A Site For Sore Eyes – Max Von Essen

Max Von Essen

It is surprising to how many Broadway stars don’t have up-to-date, quality websites. Max Von Essen‘s site is an example of what all performers should strive for in their online presence. His site is not only beautiful, but extremely functional and full of great content. Most importantly, it is kept meticulously current with even his upcoming performances as Che in Evita noted on his schedule. The home page is a standard landing page, but has an added element of his most current piece of news. It really welcomes you into the site and makes you want to explore further.

Max Von Essen

The rest of the site features a really clean design and beautiful photography that does a great job representing Max’s career. His interactive resume is unlike anything I have seen before in an actor’s site, and allows you to click on the title of a project to see production photos and other links from the show.

Max Von Essen Resume

Other features that are spot on include easy to navigate photo galleries, a comprehensive schedule, and a concise and effective contact page. I wouldn’t change a thing, kudos to Max and his designer for putting together such an awesome site.

Custom vs. Template Sites

I don’t have any problem with those stock template builder sites like wix.com and 1and1.com, they work for some people and are perfectly fine if you want a website that does the bare minimum. I personally don’t think having another company advertise on your site helps your image, but I’ll talk about that in another post on another day.

What I do have a problem with is people who charge unwitting actors money to build them a “custom” site on one of those services. That’s like asking a carpenter to build you a piece of furniture, and he gives you something he put together from IKEA. The time you spend gathering your content for your site and sending it to that “designer” is the same amount of time it would take you to build that site yourself using Wix or the now defunct iWeb.

Having and maintaining a website is time consuming and expensive. Even those build-it-yourself sites can charge you an arm and a leg if you want professional features. By all means, build your site yourself if you have the time and knowledge to maintain it. But if you are hiring someone to do it for you, make sure you are getting your money’s worth. Don’t let your website be built with particle board and an allen wrench.

Site Launch – Dance Dot

Jackie Covas and Codey Girten are a couple of entrepreneurs in New York who have come up with a great little product for all the aspiring tap dancers out there. We have watched this product grow from a neat idea while on a national tour to this pretty little package that is now commercially available.

They will be at the Javits Center this weekend premiering their product at a dance convention, so if you are in New York City, stop by and say hello. And then head over to their website to buy your very own Dance Dot!


Phillip Light

My wife discovered this artist, and we are officially obsessed with him.  His name is Phillip Light, and he is currently studying at the Art Center College of Design as an Entertainment Design major. Chelsea commissioned him to do an illustration of our niece for her 2nd birthday. You can see it on her blog at Lovely Indeed. I just ordered another one of his prints off of his shop on redbubble, and you should too.  I have no doubt that he is going to be running the show at Disney someday. Check out some of my favorites.

Images via Phillip Light.

Latest News Feed

There are a lot of options when it comes to getting the word out about your most recent accomplishments. You’ve got your own website, facebook, twitter, your mom’s trips to the grocery store. Let’s discuss what belongs where.

Your website should feature only your most important and relevant events; think the kind of stuff that you would lead with at an agency meeting. Projects that you are going to put on your resume, concerts or special events that you are participating in, awards or reviews that specifically mention your performance. These are perfect for your latest news feed on your homepage. Keep in mind how long to keep them online though, as it looks odd to still be promoting a concert you were part of in the fall of 2009. Your homepage should be kept up to date with the most recent information, with enough of a backlog to give the impression you have been busy, but not so much that you seem overly attached to the good ol’ days.

Your resume should give a clear picture of your project history, but some people like to see a full backlog of your other endeavors. This is where social networking comes in handy. With Facebook’s timeline feature, you can post all of your news there as well, and it will be saved in a format that is easy to see all the way back to your performance as the Mayor of Munchkinland in the 2nd grade. The other benefit of keeping your Facebook feed up to date and fully populated with your professional news is that it gets distributed to a much wider network. Unless you are blogging or creating new content on your website often, chances are that the majority of your friends and fans aren’t checking there for updates. Updating on social networks will lead people to your site more often and keep that full history of your accomplishments in a readily viewable space online. Plus your mom can just follow you on twitter and have plenty to talk about in the check out lane at Albertson’s.

