New Rules For Making It In Hollywood: GQ
“I’ve been a talent agent now almost 30 years,” says Maury DiMauro, one of the heads of Innovative Artists and who helped discover Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried. “The first 20 years were really very traditional: You look for actors in a school and you guided them in classes and programs, and get your head shot, and you sent them out in a traditional route. There isn’t a traditional route anymore.”
For a young actor, the good news is it’s never been easier to get a job. There are now a million options—as long as you’re cool with getting “famous” on go90. Or Crackle. Or Freeform.
The list of platforms keeps growing, while the screens keep shrinking. Zach Baron reports on a generation of would-be stars navigating an era of glorious upheaval—when that next phone call might be from Netflix. (But it’s probably from Seeso.)
1. You May Someday Work for Something Called Crackle
Beau Mirchoff is currently filming a movie called Party Boat. “It’s about a party boat,” he says. Beau is 28, with a puffy, amiable head of hair and mischievous eyes. He’s been acting professionally since he was 14. In 2006, he was in Scary Movie 4—that was kind of his big break. Later, he had a five-year run on MTV’s high school sitcom Awkward. He acted opposite David Duchovny on Aquarius, for NBC, and opposite Selena Gomez, when they were both younger, in Disney’s The Wizards Return: Alex vs. Alex.
Number of GIFs on GIPHY: 917
“So that’s the extent of my knowledge of Crackle,” Beau says. “But they had a really funny script, the character is awesome, they have great people attached—it was like, ‘Let’s do it. Why not?’ ” He peers out of his trailer and sees the same movie set he’s seen a dozen times before. “In terms of filming it, there’s nothing different between this film and another little film. You have the same departments. Same stuff.”
Life as a young actor in Hollywood has alwas been characterized by some degree of helplessness and confusion—the sense that somebody somewhere with more money than you can fathom is deciding your destiny. But 2017 feels unusual, somehow. At a moment when the entertainment industry has never seemed more crowded and confusing, more vibrant and more diffuse, guys like Beau are still trudging into audition rooms, reading sides, and ending up on movie and television sets…but now, sometimes, they’re making content for platforms that even they haven’t heard of. They’re getting calls from outlets that they didn’t even know existed.
So guys like Beau are learning as they go. Crackle, for what it’s worth, is a streaming-content studio currently owned by Sony—not unlike go90, which is the proprietary streaming service owned and distributed by Verizon; or YouTube Red, the original-programming arm of YouTube; or Seeso, which is Comcast’s version. Last December, Facebook announced that it would begin buying and producing its own programming. Apple aired its first TV series, Planet of the Apps, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba, and will.i.am, in June. These are the laboratories—the places where smart and/or risk-tolerant executives are playing around, trying to figure out what a show or a movie can be in 2017.
Then there are the streamers that have increasingly come to resemble, and at times have begun to replace, Hollywood’s traditional studios. Hulu is the one that has The Handmaid’s Tale and Difficult People. Amazon was nominated for an Oscar for Manchester by the Sea and won a Golden Globe for Transparent. Netflix is spending $6 billion on original content this year to make sure it’s mentioned in paragraphs like this one. Traditional movie studios and network television also remain, in various states of success and dysfunction.
And anytime any of these studios or streamers decide they want to put a show or a movie on the air, or in theaters, or on the Internet, or on a cell phone, they need what you’ve always needed. A script, usually. A director, almost always. And actors. I wondered what the new Hollywood looked like to those actors—the professionally beautiful people on the front lines. It’s why I wanted to talk to Beau. To try to make sense of what’s going on with his chosen profession, to the extent that anyone has any idea. He’s been doing this for 14 years, whatever this is. How has it changed?
When Beau was starting out, fresh off the ferry from Victoria, British Columbia, he took some of the money he made off a film called The Grudge 3 and bought a beat-up 1995 Plymouth Neon. The car had no air-conditioning, so during pilot season he’d drive around Los Angeles in his underwear with only a spray bottle of water for comfort and all his clothes hung up in the backseat. Then he’d hastily dress in order to attend audition after audition, in the manner of young men in Hollywood going back to the days before they had air-conditioning or Plymouth Neons.
Now, Beau says, pilot season doesn’t really exist. The three months at the beginning of the year in which TV did most of its casting have been replaced by something less manic but more unceasing: “You’re just getting barraged all the time. I have a pilot audition tomorrow that I have to put on tape. There’s this Amazon pilot. You no longer know when it’s going to be.” Or what, for that matter. “I feel like there are less big-studio auditions, for sure,” Beau says, thinking out loud. “Now they make $100 million movies, right? I rarely go out for those things. Because they’re usually straight offers, because they want the Brad Pitts of the world. So now it’s the lower-budget movies, but there’s a lot more of them. You have these smaller movies, which the non-Brad Pitts of the world get to do. And they’re more human stories, which I think is really cool.”
So that’s another thing Beau’s noticed—more interesting roles, albeit often in previously unknown or unglamorous places. Things that are often obscure but pay well, even a premium in some cases, because they have to in order to attract talent, and because they’re being backed by giant cash-rich companies. “I’ve been getting interest from YouTubers to do certain YouTube video stuff. Also, like, Verizon go90 stuff, which is literally on a cell phone.”
He brightens at this thought, the reminder that there is now no device or medium that someone won’t pay millions of dollars to put a sitcom or movie on. “There’s so many different avenues now.” Life as a working but not entirely famous actor, long a nebulous and tenuous career path, seems more stable and sustainable, Beau says. Less Plymouth Neon, more Audi A3.