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Feature - Lights, camera, Action Talent Inc.

A town full of action sports heroes needed an action talent agency


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"Before I found out about the Casting Workbook I would just wait for the phone to ring. It would ring because people needed talent, and it does still ring, but now I can pursue other opportunities," explains Newstead. "I’ll read through the postings and maybe see a beer commercial. It doesn’t need any real sport athletes, but they need real Canadian guys who drink beer, well we’ve got those!" says Newstead with a chuckle.

At that time, the Casting Workbook had no section for talent to list any special skills they may have – and it is precisely those special skills that makes Newstead’s agency stand out from other agencies.

"One of the things that I requested from the Casting Workbook, was ‘hey, I can bring you all this extra clientele but you have to open up a special section for special skills so that our athletes stand out from the actors’."

Newstead says the biggest challenge facing her agency and the people she represents is, ironically, also their biggest advantage. Her talent is hired because they are the real deal; they are extreme mountain bikers, extreme skiers and extreme snowboarders. But that also means some of them don’t have the actor’s card, the portfolio of shots, the resume.

"It’s kind of tough because for most of my talent, it’s not like being an actor where your whole life is going to auditions," says Newstead. "Most people think, ‘well give me a call if something comes up’. But if something comes up and you don’t have a head shot, a portfolio and a resume then it’s hard to be competitive against an actor with a portfolio who says he can mountain bike. That’s the difference."

And that is why; as her agency expands and her clientele gets more work, Newstead is now insisting her talent have the head shot, the action shots, the demo reel, the resume and the annual membership to the Casting Workbook. Newstead wants her people to be able to compete with the thousands of professionals in Vancouver making a living through film and commercial work.

"As a performer you pay a nominal fee per year to put a resume, photos and a video clip on Casting Workbook and it is on line all the time. If it says Sherry Newstead, snowboarder and they do a search for a snowboarder I’ll come up, along with other people who are snowboarders."

It also means that Newstead is searching the postings and submitting her talent for hundreds of auditions they don’t even know about. "We might only get called for one out of 50 but at least you put your face in the running. From the Web site I can click on to my private workbook with all my talent’s profiles and send that straight to the casting director. I don’t have to put together a package, I don’t have to fax or e-mail or send anything by FedEx, it’s all clean and right there and instant."