Site Launch – Carner & Gregor

Carner and Gregor Home

Sam Carner and Derek Gregor are an up and coming musical theatre writing team. We designed a site for them a few years ago, and this week we launched a fresh redesign of their site to showcase their music, their performance events, and their blog.

Carner and Gregor Home

We developed the site from a theme called Irresistible that is made by WooThemes. It gave us a great starting point, since most of the WordPress functionality that we needed was already built in, all we had to do was customize the design and create some new functionality to fit their needs. Sam and Derek wanted to be able to write posts about each of their different projects and have them organized by category so they could easily view them all in one list or broken down according to show/concert.

Carner and Gregor Sheet Music

It was important to have a comprehensive shopping cart element to this site, as Sam and Derek sell their sheet music to help spread the word about their material across the country and help supplement their income. They will be updating the site daily with new youtube videos of their music, and also blogging about all things related to musical theatre writing. Keep an eye on their main news feed to see when you can see some of their music performed live near you!

A Word on Templates

Plenty of people have used a template to build their website. They upload their content to a service like Wix.com or iWeb and get a functioning site up quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately for those people, as my wife says: “The problem with buying clothes from Target is that everybody knows you got it from Target.”

Template sites only give you so many options for how you can present your photos, information, and other media. With a fully custom site, the possibilities are endless and only limited by you and your designers creativity. If you want to stand out from the crowd and make an impression on viewers, your site has to be unique and exciting. And when it all boils down, the prices aren’t really all that different for one or the other.

Ultimately, do your research and decide what will work best for you. Just don’t get caught at your audition wearing the same outfit as the guy next to you in line.

A Site For Sore Eyes – Emma Jane

Emma Jane - News

Emma Jane is a recent graduate of Pace University’s musical theatre program.  Her site is simply a perfect expression of youthful energy and makes you want to find out more about this fresh faced performer. The site is simple, just 5 pages with a single image on all pages, but the playful graphics and clever motion elements make it feel like so much more.

Emma Jane - News

Overall, the site is a nice little package and all someone like Emma needs while starting out her career. She should eventually add a few things to the site, like the ability to download a copy of her resume, a place to play audio and video, and some variety in her images. For now though, I like this little corner of the web she has set up. Kudos to Jeremy Pease for designing it.

Emma Jane Business Card

 Another aspect of Emma’s media presence I love are her business cards. While not an exact reproduction of the graphic elements of the design, they have the same playful nature that clearly shows off Emma’s personality in a tiny space. They were designed by Stephanie Layton at Red Scandal Graphics, who has an amazing portfolio of graphic art. Emma is off to a great start, and I can’t wait to see her news feed fill up with exciting projects.

You should buy your domain name. Now.

Do you own your domain name? If you don’t, go to GoDaddy or any other domain registration site and buy it.  It should cost you about $12 a year, and is well worth the money. Imagine someday all your dreams come true and you book an awesome job that makes you incredibly famous. Then imagine that your web address of choice has already been purchased by someone else and all of your fans who try to google your lovely face are misled to believe that you are a 15 year old with daddy issues trying to sell her body to MTV… true story.

It is all about controlling your online identity. Would you rather be www.yournamehere.com or www.yourname-actor.biz?

You're a Better Boss Than Your Boss

Your Day Job (or, the Great Sarlacc Pit)

Remember that scene in Return of the Jedi where Jaba the Hutt’s got Princess Leia in a metal bikini, Han Solo decorating a wall, and Luke ready to play walk-the-plank on a big floating party boat over the Great Sarlacc Pit that digests you for a thousand years? Yeah, this thing:

Your Day Job (or, the Great Sarlacc Pit)

Mr. Skywalker up there feels pretty much like I do whenever I’m “at work” (read: day job) and need to talk to my boss.  It’s the feeling of staring at the doors to that time-consuming, over-important, soul-sucking cave of despair at which you’d hoped to be working for a month or two, tops, but that’s somehow got a three-year stranglehold on both your wallet and your waking hours. Your boss has you chained to the building, and is pushing you closer and closer to the edge of the plank.  Clocking in is no less horrifying than staring into the gaping maw of a big, sandy desert hole monster lined with gnarly, tubular teeth while Jabba laughs his slobbery laugh.

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