Thursday, November 8, 2012

TALENT AGENCY UP AND RUNNING



DR. MEL'S WEEKLY MESSAGE

OCTOBER 8, 2012

Where in the world did the last seven days go?  Really, I want to know.  For me, it seems as if I have been in a whirlwind of activity from producing, writing, working with a web designer, opening up LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP, voting, going to a Saint's Game, being a sport's analyst, met on a Doritos commercial, contacted Actor's Breakdown, talked with SAG/AFTRA, wife, mother, grandmother, adviser, friend, and more.  I think I have done just about everything this week except cook, clean, and laundry.  Somehow, I just couldn't find the time.  Imagine that if you will.  But all in all, it has been a great week and things are going great in every corner of my life, including my health.

So, I'll try to breakdown important items one by one to catch everyone up on what's happening in around my business life.  Let's start off with my newest adventure.

LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP

The talent agency, LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP, officially opened its doors four days ago.  The first day was surreal as we had  applicants submit from coast to coast.  Of course, the actors who auditioned for THE KEYSTROKE KILLER and we knew very well their acting skills because of the audition process, jumped up in the contract process because they didn't have to perform a monologue, do a cold read, or submit a video audition.  That saved a lot of time in the contracting process. 

If you haven't signed your contract and returned it to us, please do so we can start submitting you for auditions.  We have a team of four agents working together for you.  Ultimately, when things really get working, we will be able to divide and conquer.  

For now, we have Robby Cook Stroud, processing the submission requests and contracts.  Caylen Ray is processing all of the headshots and resumes and keeping our casting binder up to date.  At the same time, she is submitting contracted clients for auditions.  Jan Judd is also focusing on submitting talent for auditions which is her priority at this moment.  Jack Curenton is our talent scout and looking for new talent in the Los Angeles area.  James Cook is our scout looking in Dallas, while Meagan Michelle is scouting New York.  

And, me, I do nothing at all.  Just kidding.  I'm the Director of Operations supervising everyone, reviewing contracts, accepting talent and either making the decision for them to go straight to contract, or the monologue interview process before signing with us, and I am working with SAG/AFTRA, the entertainment attorney, and the Web Designer.  Oh, I am also the one who is writing all of the short introduction bios for each of our clients for the web page.  I not only volunteered for that role, but wanted it as I feel I have an intuitive nature about each of our actors and their capabilities for roles.

Talent who submitted for representation that we have not had the pleasure of meeting and auditioning for are now in the process of the interview and audition process to be accepted.  It isn't an automatic thing for us to represent talent as we will only represent the best of the best.  Not only do we represent SAG/AFTRA ACTORS, but also NON-UNION.  

Also, if any of our clients are already represented in an area, we are calling and introducing ourselves to your other agent so we can work together for your career.  We don't view your other agent as our competition, rather, they are our allies.  It takes team work to bring an actor to the status of a working actor.  That is our goal.  We want all of our actors working.

If you haven't taken a look at the LACA NOLA website, e.g., www.lacanola.com, please do so.  It is a work in progress as we begin adding our clients to the site, free of charge.  Our goal is to showcase our talent and make it easy for casting directors to not only see your headshot, but to view your demo reels, resume, and IMDB link.  

As a bonus, each week, one of our talented actors from LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP will be spotlighted in this blog.  Why is this important?  Just in the last four days, we have more than 20,000 hits to the website and we average about 1 million hits each month to this blog.  That is free marketing for our talented actors.  How many talent agency have this "Power" behind them or do what we do for you free.  For example, we never charge an actor to submit for representation, to register with us, for us to put you on our website, to post your links and demo reels etc.  This is part of our packaging you - the actor.  Our belief is that if we represent you, why in the world would we charge you to market you or post your headshots and demo reels?  That has never made sense to me for agencies to charge.

And speaking of charging, don't ever pay to be represented, other than the contractual commission. Of course, it is an actor's responsibility to provide the marketing tools to the agent, such as headshots, resumes, demo reels, etc.  For the record, LACA NOLA does not take any commission for bookings your get on your own, or for bookings you received prior to our representation.  Additionally, we don't ever submit you for background work, adult films, or deferred paying roles. 

