Tag Archive for: acting

Jamie Body On The Business of Show Business

Actors and creatives persevere in what is a highly competitive and often low-paid industry predominantly because of a love for the art, for storytelling, creating, playing. Business, branding, marketing etc. on the other hand, can feel a million miles away from those passions. And yet, they are inextricably linked.

Jamie Body is an entertainment journalist, content creator, business coach and mentor. He’s worked on a multitude of illustrious events and with top brands such as the Olivier Awards, Raindance Film Festival and Broadway World UK (to name a few), and interviewed A-listers including Mel Gibson, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Christian Slater. With a background in content creation, social media and marketing, Jamie also coaches creatives in ‘the business of show business’ and hosts a podcast of the same name (which I feature on in season 4 so check it out!).

I first discovered Jamie during lockdown 1.0 when I came across a live stream about utilising social media as a creative. Jamie’s advice and coaching were, in many ways, eye-opening for me as a freelancer. Whilst we all strive to do what we love every day of the year, the reality is that success requires entrepreneurship, critical business thinking, and the active pursuit of ‘opportunity beyond resources controlled’ (Prof. Howard Stevenson). So when we’re fed up with waiting for the phone to ring, how can we take more control over our future? Here’s what Jamie had to say.

Could you tell us about your journey so far?

I knew very early on that I wanted to do as many things as I could within the entertainment industry. I wanted to be in film, travel, perform on TV, present on a red carpet etc. I think that attitude allowed me to spot opportunities and try to absorb everything I could from each ‘credit’ so I could take something positive or new to the next job or audition.

As my performing career progressed, I wanted to find ways to push myself not just physically but mentally. Having always had a passion for film, media and journalism, I started to fill my in-between times with short courses, studying and networking with people in those industries.

One of my core values is learning, and by exploring my passions for media and writing alongside performing, I started to get the same buzz you get when you perform on stage or to an audience.

I started to get more exposure reviewing and interviewing showbiz individuals, which gave me the momentum to push it more. A few years later, an opportunity presented itself where I took up a short marketing internship, which led to a job offer. I used annual leave and unpaid time off to perform while working on the social media and content creation for West End musicals.

I then went on to study journalism to get my official NCTJ qualification and my NLP coaching qualifications – fast forward several years, and here I am.

Alongside working as a broadcaster and journalist and still performing when the right job comes, I coach freelancers and lecture at performing arts institutes to help creatives with The Business of Show Business.

Creatives are some of the most resilient and resourceful people out there; you don’t just have to do one thing, it’s not all or nothing. Build the career you want.

What important areas of business should actors and creatives explore?

The sooner a performer realises that they are a personal brand, the better it will be for their career. Without realising it, performers often tackle many business elements but don’t realise as they haven’t slapped a business label on it. I will give you a few examples:

Networking. You are always meeting new people, whether at auditions or class, bumping into people at the theatre or working that in-between job with other creatives. In simple terms, the more people you know, the more jobs you are likely to get as your name and talent will be seen and heard more. Quick tip: build not only a network for work but a support network of friends and family who support you, lift you when you are down or will listen to you rant with no questions asked. If you work all the time, it is hard to switch off which can lead to burnout.

Email marketing and pitching yourself. As a fresh grad, you email agents to come to your showcase or seek representation. As a seasoned pro, you could be emailing producers, journalists, or potential audience members to go and see your show, buy your album, etc. Emails should be concise, use hyperlinks when you can to avoid big files and have a professional email address.

These are just a few examples. Once you start looking at the industry as a business, albeit a business you love, you can begin to work out which elements you can control and which ones you can’t. Take your power back.

Where do I start?

I would start small. Don’t get overwhelmed with building your brand and marketing yourself all at once.

Start with a mini self-brand audit. Open an incognito window on your web browser and type in your name. What comes up? Do you appear on the first page of Google, and if so, what does it show? Is everything up to date, or are there any old photos from or an out-of-date showreel that you have to remove?

