Actor and Producer Doug Coupe on Networking

Doug Coupe is certainly no stranger to the public arena. Doug has experienced great success during his fifteen+ years in the film and television industry.

He has acted in TV shows such as The Young & the Restless, Baywatch Nights, Step by Step and Beverly Hills 90210 to name a few, in addition to having appeared in a wide array of television commercials, music videos and print campaigns. Doug is currently a Producer with Creative Forge Productions.

Find below an extract of the interview with Doug Coupe.

How important is networking in the film industry?

As in any industry, networking is vitally important. The competition in this industry is vast and by networking you might meet the right people who not only can steer you in the right direction of possible opportunities but also might meet someone who could serve as a mentor and help guide you in this challenging industry.

Can you tell us one personal success story of yours on networking?

When I first moved to Los Angeles, in addition to enrolling in a great acting workshop where I met actors, acting coaches, casting directors, agents, etc., I was fortunate to be able to go to many “industry” events where I met numerous contacts whom I am still in touch with today. I met my first manager at one of the first events that I went to.

I have heard of actors and models landing a big acting gig without any auditions, is that true?

I am sure that there are instances where someone may have landed a gig without an audition but I would think that those are exceptions to the rule. Even in that instance an actor/model who might have the right “look” would most likely need to have the acting chops to pull off the role. Again, that depends on the role as well. Be prepared to audition.

Why are some of the best acting and modeling jobs never advertised?

I don’t know that some of the best acting jobs are not advertised. I would think that the Producers/Directors/Studio heads, etc. would be seeking the best talent available for a particular project and its roles and would search high and low for the talent which would warrant publishing information about the project and roles via the appropriate channels. Obviously, for significant roles in major projects, many of those might not be advertised as they have some “A-list” talent probably already in the mix.

With who, where, and when should you network?

That’s a good question. It might depend on what market you are in and how prevalent the film industry is in any given market. That being said, one should not be bashful about what they are doing for a living or what they are aspiring to be within the film industry. In networking situations, which really could be any social and/or professional environment, we don’t know who many people are, so it is worth meeting them as they might know somebody who knows somebody that could be beneficial to be put in touch with. I think actors, like other professionals, should have their “elevator speech” readily available.

Who are the best kinds of network contacts?

Again, this depends somewhat on the market you are in but filmmakers, producers, casting directors, agents, managers, directors, other actors and crew are all great networking contacts.

What are some of the best venues for networking?

I keep coming back to this but it does depend on which market you are in. For example, in Los Angeles you could go to just about any event or venue and there would be some people there within the film industry. However, if you are in Charleston, South Carolina, for example, that is definitely not the case. Try to seek venues and events with a connection to the film industry or the arts even and attend and meet some people. Again, the ideal scenario (although unrealistic) might be attending an event where you meet Steven Spielberg, however, you might actually be at a non-industry cocktail party where you meet a friend of a friend whose cousin is shooting a short film and needs actors. That might be more likely to happen and can be a good step in the right direction for one’s career.

How about networking on the internet? Do you have any tips on those?

I think it is good to build your presence on the likes of Facebook,(btw – www.facebook.com/DougCoupe) and Twitter (take 2 – www.twitter.com/DougCoupe) where you can network with others in the industry. I have been able to reconnect with many in the industry whom I met some time ago as well as develop new contacts. Also, taking advantage of some of the services out there for actors (actors access, 800casting, etc.) can be wise. Also, Backstage (www.backstage.com) is a great resource for actors along with the Film Industry Network (www.filmindustrynetwork.biz). Also, read the trades (www.variety.com, www.hollywoodreporter.com) which can be beneficial in terms of networking as well.

What’s the biggest mistake new actors and models make while networking?

In my opinion, the biggest mistake is having a headshot available and handing it to someone at a cocktail party or event that you might be attending. I’m more of a soft sell guy and would rather make an introduction and get the contact info for that person and then arrange to meet with them or send them a headshot and resume at the appropriate time. I feel that there is a time and a place for everything and handing out your headshots at a cocktail party in Bel Air isn’t wise in my opinion. Really, the last thing someone wants at a cocktail party is to hold on to headshots that they’ve been given by actors in attendance. In these instances, I think those headshots end up as coasters at best and are disposed off unfortunately.

Sometimes, you hear a story in a magazine or newspaper where a famous director is looking for a particular character in an actor and you are perfect for that job, but you have no idea where or how to approach? What would you suggest in this situation?

First of all, we all need to try to have a realistic perception of ourselves. Many times, we might think we’re “perfect” for the role, but really are we? That being said, the industry really requires actors being represented by agents and that is how opportunities can often be optimally pursued. However, probably the most challenging aspect of the industry is getting an agent. For those who do not have representation, try to find as much information about the project as you can. For example, find out some of the players involved such as the casting director, production company, etc and then approach them.

What’s the one thing an aspiring actor can do right away to get work in the film industry?

Study, study and study. Study the craft of acting, study the film industry, how it works, who the players are, etc. This is a business which warrants talent and hard work not unlike other businesses. Having a pretty smile and a nice body will only get you so far. Actors need to work on their craft and can do so immediately by reading about it (and enrolling in an acting class obviously) and educating themselves. However, don’t expect any instant gratification.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Please do yourself a favor and check your ego at the door. Also, look at this as a career and don’t expect any instant gratification; stay persistent, focused and work hard at improving your craft, taking care of yourself and networking with those in the industry as well as outside of it. Also, stay positive and remember that this is a very subjective business where an actor might be too tall, too short, have the wrong hair color, etc and you just might not be “right” for a particular role and that is ok. Lastly, do your part to give back and help others along the way.

About Doug Coupe

Doug Coupe is certainly no stranger to the public arena. Doug has experienced great success during his fifteen+ years in the film and television industry. He has acted in TV shows such as The Young & the Restless, Baywatch Nights, Step by Step and Beverly Hills 90210 to name a few, in addition to having appeared in a wide array of television commercials, music videos and print campaigns. Doug is currently a Producer with Creative Forge Productions (www.creativeforgeproductions.com) where he and his talented filmmaking team are in pre-production on their upcoming feature film, WARRIOR, and are working on a couple of other films that they have in development. Feel free to follow Doug and the making of WARRIOR at www.twitter.com/DougCoupe.


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