Notes for talent…from Linda Burns, Producer

One of our plans for the blog is to have industry types give notes for talent on everything from pet peeves to set etiquette.  This can be a huge benefit to actors on do’s and don’ts, the things you might not know otherwise.  Linda Burns kicks off this series with this great list.  Her bio is at the end.  Happy Reading!  -MB

1 – Always get a cell number and contact name for production. Make sure your cell number and your e-mail address, which should be provided by your agent, is up to date, so when they give your contact info to production, it is correct.

2 – Make sure you leave early enough to compensate for any potential traffic issues to guarantee your arrival shortly before or at call. Traffic is not an excuse, it’s a constant.

3 – If you are going to be even five minutes late, call as soon as you know. Don’t wait until after your call time to call or wait for me to call you to find out you will be late. I don’t like waking your agent up at 5am to ask where you are.

4 – Always come with the clothing production asks you to come with – come with choices, of color and style, and come with clothing that is stain free, clean and pressed or ironed. It hurts to see clothing stuffed into a gym bag.

5 – Try to stay quiet and be respectful on set. Listen to the director and focus on the direction given. You are there to work, hopefully it will be fun too, but first and foremost it is a job not a party.

6 – Don’t show up having no idea what’s going on…ask for a script from your agent or at least find out what the job is about. Find out as much as the agent knows. Your agent should ask for a script and/or boards and send this info to you for preparation.

7 – Pretend you’re happy to be there, you know “act” like you’re happy you got the job. Don’t stand around looking bored or like you would rather be any other place in the world than on set.

8 – You are there are long as the day will last. We do not know when you will be done and you should not ask. Don’t take the job if you cannot be available for at least 12 hours that day. And don’t ask when lunch is either.

9 – Don’t show up on set and tell me you have to be somewhere at 3pm and that you cleared it with your agent. 9 times of out of 10, when challenging your agent on this fact, the agent has no knowledge of your time issues.

10 – Don’t try to get your next job during your current job. Don’t pitch your skills to anyone. If you work hard, follow direction and do a good job, that will get you that next gig. There is nothing more annoying than an actor trolling for the next gig instead of paying attention to the current one.

11 – Make sure you actually look something like your headshot. If you changed your hair from long to short, from red to blonde or from straight to curly, make sure your agent knows that your headshot is not current. If you shaved your head and grew a beard, let someone know. Many actors are hired from their pictures, and when you show up and look completely different, you’ve caused some major problems for production.

12 – Ask for contracts and releases up front, so that if an issue arises with the wording of the contract, we are not waiting for a resolution. Hopefully, your agent has asked to see a contract or release in advance, so that this is never an issue.

13 – Don’t ever lie on your resume. If you can’t do it on command, don’t list it as a skill. A skill is a learnt capacity or talent to carry out pre-determined results often with the minimum outlay of time, energy, or both. Don’t list things you kinda think you could do. An actor that lists earprompt or teleprompt, should not struggle for hours to “get it”.

And last, when at parties or while out for an evening…please, don’t give me your headshot.


LINDA BURNS consults on and produces commercial and independent work all over the world.

In 2005, Linda won the Atlanta Film Festival’s Southeastern Media Award and was honored with the IMAGE Award for exceptional contribution to independent film and video. She sits on the advisory board for Core of Culture, is board secretary for Image Film & Video Center and recently stepped down from the board of Dailies at PushPush Theater. She is an industry and festival panelist, teaches film classes, screens films for the Atlanta Film Festival, and is a short film judge for the Indo-American Film Festival. She has twice traveled to the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan to teach film and consult on the documentation of sacred ancient monastic dance and intends to produce a narrative feature on the subject in 2008.

Linda’s commercial and music video clients include Georgia Pacific (2 Telly Awards), The 2008 Addy Awards, Bellsouth, CNN, TBS, Komatsu, City of Refuge (4 Telly Awards), ESPN, Nickelodeon, VH1, The CDC, Cartoon Network (BDA Gold Award), National Geographic, TNT LA’s ‘Academy Awards Live from the Red Rarpet’, Snoop Dog, Jermaine Dupree, Bow Wow, Jagged Edge, LIVE and OutKast.

Linda’s independent films have gone onto critical acclaim as well as juried and audience awards at festivals around the world. Her indie credits include Petunia – an award-winning 37 minute musical, Last Goodbye – available on Warner’s Home Video, and The Signal, which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, sold to Magnolia Pictures, and will begin its theatrical run in January. Linda is currently in post on the feature length sports doc ‘Living is Winning’ and in development on numerous other projects.