Saturday, December 30, 2006

Send thank-you cards for auditions ...

Thank you cards are key in the Biz. They're a way to acknowledge people who spent time with you on your audition or reading, and keep you on their radar in a non-artificial way.

There's a relatively easy, inexpensive way to make your thank you cards stand out from off-the-shelf thank-you cards.

Here's some secret sauce recipe:

  1. Get a box of thank you cards you like at a grocery or drug store (generally cheaper than a greeting card store) -- you can generally get a box of 12-20.
  2. Get reduced copies of your headshot -- like at a grocery/drug store, Sam's Club/Coscos, etc. You can scan your headshot (or better, print from the CD/DVD from your session), and get a sheet of 16, 2"x2.5" photos. Use a paper cutter (not scissors; better lines) to cut them out.
  3. Get a 2-in-1 glue (like Aleene’s 2 in 1 Glue).
  4. Put glue on the left side of the card (for Horizontal cards) or top of the card (for vertical cards) where you'll put your mini headshot and your business card (you do have business cards, right? ;-).
  5. Let the glue dry first, then put your headshot and business card on the spots glue. They'll stay secure, but are easily removable if your recipient wants to. The reason you put the glue on the card, and not on the headshot/business card, is this is less likely to leave residue on your business card.

    You can also ask you agent if you can have some of their cards, and you can place them below your cards.

Voila -- you have 16, ready-to-go, custom Biz thank-you cards, probably for around $10 and a little effort. Buy a book of stamps and save them just for thank you cards, and you're always ready to say, "thank you".

Is it ever too late to give a thank you card?

Probably, but opinions vary.

Send it as soon as you can -- the day after being best, but at least within a week. Two weeks is pushing it. Besides, you should have at least a couple more auditions by them right?

And if I don't genuinely want to send a card?

Ask yourself why you don't' want to send a card. Do you want to work with the person again?

All good questions, but realize the professional courtesy is to send a thank-you card. If you had a particularly bad, abusive, or otherwise negative audition experience, and (justifiably) don't want to work with the person(s) again, don't send a card. Those should be rare cases.

I've heard people say, "I didn't send a card, because I sucked at the audition."

Get over yourself! Send a thank you card, and acknowledge the person for taking out of their day to spend with you. You're sucking didn't make their sacrifice any less.

I've had other people tell me they don't send cards because "that's not me", or "I don't want to come across as kissing up."

How about coming across as lazy? Because I'd argue that's what's at the root of those excuses.

As an aside, thank-you cards should be rigor de jour for toy job interviews (unfortunately, they're not). Auditions are job interviews.

And I send thank-you cards constantly, and not just for auditions. I am so freaking thankful for all of the amazing stuff that happens to me as an actor, I have a lot of opportunity to say thanks -- "Thanks for the encouraging words the other day!"; "Thanks for offering to do storyboards for my project!"; "Thanks for being willing to trade screen printing services for Web site help!"; etc.

Oh, and is this what I do for cards? Not anymore. But my way takes more work, computer savvy, and patience. And I need to save something about which to write later.

UPDATED: A kind reference to this post from voice actor Bob Souer.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

"Friday Night Lights" air date (Jan. 17)

UPDATED: Guide listings have been updated, and it looks like my FNL episode is now January 24th -- tonight's episode is a repeat of "Homecoming".

According to, the "Friday Night Lights Episode" I did -- "Little Girl I Wanna Marry You" -- airs January 17.

This is NBC's new Wednesday night slot for the series.

Please watch the show. Even if they cut out all of my menschy driver-ness, watch the series, hype it, and support this important Central Texas project.

(I'll update this post if NBC and the networks release their broadcast schedule, and it changes the date. is wrong on a couple of the other original air dates for the series, so I'll wait until the date is set "from the horse's mouth".)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Turnabout is fair play ...

A couple of my recent posts about self-promotion have spawned a bunch of conversation locally and via Email, and I've been thinking quite a bit about the topics included in the two posts.

The latter post (about the rough time I've had with holiday cards and gifts this year) was picked up in a post by voice talent Bob Souer, and I noticed Bob's linked to my posts a few times. I've been Emailing about with him and another voice talent, Karen Commins, who noticed Bob's reference to my post, and has also linked to my blog in the past.

And I've been talking with some local actors, after a conversation with one guy about how he doesn't do birthday or holiday cards for professional contacts, because he's concerned about coming across as ingenuous.

