The Archangel PR [business] Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘Indie Film

Your Community Should Foster and Encourage Young Talent!…

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My hometown is a bit of a downer.

Don’t get me wrong I love where I’m from even if it is a bit backwards and small town-ish. Beaumont, Texas (pop. 111,000) isn’t exactly “small” but it’s no Manhattan. I’m relatively young still but I know that the one thing the people my age say around here is this:

“This place is a black hole for talented people or people with any type of dream other than refinery work.”

Beaumont, like so many other small towns in the middle of nowhere, isn’t short on talent. But the lesson most often learned the hard way here is unless you plan to work at the refineries that surround this area, you better start packing your bags.

The answer isn’t here, but somewhere else.

It doesn’t have to be this way, but never the less this is the situation that the “good ol’ boy” system in our area has created. They don’t want to hear your ideas unless you go off somewhere, create it, and then bring it back or if your family name is prominent then a few more doors will open for you too. When you’ve finally made some cash, then and only then are they proud to call you their own.

I hate to sound like I’m complaining but in too many ways, I am.

For dreamers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners the phrase “no” is common place. But in the case of encouraging, fostering, and setting about change in an unfriendly place, we must begin with ourselves. I can only speak for my experiences in this part of the world, but Beaumont is without a doubt a no-centric, hostile place. Not many business owners want to offer help and support or mentoring without first gaining money or a share in your company first.

It kills creativity. This way of thinking stops the next generation in its tracks. I know it deterred my plans quite a bit until I found help online. Even in this digital age though we should be able to reach out to our real life communities for guidance.

So my resolution will always be the same, treat others the way I would like (or would have hoped) to be treated.

What’s your take?

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Envy thy Enemy…

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Sometimes I envy my competition. I’m human; I can’t help it.

I also want her hat.

I look at my current struggles over money, time, sleep deprivation, family obligations. This is a constant juggling act that I’ve knowingly created and I eagerly jump into every day. Most of my day is consumed with the tasks that I need to perform, but there’s always a moment that comes and goes every week where I can’t help myself.

I need to know what my competition is doing. Better yet, I need to know HOW my competition is doing.

On the surface their website is sleeker and has more fresh content. What’s this? They actually paid cash for a new brick and mortar building? And in the hip, upcoming downtown spot that I’ve had my eye on for the past few years? I just saw the CEO at a business luncheon (that they sponsored). Someone handed me their fancy new business cards and said those dreaded words, “Have you heard? They’ve gone global.” Everyone at that company drives a Mercedes or a BMW. Oh, that’s a good reminder, my Nissan needs an oil change.

On the surface, the competition is kicking my butt.

When I feel myself getting caught up in these moments (and like I said, they come weekly), it helps when I’m reminded that I will never truly see what’s happening behind the scenes. Are layoffs the price of that new office, or that global expansion? Is the boss mortgaging the company’s future for the feel of a Mercedes today? Are their clients as fed up with their work as the rest of are about hearing about it.

Even beyond this is a feeling of guilt: I want my competition to succeed.

These are real people. They have real problems. And rather than walking around hoping that they fail, it would probably do wonders for my karma and energy to wish them nothing but success. Yes, I want success for my endeavors… and I truly want to be the best at whatever I put my mind to… but I know no good will come from my wishing misfortune on others.

After all I wouldn’t want others wishing these things on me.

So this week when I begin to look at what the competition has bought, sold, acquired, stolen, introduced, or how they have seemingly created the “next big thing”, I will strive to change my way of thinking.

Focus on what I’m doing only. Glances to the left and right are normal, but it’s not healthy to stare. Everyone succeeds and fails at their own pace. My moment in the sun is just around the corner.

Pretty soon someone else will be sweating me too.

Time to Learn from Your Mistakes!

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Whether we like it or not, we are all moving forward into the future. Some of us cling to old memories and stories of days long gone. We hold on to pictures of ourselves when we were young and compare them to recent pictures where we are decidedly less than young.

Last night I cleaned out the filing cabinets that hold my entire collective entrepreneur and business history. While I was looking through the invoices, the receipts, and the e-mails, I began to separate the papers into the ventures I considered successful (the ones that made me money) and the ones that I thought were epic bombs (the ones that lost me money).

I wasn’t stunned by what I saw.

The “failure” pile was immensely bigger than the “success” pile. I’ll tell you in all honesty, I was a bit crushed. The first decade of my business existence looked like a history lesson in “What Not To Do: 101.” In all, my failures should serve as a warning to others. Better yet, these failures should serve as a lesson for myself.

