Ep. 1 - CONSISTENCY IS KEY: The Business & Spirit of Commercial Acting with Brian Patacca
In this episode I sit down with creative coach Brian Patacca to discuss the business, marketing and spirituality of commercial acting. Yes, I said it! Brian is such a big spirit that I’ve known and worked with for YEARS. He has helped guide so many actors through the craziness of this business as the Founder of Actor Salon and this conversation was a beauty. We met on a rainy day in LA to chat about how booking actors run their business effectively, the best way to market - yes we talk about post cards and how this craft is a CALLING! He is an enthusiastic, empathetic, authentic and spiritual guide for a career that needs all of those things - when I worked with him he never let me get away with anything without calling me out in his loving way and holding me ACCOUNTABLE. And THAT is a gift that many actors should seek out. Accountability. In this we cover:
How his most booking actors create a habit of CONSISTENCY
A GREAT exercise to help define your commercial look.
How to use CURIOSITY as key to network effectively
How being on this planet to GIVE not GET helps your career
A simple trick to get you out of your head before an audition
To postcard - or NOT - to postcard
How to set resonant career goals that you will achieve
Here’s a little more about Brian:
With natural candor and an education from Northwestern University, Brian arrived in New York City and quickly climbed the ladder as an advertising executive promoting Broadway shows - giving him an expert’s insight into marketing and its role in an actors career - something I’m constantly asked and always looking to learn more about. During his time in New York, his path of career coaching was revealed. In 2001, he started Actor Salon, an accountability group and creative community for actors. Actor Salon has grown to include weekly in-person and virtual meetings in New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta, providing a community built on supportive group coaching and accountability that empowers creative individuals to get results.
Brian is a Spiritual Practitioner in the tradition of A Course in Miracles and will be recognized by the state of California as a Reverend by the fall of next year. He credits the work of Brene Brown, Anne Lamott, Pema Chondron, and Elizabeth Gilbert as foundations to his outlook on the world. Notably, he coached two young actresses on MTV’s Emmy Award-winning show “Made” in 2012, and has been a contributing expert for Backstage Magazine for over a decade. He has completed CTI’s Co-Active Coach Training Program and Marianne Willamson’s Teaching the Teachers training.
Now based in Los Angeles, Brian coaches all types of creative clients (not just actors!) and in Actor Salon, as well as nationwide in his brand new web course, Your Audition Magnet. He travels as an educator and speaker and continues to connect with clients who thrive at the intersection of art and commerce.
ACTOR DEMO REEL SERVICES:
If you listened to my podcast with Mick Dowd you know Reel’s aren’t absolutely necessary - and Brian doubles down. If you’re gonna do them, make sure you do them VERY well. Below are some of his suggestions.
*NOTE: Brian listed these to me with the caveat that I make VERY clear these are a few options he’s seen work but the result was reflective of the detail and hard work his clients put into their preparation:
Toby: What is up, The Lawless Crowd, that's you. It is late in the evening, my wife, children and mother in law are sleeping in the house. My dog is next to me. And I want to tell you all about this amazing episode. Okay, so, in this episode, I sat down with master actor and creative coach Brian Patacca also a friend to discuss business, marketing, spirituality of yes, commercial acting. Yes, I said it. Spirituality of commercial acting. Brian is such a big spirit himself. I've known and I worked with him for years, he has helped guide so many actors through the craziness of this business, the career as the Founder of Actor Salon and this conversation was special. We met on a very rainy day at his house, yes, rainy day in LA, it was pouring. I'd soaked my pants taking my kids to school, had to stop, changed my pants, get to Brian's house, set up, audio quality is okay but good enough. We talked all about how actors run their business, how they market, how this craft is a calling and the way that he sees it. He's enthusiastic, empathetic, authentic and a spiritual guide for a career that needs all of those things. When I worked with him personally, he never let me get away with anything without calling me out in his loving way and holding me accountable. Okay, big word there. That is a gift, accountability that many actors should seek out. Accountability, guys, people helping you do what you say you're going to do when you know what you need to do. So in this, we talked about those things. We cover things like why defining your look is so important and a really practical exercise that you could do at home to figure it out. We talk about how you can use generosity and curiosity to network effectively and how to the lobby outside the audition room is the most important place to prepare. And last but not least, why being consistent as an actor in the way you approach your business is the most important trait of all booking actors. So buckle up, sit down, walk the plank. Let's do this.
Toby: Brian Patacca, hey, welcome.
Toby: I should say, you should say,
Brian: Welcome to you, welcome to my home.
Toby: It's a beautiful house.
Brian: So glad you here, thank you.
Toby: Got the Christmas tree out.
Brian: No lights yet, but we're on the way.
Toby: I can see.
Brian: Can you smell, did you smell it when you walked in?
Toby: I sure did. But you also have candles burning.
Brian: I do candles burning and it's a rainy day so I think that tempers down the smells.
Toby: Oh, so much rain, it is so nice.
Brian: It is nice.
Toby: I think we can hear it.
