Friday, May 24, 2013

Acting Tips: Defining an actor's type and brand

What’s the difference between a type and a brand? What’s a logline? As an actress, I can see where knowing my type is important; it keeps me from wasting my time auditioning for roles that don’t suit me. Brand and loglines are marketing tools, however, and since I’m out there networking at industry events and have reels that I think convey my performance skills to some advantage, I’m not sure I need these last two. People can see how I come across on camera, right?

If you’re starting out and your strategy involves standard actor marketing (and who’s to say that isn’t just fine), it’s probably good to know what these tools are and what they can potentially do for you.

An actor’s type is a combination of the criteria found in the breakdowns when a role is being cast, i.e. sex, age range, physicality (short, tall, thin, heavy, light, dark, race), and the job titles that fit (soccer mom, corporate lawyer, big city cop, international spy, blue-collar worker, teen, medical professional.)

Brand is your type plus something of your personality that is uniquely you. Are you sexy, charming, wicked, quirky, serious, intellectual, mysterious, innocent? The qualities that others find most memorable about you is your brand, and the word on the street is that conveying the essential you to casting can help you to book roles more frequently.

Actor Josh Murray has the idea. Murray’s website says he projects “intensity,” “intelligence,” and “intrigue.” (The alliteration here doesn’t hurt either.) For a price, Los Angeles image consultant Sam Christensen can help you toward a brand that is even more fully developed.

Why is a brand important? Well if casting needs to fill a role, do they audition actors solely on a photoshopped headshot and credits on a résumé? Or do they gravitate toward those who give some hint at what’s inside the can? A brand tells them what kind of actor you are and to some extent your level of performance so they can call you in to audition with some confidence that you are what they’re looking for.

Also, hiring an actor with a recognizable brand, can make it easier for producers to get distribution, raise capital, hire a good crew, and get other top level actors on board. It doesn’t guarantee a film’s success but it can provide status and credibility. Movie stars all project a brand, but it’s based on years of public exposure through their film roles. If you’re not yet at that level yet, you may want to create a brand.

One way to do that is to draw up a list of adjectives and short phrases you think might describe you. Then ask friends and family what three words or expressions best describe you and your personality.  (Tell them you want them to be completely objective.) When you see the same words cropping up again and again, you have your brand. And if you reflect on some of your best roles and then use the words in a phrase, you’ve got a logline.

A logline is a short phrase that sums up your essence and personality. It tells others how to cast you, how you’ve been cast in the past, and what you will bring to a role. Christensen has examples on his website. After reading about his image design process, I frankly wish I had the cash to sign up.

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