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Careers Featured

Lights, Camera, Skate!

Get cast on skates in television, movies, and print.

Who hasn’t given at least a passing thought to seeing their name in lights or face onscreen or in a print ad? Most of us won’t be signing multimillion-dollar contracts anytime soon, but with more and more roller skaters being cast in TV commercials, films, and print ads as extras and featured players, you can at least get a taste of life in front of the camera.

 Fortunately, you don’t need to live in a major city to find acting and print advertising opportunities. Many casting agencies hire real people for all types of jobs all over the country, so the “secret” to landing this type of work isn’t really a secret at all—just do some research and find a casting agency near you and sign up for their email list. Most agencies send email notifications to their subscribers about jobs in their coverage area. “We never know from day to day what the specs will be for a job. If someone has that particular skill, we recommend you get back to us very quickly,” advises Julie Knowlton, casting agent with Slate Casting in Boston, Massachusetts. “Give us a brief description of your experience and what type of skating you do. Pay attention to the information we give about what we need.” Slate Casting conducts searches for real people for projects all over the country, and professional actors for film and TV work in New England. Visit the “For Actors” page on the agency’s website to sign up for their email notices.

Rachel Mossey, owner of casting agency Weeble Mountain in Portland, OR, says any skater interested in acting opportunities should create a profile in the agency’s database.  “Skaters should definitely log into their profile after applying and list your skills! We also recommend skaters upload photos of themselves skating, in addition to some everyday shots. You definitely don’t need professional head shots. In fact, snapshots are often better for us.” Weeble Mountain casts actors, models, and extras for all kinds of on-camera projects in Portland and the Pacific Northwest, including film, TV, commercials, music videos, photo shoots, and more. “Once you’re in our database we can reach out to you for all kinds of projects—not just those that are skating-related. You’re always free to decline anything you’re not interested in, but it’s good to get experience on set if you’re interested in this kind of work.”

How to break in and stand out

Preparation is the key to a successful audition, and casting agents can tell the difference between someone who’s prepared and someone who’s not. “Preparation” means a number of things. “Have a toolbox of things—pictures of yourself, a video of you skating, maybe some bullet points of yourself so that’s all set to go,” Knowlton suggests, reiterating that it’s not essential to have a professional head shot, but helpful to bring an 8×10 photo of yourself with your resume, skating experience, and all-important contact information on the back. “Be fully available and get the information to us as quickly as possible. Being able to reach you is really important. As far as what we look for in talent, read up on what we’re asking for, if there’s a script you can look at that in advance…be as prepared as you can be. Be confident and feel good about yourself, and do your best.” Above all, point out any unique skills or qualities that help you stand out from your competition. “For something like skating, skill comes first!” Mossey says. “Then we look for an interesting look. We really value diversity and people who look real and relatable. There is so much you can’t control about how people perceive you. We want to see what people really look like—not highly curated, filtered shots, and get a sense of their personality. Trying to control your image and sending us what you think we’re looking for is the wrong approach.”

 Nicole Fiore, a former professional skater who turned to coaching and acting full-time after retiring from competition, has a series of tutorials on her YouTube Channel for skaters who want to break into acting. She has a few additional tips: “Learn to look comfortable on skates in a very small space. Rinks are wonderful, but most shoots are done in very small spaces. So get those edges right and you’ll be good to go! And don’t take anything too personally. You could be the best skater in the room and not even get a callback. It’s simple. You may not have the look they were going for. Let that stuff roll off your shoulders and move on.”

How to find acting and print work

Fiore has been skating since she could walk and began competing at age 4. Her successful professional career included four World Championship medals. She started auditioning at 16 and has worked on projects for Tommy Hilfiger, Katy Perry, and others.  “I have two older brothers who were working in the industry and auditioning frequently, so I tagged along. Most jobs only hired 18-plus for legal reasons. Every once in awhile I would get hired on and they would find out I was only 16 or 17, and would have to fire me. At age 18, I was finally legally hired on jobs and began working!”

For skaters new to the business and trying to find jobs, Fiore says there are some good resources available besides signing up for casting agencies’ lists. “There are many websites available, like LACasting.com, but most of the jobs are spread on Facebook and word of mouth. There are Facebook groups that send out information as it comes through. And it’s a good idea to get connected with your local rink owners/managers because they get calls all the time and will need skaters to refer.” If you’re serious about breaking into on-camera work, it’s good to read trade publications like Backstage in order to stay current with trends and news within the performing arts industry.