Brian: I woke up early today and I could hear it outside. I was like maybe today is the day you get to sleep in but that, today's not the day.
Toby: What's early?
Brian: I woke up at like it's 6:30.
Brian: I had a training session this morning. And I want to get there in time and
Brian: Physical, yes.
Toby: All right then. Hey, man, thanks for doing this.
Brian: Actually I'm really glad to be here.
Toby: I have worked with you. We are friends. We work together, but I've worked with, I don't know that everyone knows that you coached me a bunch. And it was awesome for my business.
Brian: Great. Glad to hear you say that. Yeah. It was --
Toby: Always love working with you.
Toby: And always refer people. So people like who's Brian Patacca?
Toby: So who is Brian Patacca?
Brian: Why should they listen to me right now?
Brian: These actors, right. So I think it's important to give some fair story of where I'm come from, you know, this [inaudible 0:03:26] and how it came to be what I do, how it came to be what I do. That's a good phrase.
I was in New York City for a long time. And I was acting and I was a successful actor and I was making my living as an actor. I felt very lucky and grateful that that's where I was.
Toby: What were you doing?
Brian: So I was doing, I was in and off Broadway show for six years. No, it ran for six years. I was in it for a year and a half. It was called the Donkey Show.
Toby: Oh, yes. I saw the Donkey Show.
Brian: Did you? Oh, you may see me. When did you see it?
Toby: I saw it in 2000.
Brian: You saw me! You saw me! I was in the show in 2000, for sure.
Toby: It was a great show.
Brian: Oh, yes. So that's my first --
Toby: A breakout for a little guy coming out of Seattle going to New York.
Brian: Oh, yes.
Toby: College in Vermont?
Brian: Blow your mind, yes.
Toby: Dude, great show.
Brian: Yes and that was Diane Paulus's show that made her the most famous at first. She's won, she's been nominated and won Tony Awards since then. Good, was great to work with her. So I did that. And then while I was in the show, I was auditioning for commercials and TV.
And the show had a really great clause where I could leave and go to a play and come back all the time. So it really quickly became the foundation for having an ongoing acting career that actually paid my bills. And I would be backstage and I hear the other actors saying the stupid stuff they were doing for their careers. And it would make me crazy.
Toby: Like what?
Brian: I'm not getting any auditions, or I don't think my agents working for me or I'm not getting auditions for what I want. Or I guess I'm going to send postcards like, just very inconsistent with who they were being in their business. And I knew these people, they were fabulous performers, right? Like I was with them, like, I knew they were talented.
And so like, this is not the way things should be. And the secret part of the story --
Toby: Were they good people too, or were they annoying people? Really --.
Brian: They were all great people, I was lucky. Now we were, we were actually what's funny is we have one dressing room where we're all in the same room and like in the Donkey Show like we're not wearing a lot of clothes.
Brian: And we're all in --
Toby: I remember.
Brian: Same room together. Yes, we're all in the same room together. I guess it wasn't that memorable, because you didn't remember me?
Toby: Well, I was looking at the women.
Brian: Yes, of course, you were. So yes, they're all good people. They were all good people. But I had already like left Northwestern which is where I went to school. The first job I had was working in advertising for Broadway.
Toby: Oh, really.
Brian: So I had a real normal corporate agency job. And so I really knew about advertising and marketing before I came to --
Toby: I didn't know that.
Brian: Yes, that's where I really think I learned a lot. And I worked at a company called Serino Coyne. If you Google them, you'll see that they still handle almost all Broadway advertising. My clients were Broadway producers, was an incredible time. I learned so much. And then I walked in my boss's office one day and said I don't want to grow up to be you. And left and got a show where like.
Toby: Did he like it when you told him?
Brian: He was a friend at this point so it was fine. He totally got it. And I got a show right away. I felt very lucky.
Brian: And then as I was making my living as an actor, and as I was backstage and hearing those people say those things, I started to call my co-stars over and say like, let's talk about the cast members like this, what are you doing? Let me help you do this.
And so I noticed that, like, I had a different way of looking at this stuff. And I figured that came from my marketing background.
Brian: And so then people started to seek me out because I sort of got a name around the actors. They're like, tell me how to do this, what are you doing? Cause people were getting agents, people are getting auditions.
Toby: So you were sort of given, you're basically giving them business advice?
Brian: Totally business advises, yes.
Toby: With regards to their acting career.
Brian: Just in regards to their acting career, yes. And so they were getting successful. And that was what was exciting to them. And I was doing it with my own career at the same time. And then I quickly, I worked for a company where my job was literally to coach actors and to coach other coaches in the business of acting.
And that I travelled the world teaching that was incredible. And then I quit that job because I was making my living as an actor, was awesome.
Toby: This is in New York?
Brian: It's in New York, so yes. And when I was making my living as an actor, I still couldn't stop coaching. Now, it's still, I was like, this is not enough. I'm only on set two days a week like I had other things I want to do, right? So I'll be coaching actors all the time, all the time.
And so I started these small groups where I would coach like six or seven people at a time. And of course, at first, I was one of the people I was coaching.
