Interview with Actress Erin Deighan

Erin Deighan is an experienced actress who is continually working to land more meaningful roles. A full-time business professional by day, she has been increasingly successful in landing acting and voice acting roles in recent projects and looks forward to the year ahead.

How important is networking in the film industry?

Networking is important in all industries, but it is especially crucial in film. It is absolutely amazing who ends up knowing who in the end. I think because it is such a competitive industry, if you meet people who are working, they will likely know others who are also working and you start running into some of the same faces. Also, if people know and trust you, they will often call you back rather than take a shot on someone they don’t know.

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

It’s harder to share a personal networking story as I am very private about the lines I put out and it’s difficult to choose a favorite triumph. By just keeping in touch with people and remaining dependable, I’ve recently aligned myself with three ongoing projects. The even better irony of that is, like many jobs, work seems to beget more work. Also, recently reaching out to do a favor for a friend ended up landing me an interview with somebody from the west coast – I’m not entirely sure where’s that going yet, but to say the new connection is connected would be an understatement.

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

It does happen, but it’s not the norm. I recall Rosie O’Donnell doing just that a couple years ago when she spotted the lead for her new film – a complete unknown – at a restaurant in Detroit. However, I cannot stress how unusual that is. Many people work really hard their entire lives without getting any really mainstream attention, so to hope you’ll be “discovered” while just going about your daily business is not a wise move. Ironically, the people who are discovered never seem to be looking for it. http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/27878955

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

Sometimes the people behind the projects already have the person they want for the part in mind – you’ll even read where a specific role was written for so-and-so. Also, many postings for the best jobs tend to be more discreet and restricted to industry-specific publications, simply because there are so many people out there who would like to do the work!

With who, where, and when should you network?

Anytime you are in contact with people is an opportunity to network. It’s best to keep things professional and focus on getting to know people organically through shared projects, but it’s also okay to reach out and ask questions – you never know what you might hear back. On the off-chance that you find out in a social setting that somebody personally connected is involved with filmmaking, it’s okay to ask questions, but you have to be careful not to be boorish about it. For example, the fellow at his daughter’s christening probably isn’t interested in talking about your big break. Always operate with dignity and respect, and it will come back to you.

Who are the best kinds of network contacts?

I’m not sure there really is a best kind of networking contact. There are so many different jobs that take place on set – make-up, wardrobe, cinematography, directing, acting, general production assistance, gaffing, etc. – that you really need a strong team of people to pull things together. At the end of the day, everybody goes their own way and works on different projects. I don’t think there is a “best kind” of networking contact so much as finding people with whom you really can connect – those are the people with whom you want to keep contact.

What are some of the best venues for networking?

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of networking online. I’m a regular listener of The Everything Film Show on BlogTalkRadio.com, which showcases filmmakers and allows fans direct access to ask questions – I’ve met some really incredible people through there. I’ve also joined acting-focused groups on LinkedIn, Facebook and MeetUp, which have proven to be valuable. If there is a local film salon in your area – I used to love attending meetings for Upstate Independents when I lived in Albany – definitely take advantage of those opportunities to meet people face-to-face too.

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

Above all else, safety first. That, and be true to yourself. Anybody can be anybody on the Internet, and it’s best to approach offers and new friends with a healthy dose of skepticism. You also have to be careful you don’t create a persona you can’t maintain, because at the end of the day, if people don’t understand you or you seem disingenuous, people will stop wanting to connect. Be true to your morals and yourself.

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

I think the biggest mistake people make is trying to befriend absolutely everybody – there are some people you really don’t want or need as friends. Focus on real people, real connections – don’t get starry-eyed and try to become Paris Hilton’s new BFF or think you’re somehow going to cut the line to stardom by meeting 800 people who can’t remember your name. By that same token, don’t play yourself down too much. Everybody was new at some point, and it’s sometimes embarrassing to hear people be so self-deprecating about their lack of knowledge or experience. Go, ask questions, listen and observe closely, and have fun!

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?

I have heard of random cases in which somebody’s home video audition and heartfelt letter or persistence got them the gig, but those people were pretty much already famous and in the same circles as the people they were pursuing. For the typical person, unless there is an open casting call or other means to submit auditions, I would say just let it go. I have seen unsolicited auditions getting mocked, and there are a ton of awkward attempts hidden around public sites like YouTube. Focus on the work and the castings that you see that are legitimately available to you – you will save yourself time and potential heartache in the end.

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

Get a good, clean picture of your face – and make sure it looks like you! Casting folks hate it if things are too artsy or overly Photoshopped and you look like a completely different person when you come through the door. A full body shot in attire that suits your look and personality is good too, but less important. Then just start putting some lines out – try sites like Mandy and Craigslist to start, since they are free.

The more experience you get, the easier it will be to get more roles as people will see you have done prior work. A recording of your voice doing a mock-ad (just be sure to avoid major name brands!) or monologue, if possible, is also good to let people know what you sound like. Remember, always, just be safe. And if anybody tries to get you to pay to get started, run! There are a lot of people out there who are more than willing to take advantage of others’ ambition.

Anything else you’d like to add?

People trying to get into acting or modeling should know that it is not easy. No matter how many times you say that, people never seem to believe it until they experience it for themselves. I remember one occasion where I traveled from mid-Jersey into New York City for a 7 a.m. call time on a major motion picture (I left the house at about 5:30 a.m.), and was racing to try to catch the 2 a.m. train home once everything wrapped! There is a lot of seriously unglamorous stuff involved with this industry, it doesn’t pay well (if at all in the early stages), and a lot of your time will be spent rushing or waiting. It isn’t easy, and many who try it will find it isn’t for them. If you love it unreasonably, however, it can be a lot of fun.

About Erin Deighan
Erin Deighan is an experienced actress who is continually working to land more meaningful roles. A full-time business professional by day, she has been increasingly successful in landing acting and voice acting roles in recent projects and looks forward to the year ahead.


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