Several actors have asked us if we are SAG franchised?  I regret to inform you that by law, SAG cannot franchise any Louisiana talent agency because we are a right to work state.  However, this does not prevent us from representing SAG/AFTRA actors.  Frankly, SAG can't stop us or have any control over what we do because of this.  For this reason, they ask, can't demand, that you not sign with a non SAG franchised agency.  However, please keep in mind four very important things:
  1. LACA NOLA self-imposes the SAG contract.  We follow the contract, including having a surety bond and separate bank account that only is for actor's commissions.  Likewise, we follow and mandate all Coogan Accounts for our child actors upon signing with us.  Also, we follow the SAG rule for contract termination, e.g., what is known in the industry as the four-month rule.  If you aren't happy with us after four months, you can terminate the contract.  That way, you aren't bound to a year contract.  Our commission rate for SAG actors are also in line with the SAG/AFTRA contract.
  2. When you are booked by a production company, you are the employee of that production company.  As a SAG actor, that production must be a SAG film; therefore, all elements of the SAG contract are in force.  It is important to remember, that an actor IS NEVER an employee of a talent agency, any agency for that matter.  It is a contractual agreement for the agency to find employment and jobs in the market you desire representation.
  3. We are not an "Exclusionary" agency meaning that you can have another agent.  We will gladly work with the second agent for your best interest.  In fact, if a casting director wants you for a commercial, and we only represent you in film and theater, we make note of that on the website and will connect your commercial agent with the casting director.
  4. LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP would not have contracted you for representation if we did not back you or believe in you as an actor 100%.  We will take assertive measures to market you and make you known to the elite casting directors in this industry.  How?  Now, if I gave that away, we wouldn't have the advantage over other agencies.  Just know, we have the industry contacts to do so.

If you want LACA NOLA to represent you, the first thing you must do is go to www.lacanola.com and complete the Actor submission form or if you seek literary representation, complete the Literary Form.  From there, we will process your application, free of charge, and get in contact with you.

Join us on this journey.

A.D.A.M. FILM PROJECT UPDATE

I am proud to announce that our financing for A.D.A.M. is going great and we have reached the half-way mark thanks to our latest investor, Ms. Suzanne Stephens Breitenbach.  The ADAM FAMILY is so excited to have her as an investor.  A BIG HUGE THANKS TO HER for putting us over the half-way mark.  She has been in my corner since we  first met; and if anyone ever had any doubt, well I guess you won't now.  The A.D.A.M. family LOVES you!

Also, as soon as I settle down into our new office etc., we will be opening up the casting process again for A.D.A.M. as we have not filled all of our roles.  In fact, from the first round, we were able to agree on five out of the 12 speaking roles.  And, now 13 as I am doing a new re-write.  One additional role will be added and will have to be cast in the second round.  One thing to keep in mind, is that the roles for A.D.A.M. are very specific.
Do you want a cool hat?  Contact us!

We have also been looking into different DOPs for this project as well as crew.  We will need plenty of help.  More to come on this as soon as we get all of our funding in place.  To me, that is my priority with this project because without the funding, we can't shoot the film.  So bare with us on this journey as we are making dreams come true.  

And, a special thanks to Jack Curenton, our casting director for keeping us all on track.  You'll get to hear from him a little later in this blog on something special and of course you can always stay updated on the A.D.A.M. FAMILY REUNION FACEBOOK SITE.



THE KEYSTROKE KILLER UPDATE


Unlike A.D.A.M. that I have complete control of, I don't for KSK since I optioned it.  However, they do keep me in the loop as I am the lead screenwriter and one of the producers.

I got my first peak two days ago at the set design for Judas' lair.  OMG!!  It is more than what I imagined in my head when I wrote the screenplay.  It goes from a plain and simple room in a townhouse reflected of a middle-aged grandmother decoration style, to a full blown technological computer room with multiple screens that would benefit the CIA and our defense department.  It gave me chills looking at it.  In fact, I almost cried to see this part of my vision from the screenplay drawn out by a sketch artist.  

I also talked with the wardrobe designer who is working on the costume designs for Matthew, (Jason Tobias), Blaze (Jamie Alyson) and Judas (Challa Sabree) right now.    Needless to say, I'm having a lot of fun with all of this.  So, so far everything is on track. Yippee!!!

ALLEN MERRITT - LACA NOLA ACTOR SPOTLIGHT





SAG/AFTRA

As promised, I am starting a new Actor Spotlight to present our fabulous LACA NOLA talent to the world.  First up is Allen Merritt.