Toby: Of course.
Brian: So I was like a part of it. But then I was like, no, I just want to be the coach in the room. And I just became, that's all and I love coaching. So switch to you know, 2010 moved to LA and was still being an actor, doing it all.
And after about a year and of course, the coaching thing came up again, I was like I'm coaching again because it wasn't enough to just be an actor. And then I started to get annoyed when I got auditions. And it really switched things for me. I was like, oh, I really want to be coaching. I just felt so aligned when I was coaching.
Toby: Do you feel like that's a harbinger of sorts when you start getting annoyed getting out there? Since I have gone through that as well. And when I particularly when I've been trying to do other stuff like running session, it just starts to get real, like, man, now I gotta like work around my whole [inaudible 0:07:29], as opposed to getting excited at the opportunity.
Brian: I think it depends, because I have to be really discerning I think, Toby when it comes to that stuff, because you can also get like, freaked out anxious when you get noticed, like, oh my god, I gotta move my stuff around and I got to get my schedule working.
That kind of anxiety can start to be, feel very similar to I'm annoyed that I have an audition. But I actually feel like it's not the same thing.
Brian: Right? So I was actually having a feeling of like, why am I bothering to do this, I don't even want the job that's at the end of this.
Brian: I was having a lot of that coming up. And I kept being pulled away off of my time that I'd sit in front of a client and work with them. And I was like, I want to be with the client. So, yes, so what happened was coaching was a hobby, acting was my profession and it inverted. So coaching was my profession and acting became a hobby.
And right now, like, I only do commercials and it feels great and it feels like a hobby. And if I don't get an audition for two months, I don't care and sometimes like it doesn't matter to me, because I'm really, I want to sit across from someone and help them you know, make their dreams real. That's what I want to spend my time doing.
Toby: Was Actor Salon born into this point or?
Brian: Actor Salon was born in New York.
Toby: So that's when, when you started getting your groups together, that's
Toby: The birth of Actor Salon.
Brian: That's the birth of Actor Salon.
Toby: And did you call it Actor Salon at the time?
Brian: I didn't, we call it Actor Accountability Salon, we called it AAS.
Toby: Actor, so AAS?
Brian: AAS, yes.
Toby: So tell me, you know, you sort of, I understand why you started teaching that you're helping people with business but when you, what's the elevator pitch of Actor Salon?
Brian: Great. Actor Salon is a platform for creative people who want to be more accountable and have marketing acumen in their businesses.
Toby: So it's not just for actors?
Brian: It isn't just for actors, but we don't change the name because if I that, I'm I do one on one coaching for non-actors a lot. But I have salons that are non-actor related. I have a client in one of our salons, that is a dating coach.
Brian: But what is so interesting is that business is the same when you're a solo entrepreneur, which is what an actor is like it's all the same stuff. It's all the same marketing circle. What I did with you, when we worked on your businesses, the same stuff --
Brian: That I do with actors, it's just a different way of looking at it. Right.
Toby: So breakdown to me how these meetings would go down and why you enjoy them and --
Toby: Why actors kept coming back to you?
Brian: And I'm going to talk both about the group sessions and the one on ones, I think because that's helpful.
Toby: Let's start with the group.
Brian: Okay, so the group session is, you know, like six to eight, you don't know this, but six to eight people in the room.
Toby: Well, I thought of it.
Brian: You right, okay. Six to eight people in the room, one of the Actors' assigned coaches, I'm one of the coaches and there are a couple other coaches. There's actually more than a couple. And we are going through for about two and a half hours.
We start the class with a very, kind of a ceremony way of kind of connecting and it's getting in the room together. We don't like stuck on crystals or light Palo Santo, but it's you know, it's around there.
And then we go one by one through each actor in the room and say, hey, did you get this done? Did you get that done? Did you get this done, get this done, this done? Great. And then --
Toby: These things are from previous meetings?
Brian: From the week before, right, and then we're going to say okay, so what do you need to do in the next seven days to move the needle to what we know your six-month goal is, your six year goal, your 10 years goal?
Toby: So if I'm in Actor Salon, you basically, this is not just flat out a pitch for you. But it's also I'm interested because you structured this as a way to generate success.
Toby: And what I'm hearing you saying and sort of from what I know you work with is you'd set sort of stretch goals, longer-term goals --
Toby: But then you'd also set the more immediate short term goals that you need to accomplish in order to achieve the long term.
Brian: Right so the macro, we know the macro vision of what you want --
Toby: Which might be something like what?
Brian: I want to book a guest star.
Toby: In the next year.
Brian: Usually we work in a six-month chunk.
Brian: We will touch on year, 10 year, five year but usually when we're speaking week to week, we're talking in the six-month chunk and it will be so the micro one will be the next seven days.
What are you doing to get this done? And we might even say okay, so what's interesting is you know, even though it's a group, each person is you know, they're individuals.
Toby: Of course, so is a grouping, right, group. So when you set, I mean, who sets the long term? Does it have to be, has to be --
Brian: That's the conversation.
Toby: It has to be realistic.
