As a producer, I often need to find acts for my variety show and I get a lot of applications from keen performers. It’s always interesting to see the acts people are trying to sell to me and I’m always excited when I find someone fabulous with whom I’ve never worked. However, there are always things that make me recoil so I thought I’d share with you some of the things which send an application straight to the trash can! In no particular order, here are my seven deadly sins of job applications:
1. Bad spelling, punctuation and grammar. If you can’t be bothered to spell check your application, then why should I be bothered with reading it? If I have to decipher the hidden meaning in the string of words, which have no discernible commas, or full stops, I’m unlikely to take the time to do so, no matter what artistic gems you may reveal. If you know that spelling and grammar is a sore point for you, get someone to check what you have written and then cut-and-paste it into the main body of the email. Then you have only to tailor a couple of sentences to the job which is advertised.
2. ADHD applications. What do I mean by that? Seven different fonts in 5 different sizes. Twenty-five paragraphs all in different colours. Seventy-three headlines, all double underlined with 20 exclamation marks!!!!! If it’s painful to the eye, I will expect that your performing style is of the same ilk. Keep it neat, keep it brief. If you have used cut and paste, don’t let it look like it. I like, (and this is purely personal) a simple greeting, a paragraph explaining who you are and what you do, a couple of links to good quality videos. Maybe a couple of quotes from respected sources, (ideally published reviews rather than audience comments). Finish it off with a line or two about how you feel you’d fit in to the show and flattery will really get you everywhere.
3. Spell my name right. It’s Lili. Two L’s, two I’s. Not Lila, Lulu, Lilia or Larry. I’m sure other producers will agree with me when I say that it’s a little insulting when someone hasn’t taken the time to even get your name right. Also, if you’ve never met me, it is certainly NEVER Lil.
4. I am the one and only. Don’t CC in all the other producers of all the jobs you are applying for that day. If you are really too lazy to send more than one email, learn to use the BCC button. If you are still to lazy to send more than one email, maybe you should consider a different job. Youthful eagerness isn’t an excuse, I guess I’m just saying send more than one email. Take the time to personalise your emails, I’ll appreciate the time taken.
5. Big up yourself but don’t. Let me know what you’ve achieved, awards you have won, reviews you’ve received. If you’ve never been crowned, don’t call yourself ‘Burlesque Queen’. Who called you a star? If it was an audience member, don’t take it too seriously because there were five others that called you unmentionable names! If the times called you ‘The Next Big Thing’, tell me. Don’t claim you’ve headlined a show when you were simply on the bill. A quote from one of the top performers can be risky, as it depends entirely on whether said performer and I share the same taste.
6. 15 minutes of fame. I cannot stress enough how much I don’t want to watch a 15 minute, badly filmed, shaky phone camera video of your act. Even the best performer in the world will look terrible on a bad video. Take the time to get your act filmed well. Or get a showreel made which shows all your best bits. Then send me a link, not the actual video! Do I want to download 5GB of video? Not really.
7. Independent thought. If I feel that you have been overly influenced by another performer I probably won’t book you. After all, who wants a line up of Misky & Fannish, Puff the Magic Lizard and Magic Tape Head Man? Inspired by is fine, but if you are using the same costume, music, gestures and style the you need to take a look at your own creative process. Equally, if you are ripping off my best friend/husband/cat, I will never book you. I’m a bitch like that.
I hope that this blog inspires you to look at what you send out for potential jobs. Most of the time I find the quality of acts that contact me incredibly high and there are some truly inspiring performers around the burlesque and variety circuit. I really do enjoy perusing acts and doing a bit of treasure hunting, so don’t put your light under a bushel but display it to its most glamorous advantage.