So you want to be an Actor?     

 

It’s something you’ve dreamed about all your life. Maybe while watching TV or a film   you’ve felt this urge and  thought,”Hey I could walk right into that part” or“I can  do better than that”. Unfortunately, the reality is that no matter how great you think you are no one else will!

 

 It’s easy to become a mediocre or a bad actor, but to become an excellent one takes time, commitment and determination and for anyone to take you seriously you must have some sort of formal training and a piece of paper confirming it.

 

So  your  first step, on this rather steep ladder to artistic fame, should be to take classes, preferably at one of the recognised drama schools. That won’t happen unless you believe in yourself and what you do and only then will your audience, be they tutors, agents, casting directors or ultimately the paying public.

 

Truly great actors are born with an ability to throw them selves into becoming a different character but how believable they are is a skill that has to be learnt and refined.  Are not the most memorable films those during which the the performances have been  so real and believable that we forget it’s acting for e.g. “Saving Private Ryan”, “Stepmum”, “Atonement” and the Hindi film “Fashion”.  Al Pacino,  Sean Penn, Daniel Day-Lewis are “Method” actors. The technique of acting, whether it is Meisner, Stanislavski or Method, has to be learnt.

In front of the camera, you are not acting the characteristics of that person, you are that person. On the set of  “Marathon Man” Dustin Hoffman spent 3 days without sleep, stayed disheveled and ran around the block a few times before scenes. He explained to the  great Sir Laurence Oliver that it was part of his “method approach”. Olivier replied, “you should really try acting.”   

Tips

1.      Believe in your passion be determined,  intelligent, adaptable and above all humble.                     

2.      Get some decent Black and White (never colour) photos called  “Headshots” as part of a  “portfolio”. If you can afford it these should be done professionally. There are lots of offers from studios online

3.      Polish your CV (resume) with a creative and artistic bias. Even school plays or singing competitions will do to start.

4.      Learn a couple of monologues inside out. Ideally one classic and one contemporary.

5.      Make sure your finances are in order and you have a supply of  money. This dream will drain you from day one. Most actors are unemployed most of the time especially  after graduation.

Being  prepared will hopefully get you into acting school. Enrollment to  RADA and the Central School Of Speech and Drama in London is  difficult, but there  are other renowned schools in London and New York, and coming from these helps you get an actors agent. Many of the universities have respected drama courses additionally   there are countless private acting academies.

 Determine which style of acting they teach and is the bias towards theatre, TV or Film? Do they have industry connections and invite guest lectures from agents?  Speak to their ex graduates and discover how they have fared.

The business of acting

 

You’ve worked hard, graduated  from a top drama school! Why is the world not at your doorstep? Welcome to the “business of acting” . Now you have to find an agent to help build  your CV .

 

The agent will represent you as their client to casting directors and suggest you for roles for  10% commission.

How to get  an Agent

1.  Preferably get an agent to see your work  while you are studying on a “scene night” .

2.  Get somebody who knows your ability to recommend you,  like a tutor,  casting director, director, producer or another actor who is already a client

3. Make contact directly (although they tend not to like unsolicited approaches) by sending  your P/R (photo and resume).This "press kit" should also contain reviews or notices of upcoming shows that you are featured in.

A good agent will help you get work and give you credibility at auditions, but don’t just think that all you have to do is wait by the phone and offers will come flooding in.

Tips

1.You have to get out there and let people know you are an actor.

 2. Never sign  up to anything where you have to pay to act

3. Look after your appearance, not just to look good but you’ll need stamina firstly to find work and then to survive it. Try to improve your memory. Join a gym.

 

4 Learn the terminology and  go to as many auditions as possible. Don’t be too proud to take “extras” work (called background on set). You will benefit from being seen and  experience the movie “atmosphere and language”.

 

5. Involve yourself : in the local community, especially in the art;.low budget productions and plays, student films.The more you network  the more enriching your career will be. Register with  your local screen agency.

 

6. Subscribe on-line. Agencies can invite calls for extras online. In addition checkout  online versions of Backstage, Hollywood Reporter and Variety and  broadcastnow.co.uk , stageandscreenonline.co.uk or subscribe, if you can afford it, to the actors unions SAG or Equity. Spotlight and Casting Call Pro are worth registering with as they area resource for TV, Film, Radio and Theatrical companies.

 

7.In addition to general material read the popular movie mags from Hollywood; Empireonline.co.uk and Bollywood,  Stardust.co.in.

 

8. Watch movies from Bollywood to Holywood and all those in between.  Attend film festivals for the obscure ones. Observe the great actors like Geilgud, Caine, Streep , DeNiro, Depp. Soak in their performances. Watch touring plays by Peshkar and Tamasha.

 

9. Of course you could  just create your own content. and distribute it over the internet on  sites like YouTube. Even as a complete unknown, write or find a piece you believe in, film it with whatever resources you have and let the world know you have arrived!

10  Find your own path and do not wait to be told what it is..