Since I decided to take the plunge into the unknown and pursue my passion of acting back in 2012, there was alot I had to learn about the industry. Specifics that I originally snubbed because I felt like I knew what I was doing. I had some of what I thought was general knowledge from taking acting and modeling courses at Barbizon when I was fresh out of high school.
Perhaps some of that general knowledge atleast got me on the track of getting some nice headshots and looking for jobs with basically little experience with community theater. But atleast it was a start. even if it was a little bumpy...
I don't live in LA or NYC yet...but both are definitely on my radar in the very near furture. Truth is, you don't have to be in either places to really start your career. Matter of fact, it's smarter to gain as much experience and credits to your name as well as some union affilation even if it is just becoming SAG Eligible before making that big move.
Here in NC, there is no shortage of talent all around the state that have experience in some film work. Wilmington, in particular is a very familiar spot in well known shows like One Tree Hill, Dawson's Creek, Sleepy Hollow, Under the Dome, Matlock and even Homeland was filmed in Charlotte. When I first started I was an extra in a few projects that were filmed locally.
There are a few important steps to take in order to get yourself started.
1. Find a decent and affordable headshot photographer
I always like to have these done first, because when the time comes to audition regardless of having no experience or having some. It's always best to look and be professional. The internet is full of so much helpful information and Google will never fail you.
Look up actors headshots and even on Pinterest there is alot of them that give you an idea of look you want to go for. Just remember to keep it as natural as possible. It seriously isn't all glamour when it comes to acting. Keep it clean and simple.
Around my area, sometimes $60 is a really good price to pay for some decent professional headshots.
2. Enroll in classes
Again...do your due dillegence and find a credible venue where you can enroll in acting classes.
I was fortunate to find a place that I have been going to off and on for three years ( due to financial restraints) that specializes in film audition techniques, meisner tecnique and occaionally host intensives with local and well-respected casting directors in the southeast region.
It's important especially during the holidays to freshen your skills and to get ready for pilot season. ( More on that later! )
3. Find the work
For the first few months or so and still even after you find an agent or manager, it's up to you to find the work. The more that you do, the better experience you will have and yes sometimes you will have some not so pleansent experiences on a film set.
I strongly advise you to audition and partake in a few local plays, whether or not you like theatre is irrevelant. It's still acting and some of the best experience you can ever get.
I personally prefer film over stage. I still enjoy plays no doubt and yes the stage is far better than nothing at all. However, I feel most suitable on a film set.
This can be done anytime and anywhere. In class. At a premiere. Holiday celebration or Anniversary of an Agency or School. Working as an extra on set.These are perfect.
Shamefully, I have to admit I didn't really want to network as much in the beginning. Perhaps, I didn't want to mingle with my competition. Perhaps, I didn't want to mingle period. But, as soon as I saw the how important it was, I got on board.
After working on a few local and independent prodcutions and keeping in touch with some pretty awesome actors and directors. I soon would get connected with more professional people.
5. Sign with an reputable agency
There are alot of these and you have know you can't fit in all of them. The most resepcted and hard-working agencies usually have a cap of how many of the same "brand" talent in their roster. They also require a minimum of 3 speaking roles in projects like students films and reel to back it up.
It is possible for someone with the right look with little to no experience to sometimes bypass this. Not just for representation but for auditions and bookings. It happens. It's not always about being the most beautiful or talented. You also need to know your brand, which I will get into further in a later post.
Keep in mind, it may take awhile to find the right agent for you. Don't assume to go with the first agency that contacts you. Also, don't assume that your agent will be able to wave a magic wand and help you book work. You still have to continue to do everything that I listed to even still be able to audition.
-Keep your headshots updated...atleast twice a year. So, if you decide to change your face or hair or anything else significant. Get new headshots.
-Continue to work. If you are seeing a major break in between auditions or work. This is the perfect time enroll for another month of audition technique. The longer you go without being trained and refreshed in your skills, well you will know it when you return. Stay focused and sharp. You just never know when your next audition will be.
-Always keep looking for legitimate work. The more experience you have the better. If you feel like something isn't right about a production. Research and make your best judgement. Otherwise keep submitting. Eventually, you will have people contacting you for work. Until then, keep busting ass.