I would then look at your social media accounts. Which ones are you on? Which ones do you use for business? Is your bio optimised effectively to get your brand out there? It is key to come across authentically online. Yes, you have to market yourself, but you are not a full-time marketer. It is ok to show that you are human and have other interests.

I could go on for hours about this and the next steps, but start small and build from there. If you try to do it all at once, you will freak yourself out. One foot in front of the other and take it step by step.

How important is social media?

The growth of social media and digital content in the showbiz world has really changed the entertainment industry landscape. Social media is used to showcase talent and, therefore, has become a database for casting directors, producers, agents, etc. to find who they are looking for.

However, I think it needs to be used wisely. As I touched on before with being authentic online, you need to make sure the online-you matches the in-person you. The keyword in social media is ‘social’. Use it to talk to friends, connect with peers, celebrate those in the industry, don’t just use it for work.

I am a big believer in having a positive mental health experience online, so if you are finding a particular app or a person you are following to be triggering, it is ok to take some downtime away from social media or mute/unfollow that individual. At the end of the day, it’s your social media so use it as you want to, not what you think the industry wants to see of you.

What advice do you find yourself giving to creatives and performers most frequently?

One question I often get is should I have separate social media accounts, one as a performer and one for personal non-work-related life? My advice is typically to have one account where you make sure to sprinkle in all aspects of your brand. You as a performer, you with friends/family, seeing shows and other industry-related content, holidays, etc. You are not a robot so casting directors can’t expect you to sing and dance 100% of your time. Your value as a creative is more than just a post or being on stage; you have so much to offer.

That being said, it is your account. If you want to keep it private, then do. Just think, am I using this account to contact or network with industry experts? Am I using it when I apply for jobs? If so, you will want a public account to make sure there is an even spread of all aspects and values of you and your personal brand.

Could you tell us about The Business of Show Business podcast and how to find out more about you?

I started The Business of Show Business Podcast at the beginning of 2020 as a way to hopefully help creatives and those in the industry. The podcast is a mixture of solo episodes where I tackle marketing topics and interview episodes where I bring on industry experts to share insight (much like yourself, Kieran).

So far, it has been listened to in 48 countries, which is crazy, I never thought it would go global, but I am so happy. At the end of last year, I was lecturing at a few colleges and assisted at some auditions, and a few times, I had people come up to me at the end of the day to say they had listened to my podcast, and it really helped them. This for me felt like success, being able to help other creatives out whilst doing something I loved. What more could you want?

You can find my podcast on Apple, Spotify and all streaming platforms and you can find out more about me on my website www.jamiebody.com

Lastly, the business side of the arts can be tedious and exhausting. What do you do to switch off and unwind?

This is something that took me a long time to try and find the balance with and something that still l need reminding of from time to time.

I set business hours, so I don’t work late into the evening unless scheduled in. One thing I suggest to my clients is, for one week, to keep a mini diary of when you have the most energy and how your schedule naturally falls. Then you can figure out when you have pockets of time for yourself and when you have the most power to give to tasks. I am a morning person, so I make sure to do things I want to do or things I need to for myself in the morning and then work on other projects as the day goes on.

Kieran Vyas: Artistic Director of Urban Young Actors

Urban Young Actors has had a special place in my heart since I started leading workshops there in 2016. I teach professional actors, drama school students and youth theatre all over the UK but there is an incomparable electricity and a certain homeliness to this drama school for young people in Leicester. It’s for this reason that I couldn’t be happier to announce that I’ve now taken over the company as owner and artistic director. Alongside me at the Urban helm is my partner – award-winning actor and practitioner Katie Burchett – who joins me as co-owner and director to steer Urban into the new chapter of its life.

What is Urban Young Actors?

Urban provides weekly acting workshops for young people in Leicester as well as producing multiple theatre and film projects every year. Our alumni include Mahalia (Brit & Grammy Award-Nominated Artist), Jurell Carter (Emmerdale, ITV), Owen Warner (Hollyoaks, Channel 4), Dilan Raithatha (West End playwright) and Devesh Sodha (award-winning composer).

We run several groups in Leicester City Centre and Barkby that are split by age: 8-11, 12-16 and 16-21. In the past our larger projects have included stage productions, short films, festivals, competitions and a feature film that premiered at the Odeon cinema.

Looking to the future

We’re taking over Urban at a time when all of us are desperate to return to normal life and the arts will play a crucial role in repairing some of the damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. We have big plans, we’re very excited for the future, and development for a film project in late 2021 has already begun.

Get involved

If you want to find out more information about Urban Young Actors or apply for a free trial session then head over to urbanyoungactors.com

On Set at Urban Young Actors

Headshot Hunter’s Guide to Headshots

As an actor and agent, I know how essential it is to have a good headshot. When I started my search as a young aspiring actor to get my own headshots done, it was a big financial investment I was anxious to get right. I knew good headshots would be vital to get auditions and, ultimately, paid work.

It was difficult to choose a photographer who would suit me and give me the best results from the sea of professional photographers out there. It was extremely time-consuming trawling through photographer listings, then visiting their individual websites to find out what they offered. Photographers emphasised different aspects of their services so comparison was really tricky. All my drama school peers were experiencing the same problems.

My ideal would have been to have the details of all photographers on one website, but that didn’t exist, so I decided to develop a website service myself, and Headshot Hunter is the result!

 

Headshot Hunter

Headshot Hunter is a photographer search, comparison and review website that holds the details of around 70 headshot photographers from all over the UK. The website allows you to search for and compare photographers’ packages. You can refine your search and Headshot Hunter will identify photographers that fit your requirements in areas such as budget, location, style and turnaround time. You can also browse headshots for photographs that you like or feel would match your own style and create a shortlist, identifying suitable photographers.

There is plenty of advice on the website about what makes a good headshot and the factors you need to consider when deciding which photographer best suits your needs. Here is my guide to help you get started.

 

What style of photograph do you want?

Style is the most important aspect – if you like the photographer’s style of headshot, you are more likely to be happy with the end result from that photographer. Remember, you may have to live with it for several years.  The style needs to reflect the sort of castings you are looking for, eg classical theatre, aspirational commercial, urban, gritty TV etc.

Studio or natural lighting? Indoor or outdoor?

It really depends on your preferred style, there is no rule. I would say outside and the use of natural light can be more urban or natural, and studio is generally more dramatic or theatrical.

How much time do I need?

Frankly, the more time the better, especially if it’s your first time. You need at least one hour, but if you’re after a range of looks, you should be looking at at least one to two hours. If you’re comfortable with the photographer already or are only looking for one particular shot then less time is obviously fine.

What do professional headshots cost?

Prices range from £50 to £580. £150 is about standard price, for anything over £300 you are usually paying for the photographer’s reputation, which can be a good thing. Price does not necessarily mean quality or results, but if you find a photographer that you think can give you the results you need, then it may well be worth the money in the long run.

How should I prepare for a session?

Firstly, decide how you want your headshots to represent you – remember they are a marketing tool. Try to arrive with an idea of what you want from the session: what roles do you usually go up for? What roles do you want to go up for? If you already have headshots, do they need completely updating or do you just need a few new looks?  The more preparation you do the easier it will be.

Secondly, make sure you are physically and mentally ready for the shoot. Drink plenty of water the week prior to the shoot and don’t go out drinking the night before or this will show in your photos! It is helpful for the photographer to see any of your previous headshots. If you have any general headshots that you like, they can also be a good reference for the photographer. Go in prepared then just relax and enjoy the session. Any little blemishes on the day can be edited out so no need to panic!

What should I wear?

There are no set rules, but remember to wear something you feel good in and relaxed in. Being comfortable will show through in your photos. However, if you stuff your shirts in a bag they will look like they were stuffed in a bag for the shoot! Take a few tops. Generally, darker, solid colours tend to work best. Avoid bold patterns and logos as they are distracting. Bring a few options, with varied necklines, but not too wide or low, allowing the top to frame your face. If you wear glasses, bring them, although sometimes they can distract away from your eyes, so take contact lenses as well if you have them. Try to avoid accessories such as necklaces and earrings, they will take the focus away from your face.

