Archive for the ‘actor’ Category

How Are You The Solution to Someone’s Problem?

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

I just recently coached my one month intensive Jump Start™, and something came up throughout the weekend that feels worthy of a blog.  It’s the idea of being the solution to someone’s problem.

Problem-Solution-ResultSo, let me back up for a moment and give this idea some context. Because, often in this business, we are highly driven and focused. This is not a bad thing, but it can have a downside. That downside is that in our drive and focus, we only think about ourselves.

And what that looks like day-to-day is a “me, me, me” attitude. We are only looking for the solution to our own problem—the person we need to meet, the thing we think they can do for us when we meet them, and so on. This can lead us to becoming that very thing we most loathe, desperate.

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What is it time to let go of?

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

What is it time to let go of?

If you’ve been following me at all, you might know that I recently undertook a massive move with my family. My husband Gregory, who works in television most of the time, has described himself as a “FedEx package.” Meaning he gets shipped off to all sorts of locales for work. In the last two seasons months alone it’s been Mexico City, Savannah, GA, Atlanta, GA, Chicago, Toronto, Virginia, and Vancouver, BC. I might be forgetting one or two.

This is largely the result of runaway production. And since it’s unlikely to change in the near future, a few years ago we started strategizing a family move to a place where he’d be able to go to work in the morning and come home at night.

And so on August 1st Gregory, myself and our twin 5 year olds Niccola and Allegra all got into a u-haul pulling a car trailer and car alongside a mini-van packed to the top. We drove for three days and then crossed the border into Canada and pulled up at our new house in Vancouver.

Because Gregory was on the television show Fear The Walking Dead, the organization and packing largely fell to me. As you can imagine, it was a cathartic and confronting experience. We had lived in our townhouse for 11 years and in that time had gone from being a married couple to a family of four.

Over and over again I found myself asking the question, “What can you let go of?” And this question brings me to today’s blog.  (more…)

5 Ways to Have a Restful AND Productive Summer

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016

Who doesn’t love summer? It’s lazy, relaxing, hot, sun-filled.

And, if you’re an ambition person with big goals, well… It’s lazy, hot and sun-filled!

If you’re like a lot of people, you can’t wait for summer, but mid-way through you wonder where the time has gone. You realize you haven’t gotten much done!

Well, like the proverbial unfulfilled new year’s resolution, it’s time to turn this paradigm on it’s head. There is a way to enjoy your play and get your work done too! (Book a guest juicy star in July, anyone?)

Read on for the top 5 ways to have a restful AND productive summer. (more…)

Get Re-Connected to Your Why

Monday, June 1st, 2015

Often, we spend so much time talking about strategy, that we neglect some of the fundamentals.  So, I’m going to spend a few minutes today talking about one of the most important things in your career, your motivation behind your goals, also known as your Why.

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Your Why can look a lot of different ways.  You can be passionate about something.  You can identify with something.  You can have a dream or a desire or a love.  But, if you’ve been working on a project or goal for a while, chances are your Why has gotten buried a bit under the day-to-day demands.  The problem with this is that when we aren’t connected to our Why, it gets harder and harder to do the things we need to do toward our goal.  We feel unmotivated and we’re not sure why.

So here are 5 steps to reconnecting with your Why.

  • Go back to the first time you wanted to do what you’re doing. It could be the first time you ever wanted to act or write or direct or paint or produce.  Visualize that moment in time.  Where were you?  What were you thinking, feeling, doing?  Who were you with?  Close your eyes and recreate as much of that moment as you can.
  • What did that moment call up in you? A desire to do what?  Put that into words as clearly as you can.
  • Was there a change you wanted to make? A contribution?  Something you wanted to give or to share?

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Are you falling for the myth of “easy?”

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

easy-streetSo, I have a bone to pick.  A pet peeve to vent about.  A wrong to set right.  It’s about it being “easy.”

So here’s what I see a lot.  People want it to be easier.  You’re tired of working hard.  You feel other people have it easier and so it should be easier for you.

I get it.  I really do.  This is a tough business.  It’s changing.  It’s contracting.  There’s runaway production.  The whole world wants to be in the movie business and it seems like they all come to LA.

