Trish and Harold's Weblog

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

Monday, July 26, 2010

Back To Business: What Does It Mean To Be "Paid?"

The Back-To-Business Series: Index

Hey everyone. Me again! Before I get started on today's topic, I want to apologize for my spotty posting schedule of late. Simply put... things are getting busy here in Portland, and it's leaving me less time for sitting in the office and writing. In coming weeks I'll still strive to post a new Back-To-Business entry every Monday... but if I don't make it, you can bet I'm probably on set or prepping for my next project (there are OODLES coming up - I'm going to have a very busy August!) Be sure to put your email address in the box on the right-hand-side of this page, so emails you when a new post is added - or follow me on Twitter or Facebook. That's the best way to assure you're in-the-know when a new post pops up here.

So... as I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm going to be spending the next several entries talking about the resources we actors - and all businesses - need to manage so we can be successful and stay in business. Before we get into the specific areas represented in the "golden triangle," though, I want to speak to something that's important to all of us: getting paid.

Chances are if you're reading this, you consider yourself a professional. Professionals don't work for nothing; they expect compensation for what they do... that's one of the things that makes them "a professional."

Compensation, though, isn't "all about the money." Remember, as I've said so many times before, money is just a resource... and you've got other resources to manage in your acting career. A professional actor is no different than any other professional - s/he should never work for nothing... but that doesn't mean money is an actor's only concern when looking at the compensation offered for his or her work.

Now, I can already feel some of you starting to steam... bear with me. I'm not saying that actors shouldn't be paid money - hell, I like money! I like money a lot! I'm just saying that there are considerations beyond the money. Look, read all the way to the end before you pass judgement on what I'm saying - and then let me know what you think via email or twitter. I can take it (and besides, we have to put SOMETHING up on Wednesday :) )

Take another look at the "golden triangle" above... go ahead, scroll up. I'll wait.

No, really... I'll wait.

Still waiting...

Ok, you're back. The triangle represents the resources we actors use to conduct business, and as I said in my last post we need to find a way to balance those resources. There's more to "the business" than that, though - the real trick of any business is finding a way to build these resources while finding a way to balance them.

You probably understand this concept when it comes to your money... we all want to increase our money without spending too much in the process. That's called profit, right?

Well, the other resources in our triangle work the same way... we all need more time, right? Never enough hours in the day to get everything done... but we don't want to spend so much time trying to "get organized" that we end up late for that next appointment! We also don't want to gain the reputation that we don't have the time to devote to a project, or an important contact who might bring us money. We have to find a way to build more time into our lives, while still being open to those who want to pay us that money we're so worried about!

And speaking of "worrying about the money..." we also don't want to get the reputation that we're always after money... that the paycheck takes precedence over everything else! We want to spend our time working on things that mean something to us, right? That means being comfortable enough with our money that we can negotiate - but not come across as greedy or desperate about our rent!

So, what's all this got to do with the topic of today's article... gettin' paid? Like I said above, actors need a pool of all three resources in the "golden triangle" to do business... and they need to add to that pool with every project - the more you have of one resource, the easier it is to balance the others! How do you get more of these resources, though, to add to the pool?

You get them from being compensated for your work, of course. An actor should never work for nothing... but s/he should keep all three resources in mind when considering how he or she will be paid for that work.

Yes, money is important... will that project you're considering add to your reputation? Will you meet important contacts who will help you gain money down the line? Will and those industry contacts see you work in the finished product, and tell their contacts about you... thus saving you time down the road when you skip the audition and go straight to the producers?

How much time will the project take? Will it save you the time it takes to build solid material for a demo reel that can increase your reputation with those people I just mentioned who are looking to hire you? Is the money you'll be paid worth the time you're putting into the project? If you don't think your reputation will be increased by the project (because it's for a small audience, for instance... or because you're not allowed to use it on your reel) - is the money you're being offered worth it?

Above all else, caveat emptor folks... no one's going to look out for your business. No one's out to be sure you have all your resources covered. When considering what you're going to be paid for a project, remember that YOU'RE the one who runs your business... you're the one who's in charge of building it up to the next level. You're the one in charge of building - and balancing - those resources.

