@westendproducer What are the best tips and tricks to building relationships in The Industry, besides buying everyone you see at press night a bottle of champagne?
— Richard Stranks (@stranxy) June 25, 2019
My dear, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The usual route to industry glory is by buying everyone champagne, chocolate and vouchers to special shops in Soho. As they say: money sells, and bribery is swell. But, of course, not everyone can afford that, so you may need to take the cheaper option.
This takes meticulous planning and dedication but, in the long run, offers lasting results. If you are in a show, obviously invite as many people as possible – directors, casting directors and producers. It can really pay off.
Even if they can’t make it, your email may land at precisely the right moment. Always be sure to mention not only your own work, but also theirs. People love having their ego stroked (among other things). Perhaps mention a production of theirs you admired, or a piece of casting that you thought was inspired. And then add all relevant information about your show.
Another tactic is to get yourself to other people’s press or gala nights. These elegant affairs are guaranteed to have the great and the good swanning around in their tightest leggings and crop tops, each cradling a plastic beaker of cheap prosecco and salty snacks. Be brave and bold: approach your target and begin a non-threatening conversation about the show.
And then, after a few minutes of pleasantries, slip into the conversation that you’re a performer – and then never mention it again. Simple. The secret is to not be overly pushy.
In terms of TV people, email them. TV casting directors and producers like receiving showreels and invitations to productions. Just don’t do it all the time. If you have a new showreel, or a production invite, then send one email only. Don’t follow up on the email, or call their office the following day. Be professional, and let them make the call if interested.
Get yourself along to talks or masterclasses. If you live in London, there are always some available – have a look at Theatre Royal Haymarket’s Masterclass website as a starting point. These are great places to listen to posh actors and meet more like-minded people. Also, lots of casting directors and directors now do one-off workshops. Casting Workshops, the Actor’s Centre and the Actor’s Guild all offer these. They usually cost about £35 for each session – you’ll be sent a scene to prepare, and perform for the casting director and other participants. It’s a great way to get honest feedback, and meet the people who could put you into projects.
You can also check out your local Equity branch (if you’re a member – and if not, why not?). Some are really active and offer rehearsed reading opportunities, social events, and networking evenings (as well as seasoned drinking events). These are really useful again in building relationships and learning first-hand about what’s going on in the industry.
And one final thing… read The Stage! It always informs you of when and where things are opening – it’s the best theatrical diary planner in the world (plus the editor will give me an extra tenner for saying this, dear).