Creating Demand by Being a Professional: Some important tips from Neil Schell

Welcome to A Focus On Production!

In my monthly column, I’ll focus on the production aspects of the film and television industries, examining how things happen from an insider’s perspective and giving advice on how aspiring professionals can grow their careers.

For this month’s column, I recently sat in on a workshop put on by Neil Schell, an accomplished actor, acting coach, director and producer in film and television. The workshop, entitled “Create Demand for Your Acting” is aimed at actors and directors that want to work more consistently in our constantly changing economy. Neil was lively, to the point and engaging, explaining concepts and then driving them home with discussion and examples. He reinforced his point on how to serve the systems in order to “create demand,” meaning being a professional and knowing your role gives you an edge above most actors and directors.

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Neil explained that casting directors, producers and the people that do the hiring have a mentality like any other consumer–they want to see what’s out there and pick the best fit for the character or project. He gives the example of when a shopper goes to a store, they want to see what’s for sale: they will go to the store that supplies what they need; they will build relationships and support those that exemplify service, professionalism and a willingness to serve within their context.

He continues with the same example, where if you went to a store, but everything was hidden behind a black wall, your first question would be, “What do you have for me?” This would not only be time-consuming, but confusing, misleading and not in the best interest of you, the consumer. You want to look at what the store has to offer and to pick the best item. So, in order to be the best professional, you must own your product. When someone asks what you have, do not respond with, “What are you looking for?” Rather, respond by demonstrating what you’re best at, and create yourself into an accessible, transparent brand that will ensure demand for your work.

Neil Schell has been travelling across Canada with his workshop, and was recently in Toronto on the 28th & 29th of January, and will be in Vancouver on the 4th & 5th of February. Registration info can be found here: