If one chooses to ignore the ‘BBC Music Awards’ in January, then one could say the ‘Awards Season’ began last weekend with ‘The Golden Globes’ and tonight we Brits get in on the act with ‘The BAFTAs’. The BAFTAs used to be one long night of endless Awards and Categories. Thankfully, they have dispensed with the above and have various awards throughout the year. Tonight is the BAFTA Film Awards that precedes the biggie – ‘The Oscars’ or the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Awards, if you want to be formal.
Tonight (as with the ‘Golden Globes’, ‘The Oscars’ ‘The Cannes Film Festival’, ‘Sundance’ and other prestigious events that pay homage to the Motion Picture Industry (or Film if you like,) this is when the elite slap each other on the back for being amazing (even when they are not).
Awards Ceremonies generally are held to recognise outstanding talent but there is something else at play – A game if you will. The game is not just about talent or about how outstanding someone is or was. Nor how amazing an artist they are. No, it is something much more clinical than any of the above.
The Game at play here is called ‘Business’.
A dirty word to many an artiste who focuses totally on their art and very little else. To put it bluntly when you take off the exotic wrapping and trappings that is glitz, glamour and ‘The Red Carpet’, what it comes down to is Money. It is all about the ‘Money’, the ‘Filthy Lucre’, call it what you will – It is, and always has been about the Money.
Tonight (if you choose to tune in), have a look who is sitting there in the audience. What you will see, are some of the biggest actors, directors and producers in the world. And when they say they will do/make a movie, millions, billions (of Dollars, Pounds/Euros,) will be invested to get those movies made.
This past week I noted Harvey Weinstein and Terence Stamp on an early evening chat show. I have never seen either man interviewed – though I know Mr. Stamp has done television interviews in the past but was surprised to see Mr Weinstein on the sofa. I guess he was doing the promotion thing on any chat show that would have him. Harvey has a plan, a strategy and good on him. He knows ‘The Game’ – Has rewritten some of the rules of ‘The Game’ throughout his career. He knows it is all about Business, Money and Promotion of whatever movie he is producing.
What I am going to say next, is something actors, writers and other creatives don’t like hearing – And I am surprised after nearly thirteen years in ‘The Business’ as an Actor to find this is still true. But I am going to say it anyway. It goes like this:-
“We need to take a leaf out of Harvey Weinstein’s Book and the Book of every other member of the audience whether they be attending ‘The Golden Globes’, ‘The BAFTAs’ or ‘The Oscars’. Yes, you may be an ‘Artist’, ‘Artiste’, an ‘Actor’ even. But we are also ‘Businessmen’ and ‘Businesswomen’. One needs to be able to promote one’s self and put yourself out there. If you can’t, don’t or are not willing to do so, then to be blunt, it probably won’t happen. Personally I can tell you it definitely won’t happen. One may well say: ‘Well Gennis, I could do all that or, I have done all that, nothing happened at all. My response to the first is: ‘You won’t know until you try.’ To the second point: ‘I have done it all, it led somewhere, eventually led to my working on major films and television productions, then nothing. I wasn’t put off and continued to promote myself because in doing more than “just trying,” I know the journey, where it led, where it didn’t lead. But in promoting myself, I found my voice, I am known, have agency representation, so it is only a matter of time before another big break comes my way.’
I have had my fair share of criticism from people who I may have only met me once (or not at all,) – Are not involved in ‘The Business’ and know little of what it takes. They certainly don’t know my work, nor see me turning up at 6am on a cold winter’s morning to do a twelve hour shoot. They will read my twitter updates, my blog entries, look at my website and it means nothing to them. They don’t get it, nor do they understand the effort and hard work it takes in financing one’s career to get started, to get there, and more importantly what it takes to stay there. One has a dream, an aspiration, an ambition. One sees the above so clearly in one’s mind’s eye that they embark on a journey totally focused and you know what? Something eventually happens. It will be a career defining moment that leads to a career lasting a lifetime, or it could be a false start that leads nowhere but great lessons are learnt that prepares one for the real thing. And this is the point I want to make:-
‘You don’t fail when you persevere and work towards your goals. You learn great lessons along the way.’
The British still think self-promotion is evil, ego-driven in some strange way. No it isn’t. It is just one strategy in one’s arsenal of doing good business. Anything else to the contrary is irrational, fearful and very stupid. It is the ‘Language of Fear’ – Fear being: False Evidence Appearing Real.
I don’t think I am good at promoting myself, I know I am. I have been doing so effectively since 2007. I began my career proper in 2002 and for the next five years through work (in Film and Television,) trial and error, I learned some great lessons over a five year period and put it into practice via promoting myself online via using my Casting Call Pro Profile as the Launch Pad. Spotlight and Equity Membership was already in place by this time. Additional Tools to My Arsenal in terms of credentials. Every other piece of the Puzzle began falling into place. Once in place it is a simple case of maintaining the promotional campaign and fine tuning it and/or making major changes/overhauling the promotional campaign when and where necessary. This could be fine tuning or completely changing one’s website in light of new techniques or technology. I have to stress that one does not need to spend a great deal of money on doing any of the above. Spotlight and Equity memberships, plus Showreel aside, I have spent very little if any money on promoting myself. I constructed and built my websites without ever having to pay a penny (or a dime if you will). I am not saying it is easy. It requires time, skill and know-how but it won’t cost you much if anything at all. As that Great British Film Director ‘Val Guest’ once said:-
“If you don’t have money, you have to use your head.”
Which is exactly what I did. But I digress – Big time.
If you have something you believe in very strongly and you want people to experience it, then you have a strong (moral,) duty to get out there and tell people about it. You have a story to tell – Some good news you want to share with them. Why do you think the big names of Showbiz, big name actors, personalities and celebrities do chat show after chat show? It is not for the good of their health. It is ‘Good Business’. Good Business to promote themselves, their careers, their wares (starring/appearing in a new movie,) and humanitarian causes they are involved in.
As one of my drama teachers ‘Eamonn Jones’ once said:-
“It’s all grist to the mill”.
I believe you Eamonn. Indeed I do.
And if you still need convincing, tune in tonight on BBC1 (if you are in the UK,) or stream the BAFTAs or watch/read about the upcoming Oscars and The Cannes’ Film Festival and watch the big boys and girls of the Acting and Film World promote and sell themselves like the world was going to end tomorrow. Then think of the thing you would most like to do in the world and go for it. You will be amazed at what you achieve but even more, you will realise just how much your thinking has changed once you embark on this journey.
I would wish you the best of luck but you won’t need it. You will be making your own luck and that is what is much more important and inspirational.
Thanks for reading.