June 23rd, 2000


(no subject)

Hi Everybody here comes another one of my Q&A things from askme.com;

Subject of this Answer:
getting an agent
Question answered by ThedaBera in Theater Acting
jonross2 asked this question on 6/22/2000:
Hi, my name is Jon Ross. I am 19 and a sophomore at Columbia College. I want to know how can I get an agent and how much will it cost?

Hi Jon,

Getting a good agent is probably the most important thing you can do for your career. It can also be one of the hardest things to do. But you CAN do it! At this point you are probably concerned with getting any agent, but trust me getting a good agent is what counts.

The most important thing I want you to know though is that any agent who ever asks you for money up front is a fraud, and someone you should run screaming from! Ditto for any agents who insist you use a specific photographer, chances are they will be helping themselves to a good chunk of his or her fee and you will never see a days worth of work.

A good agent should be a bit hard to get. They will have been out in the world beating the bushes, looking for really good actors, and will also be very busy getting the ones they do have work. They will work hard for you too but you must work twice as hard. You need to do everything you can to remind them that you exist in as pleasant a way as possible so that when they go through those breakdowns (the lists of roles curently casting, that get sent out to agents all over the city every morning) they will think of you and send you out. When you have had a hundred auditions or so, and you luck out and get a paying role, then they will take fifteen percent of your paycheck, but never anything before.

The first and most basic way to get an agent is to do a mass mailing. I don't know if you intend to search for an agent in your town or are planning on moving out to LA. But in either case you will need to get a list of agents. Out here we have something called Ross Reports and several other lists of local agents. You can look for these services in the main trade paper that actors read every week, (Backstage West/Dramalogue,) to see what theater and more fringe TV and Film work there is to try to pick up.

Once you have a list of agents the next step is to narrow it down to the agents who might be looking for your type. For example if you are a male sophomore in college you aren't going to send your photograph and resume to an agency that specializes in aging English character actors, or an agency that works with children or the huge name agencies who won't do much more than toss your photo/resume in the nearest bin.

Okay now that you have your list and you've narrowed it down you need to have your photo and resume ready to mail out. There are also many books that will help you with this. We have a famous bookstore here called Samuel French but I bet you could surf around online a bit and find yourself a guide of some sort. Your picture needs to look like you as you look right now, and your resume needs to follow the basic format. It's okay if you don't have a lot of professional experience, they might be looking for someone young and new. You never know. On the other hand you can always enrich or gently enhance a resume by listing any student films you may, or may not have done ; )

The nest step, after having done your mailing, is to get work and invite people to see it. I don't know if agents in your area will come to college theate,r but if they don't then you need to try to get work in local theatre, and see if you can get them interested enough to come. Also most actors I know send out postcards to agents and casting directors just to get them familiar with their work and names. If you don't have anything to invite an agent to there are all kinds of great casting workshops that will often have agency nights. These are one of the few things that you do have to pay for and I think can be worth it as long as you have made sure the people you are dealing with are reputable and have actually helped connect actors, agents and casting people up with each other.

In a casting workshop you will either be given the opportunity to do a cold reading, or a prepared monologue or scene. Have one of each ready to go just in case, and always bring extra headshots and resumes. Usually the agent will say a little something to the group and then watch all of the scenes and then if they are interested they will invite you in for an interview. Sometimes they will also meet with each of the actors individually at the workshop.

The last way I know of to get an agen,t besides doing anything wacky and outrageous to get their attention, and I don't know if that's the best course of action anyway, is to be recommended to an agent by one of their actors or by a casting director who likes your work. If you keep reading the trades and finding creative ways to get yourself seen, it wont be long before you find work that will be worth showing to an agent, or inviting an agent to see.

I think you would be doing yourself a huge favor if you got yourself a copy of your local trade paper and perhaps a copy of the New York or Los Angeles version of Backstage West, it might even be available on line at their site, in fact I think it is. There is a wonderful man there who writes a weekly column called Tom Budsman, (I think thats his name, it's on the back cover,) and he is always addressing these kinds of issues. There is also a good group on line called LA Actors Online and they have a huge archive of questions asked and answers received, along these lines.

