||Juen 11, 2009
Having booked over 70 commercials for major market clients (airing now are Rembrandt, Frontline and Home Depot) and teaching numerous commercial intensives, Ashton was eager to share her knowledge. With her extensive background, Ashton culled her experience into a compilation of insider knowledge, personal anecdotes and vast contacts and resources. The result is a book that is at once approachable, fun and—most importantly—extremely informative for actors and actresses at all stages of their careers. In the book’s Foreward, Thomas Calabro (Melrose Place) says “Lights, Camera…YOU!” works “both to get the newcomer started and also to provide tons of useful tips for seasoned professionals.”
Admit it...How many times have you sat in front of the television, watching commercials and thinking to yourself, “I could do that!”? Perhaps you’ve secretly fantasized about being an actor at some point in your life. The beauty of acting in commercials is that you don’t have to live in Los Angeles, New York or Chicago…or even be an actor! You, too, can make money in commercials.
After appearing in over 70 commercials, teaching one day intensives and helping numerous people break into the lucrative world of commercials; I was inspired to write this book for YOU!
I’ll take you through the process of how to get started, no matter where you live, what to do once you’re ready to go, and how to get the most jobs possible. I have also included many of my own experiences that will not only educate, but also entertain and inspire.
And as a little bonus to you, I’ll give you access to lists of commercial agents and casting directors across the country. As these offices come and go and change locations, I’ve decided to post them on my website so I can update them frequently for you.
But wait, there’s more:
I’ve also interviewed various agents, casting directors and directors from across the country… doesn’t hurt to get a little inside information.
Midwest Book Review
you can sell something, you can make money. "Lights, Camera... You!: Make Money Doing TV Commercials in Los Angeles of Any Town, U.S.A." is a guide to breaking into the world of commercials, an avenue that doesn't require a Hollywood residence, or even acting dreams. Written by a veteran of many commercials who has turned her success into a storied film and television career, there is much to learn for any television aspirant. "Lights, Camera... You!" is a top pick for any who want a taste of show business in their lives.
The nuts and bolts of Rene Ashton's process for making a living by acting in television and internet commercials manage to become more than the simple how-to that they were meant to be. Ashton's effusive personality and love for the craft drive her book off the beaten path and become as much a memoir of her personal experience in Hollywood as it is a reference for up and coming actors. The fusion can make the ride a bit shaky at times, but those flaws are easy to forgive when you consider the strength and talent of the driver.
Rene Ashton is hilarious, and her digressions on life are so frequent throughout "Lights, Camera... You!" that you're likely to learn just as much about her as you are about yourself. But that's not a problem when you discover just how likable Ashton is. She has the mad genius personality of somebody who's won already, even before the race starts. She's chic, and writes with a colloquial style that's as natural as if she were chatting with you in a bar. At the same time, she's able to keep the instructional process moving along through a rigid formatting structure which keeps sections short and sweet, highlights specific terms, and uses lots of graphics that keep you focused.
That's not to say that her style is flawless. Her personality is so strong that it can obscure the point she's making at times and cause sentences to be ambiguously phrased. Even the subtitle of the book, "Make money doing TV commercials in Los Angeles or Any Town, U.S.A.", isn't entirely clear. By "doing", Ashton means strictly "acting", not directing, or writing (which provoked my initial interest), or lighting, or stage design. These kinds of flubs will clamp down on your ankles a few times in the book, tripping you up in places, but they seem almost necessary in order for Ashton to achieve her off-the-cuff aesthetic that's so pleasing throughout.
It's clear that the main advice Ashton has to offer is in the positive tone that she wields almost as if it were magic. Attitude is your greatest weapon in Hollywood, and this book is positively dripping with it. Her anecdotes about mistakes she's made on the set and the side jobs she's had throughout her career make her both relatable and deeply sympathetic to the plight of the burgeoning actor or actress. She carries the burden as though it were a feather in her hair and for those who know of the daunting challenges that come with that kind of lifestyle it's hard not to be in awe of her triumph over the industry. (I have only had an inkling of the acting life, and it was enough to send me under my bed.)
On top of this, Rene Ashton includes interviews with industry professionals (more than I've ever seen, in fact), lists commercial agents, provides sample headshots, and indexes casting directors and books for further reading; an absolute total package for the up-and-comer. Although it's worth mentioning that the photos are all in black and white, which is a slight issue when you consider that the trend in Hollywood is color. This wouldn't be so much of a big deal, but the author makes a big deal out of it, apologizing and incessantly reminding you to "just imagine it in color". Also, while the book will enlighten you on the process of how commercial acting works and what to know about the industry, it doesn't stray too far outside of Hollywood. That's where Ashton made her dreams come true, but for those of us in "Any Town, U.S.A.", we'll have to move to L.A., New York, or Chicago to make any kind of dent in the industry. I can't vouch for how these techniques work in Moultry, Georgia, or Fargo, North Dakota, and I doubt that Ashton can either.
What is most remarkable about "Lights, Camera... You!" is that it's an exceptional book not just in spite of its flaws, but largely because of them. It's clear that the author isn't trying to cut corners by refusing to print in color, or trying to lengthen her bottom line by marketing to actors in Frankenville, Missouri. Everything about Rene Ashton is utterly genuine, and her optimism is such a powerful force that it transforms every city and state in the nation into her Los Angeles, every audition is a success, and every day is an adventure. It's hard to believe that Rene Ashton's methods won't work no matter where you live, or what you do, as her most potent advice is about life behind the set of the commercials, which is where most of us live.
DS Entertainment, Darlene McDowell, Talent Agent
"I absoutley loved Rene's book. VERY well written and pwerfect for talent needing to know the ins and outs of everything in between. I deleive she covered it all. I will definitely refer this book toa ll new talent and talent that need a 'refresher.'
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