Me too.

I admit the whole self-promotion thing is pretty touchy, and I go back and forth as to how much to do, and still remain authentic and true to relationships -- which is important to me.

Even tougher is balancing strong confidence so that it doesn't come off as arrogant. I know who I am. I know I am a worthwhile human being. I know what I do (or what I don't do) does not define my value as a person. That can be very intimidating to some people, and come across as arrogant.

Largely as a result of my conversation with Karen, I thought I'd talk about self promotion and my struggle with it. Maybe this will give you ideas and prompt you to think about it, too.

As a series of caveats, though, understand that while I'm asked regularly to speak to acting and entertainment groups about business and marketing, I start and end with at least three tenets:
  1. The stuff I'm talking about is not a replacement for networking and building relationships.
  2. Don't hide behind business and marketing and neglect your craft and relationships.
  3. Business and marketing should be an extension of your authentic self, not selling something you're not. What good would it do for you to nail a job interview for a position for which you are in no way qualified? That will likely end badly for everyone involved.
Why I struggle...

To be brutally honest, I struggle with my personal promotion because I'm trying to avoid the three extremes in self-promotion toward which I see most actors tend:

  1. Self-aggrandizement (arguably the smallest group, especially among the genuinely "good" actors)
  2. Hiding behind marketing and promotion, and not networking, connecting, and building personal craft (a larger group)
  3. Laziness (honestly, the biggest group; seriously, if you've auditioned for BigNameCastingDirector once, and haven't for 1.5 years, your excuse for not sending her an occasional postcard, birthday or holiday card is what, exactly?)

For the first group, read Karen's "5 Thoughts About Self-Promotion in Social Settings" -- speaking for myself, I don't want to be "that guy".

In the interest of full disclosure, Group 2 is where I struggle.

Right now, there are a whole bunch of people in Group 3 that are probably upset with me, while at the same time convinced I'm not talking about them.

I'm glad I had so much trouble this year...

This year's card/gift troubles were good for me. I'm thankful for them, because they helped
me prioritize my contacts list into "important", "less important", and "drop" categories (obviously I'm not categorizing the people, just the amount of effort I spend to stay in touch with them). And, as Bob mentions, it shows me I'm "gaining some needed health in this [being too careful] area."

Who I hit up...

I have two general groups of industry contacts related to acting:

  1. "Acting" -- This bucket includes Directors, agents, fellow actors, select crew, Casting Directors, writers, producers, studios, and other Biz folks.
  2. "Video Game" -- This bucket includes folks related to this more specific voice acting opportunity. At the same time, these contacts are of a more general interest for me, because I enjoy playing games recereationally (and like to say "thanks"). I also have my "arcmchair industry analyst" video game blog). Finally, because my toy job is in managing technical development folks, I have a broader interest in the gaming industry that spans the creative, technical, and leadership areas of that idustry, in case I ever choose to jump vertical markets.

I send postcards to my contacts every couple of months throughout the year, largely for "non-standard" reasons (think "Groundhog Day"; "4,000 people read my blog last month. Were you one of them?"; retro-esque "Be my Valentine" cards; etc.). I do birthday or other gifts for appropriate Biz folks (long-term relationships, not just "I took a class"), but not for people I haven't met but solely just want to stay on their radar; that seems gratuitous to me.

What am I trying to do?

I believe I was made for acting, and I've reached a point where I don't know what to do, other than pursue it with my all, damn the cost or outcome (within reason). This plays out in how much work I put into marketing. And it's a lot of work.

Make no mistake, a big part of what I do is because I do want to "stay on people's radar". I'm an actor, and I want to be acting all the time. I am trying to create opportunities all of the time.

But I try to make the communications/gifts/contact effort fun for me too, and I'm learning to more quickly change my course and do something simple if it gets too onerous.

I've got one Casting Director who loves my custom-made thank you cards for auditions. I have sometimes made myself nuts trying to come up with something creative, sometimes at the expense of genuinely more important things. I'm getting better about sending "regular" thank you cards to her (still with my headshot and contact info), and balancing that with not becoming lazy (Group 3), which would cause me to always send vanilla cards. And it makes my creative cards more special, more appreciated.

Holiday gifts, in particular, are a chance to do something creative and show industry folks a little about me, and show them I'm listening to them, too. And have fun all the while.

