Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Managing Your Career: A Theatre Ontario Boot Camp

by Biden Hall

On Saturday, October 18, I had the opportunity to attend Theatre Ontario’s Managing Your Career Boot Camp workshop series.  The day was filled with a set of four workshops designed for self-employed artists in the theatre to give them the skills and knowledge to build their entrepreneurial capacity.  The workshops included:
  • Building Your Brand as an Artist with Edward Power
  • Social Media as a Professional Tool with Seb FoxAllen
  • We Want You...Now Sign! with Derrick Chua
  • Ask an Agent.  Everything you’ve always wanted to know… with Alicia Jeffery
Each of these workshops focused on the actor's experience establishing themselves as a business owner, and providing them with instruction in laying the foundation for representing themselves to the various individuals and professionals who together form the network which makes this industry.

That word - represent - was key in each session.  Actors are often at a loss to know how they should conduct themselves in different areas, such as with the public, their agent, or in signing themselves to contracts.

The great advantage of this series was that it got you in the room speaking with specialists in particular fields.  Edward Power discussed the actor as their own business, company, and brand, who has to have a clear understanding of the service they provide.  He focused on the steps taken to get there, and true to his name, empowered us to believe that with the right tenacity, baby steps could take us to where we wanted to be.
“Don’t overestimate what you can do in a year, or underestimate what you can do in a lifetime.”- Edward Power
Theatre Ontario's Managing
Your Career Boot Camp
Seb FoxAllen’s presentation on social media use was extremely relevant and was much appreciated for its practical application.  As a medium that is still undergoing daily changes and developments, I found it extremely useful to speak with someone who is on the front line of presenting an online profile for artists. I came away with a plethora of ways which I could use to improve my own online footprint in my current work.  Seb identified the most relevant social media sites to use for given purposes, and included some of the most up-and-coming new applications.

Derrick Chua’s talk on the ins and outs of contract law was invaluable.  There isn’t a better person to learn this from since the topic is one which, lacking the proper know-how, causes so much grief for people in the field. With such a wealth of experience, and being an entertainment lawyer himself, Derrick brought us through the various types of agreements between actors, companies, and ad hoc groups.

The final session complimented Derrick’s and was a chance to speak with talent agent Alicia Jeffery, who gave pointers on how to cultivate the relationship with your agent from the first meeting, to the first audition, and beyond.

Having recently moved to Toronto, and begun my career in artistic administration, this boot camp was an invaluable opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge in a range of key areas.  For myself, precisely because my career path continues to develop and branch out, a wide net of skills is exactly what I need to set up and promote myself as an artist and manager.

The entire day was like one great bath of expertise which I was able to slowly soak in.  Personally, the most valuable and relevant section for me in my current work was Seb’s instruction in social media’s latest trends. I can say though that there was a variety of backgrounds and goals among the day’s participants, which only added to the value of my own experience there.  Meeting new people and benefiting from everyone’s shared experiences was a huge part of the day, and that’s what the biggest takeaway for me will be.

Going forward, I can apply what I’ve learned here and build on the new relationships I’ve made.  With my new knowledge I can better focus on and define my goals both in the short and long term.  And meanwhile I’ll keep checking back with Theatre Ontario to see what other learning opportunities are on offer.

Find out about Theatre Ontario's upcoming Career Stream workshops and Creator Stream workshops

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