At some point in any career, advancement becomes a challenge. Most people hit “the wall.” While impasses in your career are inevitable, there are ways to make the wall seem smaller.
In my career, the fastest way I’ve found to take a budding career to the next level is to get the heck out of Dodge.
This will be a two-part article on how to use the strategy of relocation to kick your career into high gear in a fraction of the time it would if you stay put. I have successfully implemented it thrice in my life. Once in my consulting career when I moved to Warsaw, Poland, and twice in my acting career when I moved to cities with burgeoning but less competitive entertainment industries.
A warning to all: This is very powerful information and if used incorrectly can have a deleterious rather than an ameliorating effect.
Even if you can’t implement this information now, when you get a little further down the yellow brick road, it will still work. Unlike other trends, my advice never goes out of style.
What we are really talking about is temporarily moving to a smaller market where you can leverage what you have done in a major market like L.A. into much higher level work. Runaway production due to both tax credits and currency exchange has facilitated the wider distribution of film and television production to both other regions and other countries.
When will it work? It will work when you can do the work. What that means is you don’t necessarily have to have big-name credits if you come from a big-name place so long as you can really bring it in the room. If you have highly valued training or even have done good work in several no-name projects, people who might not meet you in major markets might be very happy to see you in a growth market.
When I went from a large market to a small market, I immediately went from reading for co-star roles to series regulars. Again, be careful. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Here are the exact steps to follow (minus some of the boring details). Feel free to contact me for further information.
1. Name brand over generic. Building up a few name-brand credits is the most helpful and the hardest part of the process, but in reality is not actually necessary. Having credits makes it a no-brainer for them because they know you will be easy to pitch to casting and casting knows you must know how to act. Without credits, simply coming from a larger market with the right skills can be enough, but will require more spin since there is less undeniable evidence that you rock.
I broke into two smaller markets without much trouble—once with credits and once without. It’s all about the spin. Without credits, you have to create a story to make yourself more attractive—sort of a “Tao of Steve” thing. In short, it’s better for them to see you being excellent, but if you’re convincing, telling them how great you are while coming from a major market should be enough.
2. P$2UA ratio. WTF? P$2UA ratio is the production dollars to union actor ratio. Basically it means how many jobs there are per actor. A high ratio means there’s a lot of spending and not a lot of actors. They are probably dying for new talent, so the better the chance they will welcome you.
For example, at one point in Vancouver the ratio was about $200,000 to one. That’s like an entire indie film for every actor in town. Amazing! The 2014 numbers for Toronto were about $82,000 to one. Louisiana, Georgia, and South Carolina are all on the way up.
How do you calculate the ratio? Every region/municipality keeps track of how much each industry spends in its locale. This is how politicians decide who to kiss up to. Once you know the annual production value, you can call up the local acting union chapter and ask how many paid members they have and divide actors into dollars. These statistics are easy to find so just pick some markets you are interested in and start googling.
These are the steps that will get you started. The actual on-site implementation will come in next installment.
What do you think so far? I would love to read your comments below!
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