Whether you’re a newer actor with a dream to make it on screen (big or small), or a stage actor itching to transition to on-camera work, there are certain things you need to know that apply specifically to this facet of the craft. Below, check out a few must-know tips from Backstage Experts that you’ll want to get down before the next time you hear “Action!”
Know your nonverbal skills.
In the movie A League of Their Own Tom Hanks says, “If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it.” He was speaking of becoming a professional baseball player, but his words also apply to becoming an actor. It may not be easy, but there are proven pathways that any aspiring actor can take to further their dream.
Study the Craft
A person wouldn’t perform surgery without going to medical school, so why would a person perform on film or on stage without going to acting school? Studying the craft of acting is the best way to establish a foundation. Acting Schools teach techniques and provide resources in a structured curriculum that helps beginners learn the acting ropes. Most accomplished actors have at least some formal training from an acting school.
If you aren’t able to enroll full-time in an acting school, consider attending acting workshops and classes that are offered locally. You will have the chance to learn about acting and the entertainment industry while networking with other artists.
Additionally, actors can study on their own time by reading acting books and plays to increase their knowledge. Also, watching movies with an analytical eye is a great way to learn about film acting.
Audition, Audition, Audition
If training is practice, then auditioning is the actor’s game. After you have a solid base of skills and a monologue or two memorized, it is time to begin seeking out acting roles. Student films and community theatre are excellent places for beginning actors to audition. Another advantage of attending an acting school is that they offer auditioning opportunities for their students in films and plays.
Auditioning for roles is a skill in itself, and the best way to develop your auditioning skills is by auditioning. As you progress up the audition ladder, auditions will become more demanding and experience in the audition room will serve you well.
Build Your Resume and Take Some Headshots
Once you have landed a few acting roles, put together a resume that you can bring to future auditions. An acting resume is a quick way to show casting directors that you are an experienced actor. Have a digital copy for e-mail submissions and updated hard copies on you at all times.
Good headshots are perhaps the most important component of a good resume. Headshots make the first impression on casting and should communicate type, personality, and emotion.
Believe it or not, you can start auditioning without a headshot and resume. Have a friend with a nice camera snap a few photos and use them to show casting directors until you are able to have professional portraits taken.
Get an Agent When You Are Ready
When the time is right, and you have accumulated enough experience, you can begin to research talent agencies in your area. Talk to your friends and other actors about their agents and decide which agency is the best fit for you.
Having an agent is a nice luxury, but for a beginner it is more important to focus energy on improving as an actor. Even so, it is helpful to have the future in mind while building your acting career, and searching for an agent is an inevitable step for a professional actor.
Practice Daily to Stay Sharp
Unemployment is a part of life as a working actor, but dry spells between jobs are no excuse to let acting skills go dull. Classes and workshops make excellent practice grounds for actors. Also, involvement in stage productions or on film sets, even if you aren’t acting, is a chance to improve by learning from others.
Actors can practice their craft independently with voice exercises, script analysis, and monologue practice. Any activity related to performance, such as singing and practicing impressions, are other fun ways to practice your skills.
Actors are small business owners and need to market their services to continue working. