The Value of Expensive Acting Career Consultants

For this week’s post, this will serve as a rather blunt opinionated post as well as a genuine question to any actors out there who partake in this. So if this offends you, please express your thoughts fully so I can understand. With that being said:

Why the shitballs would an actor pay $100 (or over) an hour for acting career consultation?
jackie-chan

First off, this is not to be confused with acting classes but rather an entire section devoted entirely to how one can propel their acting career forward. To a degree, I can understand the ones who give actors career consultation and in return, getting some form of money (or food) for their time and services in giving their knowledge. Time is precious and I completely support those who don’t want to be taken advantage of for their expertise, especially if so many individuals keep asking advice for free.

The ones that do baffle me are the ones that charge $100 (or higher) per hour for these services. There are some that go up to $230 per hour and the money they charge just to give some advice blows my mind. Then there are those who seem to have different subsections of career consultations, from marketing to social media to audition technique, and so on and so on. Separate classes, are you FREAKING KIDDING ME?!

Now, if there are actors here who have benefited GREATLY from attending these overpriced career consultation sessions, then all the more power to you. I can’t tell you what to do with your money as you either must be a trust fund baby or you have tons of cash floating around to continuously go through these sessions on a weekly/monthly basis. That or you’re effing insane and I rather you’re using some of that money to pay your rent/car insurance/gas/food/the bare necessities. I may also sound like a non-believer because I have never needed services like these before nor have I ever taken one. So if you think I am so dead wrong, either as an actor or a career consultant that I am bashing on, please comment below and I would love to hear your opinions.

For those who have no idea how to manage their acting career, this is why I write this blog for free to do just that. To give actors a jump start so they can shave off wasted money and months to get a clear idea how this confusing career works. After all, your career as an actor does not truly begin until you have a firm grasp of what you need to do to be in a competent talent zone, persistence, the mental fortitude to handle it all, and the financial stability so that you’re not living in your car for a month.

There’s also this little book that Bonnie Gillespie* wrote called  Self-Management for Actors. It’s a book I got when I first came to LA and it has guided me in all the right places without me resorting to pay hundreds of dollars for people who all claim they know what it takes to succeed in Hollywood. The truth is, nobody freaking knows. But I think with books like these, it can give actors a very knowledge start and I suggest you go to your nearest book store, sit on a floor or chair, and read a few chapters. I think it may be worth it to buy the whole thing but I don’t get jackshit for promoting her book so that’s up to you.

*I do realize the irony in promoting Bonnie Gillespie as she also is a career consultant herself but for the sake of this entry, let us assume that you’re not taking her sessions but rather just checking out her book.

Being an actor is a supernaturally hard thing to do, dealing with rejections all the time, while trying to make ends meet as well as fending off your parents and telling them that everything is awesome when really everything is far from it. I completely understand all of that because I’m very much going through that on a daily basis, despite whatever successes I may have had in my own acting career.

But if I can help a single person save a few hundred bucks or save them from making a terrible decision, then my commitment to writing this blog is all the more worth it.

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4 thoughts on “The Value of Expensive Acting Career Consultants

  1. “The truth is, nobody freaking knows.” When you’re referring to Bonnie Gillespie, truer words have never been spoken. You got lucky, Edward. Most actors get swindled. This is the book, by the way, that after several editions – “bestselling”, according to her spin machine” – STILL could not find a publisher, so she resorted begging for money on a crowd-funding site to get it financed.

    Here’s my review from the last edition. I haven’t read #4, but I can’t image much has changed in Bonnie’s unbridled arrogance that she knows what she’s talking about.

    http://www.amazon.com/Self-Management-Actors-Getting-Down-Business/dp/0972301992/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

  2. Ironically, the purpose of career consultations is to also save actors time and money and a lot of heartache. Consulting in general is within any type business. The books and blogs, such as this one here, are useful, but they do not cater to the exact needs of a specific individual. In a consultation, you ask the client exactly what they are looking for and you help direct them towards the most useful vendors for their needs and price range. For instance, a person who has never opened up a restaurant before would go to a restaurant consultant and say “I want to open a Brazilian BBQ restaurant in Los Feliz with a full bar.” And then the consultant would go to work, creating lists of merchants and businesses that would be most useful for this request. An actor may just go to a consultant and I say “I want to get ahead.” Of course, that’s too general, so the consultant would help the actor break down specific goals. Probably, these “classes” you speak of are just specialized consultations that address common areas actors tend to want advice on, like audition technique or getting an agent. For example, an actor who has a theater degree and third tier agent auditions once a week, but is only booking once a year. The actor and the consultant may decide they should examine the actor’s on-camera audition technique. A consultant that works in casting would be very qualified to speak about their experience in the audition room. A style consultant could go into an actor’s closet and help pick out the most trendy and flattering outfits catered to the actor’s type. A lot of these things an actor’s consultant would advise on could be found in books and online resources. However, it takes time and a discerning eye to scour through this material. And when time is money, oftentimes the opportunity cost of reading a book on acting like Judy Kerr’s 644 page book or scrolling down a blog from someone you aren’t sure you can trust is greater than shelling out for an expensive consultant. When there is a lot of misinformation on the internet: who can you trust? A well informed and current consultant will help you save a lot of time and money by helping you avoid businesses that cater to actors, yet provide a service less than the quality of other businesses and for the same or greater price. I career consult people I know or meet (for free) and it usually changes their complete outlook and trajectory. No one really knows what to do, especially in the beginning. Or after years of trying and not getting anywhere. They become frustrated and think there aren’t options. For beginners, there’s always somewhere they can start. (Here’s a simple one that most newbies don’t listen to: don’t use cheap headshots! So many people, including myself, will waste years on their careers using cheap headshots.) And for the jaded, there is always something new they can try. I had a couple career consultations that have really helped throughout my still blossoming career. In the beginning, I thought it was BS too, until my friend did one and she received some really good (and new to me) advice, based on her look that helped her land her first big agent. My advice would be to do a 1-2 hour consultation with a knowledgeable individual every six months to 1 year. A casting director, an agent or manager, or a working actor a couple steps above your level would be who I would recommend to do it with. A career consultant, realistically, wouldn’t be able to effectively service every type of actor. If they say they can, DO NOT HIRE THEM. They just want your money. Ask around. Most of the knowledge in this industry is word of mouth, because everything is changing so quickly. It makes sense you would have to pay someone in the know to get the most current, useful information. Hell, hire Edward. He knows how to guide an actor more than most managers do.

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