How To Be Seen as an Actor: The Career Actor

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Actors must be seen. There is no point learning our craft if we can’t be seen performing it, and it is instrumental to your career that enough industry members see you performing.

There are many ways to gain the much-needed exposure, and often you will only be limited by the imagination of your ideas and the funds you have available to you. Here are some popular methods.

Showcases

Robert De Niro gives an performance as a stage-door autograph hound, who is an aspiring stand-up comedian whose ambition far exceeds his talent. The King of Comedy (1983)

Grouping with fellow actors to perform a showcase. There are many companies some run by actors themselves who set up these showcases year round. Having been in a number of these showcases I would advise the following:

Timing -Ensuring it wont clash with showcases from the big drama schools.

Preparation – Give enough time to rehearse and to send out your mail outs. Agents and casting directors usually need to be told, weeks if not months in advance to accommodate your invite. Consider sending out possibly three batches, one initial opening mail out, one 3 months closer to the date with more details of the show, and finally a brief leaflet/flyer with dates/times/venue.

Venue – Where you choose to host these showcases will obviously have a serious impact on the turnout. Since most agencies have their offices in and around the West End it makes sense to host your event there, however the downside is the expense of hiring out a central London venue.  In addition to this it’s important to find a venue that enables you to deliver your best, you should be comfortable there, it should have good acoustics so you don’t strain your voice.

Casting Director/Agent workshops

Suzanne Stone (Nicole Kidman) would go to any lengths to get the recognition she feels she deserves. Can’t say I recommend this approach but certainly recommend you watch the film. To Die For (1995)

I was recommended to use this approach by an agent. There are a lot of companies online who hold these workshops, they can be pricey (ranging from £25-35 per class) but they are a good way to not only get seen but also ask any questions you have about the industry and how to better yourself within it. Try not to be intimidated by these classes, learn whatever script they give you beforehand if you get a chance and just take it as it comes. Important to remember though these may be industry veterans who can potentially help you and your career, in the context of the workshops you are paying them to be there. Here is a link to a popular workshop provider called actorsplatform. Please note there are many more like this but this is just one that I’ve personally attended and found useful. If you can recommend any others please leave them in the comments below.

Performance

Scene from Shakespeare in Love

By far the most effective method is to be seen doing what you want to be doing…acting. The trouble with this method is it tends to involve a lot of planning, organization and start up money. If of course you are lucky enough to gain a place in a production then you’re already on the right track. But again it depends on the venue of your production as to whether or not you will get the industry turn out you were hoping for. The motto, “location, location, location” also applies to theatre productions. Now if you wish to start a production of your own, you will definitely need to think about costs. Venue, rights to the play, stage props/lights, and a small crew to maintain it are all things to consider. This is even before you think about paying your actors.

Showreel

The gang decide to make their own short film in Super 8 (2011)

Another effective method is put together a small showreel and email it out. This can be made up of works you’ve already been in or there are companies who will actually film you perform a scene or monologue as part of your showreel. The Actors One-Stop Shop allows this; CastingCallPro is also a good place to get involved with shortfilms from film schools. I would say whatever material you use, make sure the showreel is of as high production quality as you can. Good sound is a must, and make sure the camera is of good quality. Of course it goes without saying, your performance must capture the best of you, so be ruthless in the edit and make sure you’re getting what you pay for.

Contact the Film Schools

An overlooked contact for invites and/or just generally mail outs are the film schools. Film schools will be making short films pretty much every year, many top film school productions go on to the festival circuit (huge industry exposure potential here) and some have even been known to win awards! Film schools will always be looking for actors for their productions and it’s a great way for both actor and filmmaker to gain experience and practice in their craft. Remember you never know where these filmmakers will end up in the future.

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