Saturday, June 28, 2008

Jay Johnson

Specificity really is the key to a successful headshot, just as it is in acting.

Jay and I met to discuss his career goals. Recently retired from the military, Jay is working on his masters degree and focusing on his first love, acting. When I asked him what types of roles he saw himself playing, he said, "professor." This was a great jumping off point for our photo session.

We talked about what visually communicated "professor," and quickly discarded tweed jacket and pipe as being to on-the-nose. Still, we wanted casting directors to get a sense that Jay was intelligent and warm. We settled on a background of books and an apple as a prop.

In creating a specific shot, we came up with one that is also universal. Jay is warm and inviting and any casting director looking for a professor is going to stop and seriously consider this picture. But because there's a universal appeal in the pose and smile, Jay is going to be considered for 'young dad,' 'good boyfriend,' and 'stand-up guy.' By being specific in the intention in the picture, we've created a shot that stops a viewer who is flipping through a stack of resumes and will consider him for a number of different types of roles.

Check out the Archetype website to see another example from Jay's shoot.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Plaza Suite

Long, long ago, my first job was at the Drake Hotel as the night bellman. It was a very glamorous job and I met many celebrities and made lots and lots of money. Then a landed in my first show and gave the job up, but I've always remembered it fondly.

So, it was very strange to be asked to go back to the Drake to do the pre-production publicity shots for the upcoming Eclipse Theatre's production of Plaza Suite that opens on July 17th at the Victory Gardens Greenhouse. The shoot was done in one of the larger suites in the hotel, one I'd been in many times and one that had not changed. For this occasion it was standing in for the Plaza, circa 1968. It was perfect.

I had a great time with this shoot. It took a couple of hours as we waited for various actors to arrive, and at the end there was a bottle of champagne. Hopefully, as the opening comes closer you'll see all of the selected shots in the media, but this picture has particular meaning for me. It's like looking through a prism in time and seeing a fragmented version of my former self.

The Eclipse company is filled with some really great people and it's my honor to have been asked to take these pictures. I've seen the designs, read the script, and met the actors. This will be a wonderful production, just the thing for a summer outing. Don't miss it

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Congratulations Non-Equity Jeff Winners

Production – Play
The Island of Dr. Moreau - Lifeline Theatre

Production - Musical
Jerry Springer - The Opera - Bailiwick Repertory Theatre
1776 - Signal Ensemble Theatre

Machos - Teatro Luna

Director - Play
Greg Kolack - columbinus - Raven Theatre

Director - Musical
Fred Anzevino - Cabaret - Theo Ubique Theatre Company i/a/w Beverle Bloch & Michael James

New Work
Teatro Luna & Coya Paz - Machos - Teatro Luna

New Adaptation
Robert Kauzlaric - The Island of Dr. Moreau - Lifeline Theatre

Actress in a Principal Role - Musical
Elizabeth Lanza - Can-Can - Circle Theatre

Actress in a Principal Role - Play
Vanessa Greenway - The Constant Wife - Griffin Theatre Company

Actor in a Principal Role - Musical
Jeremy Trager - Cabaret - Theo Ubique Theatre Company i/a/w Beverle Bloch & Michael James

Actor in a Principal Role - Play
Sam Wootten - Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde - Bohemian Theatre Ensemble

Actress in a Supporting Role - Musical
Danielle Brothers - Cabaret - Theo Ubique Theatre Co. i/a/w Beverle Bloch & Michael James

Actress in a Supporting Role - Play
Kathleen Ruhl - Dolly West's Kitchen - TimeLine Theatre Company

Actor in a Supporting Role - Musical
Jeremy Rill - Jerry Springer - The Opera - Bailiwick Repertory Theatre

Actor in a Supporting Role - Play
Hans Fleischmann - In a Dark Dark House - Profiles Theatre
Ron Wells - A Prayer for My Daughter - Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co.

Scenic Design
Michael Menendian & Leif Olsen - The Night of the Iguana - Raven Theatre

Costume Design
Elizabeth Shaffer - An Ideal Husband - Circle Theatre

Lighting Design
Kevin D. Gawley - The Island of Dr. Moreau - Lifeline Theatre

Sound Design
Stephen Ptacek - Faster - the side project

Brenda Didier - The Life - Bohemian Theatre Ensemble

Original Incidental Music
Victoria DeIorio - The Island of Dr. Moreau - Lifeline Theatre
Gregor Mortis & Mikhail Fiksel - A Lie of the Mind - Strawdog Theatre Company
Kevin O'Donnell - The Nutcracker - The House Theatre of Chicago

Music Direction
Joshua Stephen Kartes - Cabaret - Theo Ubique Theatre Co i/a/w Beverle Bloch & Michael James

Mask Design
Kimberly G. Morris - The Island of Dr. Moreau - Lifeline Theatre

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Multiple Marketing Images

One of the founding principles for Archetype Images is to work with Chicago professionals who are serious about their profession, who take responsibility for their professionalism instead of relying on "talent," and "luck" alone to bring them success. Many lose sight of the fact that as an actor or musician or director, they are offering a service in a very tough business. And in marketing themselves, they frequently misunderstand the typical agent and photographer advice to get headshots that "show who you are." What is left out of that statement is "who you are within a specific context." It is up to the professional to define the context in which he wants to be seen, or in other words to target his marketing efforts so that the people who are interested in buying his services know exactly what services he offers.

Dominic Bogart is a passionate actor. Rarely have I worked with an actor who understood better that he works within an industry, and yet has found a way to embrace the artistry of that industry. Currently appearing in Jersey Boys, Dominic loves...loves ... what he does. But if the truth were told, he really wants a shot at working on darker material. Like many actors, Hamlet is his dream role. During our shoot he told me that he could be prepared to go on in the role in less than two weeks. He's the perfect Hamlet type. He has the perfect energy for the role. Yet, if you read his resume, you'd assume that his focus is national musical tours. He's played Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar, and Mark in Rent. So, how does he get from the company of Jersey Boys to a paying gig as Hamlet?

Well, his first step is to help the people who hire Hamlets to see him as that character. Standing alone, each of these shots is a great picture of Dominic, but they may be a little too specific to use as a stand-alone headshot. Most agents would tell him to reshoot and get rid of the shadows. They don't do anything to enhance his current brand as a reliable, commercial actor with a strong resume in musical theater and independent film. That, however, does not mean that these shots can't or shouldn't be used. One example might be to use these shots as a border on a website, that features his resume with his national tour and independent film credits. With a very specific style, these shots enhance Dominic's brand as a serious actor, a casting director can see a dimension that perhaps his current resume may not indicate.

A website is something that a serious actor should start giving some serious consideration to. In the very, very near future an actor without a website is going to be looked upon as unfortunate; just as an actor without a headshot is viewed today. And an actor who goes into a photoshoot just wanting a headshot that shows "who he is" will really be missing an opportunity to define his brand and expand his market presence. Instead of asking for a "commercial" and a "dramatic" headshot, actors should be asking for headshots that target specific roles, precise segments of the entertainment industry, and taking advantage of the growing influence of digital media for marketing themselves.

Check out the Archetype Images website to see the other images from Dominic's shoot that define him commercial and leading man roles.