What about hair and makeup?

Less is more. It’s always easier for people to imagine you with more makeup on, not so easy to imagine you with less. Unique features are what make you stand out and make others sit up and take notice so don’t hide those freckles or scars!

Wear your hair how you normally would, but do experiment with a few different styles before your shoot. For women, it’s always worth trying a few looks with your hair up, as it can affect your age range and can look very ‘period’ or ‘classical’. Don’t cut your hair the day before your shoot! Give your hair a few days to relax after a cut. Think about what your hairstyle says about you, your image and, ultimately, your casting. You want to look like you will when you turn up to the audition!

Black and white or colour?

Most agents and casting directors will want to see colour headshots as close to what you look like as possible. Very rarely, a black & white headshot may work for a very particular casting but colour headshots are now the norm and to not have them will go against you. If the photographer is shooting using a digital camera, then you should be able to have both at no extra cost, as turning an image to black and white is literally a click of a button. Saying this, if you do require black and white shots, many photographers can spend a lot of time converting images into black & white to give them the same quality of shooting with film.  Check this with the photographer first, it does make a difference.

How many headshots do I need?

You need one ‘main shot’: this is your best shot that should be engaging and says a bit of everything. However, it is worth having a couple of others to show your acting range. On your online actor profile, such as Spotlight, you can have around five or six different shots. Any more than this is too many.

Do I need prints?

Prints are very rarely used as part of the casting process anymore, so you don’t need them to be included in the package. A photographer is likely to set a higher fee if they are included. You can get prints as and when you need them from reproduction companies.

How should I put my portfolio together?

Whether looking at your contact sheet (often up to 200 shots) or looking at a selection of final touched images, don’t be afraid to ask for people’s opinions. They will help you get perspective as it is difficult to view your own shots objectively. Saying this, they are your headshots, you have

to live with them, so make sure you pick the shots that you are happy with. Unless, of course, your agent picks them for you, in which case, as long as you are happy with your agent, your work is done until the next time they need updating.

Choosing shots

You probably only need six or so photos to cover your range. More than that and they may be too similar. Two or three different shots are fine. Remember, a range is a subtle difference in look, not the same look in different tops. A mid-shot (ie from the waist up) is often a useful addition. One or two production stills, if they are good and interesting, can add to the mix nicely. In America it’s standard to have a full body shot which makes sense but that hasn’t kicked off here yet.

There is no exact science in choosing a headshot photographer, nor is there a formula for creating a killer headshot. It is an incredibly subjective process. Different photographers work in different ways and process different styles; what will work for some will not work for others. You can argue about what is in fashion, but a great headshot should always look like you when you walk through the audition room door and show you in your best light. You on a good day. Honest & Engaging. My hope is that www.headshothunter.co.uk will help all performers simplify the process of finding the right photographer for them and achieving great headshots.

 

Headshot Hunter User guide 2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEqCi6XOkB0

Headshot Hunter

Urban Young Actors: Acting Classes in Leicester

A drama school for young people aged 8-21

Urban Young Actors is a leading specialist drama school in Leicester which I became the owner and artistic director of in 2021 (more info here). We have been running workshops for over 13 years, catering for young actors aged 8-21. 

Head over to urbanyoungactors.com to find out more!

We pride ourselves on delivering workshops of the highest standard that are accessible to young people of all levels of experience and ability. Our alumni include Mahalia (Brit & Grammy Award-Nominated Artist), Jurell Carter (Emmerdale, ITV), Owen Warner (Hollyoaks, Channel 4), Dilan Raithapha (West End playwright) and Devesh Sohda (award-winning composer).

All Urban members become part of our UYA Agency and we actively put them up for professional castings and auditions. We have a large network of connections that we regularly work within the East Midlands and beyond.

We believe that the arts should be accessible to all and not only to those who can afford it. We are proud to offer a number of scholarships, paying up to 100% of membership fees on behalf of our members.

Book your free trial

If you’d like to get involved, you can book your free trial now over at: urbanyoungactors.com/apply-now