"None of us suddenly becomes something overnight. The preparations have been in the making for a lifetime.- Gail Goodwin
Day 258: Received an Eco-Cast audition invitation which is a way to submit an audition tape of yourself online. This is actually for an event that needs impersonators from the 1920's. I'm auditioning for the role of Josephine Baker.  Yes I saw the film The Josephine Baker Story but that was like a decade ago so I had to brush up on my research. I watched lots of clips of her on YouTube as well as read her biography on her official website.

Day 259: Wrote a 1 minute monologue using some of her quotes and choreographed a quick little dance to jazz music as requested by the casting director and submitted my Josephine Baker audition tape via Eco-Cast. I really wanted to find a wig with finger waves but since I couldn't, I bought a flapper wig and fascinator hat instead. I'm not gonna show the dance clip {sorry!} but here's the monologue I sent...


I also watched the Emmy's. I really need to renew my Netflix subscription so I can order Mad Men and see what the fuss is about already, especially since they beat out Game of Thrones which I loved.
Day 257: Commercial audition- Signed a nondisclosure agreement so I can't talk about it AT ALL but it would be great to book it!


Day 256: Coffee with Issa Rae, the creator of the webseries Awkward Black Girl. She gave me some great marketing tips that I plan to use to promote DWP after we finish these last 3 episodes. I also told her about the Mitrice documentary and she was more than willing to help put the word out when we start our fundraising campaign.

Even better news is I FINALLY BOOKED SOMETHING!!! YIPPPPEEEEEEE!!!!!

I booked the Epson industrial shoot and we filmed it today. It was a small cast & crew and a nice easy gig. Hopefully more to come before the year is up.


I was recently offered a free one month subscription to the new Los Angeles Auditions submission service offered by CAZT in order to write a review. The owner, Moses Kagan, seemed very interested in receiving completely honest feedback in order to ensure the site is something that actors can benefit from using. That said, here are my thoughts...

Pros
*There seems to be an abundance of student films and indie films that are using this service. This is FANTASTIC because each time one of them puts their project on CAZT, that's one less project that is casting out of their apartment complex because you know as a woman I don't do those auditions AT ALL #notworththerisk.

*Their submission service allows you to upload your pictures, not for $10 a pop like Actors Access and certainly not the outrageous price that LA Casting charges but for Free99.  Yes 100% free which is a major money saver, especially if you change your photos on a regular basis. This goes for your reel(s) as well.

*The facility itself is in a central location with free parking in the Target lot right around the corner or free street parking a few blocks over if you're inclined to walk.

*And of course the strongest perk they've got going is that you can see your auditions afterwards to analyze how you did and hopefully learn from each one. In addition, you're supposed to get feedback from the casting director and when that does happen it's invaluable.

Cons
*The pricing, while arguably low, is still not low enough for me to justify the expense as some of the postings I submitted to were also found on Actors Access. Personally, until these casting notices become exclusive to CAZT, I can't see myself forking over more than $5.00 per month. That may not be profitable for them but that's my honest opinion. Then again, at 5 bucks a month they may get a slew of actors to sign up who otherwise wouldn't.

*No submission report feature. To be fair, LA Casting doesn't offer this either but Actors Access does and it's one of the main features that all actors LOVE because it allows us to see the details of the casting notice after it's been removed and it also allows us to see which headshot we submitted. Most importantly, at the end of the year it's a good tool to help us evaluate how many opportunities we actually received from this service. I must say, though, when I initially mentioned this to Moses before even using the service he seemed really open to adding this feature so hopefully it's on the horizon.

*Feedback is hit or miss. Sometimes casting directors leave it and sometimes they don't. As a company that uses this as a part of their main advertising, this needs to change.

Suggestions
So all things considered, here are my suggestions that I think will improve the services that CAZT has to offer to increase its value to actors...

1. Consider lowering the monthly fee. As the new kid on the block going against 2 already very established submission services, your pricing shouldn't be anywhere near their's at this point. Actors Access is $65 per year (though I do understand that they don't include photos & reels like you do) so at $9 per month, your site is almost twice the cost of their's. That needs to change.

2. If feedback from the casting director will continue to be advertised, then it must be given. I know you can't force a person to do anything but since they're not being a charged a dime to cast in your location, there needs to be an agreement that they sign that holds them to their word. In addition, holding their money hostage certainly helps most people make more responsible decisions. I propose you have a copy of the casting director's credit card on file or you receive a check from them that you hold onto as a security deposit if they are new to your facility. Once they post feedback they're given back their check or their cc is never charged. However if they don't post feedback within a week, there's a fee. Plain and simple. If someone is planning to uphold their end of the bargain and actually provide feedback then this shouldn't deter them in the least.

3. Give actors the ability to select which headshot they want to send. Many of us have a variety of looks so it would be incredibly helpful to be able to choose which one is the primary photo that the CD will see. I've heard from a few actors that this is in the works but at the time I used this service that was not an option.