Brian: It has to be, yes, it has to be specific, measurable, accountable.
Brian: SMART, yes, SMART goal but I hate the R. SMART goals using have realistic and I say forget that.
Brian: So I say, I did a middle finger to Toby just now you guys. So it's specific, which means it's, we know what it is right, we can understand what is. It's measurable. There's a number that's what measurable means.
Accountable means there's a date by which you've got it done. R for me is resonant, which kind of translates to I'm going to get into that in a second. And T is thrilling. So
Toby: Why do you hit realistic?
Brian: I'll tell you why. I'm going to give you two things. One resonant to me means when you are sitting still with yourself, you know that is the thing you're meant to do. So it isn't the goal you think someone else's told you to do. It isn't the goal that is what is a stepping stone to something else.
Resonant is for me when you feel most aligned with the universe and if you use God then aligned with god he's like that is the thing I meant to do. It is they would say this in Judaism or if you guys don't know this yet I'm also trained as a Reverend. So there's a lot of --
Toby: Is it true?
Brian: Yes, yes, yes, a non-denominational Reverend.
Brian: So the spiritual piece of this is that the phrase that they send in Judaism is this small still voice for God. Right. They have a small still voice for the universe if that appeals to you.
Toby: Higher power.
Brian: Yes, right. So when you're quiet, you can actually hear like, is this what I really want. So for me, that's what resonant is. And then T, which I think of thrilling, which means holy stuff, I'm almost afraid to say this out loud. This is the thing.
So like, on the worldly level, this is the thing like you can't, like you're giddy for it. Right. So one is the quiet space and one is the excitement space. And so the way I deal with realistic is I say that realistic is resonant to the R power.
Toby: I guess A is achievable, is that right?
Brian: No, for me, accountable. I need a date by which it's done.
Toby: I see. Okay.
Brian: So wait, I want to --
Toby: Did you change it though? Was it A?
Brian: There's, I mean.
Toby: You measure them, okay.
Brian: But so also the resonant to the R power is really important because the way I like to think of realistic is the oldest for me, the oldest man in the world who's really, really wise who loves me inside out.
Brian: And all he says when I say I want to book a million dollars in commercials, he heard me say that as my goal. All this old man who loves me so much, this realistic Grandpa, all he says to me is that feels like you might be working really hard. Can we tweak that a little bit?
It's just that little very gentle voice of; we don't want you to be too hard on yourself. That's where I want realistic to come from. I don't want it to come from otherwise we dream small. And I hear tons of actors say I just want to book a co-star. I just want to book one commercial. And I'm like, why do you want to book a co-star?
If you actually want to have a co-star because oh my god, I can't wait to be on TV. Like that's all I want to do, like great, then you really do want to book a co-star. But if you're interested so that I can book a guest star then you don't want to book a costar.
Toby: You want to book a guest star?
Brian: You want to book a guest star or you're looking for an experience on set when we have drill down. Yes.
Toby: Well, that's interesting, because on one hand is sort of the reverse order that you'd say you say it. Okay, well, you wanted to book a guest star but we will set a closer goal of booking co-star.
Brian: Which makes me want to barf.
Toby: What, selling it short? But isn't it --
Toby: A short term goal.
Brian: Yes, but here's the truth. You are not going to be excited for six months of me at you every single week telling, asking you what you're going to do in the next seven days if it is a goal, which feels like I'm putting training wheels on. So it doesn't matter if you achieve it to me.
Brian: I want you to but I need your North Star to feel really sexy.
Brian: Sorry, I'm swearing a lot.
Toby: That's okay.
Brian: Or it's not going to actually be something you want to do. Right?
Toby: You know, I think that setting really specific clear goals that you can imagine and you then you know, the resonance is I feel like a good word. Because it's something you can feel and you feel like it's something you want. It's so important in like it's so.
You know, being an actor, any creative professional is difficult because you don't have these clear cut benchmarks for success. You know, it's like, everyone has their own path, especially in a city like LA where we, what's the word I'm looking for? Fantasizes or --
Toby: No, like we scandalous, grandiose --
Brian: Grandiose, is a good one.
Toby: Well, like, you know, like we create these fairy tales to success where it's like, oh, Shirley's throne was discovered in a bank when she couldn't make a deposit her last three days or something?
Brian: Yes, yes.
Toby: And there's not an emphasis on the work really.
Brian: So yes.
Toby: Like the struggling but just to finish because I sort of got waylaid there. But the idea of setting really clear goals and when I'm teaching, I'm talking about that in the room where it's like, we know our results goal, the desired outcome is booking this job. But if we're focused on that outcome in the moment, that's not going to help us.
We need to focus on actionable things in the room. So what and what are those actionable things? Well, those are going to be the things that you know, help you achieve that larger goal. And it seems to me I mean, this isn't new, you know, this has been defined as
Toby: Goal setting strategy, but you do the same thing. And you have this big goal that then you have these little goals of like, okay, so now, how are we going to arrive at that goal? And what do the end this and am I right?
