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I am going to start this blog by stating some very sad facts that, as actors, should concern us very much. I will follow this with what I feel we can do to help remedy this situation.

I wonder how many of you are aware that Florida is the only state in the Southeast, and one of 12 states throughout the U.S. without a program to compete for film and television projects. At last count, Florida has lost out on approximately 100 major film and television projects that would have equated to over $2 billion spent statewide, and 125,000 cast and crew jobs. This also includes losses to ancillary businesses such as hotels, equipment rentals and many more. However, since this is addressed only to my fellow professional and career actors, I will concentrate on how it affects us.

A bit over a year ago, I booked a co-star role in the Disney series, “Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.” through my Honolulu agency. I had the pleasure of working with a wonderful cast and crew, had a wonderful time, and was really happy to have been paid above scale. Now the downside. In order to take on the role, I had to accept to be a local hire. Being a local hire simply meant that I would not be paid for transportation, hotels, and not receive per diem. I traveled 4600 miles to Honolulu and paid for my hotel (actors stay at the same hotel at a reduced rate) and meals. Even though I was paid above scale, I returned home pretty much coming out even on money. In short…I didn’t make much $$ at all! While it was a valuable addition to my resumé, it came with a cost.

Before I continue, it would be appropriate to mention a little about me. I have been in the "business" for 64 years (Musician, Radio Broadcaster, TV Show Host, TV/Film Actor, Stage Actor/Director). I often humorously state my claim to fame was that I performed at the Hollywood Bowl four years before The Beatles. I am an old actor…a very old actor…80 years old to be exact. There is less competition for my type since there are fewer of us. Of course, there are also fewer parts for actors my age. So far, I haven’t been asked to audition for the role of a superhero or some handsome hunk (Drat the luck!).

To continue, film incentives in each state will differ, but the reasons for having them are the same…to promote their state, their businesses, and their workers. The latter is important to us because some states require that you be a resident of that state in order for production to get the incentive. Therefore, there are many roles for which we will not be able to book. For those states we can work, booking a role can be made even more difficult. All things being equal, the local actor normally will have priority.

When living in Texas, I was a member of the Texas Media Production Alliance (TXMPA). At that time, we had lost our incentives (much like what happened here about eight years ago) and work just dried up. We worked hard to promote local filming and, despite many hurdles, did get the incentive program passed, but it required the work of the members. I remember attending Lobby Day in Austin, where members showed up to promote filming to our elected representatives. A huge number of our members were fellow actors who understood the need to promote more filming in Texas.

Subsequent to my move to Florida nearly six years ago, I joined Film Florida, a statewide organization similar to TXMPA. During the past few years, Film Florida has been actively involved in promoting film incentives to our legislators, and while we still do not have an incentive program, we have received more bipartisan support each year. In short, it’s not a case of “if” we get a program, but “when”. The ”when” part of getting the program depends on those who support filming in our state, which should include our state’s local, professional actors.

The yearly membership cost to be a member of Film Florida is $75.00 for individuals. If I were to add the cost of ongoing training, headshots, SAG-AFTRA dues, IMDb Pro, Casting Networks, equipment needed to self-tape, and other costs I may have left out, I would come up with a significant amount of money that makes the yearly cost of membership in Film Florida seem like pocket change. Yet, without the help of Film Florida, all the money spent on those items will mean little if we don’t have films made in our state.

Finally, my fellow Florida actors, if you believe we are hamstrung because of a super Republican majority in our legislature...think again. Look at other red states...Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, etc. One very good example is Oklahoma...a very red state and listed as the fourth most Republican state in the U.S., yet they have the Filmed In Oklahoma Act of 2021! Do not think we cannot succeed!

I wonder how many of you are aware that we recently came close to losing the Entertainment Industry Sales Tax Exemption Program. As a result of the efforts of our Film Florida members writing letters, the program remains.

