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Holy Headshot!

Holy headshot_cover If you're thinking of getting new headshots to further advance your acting career, you might be looking for examples of good, successful headshots after which to model your own. Well, you probably don't want to use Holy Headshot!, the new book from comedian Patrick Borelli and actor/photographer Douglas Gorenstein, as a reference. Instead, think of the book as a cautionary tale.

Holy Headshot! A Celebration of America's Undiscovered Talent is a collection of some of the funniest, strangest, and most captivating headshots and resumes ever put together in one volume, from aspiring amateurs and seasoned professionals alike. The book gives a sort of behind-the-scenes look at some of the many submissions flooding into casting directors' offices every day, and will more often make readers ask "What were they thinking?," rather than "How can I make my headshots look like that?"

Think cross-dressing will make your pic stand out? Well, it might. How about a prop? Weapons are always cool, right? Maybe a Santa costume? A shot of you sitting on the toilet on the beach? No, seriously, that's all in this book.

At the Holy Headshot! book release party and talent showcase at Comix in NYC last Thursday, about 40 of the 103 performers featured in the book showed up to walk the red carpet and mingle with fans and fellow actors. 23 of them took to the stage to perform throughout the evening, "so that means 17 are not performing, and are scattered throughout the audience," Borelli quipped. "See if you can figure out who they are."

Holy headshot 1

With the help of emcee Ray Normandeau (he's on page 52), Borelli, Gorenstein, and page 210 subject Loudivikos Hertz presented performances ranging from Frank Garr's song about his constipated friend to comedian James "The Glow" Goff's standup routine, from Father Hannibal D. Bey's "poppin" dance lessons to juggling from middle-aged Shayna "the Entertaina," from a four-person Seinfeld scene reenactment to a bizarre skit from When Harry Met Sally (featuring audience favorite Sybil "The Tennesse Stressbuster" Presley, from page 14, who unfortunately resembled Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie more than Meg Ryan).

The most surreal segment of the night was probably the mini "monologue slam," in which five performers took turns reciting their practiced monologues. After staring at funny headshots and watching amateurish performances all night, it was easy at this point to picture myself as a casting director in the audition room, evaluating each individual headshot and monologue.

Holy headshot 2

Throughout the evening, performers were introduced by their name and Holy Headshot! page number, and even though everyone was in on the good-natured joke, one thing was clear: this talent show was infused with the energy of performers who love what they do, regardless of whether or not they'll ever be seen as a true "success." Skippy Dee sang a song and complained that his band "wouldn't come for three minutes of stage time," but the rest of these performers did, and were proud of themselves for doing so.

This could be considered a success story of sorts, if only these performers had better headshots to attract the attention of agents and casting directors. Then again, actress Melisa Breiner-Sanders landed a meeting with a major talent agency because of her appearance on page 154 of Holy Headshot!, so her 15 minutes of fame may continue anyway.

According to the authors, the idea for Holy Headshot! began several years ago when Borelli placed a casting notice in Back Stage, seeking talent for a variety show. The show was a success, but the large volume of wacky headshots he received apparently left a bigger impression on Borelli, who would carry around his favorites and show them to friends and co-workers. When it came time to get new headshot photos taken for himself, Borelli went to friend and photographer Borenstein. The two teamed up, and after receiving more than 50,000 headshots from casting directors, agents, Back Stage, Craigslist, and elsewhere, Holy Headshot! was born.

Holy headshot_JadeEstabanEstrada So how many of the 103 performers in Holy Headshot! are Back Stage readers? There's really only one way to find out: Leave a comment below and let us know if you're in the book (with your page number, of course).

Holy Headshot! includes a foreword by comedian David Cross and is available beginning today, Oct. 28 from Simon & Schuster. The authors will host another book party/variety show Nov. 11, 8-9:30 p.m. at The Steve Allen Theater in Los Angeles, CA, featuring the west coast talent of Holy Headshot!.

-- Daniel Lehman

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I'm a backstage reader and in the book! As said above, I'm on page 154. If you want to see my actual headshot and more information, my website at www.MelisaBS.com

On Page 52

Been reading Back Stage since the 1970's. Also have a two year subscription to Ross Reports.

I'm on Page 170

My postcard with a picture of me on a
milk carton appeared on the cover of
Back Stage issue of Sept 25-Oct 1, 2008.
That postcard is one of my pictures in the book.

Been reading Back Stage since the 1970's. Also have a two year subscription to Ross Reports.

Photos I took at the
"Holy Headshot!"
Book Release Event rehearsal and Red Carpet and After Party
are at

Hey Backstage,
I'm not only a backstage reader, I also have my resume posted on your site and check in pretty much on a daily basis!

I enjoyed attending the NY Book Release Event so much that I am heading out to LA (and I'm performing) for the Release Event there.

Thanks for the great review of the book...
Roberto Lombardi (Page 18)
(See more of me at: www.imdb.com/name/nm2287478/ )

For some of us being in NYC was awesome in itself, but to be introduced as R.W. Martini and not R.W. Martin was kind of a downer, plus when actors can't remember their lines it kinda throws the rest of the ensemble off ... or well ... such is life ... I could have gotten discovered, instead I am now just a bad memory ... at least I can say I'm in a book ...

R.W. Martin

Just an FYI for those who are not SAG members who have limited acting experience besides a video on youtube here's a brief tutorial; Both SAG and the majority of New York Casting Directors (they're not called casting agents) strongly urge actors to list specific abilities under the "special skills" category on a resume. Listing ones "prroficiency at driving" or "driving stick shift" is standard (pun intended) procedure. No casting director wants to hire a New York actor for a scene that requires the actor to drive up to the Bada-Bing club only to learn the day of the shoot (another pun intended) that the actor has no license and does not know how to drive a car. This oversight could waste the production tens of thousands of dollars in lost time.

As a long time member of SAG, a former Asst. Casting Director and Talent Agent I can also tell you that on many occassions a First Assistant Director or Director will be interested in a specific actors headshot and a call will be made to the actor. A request will be made for an actor to quickly fedex a poloroid or other photo that is non-professional (aka recent vacation shot) so the Director knows more specifically what the actor really looks like. These pictures often end up in a Casting Directors file for future reference. Or as in my case (Holy Headshot) I had just run-out of professional headshots and a Casting Diretor wanted a recent photo ASAP so I sent one from a recent vacation. When you read for a Casting Director they will almost always take a poloroid which they often prefer to show a director over a professional headshot.

John D. Bair

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