What to expect during an audition

An “audition” is a broad term for anytime a performer must demonstrate their skills. Casting agents typically hold two types of auditions—an open call, in which essentially anyone can show up to audition, or a closed call, in which a performer has an appointment with a casting agent.  Although the atmosphere of every audition is different, expect plenty of controlled chaos with so many performers and personalities in one room. “[A casting call is] a bunch of people on skates—some great, some terrible. A casting call can be held anywhere—a rink, a studio, outside. Typically you get a number and wait for awhile. You are called up to introduce yourself, take a picture, and maybe say a thing or two about your skating experience on camera [called a “slate”]. They hopefully put a song on—it is so awkward to skate to no music—and you show them your best moves for 30 seconds to a minute. Say thank you, leave, and hopefully get a call a few days later from them that they want you!”

Not every project has an audition, Mossey points out. “Some roles are booked directly from photo or video submissions,” she says. “Some require auditions, and some require callbacks (a second audition) or a go-see (meeting with the director) too. These are unpaid—think of them as interviews. You are only paid if you get hired for the gig.” Mossey adds you should only go to the audition if you are completely available for all dates listed—callbacks, wardrobe fittings, and all shooting dates. Casting agents expect and appreciate patience and professionalism. “You should set aside a full hour for the audition. The audition itself may only take 2-7 minutes, but there is paperwork to fill out, and a waiting period. It is very difficult for casting offices to stay on schedule, so there is often a significant wait, but it’s almost never more than one hour. Don’t ask to skip the line or mention a time crunch; it’s most professional to expect a long wait, then sit patiently,” Mossey adds.

Pay rates vary depending on the type of job and how long you’ll be working. You can expect to make anywhere from $350 for a few hours of work to a few thousand dollars for a shoot that takes several days. Casting agents typically include pay information in their casting call emails.

What’s it like on set?

Just like auditions, every set is different. “In general there’s a lot of waiting, but when you’re called to set, it’s all about being professional and listening to the people in charge. And you usually get a really good lunch!” says Knowlton. “I rarely hear of anyone who doesn’t have a good time—it’s always a learning experience. Just have fun and enjoy it.”

Fiore recalls one of her more memorable projects. “One of my most memorable jobs was actually my very first job. I had mono and was so sick. My doctor told me not to do any physical activity whatsoever. I told him I had to skate in a commercial the next day. We shot all day in Venice Beach and I felt awful by the end of the day. Luckily, it was so much fun and so worth it.”

Another memorable job was working on a Tommy Hilfiger/Gigi Hadid fashion show in 2017. “We had just filmed an ad for the line. We were called Tommy’s RollerSquad. A few weeks later, we were asked to roll through the actual fashion show. As a fully-grown woman standing 5 feet 2 inches, without my skates on, this was a dream come true! I got to roller skate in a huge fashion show! It was amazing.”

That’s a Wrap

Like so many other ventures in life, you never know what opportunities your passion for roller skating may bring your way. But if you’re interested in seeing what possibilities could be in store for you on camera, follow the above tips, do some research, and make your talents known to casting agents and others in the industry who are looking for what you have to offer—who knows where your skills may take you!

Categories
Featured Trips

Skate travel tips for a smooth trip

by Sara Hodon

Traveling can be nerve-wracking enough but bringing precious cargo along can add a whole new level of stress. As longtime roller skaters who travel regularly for parties, competitions, and other events can attest, different means of travel require different safety precautions, but there are a few general tips that apply to leaving home on a plane, train, or automobile. 

Skates on a Plane
Skates on a Plane. Image by Peggy Flefah

One golden rule that applies to traveling in any way is never be far from your skates. “When I fly, I never check my roller skates. I never let them out of my sight,” says Margaret “Peggy” Flefleh, a skating enthusiast who travels around the country for skating parties and to sell her skating-themed jewelry and gifts. “I was flying once and tried to check them because there was no more room in the overhead compartment. I tied the laces together, threw them over my shoulder, and said to the flight attendant ‘I’ll stick them under my seat.’” She adds, “I would advise keeping them with you at all times—even if you go to the bathroom.”

Flefleh started skating later in life and hasn’t looked back. “I’ve been heavily skating since I was 30. I took my daughter to a birthday party at a rink and said, ‘This looks like fun!’ I went to an Adult Night at the same rink that night and I was hooked.” When Flefleh turned 50, she started traveling for skate parties. “I got sucked into the skating world,” she laughs. Around the same time, Flefleh started giving friends old skate keys she’d been collecting for years. Now, Flefleh sells the keys and skating-themed jewelry at parties and different events. Talking to others is one of the most enjoyable parts of these events. “Everywhere I go, people have a roller skating story,” she says.

Skates on a Plane

Jay Beewitz and his wife Nicole travel worldwide to roller skate.

 Joerg “Jay” Beewitz, known as “Dr. Rollerskate”, is based in Berlin, Germany, and has traveled all over the world to skate. He runs the roller skating website Roller.Sk8.Berlin. “Traveling is part of my ‘skate life’, which implies that almost all private travels are linked to roller skating. Also, on business trips I usually take a pair of skates like others take running shoes.” In 2018 Beewitz made five flights to the U.S., five flights to various European cities, and several car trips for skating. Airlines have gotten much stricter with their baggage policies, and Beewitz strongly suggests reviewing your carrier’s weight requirements for luggage prior to flying to avoid stress at the gate. “When I’m flying with checked luggage, my skates are in a backpack. Skate tools, a second set of wheels, and other gear should be stored in the checked suitcase. When you are traveling only with carry-on luggage, you should obey the weight restrictions. One pair of skates weighs about four pounds, so with some airlines you are only able to put an additional eight pounds in the on-board suitcase.” If you’re close to the weight limit for your checked bags, it might be time to be selective. “Skaters have to be good at the art of cutting out dispensable items,” Beewitz says, adding skates could be considered a carry-on item (in the same category as a handbag) if they fit perfectly in the seat in front of you. It’s best to put them in a bag of some kind, depending on the type of skates you have. “You could carry them on a skate leash, which might look cool but is not a good idea. They might be considered a dangerous item because of the metal parts, and rejected when you get to the cabin door,” he points out.  

Lost or damaged skate liability

Each carrier has different policies for lost or damaged items which are usually explained in their Conditions of Carriage (available on most carriers’ websites). To give a few examples: according to American Airlines’ (AA) policy on their website, they are not liable for damages unless the item is in a hard-sided case. They will pay up to the value of the items in a bag that are missing or damaged. You must provide receipts and proof of loss. Southwest Airlines’ policy states they will compensate passenger for reasonable, documented damages up to the limit of liability. But if you’re still uneasy? AA’s site says it best: “Never check anything you can’t live without. If an item is irreplaceable, sentimental, or vital to your well-being, keep it with you or leave it at home.”

Rolling through Security

Security checkpoints and working with TSA is all part of the experience. If you follow the policies, are at or under the weight limits for checked luggage, and are generally cooperative, your security procedure should be brief and uneventful. Keep in mind that the agents are simply doing their job. Beewitz says most of his interactions with the agents have been pleasant. “Let’s mention the positive reactions you get when the airport security officers spot your skates in the X-ray scanner,” he says. “Many times you get smiles and frequently it’s a reason for small talk.” If you are pulled aside by an agent, Beewitz says, it’s just a formality. “It’s not personal. Agents must do a closer inspection of travelers with unusual items, like roller skates.” And if you spend a good deal of time in airports, it helps to get along with all airport personnel.  

Skating in the Terminal

Ginger Mathews, aka “The Skate Critic” travels throughout the country an average of 15 times a year between flying and driving (she’s been to 32 states), visiting rinks and skate parties and can speak to this firsthand. Once, when sitting in an airport waiting for a flight, the airport terminal became an impromptu roller rink. “I had my son drop me off at 10 p.m., and I figured I’d catch some zz’s. Unknown to me, this airport completely shuts down around 9:30 p.m.,” she says. “I was doing some paperwork, getting caught up on a few things, but then when that was finished, I was bored, so I got out my skates. This was at maybe 1 or 2 a.m. No one was around.” An airport security guard, although impressed, asked her to put the brakes on her skating routine. “He saw me on his security monitor,” she laughs. “He said the skating looked really cool, but he didn’t want the airport to be liable if I fell.” Fortunately, Mathews has never lost her skates, mainly because she carries them onboard. “My skates and purse go on the plane with me,” she says. “I don’t check my skates because I may never see them again. Keep an eye on your skates. If you get to where you’re going and you don’t see your skates, you won’t have a very good time. My skates are always one compartment above me and I know where they are at all times.”

https://www.facebook.com/ginger.d.mathews/videos/10219226835404257/
Ginger Matthews, the Skate Critic, demonstrates how to load a Zuca Bag into an overhead bin.

Skates in a Car

 Flefleh typically drives if she is going to an event within 3 hours of home. “Most of the skate parties I attend start at midnight and go until 4 or 5 a.m. After driving for more than 3 hours, that’s a long day,” she explains. Driving gives you more control over certain situations, and you can secure your valuables (read: skates) as you see fit. “I wouldn’t recommend leaving them in the car,” Flefleh says. “Cars are easy to break into. I also wouldn’t leave them out in the cold.”

