Breaking Into the Large Markets
Breaking Into the Large Markets
I never could understand it. We were just as talented. We were willing to travel for the work if need be. Heck we would pay for our own travel just to have the opportunity. So why on earth weren’t we even given the opportunity to audition. Working in a large market isn’t easy and it wasn’t until I moved into a large market that I truly understood why the local talent would get the roles offered before the rest of the hard working talent would even hear about it.
If you look back through the history of celebrities, many of them came from smaller markets. In fact most actors had to move to these larger markets in order to make it big. This means giving up life as they know it and take huge risks to make it, although the odds and support system may not be in their favor. This especially holds true for those of us in Canada. Most Canadian celebrities did not get famous in Canada – it wasn’t till they left their country that their fame really started to unfold. It doesn’t seem fair I know, but in most cases it’s true.
As with anything there are exceptions to any rule. Many of you look to be famous like many of the veterans before you. The interesting truth is that many of our veteran celebrities didn’t seek out their fame; fame found it’s way to them. Many struggling artists today continually seek that ‘big break”, “the right role”, but for many of them, this will be a long journey. It’s like dating, if you try too hard to find something, it gets harder to find.
That being said, if you really want to be at the top of the VO game, moving to where the work is, can be a very wise and necessary decision. The problem is most people pursue the larger markets well before they’re ready, or they make the move and give up too soon.
The term “starving Actor” comes true when you move to the bigger markets. No longer do your employers find it “Cool” or “interesting” that you have an audition during work hours. You and every other person that live in the larger markets are either actors themselves, or they know someone who is. So it’s not a rare circumstance…in fact for most employees and businesses – it’s a real pain in the butt. Everyone you go against wants this as bad as you do and are more than likely just as talented.
I spoke with an agent here in Vancouver about not getting brought in for certain auditions and she explained to me that many of the VETERANS do this full time and solely rely on this industry to support their household. My reaction was, “Me Too!” She then went on to explain that at the time when the industry was at its peek, these actors made serious money. They bought expensive homes, attended more expensive venues and were forced to make appearances to several venues for publicity. This in turn keeps their standard of living high, however their wages over the years have dramatically decreased, not allowing them to afford what they once did.
As a talent, if I contributed a great deal to my agents well being and I had a certain standard of living myself and my family have accustomed to, then I would hope and demand that my agent make sure that I was booked first as well.
Once it was put to me in this fashion – it truly made sense. Although we are all just as talented, that doesn’t mean we’ve worked as long as they have to earn the right to have the work offered first.
There are many different exceptions to this rule, but trust that you would want to be treated the same. This is also true when you hear that an agent won’t take on any more talent. They are well aware that there is ALWAYS the next “Up and Coming” out there that could make them a fortune. The problem is they have to feed the roster they have first before they can go ahead and give out the work to people who just began.
So if your goal is to go union – or to establish yourself in a much bigger way, it could be time to take the big plunge into the pool of unemployed actors and move to a major center. If you do take this plunge, I employ you to BE READY – don’t go until you’ve mastered the medium market. You need experience to offer a larger market, don’t just assume they need amateurs…they need experts who will land jobs instantly, not after several more years of training.
Stay strong skinned. You will now get to hear those horror stories about Casting and Directors telling you that you’re wasting your time etc. You will get WAY more no’s before you will get that one yes. You must prepare for this to take time. This is not a get rich quick industry. Even if it is, ask the veterans – one job that you land today will not be with you for your entire career, so don’t get complacent and assume you don’t have to keep searching for more.
Put money away. Prepare for slow times or even busy times when you’ve become the GO TO person for all things VO – then you have to worry about saturating the market and becoming unusable.
As you can see there are many things to consider when you are pursuing the larger markets, so make sure you want all that it entails.
There are ways to get representation while still living in another city, but this is rare and takes great marketing and good connections. Also when you are pitching these agents and you live outside of their market – what can you offer them that they can’t already get in their own market?
Lots to consider – so the next time you judge those that are turning you down, remember they have much more to consider than just your needs. Be patient, be persistent and know EXACTLY what you want!
All my best,
VO Chef Deb