The Top 3 Things a Hosting Agent Looks for in a Reel

November 1, 2016

If you want a successful career in broadcast hosting, one of the first things you need to do is find a great agent to represent you. It may sound simple, but it’s tougher to get your foot in the door than you might think.

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-4-55-23-pm

One key to getting agent representation is to put together a great reel. You know, we live in a digital world. Anyone with a camera can shoot and post a hosting video online— and tons of people do—but only a few of them really stand out. So, the question is…

How do you make a reel that showcases your work and grabs the attention of potential agents?

Mark Turner who started the Host/Broadcast division at Abrams Artists Agency over two decades ago shared the top three things every agent looks for in a reel.

  1. Authenticity: Make sure your reel is authentic to who you are and the brand you want to convey to viewers. For instance, if you love to cook, you could film yourself preparing your favorite dish or interviewing the chef at a restaurant.
  2. Personality: It is absolutely critical to show your personality. It doesn’t matter how passionate or knowledgeable you are about a subject, if you can’t be engaging and fun on camera, you’re never going to get noticed. Are you funny? Quirky? Charming? Figure out what your strongest assets are and make sure we see them on your reel.
  3. Editing: Don’t forget to keep the focus on you versus other people in your video and avoid long interviews. Stick to quick edits that show off good one-­liners and important points. Make sure the clips move quickly to keep the viewer engaged, and keep the reel to 2-3 minutes max.

Something I’ve learned in my 20 years as a TV host, and 15 as a media coach, is that successful on-air talent never try to be anyone other than him or herself. Don’t do something on camera just because you saw someone else do it. Find elements of your personality that make YOU stand out. Watch yourself on camera and notice how you’re coming across. Would you want to watch you? Who would?

Remember: If you’re uncomfortable, so is your audience.

The truth is, anyone viewing your reel will know within the first 30 seconds whether they like you and want to see more. So, never include anything you don’t love. Once you create a video you feel great about, it’s time to start sharing it with agents who represent TV hosts and on-air experts. Mark points out that he looks at every video he receives, so go ahead and send that reel!

If you’re looking for more guidance on how to develop your on-­camera personality, build confidence and connect with your audience, sign up for our one-­day intensive TV Host Training Workshop on December 3 at One on One in New York City. Space is limited. Learn more and register at www.tvhosttraining.com.


markturnertMARK TURNER

VP, Alternative & Digital Programming Division, Abrams Artists Agency

Upon graduation from Connecticut College in 1993, Mark started working as an assistant to the head of the commercial dept. at Abrams Artists Agency.  After 2.5 years, he was promoted to agent and started up the Host/Broadcast Division. Over the last 2 decades, the department, now titled, the Alternative & Digital Division, has morphed into a one-stop shop for all things under the non-fiction umbrella. Mark has represented top on air hosts, experts, personalities, producers, and digital influencers, in all aspects of unscripted TV and digital. He’s worked with, and placed talent, and sold shows, with every major production company, cable channel, broadcast network, syndicator, and digital platform, across the country. In 2014, Mark was elevated to a Vice President with Abrams Artists Agency.

leilaLEILA SBITANI

TV Host & Media Coach

Leila has hosted a wide variety of TV Shows that have taken her all over the world and enabled her to work with numerous celebrities. Including, most recently, Jennifer Lawrence, Antonio Banderas and Chris Hemsworth. Working on Entertainment Tonight, E!, Style, WE, Metro TV, Oxygen, [email protected], and TV Land to name a few. She also has extensive experience as an actress in film, theater, commercials, voice-overs and industrials. Leila has been working as a media coach and teacher for the past 15 years. Teaching master classes at colleges, high schools, and workshops in New York. And working with production companies as well as independently taking on clients for one on one coaching. Leila has coached talent that have appeared on various networks including VHI, BET, HGTV, Fuse, CBS, FX, and MTV

 

Dance Your Way to More Auditions

January 22, 2016

As important as it is for actors to diligently hone their acting skills, sometimes their special skills are what initially propels them through the industry doors. For instance, many actors kick off their Thespian careers thanks to their love of dancing. And why not? Dancing is an awe-inspiring form of art that is irresistible for people to watch and take part in across the globe, and it’s often in demand from a marketing point of view. But beyond that, dancing requires tremendous focus and discipline over years which builds both skill and character; it prepares its students to perform before an audience; it adds grace and strength to everyday movements; it comes in super handy when a character in a scene needs to dance or even do stunts–not to mention that dancing comes with the benefits of having a remarkably healthy glow, and a physically fit condition. In other words, any level of dance in an actor’s arsenal is a step–if not a leap–in the right direction.

