Trish and Harold's Weblog

News, information, and random thoughts from the busy lives of Trish Egan and Harold Phillips.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Show BUSINESS 101: Your Questions Answered

Hi folks

Since announcing my Show BUSINESS 101 seminar series last week, I've received a lot of questions from people. After answering these questions individually, I thought I'd collect them in a more public forum and share them with you in case those of you who are still "on the fence" about joining us might hear some of your questions answered. Spots are still open for all four seminars - You can register at

What is it with all the workshops these days? It seems like these days there's a new workshop on pdxbackstage every day! Why should I take your workshops instead of __________ or ____________?

You're right, there are a lot of workshops and classes being offered right now. It's a testament, I think, to how much opportunity there is in Portland these days - with a major TV series and two feature films shooting in the state, plus an increase in new theater companies building their audiences, there's a tremendous need for trained actors.

My seminars are different than __________ and ___________ for one simple reason - I'm not trying to teach you how to act. Both the teachers you mentioned are fine actors in their own right, and have lots to teach you about the craft of acting. My goal is to teach you about the business of acting. I'm assuming, because of your interest, that you want to get paid for the work you do; that you want to build a sustainable career, instead of getting a job here and a job there. Achieving that goal requires that you understand the business part of show business - that you manage your time, your money, and your reputation. That you market yourself to directors and producers effectively. That have a clear idea of what your definition of success is, and a plan to get there. That's what I'm out to do.

As you know, money is tight for everyone right now, and I'm no different. I can't afford the entire package. If I was to take just one of your seminars, which one would you recommend?

Well, it really depends on what your needs are. The Running Your Career Like A Business seminar is a general-purpose introduction to business concepts, and the way those concepts apply to your performing career. If you feel like you're serious building a career as an actor, but you're not really gaining much in the way of forward momentum in that career, this is the place to start. We'll talk about the way I manage my time, money, and reputation; we'll go over some tools that can make running your business easier, and we'll talk about ways to keep your focus and a balance in your life while pursuing your acting career.

If you feel like you've got the business concepts down, and are looking to solidify certain elements of "the business," then I'd highly recommend Jaime Langton's The Legal Side Of Your Acting Career seminar. Negotiating contracts is one of the toughest parts of our business - knowing how much to ask for, what to hold out for, and when to let something go is a learned skill, and applying the principals she lays out will help you to look over contracts and releases with confidence.

If you feel like you've got a good start in the business, but no one seems to know about you or your work (or they never seem to think of you when they're considering who to call in for an audition), then the Shameless Self-Promotion seminar would probably be the date for you. Look, no one wants to be "that actor" who's always talking about him/herself and how great we are... but there are literally thousands of us here in the Portland area, and if we don't do something to stick in directors', producers', and casting directors' minds the chances of them remembering us when the right part comes around dwindles. Coke wouldn't have its customer-base if it didn't advertise, nor would any other business. Remember, you ARE running a business - if you want to increase your "sales" (i.e. the jobs you get called in for), you have to get the word out about what you can do.

Finally, if you look at what other people do with email, the internet, or their computers in general and wonder how they do that, the ActorTech seminar is for you. Computers can be a great tool to help you manage and promote your acting career - but they can also be intimidating and confusing. I've been in the computer consulting business for over ten years now, and I've helped people at many different experience levels use their computers better. My hope is that this seminar will help to de-mystify that desktop or laptop computer that you think you're not getting everything out of, and help you to use it effectively to strengthen your business.

So... I guess I wasn't able to answer your question too well. Each seminar has a different focus; the right one for you really depends on the area you feel most needs strengthened.

Isn't there just a book or something I could read? Do you use books to help you come up with your ideas?

There are a lot of books out there that deal with business, and that deal with acting. There are even a few that deal with the business of acting. These seminars are based on my experience, and the tips I've picked up over the past twenty years. They're anchored in the business of acting in small markets like Portland, rather than the larger markets of New York or LA.

Dude, way to rub it in about taxes :) Your timing sucks, though - tax time is over now. Why would anyone be worried about this stuff after they've had to pay the man?

Actually, I think this is exactly the RIGHT time to start putting your business affairs in order - after you've gone through tax season and seen the deductions you could have gotten, or the amount of money you made. A fundamental concept of good business is planning ahead - rather than waiting until March or April to get your "ducks in a row," I'd recommend that you put business systems in place that make those two months less painful, because you're prepared with the numbers required by those pesky IRS forms.

Your seminars sound great, but I just can't afford them right now. Are you going to do more?

(This actually relates to the last question I answered - my timing really does kind of suck :) ).

This won't be the only time I offer business-related seminars. I realize that people are watching their pennies, and there are a lot of classes available right now. If you're interested in these seminars (or seminars like them), I'd encourage you to visit and sign up for the mailing list at the bottom of the page. When I've got another seminar series in the works, I'll be sure to let you know.

I hope that sharing these questions and responses has helped to answer some of YOUR questions, folks... like I said at the top, spots are still available for all four seminars in the series. for more information, and to register for the seminars, please visit
I hope I see you on Sunday...