Allen is a very gifted actor with a unique look and personification about him.  As a SAG/AFTRA actor he has had the opportunity to bring to life numerous characters including Chris Todd in the television series Guilty or Innocent.  He has brought the audience different types of characters such as a drug addict in a rehab clinic, a liquor store patron, and one of my favorites, his sinister "Thug" roles.

Casting directors are going to get a huge surprise when they view Allen's demo reels and will find themselves asking, "Where has this guy been?"  Frankly, I have had to ask the same question about him.  Within hours of posting his information on the LACA NOLA web page, we received a phone call from a casting director representing a feature film.  So, we submitted him.  Now, we are waiting to hear about the audition.
LACA NOLA PRESENTS ....ALLEN MERRITT

Take a look for yourself to see why Allen is a special talent in his demo reels below.

DEMO REEL 1               DEMO REEL 2            DEMO REEL 3

I have a feeling that it won't be long before the name Allen Merritt becomes a household name. 

Any casting director interested in auditioning or booking Allen, please call 504-301-8000 or email robbycookstroud@gmail.com

BURN THE SHIPS!

What is Your Level of Commitment?

By:  Jack E. Curenton

In 1519, the Spanish explorer Cortez sailed his fleet of 11 ships into the harbor of Vera Cruz, Mexico. It was common practice in those days to leave guards with the ships, as they might be needed to later return to the Old World for supplies or, if necessary, to retreat from the enemy.But Cortez came for victory; he did not come to look at “options.” He didn’t want anyone to have any doubts about their mission, so he gave the order to “burn the ships.” 
Obviously Cortez wasn’t ambivalent about victory. Defeat was NOT an option; nothing short of victory was acceptable!

When Cortez gave his orders to burn the ships, his men no doubt “got it” that he was serious about this mission. It takes commitment like this if you really want results in your career. But in today’s world, what is a typical commitment by most people? All too often it’s a lukewarm response that says, “Sure I can give it a shot,” and with one hand outstretched, we reach for the stars. But just in case things don’t work out, we keep our other hand Cortez firmly grasped to the chair in our familiar and comfortable office in the world of the known and predictable. As I read somewhere once: When the going gets tough, those who keep one eye on the way out usually lose.

We all go through times in our lives when we know we must commit to change, and in some cases, significant change. And if we are honest, we will admit change scares the daylights out of us. 

We all want the potential reward and excitement that change offers, and there’s often real excitement in our voice when we talk about the challenge. But talk is cheap. Don’t “Talk the Talk” if you’re not committed to “Walk the Walk”…. There’s no room for “Sunday Christians” in successful commitment. Commitment requires real action; the kind of action Cortez took when he gave to order, “Burn the ships.”

Fully committing to success means there are no excuses. If you commit to a new career, then burn the ship of excuses because nothing short of total realization of that goal is acceptable. Old goal setting is gone forever, and the only things you are focused on are the prizes, the Brass Ring. Falling back and achieving the same old mediocrity isn’t a success of any kind; it falls far short of your goal.

If you commit to making new contacts that will aid in your growth/success every week, but you used to meet with one every three+ months, burn that ship of what used to be acceptable. It’s gone! Meet the new goal you have established! Simply saying “I want to do this or that” isn't good enough. Commitment requires that we change the verb from “Want” to “Will”. I “Will” contact new producers/directors/casting agents this week, I “Will” make this goal/deadline, and I “Will” change my attitude. It’s time to Burn the Ship of Negativity.

Burn the ship of options and excuses and make a real commitment! No more “woulda,” “coulda” or “shoulda” and no mindset of “I will go down fighting.” I will not go down fighting, because I will not fail! If you want to win, don’t allow losing to be an option. Victory comes with the commitment that is willing to “burn the ships” of the past.



I’m not stating that you burn the proverbial ship (give up the day job which buys you food & pays rent); I am merely suggesting that you make it a personal policy to fight the good fight & never give in to negative feelings about your inabilities/insecurities that certainly slows the tides of progression. Make sure you’re committed to go the distance & demand perfection in all you accomplish each & every day. Casting directors are certainly expecting a bigger bang for the buck when you show up…. give it to them! We don’t plan to fail…we just fail to plan.

Your Action: When you make your next commitment, write it down on a piece of paper and keep it in a conspicuous place where you will see it daily. 

Begin it with “I Will” not “I Want.”