And we look at our friends and some of them have it easier. They have a great agent who gets them good auditions.  They have a rich uncle and he gives them money for their film.  They have a mom who works at a studio and so they get a job.  The grass is always greener.

Being the mother of four year old twins has given me a new perspective on this idea of “easy.”  Here’s something that I’ve learned from my girls.

There are all these things that we take for granted as we get older that, it turns out, were anything but easy.  There’s something called “sleep training” because infants are not born knowing how to sleep through the night.  You actually have to train your child to sleep properly.

You have to teach your child how to walk.  And they get frustrated.  Really frustrated as they fall down over and over and over again.

And let’s not get into potty training and how long that takes.  My girls took months and months to learn how to use the potty.  No joke.  Turns out it’s really hard to stop using a diaper and start using a toilet.

I’ve never heard an Olympic athlete say it was easy.  Never.  If you want to be the best in the world at something, it will take an extraordinary amount of hard work.

And it turns out that most things in life that are worthwhile take hard work.  Sometimes lots and lots of hard work.

I’m not saying you should be inefficient or stupid.  I do think that working smarter is very important, because you want to minimize wasted time, resources and effort.

But, I do see that if we just embraced the fact that many things we want in our lives and our careers really take a lot of hard work, we’d enjoy the process so much more.  Stop resisting the hard work and embrace it.  Chances are that your friend who has it “easier” is working her toosh off and would tell you so if you asked.

And it doesn’t matter in the end.  Run your own race.  Work hard toward your dreams.  And while you’re doing so replace some of that comparing and complaining with gratitude that you get to run your own race.  It will make the journey so much sweeter.

What to do if you feel nervous before auditions, big meetings & performances

Friday, June 13th, 2014

By Paul Cuneo

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I’m going to assume that, if you’re reading this article, it’s because you deal with nerves before auditions, meetings or performances, especially in those last moments before you go into the room. I’m like you in that way. I go through the same thing. But I imagine that unlike you, it doesn’t bother me that I’m nervous. I don’t care.

In 2013 I booked four national commercials, I believe in large part because of the new attitude toward nerves I developed about three years ago. It started in an audition waiting room. I remember I was nervous and performing exercises I had read about that were supposed to eliminate, or at least mitigate, nerves. I was holding my breath, and then, when that didn’t work, I was focusing on my breathing. I was pressing my feet hard into the floor, sometimes pinching myself for extended periods of time. I was tensing my whole body, then releasing. I wasn’t imagining everyone in the room naked, as I had tried that before and it never worked for me. (My gosh, the number of things I had tried: thinking about nature, counting backwards by threes from 100, talking myself up, talking myself down. You name it, I had tried it.)

But that day, in that audition waiting room, something opened up in my consciousness, and I realized three things that radically and irrevocably changed my auditions for the better. I realized

1. that I was paying way too much attention to my nerves.

2. that I was judging myself for feeling nervous and anxious, and it was actually this judgment that was exponentially intensifying my anxiety.

3. that nerves could exist in me, along with everything else I was feeling in that moment, and not prevent me from doing what I came to do that day.

With those realizations, I made an immediate change to how I prepared for auditions while in the waiting room. That change took the form of four steps I’ll walk you through right now. I hope they help to free you as much as they helped to free me.

Step One: Make a gentle commitment not to judge yourself for how you feel.

You’ve been judged for how you feel for much of your life. “Why are you so sad? It’s a beautiful day outside.” “How can you be hungry? You ate 15 minutes ago.” “Why are you so upset? I was just joking.”

You may have adopted this tendency to judge yourself for how you feel, but you can disown it. Whatever your role is in the industry, TV, film, theater, internet and radio are all about connecting to an audience emotionally. Emotion is the lifeblood of your work, and judgment of yourself for how you feel is the clot in that lifeblood. Judgment makes you second-guess yourself where you would be spontaneous. It makes you fearful where you would be present. It turns you inward where you would shine outward.