Here are my general criteria for industry gifts:

  1. Unique
  2. Useful
  3. "Adam-branded"

So my gifts can contain something that seems a little kitschy or schlocky, but is totally usable, very memorable, playfully self-promoting, and a pain in the ass to regift. I take twisted pleasure in that last one.

A marketing example...

Some might argue against the judgement of my sharing this, but here's a specific example.

My last year Christmas gift for select Biz folks (many of whom I knew were coincidently all going to cold-weather climes for the holidays) was a sweatshirt with a bunch of caricatured pictures of my face across the back, my Website address, and the words, "The many faces of Adam Creighton". The note (unique to each recipient) that came with the sweatshirt was a version of, "Yeah, pretty narcissistic of me, huh? Glad I'm not like this in real life. Good luck re-gifting this one."

I designed and printed the shirts, which minimized costs and increased personal investment (and therefore object worth), taught myself some new stuff, and had fun.

And the shirts were topics of conversations during December and January industry mixers and parties.

Set yourself apart...

I make all of my own stuff. That way, if anyone sees two of the same thing, it's because it came from me; not Hallmark. But I'm a perfectionist, so my stuff generally looks like it's professional -- which is an extension of me.

Think you're not creative? You're wrong. And if you're stuck thinking you can't do the kinds of stuff I'm talking about, I'm pretty sure you know someone who hasn't fooled themselves into thinking they can't do this stuff. Barter with them. Trade something you can do for something they can do.

Or you can take advantage of professional services (I've had good luck in other contexts with and

And figure out what works for you. What does being hungry for the Biz look like for you? How does hustling for gigs play out for you?

Turnabout is fair play...

You'll notice I've added links to Bob Souer's and Karen Commins's blogs in my blogroll. This isn't one of those "they reference me, so I'll reference them" listings that seems to plague a lot of blogrolls.

I think these two voice actors have great stuff that I can benefit from, and you may be able to, also. Like with any of my blogs, I've asked their permission to add them to my listing. Check out there sites. They've got good stuff.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Foiled, every step of the way ...

I'm sitting her, the day before Christmas Eve, and realizing how frustrating the last week has been on the holiday front.

Not in any holiday-familial-angst (or, really, any important) kind of way, but in a foiled-at-every-step-of-the-professionalism-side-of-the-Biz kind of way.

Seriously, hear me out, because this was bizarre.

First, understand I'm a really professional person. Part of how that plays out during the holidays is me getting holiday cards out to a select list of business contacts (past and potential clients and industry friends and associates), and business gifts out to an even more select group.

Cards were beast this year. We're talking constant miss-prints, not being able to print on the cards I'd bought, boxes of cards I bought being shorted (packs of 20 were packs of 14, etc.), ink not drying, blah blah blah blah. A project started two weeks before Christmas took until today. Literally.

Which made half of my cards on time, and half ... belated. The perfectionist side of me hates that. You have no idea.

Then there were the professional gifts. Clever gift baskets with a bunch of stuff I won't detail here, because people probably haven't freaking received them yet.

I had the concept and the stuff done for the baskets early. There was just one signature "Adam item" I needed to add, and it kept getting delayed, kept getting delayed, kept getting delayed, until the whole basket effort was delayed. The effort finally got done, and the baskets were put together on the road as I drove to deliver them yesterday, and ... everyone had left town. Everyone.

So I went to ship them at UPS, which -- though there was no line -- took me an hour, as the person at the counter moved like chilled molasses to put the label on each package (I'd even already done all the work on the "customer station").

And then, they told me they couldn't ship one of the packages, because it was going to a PO Box, and I'd have to do it at a post office. So I drove to a post office that was closed and used the automated station to get postage and went to drop it in the box and ... it was a half an inch too big.

And even though I know the box is 12 inches square, I still tried to rotate it 6 ways to see if, by some small chance, it would fit. I yelled at the package drop box, bounced my head against the package, and lay there drumming my fingers on the wall, then realized since it was a post office, there were probably a lot of cameras watching my petite turrets moment, and I so want to see how I came off. Always an actor.

And it was at this moment I wondered if I had inadvertently pissed off the holiday shipping gods, and all of this is some sort of righteous punishment.

Anyway, despite all of this frustration (which seems petty, I know, but it didn't happen to you), I'm doing way better with this than I would have in the past.

See, I struggle with getting it right. And being right. And other trappings of perfectionism.