Both my success and my failure have brought me to the place I currently reside.

My success provides money and livelihood. It sustains me and allows me to purchase goods and even provides a shot of confidence. But my failures allow me something just as valuable: experience.

I value experience as much as I value education and/or money.

Everyone is different, but I hope that if you are ever at a point where you can stop and examine the last few years of your business or personal life, that you’ll count it all joy. These things are making you the person you are. The trials and tribulations of this (business) life will make you stronger if you allow it to.

If you learn a lesson from each failure, as well as each success, you’ll be that much stronger in the end.

Why You Should Work Yourself to Death…

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Bones to bury... shoes to eat...

It’s late, or maybe it’s early. Either way, you’re tired.

Don’t worry. If you can make it to 5:30pm on Friday you’ll be sitting pretty looking forward to another weekend. If you’re like most folks those nice, fuzzy “weekend feelings” usually end Sunday evening when you realize that Monday morning is a few hours away. So you start preparing for the week however you can. You lay out an outfit for Monday, maybe prepare your lunch since you’re brown bagging it lately “due to the economy” (and not so much due to your ever expanding spare tire). You lay your head down at a reasonable hour and you may sleep, but you never rest. Your mind is too busy looking at the week ahead.

Then before you know it, your alarm is screaming. Time to get a move on! But you honestly don’t want to. You’d rather lay in your bed and not wake up for another few hours, but you do so begrudgingly because those damn bills have to be paid. Maybe you work out, maybe you don’t, but then you grab a shower, grab a bite, and head out the door to another week of unsatisfying work.

If this is your life, do it full blast. Enjoy those paychecks! Enjoy that restless sleep! Work yourself to death! Just think, if you push yourself and push yourself, you’ll complete a few more assignments, move a little ink, and maybe one day your boss will notice and pay you what you’re worth.

Don’t worry, you’ve only got thirty more years until you retire. That’s only 1,500 more weeks or so of this and BOOOOOOM! The sweet, sweet embrace of death will be here to take you to the other side (or if you’re atheist, nowhere).

One question though: ARE YOU F*CKING KIDDING ME?!?

This is how you want to spend your life? Working your ass off day in and day out, only to be “rewarded” with two or three weeks of vacation a year?? You gladly trade time away from your family, friends, and the things that matter most to you for a chance to upgrade your 2006 Honda Civic to a 2010 Honda Accord? You’re giving up your life to trade in your 1,200 square foot house for a 2,250 square foot house?

**Don’t get me wrong, material things are great. If someone wants to give me $100 million dollars, then I will gladly accept it and promptly move to a small island somewhere never to be seen or heard from again.**

The most precious commodity you have is time. We freely give our time away; time we can never recover. Even as I type this and you read it (and hopefully share it with friends), we are giving are time up.

This will always happen, but I hope you more closely examine the things you give your time to. For me, giving an extra few hours on any project that ultimately doesn’t make me happy or help me spend more time with my family is without a doubt, a complete WASTE.

Decide today what kind of life you want to lead, because you ultimately get one time to do it.

Get busy… times a wastin’!

The Greater Ambition, Pt. 2…

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I didn’t plan on adding a sequel to my rant from yesterday, but I had the opportunity to talk with a few people yesterday whose opinions and reflections I both trust and respect.

These three gentlemen helped guide me through the murky waters I was facing. Like any entrepreneur, I face epic highs and incredible lows. The last few weeks have been an incredible low. This valley has reminded me that I have amazing friends and mentors. If nothing else I’ve surrounded myself with folks who calm me down and help clarify my situations with wisdom.

I was gently reminded why I began to work for myself in the first place and what I started out with. I began with nothing. No one is going to hand me anything at any level of the game. Business is now and forever will be a “what have you done for me lately” industry.

I was reminded again that I am only 5 years in to a lifelong pursuit. I am still a baby in this game. I’m still laying the foundation for future success and endeavors.

It’s still frustrating. And it always will be. What I haven’t read in all of these books is how it’s “so easy now” no matter what level you’re at.

I am, like many of you, impatient when it comes to success. Our definition of success may differ, but we want it NOW. We want to be doctors… we want to scale Everest… we want these admirable things without putting in all of the work. I guess it gets even more frustrating when you can see the finish (start?) line and you feel you’re getting bogged down with frivolous time-wasters.

I didn’t go to sleep happy last night, but with these and other words of wisdom floating through my sub-conscious as I slumbered, I woke up re-freshed and re-newed.

