12:07 am - Thurs 2.05.2009
And kind of mad.
(Our story so far...)
After some changes in my appearance last year (namely, major weight loss & mustache removal), I decided it was time - past time, really - to get new headshots.
(From doing a bunch of casting workshops over the past few years, I can tell you - The #1 complaint of casting people is actors who come into their office not looking like their headshots. They really don't like it, and who can blame them?)
While I planned for the weight loss to be permanent, I wasn't as sure about losing the mustache (Which I'd initially shaved off for a photo shoot) - would not having it make me "more versatile" in terms of casting, making it a good thing, or merely "less distinctive", making it a bad thing? I didn't know. - so I was hesitant to spend a lot of money on headshots I might end up re-doing in a matter of months anyway.
So I got some very inexpensive headshots done (And for the record? In spite of negative feedback from certain quarters, I still think I got a number of quite decent shots from the session in question).
I showed them to JS, my commercial agent, who picked the couple he thought would work best.
I showed a smaller sampling to Brett, my manager, who weighed in on the ones he liked best.
And I put their choices up on LA Casting and Actors Access/Breakdown Services, the two major online casting services here in LA.
(Neither of them mentioned anything about me looking "sickly", or the shoot looking "amateurish" or anything of that nature - things I started to hear later - so at that point, I thought I was golden. A reasonable assumption, really, since it would certainly be in Brett and JS's own best interests to be honest if they didn't think the pictures worked; after all, if I don't get auditions from my online headshots, I don't make money. And if I don't make money, they don't make money.)
I also put the pictures up on Facebook, where I didn't really get much of a response to them initially one way or another, until I mentioned that my theatrical agents - whom I did not consult about the pictures (And clearly should have), called to say they didn't like them; in their opinion, the pictures didn't look professional, and didn't "do anything" for me.
At that point, other unfavorable opinions came rolling in - Jane F. thought I looked "sickly", Bill H. thought they looked like "mug shots", Jane Z. said I looked "jaundiced", etc.
(My big issue with that session is that my shirt collar doesn't fit, in the shots where I'm wearing a corduroy jacket and tie - It's a couple sizes too big, because of all the weight I'd lost. Which, if I were really being professional about this stuff, I wouldn't have let happen in the first place - "Here's a thought, Jim; buy a dress shirt that fits for the shoot!" - and which should have necessitated a re-shoot all by itself.)
So anyway, confused (If the pictures were so bad, how come JS and Brett didn't say anything? For that matter, how come I couldn't see it?), and a little wounded (I know I shouldn't take it personally, but it's not exactly fun to hear that you don't look good, that the money you spent and time you invested were wasted), but wanting my theatrical agents to have something they felt they could "sell me" with, and wanting to be in their good graces, I opted to try again.
So last month I did a second session, spending more money (Still a pittance by LA standards, but money I didn't really have to spend), taking more time, getting over 400 different pictures in a number of different locations in a number of different outfits, and making a pointed effort to get as much out of the session, in terms of "looks" and varied expression, as possible, the goal being to make absolutely sure that this session would make my theatrical people happy.
It took awhile to hear from them (Partly my fault - I was sending a link to 50 of the pics I'd put up on Facebook to the wrong email address - and partly their fault; I called them a number of times, to check if they had received my emails - and if they had, could they give me some idea of how they wanted me to proceed? - before anyone responded).
They basically said, "We don't like any of these. Put up a couple if you want to, but don't delete the ones you already have up".
The trouble with that response, in my mind?
The pictures I "already have up" are me with a mustache, me at least 50 or 60 lbs heavier than I am now, and, in at least one of the pictures, me from 5 or 6 years ago.
The second headshot session was professionally done, was a generally agreed-on improvement over the (Admittedly) low-rent earlier session, and I personally feel reflects more of "the real me" than any headshot session I've done since being here in LA.
Which makes me feel like my theatrical agents just don't like the way I look now - And no headshot session, no matter how expensive, is going to change that.
Looking at it from their perspective, they may feel they were sold a bill of goods in some way - I came to them overweight with a mustache, they probably figured I had a lot of schlubby, "blue collar" potential, and now I don't look like the guy they signed up.
But to me, you have two choices in that situation - You either work with what you're given, with the reality of the situation, or else you tell the client you can no longer work with what you've been given, and part ways with them.
(And I may be biased, but I think they should be able to work with what they've now been given - I can't believe the only thing I had to offer out here as an actor was being fat and mustachioed.)
What you don't do is tell your client, "We want to leave old, out-of-date pictures up, so we can send them to casting people, who will then call you in under false pretenses, and be angry that you no longer look the way you do in your online pictures".
I'm starting to think this relationship isn't working out...
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