This is a rather important topic, as I consider ‘doing stuff with your mates’ the bread and butter of an emerging actor. It will get you miles ahead of the people who are not doing stuff with their mates and… you get to work with your mates. Get all your giggles out now, because I’m going to use the phrase ‘doing stuff with your mates’ repeatedly in this post, because frankly, ‘making art with your colleagues’ sounds just as dirty. So let’s just roll with it.
Basically I’m referring to creating your own work. This is generally known as ‘freelance’ (securing your own acting work without an agent) or ‘independent’ (putting on your own shows/shorts/webisodes without ties to a major company). This type of work is largely unfunded or ‘co-op’ (where you split any money the show makes between whoever was involved, also called profit-share or box-office split). Sadly, you probably won’t make a lot of money from this sort of work, because your box-office income will most likely go towards recouping costs for equipment and costumes and all that, but the experience and exposure is really going to be the biggest benefit to begin with. Yes, this is one of the few times where being paid in exposure dollars might actually be worth it.
Why do stuff with your mates? Why not just wait til the right role comes along and you nail that audition? Read More
While I’m on a roll with the audition prep stuff, I may as well talk a little about choosing a monologue. It may sound like the easiest part of your prep, but it’s actually incredibly easy to get wrong – and getting it wrong makes a huge difference to your chances of being cast.
Let’s say you’re auditioning for a production of Hamlet. You’ve heard it on the grapevine that they’ve cast all the roles except for Ophelia, so you deduce you will either get cast as Ophelia or you won’t get a part at all. They’ve asked you to prepare one Shakespearean monologue. For your recent drama school audition, you performed Hermione from The Winter’s Tale, and the teachers worked with you on it, so you feel like you’ve got a good understanding of the monologue and the way it should be performed – and it’s Shakespeare, which is what they asked for. You go to the audition, you do a good job of your performing your monologue, they work with you on a few things, and you walk away feeling like a winner… then you hear nothing back from them, and eventually you realise someone else has been cast. What happened?
There are a lot of elements at play here, Read More
If you’re a freelance actor, you’re probably carefully monitoring Facebook pages and audition sites for audition notices. (You are doing that, right?? If not, you need to check out my post about how to use social media to get auditions.) You probably spend less time thinking about how you write an Audition Request Email – but did you know a terrible introductory email can work against you? If there are limited audition slots and your email is informal, rude or lazy, you might not even get offered an audition time. You could be ruining your chances before you even get out the door, just through lazy writing! So what can you do to strike the right tone and guarantee your chances of an audition? Read More
One of the things that can be quite daunting as a young actor is the sense of isolation. If you have friends or family in the industry, or if you’re studying, you may not feel it, but to some extent it’s common to feel like you are alone in your pursuit. This is partly due to the fact that actors are set up in competition against each other every time they meet – auditions, classes, even social events can feel like a race to impress other people in the industry. At other times you may feel like the only person in the room with ambition. It’s hard to feel like you have an ally, and it’s hard to know who to ask for help – but you will need help at some time or other.
The primary reason I started this blog was to create somewhere for you to go for help, but you will probably have more questions than I can answer here. Feel free to comment and I will do my best to answer, but ideally you’ll probably want a mentor of your own. You need someone you trust who has been working in the industry a while and understands its ups and downs. But how do you find someone when you’ve just started out and the only people you’ve met are lawyers who like to do community theatre in their spare time?
The tools you need… without looking like a tool
Before I get onto discussing how to use social networking tools for professional advancement, I need to wade through the quagmire that is ‘self-promotion’.
When I say ‘self-promotion’, I’m talking about websites, Facebook pages, business cards, mass mail-outs of headshots, or any sort of advertising that is produced by you solely for the purpose of promoting you as an actor.
Suffice it to say: I’m not a fan. I don’t think it’s appropriate or necessary when you first start your career – and I’m not the only one.
Ahhh, the balancing act of life. Everybody has to balance the many aspects of their life, no matter whatprofession they’re in, but it may come as quite a shock to you to balance quite so many things straight out of high school. You will probably be working full time or part time, taking classes of some sort, going out to see shows, reading whatever seems interesting and relevant, looking for auditions, practising whatever needs practising, and… the rest of your life. Cleaning the house, maintaining relationships, chilling out where you can. I hate to be a party pooper but I’ve got to tell you now: as an actor, this never changes. You will ALWAYS be balancing a million things. Even if you succeed at becoming a big movie star, the balancing act will only get worse, not better. Successful actors work incredibly hard to become successful and incredibly hard to stay that way. You need to learn to work hard and smart, and learn to deal with stress and tiredness in a graceful way. Read More
Right, so I promised I would talk about voice next. As always, I will try to keep it extremely general, so you can look at it as a broad guideline of things to work on rather than a detailed criticism of different techniques.
When you first start out as an actor, voice can be one of the big things that hold you back, particularly if you are doing stage work. Screen work is more forgiving because you don’t need to project as much, but you’ll still need good vocal technique for emotionally and physically difficult scenes. Women in particular can struggle a lot when they first start out because a naturally high voice is difficult to hear, and smaller frames can mean smaller lung capacity. Don’t let this get in your way, it can be improved with a little time and effort – but firstly you need to be aware of what you need to work on.
Regardless of whether you have a light voice, Read More