Kevin E. West

Acting Career Decision: Art vs. Business (II)

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We love the "Art" of Acting. We're all going to win awards. We're ready for our close-up. Ok, now if I could just get an

Does Casting really care that I’m an artist or a businessperson…?

…OR BOTH?

Look. 

Casting really just comes down to what you look like and how well you dramatize your art. 

Then they decide if you’re hired — or not.

I’ll put it to you another way. 

Think of it like this, because I know there probably a lot of people out there that love cooking. So, if I’m somebody who has an interest in being an organic food grower then I am responsible for creating organic food and that has nothing to do with being a chef

Right?

Now, what a chef does with the organic food ingredients I provide, how they mix them, season them, etc. to make a particular dish, has absolutely nothing to do with me, the organic farmer, whose sole interest is growing more of what I’ve just sold/delivered to the chef. 

As an actor, your art (the “organic” you) has nothing to do with a casting person or a director (the chefs) looking at a role on a piece of paper and looking at a corresponding group of headshot photos and say…

“Hmmm, well, no, he/she doesn’t really fit that!”

FACT: I have an audition today that I don't believe I'm physically right for. But who knows...?

And I don’t mean that I’m wrong for it. Not at all!

 

If I was wrong, the casting director wouldn’t be calling me in. 

 

But it’s my art to me. There are jobs that I go up for where I basically feel like as long as I don’t completely screw up, I got a shot at this because I’m really right for the role and consequently the TV show and that cast. 

 

The ingredients are there!

 

Then, there are other roles you go up for.  Now here, I’m only discussing scripted film and television right now. 

 

There are roles you look at and go, yeah, I could be cast as that, but it’s not really in my physical wheelhouse because this entire conversation is business

 

It’s not the art!

 

It’s the organic food again. The organic grower, the chef and the business itself. But the problem that happens, you guys, is this. We have a business protocol in this profession, just like every other profession. 

 

Let’s call that the process.

 

And the process is exactly why I think we as actors have to understand the business better. If we don’t, two things will occur. 

 

First, we will give far too much weight to all the things that happen within the process and how we imagine it might (or might not) go for us. 

 

If you don’t have this understanding yet, at least let me help you adopt a business understanding about this very subjective profession of ours. 

 

I mean, just think about that statement. That’s just a paradox. 

 

Second, we have to have a business understanding of this subjective art. There you go. If you don’t, then you’re going to constantly be caught up between a thought like… well that’s a pen and that’s a pencil. 

 

They both write stuff. Aren’t they the same? No. 

 

There are various reasons why you’ll choose to use a pen over a pencil. And then, as we all know there’s different kinds of pens and pencils…

 

… then we could even go with the fact that, well, this pencil over here physically looks different than this pencil over here, because that’s what the business of casting is. 

 

Betcha never heard this one before…. 

 

Have you ever heard a story about an actor that was presented with a script that was eventually made into a movie that we all know because we’ve seen it and it was universally loved and popular???

 

The blend of script, acting, casting, direction and production just seem perfect and we love it! 

 

Then we’re at a party and we find out that another actor was also offered the lead or supporting role in that movie and we cannot imagine it. There’s no way so-and-so who we really like in other movies and roles, could play the part in the movie we love that’s so universally enjoyed. 

 

We just can’t imagine it. 

 

Why? That’s because though we love Tom Selleck, we just can’t imagine anyone but Harrison Ford playing Indiana Jones. And that’s the understanding of the business guys — “the process” of the business.

 

And we all know the basic process, right?  You get a headshot. You study and go to class. You perform somewhere. That’s all the “basic” process. As things develop in your career, you get a representative and then they submit you to casting or the hiring body of show business — wherever you are in the world. And eventually some person calls you in. 

 

That’s the process of this profession. 

 

But here’s my distinction about the art the business. I want to be clear that most of the time, your basic process “team” — having an agent or even a manager — almost all the time will not be enough. 

 

So my whole thing going forward as you read more of this blog, it is all about giving you the tangible understanding, perspectives and skills to go out and supplement — intelligently and professionally — your dreams and goals with your representative’s corresponding actions which you can actually take to the professional artistic community that will not be seen as weird, silly or desperate. They will essentially be solid business principles and protocol. 

 

That’s my goal and that’s my desire here and on my YouTube Channel.  

 

Remember, acting is a beautiful art. However, the second you want to make money at it, it becomes a business. I wish you the best.