I will preface this short article by explaining my experience thus far with acting and who this article is geared for and will be beneficial to. Acting is a new hobby of mine after giving up theater after High School seven years ago. I recently had enough free time and drive to see if I could get back into acting and be successful. I found an ad for a non-paid short film audition in my area and decided to pursue it. I landed a role in the short film which has yet to be completed through the editing process and have had experiences since then in several auditions, several shorts intended for Youtube, and am currently in a production at a community theater in Peoria, Illinois (Corn Stock Theatre, Dog Sees God).
The following is a list of things you should be doing, where to look, what to avoid, and tips!
You Need a Head Shot: A Facebook picture of you smiling will not do the trick. You need a couple of professional head shots to send to casting calls, no matter how big or small the audition. You want several moods with different colors based on your overall look and the roles you will eventually try for. Ex: If you look like a cop or body guard, wear a blue buttoned up shirt and have a serious expression.
Head Shot Tips: Head shots are not cheap and I was not going to spend $200-400 for several high quality photos of myself. Contact the arts department at a local University or Community College. I was able to get a full shoot and pick out five of my favorite pictures from an experienced student photographer who had taken head shots before. She edited them with software and gave me a CD with five I had picked out all for only $20! Just remember a head shot should not show more than your shoulders up to your head.
Where to Search for Opportunities (Film): Depending what you are looking for I have found several good places to find opportunities. Mandy.com is one of my favorites and seems to be scam free, also the site is free, which all casting websites should be. Many of the opportunities will be non-paid but are a great experience, just pick something with a small time commitment and one where you do not have to spend money from travel. Craigslist surprisingly is a good place to look and I have found actual postings that are legitimate and that have worked out. I found my first short film role on Craigslist, but beware of frequent scams. Google for local opportunities, many states and communities have Yahoo groups, blogs, and websites dedicated to postings of extra calls and auditions for films both small and large. I am in Illinois, but MichiganActing.com is one of my favorites.
Where to Search for Opportunities (Theater): Opportunities for theater productions are often much easier to find. Often auditions are listed in your local newspaper and on community theater websites. In Peoria there are several community theaters and auditions more than once a month for some type of production. I decided to join a production to gain experience and it was the best thing I could have done to keep my high interest in acting and to gain attention in the community. Theater is a huge time commitment, but I would suggest anyone who is serious in acting participate in at least one theater production to help perfect their craft.
Classes: Training is important. Just like any trade or school subject the more you learn the better you are at it. Taking any classes related to acting will help. I took a Meisner Group class where I learned better improv skills. Look for anything in your area in phone books, online searches, and possibly postings in a local newspaper.
Social Networking: It is all about who you know. A great place to meet people is on Nextcat.com. Here is my profile on Nextcat: http://www.nextcat.com/MichaelDavidLuchies. This resource is free also and I have gotten in contact with casting agencies through this website. Also Facebook can help you reach out to small production companies in your area. Search for film maker groups in your town and surrounding areas.
You Don’t Pay Agents: If you are looking for an agent, be advised that they search for jobs that you can try out for and do not receive payment upfront. Many scams involve getting an upfront payment, please don’t fall for this.
Scam Watch: Never pay for anything besides your promotional materials (Comp cards, head shots, business cards, etc.) when starting to act.
Have Fun: If you are just starting, don’t worry about getting paid jobs or looking for a role that is going to launch you into stardom. Just get experience and see if it is something you really enjoy.
I am still learning myself and would love to hear your stories and tips, please leave comments. Thanks