Archive for December, 2017

WHAT’S UP, GRRRRL? How (NOT) to Respond to a Casting Call

December 13, 2017 Comments Off on WHAT’S UP, GRRRRL? How (NOT) to Respond to a Casting Call Working in Circus

Ellie’s emails are always spot on!

SO! You’ve seen a casting notice on the F-books, a friend referred you to a company, or you’ve been using the Googles to find event companies near you. Great! Now for the all-important contact letter.

Now, while circus is a business, it’s not a particularly stuffy one – no need to write like you’re penning a missive to the Queen of England. That said, do keep in mind that this is your first impression – make it a good one! Try to avoid the following (all real, actual examples I’ve received from artists I don’t know personally and have never worked with):

The Overly Casual – “Hey! I’ve done a bit of trapeze, hit me up if you still need people!”

The Super Curt – “Available. $800.”

The Person Without Spellcheck Who Doesn’t Proofread – “Hi! I sae that you wetr casting forn an event, vall me pleas!”

The Person Who Can’t Be Bothered to Send Their Basic Info – “Hi! My website is www.cantbebothered.com.”

Part 1 – How to Contact

If you’re responding to a casting call, pay close attention to the accompanying instructions. Did they ask you to email? Submit via web form? What information did they ask you to include? Follow their directions. Send things the way they want them sent, and include what they’d like you to include. It really is that simple. I know many casting folks who promptly hit DELETE on every single casting submission that didn’t follow the basic directions. They’re not asking you to make a 27 step croquembouche (unless they are, in which case give it a go)! It’s usually a short collection of info that you should have ready to go at a moments notice anyway. If you DON’T have it ready to go, take this opportunity to get your materials together.

If it’s a referral, see below. Make sure you’re sending to that person’s preferred business address, and avoid using social media to contact them if you can.

If you’re approaching a company, go to their website and see if there are special instructions for unsolicited talent submissions. Most companies will have instructions on how to get in touch with them about hiring, or at least a contact page.

If you know the person, no need to be weirdly formal, but do put on your professional hat and make sure you’re submitting all the requested info/materials.

Part 2 – How to Write a Letter

Even an email should be nice and professional when you’re first making contact with someone who may hire you. After initial contact, you can let them set the tone for how casual your communications will be from there on out (when in doubt, always err on the more formal side). Generally speaking, aim for professional but friendly, and try to let a little of your personality show.

Hello (insert name here)! – (SALUTATION)

I saw your casting notice on Facebook, and I wanted to toss my hat in the ring, so to speak, for your upcoming event on May 30th. – (INTRODUCTORY SENTENCE) ** If you were referred by someone, mention it here.

I have been performing on lyra for the past few years, and have both a 6 minute act and a number of ambient sets ready to go. I can also do sets on silks, hammocks, and ambient contortion. I’ve attached the requested demo link, photos, rates, and specs below.  I’m super comfortable with corporate events, and have quite the costume closet! (- QUALIFICATIONS, ATTACHMENTS, NITTY GRITTY) **Keep it short, sweet, & to the point.

Please let me know if you need any more info or materials! I would love to be a part of this or future events. (- CLOSING SENTENCE)

Thank you for your time, (** a little thank you or a friendly sign off is always nice)

Mathilda

(YOUR CONTACT INFO GOES HERE – FULL NAME, SPECIALTY, PHONE, WEBSITE/EMAIL)

And there you have it! A timely, friendly, professional email can put you squarely in the line of casting, and pave the way for a future bookings and a great relationship. Dare to imagine, Laura

 

Yes, It IS Your Business! Or *A* Business, Anyway!

December 5, 2017 Comments Off on Yes, It IS Your Business! Or *A* Business, Anyway! Uncategorized

One thing I see again and again in our circus community is a near fanatical refusal to see ourselves – our talent, our skills, our offerings – as a business. Is it any wonder, then, that we’re asked all the time to work for free? The sooner we get on board with the business side of what we do, the sooner folks begin taking our work seriously. Because, even though we love it, it is WORK. Am I right? I’m totally right.

Are YOU a Business?

If you are trading (or hoping to, anyway) your time and talents for money, you are a business. If that thought makes you want to barf, you can think of this in any number of ways – you are an artistic product, a creative (business) entity, a glittery money magnet; however you want to think of it, if you are a professional trading goods or services for money, you’re a business. So, riddle me this: why aren’t you treating yourself that way?

For many of us, it’s that we signed up to be artists, not business people.  LEGIT! Sadly, this changes nothing. You have two choices: 1 – run your own business, or 2) pay someone to do it for you (agent or manager). Many of us come down with a foot in both camps, which is also fine, so long as we’re working our hustle. But what does it MEAN to run a business?

The Basics

Whether you’re selling widgets or a lyra act, the mechanics are surprisingly similar.

  • Idea/Product/Talent – whatcha selling? Cube act? Handbalancing? Artsy stuff? Get clear on what you’re offering and who your audience/client/buyer is.
  • Maintain Basic Standards of Professionalism – your work should be professional level, and you should be able to supply everything you need to do your work (rigging, apparatus, costume, makeup, etc.).
  • Procedures & Operations – your rules and policies (yes, you have these as an individual), and how your business works. Do you require 50% to hold the date? Do you have a 3 week booking deadline? How do people work with you? Any and all policies and the *how to* of your business should be clearly written down. **Note: make it EASY for people to hire you.
  • Marketing & Promotion – how do you spread the word about your awesomeness? Are you being consistent?
  • Finances/Pricing – what do you charge? Don’t reinvent the wheel every time – flexibility is fine (HA!), but aim for the same ballpark. Make sure you’re factoring in your expenses, everything from insurance to gas and tolls, and PAYING YOURSELF. Got a total? You need to charge more than that. Also – get a good tax person.
  • Your Team – who keeps you fabulous? As circus artists, we often have: costumer, PT, tax lady, acupuncturist, massage therapist, apparatus supplier, graphic designer, etc. Keep ’em on speed dial!
  • Hustle/Entrepreneurial Spirit – your act ain’t gonna sell itself, m’dear! Refine your hustle every damned day. Return emails and phone calls PROMPTLY, let people know you’re out there, fine tune your professionalism, be the artist who creates solutions not problems, etc.

When You Meet Resistance

Many artists think it’s somehow traitorous to treat this industry like the business it is. If you’re one of them, I strongly suggest you get an agent, or get so damned good that people will put up with your crappy business practices.

If you just have no idea where to start, I’ll share with you a life-changing piece of advice: google that sh*t up. You are NOT the first person to ever ask a question. How much should aerial artists charge? Google it. Where to get a freestanding aerial rig? Google it. How to sew a spandex costume? Google it. After you’ve consulted the Google Oracle, get the Facebook groups to weigh in (search aerial arts, circus, etc – join those groups!).  Ask your peers. Ask your coaches. Subscribe to all the circus blogs (there are a lot of them). Call local circus schools. Don’t stop until you have an answer (or 20). It was suggested to me a few weeks ago that the younger generation doesn’t know how to google, to which I say bullsh*t. Don’t expect information to be spoon fed to you. Take charge of your education, your business, and your career, or you will never thrive in this industry.

**Note that FB  & public forum chats are with the community at large, so mind your P’s & Q’s – folks in this industry have a loooooong memory. Be polite, and try not to get yourself blacklisted before you get out of the gate.

Whether you’re a born entrepreneur, or someone for whom the very thought of sending out a newsletter makes your skin crawl, it’s all the same: love it or hate it, it’s a business. Treat it that way. Dare to imagine, Laura