4. If you're interested in finding another way to bring in revenue that won't ruffle actors feathers, have one room that is dedicated to self-taped auditions. Since the lighting is already pretty good in most of the rooms, all an actor needs to do is bring a friend or pay a CAZT employee to be the camera operator. Seeing how most places cost more than $100 to do this {madness I tell you!}, this would be a great way for you to make extra money while at the same time offering actors a much more affordable alternative.

So there you have it folks. My 2 cents {well more like a $1} worth on CAZT as both a submission service and casting facility. My hope is that you'll check them out for yourself and weigh in with your feedback as well. As I said in the beginning of this post, the owner is incredibly receptive to feedback, even if he may not necessarily agree with it. The fact that he's open to discuss it though, is very much appreciated.
Day 255: Rehearsal with Yvonne. Although I'm not in class this month (sad face) we worked on her scene together. I also attempted a drop-off at the Culver Studio Lot. I use the word attempted because when I got there, the security guard automatically thought I was there to audition for a particular role on the new show Ringer- apparently black girls my age had been there all morning. But foolish me, I asked how to get to the office which made him ask for my name to see if I was on the list. Why oh why didn't I just smile and walk away, finding someone else to point me in the right direction? Oh well. I know better next time. If someone lets me on the lot from now on I'll just go with it.


Day 254: Today I've decided to give myself a block schedule. I read about this years ago when I was still a wedding planner, as it was touted as a great way for entrepreneurs to organize the many things they need to do on a daily basis. Since I've been feeling kind of overwhelmed lately, I'm going to give this a try. You basically break up your week into categories of tasks that need to be done. See example below...


block schedule time management

While the schedule shown above is that of a photographer, my categories as an actor/writer/budding producer are as follows:
Coffee Dates & Meetings
Writing
Marketing {E-blasts, mailings, drop-offs, social media}
Rehearsing
Producing {Scheduling, locations, etc.}
Admin {Processing email, answering email, updating websites}
Blogging

I'll let you know in a couple of weeks how it's working out for me.
Day 253: Met up with Tom Lind, a classmate of mine, to run through a scene I wrote called "3rd Tour" that we're going to shoot for my reel in the next few weeks.
Day 251: Caught up on reading one of my favorite TV/Film blogs- Shadow & Act.

Day 252: 10 years ago today our country was attacked in a way that no one could have imagined would ever happen in our lifetime. Like most people, I remember exactly where I was the moment I heard the news. So today, the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I went to church where we prayed for the loved ones of the victims of  this attack, then went home and watched multiple programs that gave updates on some of the families who were affected by this.
Day 250: Audition at Jane Doe Casting for a TBS promo. The audition itself was fine but it was the hour and a half long wait that killed me. I thought I was gonna go to work early today and I ended up being lucky that I didn't get there late. On a good note though, I'm on avail for an industrial {those videos that your employers make you watch} so it would be really nice to book it.
Day 248: Finished writing the last episode of DWP. It feels really good to wrap this up and close it out in a way that I'll be happy for it to end. Now it's time to start planning the shoot!

Day 249: TAN Power Group. I've said it before and I'll say it again, this monthly meeting is AWESOME! There's nothing like being around other actors who are DOING things, not just talking about it. It literally lights a fire underneath me every time I go. Besides that, it's also such a great way for us to help each other out. There's this segment called "Issue Time" where we can talk about whatever issues we're having to get feedback & assistance from the rest of the group. Sometimes only advice is given but other times actual tangible help is provided- like the actress who needed a cheap/free mansion to shoot her webseries at, yeah apparently one of the members in our group has a friend who owns a mansion and he actually let her film there. Actors helping Actors- I love it.

Afterwards I headed to Blank Spaces to view their offices to see if they'll work for 2 of my reel scenes that I want to shoot and they absolutely will. The price was low, the parking's good and the customer service was fantastic so I can't wait to get this done. This is the first thing on my agenda for next month.


Day 247: Internship. Today the casting director started complaining about Obama and I had to bite my tongue. No he hasn't gotten us out of the crappy economic hole that we're in but he also inherited most of this from his steal from the poor and give to the rich predecessor. That's what I wanted to say but I didn't. No talking politics to CD's who aren't your actual friends- especially when you have an opposing view.


Day 246: Location scouting for DWP. I visited a new cupcake shop called Southern Girl Desserts {they have a DELICIOUS sweet potato pie cupcake by the way} since we'll need a bake shop for episode 8 and to my surprise the shop also houses a paper company: Cordially Invited. Since we need an invitation store for episode 6, this may be a way for me to kill 2 birds with 1 stone. I spoke with the owners of both companies and they seemed open to the idea of allowing me to shoot there. I made sure I sent them a detailed email later on and now I just have to wait to see if I can afford whatever they charge. Fingers crossed!


