Recently I was asked for some feedback by someone who (unsuccessfully) auditioned for me. It’s unusual for actors to even ask for feedback, so I was happy to take some time to write him an email. When I thought more about it, I realised his mistake was a really, really common one for a lot of new actors, so I thought I’d better share it with you here. Read More
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
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.
It might be a bit of a touchy subject, but I’d like to talk about your body for a bit. This is a really tricky area, especially for a lot of young women, but it affects everyone in the industry to some extent. I have seen a LOT of actors struggle with body image issues, so it’s something I feel passionate about. Often we think that changing our bodies or faces to fit a particular ideal will get us more work. More often than not I think the opposite is true: changing to fit an ideal will get you less work because there’ll longer be anything interesting or memorable about you. It happens a lot to celebrities – they have plastic surgery and suddenly they look like grotesque and inhuman and cease to be cast in anything. And beyond that, chances are that whatever you think is a problem is probably not what’s stopping you from getting work – it’s more likely to be a lack of confidence, or the fact that you don’t seem alive or vibrant in auditions because you’re too busy thinking about your big nose… More about noses later. Let’s start with body.
I don’t believe for a second that you have to be super skinny or super muscly to be a successful actor, but your body shape will affect the sorts of parts you get. To some extent, you won’t be able to help this, because your body has a ‘type’, just as your face does. Read More
Whether you’re applying to an agent, or submitting freelance for auditions, at some point you will need an acting CV. Your acting CV (or arts CV, or resume – same thing) obviously needs different content to a CV you would give to a retail or hospitality employer, but often it’s hard to know what to include and how to format it, especially when you feel like you don’t have much to include yet!
Let’s start with format. There are a zillion different ways to format an arts CV, so the smart thing to do is check your agent’s website before you submit to them Read More