Let's get to work...


Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, July 12, 2010

Back-To-Business: A Question of Balance

I introduced you to the "Golden Triangle" in our last "Back-To-Business" article (I would say "last week's article," but as you know... we had a small problem there...) We're going stay focused on managing the resources you - and any business - use to generate profit over the next few weeks, and you'll notice that I'm going to keep coming back to this Golden Triangle as we do so. You see, the Triangle is a tool to remind us of the resources we need to keep track of - and it's a symbol we can use when we think about the way we run our acting business.

There are a couple reasons why the Triangle is... well, a triangle. The most obvious is that there are three basic resources you need to manage in your acting career. A lot of actors get stuck on the money - and it's understandable, since you're trying to make money as an actor without spending too much money in the process (that's how you measure the profit of your business, after all... the amount you've brought in versus the amount you've spent.) Money's just one of the resources you need to to actively manage, though, to have a successful career. Time is just as important, as is your reputation amongst those in "the business" - and amongst your audience.

There's another, more subtle reason for the triangle in the symbol above. I use that shape as a reminder to keep all my resources in balance. As actors, we strive for balance in our daily lives... balance between work and play, between feeding our souls and feeding our bellies, between pursuing work and actually working... it's a long list. Balancing our business resources, however, is just as important as balancing our personal life.

What do I mean? Well, lets think about our personal lives... if we spend too much time working, and not enough time with our families, our personal relationships suffer. If we spend too much money at the bar and and we don't have enough to cover our rent, our finances suffer. Spend too much time at our "survival job" and not enough time acting? Then our hearts suffer. I'm sure you've enountered at least one of these scenarios in your own life... we have to balance the things we need (work, family, friends, fun) to live a happy and fulfilled life. I'm not saying that's an easy thing, mind you... but its something every human strives for.

Businesses strive for the same balance in their "lives" - but they seek to balance the resources they need in order to be successful. HP, for example, needs certain resources to make their products, and to generate a profit. They need raw materials like silicon and plastic and glass... they need workers to assemble their products, sell them, and manage daily operations... they need an image or "brand" to trade on... and of course, they need the money for all these things. If they spend too much on one of these resources (such as personnel), they won't have enough money for another (such as advertising). Similarly, if they run into a shortage of one resources (like raw materials), they'll have to spend more on it... and they won't have enough money to put into other resources. They have to balance the resources they use in order to make their products - and thereby make a profit.

Guess what - your acting business follows the same pattern as your personal life... and HP's business "life" (even if you don't use the same resources they do.) You have to keep your resources balanced to make your product (your performance) and generate a profit. If you devote too much attention to one area (say, money) then another area is going to suffer (the time you could be spending working on your lines - or your reputation in "the business.") And because of the nature of our business, if those areas suffer our personal lives are also going to suffer. Balancing your businesses resources will help you balance your personal life - and will help you stay happy at work and at home!

There's a third reason I use a triangle to help track the resources in our acting business - it's because those resources are interrelated.

As I said above, a lot of actors get stuck on money... but consider - you have to have the time to work in order to get that money. You have to invest your money in building your reputation (headshots and reels aren't free, you know... nor are the drinks at networking events!) If you build a good reputation in your market, directors and producers may start approaching you directly to read for roles (or just hire you outright), thus saving you the time of tracking all over town looking for auditions... but building that reputation takes an investment of time and - in some cases - money!

You see, these resources don't live in a bubble. None of them can be the be-all-and-end-all of your life, or of your business (as I said a couple weeks ago, "business isn't about money!") They all relate to one another, and when you put too much emphasis on one, the others naturally suffer. Keep this idea of balance in mind as we move into a more in-depth look at each resource over the coming weeks.

And for now...

Let's get to work!


Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


The Back-to-Business Series: Index

Hey everyone... So, apparently, I wasn't the only one who took a day off on Monday to celebrate Independence day. So did Blogger's "scheduled posts" system... I'd been wondering why I hadn't received any response from the article I had set to post on Monday. Then DJ from Tucson, AZ wrote to ask me why I hadn't posted a Back-To-Business post... and it all became clear.

