Shoot For The Stars

“Don’t shoot for the moon, shoot for the stars and beyond.”

We all have dreams, some are bigger than others.  But what happens when that dream seams to fade away or die?  What do we do when life happens?  What happens when we are forced with facing “reality”? What is the problem?  Is it us?  Did we do something wrong?  Most of the time, it’s none of these.  Instead it is not that we stop dreaming, it’s that adequate time wasn’t given to expanding the dream or going beyond.  Oftentimes, it’s not that you haven’t attained your dream it’s that you didn’t dream past where you currently are at.

Let me put it into perspective for a second.  There is the saying, “Shoot for the moon and if you miss you will land amongst the stars.”  Well guess what. Shooting for the moon is nothing.  We should be shooting for the stars and not the moon.  It’s like it was written by someone without a true vision.

What I mean is this.  It’s one thing to dream to be something like being a singer, an actor or even being an entrepreneur.  But what most people do is they aspire to be “something” and don’t think about what takes place after achieving that “thing” they so deeply desire. What’s worse is, so many people don’t even realize they are living the very thing they dreamed about because that original dream was so limiting.  It was the “beginning” dream for their ultimate life’s goal.

In other words you can’t be a singer and dream to be a singer at the same time.  You either are a singer or you are not a singer.  So once you are a singer you can’t become it anymore, because you already are one.  It’s like a caterpillar who dreams to be a beautiful butterfly.  Then when they become a butterfly they keep dreaming to be a butterfly because they have not acknowledge it yet.  It simply doesn’t make any sense.  Instead the caterpillar who crawls in the dust dreams to soar in the treetops.  So they go through all the steps necessary to soar from spinning their cocoon and transforming into that butterfly.  Then and only then can they break out and soar.

Now I want you to imagine what would happen if the caterpillar were to stop in the cocoon and not go any further with their transformation.  Because even during the last stage of their time inside the cocoon they are an actual butterfly waiting to come out and to fly.  That is exactly what most people with dreams actually do.  Instead of fully expanding their dreams to fully soar into the treetops they dream to become “just” a butterfly and forget all about the flying part.  These people become their own dreamcatcher and stop their dreams before they even break out of the cocoon.

I guess what it all boils down to is that no matter what your dream is – expand it.  Don’t just stop at saying you want to be a  working and performing actor, writer, singer etc.  You need to be creating a vision about your career.  Start dreaming about building a fanbase and signing that contract.  Start imagining yourself on a world tour and dreaming about what you want in your dressing room, who you are going to open for or have open for you in your concert.  Or as an actor, start practicing your Oscar speech and focus on your big role, not just on tomorrows audition, unless it is for that big role.

See the dream can’t just stop at being just a singer, or just an actor or just a whatever.  It has to go much farther.  The same holds true for people wanting to be entrepreneurs and any other dream in life.  Once you have the bite in you to be your own boss, it’s very difficult to take that away or lose that passion.  But instead what happens so often is would-be entrepreneurs give up before even really giving it a solid effort.  I heard somewhere that something like 90% of all first-time small business owners fail.  Then about 90% of second small businesses succeed but about 80% gave up after failure #1. They forget the dream. They lost their vision.  The purpose and why they get up in the morning faded away with their last failure.  Just because you don’t have your own succesful business doesn’t make you any less an entrepreneur or not one at all.  It simply means you didn’t continue the dream to the next level.  The level of success.

True story.  As a kid I wanted to be a baseball player.  So I made the team.  The problem is, everyone made the team.  What I didn’t think about was wanting to be able to hit the ball.  I was the worst at hitting the ball.  I literally led the league in strikeouts.  Then before the next season my mom asked, “Keith, do you ever see yourself hitting the ball?  If you don’t, you will never be able to.”  That following season I was the lead off batter for the opening game.  The very first pitch that came in I swung and hit.  Not only did I hit it but I got on base with a double.  I then went on and got a second hit that same game and actually had the best year of my short career in baseball with a hit almost every game.  So my point is, you can’t just stop at what you “want to be” you have see yourself going beyond that and achieving success because of what you are.