I want to say something encouraging and perfect, but it is so late and I am so tired. I guess the best advice I can give you is to never give up. I used to get lots of, don't do it unless you can't see yourself being happy doing anything else, advice, and it wasn't helpful to me to hear that. I want to encourage you because I don't care where you live or what you look like or how old you are, if you are truly talented and dedicated and determined to make it, I believe you will! Confidence is everything in this business even if you have to fake it. Good luck to you my fellow acting cyber friend.


(no subject)

Here's another question I answered re Animal Experimentation to which I am vehemently opposed.

Subject of this Answer:
Animal Experimentation
Question answered by ThedaBera in Animal Rights
nicholez@..., a user from metacrawler.com, asked this question on 6/20/2000:
HI I'm Nichole, I'm writing a research paper on anti-vivisection or animal experimentation and was wondering what your view point on this issue is? Has animal experiments really benefited us or is there another way to find cures for diseases and make-up testing. Also is it true that some of the test that were preformed on animals gave false results due to the cell structure on animals and humans are different? If you could give me any additional information on this topic I would appreciate it greatly

ThedaBera gave this response on 6/23/2000:
Wow, Nicole, this is a big, huge, question and one whose answer is very important to me and something I don't want to take lightly! But it is so late at night and I am incredibly tired, so I will do my very best here and if you need any further information you can always write to me.

I couldn't be more opposed to vivisection. Just the word itself means live cutting. I do not believe that we can extrapolate data from experiments performed on animals. Nor do I believe we should do this. I am vehemently, morally opposed to this. I think it often boils down to whether are person is speciest, and believes that we take precedence over the rights of any other living beings. Well, I don't.

I know of countless experiments that were outright fraud, dreamed up to divert funding. From pain testing animals held in stereotaxic devices by giving their testes an occasional squeeze with a plyers (don't doubt me on this I've seen it), to tiny little baby monkey's whose eyes were taped shut and whose heads were wired up with electrodes whose wires ended in a bunch of nothingness out of site of the visitirs trotted through for funding, to baboon head bashing experiments conducted in a basement laboratory. It's gruesome and it is evil and there is nothing you will ever say to me to convince me otherwise. Not even if you told me it would save my own life or the life of my beloved son. I do not believe that one single life of another takes precedence over mine, but more importantly I know that there is no such thing as a beneficial sacrifice of an animal made on our behalf. Animal research is fraud, it is experimentation, tinkering, delay and waste.

There is plenty of documented proof of the completely insensitive, unprofessional, unclinical conditions in which many of these so called experiments are performed. I have seen video tapes of students making jokes about animals while they suffered, as they were being subjected to brutal forms of torture.

I couldn't possibly begin to cover all of this here but if you simply type vivisection and the word fraud in any search engine you will find plenty of information to satisfy your needs. Think of it this way, if there had ever been one major significant advance in medicine based on animal research don't you think they'd shout it to the heavens? Don't you think they would trot it out and tout it?

Did you know that many major medications were held back precisely because of animal research. A very important and widely used heart medication, digitalis, was held up and denied to many heart patients who could have benefited, had they not spent years testing it in dogs who had a completely opposite reaction to it than humans. Many animals will go into complete arrest and die when given medications that are so basic to us we take them over the counter. There have also been many medicines that have had extremely adverse reactions in humans when in animals there were none. Thalidomide is one that comes immediately to mind as well as many experimental vaccines.

Bear in mind that even after drugs have been tested on animals they still must be tested on humans before we are ever able to use them. Since we must ultimately test them on humans anyway, why then can we not start with human cell cultures and computer modelling and then skip the whole animal torture part of the equation? The answer is funding.

Did you know that a Simian infected with HIV will never develop AIDS, precisiely because he is so very differnet from us genetically?

It goes on and on.

I am also opposed to killing animals for food.


I will try to come back and paste a good article in here for you, there isn't enough room in this box for it, they told me no : (

ThedaBera gave this follow-up answer on 6/23/2000:
I am going to go ahead and paste in an article that I got from Lanshark who got it from the British Anti Vivisection Society. Good luck on your paper. I hope you take the opposing viewpoint as anything else is unethical immoral and evil.