Brian: And we had said, is this why I love the way you teach because you just described the microcosm of what it is to achieve a goal right in the room in the moment, right.
So a lot of times, I was talking to a client yesterday, and I was saying, look, you know what it looks like to work towards TV right now. You kind of know what it looks like to work towards film right now.
Brian: If you let go of the goal, which one of those pathways do you like? If one is pea gravel and one's a dirt road, you kind of know what that feels like.
Toby: Pea gravel or gravel.
Brian: Like gravel, scooter, okay, right. Yes Or if it's gravel or something like you. I'm often saying, like, let's talk about how the path is going to feel more than the outcome --
Toby: The journey.
Brian: Yes, the journey more than the outcome, because we're talking about we're going to feel in the outcome, it's not going to. The only thing outside of yourself that will change your life is an organ transplant. Stealing that from Anne Lamott.
Toby: I mean, that was funny. Well, it's funny, I'll give you another sort of random analogy, which is my wedding. Danielle and I made the decision really early. I was like, I want to enjoy this process because this planning process is way longer than the wedding. And tends to at least has the reputation of being very stressful.
And we ended up really enjoying actually planning. And then we also enjoyed the day. So I hit that a lot like, you have to be having fun at your audition. Like, we take that for granted, you know that it's fun because we get so wrapped up in achieving stuff, but enjoying the process impacts the outcome, impacts you outcome.
Brian: So what you're talking about, also is this big, this is so important to me. This is why I think I was getting pissed off backstage, the donkey show. This is your life right now, while you're listening to this podcast, it's not tomorrow, it's not when you achieve the thing. It's right now and so much of what we do, I think in a creative career is work towards the thing in the future.
Brian: And what this reminds me of like, I just got such a good vision of the front of the website of Actor Salon says love your career. And or maybe it says love your life and career, I should know that. But anyway, it says love your career, that's not the same as a lot of other places out that are like make your acting career happen. Right?
And to me really speaks to what I believe because I want you to day by day, as you walk down the street, driving your car, go to the audition, don't get to go to the audition, feel like you are fulfilled and on the path, you're meant to be. And so that's what you're speaking to is like, if we only put the after the achievement, then it's always the benchmark just keeps changing.
Toby: So to bring it back to the way that the salon works, everyone sort of has their own goals. I'm assuming they're writing them down, it clear.
Brian: There's a list made.
Toby: The accountability is such a big thing, you know, and anyone who has been an actor, we struggle with this, where it's like, we know we want to work. That's basically the extent that most actors go to identifying what successes is like. Knowing what that means and it's tough because we think success, oh, it's booking that's working.
And there has to be some clarity for that. And I always tell actors, like, booking is really not a great metric for how well you're doing, because there are too many outside forces. But that being said, How are you going to get there?
What's the plan, you know, and like, it's easy to set sort of all you know, we get motivated in moments by ourselves and we sort of say I'm gonna send out those postcards. I'm gonna do X, Y& Z but the accountability is such a big factor, like having someone who you say it to, and then they follow up with you.
Brian: What you're saying is the truth. Because what happens is we get spurts of inspiration, motivation, you know, and stamina as a tough one.
Brian: And if you're saying in front of seven other people, I'm going to do this by next week. And then you come in and you say yes to it, there's a different thing that happens inside of you beyond getting it done, where you start to notice how you can actually affect change in your own life.
And that emotional and spiritual musculature that shows up because of that is a new you that shows up who can really hold themselves accountable. People don't usually join salon for like, a month, they usually are like, six, eight months, a year, two years, because they are seeing incredible growth, not only in the career but who they are.
And what you said is like, it's so hard to be accountable. Because you're like, Who cares? It's very easy to be like no one notices, and I don't get a response from my postcards. Does this matter? You know, and then you suddenly you book a job and like, oh great, hi, and I'm gonna, I'm gonna I love the phrase, I'm going to build on the momentum of this job.
And after you say that to me, I also like, okay, so you know what that means? And again, I'm gonna do this. Oh, yeah, I don't really know, I want my agent to build that momentum of this job. I was like, well, we're part of that building of the imaginary just be like, God, I understand it the idea of that. But we actually have to do things to build that momentum.
Toby: Okay, so while we're on this with things to do, tell me a little bit about the actors. You've worked with a ton of actors, both one on one and in your salons. And you know that a ton of actors, I'm interested in the habits, that they have, the types of things that they do because I'm all about actionable stuff.
Like, what is it that, what's the through-line for successful actors who you feel like are; as booking be also enjoying the process, things that they're doing where you're like, yes, see, you're doing that thing.
Brian: So the number one thing, because this bridge is both what you said, the professional I like the mindset is, consistency. And consistency comes from being able to route yourself in a healthy way mindset around this, which I think kind of leads to the spiritual and then comes into the like when I'm doing my business stuff.
My business stuff is outside of what I was called to. I was called to being an actor, I must step into being an actor. That's what the universe wants for me. It's what I'm demanded to do while I'm here on this planet right now. If you can live in that certainty, it's a lot easier to be like I got to send postcards because you know, the universe wills them an actor.