So here are 10 tips in the form of quotes that I want to offer to any of you who care to take your dreams to the next level and actually be what you truly want to be:

1.  “We are not defined by our past, we are prepared by it.” – Joel Osteen

2. “I have not failed.  I have found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

3. “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently”
– Henry Ford

4. “The greatest danger occurs at the moment of victory.” – Napolean

5. “Reach high, for stars lie in your soul.  Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.” – Unknown

6. “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.

7. “Science Fiction, you’re right, it’s crazy.  You wanna hear something really nutty? I heard of a couple guys who wanna build something called an airplane.” – Victor Grippi

8.  “Those who say it can’t be done should not interrupt the person doing it.”
– Chinese Proverb

9.  “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky

10. “If you can imagine it, you can possess it.  If you can dream it, you can become it.  If you can envision it, you can attain it. If you can picture it, you can achieve it. ”
– William Arthur Ward

Now here is one from me:

“What you are is who you are not what you do with it.  What you do with it is what counts.” – Keith

Have a great week and Break a Leg!

Posted in acting, advice, entertainment industry, entrepreneur, famous quotes, music, music industry, small business, top 10 list, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why You Have to Own Your Social Media

Just being "on" Social Media is only the beginning - do you own yours?

Regardless of what part of the entertainment industry you are in you “MUST” and I repeat “MUST-MUST-MUST” engage in and “OWN” your social media.  This means as an actor, writer, singer, band, comedian or filmmaker, it doesn’t matter.  What you do with you career is one thing but how you get it out to the people – your audience is another. One of my favorite quotes says it best,

“The movie business is NOT a good business to be in.  You can have the money to finance your own movie, the actors can love you, and if you don’t control the distribution, you’re DEAD.”          – Francis Ford Coppola, MovieMaker 2007.

The thing about this quote is that this rule quite literally applies to every single product being created out there.  So as an entertainer or provider of such you are creating and trying to distribute your product.  This rule applies to every single actor, writer, director, singer, band or whatever.  In the end you are an entrepreneur and have the desire to be in the business of “you”.  So at the end of the day, if you don’t own and manage the avenue for your distribution (your marketing) then you might as well be flipping burgers and calling it a day.

The reason I mention this is that with industry trends changing faster than you can blink your eyes there are only a few things you can actually control, social media is one of them.  What you put out there for the world to see and learn about your product and how you put it out says a lot about you and your product.  It doesn’t matter what your product is either.  It could be your demo-reel, a new CD single or a great invention you made to improve filmmaking.   It doesn’t matter what the content – you just have to be in charge and on top of it all the time.

So what are some of the things you can do to control your social media?  Well I have 10 ideas I feel are key in controlling the “distribution” of YOU:

1.  Create social media pages dedicated to you and the product you are selling.  But don’t oversaturate yourself with 1,000 sites.  You have to stick with the most important and relevant.  For instance: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and yes even Myspace (depending on your end-product).  I wouldn’t go to much farther than those other than maybe Google+ but that can still be considered to be in the Beta-testing phase.

2.  Control what you put out there about your product.  So don’t Tweet or post stuff that you won’t want your agent to see or the next hiring producer.  Trust me you have to be strategic in what you actually post.  Make it relevant to “you and your product” while staying within the brand you want to portray.  Also make sure it’s fresh and updated to what you want the world to know about.

3.  BRAND your social media experience.  This means everything from your Facebook banner to your YouTube background.  You have to have a synergistic approach to everything you have out there.  This includes your URL, your Avatar, Your font of choice (where applicable) and of course your logo if you have one.  If not – make one, even if you don’t think you have one because it’s just your name.  Well, brand it.  Brand yourself and make it match across all lines of your social media presence.  This helps your audience identify and recognize what your product is.  Then don’t change it.  Imagine if Coca-Cola changed their logo every month because they were bored with it.  You can’t do this.  You have to identify and build your brand so your audience knows it’s you.

4.  Be creative with your posts.  Try to engage your audience with content they would want to find interesting about you or your product.  Avoid being stale and generic with what you post.  So get creative in what you are posting.  Find what is trending and engage and interact in it.  Do surveys, ask funny or inquisitive questions, take pictures and document your road-trip.  Whatever, but make it fun!  Also, post any successes or important events or dates to come.