"Here's part of the text of a leaflet produced by the British Anti-Vivisection Association, PO Box 82, Kingswood, Bristol BS15 1YF.
There are endless possibilities for producing irrefutable evidence in support of any theory, through the use of various animal species; all one has to do is to select the appropriate species.
Do you want to prove that the amanita is by no means a deadly mushroom, but rather a delicacy fit for humans?
Just feed it to a rabbit, morning, noon and night. He will thrive on it.
Do you want to ruin the citrus fruit growers?
Then feed their lemons to cats, who die from too much vitamin C.
Do we wish to prove that prussic acid, the mere smell of which can kill a human being, makes a fine aperatif?
Then let's feed it to toads and sheep.
Do we want to stop cooks from using parsley?
Let's give it to the parrot, and you will find him stone dead the next morning.
Or do we want penicillin to disappear from all drugstore counters?
Let's give guinea-pigs a taste of it, and they will promptly die from it.
The amount of opium a porcupine can actually swallow in one lump with no trouble at all would keep a human addict groggy for two weeks if he just smoked it, let alone what it would do to him if he just swallowed it.
To convince consumers that botulin is harmless, just add a bit of this poison to some cat-food.
The cat will lick its lips. But the cat's traditional game, the mouse, will die from it as if struck by lightning.
Moonshiners are responsible for blinding thousands of people, owing to the methyl-alcohol in their booze.
But this same methyl-alcohol doesn't affect the eyes of most laboratory animals.
Arsenic is supposed to be poisonous?
That is a pure invention of the crime writers. The proof? Sheep can tolerate a considerable quantity of arsenic.
Does your pussycat have the sniffles?
Be sure not to give her any aspirin unless, of course, you want to kill her.
Are you asked to demonstrate the uselessness of vitamin C? Then remove it entirely from the diet of some animal that's close at hand - a dog, cat, rat, mouse, hamster.
They will nevertheless stay healthy, because their organisms produce their own vitamin C. But we may not withhold it from guinea-pigs, primates, or humans. Deprived of all vitamin C they would eventually all die from scurvy.
One hundred milligrams of scopalamine leaves dogs and cats unaffected; but five milligrams are sufficient to kill a human being.
Strychnine, as popular among the murderers in detective stories as arsenic, has no effect at all on guinea-pigs, chickens, or monkeys, not even in a dosage which would put a whole human family into convulsions.
Hemlock, well-known through the death of Socrates, is dangerous because of its similarity to parsley, but is eaten with great relish by goats, sheep, and horses.
Amylnitrate dangerously raises the internal pressure of the eyes of a dog, but lowers the pressure within the human eye.
The foxglove (digitalis) was formerly considered to be dangerous for the heart because, when tested on dogs, it raised their blood-pressure.
For this reason the use of this medicament, which is of undisputed value for the human heart, was delayed by many years.
Novalgin is an anaesthetic for humans, but in cats it causes excitement and salivation, similar to what occurs in animals suffering from rabies.
Cycloserin is used for tuberculosis patients, but has no effect on guinea-pigs and rats which have been made tuberculous artificially.
The anti-inflammatory Phenyl-butazone can be administered to dogs and other animals in high doses, for it quickly loses its effect in their bodies.
But if similar doses were given to humans, poisoning would soon set in, because this medicament needs 100 to 150 times longer to become inactive and checked in its effects.
Chloramphenicol often seriously damages the blood-producing bone marrow of humans, but not the marrow of animals.
Acidium oroticum has a healing influence on the human liver, but causes fattiness in the liver of rats.
Chlorpromazine damages the human liver, but not the livers of laboratory animals.
Methyl fluoroacetate has a toxic effect on mammals, but the rat can tolerate a dosage forty times higher than the dose that kills a dog. And man? Will he react like a rat, or a dog? Or neither? In a nutshell, one only needs to find the appropriate animal species to obtain the desired answer; black or white, positive or negative. You name it, they will get it.
That is a kind of elastic, malleable science, like the dough we mould in the kitchen. But it is tragic that some would have us believe that they can manufacture human health in the same way.

Even if you are no expert, no specialist, it should not be difficult to draw a conclusion of fundamental importance from the examples we just quoted. If animals react in such a different way from human beings, how can one test on them medications that are intended for us?