It's a no-brainer, my friends! Let’s support each other by joining Film Florida. Let’s get back the big films like “Dolphin Tale” and the like! Let's be those local actors production companies prefer! Please check out their website:

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  • Writer's pictureRay Watters

I remember a time when social media was pretty much limited to letters to the editor of the local newspaper. There was no thought about Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok (what the hell is Tik Tok?). Someone once made the point that he was thankful to be old because there’s no proof of the crazy things he did in his youth. I concur…for reasons no one will ever know!

Now we have all those social media apps mentioned in the foregoing, and probably some I’m not familiar with. The question now comes, is social media helpful to the actor?

Well, yes…and no.

Social media is very important in that it allows you to network with other actors, promote your brand, share advice, support fellow actors, and share your latest achievements. There are several Facebook pages for the various regions in our country that are designed for the actor. You can request to join them and network with your fellow actors.

A word of advice. Be careful that you are sharing and not grand-standing. Continually posting the same “Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!” will not win many friends. I have also seen several Facebook pages specifically for actors where an actor will constantly post the link to his/her IMDb page to get others to link to it. The idea of constantly posting that link is to boost their Starmeter ranking which, in my opinion, indicates they are not a professional actor (See my blog on the IMDb Starmeter).

Casting Directors do check on our social media. This gives them an idea of who we are and how we may behave and interact with others on set. If all you do is post negative material, you may be labeled as a negative person and difficult to work with. Avoid being argumentative. If someone writes something offensive to you, just continue scrolling or block that individual. Do not get caught up in a Facebook or Twitter war.

Beth Melsky is a respected Casting Director in New York and has been in the business for many years. She writes an excellent blog about cleaning up your social media that I would strongly recommend actors read.

Remember, what you post on social media reflects who you are.

Be the best!

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  • Writer's pictureRay Watters

I had the honor many years ago of working with a professional British actor who was brilliant on stage. As we became better acquainted, he admitted to me that he was painfully shy around other people. This was a shock to me since I thought he had it all together and nothing scared him. What I learned from him was a very valuable lesson. As shy as he was, he did not feel it necessary to seek anyone’s approval. As a result, when he performed, his unique self came through and he shined as the character.

Another actor I got to know on a personal level (didn't get the opportunity to work with him) was Jack Palance. Jack is well-known for winning the Oscar for his role in the film, "City Slickers". You may remember him doing the one-handed push up on stage when accepting the Oscar. You may be surprised to learn that Jack was a shy man as well. He played villains and tough guys in films, but had a very soft side and was an accomplished artist. He certainly didn't seek approval. He did it his way, and was a success for many years.

This was hard for me to understand since I constantly wanted to know what others thought of my performance. But what I learned over the years is that seeking approval is not healthy for an actor.

We keep hearing from acting coaches and casting directors to “take chances”, “make it your own”, “have fun with it”…etc. etc. The question is, how is that possible if we’re concerned about what others think of us as actors?

It’s not.

I believe being concerned about what people think of us is a part of human nature. However, this can be detrimental to the actor. Further, trying to be like someone else ruins us as actors. You may be a fan of a certain actor but trying to be like him/her simply does not work.

One of my favorite actors, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, is Christoph Waltz. In my opinion, his work in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” was nothing short of brilliant. However, as good as his work is, he cannot be me.

We are each unique human beings. Nobody is like us. Each of us offers something different. When we try to copy someone else’s work, I believe we become boring. A good example is when actors will use as a monologue the court scene from “A Few Good Men” and try to copy Jack Nicholson. The fact is, Jack Nicholson is the only one who can be Jack Nicholson.

When given the opportunity to audition, I feel it is important to make choices and, after doing research on the material, make it our own. If I don’t take chances I will not grow.

A few years ago, I was invited to audition for a lead role in a film that aired on a popular cable channel. I had little information on the role except what was in the two-page sides. I made a choice as to how the character was to be played…a very friendly old man. Nope. The character was in fact somewhat of a curmudgeon. Nevertheless, I was invited to a callback and received a redirect in advance. I then played the role differently and booked the role.

Of course, we’re not always successful in auditions…that’s the nature of the business. However, when we bring our uniqueness to the audition, it gives the Casting Director something no one else has brought.

Check out another blog on this page about unique life experiences and how important that is to us as actors.

Be your unique self!

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