How Have You Helped Your Clients Find Work in New Media?

Craig Jones, Film-Theatre Actors Exchange, San Francisco; clients have recently booked a national radio promo for Brisk Green Tea and roles in the HBO film 'Hemingway & Gellhorn' and the feature film 'Cherry'

New-media employment is not a category of work in which my agency spends a great deal of time placing talent (unless it is a union-sanctioned project). Actors seem to be able to secure those auditions by searching casting notices and Internet resources, and of course I am always available for counsel. Actors must act, so stay busy—theater, student films, play readings. New-media platforms offer talent opportunities to exercise skills and let casting directors instantly see if a client is appropriate for a particular part. It's common to hear, "Do you have anything on YouTube?"

I started my business in 1976 when I was an actor. I told student filmmakers to see me if they wanted to hire actors for free. Then I told my actor friends to see me if they wanted to work for free and practice being in front of the camera. I set up this "nonprofit" agency that didn't make any money. (I charged actors $5 a year to join.) About 200 student films later, I decided to become a professional agent.

The service that I offered then, the Internet provides now. The key is actors volunteering their time and talents. But never forget that the stage is and will always be the true source of honing your acting skills. Those accumulated credits will lead to your credibility as an actor.

Mark Schlegel
, Cornerstone Talent Agency, New York; clients have recently booked roles in the Web series 'The Confession,' 'Submissions Only,' and 'Puppy Love'

We have helped our clients find work in new media, but those jobs most often have been developed by people we know. Webisodes that our actors have done have come from people with whom we or our clients had a connection, maybe a producer we've dealt with in the past or someone with a solid track record already in place, and we've worked from there. If there is not a pre-existing connection, then we're more cautious about having our client work on the project until we know more about the people involved, where it will be filmed, the project's background, etc. We do our best to have our clients work with decent people trying to create decent projects.

For young, less experienced actors, working in new media can be very beneficial. We are losing daytime soap operas, which provided wonderful opportunities to so many new actors to grow and hone their skills in front of the camera. Perhaps new media will provide that same valuable experience.

Gary Krasny, The Krasny Office, New York; clients have recently booked roles in promos and commercials for ESPN, RC Cola, and Volkswagen

In my opinion, it is always good to be noticed, whether in a print ad or commercial in new media. Many actors find new-media work through their accounts on casting websites. We encourage everyone to take a job, especially if commission is involved, as long as the actor has no issue with the subject matter and product involved. For example, some actors who are vegetarians may not audition for a restaurant commercial where meat is served.

I generally find that younger actors will go out for new-media jobs, especially those under 35 years old. There are a number of actors, normally above 45, who may not audition for jobs like that because they don't understand them. My answer to their doubts is usually, "This is on the Web; it's worldwide. You can't imagine who could see this, maybe even Steven Spielberg." That works well enough to get most clients to at least audition.

It's important for actors to understand there is a difference between nonunion and internal Web-produced material. The former has the potential to be seen by anybody. The latter, on the other hand, is often a Web project that is for a company's private in-house use. An actor will not be exposed outside that company, like a General Electric.

H. David Moss, H. David Moss & Associates, Los Angeles; clients have recently booked roles in the Web series 'I Heart Vampires,' the Broadway musical 'Baby It's You!,' and the Toronto company of the musical 'Billy Elliot'

I seldom pass up anything that is legal and union. There is an adjustment going on when it comes to new media, not so much for the agent but rather for the performer, because the latter may have to accept little or no money and perhaps give up a day or two of other work to act in, say, a Web series. I think this adjustment may have more of an effect on some clients and performers than others. I have noticed that the younger actors are more receptive to this shift, at least certainly the ones who are more tuned in to today's market and world.

I hate to use the old cliché "Work begets work," but I'm of that school of thought. It is applicable in most cases. Get your face out there and keep it out there. I do not know what new media means in the big picture down the line for developing actors, but there are a few hits out there helping performers receive exposure.