5.  Post content other than just “word” updates.  Make as many of your updates multi-media based.  This means posting an update with a Twit-pic or a YouTube video from your band practice or the trade show you were at.  It doesn’t have to be always media-based but as much as you can helps engage your audience and provides for your audience to grow.  Literally, you cannot have too much content on the internet.  Promote, engage then build.

6.  Make sure you “link” your accounts if you can, such as your twitter and facebook pages.  This will help build your numbers and can save you time on your posts which also catches more followers in one strike.  Also, if you have a website (I hope you do if not get one asap) ensure all your links are listed.  Do the same on all social media sites and let your audience know about them.  Then once they are, make sure you cross promote the content on all your social media sites.  Keep the content fresh and active on all sites and keep it all current and uniform.

7.  Be selective in who you follow.  There is a saying out there that says, “you are who you hug.” Well, you must consider who you actually allow to be your friends or who you follow.  For instance if you are a Christian Rock Band you don’t want to be following secular death-metal bands.  The same goes for controversial organizations.  This includes any political or religious hot-button issue.  If you don’t want to be associated with them from your “business” standpoint then don’t follow or engage.  It just is contradictory to the message you are trying to send to your audience and followers.

8.  You have to be your own publicist.  Think about it, who is going to be the best promoter of you other than you?  Only you really know at every minute what is going on with your product you are selling.  So you have to consider that you are literally running the business of “you”.  So put that business hat on and start being that PR person you have to be and do it through Social Media.  Get out there and tell the world what “you” are doing and why they should know about it.

9.  Steal from the giants.  Now, I am not condoning stealing other people’s creative content but use them as a guide.  If you want to be seen like the next great rock-band or entreprenuer then start to emulate them in what they are doing.  Remember you are who you hug, so follow them and keep up with what they are doing and try and replicate it in a unique way in your own social networking.

10.  Begin tracking your progress.  Nothing can be more frustrating than thinking you are not making any headway or getting your message out.  So make sure you begin to track your progress.  Doing this will show how you are doing, where you are growing and why? It will also help when you are trying to sell yourself to either a manger, investor or producer.

Now just as a bonus – stick to the golden rule.  Whatever you do, keep in mind the things you don’t like about what others do on social media.  That means be selective and avoid being too repetitive or needy.  Avoid at all costs annoying your audience with too many posts or spamming them.  Also, make sure to make your audience important in the conversation.  There is more to social media other than just posting content, you have to build relationships too.

Until next time, thanks for reading –

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How Casting Directors Drop the Ball

Avoiding the Cattle Call.

So you are a trendy and attractive 20 something actor who also models in NYC or LA and you get that hopeful phone call from your agent.  The good news is, you have a casting…. The bad news is it’s for a young mom/dad in their mid-30’s oh and it’s in 1 hour.

You think to yourself…”well it’s a job right?”.

So what do you do..?  You stop and reschedule your day and somehow quickly race to your bedroom (if in NYC that’s like 2 feet) and quickly toss through your clothing only to pick out the most straight-laced kakhi and polo shirt you can find and quickly toss it on.  Or you are out and you stop off and charge an outfit as quick as you can on your mom’s credit card she lets you use at either Kohl’s or Old Navy (keeping the receipts knowing you will never wear this outfit again… yeah – guess again).  Then you pull out your trusty smartphone and map the address as you walk out the door with headshot in hand.

After about 45 minutes of racing across the town nearly killing yourself for that $1,000 job that is sure to be the one that will finally set you apart (you try to convince yourself) you arrive at the casting office.  You attempt to compose yourself and make sure you look as old as you can.  Oh, let me rephrase as middle-American young parent you can knowing you have no idea what it’s truly like to even be a parent.  You ride the elevator up to whatever floor your casting is only to be greeted by a hallway full of about 40 other would-be actors like yourself, but only 10-15 years older than you.  They all turn and look at the commotion you make as you race off the elevator and stumble into the hall.  Each of them look at you with a certain level of disdain as they see you are clearly younger with that 20’s glow and more attractive in your youthful preppy looking clothing.