The following acting talents started off as dancers before broadening their opportunities in the entertainment industry.

Julianne Hough started dancing competitively at the age of nine in the UK as well as the US. She attributes her fighting spirit and self-discipline to her dancing–both of which she said have come in handy when experiencing rejection as is custom in the industry. Her first acting role was in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as an uncredited role as a “Hogwarts schoolgirl.” Years later, she played a dancer named Georgia in the musical Burlesque, and her first leading role came a year later in the remake of Footloose when she played Ariel Moore. Here she is cutting up a rug as a child with her brother Derek, and Mark Ballas.

Some actors started as backup dancers in music videos. Michael K. Williams is known for playing Omar on The Wire, but was first a background dancer for Madonna and George Michael. Similarly, Debi Mazar appeared in music videos including Madonna’s Justify My Love; she eventually landed a role in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas even though she had no acting credits. Also, Tupac Shakur was a backup dancer for Digital Underground before branching out to acting and rapping. And then there’s Rosie Perez who started as a dancer on Soul Train, and was spotted by Spike Lee while at a dance club. Lee hired Perez in her first major acting role in his movie Do the Right Thing. Later Perez went on to choreograph In Living Color‘s Fly Girls which featured another dancing newbie, Jennifer Lopez. Here’s Jennifer as a Fly Girl.

Glee‘s Heather Morris started forging her career at the age of nine by studying dancing. Eventually, she tried out for So You Think You Can Dance; when she failed to make the top 20, she didn’t let it stop her. Instead, she forged on and became a backup dancer for Beyonce. Her breakthrough into Glee occurred when she was hired to teach the Glee cast members Single Ladies choreography. From there, Morris was invited to play the cheerleader Brittany. Here is Morris getting rejected from So You Think You Can Dance.

Many actors have their performance roots in ballet. For example, Michael DeLorenzo is known for the role of Detective Eddie Torres on New York Undercover, and he has ballet in large part to thank. He started dance performances at seven years of age, and came to gain scholarships from prestigious schools such as the School of American Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet. He was so skilled he even danced with legends like Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rudolph Nureyev. But as fate would have it, DeLorenzo tore the cartilage in his knee which prompted him to take on acting. He played a member of the Sharks in the Broadway revival of West Side Story, and later landed a recurring role in the television show Fame. Can you spot him as one of the dancers in Michael Jackson’s Beat It video?

Other students of ballet include Charlize Theron, Zoe Saldana, Patrick Swayze, Mia Wasikowska, Diane Kruger, Jamie Bell, Neve Campbell, Brigitte Bardot, Audrey Hepburn, Michelle Yeoh, and Penelope Cruz.

So what do you think? Does all this talk about dance make you want to get up and groove, or what? Remember to list and consistently update each and every one of your special skills on your Casting Frontier profile–no matter what your level of expertise–so that casting directors can quickly find you in their talent searches!

 

All the Rage Actor Skills

July 21, 2013

Deranged robots, sympathetic hellions, unhinged fashionistas, transmogrifying zombies, demented preachers, pink aliens, rabid cyber dogs, bad-ass nerds, murderous babies, junky clowns, and head-spinning avatars … San Diego Comic Con International 2013 is in full swing! The annual saint’s day for every known freak in the universe has, by many accounts, had its most eye-popping, mind-blowing, and visually stunning year to date. Comic Con was founded as the “Golden State Comic Book Convention” in 1970 by Shel Dorf, Richard Alf, Ken Krueger, and Ron Burgundy. What started as a humble gathering of comic book aficionados has since become a celebrated worldwide event showcasing works in sci-fi, horror, fantasy, anime, action, and every conceivable spin off of said genres. Indeed, Comic Con has become a bona-fide boon to the movie, gaming, music, and graphic arts industries, and has attracted A-list stars including Jennifer Lawrence, Tom Cruise, Zoe Saldana, Sandra Bullock, and Jamie Foxx to name just a few.

