Trish and Harold's Weblog

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

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

12 Post Of Christmas: Gifts For The Actor in Your Life

Hello again, folks... here it is, the 23rd of December - just a couple of days until the main event. If you're among the people thronging to the mall or your local retail stores for last-minute Christmas shopping AND you have an actor or performer on your list, I have a couple of quick suggestions that might just ease some holiday stress:

Notebooks: We actors need to record a lot of information... notes from directors, directions to set, our mileage as we drive back and forth to auditions... a nice notebook like one of these from Powells Books can come in handy - you can be sure it'll get used (and when your favorite performer whips out his or her notebook, you know who s/he'll think of!

A Good Bag: Actors are mobile professionals - we're constantly on the move between home and rehearsal or a set or a meeting with a director... and we end up carrying a lot with us on the go! Now, most of us have SOMETHING to carry our stuff around in... but that SOMETHING might be a second-hand backpack or duffel bag from Goodwill. A nice messenger bag or leather satchel will help us keep our various needs together, and give us the opportunity to walk into that meeting looking just a tad more prosperous than we might be. The more pockets the better, and expandability paired with elegance is always a plus!

Clothing Gift Cards: I know, I know... most people don't like getting clothes for Christmas... memories of your great aunt who didn't really know anything about you giving you socks on Christmas morning come screamingly to mind. Actors need clothes, though - often, they need very specific outfits, or pieces that can be paired together to create the "look" of the character they're playing or auditioning for. As you might imagine, clothes can become a big expense in a given year... you can help the performer in your life out by giving him or her a gift card to a moderately-priced clothing retailer (Ross, for instance, or TJ Maxx). Chances are, your performer is already skilled at stretching his/ her clothing dollar, and s/he'll be able to pick up just the right items to make an audition outfit work!

Planning on giving a cell phone this Christmas? Consider making it a "smart phone" - as I've often said, actors live and die by our schedules; we have to keep track of rehearsals, meetings, networking events... and family get-togethers like the ones we'll see you at later this month! You don't have to pop for a Blackberry or IPhone, but the performer in your life will be exceptionally grateful for any phone that will keep track of his or her schedule and contacts (but please be sure that the phone can back up its data to a computer; nothing is worse than entering a ton of information into a device and losing it when the device crashes or gets lost). There are lots of phones now that have these functions... take a look at the performer's wireless carrier's retail outlet and see what's available.

An addition to your performer's "office": Remember, actors are independent business people... and just like any business person, we have to have an area to conduct business from. I myself have a room in my house that Trish and I use as our office... but I know lots of actors who work off the corner of their kitchen tables, have their headshots piled up on top of their dressers, and borrow their friends computers (or use a Library computer) to check their email. You can help the performer in your life become more successful and organized by giving him or her something to help make the workflow better - an addition to his/her home office. Maybe it's a chair, a wall-mounted filing system, a desk, or maybe even a computer (remember, even a second-hand, four year old computer will let him or her get online for email and networking sites). You can make all the difference in your performers life by helping him/ her get organized and do the "business" part of show business better.

And finally, (You knew this was coming...) a PerformerTrack subscription. You've heard me trumpet all the benefits of Holdon Log's PerformerTrack system... it truly is a one-stop shop for managing a performer's career. Income and expenses are tracked so taxes are easier. Contacts can be recorded and linked to the projects they've worked on together... details of auditions and projects can be tracked that will help the performer work better. I could go on and on about all the great things PerformerTrack has done for me... but I think I said it all in this recent article. Want to see a snap-shot of what PerformerTrack has to offer? Take the "virtual tour" on Holdon Log's web site (or watch this snazzy-jazzy video!) The best thing about PerformerTrack is that it helps the performer in your life think about his or her career as a business - it trains the brain. If the performer in your life takes the time to track all the information s/he's asked for in this system, they'll start thinking about getting that information... which will start them thinking about how they do business... which will help them work the business side of show business that much better. It's truly worth every penny (and it doesn't cost that much!)

Hope that helps... try and stay safe and sane while you're out shopping!