But lately... not so much.

For example, I didn't redo cards or envelopes or labels that weren't Absolutely. Perfect. I didn't go nuts trying to get stuff delivered by today. And if I was working on a card and had a "well-if-they-don't-like-this-then-f***-them" moment, I removed them from my address list. Seriously, I'm not going to give myself an ulcer for some folks. And it makes it more important for the folks I keep on the list.

And I turned the whole "fiasco" into an opportunity.

For example, my headshot wouldn't print on most of the cards, but created a wet, surrealist kind of version of me. So, for my more artsy friends and contacts, I bought Monet holiday cards, printed the picture, then pressed and pulled paper off of the headshot multiple times to create a unique, "original Adam", with every card. I hope they get it.

And for the late professional gifts, I put a sticker on the box that reads, "This isn't 'late' -- it's 'extending your holidays'." It's fun, memorable, acknowledges I'm late, and that it's not that big of a deal.

Anyway, this is probably my longest post about almost nothing. But I feel good ...

Friday, December 22, 2006

Photoshoot ...

I had a photoshoot this week for the upcoming new monthly mag, Caught in the Act Magazine.

The shoot was for my recent role in "Friday Night Lights" (FNL). The magazine is running a feature on local folks who've done Day Player gigs on the series. So, in first issue I've got an interview, and at least one pict. And maybe an ad. Look, the Biz is 90% business ...

I got to shoot with a new photog (which I enjoy) Courtney, who was pleasant and quietly professional.

Since FNL Costuming loved the clothes I brought for my "Menschy Driver" role (I've got mixed feelings on that), I wore those some clothes for the shoot, and we took menschy photos -- me looking insecure, sweet but clueless, nice guy pushover who still lives with his parents and was on his way to get milk when he stopped to help the crazy ladies change their tire -- anything but regular ol' sexy Adam.

Stop laughing. I'm damn sexy.

Anyway, I'm excited to see the premiere issue the first part of January.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I'm inspired by James Kyson Lee ...

I'm a fan of NBC's TV series "Heroes", and one of my favorite relationships (most entertaining and feels most organic to me) is that between Hiro Nakamura (actor Masi Oka) and Ando Masahashi (James Kyson Lee).

I met James on the set of Bunny & Clydo. Turns out, that was one of nine projects he did for 2005.

And he's done 26 for 2006. Um, twenty-freaking-six.

How amazing is that?

So I'm encouraged and inspired by how hard working this guy is. I don't have a relationship with him, but I'm seriously grateful to him for giving me another example of a successful work ethic that motivates me to keep my backside in gear.

Check out his official site, and just read through his "News" section -- it's full of "James will be shooting ...", "James is the new voice of ...", "James will be featured ...", "James will be shooting a commercial for ...", and so on, over and over again.

Fantastic, and good for him ...

Send out your holiday cards!

Acting is a business, and I'm amazed at how amazed people are by the business side of my craft.

Like me sending out holiday cards to my past and potential clients and co-creative folks.

"That sounds like a lot of work," someone told me. Yes, but The Biz is 90% business. In any other vertical market, it's pretty typical to send cards to your professional contacts, and it's an opportunity to connect with people, refresh contact info, and stay on people's radar.

So if it's not something you normally do ... get over yourself ;-)

Send at least a handful of cards -- to the professional Casting Directors for which you've auditioned, your agent(s), and your coach(es). For most folks, that's under a dozen cards. That's doable. And it's another chance to say, "Thank you."

And for the most part, send holiday cards -- not Christmas cards. We live in a diverse world, and some folks aren't comfy with what they may perceive as a judeo-Christian holiday being shoved at them. You're not necessarily shelving your values, but you're being sensitive to other folks' sensitivities.

There are exceptions, of course, I'm sending out a diverse mix of cards this year, and chunk of them actually are Christmas -- violating a rule I've followed for the years. But they're classic scenes from The Grinch, Peanuts, and Loony Toons, and (I'm sure) palatable to Biz folks.

Anyway, send your cards -- you have a day or two left.

Monday, December 11, 2006

I set up my audio equipment ...

OK, I'm stoked.

Since I finally got my office walled in, I set up part of my studio audio equipment and laid down some tracks tonight.

The cored of the setup is an M-Audio USB preamp and a couple of MXL-990s with shockmounts.

I'm surprised at how good and clean and warm the sound is, without me having dampened the room yet.

