I was reading a recent article by casting director Mark Sikes wherein he discusses “building your fan base.” In this article, he is speaking about the industry leaders (agents, casting directors, producers, etc.) who are in the position to get you working. We all have, over and over, been taught the concept of keeping in touch with industry folks and maintaining the relationships. Very few actors actually do this regularly, but we are aware that it is an important part of our day-to-day marketing efforts.
But I want to expand the conversation a bit: How do you keep in touch with your other fans? That is to say, how do you maintain your relationships with the folks that will buy tickets to your shows and show up to the movie theater? Today, I want to talk about this concept of building an audience.
Harrison Ford once said, “I’m an assistant storyteller. It’s like being a waiter or a gas station attendant, but I’m waiting on six million people a week, if I’m lucky.” This has always inspired me to remember that the people who really count are the ones who pay for a ticket to watch me perform. No wonder—Harrison is talking about six million folks per week! So, wouldn’t it make sense to build up a fan base of audience members, and make that your selling point to the industry?
Need further evidence? Those of us who appreciate New York theater know that more and more film and TV stars (“name” actors) are being brought to the stage. And more and more top level film stars are doing commercials and television. This is happening because producers want to hire people who are guaranteed to bring an audience. It is a huge selling point for an actor. There is even the Ulmer Scale, which breaks down the top Hollywood actors and their bankability (learn more about this here).
So, how does an actor build an audience?
First: You need to be accessible, 24/7. This means you need to create a website and join some of the social networking platforms where your fans are likely to be. Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks are all great places to build relationships with every day audiences. And, if you have a hankering for writing, start a blog!
Second: You need to be willing to spill the beans! Talk about your triumphs. Express your enthusiasm for the business. Create a buzz about your career that makes people want to follow your success. The more you involve others in your process, the more people will feel a part of your career and will champion you as you move forward.
Third: Do good work. I cannot emphasize this enough. You need to be a performer who is worth following. As casting director Bonnie Gillespie says, “Get better. Be more talented.” Be at the top of your game. If you aren’t the best at what you do, go get some training until you are. Spend every opportunity you can strengthening your skills, honing your craft, and developing your talent.
If you adopt these three things, you will be well on your way to developing an audience, which will go a long way in developing a long-standing career. So, don’t just stand there. Do it!
And...report back to me on how it’s working out for you! Post your comments and/or successes below. What a great way to start building your fan base—with an article and comments that are read by thousands!
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