Mathews will drive from her home base in Concord, CA if her destination is less than 12 hours away.  Her best advice for taking skates in the car is to keep them well out of sight. “Keep them in the trunk—not in the hatchback or back seat,” she says. “If they’re in the trunk, they’re out of sight. And never get a rental car that doesn’t have a trunk.” And always treat your skates as you would any other luggage and bring them into your hotel room for the night.

Plan ahead

Traveling is a rewarding experience that gives skate enthusiasts the opportunity to connect while exploring places very different from home. By relying on good old-fashioned common sense and doing some pre-planning, you can focus on making memories with your fellow skaters and not stressing about trip logistics or lost skates.

Safe travels and skating!

Categories
Featured Rink Life

10 Things Skaters Wish Some Rink Operators Would do

Following up to 10 Things Rink Operators Wish Their Customers Would Stop Doing, here is a list of 10 things customers wish skating rink owners would do that would make them want to come back again and again.

Categories
Featured Gear

The Best Place to Buy Your Roller Skates

Many times when I’m at a rink, I meet people ready to buy a pair of rollerskates. Some are venturing into the sport for the first time, others are returning, and some are accomplished champions. They all have their own opinions where to make skate purchases, and here’s my take. Buy them from the rink you skate at most often. And avoid the big box stores and the Internet like the plague. Here’s why.

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Careers Featured

So You Want to Run a Roller Rink

 What are you thinking? No seriously, have you done your research? To help you out here are 10 things you must know about the industry before opening your doors.

There’s a lot of cleaning. It’s a grimy business, and dust collects quickly in your ceilings, corners, and walls. A dirty rin20160514_135115k will keep customers from coming back. Plan on keeping your employees busy with constant cleaning.

It’s not a steady business. Gorgeous outdoor weather will be your greatest competition. It’s a seasonal business where cold, wet, and extreme temperatures will boost attendance numbers. Some rinks report a slowdown in the summer when families all go on vacation. For other rink operators, the bulk of their business comes from summer camps. Results vary depending on your local weather conditions, seasons, or when the carnival is in town. You must be creative to keep the building full of customers.

Starlight SkatiumYou’ll be hiring and training a lot of teenagers. This is their first job and will need constant supervision and correction. Some are more reliable than others. Some don’t take criticism well. Learn how to conduct group interviews and spot the cream of the crop with a good attitude and work ethic.

It’s not a weekend hobby. Don’t think you can open your doors Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and stay shut the rest of the week. Someone needs to be in the office to receive deliveries, answer phones and complete many tasks such as insurance forms, music licensing, hiring, firing, selling, painting, repairing, purchasing, scheduling, party planning, group sales, payroll, tax filing, banking, food server certification, accident reports, surveillance video, lighting, sound, POS system oversight, cleaning, training, capital improvements, office management, publicity, graphic design, and marketing. HVAC systems need regular service, rental skates need to be serviced, the parking lot needs cleaning, the list goes on and on.

Lessons PhotoLessons are essential. If you want to cultivate a loyal group of customers, you’ll need to get them rolling in the right direction with a lessons program. Good skaters are great for business. They bring their friends. They grow up and have skater kids of their own. Plant the seeds early and often. When they love to skate, they will come back and support your rink.

Skate Rentals NeonRental skates matter. When customers have a good experience at your rink, they will come back and eventually buy their own from your pro shop. If customers are expected to skate in old broken down rental skates they will have a horrible time and never come back. The brownies (or peanut butters as they are referred to) are manufactured by Sure Grip, Golden Horse, Riedell, and Crazy Skates. They average about $150 a pair and you can keep them well-tuned with replacement parts (including boots) for years to come.

RSA LogoJoin the Roller Skating Association (RollerSkating.com) International for about a buck a day as a “future operator.” You’ll get their magazine – Roller Skating Business, a weekly digital newsletter, invitations to all their trade shows and section meetings, volume discounts, exclusive marketing programs, access to vendors who serve the rink industry, and social forums when you can ask questions of other rink operators. You’ll save thousands of dollars learning from the mistakes of others.

Subscribe to RINKSIDER magazine. For full disclosure, I am the Editor of The RINKSIDER. Our advice columns range from IT issues, music licensing, floor maintenance, snack bar profits, novelties, and redemption, parties, and anything relevant to the successful operation of a skate center. You can also get a glimpse of previous articles at RINKSIDER.com free of charge, and follow us on Facebook. 

Plan on having a lot of fun! Owning a rink means meeting new friends and spreading your passion for roller skating. Rink operations is not for everyone, but for the right person it’s a life changing experience where you’ll work in a fascinating industry full of helpful people who want you to succeed.