Beyond the Headshot:

How Thinking Like an Entrepreneur Boosts Actors’ Earning Potential

Movie-making is a business and for those who’ve made it big, an interesting trend is emerging. No longer just talent-for-hire, savvy on-and-offscreen talent are considering themselves businesses worth investing in — and redefining access to an industry that is notoriously hard to break into.

Examples of this entrepreneurial spirit abound. Actors increasingly produce their own films or work for points (percentage of gross), and those who do tend to be among the most highly paid talent in Hollywood. Nowhere is this more prevalent than among the science fiction or fantasy genre, with six of the top 12 highest grossing movies of all time earning more than $7.4 billion worldwide.

Take Tom Cruise. More than just an actor, he is a carefully cultivated brand and his presence in Hollywood is ubiquitous. From the various sci-fi/fantasy roles he’s played, to his equity stake in United Artists film studio, to the way he negotiates deals, Cruise has been a successful entrepreneur from the outset of his career. Another notable actor-entrepreneur is Kristen Stewart, who took a portion of the profits from the two Twilight movies she starred in along with $12.5 million per film, launching her to become one of the highest paid actors in 2012.

Similarly, new approaches to auditioning are becoming relevant. The business of making it big can cost big-time, prompting talent on both sides of the camera to rethink the process. From agent fees, which can amount to a 10 percent cut of earnings, to costs incurred for headshots and travel expenses among others, auditions have never really been free.

Now more than ever, it makes sense for actors and other aspiring movie professionals to think like entrepreneurs.

One pioneering production company is paving a new way. Global Stage Project is reframing auditions as a business expense via their latest film, Game of One, a sci-fi adventure exploring the realm of tarot. The metaphysical story centers on 12 expert players who navigate 22 tarot portals via an interactive computer game, leading them on a journey toward self-awakening.

The producers of Game of One are seeking entrepreneurs wanting to invest in their careers. For a nominal fee of $20, on-screen and behind-the-scenes talent from all over the world can audition or submit work samples, circumventing the need for an agent to get in the door. Additionally, the $20 fee includes a review of the submitted work, promotion of the submission on Facebook and a permanent backlink from The Game of One website to the performer’s own site. This twist on traditional auditions offers easier access and more return on investment for those aspiring to break into the business of making movies.