It's much easier to be there. Right? So the first thing is consistency. So to consistency is not, I got some help on my acting career in last week, or like three months ago, and now coming back around to it again. It is a somehow you need to have a way to stay clocked in, I'm the business part of this.
Brian: Yes, discipline is a huge word for me because that's it comes from disciple, right.
Toby: Consistent on the business side,
Brian: Consistency, yes. And I think that the stamina for that comes from,
Toby: And when you say, be consistent is a powerful habit you're talking about in their approach to their business and what their strategy is, and what ,
Brian: Yes, it's not just the beginning of the resolution time, I care again. I'm gonna look for an agent now. And then, three months later, I didn't happen. So I guess I'll just, let go for a while. And I'll come back to you again later. Like, no, we just not to go doggedly at something where you're banging your head against the wall.
But like, what's the new way to look at this? Is there a different way to try this? So I think that there's this thing that goes out where actors for like, we collect a lot of rumors of how to do things from other actors. And we kind of use that as our business plan. Rumors are not a business plan, like sitting down with an expert is a business plan.
If you don't sit down with me sit down with somebody else. But like, actually, learning what the business is very different than like, just looking to see what other actors have done. You should be having your own business coach, right.
You didn't say like, I'm going to run my business, Toby's business by just thinking that I was born with the idea of how to run a business. You came to me to add to that, then you went out and sought other information, right?
Toby: Yes. Okay. So consistency.
Brian: And what's the question?
Toby: Successful habits of these actors?
Brian: Okay. So consistency, yes. is one and the other is treating of the craft, that is a calling. So idea that we're not because I'm talking about people who book right. So this may sound like why are you talking about postcards? I'm actually talking about my woman who booked a series regular, right?
I'm talking about her experience was, yes, we talked about postcards. Yes, we sent thank you after every single audition, yes, she continued to reach out to her manager and stay present in that relationship and get the good headshots and all that stuff.
But the part that switched for her was getting clear on who she's being in the room and what she has to contribute into an audition room or onset. And that comes from the universe, God, whatever you believe. And so that we know that that's the purpose in the room and not booking the job like you already talked about.`
Toby: So what's the take on postcards? Because I --
Brian: You have all kinds of, you don't like them.
Toby: Well, no, you know, I started not liking them. I started when I first I was like, you guys, don't send them, just don't send them.
Brian: And I totally disagree.
Toby: I know. So I would say don't send them guys. They're just gonna end up on it.
Brian: Yeah, I know do, yes.
Toby: And but you know what, I had actors who didn't work with you and got through. I saw them like at the audition. So now I come around saying like, okay, look, as long as you know, 80% chance they're going to go in the garbage. 20% chance they get seen, there's always a chance.
And if it's worth that investment to whether it's because we're creating good energy and like I feel like I'm doing something because what else are you going to do? And that's what I want to ask you because like after that, what else can we do?
Brian: Well, I don't like a loser. I don't want to do things that aren't going to work just to make you feel good. That's a bunch of malarkey. But what I do like about this is right, so we're in the mailroom right now. Let's imagine your actor businesses like this huge, like hundred story building, postcards, you're spending time in the mailroom.
You don't spend a lot of time here. Figure this stuff out and get out of the room. So the way I think of it is it is your job to send a postcard every single month to every single person you met in the business, not actors but writer, director, producers, casting directors.
Toby: Yes. Saying what?
Brian: Figure that out a second, one thing at a time, bitch, okay. So you need to send an email every single month saying basically saying I exist.
Brian: It's your job to send that, the way you pay a bill or you pay your rent. Get that on autopilot, I literally developed an entire division of my business that just helps actor send their postcards so that they don't have to worry about this anymore.
Toby: Oh, yeah. So it's set it up. And it goes on
Brian: Every single month.
Toby: It's automated.
Brian: Automated that --
Toby: And the idea is what? I'm putting myself out there. I'm taking care of --
Brian: The idea being when I walk into an audition room, I will go into a room with five other guys all my same exact type.
Brian: And like, you know, when you go to a commercial audition, there's a session runner like yourself or doesn't like the casting director comes in, sometimes you're casting but then there's also the casting director comes in. I've there's more than one occasion where the casting director comes in and they go, hi, Brian.
They don't say hi to any other person up there. Right? I don't know that person any better. But what they know is there's an exchange of energy that comes from I'm using my hands. And I'm like sending you a postcard says, I understand that you work hard to make decisions about who you call in every day.
Brian: And I'm going to understand that I want to make an investment in that. And I appreciate it. So I'm making an investment back in this 25, 50, 75 cents that I'm putting here is a way of saying I understand this exchange of energy. It's like the law of divine compensation for me.
So whether or not it means they saw it, or they saw one out of the four that I said in the past four months, I'm going to get seen because I'm doing it consistently. The mistake is you do it once in a while and you listen to someone that says they're never, they gonna throw 80% away. Well, yes, because you're not sending it every single month. So you're wasting your time. So either do it consistently or forget about it.
