The Pro-Active Actor
A leading agent recently told me how shocked they are at some actors’ attitudes when it comes to developing a proactive approach towards their career. If your agent is taking 15-20% of your income, don’t expect them to do 100% of the work. Be interested in the people and opportunities around you… Be a pro-active actor - and work at developing your career.
Know Your Brand
You need to know where you see your place in the market before others will begin to buy into what you've got to offer.
All actors know that you need a great headshot - but to move forward in this business, you now also need a showreel that represents you in an accurate and marketable way. There are a number of companies and individuals who can help you with this. Thinking Actors offers a new Share-A-Scene Showreel service here in the North West.
Surround yourself with pro-active, positive people. Successful actors cultivate a valuable network of people who’ll provide them with honest and constructive feedback and who have their back covered. Avoid the persistent industry moaner - they’ll drain you of time and energy and nurture self-doubt. When you have a fall or set-back, get back up again. Cultivate a ‘can do’ mentality.
Take an Acting Class
Keep your skill set sharp and an alert ear to the ground by attending regular acting class.
If an acting coach pushes one particular approach over another, think twice. Acting Class is all about taking the techniques that work for you personally and putting them safely into a big bag that you can dip in to. Meisner, Adler, Strasberg….all rooted in Stanislavski with a particular focus shift or emphasis of method.
Thinking Actors runs Acting for Camera classes and workshops at MediaCityUK and Liverpool.
Taking a regular Acting Class will keep you connected, productive and involved in your craft. Invest time and money to be relevant and a part of something.
Join Social Media Groups
Ross Grant’s Act On This TV at www.actonthis.tv is an excellent source of advice and news for actors. ‘Actors UK’ on Facebook is also worth being a part of. Thinking Actors has recently launched a new Facebook group called ‘Actors & Creatives’ - for paid castings and the free promotion of people, projects and opportunities.
Open a Twitter and Instagram Account
Make sure that your name can be clearly identified. If your name is already taken, try adding the word ‘actor’ to it eg JoeBloggsActor
Keep it professional. There are a number of social media companies who twitter on behalf of celebrities and actors who don’t grasp this. No drunken escapades, swearing or arguing. Keep your brand twitter account professionally focused and purposeful at all times. Follow other relevant industry professionals and their posts.
Get up to Speed with ICT
Find out about budgeting and finance software. You are a business. Budget the cost of acting class, auditions, travel and living expenses. Learn how to use a spreadsheet and set a regular time each week to update a budget of incomings and outgoings. Ensure that you put the business back in to show.
‘Professional Actor’ Means That You’re Paid
Don’t forget this.
Getting involved in unpaid short films made by students or charity groups is fine. Also, go ahead with the occasional profit share project (always ask about profit projections before you agree). Send out your CV to film schools eg Salford University Film & Television Department and the Manchester Film School in Didsbury.
'Professional Production companies', however, that do not budget for the actors they cast are disregarding employment laws and creating a culture that undermines long term, sustainable career progression and the general regard for a skill and talent base. Don’t feed-in to this growing problem. Truly professional production companies (film, television or theatre) know the score here: no pay, no way.
Use your initiative. Read all available information before asking that next question. Don’t throw tasks on to other people that you could easily carry out yourself. Don’t be lazy at clicking a link or carrying out a little research. Look at websites for casting information, find out about casting directors and upcoming projects. If you're meeting to pick people's brains you'll need to buy coffee or lunch or agree to their consultation fee.
The Written Word
Be careful about putting ‘xxx’ kisses at the end of your correspondence to industry professionals. It can come across as unprofessional. In America, it’s regarded with particular disdain. Don’t think gimmicks will work for you either: adding glitter to that letter to your agent, will remember you for all the wrong reasons - as they spend the next six months clearing it all up.
Never write an email to an industry professional that isn’t addressed by name. ‘To whom it may concern’ or Dear Sir/Madam/Ms shows a generic approach and a lack of research into the company, services or person. Personalise your correspondence.
Don’t think that an email typed on your phone is a reason to use poor grammar, punctuation or spelling. Struggle with your writing? Get someone to carefully proof read it or buy a software program that will check for you. I was recently sent a generic email, typed completely in lower case, with absolutely no punctuation. It’s just sloppy and shows a lack of regard. People do pick up on it.
If you’re aware that a Casting Director has a particular project coming up in the near future, drop them a line or even ask politely for a general meeting. Don’t send them a weekly barrage of ‘hello’ emails - you’ll end up with an immediate deletion. Above all, don't use Facebook Messenger, or similar, as a legitimate means to make contact.
Don’t spread yourself like war time butter. You don’t have to do everything or agree to any of it. You’ll always be remembered by the quality of your work rather than its quantity. Think about your casting type, the production company behind the project and the quality of the actual project itself. On low budget indie films, check out the production company and director’s previous work.
If you agree to do something, do it. Be reliable and of your word.
Be open and not defensive, willing and not difficult, supportive and not isolated. Demonstrate gratitude and humility. And be on time!
Find out more about Acting Classes and workshops with Thinking Actors at www.thinkingactors.co.uk