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5 things you can do to be useful to producers

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Etta DevineEver wonder why every breakdown says “Names only”?  It’s more common on a breakdown than “nudity required.” It’s a scarlet letter on casting notices all over town like a big stop sign saying: “I don’t care if you’re perfect for the part. I’d rather hire someone who sucks and will ruin my movie.” Well that person who may or may not suck brings publicity.

Projects get funded based on names. Projects get sold based on names. People only search YouTube for names. Reviewers only go see names. Festivals want names. Foreign sales agents can only sell names.  The trades only mention names. Your movie doesn’t get made without names. Film market names names, names, names, and names. Names. Names. It’s just publicity.

That’s not going to change. You’re not reading for that part. Forget it.

So let’s say you’ve managed to magic, beg, borrow or steal a role in a web thingy, an indie or even a play. Great! Good for you. Do a stellar job, be pleasant to be around and easy to work with. That should all go without saying. But what makes you a really valuable commodity? That thing that will get producers coming back to you despite your no-name status?

1. PUBLICIZE THE PROJECT. Did I say five things? I lied. Really, there’s only one (but lists are popular and I’m trying to build my social capitol so my projects will have more reach…so share this article). Don’t get mad though. I’ll break it up into four subcategories for you in a second. Does this seem obvious to you? Well, then you’d be surprised by how many actors don’t think it’s obvious at all.

2. Tweet about the project. More than twice. Be sure to include the project’s twitter handle in the tweets. Include links and @mention other people in the project so they’re more likely to retweet you. Here’s an example from my current project DIANI & DEVINE MEET THE APOCALYPSE:

“Me and @GabeDiani shooting our promo for @DD_Apocalypse People in spas PAY for this treatment!

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2. Do posts about your experience making it on Tumblr, and keep doing it right through festivals, DVD and whatever else the project does. Use tags, especially if there is a “name” in the project. Anyone searching for that person will come across your thing.

3. Mention the project on Facebook.  Include the page for the thing so people can easily click on it and like it themselves.

“Watson loves the green screen. Like Diani And Devine Meet The Apocalypse for more.”

Photo by Matthias Schubert

Photo by Matthias Schubert

4. If it’s something you’re really involved in you can invite your Facebook friends to like the page. It’s right there on the page for the thing on Facebook, try it. If you don’t want to be selective and just want to invite everybody use this html trick. This explains how to do it.

5. Talk the project up on any other platform you use. Instagram you and all the blood you’re covered in. Talk about how cool it’s going to be on Reddit. Pin it. You get it. Make the project have an internet life. Stir up the waters and whatever the second half of that metaphor is will happen.

When to start working your personal publicity machine will vary by project. Be smart about it. Feel it out or just straight up ask. Some producers don’t like photos from set, while some love the early buzz. You don’t want to accidentally blow the horror movie’s “money shot” but if you’re helping to build buzz, you’re helping.

Producing a project is a ton of work. Marketing is expensive and screaming “watch my thing” into the ether a million times is demoralizing. If you help the producer by screaming it too they will be forever grateful and when it comes time to cast another thing you may just be considered too useful to not use.

Etta Devine

About Etta Devine

Etta Devine is an actor, filmmaker, and writer with a script on the 2017 Blacklist and one of 2017's Movie Maker Magazine's 25 Screenwriters to watch. With partner Gabriel Diani she directed, wrote, produced and starred in the feature film “Diani & Devine Meet the Apocalypse” which premiered at the 2016 Austin film festival and won awards from the Mill Valley Film Festival, Spokane International Film Festival, Omaha Film Festival, San Luis Obispo Film Festival, and many others. She co-produced and starred in the horror comedy “The Selling,” ruined classic literature by creating “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Robotic Edition” and is a member of the Antaeus Classical Theatre Company in Los Angeles and the Film Fatales. She recently recorded voices for the popular Frederator cartoon “Bee and Puppycat“ and wrote multiple episodes of its upcoming second season.