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Thursday, 28 January 2010

Self-Promotion.

If you're like me, you just want to get on with the work. When you finish a script or a short film or a story or a painting or whatever it is you do -- you feel good, the work is done, and nine people loved it. But that doesn't build a career. So you have to be able to whore yourself out. If you're an actor, it's easy-- you just sit in a cafe and talk really loudly, "YEAH SO I HAD A CALL BACK, AND I WAS LIKE, NO FUCKING WAY, I JUST WORKED WITH HANKS. SO, YEAH- I'M DOING SOME MODELLING AND THEN I'M DOING THAT THING WITH DE NIRO. YEAH. YEAH. OH YEAH, I LOVE ACTING. IT REALLY FULFILLS ME. I AM FULFILLED. I AM AN ACTOR. I AM AN ACTOR THAT IS WHY I TALK SO LOUD IN CAFES."

Note: After writing this article, but before posting it, I went to a restaurant with two friends. There was a birthday on a table near us. A waitress came out with a cake, and was really loud and obnoxious - and I said to my friends jokingly, "Another failed actress." And then later on, our friend who works there introduced us to her. And she's an 'actress'. Found it amusing.

But if you're not an actor, the self-promotion can be tough. And of course, there is the fear that nobody really gives a shit what you're doing anyway. And to a point that's true. Nobody cares. But you need to get out there. And it's easier than you think. If you are an upcoming writer/actor/producer/director, etc -- you can write to your local newspaper right now. They have no news-- the pages need filling. Yeah, old ladies are getting their shopping stolen, big deal. It's the same every week.


I have written to my local papers many times. I tell them that the local area inspires me, I tell them how I shot in the area because of the wealth of talent in the community. I tell them that their newspaper was the reason I took up filmmaking. I tell them that their newspaper was the reason I took up a newspaper delivery job when I was fourteen. Whatever, who cares-- the bottom line is, the old lady gets a week out of the newspapers and everyone gets told the story of the local Spielberg.

Likewise, if I'm on holiday in Greece, I pick up a local newspaper, ask some local "Editor? Email? You see?". And then I email Eleftherios_the_editor@greeklocalpaper.com and tell him I took up filmmaking because of Greek cinema and because the area inspired me to write a screenplay and that I learned acting by studying the locals. And sure enough, some little old greek lady will get a week out of being in the news and instead; a few thousand people in Greece will learn about you.

You may think you're lying. But you're not. You're just playing the game. Just like when the director on the DVD says "Ashton is such a talented actor, we were really lucky," or when Nicolas Cage says "I fell in love with the script" every time he gets cast in something. The point of this is, it's really easy.

Are you a Norwegian Actor working in London? Write to the editor and tell him what it's like for a Norwegian actor carving out a name in London. Are you a Colombian DOP struggling to get a job in New York? Write to a NY paper and tell them how you're bringing the beauty of Colombian filmmaking to America. Are you sixty years old and struggling to get work? Write to your local paper and tell them "At 60 I have decided to follow my dream." Whatever it is - do it! Create the very thing you wish to be and make it a reality. When they print it, it's real.

Tarantino wrote his own press pack for 'Reservoir Dogs' - heralding himself as the greatest director of all time. All the lazy hacks wrote exactly what he fed them.


When I first started doing this - I used to write to people and say "I am trying to make it in the industry, my films are okay and I'm doing alright and I'd like your support." They'd write about me, but they'd make me sound a bit pathetic- it was like, "Awww, The Kid has a dream, aww sweet. Here's a picture of him with an old lady called Ethel." But then I started getting more clever, and confident. I'd write "Whilst my friends are laying on the beaches of Ibiza and drinking in the bars - I am penning a feature film inspired by the beautiful sands and the rich, complex characters that permeate the coast." They'd print exactly that, and everyone would think I knew what the hell I was doing.

These things are massive confidence boosters. It's almost like writing down a dream list of aspirations and getting some crazy person to print them. The weird part is - they make things come true. When someone prints that you're a talented Director or Nottingham's greatest on set gun control expert, it makes you become one.