Toby: Well, it's funny, because so your approaches, and I actually agree with this, which is this idea of like work begets work, like putting energy out. And I understand, and I appreciate that's a big part of your approach. The idea that's there's a calling here and there's something bigger at work.
And when we put energy out, it comes back in and I actually do believe in that. I get so fixated on being really practical with stuff. So I always tell people, I'm like, look if you have the energy, financial time, go for it. What do you have to lose?
Brian: Oh yes, I'm not. So here's the idea, yes.
Toby: But to that point, like, that's why we agree where I'm like, but don't feel like this is the solution.
Brian: No, you're in the mailroom.
Toby: You did everything. Like so when you said to spend as little time possible doing this, but this is one thing you take care of because I'm also big harping on like, do what you have control of. Focus on what you have control, you have control of putting yourself out there. The return on investment on here is scientifically quite low. However, you're doing something you have control of.
Brian: I'm sorry, you're wrong. The scientific if I booked one commercial, I've just paid for my commercials in the year.
Toby: And all your postcards.
Brian: Yes, I paid for all my postcards. Yes, doesn't make completely wrong. I can send 12 postcards, which would cost me maybe, but for my database, right. There probably cost me 80 bucks. I use vista something. So that's about a thousand dollars, right?
Toby: I hear what you saying.
Brian: For a year, right? I'm going high here. This is kind of high. Right.
Toby: Sure, you have nice postcards.
Brian: Right, right. But I sometimes will skip the month of like, I might skip one month. That's it. Right.
Toby: Consistently skip that month.
Brian: So I booked that back in one commercial more than that, and one commercial for sure.
Brian: So that my investment there makes complete sense. Now I do, so listen, the reason why I even started all this is that I don't want to just waste money or wasting time, which I think is the definition of practical. So to me, I totally agree with you. So I have actors who like no, you're not sending postcards right now.
Because for example, one of my actresses, she doesn't care about commercials and an agent gets great, she has a great commercial rate anyway. She doesn't need to be working on that right now.
Toby: Got it.
Brian: Theatrically, she does send postcards to a theatrical people because she is focused on that.
Toby: So strategy.
Brian: We can explore there, yes.
Toby: Okay, cool. And because we don't want people spending too much time on postcards.
Brian: No, let's not spend all out time either, yes.
Toby: Okay, but so marketing, tell me a little you know, you come from marketing. So what is it? Because I have actors talk to me a lot about like, how can I get into more offices? Should I send postcards? What else can I do? How do I develop these relationships with casting directors or agents? And I tell them, I don't know.
But I'll tell you how to audition is great. But this is why, you know, I want to interview you, because this is something you spend a lot of time on, you've worked with a ton of actors, you've seen them have success, you know, you've tried a lot of different things. So talk to me about acting as a business, talk to me about marketing.
Like, what's the approach here? Well, I just moved to LA. I have there's a passion for acting. I do believe, my god, this is my calling. This is what I want to do. I know that this is there's a business to what the hell should I do?
Brian: Okay, well, there's That's a big question. So I'll simply do the best I can. Okay, let's go for it. So first of all, again, what I came to is consistency, as soon as you said that. Because what I need the person who's receiving whatever piece of marketing you're getting to them, whatever how they're ever going to see you is I see traction, this person's career.
I see them moving forward. So whether that's a postcard or an email, or a newsletter, or an improv show, or you see them in real life, right? All of those things come to me as part of what marketing looks like.
Brian: And I think, --
Toby: They call it like a view or something like --
Brian: Yes, a touch. They call it a touch, right? Yes. And to me, you know, when I sat with an actor, one of the things that happen too often I think, is someone says to me, you need to get new headshots. And actors are really good at like hearing that note and going out and spending the money because that makes sense. And it feels like yes, that's a tool I should fix, right?
Toby: Something you can do.
Brian: And so the truth is, you need to be submitting on all those websites like we talked about.
Brian: Everyday consistency, again, don't bail out, I did it a few days this week. Oh, great, some other actor did it every single day, who wants it more? And the other is to every single person you ever audition for or booked by for the rest of your life go on a database and you stay in touch with them every single month by email and by postcard.
Toby: How did you get their email? I'm not giving anybody my email.
Brian: If you can't, well sure if you can find their email, then that's --
Toby: If you have their email.
Brian: If you have their email. We don't want to go fishing for email addresses unless you've met the person.
Toby: And I will tell you something that you can pass on to your actors, which is yes, like so when I have interviewed my casting directors at the end and I'll do with you. Hey, so how can people get in touch you? Don't, you know, because they get such an onslaught, then that's why you can't just oh hey, walk back into their office.
Because if you can then we are to audition 100 actors a day, we'd have 200 actors or, hey, can I come in? And it's like hey, not to say they don't like you, they love you. But they just are trying to do a job. And you know, we're in a talent-rich pool; LA. Okay, it's tough.
But what I will say is finding out who the director is, especially after a callback and you can do that by looking at the production company, finding out somehow you know, the new exhibits for SAG jobs, have the directors name. Do we always put them? No. Do we sometimes? Yes. And sending a postcard to them, that happens so rarely.