Worst of all, it compounds your anxiety by multiples. Judgment is an attack against yourself by a very worthy opponent: you. Stop judging yourself for feeling nervous and you will head off the heaping on of anxiety that comes from being under attack. You will feel a new sense of freedom, and you will realize it was never your nerves that caused you so much stress but your judgment of your self for feeling nervous. You’ll stop feeling bad about feeling nervous; you’ll stop feeling bad about feeling anything, and you’ll create a space for feeling good.

Step Two: Acknowledge how you feel. Say to yourself, “I’m nervous.” Just as a fact. Without judgment. Just to give your feelings a place. Nothing around it. Just to give yourself permission to be exactly who and what you are in that moment. It feels so good. SO GOOD.

Step Three: DO NOTHING TO GET RID OF YOUR NERVES.

When I was a kid, I found a little bug in the corner of our living room. To study it, I went and got our family’s large magnifying glass. I put the glass over the bug, and it moved. Scared the living daylights out of me because I saw this giant bug move in front of me.

Your judgment and all the attention you pay to your nerves while in the waiting room are like that magnifying glass. Your nerves are just these little emotions you’re feeling, but you pay all this attention to them in the form of judgment and analysis and in all the ways you try to get rid of them. The more you judge, analyze and try to get rid of your nerves the larger they appear. Take your attention off of them and they remain the little, harmless bugs in the giant living room of your consciousness.

Step Four: Feel, then fill, the beautiful space.

After you perform steps one through three, you’ll feel an expansion and a clearing in your consciousness. Just thinking about it makes me feel good. You’ll be tempted to analyze that space: “Are my nerves gone? Did the steps get rid of my anxiety? Was I successful? Did I do it right?”

Let it go. Release it. You’re back to judgment, analysis and a desire to get rid of your nerves. Just feel the space, enjoy it. Experience the flood of beneficial thoughts and feelings that rush in, now that you’ve emptied yourself of judgment. And then keep filling that space with things you love to do, like working on your sides or going over your pitch or admiring the shag carpet under your feet. You’ll feel yourself snap from focusing inward to focusing outward, and you’ll be present to your space, your partner, your world, regardless of whether or not you’re nervous.

I gotta be honest—I actually hope you are nervous! I hope you get the opportunity to practice these four steps and to experience the rush of good feelings that come with implementing them. In short, I hope you get the opportunity to go from being your own worst enemy to being your own best friend; I hope you get the opportunity to move from judgment to love.

Paul Cuneo is an actor and acting coach specializing in revealing and eliminating blind spots in actors’ performance technique. He taught movement at the Stella Adler Academy of Acting for seven years and has been a grateful client of Shawn Tolleson’s for over six years. His national commercials include Taco Bell, Starburst, Infiniti, USAA, Pace Salsa, Real California Milk and Ford. Television and film include Franklin & Bash, Disney’s Imagination Movers and Breathless, opposite Ray Liotta. To learn more about Paul’s coaching, please visit paulcuneo.com and click on Blind Spot.

It Takes A Village

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

I am writing, as I promised, to share about the Saturn Returns process.  As we gear up for our shoot in June I’ve been learning so much!

One of the things I most want to share has to do with the idea of team.  Now, you probably know that I spend a lot of time talking about team building and leadership in my various classes and coaching.  Today I want to talk about something a little different.  To borrow from Hilary Clinton and the Nigerian Igbo culture, I want to talk about the idea that a project (or your career) “takes a village.”

You might have heard me talk about the idea that nothing of any scope or magnitude in life happens alone.  We can’t even procreate by ourselves, right?  Yet, this business can be extraordinarily isolating if we’re not careful.  We write alone.  We go to auditions alone.  We sit at our desks making calls or sending emails alone.  When we get to be a part of a group making something, it’s often short and fleeting, preceded and followed by a lot of work all by ourselves.

When it comes to Saturn Returns I’ve found myself using the phrase “it takes a village to make a film like this” over and over again.  And while that, in and of itself, has not been a big surprise, what that actually looks like and really means, practically speaking, has been surprising to me.  Here’s what I mean…

It takes a village, and you have to love the village.  A lot of actors I meet tell me “I just want to act.”  A lot of writers I meet tell me, “I just want to write.”  Ditto with directors, sound mixers, wardrobe stylists, you name it.

