The Science of Acting

I know. Math is hard. Which is why we become actors.

However, as I have come to learn, math is a big part of being an actor. What your salary is going to be. The budget breakdown for your short film. How many roles of a new pilot are given to name actors and how many to the masses. Box office reports. IMDB Star Meters. Yup. Lots of numbers.

One way to deal with all of these numbers is to organize them. There is so much information to understand as an actor, that you need to make it easy on yourself. This is where the spreadsheet comes in. Spreadsheets aren’t just for boring 9-5 jobs or school assignments. They are the foundation of any successful and organized enterprise.

Let’s take a look at my spreadsheet arsenal:

1. Pilots

I have a whole spreadsheet dedicated to the current pilot orders. Here is how I organize it:

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 10.46.58 AMNow I know all of the pertinent information about any given show. I highlight my favorites, and lowlight my not-so-favorites. Check Deadline daily for new pilot orders, and then update the spreadsheet!

2. Film Festivals

I have started a list of film festivals for future project submissions. Here is how that breaks down:

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 10.50.25 AM


I will be able to plan a submission schedule and budget when the time comes.

3. Target List

This is for representation. Though I’m not actively seeking an agent in LA, I will be soon enough.

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 10.53.12 AM


I take an actor I like in a role category (co-star, guest-star, etc.) in which I could be cast. Go to your trusty IMDBpro and look them up. Who is their rep? Write that sh*t down! See how you could fit into the roster: how does your Star Meter compare, is there someone exactly like you, etc.? Make notes and adjust the rank accordingly. When you are ready to seek representation, you have a pretty good place to start.

4. Fall TV Directory

Much like the Pilot Spreadsheet, I have a Fall TV one as well. When the new fall tv schedule comes out: write that sh*t down! This one is based on a color code for me. Sort them by network and then show, then color them in:

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 11.04.09 AM


I watch at least one episode of every new show. That way I know if it is a good fit for me. Or if I get an audition, I will know what to expect.

5. Show Bible

Ms. Bonnie Gillespie¬†ain’t messin around. If she says to make a Show Bible, you make a damn Show Bible. Trust me, I wish I had done this sooner. Mine is a list of all the people I have met or worked with (save those call sheets!) That way you have a reference in case you forget a name or need contact info.

Evernote is another great program to use for this. You can make, as I like to call them, “trading cards” for people. Add a picture, name, company and credits, and contact info. Like a souped up rolodex.

These are my main spreadsheets. I have more and update them regularly. The last time I was in LA, a manager I met was so impressed with my industry knowledge, she said I should be an agent. Bam! Know the game so you can play it.

Smart actors know there is a science to the business. It is worth the effort to figure it out.



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    1. Erika Salazar

      Hi Jessica! I’m hoping you could explain how you use Evernote as the “souped up rolodesk” you describe in this post. I’m just learning Evernote, so any tips about how to structure it would be helpful.

      1. jessicamartin

        Sure! I created a folder for Casting Directors. Then, each CD or associate has their own note. There I add the name of their casting agency, what they are currently casting, what they have cast in the past (or a few reference points), and a photo if I can find one.


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