Brian: Okay, they never get mail.
Toby: They never get mail.
Brian: That's why I'm, so I always say like, you need all these customers to come into store; the writer, director, producer and casting director.
Brian: And the casting director is like, the small spender, they don't have the big money because they get, their shopping like crazy. They're in a shopping spree. They're going all over the place.
The writer, directors and producers, they'll only shop, they don't actually shop that often. So they're getting fewer people in their face. So you want to make sure that those are the people on here.
Toby: So if you can find that, I've had students tell me hey, I used to send thank you notes to directors after callbacks, people ask her, how did she get that? So I go, well, she knew where the, she looks for the production company and she found out the directors emails and sent it to the production company. Those ---
Brian: Google it. Yes. Any product you, [inaudible 0:52:29] yes.
Toby: And she's had directors going, hey, no one's ever done that before. That's so cool. And directors remember, that's a big part of their job. They make requests. They're like, hey, let me get Brian Patacca. He was awesome. Like, that's another note that I tell actors a lot where they're like, I went into this job, I wasn't right. Everyone was older than me. And I just don't even know why. And --
Brian: You know what, so I heard of directors, you know we couldn't catch him, that's because I'm so glad we got you in on this one. Like, I've heard them say that.
Toby: Oh, I see it in the callbacks all the time. Like hey, brian did you go on for Fox Sports last week? You're like, oh, yes, they saw like, yes, I saw you. You're great. You weren't right for that but that's why I called you in today. Okay, so it's not always about --
Brian: Yes, yes.
Toby: Job. That's where we talked about I'll book the room or book the. It's like, create a consistent product.
Brian: And then, stay in touch with that person. You got to figure it out. Every audition you have is a seed of tons of people that you need to keep staying in contact with.
Toby: And let me just add a note to that. And this is relevant to podcasts.
Toby: Oh, sorry, to postcards, which is be authentic, you know. There's sort of a generic template for these postcards. I get my headshot on the front of my thing. I used to and I actually, it's funny, yes, I did actually send postcards but I literally sent old ass postcards, didn't have my face on them, okay. That may be not the best marketing.
Toby: However, I wrote notes so know that hey, I met you. You're awesome. Thanks for taking the time. And guess what? Getting this random-ass vintage postcard that was very authentic to who I was, stood out because they're like, wait, what is this? Old postcard.
Brian: I really like when people get creative with their postcards actually. You cannot make it just be your headshot. You can actually do something. I had a client who moved from Florida and she did one of those like, those Florida like, [inaudible 0:54:10] her name and it's I just moved here. It was super cute and people notice it.
Toby: And like, yes, you should probably put your photo or maybe it's a dragon, go on Fiverr and get someone to do a character drawing of you or something. But that all of a sudden is going to stand out. And I think you being authentic and thinking, listen, if I was in their shoes, what type of postcard would I want? What would I want to get? What do I? And all of a sudden now the process is a little more fun. And you're like, oh, I'm gonna do something that --
Brian: And don't only be actors to them, I always say. Like I have a client who works at places where she can give away free classes, I have a client who gives away free headshots like Toby, if you ever want hook this up, I can hook, like, go ahead and give your hookups to them.
Brian: Say that, that's an important one.
Toby: So we're wrapping up. I've got a couple more things I want to talk about. One I know is your one on ones.
Toby: Tell me just a little bit about that.
Brian: Okay, I have to be on my computer in four minutes. I want to make some time but exact like, there's never an option. I'm doing lots of money for the month.
Brian: Okay. So what do you want me to talk about?
Toby: Do you want to talk about one on ones?
Brian: No, I'll talk with one second. Should I? No, I don't have to talk about it now. It's not the right timing.
Toby: Okay. Okay. So here we go. Okay, so wrapping up. I want to do a little free association.
Toby: Okay. I'm going to say a word. I just want you to say the first thing that comes to mind.
Toby: Okay. Confidence is
Toby: And being successful is
Toby: Being relaxed.
Toby: Preparation is
Toby: Headshots are
Toby: Being an actor is
Toby: Okay, so now, tell me how can people get in touch with you? Where can they find you?
Brian: brianpatacca.com is the best place to get in touch with me.
Brian: Correct. Well done. And that's not brain, a lot of people write brain and they're even saying like, I'm that's.
Toby: BrianPatacca.com. And there's a way to --
Brian: And also Instagram, a lot of people reach out to me there and I try to post inspirational stuff. So that's Brian says that.
Toby: Brian says that. Awesome.
Brian: Yes. And also one of the promises that I want to make to anybody is if you have a question out there, a lot of times address questions are simple. And I can write you back with one sentence. So email me, Brian@actorsalon, if there's something you're stuck on. And if it's something that's easy, I'll write you back. If it's somebody that calls for coaching, I'll let you know. But many times I can answer pretty simply.
Toby: Awesome. Thank you, bro.
Brian: Thank you so much. Yes!
Toby: You're awesome.
Brian: Thank you.