And laying down tracks on a professional grade mic, pop-filter and all?

That feels good ...

How weird is this?

I'm struck by how natural all of this unnatural stuff is.

I received notice over the weekend for a Monday a.m. print audition.

So, I printed commercial headshots and resumes yesterday. Early this morning, after shaving off my Albanian mob boss beard (for a film audition) I stopped off to get a hair trim (gotta look crisp for print), and went without coffee (the smile is so important in print). In the Casting Works LA parking lot, I put on makeup while sending some Biz-related Emails. on the way inside, I said hello to Gabe Folse (perhaps one of the nicest people alive) who was there casting for his film.

Once inside, I had a conversational hello with Donise Hardy (CSA), looked at the "Fridge o' Adam" to which she pointed me (she is beyond generous), talked to Gabe again (he wished me well on my print audition), hung out comfortably with model types (of which I am not), got a few pictures of me quickly snapped for the audition, said good-bye to Donise, stopped off to wash the makeup off my face, and sent a couple more Biz-related Emails from the parking lot.

It wasn't until I was driving back to my BigHugeCorp toy job that it struck me how weird all of this is.

I get paid to be creative?

I hang out with film makers models?

I wear makeup?

How weird is that?

I'm having such a blast ...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Resume updates

I made changes to my resume, updating it based on "Friday Night Lights", commercial stuff, and the fact that since I'm freaking always in class, I need to consolidate my "Training" section and "Special Skills" awesomeness.

The biggest changes are reflected in the PDF version, but the HTML version has reflective changes as well. And the HTML part will be changing quite a bit soon, too.

But all the content in both is up to date.

I saw "Nightlife" tonight

Tonight I got finally see a test screening of Damfino Productions Nightlife, a vampire mockumentary I've been trying to catch for some time.

The project has been a long effort, and I actually auditioned for it two-plus years ago.

I'm not in the film, but my buddy Adam Langley is (and he's good), and I was stunned by how good Avi Hartman is (a guy I'd never seen act before). Avi has a natural presentation that didn't feel too far from some of James Gandolfini's subtle efforts -- and Avi is a key part to humanizing the cast within the whole mockumentary framework.

And the Harpo vampire character was a lot of fun -- and not overplaced within the film.

We hung out for quite a while afterwards giving feedback on the film, which they really want and seem to be willing to something with.

And I was remembered for my audition. That was nice.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I love this town

Man, I love this town.

Tonight was a holiday party co-sponsored by Reel Women and The Alliance.

Great time. The venue (Hi-Lo on 6th and Lavaca) was par for the course for that part of town -- which means long, narrow shoebox bars with a lot of noise and a slim corridor between the bar and seating.

But there were so many great folks there, and the layout actually forced me to see everyone on the way to the back to drop off some raffle tickets (I never made it).

So many great people were there tonight, and way too many to give individual shout outs to.

But my Samurai class was there en masse; my current coaches (Van Brooks and Steve Prince) made appearances; I connected with past class mates I haven't seen for a while (I miss mixers anymore, with training and gigs appropriately taking precedence); Mastery alum I haven't seen in ages; the best casting directors (these particular ones socialize with the people; scandalous!).

Just a good all-around night, with great conversation with sweet and talented and sexy and supportive and accountable people.

Then it was home to send a few dozen Email telling individuals what I appreciated about them tonight, and now I've got some thoughts to jot down on my other blogs, and I've got a monolog to write out and workshop.

I wouldn't pick a different career.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Want to study Meisner?

I've talked off and on about my current Meisner class, and how much it's doing for me as a person and my acting.

My coach is starting a new introductory (four-month) Meisner session in January, so if you're interested, contact me, and I'll get you his mobile number.

Just make sure the subject line has something to do with Meisner, 'K?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Dear CBS ...

I saw from my Web traffic logs that I had visitors to my Website this week.

I hope you enjoyed looking at my resume, viewing my video clips, listening to my audio demos, and perusing my blogs.

I'm sure you saw from my recent postings that I just wrapped a day player gig for "Friday Night Lights" -- that will be reflected in my resume shortly. Surely you don't want that network to enjoy me exclusively?

I enjoy a bunch of the CBS programming (How I Met Your Mother and Two and a half Men in particular), and could really do work on all of the shows in your programming stable.

Thank you so much for considering me, and I look forward to hearing from you.

-- Adam Creighton