We feel we have a calling. There’s something that we love doing and we’re good at it.  If only all this other junk would just go away, we’d be so much happier and fulfilled.  We come to resent all this other stuff we have to do.  All the people we have to meet, the calls we have to make, the events we have to go to, the hustling we have to do.  Ugh.  When does it all end?

This is the village I’m talking about.  This is the village we have to love.  It would be so easy for me to resent how long it’s taken to raise the money for Saturn Returns, the number of meetings I’ve had that have gone nowhere, the number of people who’ve told me they’ll invest and then backed out, and on and on.  But one of the things that I’ve come to learn is that the village is every bit as much a part of making Saturn Returns as the actual filmmaking.  They go hand in hand.  There’s an idea that you can be a filmmaker without all of this other stuff, but, frankly, I think it’s a myth.  At least in this day and age.  And the sooner we kiss the myth of the pure filmmaker or pure artist, actor or writer good-bye, the better.  It’s like kissing the myth of Prince Charming good-bye.  Hard but so freeing once we do it.

So, my lesson is love your village the way you love your art.  You can’t have one without the other.  It can be hard to love your village, I know.  But, truth be told, some days it can be hard to love your art, right?  Your village and your art demand a lot out of you.  But it’s in the service of something important, something extraordinary, something you’ve dedicated your life to doing.

Gotta love the Village.

 

Why You Haven’t Accomplished Your Goal, Yet: Reason #1

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

A lot of clients find my coaching when they are really frustrated.  They are passionate, talented, committed and working hard.  And they don’t know why they haven’t reached their goals yet.

Boy do I understand.  More than you know.

So, I’m writing this blog to shed some light on the problem of being stopped, stuck, or not moving very fast.  Understanding the problem is critical to finding a solution.

There are four reasons why you haven’t accomplished your goals.  Today I’m going to deal with the first one:

You don’t really know what your goal is. 

Okay, okay.  You know you want to act.  Or write.  Or produce.  Or work in television.  Or do make-up.

I still maintain that you don’t really know what your goal is.  Not really.  Not specifically.

Knowing you “want to be a working actor,” for example, is not really knowing your goal.  That’s incredibly broad. Work in what?  TV?  Commercials?  Theatre?  On a cruise ship?

You can start to see how broad and non-specific your goal of “being a working actor” is.

Same with “be a make-up artist.”  If I hire you to do kids face painting at my twins’ birthday party, that would be doing make-up, right?  But, is that your goal?

So now that we understand this part of the problem, here’s how we tackle it.  The first step is to set some kind of timeframe for your goal.  One year is a place to start.

“By December 31, 2014, I will have…”

Notice that I put a specific date in the goal, and also that I wrote “will have.”  Not “will try to” or “hope to.”  Use declarative speaking and you’re a lot more likely to accomplish your goal.

Next let’s look at what would be a breakthrough for you.  A breakthrough is a goal that is not predictable and not impossible.

By predictable I mean a version of something you’ve already done.  If you’re working at the make-up counter of MAC and doing a friend’s webseries for free every six months, in a year from now it’s predictable that you’ll be, well, working at the counter of MAC and doing webseries for free. Nothing wrong with any of this, it just might not be your goal.

Let me clarify what I mean by impossible.  First, none of your goals is impossible in and of itself.  What makes your goal impossible is the timeframe you’re giving it.  If you’re working at MAC and your goal is to win an Oscar next year, you can see how that would be out of the realm of possibility given that you need to get a job on a feature that then gets made and released in time to have an Oscar campaign and then win.  Highly unlikely if you’re not even working in features yet.  You get the picture.

A breakthrough is the sweet spot in between impossible and predictable.  When you accomplish your breakthrough goal, it will cause a state change with your career or project.  This means that your career or project will be in a new, different and elevated place.  You’ll be at a new level.

Here’s what else there is to know about breakthroughs…  You don’t know how to accomplish it.  If you did, you’d have done it already.  This is one of the things that make it a breakthrough.

