Business Success


ACTING 101 - Getting Noticed

  • Written by Paris Hepburn

We have all our tools ready to go:  resume, headshots, skills and training, typecasting, and branding.  Now we are ready to look for auditions.  Well sort of.  When we first start out, the pickens are very slim so you take what you can.  That includes doing parts for free.  A great place to start is doing background or extra roles which can get you on the set so you can get experience and start meeting people.  Graduate to doing student films where you have a larger role or even a speaking role.  They are always advertising for new actors to fill characters for their films.  Getting involved in the film community which will give you insight into what kind of films are being produced.  Nothing is trivial when it comes to your acting career.  Every events helps you build your acting skills.

Backstage is terrific for looking for such roles.  My first role, I auditioned for and got, started on Backstage.  I was really excited.  The role was a student film space adventure “Beyond Space.”  A film presented in the NASA advertising campaign.  This was the first time I was on a real set.  A great place to learn how everything works before going on to a larger set.  Backstage lists over 5,000 jobs for cast and crew as well as singers, dancers, models and other types of artists.   You can get Backstage in digital-edition PDF publication.  There is also a resource directory called “Call Sheet.”  “Call Sheet” highlights the whole entertainment industry from performers such as singers, dancers, comedians, models, etc., while also explaining unions such as SAG-AFTRA, Actors' Equity Association, AGVA, AGMA, the American Federation of Musicians, etc.  But the most valuable information it has is a list of casting directors, agents, writers, filmmakers, and, in particular, actors.  They also focus on career advice.  A terrific source of information to utilize in getting auditions.  I have read many of their articles and found a wealth of information to answer many of my questions.  I would say this is the best place to go when you are just starting out.  Although this is a great resource, you can’t just sit around and wait for casting directors, producers and directors to come knocking at your door.  You are on a mission.

Phone calls.  The phone is not going to be ringing off the hook for quite some time so you need to take your own action in getting recognized.  Now some actors are very lucky and their career takes off right off the bat.   But this is usually not the case.  Finding parts is like a job.  You have to keep at it constantly.  Being on Backstage is a first great start but again, the phone won’t be ringing off the hook or casting directors, producers and directors won’t be seeking you out.  You have to go seek them out.  You have to be able to see what’s happening in your community in the type of acting you want to do.  Larger cities have more to offer than smaller cities.  But yet, smaller cities give you more opportunity to get recognized when starting off.  You certainly don’t have to go to Los Angeles to get recognized.  Start in your own area getting your skills aligned before going on to something bigger.  Another great way to start is by networking.

Networking. Networking and creating personal connections with other actors, director and industry people can be greatly beneficial.  Networking comes in various ways, forms and fashion.  Attending an acting class or seminar can being you benefits of getting to know people such as casting directors and directors that are always looking for fresh faces.  Going to events such as plays or coming out films in a professional setting could reap benefits down the road.  There are numerous events publicized in the “Film Commission.”  They know all the films being produced in your area.  A production company has to go through the state ‘Film Commission’ in order to even start producing their film.  So start looking at them to find information about upcoming events in your community that will get you closer to meeting others that can get you jobs.

Social Media.  Facebook is also another great place to start networking with people who are in the industry.  You would be surprised to see how many people will join your circle of acting when you reach out to them.  Sign up for “Groups.”  They have a wealth of information as well as different auditions that are happening.  Start spreading your network out.  Ask questions but be respectful.  Make posts with other actors that you find are like you. Instagram will also work well.  But I prefer Facebook because I think it’s more personal.  

Classes and Workshops. Attending classes and workshops is vital in keeping up your skills but also a great place to meet other people who are experiencing that same thing you are.  This is a terrific opportunity to showcase you acting skills.  You don’t need to spend a lot of money attending these groups.  Many workshops and master classes are only a few hundred dollars.  This is a win, win situation.  You get to learn more about acting and honing your skills while meeting with other people in the industry that can help you.  Many actors are willing to share information with others.  Make sure when you are attending a class or workshop that it is from a reputable person or persons.  By attending a class or workshop shop from a well-known person, you can put that on your resume and this let’s casting know that you learned from a professional.         

Short Films and Student Films.  This is a great way to increase your exposure and have people get to know you.  You can get some terrific show reels from the films.  And the film might go the festival circuit and get you some great exposure or perhaps an award that you can put on your resume.  Getting a showreel is as important as your headshots and resume.  It shows who you are and what you can do.  How you look on film is a huge benefit.  It can also be a way of getting noticed by casting agents, producers and directors.  It shows your work style and image.  The showreel should concentrate on your acting skills and what you bring to the scene or production.  

Self-Taped Reels.  We all have cameras or cameras on our phone.  If you are not getting the results you want, create your own film [showreel] and record it.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a reel.  Make a mini-series highlighting your talents.  Write a play, short film or a monologue. It will keep you busy. The main emphasis should be on you and your acting skills.  Make the scenes vary so you can showcase different sides of your character.  This is where branding and typecasting comes in.  Pick something that is ‘you’ and shows what you like to do.  When doing a showreel remember to keep it short and simple.  Don’t use props or lots of colorful backgrounds.  Wear clothes that are not bright or patterned.  T-shirts are fine.  The reels should be four minutes max.  When doing a self-tape there are many types of your acting skills that you can utilize.  Showreels, demo reels and sizzle reels are all similar but different.  A showreel and demo reel are similar.  Show reels look like live action shots.  Demo reels can be done against a plain colored background.  And sizzle reels are a compilation of a bunch or small reels all put together.   Know what kind of role you want to play and record it yourself.  Then put it up on YouTube, Facebook or Instagram.  Make sure that your headshots look like you in the films.  Do you look very young? Or did you have facial hair that you no longer have? Are you friendly and open or very serious? It’s all simple stuff, but very important. 

Where Do We Go From Here.  Now you have accomplished all of these things and you might still be waiting by the phone.  This is just the beginning of getting noticed.  As we venture into getting noticed we will delve deeper into making your tool kit work more effectively.  This is just the very beginning but a great way to start.  Don’t get discouraged if things don’t happen with away.  In time, they will begin to happen.  With anything you do in life you have to believe in yourself and never give up.  Remember that each experience is a learning lesson that will get you closer to your goal.  Some actors will have an easy time landing roles and other won’t.  Think about creative ways that you can get noticed. If you believe in yourself and your skills, I believe that, eventually, you will be found. So keep moving forward and make it happen.

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