I was starting to put my dreams in the palms of other peoples hands, whether real or imagined. Our fight-or-flight reflex is like a scale and from time to time it was lean overwhelmingly in favor of one direction. My scales were tipped for flight. I’ve noticed with every step forward, I seemingly had one foot out of the door, always ready to run if the situation didn’t work out in my favor.

This severely dampened my ability to perform my duties, my work, at a high level.

My mentors reminded me that my dreams and hopes are not foolish pursuits. They make me happy. They are significant. But I must be willing to give 100% of myself for them to succeed on a larger scale.

The ZeroCut Initiative…

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Our venture isn’t an ultimatum to TV or the hierarchy of the pre-existing gatekeepers for keeping us out. If anything we’re exceedingly grateful for their help along the way. We absolutely, without a doubt, could not have had the success we have had individually without their consent and blessing on the projects we’ve birthed so far.

Coincidentally it is their inability to truly back-up what they say that has lead us to this process… this movement if you please… to take matters in our own hands.

The old ways are changing. We fully accept this change. We need this change.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the only thing that matters at the end of the day (in business) is whether your accounts are in the black. I’m not anti-capitalism. I’m very, very pro-capitalism. But if your local motto is stressed on the fact that you want to truly have local programming on your airwaves, then why are you consistently shutting out local shows?

That’s OK. Each business (including local television) must do what it needs to do in order to survive.

Where TV leaves off, ZEROCUT CREATIVE, will pick up.

Spring time will never have been sweeter!

Finding an Agent…

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The age old question from most upstart actors and actresses is “How can I find an Agent?” or “How can I get signed with an Agent?”

There are literally TONS of sources and references for this kind of topic! Just Google the question and you’ll get more results and more “wisdom” than you probably ever care to have on the subject.

So, let me add a twist to the whole process if you’ve got that same question: FINDING an Agent is easy. They’re everywhere. They come in every shape, size, and color.

The real question you should ask is this: How do I sign with the Agent that is right for my goals and my future?

This is where a lot of potential actors and actresses trip themselves up. Let me be honest with you if you’re seeking an Agent: 95% of the time an Agent in Houston/Dallas/Austin/Atlanta etc will not get you “Hollywood” type work. These are big cities, but honestly, they’re not New York or Los Angeles. We live in the digital age and these places are “closer” than ever before, but LA & NYC are still the places where deals are made.

A lot of actors / actresses won’t ask that question, and most Agents won’t fess up to that fact. Houston Agents can and should get you local / regional work with a few nibbles at West Coast work… Atlanta Agents can and should get you local / regional work with a few nibbles… but it’s highly UNLIKELY (not impossible, but unlikely) that you will be in the next Hugh Jackman movie through your Dallas-based acting agency.

I know, I sound like a jerk. But the biggest complaint I hear from real-life Agents about unproven, inexperienced talent is that they’re looking to be the next Julia Roberts or Matt Damon.

So what would be a good starting point then?

1.) Find a quality agency (i.e. Houston: Pastorini-Bosby Talent) and start getting some experience on local commercials / voice-overs, etc.

2.) Follow the instructions on the agency site when contacting or soliciting for an offer of representation. If the site says “do not call”, then don’t call. That’s the quickest way for your headshot to wind up in a trashcan.

3.) Do not harass an agency / Agent. Pretty self-explanatory. Maybe they just have too many other folks that look / act just like you. Doesn’t mean you’re not great, but they have a ton of clients already and not enough work to go around.

4.) Market yourself! If you sign with an agency, your typical Agent has about 50-75 talented and tragically underpaid actors/actresses at their disposal (this is per Agent; an agency can have HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE JUST LIKE YOU.). Always have your headshot/resume with you and take some time each day to go check out Actors Access and sites like that to search for opportunities. Remember to always check with your Agent about those opportunities though and get them to see if the offer is legit so they can get you the most money for your services.

5.) If you’re an actor, you need to be acting. If you’re a writer, you should be writing. If you’re a musician, you should be out playing your instrument. It’s as simple as that. If you haven’t acted professionally in a play / film / tv episode in 2 years, but you still consider yourself an “actor”, please stop wasting your breath and an Agent’s time. You should be attending workshops at the very least.

Anyway… you could write entire books on the “right” and “wrong” way to start a career in entertainment. Actually, they have.

Remember to keep honing your craft and keep your head up. While you’re at it, check out my interviews with some great producers and it may just help you out even more!