Also, what could be predictable for you, could be a breakthrough for someone else or even impossible for someone else.  Your breakthrough is unique to you, your credits, your resources, your relationships, what you’re good at, what you’re not good at, and more.

So, let’s take a look at a few more breakthrough goals…

By December 31, 2014 I will have worked on at least one project a month as a make-up artist and be earning at least $250/day. 

By December 31, 2014 I will have pitched and sold my first television pilot and turned in a great draft of the script. 

By December 31, 2014 I will have directed at least 3 television commercials with budgets of at least $50k each. 

Now the important thing to know is that each of these are specifically articulated with regards to where the person is currently in their career, what they’ve already accomplished, and where they want to go.  For the make-up artist, this would be someone who is only doing a job every few months earning $100/day or less.

For the writer, this would be someone who has written television scripts, ideally on staff, and has pitched a little bit already.

For the director, this would be someone who has directed one low budget spot already, who already has a reel, but now needs to start getting jobs as a commercial director with regularity.

Tune in next month for The Second Reason Why You Haven’t Accomplished Your Goal. 

To get tools and solutions to help you clarify and accomplish your goals, visit www.entertainmentcareerstrategy.com and click on “Coaching and Mentoring.”  Check out THRIVE and Jump Start™ to get started.

Love and Success!

Do you have a hard time asking for help?

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

So, you have a friend who works at an agency.  You’d love their advice.  Or, you’d love for them to look at your materials and give you feedback or pass them to the right person.  But, you just don’t ask.

Your family member is an executive, a casting director, or a producer.  They are working on a project that you think would be perfect for you.  But, you just assume that they know your work and will approach you if they are interested.  You feel uncomfortable asking for help, so you don’t say anything at all.

If either of these describes you, you’re not alone!

Consider for a moment the definition of help.  Help: to make it easier for someone to do something by offering aid.

Now, let’s look at the definition of helpless.  Helpless: Unable to help oneself; powerless or incompetent.

It’s not that we have an inherent problem asking for help.  It’s that we make asking for help mean that we are helpless.  And if being helpless means we are powerless or incompetent, is it any wonder that we don’t want to ask for help?!

I propose that we reframe the conversation entirely because the help/helpless path is a rabbit hole if there ever were one.

What if instead of asking for help, we simply make a request?  Request: the act or an instance of asking for something. 

I don’t know about you, but this is already easier.  When I make a request, I’m asking for something, but not because I’m incompetent or powerless.  There’s no negative charge with a request.

And, if you read my win/win blog from last month, you know that when something occurs as a win or an opportunity for someone, they want to do it.

What this means practically is that if you can think about why responding to your request would be a win for the person you’re asking, then you’re way ahead of the game.  This means that you have to step outside your own needs, wants and fears, and get into their head for a minute.  What do they want?  What will be a win for them?

When you do this, it gets a lot easier to frame your request specifically for them, to speak to their needs, if you will.  When you do this, it’s a lot more likely that you’ll get a “yes!”

So, I encourage you to take this on.  Stop asking for help and start making requests.  Think about why the person you’re asking would want to say yes.  Craft your request in such a way that it occurs as an opportunity!  And see how many yesses you get!

 


Summer Reading to Inspire & Educate You…

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Summer is well on its way.  Okay, soon to be over!  But, this blog about books to educate and inspire you has been on my mind for a while, so here it is.  These books are good any time of the year…

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My favorite book on Acting:  The Year of the King.   
This is hands-down my favorite.  And, I’ve read them all.

What do I love about it?  First, it’s incredibly practical.  Antony Sher really lets you into his head for his process.  He explains his challenges with the crazy amount of lines he had to memorize, for example, and how he conquered them.  He delves into moments that he doesn’t understand and how he makes sense of them.

Second, it’s quirky and funny and very authentic.  His voice is unblemished by any façade.  Third, the journal-style approach with his wonderful sketches is unlike any other acting book out there.  And, he humanizes one of Shakespeare’s great anti-heroes, Richard III, a man who tests most everything human.  If you haven’t read this  book yet, I highly recommend it!  You’re really in for a treat!

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