Thursday, May 27, 2010

Knowing the Market: Part 1

I've been thinking a lot about what I read and why, and what I watch and why, and while a lot of it is for pleasure, it also comes down to this: it is important to know your market. I want to dedicate my next two posts to exploring this topic, first from the perspective of an actor, and second from the perspective of a writer.

So here we go: Knowing the Market for Actors.

First, of all, what do I mean by that, anyway? When I think about knowing the market, I'm thinking about two things. The first thing I'm thinking about is the broader market in terms of what is generally on TV and showing in the movie theatres. Soaps, evening dramas, sit-coms, commercials, cartoons, romantic comedies, family comedies, historical fims, etc., etc. All of these things, to me, comprise "the market". This is the stuff being made, and so this is the stuff that you're likely to get cast in if you're going to get cast at all. (Granted, there are new pilots and new types of films being made all of the time, but for the most part, what comes in the near-future is probably going to mirror or borrow heavily from some existing show/movie/commercial that is already out there.) You should know what these shows are like! You don't need to watch every soap religiously every day, but you should try to watch each soap at least once, so you have a sense of the style of that soap. Likewise for evening dramas, comedies, procedurals, etc. If you've got a spare hour and a TV handy, flick through a few channels and see if you can catch a bit of something you've never seen before. I recently watched an episode of "Supernatural" and an episode of "Vampire Diaries" and neither of them were really my thing in terms of something I'd reserve a regular weekly time slot for, but if I ever get called for an audition I'll have a sense of the tone of those shows, the style in which they're shot, the pacing, and the like.

The same goes for movies. Watch a variety! Go to the video rental store or see what your cable or satellite provider has on offer, and broaden your horizons a bit. I used to only watch movies that were nominated for major awards like the Golden Globes and the Oscars, and films that had done well at major festivals like Cannes. But I recently decided to try to watch a broader variety because, realistically, most actors don't start at the top, and I'm sure I won't either. Also, a lot of genres - like horror, for example - tend to be underrepresented at the big awards ceremonies, but these movies still need actors. Different genres require a slightly different application of your skill set. Know your market.

And then there's your other "market": the people you audition for. I'm honestly in two minds about this one. The writer in me wants to say that your real audience is the people who are going to watch your show or movie, and that a great director will see in you what the audience will see in you. But the actor in me knows that not all directors are "great directors", and it is also about being someone the director and producers feel they can work with, who has versatility, who is likeable, etc., etc. I'd like to know what you actors think. Do we audition to please the people we audition for, or do we just focus on the truth of the moment and tell the story as we see it? What do you think?

Tune in this weekend for Part Two: Knowing your Market for Writers.

Thanks for stopping by.

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