus on each line, glance or action. Every element of her performance must lead to her character’s super objective or what she is fighting for. The subtext can be clarified with a verb to be played, a character she plays to, and an intended effect that her character wants as the outcome.
  10. KILL ANTICIPATION. It is difficult for a director to have an actor play a part “naturally” in a specific way, as the mere mention of doing it naturally makes the performance stilted. Within that moment the actor gets trapped in her head and starts to anticipate a line or action. She might also purposely hold back in an attempt to be more natural, which creates an awkward lag and reveals that the actor has done this moment several before in rehearsal. One of the best ways to avoid this conundrum is to walk the actor through the character’s thinking process, while salting in moment-by-moment clues as the performance unfolds – Just like in real life.
  11. KILL INDICATING. It’s common for an actor to increase the visible size of her performance in hopes of reaching the audience or allowing them to see her character’s personality. Unfortunately, the lens is only kind to subtle performance and the actor finds herself overworking and destroying her character in the process. Having the actor think about a secret or some internal struggle during the performance, allows the audience to see that there is more depth to the character without an over-the-top performance. Giving direction to the actor as if you’re speaking to the character also generates this subtle secrecy effect.
  12. SPEAK IN VERBS. Many actors memorize certain actions to help them “do business” during their scene and it weakens their performance because it doesn’t naturally flow from the character. Instead of having an actor pull something out of her bag of tricks, the director can share verbs that stimulate creative ideas that develop new actions based solely on the character. An example might come from a script line like, “She keeps up with her dodging in and out of shadows.” The immediate thought an actor might come up with is moving from tree to tree peering around as she tries to keep up with the other character. However, the director can bring to bear an arsenal of variations on this movement by asking the actor to “trail” the other character. Or, he can step up the intensity with each word suggested: follow, track, pursue, hunt, stalk, or chase. Each verb intensifying the action and giving a new mental picture for the actor to perform.

If I were to add a “don’t” to the list for amateur directors, I’d have to recommend NOT ever demonstrating how you’d like something played. This act instantly reduces the director’s credibility to zero and he doesn’t get what he’s asks for, as his performance never plays out the way it was in his head. It is also insulting to the actor who is the expert on her character, who would never do things like the director demonstrated. This is not to take away from the director showing an actor their blocking, as he walks the actor down the path, while discussing the character’s motivation.

The key is to remember that the actor is an expert at her character and the director can’t be due to his high level of knowledge on the entire picture. However, the director will know what works and what doesn’t and must use questions to help the actor create variations of performance until the director gets what will work best on screen – Something the actor trusts the director to accomplish.

Copyright © 2013 by CJ Powers
Illustration © shambulin – Fotolia.com