Cinema Bandit is devoted to supplying young and new filmmakers with resources, articles, and interviews to help artists develop themselves creatively and professionally.
One of the hardest aspects of the film industry is breaking in as an actor. Just like any career path in the industry, it helps if you know people. It also helps if you have a fantastic reel. And an IMDB page full of credits. And can talk in a variety of different accents.
Acting might seem out of reach for some people, especially people with no connections and especially for people with no experience. But you do have one thing; you want to be an actor. Though it might seem out of reach, here are some things you can start doing right now if you’re going to pursue a career in acting.
Read Books on Acting
Read! Read! Read! No matter what life you pursue, reading is always important for learning a new skill. Here are some of my picks for the best books on acting:
- “Audition” by Michael Shurtleff
- “The Audition Book: Winning Strategies for Breaking into Theater, Film, and Television” by Ed Hooks
- “Meisner on Acting” by Sanford Meisner
- “Respect for Acting” by Uta Hagen
- “An Actor Prepares” by Constantin Stanislavsky
- “Auditioning: An Actor-Friendly Guide” by Joanna Merlin
- “How to Audition on Camera (A Hollywood Insider’s Guide)” by Sharon Bialy
- “Improvisation for the Theatre” by Viola Spolin
- “Actions: The Actor’s Thesaurus” by Marina Calderone
- “Playing to the Camera: Film Actors Discuss Their Craft,” edited by Bert Cardullo, Harry Geduld, Ronald Gottesman, and Leigh Woods
Practice Lines and Monologue
A monologue is a prolonged talk by a single actor, and you should always have one prepared in your back pocket. Luckily, with the internet, finding a monologue to suit you as an actor – and for specific roles – has never been easier. By using monologue databases like this one, find the perfect monologue in no time.
Practice in front of a Camera
If you want to act for the screen, set up your camera and tripod and record yourself performing a monologue or reading lines. Review the video and see where you went wrong in your delivery, expression, and movement. Have someone else look at it too, someone who is also an actor or involved in film. Listen to their notes. Take the criticism you received and practice until you’ve improved.
Learn Public Speaking
Nervousness can happen to all of us, and when you’re an actor, it’s especially hard. In pursuing a career in acting, you always have to put yourself out there. It can be hard for a lot of people, but if you really want to pursue acting, learn how to get over this anxiety by learning public speaking. I suggest visiting toastmaster.org.
Network and Talk With Other Actors. Practice together.
Never underestimate the power of Facebook groups. Just like how I am in screenwriting groups on Facebook so I can learn more about the craft, search on Facebook for fellow support groups and join them. Search on Meetup.com for different groups for acting and film; easier in a big city, but if you live in the country, find a local theater and talk to the actors and directors there.
Take Advantage of YouTube and other social media platforms
Issa Rae created her own web series Awkward Black Girl and from that signed a deal with HBO. Her television show Insecure has been nominated for various awards – and she started on the web. Don’t be afraid to put your content out on YouTube, Instagram, and other platforms. In the digital age, one cannot disregard YouTube and social media. These are platforms designed to help you.
Join a Local Theatre
This is where I got my start – kind of. Does high school stage crew count? If you’re in high school right now, take advantage of your school theatre. If you don’t get a role, volunteer in stage crew. For all aspiring actors, young and old, local theatre is a great place to start. Check it out and see what opportunities you can get from your community.
Take Acting Classes
Possibly offered at your local theatre or community college, take acting classes and join improv groups. There are also a variety of online acting classes available here.
Check Out These Acting Coaches and Teachers
Many acting coaches, teachers, and those knowledgeable about acting sometimes have the information they know available online. Here are some people to check out on YouTube:
John Dunsworth: Beginner’s Acting Class
Wendy Alane Wright: Free Acting Lesson
Heller Acting Studio: Introduction to Acting
Esther de Koning: Short Acting Course (TED Talk)
Matthew Gray: The ABC’s of Acting
Small Market Actor: His whole channel
Create Your Brand (if you want)
Though optional, you can create your brand as a person. And this counts for all filmmakers. Creating a personality for yourself on social media makes you more “known” to a stranger on social media. Take for instance you have a twitter; it features a picture of you that you took in a mirror, a cover photo you got off of Google Images, with impersonal tweets such as “Wow, what great weather!” Sounds uninteresting, right?
Your Twitter/Instagram/whatever should reflect YOU.
Have a profile picture that shows you as a person. Do you want to come off as artsy? Put up a picture of you that your photographer friend took with three different colors of lighting. What to come off as a professional? Your profile picture should be a headshot or something professional taken with a nice backdrop. The same goes for your cover photo: it should be uniquely you.
Your postings on social media should reflect your personality. Don’t be afraid to let your freak flag show. If you’re a comedian, your posts should be funny. If you want to be a serious actor, be insightful.
Look for Auditions
You can find auditions on the following platforms and through the following ways:
- Local theatres
- Find out which casting directors and companies are located in your area and subscribe to their email or social media feed
- Facebook groups (Casting directors will post in casting/directing groups on Facebook. These groups vary depending on location)
- Actors Access
- Casting Frontier
- Casting Networks Inc
- Craigslist (and be careful)
- Ask around to your filmmaker friends to see if they’ll cast you in their personal projects
And like everyone else pursuing a career in film; watch TV, movies, and theatre. You can learn a lot.