So, if you're doing anything creative - tell your local newspaper about it. Tell your favourite bloggers about it. If you write to me and say "Kid, I love your blog! I have made this inspiring two minute short film - could you share it with your readers?" -- I might share it. I might not, because I'm jealous that you're more talented than me -- but I might. And then, a few hundred people would see it. But it won't happen if you don't ask. That's how it is with the writers of 'The West Part Of East Nowhere Gazette' -- they won't randomly write about you. But if you ask, they might. And when they do, maybe it's near to where Danny Boyle lives, or maybe a copy will be left in the gym where your favourite actor goes to work out. Maybe they'll read about you. Maybe they'll google you. Maybe they'll see your talent. Maybe a ninety year old woman will ask you out on a date. I don't know, but you may as well try it, even if you do it right now in nineteen seconds just by emailing your local rag. Worth a shot right? What do you have to lose? Nothing. What do you have to gain? Everything.

Care to share?

12 comments:

  1. I am a non-loud, non obnoxious actor LOL, and I have to say that what you wrote is very true. In fact, I just finished taking a great marketing class for actors which basically said to do the exact same thing as you are suggesting--thanks for the post. Good stuff and good info!

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  2. Great tips...from another actor who is somewhat shy about marketing herself and doesn't talk loudly on cell phones about her career.

    And has never waitressed a day in her life, looking to keep it that way :)

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  3. Love the tips, they are great! Inspiring as always.
    But just because a waitress is between bookings doesn't mean she is a failed actress. Coming from a creative person who wants to inspire others, it seems strange that you feel it necessary to put down another creative person prefacing your "you can do it!" post. It seems a bit hypocritical, no?
    The view is better from your perspective because you're in the front row, but please don't be cruel to others just because they're sitting in the back. You were there too once, yes?
    <3

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  4. "yes?"

    No. I stand by what I said. Loud attention seeking actors, I have little sympathy for. Acting is just like writing, or painting and decorating, or making cakes.

    I have so so so much time and love for my many many actor and creative friends who fight and struggle to make money and do what they love.. But I don't feel there's anything wrong with mocking loud actors who annoy everyone with their diva-ism!

    And besides, I was going for humor rather than insulting-- which I guess you don't see my writing as. And besides, KNOWING she's an actor just by the way she disrupts an entire restaurant's meal and grabs all the attention IS funny! Just because I'm a writer, doesn't mean I scream out long words when writing a birthday card or giving a funeral eulogy!

    Also - your way of addressing this concern, 'It seems a bit hypocritical, no?' and 'You were there too once, yes?' -- you are putting me down, talking down to me, you are doing back to me the thing you perceive me to be doing.

    Anyways, I apologise if I offended you or seemed to be lacking awareness around the struggle of waiting tables - I can assure you, that's not the case.

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  5. loved the part about the actors in cafes. its seriously so true! haha that made me giggle really hard. thanks for following :)

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  6. Oh Wow.

    You're the best writer I've read in forever.

    Great, funny, honest stuff.

    ...

    I found you 'cause you started following me.

    It's nice to meet you. :)

    ...

    I'm gonna go dig through your archives now, until the impending ice storm knocks my power out.

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  7. That's a good point. I never thought about doing that. Now I'm really excited to start doing that.

    A year ago I went to my local library and inquired about the various "movie nights" they would have. I told the person in charge that I was a film-maker and would love to show one of my shorts before a film. He said he'd love to do that, etc. etc.

    Then he flaked out! Stopped answering my e-mails and such. What a bummer. But I'll turn to the papers. Thanks!

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  8. Excellent tip that I am going to follow, Kid.

    On http://www.thecleanwhitepage.com you suggested a story featuring bacon, a Jack Lemmon poster and crazy hamsters. It's there now...

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  9. Fantastic, inspiring, wonderful post. I'm printing this out as a guide, seriously. Thank you! ^_^

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  10. haha - I feel like there's going to be a lot of articles about you guys in coming weeks! Please share them with me!

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  11. @Kid, No, I wasn't insulting you. I just figured you started once where everyone does: freshly moved to LA with a suitcase, a laptop, and a dream. Unless your family is in the industry and owns the theater you're sitting in, but I don't think you'd be so passionate about what you do and helping others do it too if you were born into it.
    And trust me, I hate those actors too - always making the rest of us look bad. But they're only in LA for two years or so before they move back home and do what they really want to do. Actors are a necessary evil for screenwriters, and the relationship should be symbiotic. But this is LA and you do live here, so I'm sure you do have friends who are actors who you adore and write things for to help build them up. You seem like that type of guy.

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