Day 239: Wrote a procedural - CSI, Criminal Minds, Law & Order type scene for Yvonne and I and I love it. Now we have to find a place for us to shoot and someone willing to shoot & edit it for a free lunch or a low cost.

Day 240: Casting Internship, sent an eblast of DWP updates to hundreds of real wedding planners as well as family/friends/colleagues and mailed the From The Heart proposal.

Day 241: Wine with Greg & Lex which ended up being a 4 hour conversation. Between the wine and the time, I had to completely give up on going into work but it was so worth it!

Day 242: Documentary meeting. There have been lots of rumors regarding the possible settlement in the Mitrice Richardson case. Though any settlement will probably hinder some of our film efforts, it was nice to learn what is fact and what is fiction from her mother.

Day 243: Rewrites- edited 2 scenes in episode 7 of DWP.

Day 244: Worked on episode 8 of DWP. Added one scene and rewrote an outline for the remaining scenes of this episode.

Day 245: Watched another interesting documentary: Hot Coffee. Remember that multi-million dollar lawsuit some lady won against McDonald's after she spilled coffee on herself? Yeah, this film is about that. It's all about tort reform and it was very enlightening.

Day 238: Fine-tuned a proposal on the Mitrice Richardson documentary that I've been working on all week to submit to From the Heart Productions {Thank you Lex & Hollie for the heads up!}. They offer a grant for films that fit the criteria of what we're trying to do: make something that sparks change that will not only benefit Mitrice's family but society as a whole. Created a Facebook page for the documentary as well. If you are at all interested in her story, please consider liking the Facebook page so that we have as many supporters as possible when the time comes for funding.



Day 237: Continued reading Save The Cat 2 and renewed my LA Casting subscription. I've always had it so that my agents could submit me and my reel was hosted for $5 per month but I'm now paying $15 again (yikes!) to submit myself as well. Hopefully this will bring me some more auditions.



Day 236: Location scouting for episode 6 of DWP. I have a quick scene that needs to take place either in the lobby or right outside the front door of a wedding venue so I visited The Sportsmen Lodge Events Center in Studio City and The Albertson Wedding Chapel in Mid-Wilshire. And speaking of DWP, we released episode 5 earlier this week. Here it is...

Day 234: Today I let Stephen have the car so that I could get extra some sleep since I didn't have plans to go anywhere. Lo and behold, while Yvonne and I rehearsed our class scenes in my apartment, I got an email and a phone call from my agent for a last minute commercial audition. I needed to be there in an hour and I had no vehicle. I was just about to tell her I couldn't make it when Yvonne offered to take me.  How sweet is that?!? She totally put aside her plans for the next few hours in order to take me, bring me home and then head back to her place to chill before class. She doesn't read this blog but if she did this would be my big shout-out to Yvonne moment.

Later on I had an evening audition for a new reenactment show on TV One {it was so/so} and then went to class.


Day 235: Laser tattoo removal treatment. Why does it seem like it hurts more this time around?

Day 233: Emailed manager who offered me rep to move forward but would like to amend or remove some items in her contract before signing. This is what I wrote...


Hi xxxx,


I would love for us to move forward! I did look over the contract and there were a few items that I'd like to amend or remove before doing so.


Would you be willing to start off with a 1 year term with the option to renew for 3 upon completion? I know that agents have a 90 day clause where either party can walk away if they feel it's not a good fit. I also know that as a manager you may need longer than that to see the results of your hard work so are you willing to have a trial term for less than 3 years?


Section V.a-  I have a pretty good commercial & print agent who are sending me out on a regular basis and have a good rapport with commercial cd's so I think they have this area covered. That said, I'd like to change the commission section to reflect 15% for theatrical work only and remove anything regarding commercials, print or publishing since I'm a writer as well. 


Section XVII-    I'd like to remove the automatic renewal clause at the end of the contract. I definitely think the amount of income I generate is a great way to help us both evaluate whether we'll continue our partnership in the future but I don't want that to be the sole reason. 


Those were the only changes I'd like to make. Let me know what you think when you have a moment. Feel free to call or email at your convenience.


All the best,
Brandi

The purpose for me posting this email is to hopefully help anyone out there who may be uncomfortable with a contract you've been asked to sign. You don't have to accept it as is! Obviously I wasn't okay with some of her terms- which by the way were all a part of the standard Talent Managers Association contract so it's not like she's only manager out there asking for this. The important thing to remember is that you can negotiate whatever terms you'd like until you can come to an agreement that you're both happy with. Many times managers & agents will work with you but unfortunately in this case she was unwilling to do so which meant I had the choice to accept her terms or walk away... I chose to walk.

No representation is better than being stuck for 3 years in a contract that makes me feel uneasy. No hard feelings though. We wished each other the best of luck and kept it moving.
Day 232: Went to a TAN Q&A with commercial casting director Danielle Eskinazi. I've spoken with her via twitter over the last 2 years so it was nice to finally meet her in person. Hopefully I can get called into her office one day soon.