Acting Like It’s A Business

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Date(s) - 02/08/2018
7:00 pm - 9:30 pm

Location Acting Up Network

Taught by Adam Lieblein

4 Thursday’s at 7pm


This Acting Up Network course is designed to provide an in-depth examination of the business elements of the entertainment industry that drive the employment of acting.

Topics To Be Covered:


Industry Hierarchy

Marketing Materials

Union Regulations

Financial Core Issues

Contracts – Legal Insights

Bookings and Union Rates

Online Portfolio Management

Self-Submission Systems

Online Casting Systems

Useful Resources for Actors

Business Plan for Artists

Class 1 – REPRESENTATION – We discuss five basic types of representation:  Agents, Personal Managers, Attorneys, Publicists and Business Managers. What they do, who needs them, what qualifies them to do what they do, how are they regulated, what they charge, how to find them, how to handle yourself in a meeting with them, and when to replace them. We then examine the major differences between SAG-AFTRA franchised agencies, and ATA agencies.  We discuss what the ATA is, and how the power structure of the representation industry has changed in the past decade since the breakdown of negotiations between ATA and SAG for a new agency franchise agreement.


In the first part of this session we discuss the structure of the casting industry, as it exists in different structures for commercials, film, and TV series productions. We break down the structure of production entities such as networks, studios, and independent production companies. We review the function of each professional, and how they can be of help to all developing actors.  In the next part of this class we review the best practices for creating and using standard marketing materials, such as photos, resumes, postcards, business cards, personal websites, email contact tools, and online portfolios. We discuss all the different online systems for managing an actor’s portfolio, and the use of that profile for self-submissions and agency submissions. We look in depth at LA Casting, Actors Access, Casting Frontier, and then topically reference the other systems so that students can be aware of what exists and what might be helpful for their careers. We log on to each site and compare the features. We look at how much each system costs, what they provide, and how useful they really are.


We review the history of the guilds, and their jurisdiction, including the recent merger of SAG-AFTRA. We talk about how to become a member, and why to join. We review the history of the Taft-Hartley act, and how it works. More interestingly, we discuss exactly what it means to become a financial core member of a guild, and the pros and cons of that process.  Then we discuss the most common forms of Television, Film, and Commercial bookings for actors in LA. We review the typical rates for basic films, standard television formats (including soaps and series deals), low budget films, modified low budget films, ultra low budget films, student films, experimental films, shorts, webisodes, and commercials. We examine the residual expectations for each form of media. We also briefly cover the rates offered for modeling, hosting, voiceover, and infomercials. We discuss the rules of consecutive employment dates, drop and pick ups, turnaround time, forced calls, meal penalties, and other general areas of interest related to union compensation. The calculation of commissions is also part of this subject, as well as tracking income and uncovering fraud by representatives.  All of these topics are presented in a framework that provides students with insight about how much actors need to book each year in order to make a living from acting.


In the first part of the class, we examine the basic elements of representation agreements used by talent agencies and discuss the different terms offered by SAG-AFTRA franchised and ATA member agencies. We then spend some time reviewing the unregulated terms of contracts used by managers. Using existing agreements, we highlight some of the most important things to watch for, and which areas, if any, are negotiable. In the second part of this session we examine samples of test-option deals, which provide some useful insight about the nature of booking series regular roles. Next we will delve into subjects such as how to utilize internships, defining your “type,” finding and using a mentor, the pros and cons of using unique marketing materials, when to change your “look,” the best methods for researching prior to an audition or callback, general tips for behavior on the set, and unique opportunities for networking. In the second part of the class we will discuss how actors can create a personal Business Plan. When an artist chooses to make money from their art, they are technically starting a business. As the president of his or her business, each actor should be able to develop a highly detailed plan, typically known as a “Business Plan.” This lesson reveals some best practices, and provides a usable framework for each student to create their own plan.  With the remaining time, we will take a look at the best resources for actors, both online and offline. Actors in Los Angeles are regularly bombarded with marketing materials for websites that promise to provide valuable tools and resources for actors. Most of those places are not productive. We will discuss the best resources for researching a project prior to an audition or callback, the most useful place to discover information about talent agencies, and the most reliable and timely source for news and information about our industry.

Adam’s BIO:

Adam Lieblein is a graduate of the UCLA School of Theatre Film and Television, and spent eight years as a producer of films, commercials and television projects until 1993 when he opened a talent agency. Adam was the president of Acme Talent & Literary for sixteen years, and together with his eighteen agents represented actors for film, television, commercials, print modeling and voiceover work, and writers for film and novels. At the end of 2008, Acme’s several divisions in LA and NY were sold to other agencies, and Adam returned to the business of producing and teaching at UCLA. In 2015 Adam received the Outstanding Instructor of the Year Award at UCLA Extension. From 2011 to 2017, Adam served as a Lead Project Manager for Casting Networks International, and has recently become the Director of Business Development for Breakdown Services and Actors Access.


Bookings are closed for this event.