Sorry about that, guys... in the past when I've found out my scheduled posts hadn't "fired" at the time I'd expected them to, I'd just post them when the discovery was made... but given the fact that a lot of people have taken this week off, I figured I'd let things ride until next Monday.

So... check back next Monday for the next Back-to-Business post about balancing your resources using the "Golden Triangle"

And for now...

Let's get to work!


Sunday, July 04, 2010

Putting The History In Perspective

Yup... you're right. It's Sunday again, and you know what that means. Even if it is the Fourth of July, I'm sitting down to play my Online Video Game for a little bit.

You'd think that sitting inside uploading photos and tracking my family history is a lousy way to spend the Independence Day weekend... but actually, it's a natural fit. See, the point of today isn't to enjoy a day in the sun (hopefully) and gorge on hot dogs while you wait for the sun to go down and the fireworks to start. The reason we take today off is to allow ourselves time to reflect on our country's history. To look back at where we started, and to reflect on where we've ended up around 235 years later.

Now, I don't know about you, but I was exposed to a lot of American history growing up. Sure, American history was a mandatory class in school (and we still learned about Thomas Jefferson, so I'm better off than kids in Texas), but I was also raised by a history buff who would rattle off information from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War to the Cattle Wars. So, like I say, I was exposed to a lot of American history... but that doesn't mean I necessarily learned a lot of American history.

The big problem with history, in a lot of Americans minds, is context. We don't see how what's come before affects our lives today. Now, of course, we've all heard "those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it..." but lets be honest - a lot of people don't take that old saying to heart. We're Americans, after all... we're all about the future, about progess... about moving forward! The past has passed... right?

That attitude changes when you you have a personal connection with history... and that's just what happens when you look back through your family's history - History with a capital H becomes your history, because part of you was involved with it.

Look, let me give you an example... we've all heard about the Salem Witch Trials, right? Horrible time in American history... mass hysteria, hundreds of people put to death. It's just a story from the past, though... right? Nope. Not really... not if you have an ancestor who was accused of being a witch. Suddenly, that period of history means something to you, because it's not about a date and a place. It's about a person - a person you have a connection to.

Another example from my own history... I always thought, growing up, that my maternal grandfather was a second-or third-generation immigrant. My mother had always talked about his father (my great-grandfather) as an "old-world European..." so I just assumed he'd come over from Germany before my grandfather was born. After doing a little research on, however, it turns out that's not the case... my great grandfather might have had "old world European" ideals and values, but the Goodykoontz family has actually been in the united states since 1750, when Hans Georg Gutekunst arrived in Pennsylvania.

1750. Twenty years before the Declaration of Independence was signed, 234 years ago today. That means my ancestors lived in the 13 Colonies before the revolution. That could mean that my ancestors fought for independence. Suddenly, the story of our country's tumultuous birth takes on a new meaning for me... suddenly, I'm involved - indirectly - with our country coming into being.

Fast-forward 54 years. I know Jacob's son, Daniel, lived in Grayson county Virginia in 1830. Virginia. A slave state. Then, he's dead 13 years later... in Indiana. Indiana - which by that time has abolished slavery, and had become a "buffer state" between pro and anti slave states. Did Indiana's anti-slavery stance have something to do with Daniel moving there? Did the Goodykoontzes play a part in the Civil War?

It's a pretty amazing thing to realize, out of the blue, that you've had ancestors who've played a part in major historical events... that, by extension, you've had a hand in shaping that history. People ask me some times why I spend so much time messing around with this family history stuff... that's part of the answer. My family's history is ALL of our history. It helps me understand what's come before, and how common people played a role in making the events we think of as "history" today.

So, as you're enjoying the fireworks tonight, give it some thought. Think back... what part did your ancestors play in making tonight happen? I think you'll find it's an interesting journey to take...


Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Friday, July 02, 2010

Oregon Film & TV Workers: Get To Know Your Friends In The State Legislature!

Hey everyone... it's me, rabble-rousing again, and urging my friends in Oregon's film and TV industry to get involved now in the upcoming state election. Remember, the governor's race isn't the only political contest happening this year (and besides, Dudley and Kitzhaber have both - finally - told us where they stand on supporting the film and TV industry.) There are also campaigns happening state-wide for seats in the Oregon House and Senate.

