Personal Update from Ben

Ben Whitehair

Today I thought I would stray from my usual advice-y, resource-heavy posts and share just a little bit about what’s going on in my life as an actor.

Projects

I’m finally starting to see the final (or close-to-final) products of a number of projects I’ve filmed in the past months. (In my last post on student films you can see a preview of one such project.) What has been very gratifying is that the caliber of the projects I’m doing is going up. It used to be that I dreaded seeing a final product of something I was in, as most assuredly there would be a boom mic in half the frame, the sound would be off, or you would hardly be able to see the actors. Now you can almost always see the actors, the cuts actually make sense, and some of my acting ain’t half bad. Yay for progress. =)

Reel

It makes sense to me that a solid demo reel is one of the best ways to get more film work. If I’m trying to get hired to act on camera, what better way than to show myself acting on camera? Being the nerd that I am, I acquired Final Cut and spent innumerable hours putting together the next iteration of my reel. A reel is a constant work in progress, but I’m pretty happy with what I have now. The next step will be to create a separate comedy and dramatic reel, but for now this is what I got. Check it…

Relationships

One of the first things most people tell you to do when you move to LA is get yourself on the different submission services, and start clicking and submitting away. When I started pursuing my career in Los Angeles I submitted to every project that even remotely had a character like me, which was great. I went on dozen of auditions, met some great people, and did a number of those lovely aforementioned projects. In the past few months, however, I have all but stopped submitting myself on these sites. The reason for this is that after a number of conversations I realized that the kinds of professional projects I’m aiming for (read: things you could actually watch on TV or in theatres) come as a result of relationships. I stopped looking at my success for the week as how many auditions I went on, but rather how many agents, casting directors, producers, or fellow actors I met and interacted with. Not only has this helped progress my career, but the reason I love this business so much in the first place is my passion for meeting and developing connections with new people.

One of the cool results of shifting my focus to relationship-building is that I’ve been able to bridge the on-line and off-line worlds in some cool ways. Some fellow actors and I organized the first-ever #LAActorsTweetup, bringing together the wonderful community of actors on twitter for an evening of merriment.  Follow me on twitter for details on the next one, and look for an upcoming post on how to organize a tweetup in your city. Every time I meet another friend I knew online in person, I have to say that it makes me feel very “21st century.”

The Craft

 

If you don’t practice acting, you’re not going to get better at it. In addition to taking weekly classes, some friends and I are going to start getting together every week or two to practice our on-camera technique. (We were inspired by Secrets of Screen Acting, the book and podcast by Patrick Tucker). I also purchased a camera and tripod so I can work on my on-camera acting as well as self-tape auditions. Additionally, when I feel like I need to practice my audition skills, I go on a binge of self-submitting until I get a few auditions that I can use to hone my skills.

My Website

If you haven’t had a chance to check out my personal website, zip on over to http://www.benwhitehair.com/. I’ve made a few updates recently.

Research

My college professors will be happy to learn that the amount of research I do on a daily basis is insane. I am constantly looking up people on IMDb Pro, reading blogs, or checking out the agents of the most recent co-stars on my target shows. I have also begun to watch 1 or 2 episodes of every show on television, with particular regard to structure, and what the actors are actually doing. Is their acting “big”? Small” How are they moving their face? How is the laugh track affecting my perception of the show? What is the tone of the show? How many co-star and guest-star roles are on an average episode? All of these things have given me a much better sense of what is actually in the marketplace.

Agents and Managers

Ahh, the proverbial search for representation. In the past month I had a few different meetings, offers, and rejections from agents (commercial and theatrical) and a manager. In short, I’m going to continue searching for people to bring on my team that I feel in my gut are going to be the best to help me move my career forward. It’s very tempting to just say yes to anyone who offers to represent you, if only to be able to say “yes” when someone asks you if you have an agent. With that said, I think it’s ultimately wiser to take a step back, take the long-term view, and build a team of people who are all perfectly on the same page and as dedicated to my career as I am. The search continues…

Final Thoughts

I absolutely love living in Los Angeles, and I’m starting to really make some tremendous friendships here. In the end, what more could I ask for?


Ben Whitehair is the Los Angeles contingent of this blog. Find out more information and view his materials on his website, or read the rest of his blog posts.