- Admin |
- March 16, 2018 |
- 12:44 p.m.
Attractiveness not in terms of physical hotness, but more along the lines of intriguing, interesting, and unique.
Readiness not just in terms of "Hey, I'm available", but more like prepared, trained and showcased. Actors with high CQs get hired first. There's nothing much we can do about the genetic part of our CQ (physical) but there's much more to it than that.
How do you maximize your CQ? Here are my five top CQ factors.
1. Remember, every actor is unique and brings different qualities to a particular role compared to any other actor. This is what makes the world go 'round. Snowflakes/actors, no two alike. Your uniqueness is inherent, you don't have to create it. But I see a lot of actors fighting their uniqueness, trying to present something in an audition that they think casting is looking for instead of trusting that they are what casting is looking for. Clearly you must bring the character to life, but you can best do that by allowing your own essence to be part of that character. That's what makes you an intriguing, interesting and unique auditioner. In chatting with actors before and after their auditions, I get a good sense of what makes them charming, interesting, vibrant people. Too many times, none of this comes through in their audition. Why? They don't trust themselves to be enough. You are enough. Period. One of my favorite books on acting is How To Stop Acting, by Harold Guskin. In it he takes you through the process by which you can strip away the pretenses and add-ons that so many actors think they have to bring to their acting. Only then you can be the honest, believable character that is ultimately a mixture of the script and you. So, rule #1 of improving your CQ is to get out of your own way and allow yourself to shine through in your acting. No one else can match that.
2. A big part of your CQ is your background (training and experience) which you should be constantly expanding. Classes shouldn't end with your BFA degree. You should be working on your skills every day, in class, out of class, in a show, in your kitchen. Singers know this. Dancers know this. Actors who are neither often don't. Guess which actors have the highest CQ.
3. In today's world where actors are hired directly from a self-tape audition, it is imperative that you know how to audition on camera. This has become a third type of acting. It's not theater and it's not TV/Film. It borrows from both disciplines to create a unique challenge for the actor that no one saw coming a few years ago. Those who embrace this challenge, and master it, are the ones that get the jobs. This is the subject for much more discussion, but I'll leave it here, for now. Just know that your CQ, if it's to be competitive, needs to score high on the ability to successfully navigate the challenges of the self-tape.
4. Your marketing materials are a big part of your CQ: Headshot, video, web presence. Even though their importance is diminishing in the era of digital video, headshots are still very important. Yours should be up to date and compelling. And again, uniquely you. Most casting notices now require video to be submitted along with the headshot/resume. This is where an actor's CQ usually takes a big hit. Unless you've had featured roles in big budget movies or network television, you likely don't have great footage to show off your acting chops. Actors typically accept roles in productions (often student films) where the quality of the script/production/directing/other actors is not going to make them shine. When that's the case, it's often better to have a professionally shot monologue or audition-style scene ready to send. Make sure the material is perfectly suited to you, and that you are totally on top of it, performance-wise. After a few years of casting from self-tapes, many CDs have learned to appreciate how much they can get from a showcase video of this type. And even though the demo reel, like the headshot, is diminishing in its value (due to the abundance of other ways to present video to casting, like showcase videos), to have a tightly and cleverly edited demo reel can bring your CQ way up. Even if the productions you've been in aren't something you'd expect even your family members to watch all the way through, there are often snippets here and there of your performance that, out of context of a mediocre film, can look great in a demo reel.
5. Lastly, and perhaps the most important factor in your CQ: what are you doing to make sure the right people are seeing you? Castability requires you to be seen by people who do the casting, and by people who can make that happen. While it is certainly possible to have success without an agent or manager, it's a harder row to hoe that way. Casting directors are, by nature, risk averse. Occasionally they may go out on a limb and send an unknown, unrepresented actor along the casting path, but it's far more common that they will stick to submissions that have come in through an actor's representation. It's because there is a level of comfort that a represented actor has been vetted, at least a little, on their CQ. As in many professions, the engine of an acting career runs on the fuel of personal contacts. Networking is vitally important. No one will come knock on your door, guaranteed. You have to knock on theirs. The more industry contacts you can list, the higher your CQ.
There are many more factors in your CQ than those listed here. But unless you are scoring pretty high on these five, you are not giving yourself the chance you need to succeed.