Guess what… you just wasted your afternoon.  Welcome to the world of haphazard casting calls.

But something can and should be done about this dilemma and fortunately it’s slowly beginning to take shape but not nearly as quick as it could or should be.  Now don’t get me wrong because casting directors have it hard.  They do have a lot of stress and you are only as good as your last job.  So they are always trying to improve what they do and there is no “school” on how to run castings and with so many being jaded actors who gave up on their dream there is an automatic chip on their shoulder when you walk in.

So here are 10 ways I see casting directors dropping the ball and ideas of how to fix it:

1.  Poor pre-screening of potential actors.  Instead take that extra bit of time to really look at who you are calling in and don’t waste their time or yours especially if you think to yourself, “well maybe?”  Everyone you should call in should somehow be a most likely and not have to come back 3 times for a $1000 spot.  That time costs actors money.

2.  Don’t waste actors time.  Nothing is more annoying to any actor who shows up and sees a dysfunctional casting.   Not only do they work for a living most likely from tips but hopefully this job too.  So now you just set them up for failure from the immediate frustration they feel walking into a hallway of 50 others waiting for the same $1,000 job. Whatever you do, avoid open times and open calls.  It never works.  Oh and why are you casting at any time before 9am?  Seriously have you known any actor who is even ready at that time of day?

3.  Stop using only the same 2-5 agencies.  I know you have friends and you “like” certain people but don’t you realize there are more actors out there?  Hello there are like 100 agencies and only going to your same handful limits the possibility of you actually building your career through exposing yourself to more talent.

4.  Stop doing open-night casting network events if you have no intention of actually making it beneficial for the actors.  Nothing is more annoying to an actor to know they are paying you $100 to sit there and blow smoke up their butts only to realize they are never going to even get called in by you because you are doing this network class just for rent money.

5.  Plan out your actual casting process.  Nothing is more frustrating to an actor who has to deal with an intern and chaotic casting director.  There is something to be said about a casting director who has their own act together and is organized.  Actors don’t mind waiting a little if there is no chaos.

6. Be courteous to the actors.  What blows my mind most about this industry is how shallow and mean people can be, especially in the casting process.  I have come across some really nasty casting directors who forget actor’s are people too.  Oh and guess what… they may be in a position to one-day hire you.  Not all actors stay actors. Hello Ron Howard.

7.  Get the “TYPE” right.  Nothing to an actor is more disconcerting than walking into a casting with people all 10-15 years older than them.  Don’t forget actors all lie about their age and think they play younger than they are.  It’s because they have too.  So realize that man or woman who is going in for the 35 year-old is likely closer to 50.  So when a true 35 walks in he/she looks way too young.  Get it right the first time or don’t call in real 35’s or anything less than that if you are not looking for that.

8.  Clearly explain the breakdown for the roll.  Don’t tell an actor they are in a wedding party and not expect them to show up in a gown or tuxedo if it’s meant to be the rehearsal dinner scene.  Actors hate showing up to a casting and know they look like an idiot because their agent didn’t get the information from you right.  So if you are gonna do a casting get the right information to the actors.

9.  Do unto others.   It’s an amazing concept I know.  But really, don’t flip out on an actor for being a few minutes late when you have no problem making actors wait as much as an hour especially without apologizing or explaining a reason why.  Remember, “life happens” and the actor is there.  Being late sometimes is unavoidable.

10.  Eat and call people on your own time.  When an actor is in the room, it is and should be “their” time.  They killed themselves to get there, not so they can wait while you talk on the phone or eat your lunch.  That is one of the most rude things and distracting things any actor has to put up with in the casting process.  You wouldn’t like it if they took a call in the middle of a casting session, so don’t do it to them.

Well that’s it for now.  Remember actors, it’s not always your fault if you don’t book the job.  Sometimes the gate-keepers out there just don’t know what they are doing.  Be glad some actually do.

Thanks for reading, Good luck out there and break a leg!

Founder – The Erimac Group 

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