The other day, I got a fundraising letter in the mail from my state representative, Mike Schaufler. Mike was a BIG supporter in the push to get SB621 passed in the waning days of last year's Legislative session - he shuttled back and forth from the lobby to the House Floor in between every vote working us to make the bill work, and get the votes from his colleagues in the Oregon House.

I was happy to drop a small check in the mail to Mike's reelection campaign, because we need friends like him in the legislature. Here's a copy of the email I sent him last week:

Dear Mike

I got your fundraising letter in the mail yesterday, and of
course I'll be sending you a check - it's the least I can do after all the hard
work you did to help the Oregon film and TV industry get SB621 passed last year.
I'm also more than happy to put a sign up in my yard, and if you want an
endorsement, just ask (I signed that spot on the flap of the donation envelope.)

You might also consider visiting a new web site - - and clicking the "Share Your Story"
link. We'd love to feature your support for the industry on that site; jot down
a few notes about what the industry brings to your district, the part you played
in increasing the OPIF cap with SB 621 and the "Local OPIF" (SB 863), and
forward a photo to me at this address - I'll be sure to highlight your work on
the site.

Thanks so much for everything you do for the district, and for
all of us here in Oregon. I'm VERY happy to support your re-election campaign!

I'd encourage everyone in Oregon's film and TV industry to contact your state Senators and Legislators ( - and the candidates running to replace them! If you're reading this outside Oregon, then hey, do the same in your state!

Drop supporters of the industry a few bucks if you can afford it (believe me, I can't afford to send Mike a lot of money... but $25 makes more of an impression than $0...), and if you're not sure - ask them where they stand on supporting our industry!

Encourage them to use as a platform to share their support for the industry - it can be a good way for them to get the word out about their campaigns AND to help raise the visibility of our industry... so we all win!

But don't wait... now is the time to get involved, and get the candidates (and incumbents) thinking about everything our industry does for Oregon. Remember, the OPIF "sunsets" in 2012; we need as many friends in the legislature as we can get so the program is renewed. Now's the time to make sure those friends get elected.

Besides... it's Independence day weekend. Can you think of anything more patriotic than getting involved in the process?

Have a great weekend...


Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

I Love My Job...

So... I have to tell you about an experience I had Tuesday night.

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you probably already know that Trish and I attended a special advance screening of the new Twilight movie, Eclipse on Tuesday (oh, you DIDN'T know that? Well, you should really look at these photos of Trish on the Q&A Panel with Ayanna Berkshire, Solomon Trimble, Cathrine Grimme and Lana Veenker before the show!)
This is one of the many benefits Trish has gotten from appearing in the original Twilight - every time a new Twilight movie opens, she's invited to come to a screening and talk about what it was like to work on the original film. It's great - the fans really love seeing her.
Anyway... that's not the experience I'm writing about here. The experience happened IN the theater, WHILE we were watching the new movie. Now, as you might expect, the house was packed... and it was packed with fans. Real really super-REAL fans. People (not just pre-teen girls, thank you very much...) who knew the Twilight books inside out, who knew exactly what was going to happen... even if they didn't know how it was going to happen in the screen adaptation.
There was a moment, towards the end of the film... a moment after the climactic battle, when the elders of the Vampire and Werewolf clans interacted. I'm not going to be more specific than that because, hey... you may be headed to the movie this weekend. Suffice it to say, when you see it you'll know what I'm talking about.
People in the audience applauded at this moment.
Now, keep in mind, these aren't live actors on stage, performing for the audience... this is a movie. No one associated with the film is in the house to hear the applause (especially since Eclipse was shot in Canada, not Oregon...) but it didn't matter. The audience applauded for their own sake, not the production's sake... the applauded because the felt the magic of that moment.
And I felt that moment... as a worker in the medium. As a person who's been a part making these little moments of magic, whether on stage or on screen... I felt the audience feeling the moment, and I felt their need to applaud. And all I could think was... I feel privileged. I feel privileged to work in this medium, and to bring these little bits of magic to the world.
Go out and see a good movie this weekend, folks. The magic is waiting for you.

Labels: , , , , ,