So what does this mean to you, young thespian, and future red carpet walker? You’re not a cartoon in a ten-gallon hat, or a laser-wielding witch, or even a human/Sasquatch hybrid (or at least I’m guessing; please feel free to write in if I’m making any assumptions here). But one thing is certain: you are an actor looking for work! And if the ginormous success of Comic-Con proves anything, it is that movies based on comic books and graphic novels are tremendously popular–not to mention enormously profitable. So you might want to consider adding some skills to your resume. Things like gymnastics, fight choreography, balance training, sword techniques, archery, or just plain old physical fitness. Because when you’re called upon to slay a demon or avoid a zombie, you want to be ready. Yes, there are stunt men and women who specialize in the truly dangerous stuff, but a certain amount of dexterity on the set may separate you from another worthy actor. Just think of Lily Collins, star of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, which is an adaptation of Cassandra Claire’s mega-popular fantasy novel; Lily plays a demon hunter in the upcoming film and says, “Running around in heels, being able to do all that and not injuring myself is kind of a boost of confidence.” She goes on to say, ”Every girl needs that experience.”

So, how about it? What skills have you added to your repertoire as of late? And what skills do you have on the docket? Whatever you’ve got, make sure to update your special skills on your Casting Frontier profile to immediately increase the chances of being called in for auditions based on those skills.

And, the big question is: Who’s going to write back first about the hidden comedic reference contained within this blog?

Have You Updated Your Special Skills Yet?

May 26, 2013

“But if you can create an honorable livelihood, where you take your skills and use them and you earn a living from it, it gives you a sense of freedom and allows you to balance your life the way you want.” — Anita Roddick

GET THE MOST VALUE FROM YOUR CASTING FRONTIER PROFILE BY SIMPLY UPDATING YOUR SPECIAL SKILLS NOW!

 

WHY SHOULD YOU UPDATE?

  • You will immediately stand out before agents and casting directors for skills that you’ve cultivated over the years;
  • You will immediately increase the chances of being called in for auditions based on specific skill requirements that you already have.

Special skills are a top priority for casting directors! The more skills you have, the more likely you will get called for auditions. Casting Frontier wants to assist you in the process, which is why we are currently offering incentives for simply populating your special skills form using our new “Wizard” located in your Casting Frontier account.

Actors who populate their special skills in our NEW Special Skills Wizard before June 15th, 2013 will receive a 15% discount on Premium (limited time $42.50) or Premium Plus (limited time $59.50) profiles. This offer applies to first-time upgrades when you fill out your special skills form.

Actors will also be given a chance to win one of four raffle prizes:

  • 2 Free Dodger tickets
  • 1 Free Premium upgrade
  • 1 Free Premium Plus upgrade
  • 1 Free Photo Shoot at Casting Frontier’s state-of-the-art Digital Photography Studio (includes 3 looks)

Take advantage of this discount by simply filling out your special skills today, and then call (323) 300-6129  any time from Mon. – Fri. between 9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. PST.

So consider what abilities you have that make you unique. Are you double jointed? Can you bowl a near-perfect game? Are you an experienced equestrian? Did you play football in high school? Let these skills put you at the top of the submission lists!

Act now and let your skills get you noticed, recognized, and auditioning!

__________________________________________________________________________

The 15% off credit offer is for a 12-month term. Valid for first-time Premium upgrades only and requires 12-month commitment for a Premium or Premium Plus profile. This offer cannot be used in conjunction with other coupons, discounts, or other special offers. To be eligible for the 15% discount, talent must log into their profile, add multiple special skills to multiple categories, and save the changes. Your subscription will renew at a standard rate after the 12-month term has expired. Offer expires 06/15/13 at 11:59 p.m..

Got Special Skills? Make the Most of Them Now!

May 2, 2013

Are you experienced with driving a tractor or a dirt bike? Can you play basketball at an advanced level? Are you a classically trained, accomplished ballet dancer? Can you tap dance at an intermediate level? Or have you taken Spanish guitar lessons but still consider yourself a beginner?

If your skill set is specific, unique, or advanced, let Casting Frontier help you make the most of your capabilities! Simply by adding your advanced skills on your Casting Frontier profile, you can immediately get in the game for desirable, specific roles as well as broaden your acting career. Casting Frontier’s NEW and powerful Special Skills search engine empowers professional casting directors to find you in an instant.

Here’s what you need to know to make the most of your skills:

Your Casting Frontier profile has a NEW Special Skills Wizard  form that will allow you to list your specific abilities. Actors who have not shared their abilities by filling out the NEW special skills form will not be found when casting directors and agents perform Special Skill searches, so make sure to complete the form right away. You’ll be on your way to getting noticed for your unique, specific accomplishments in no time!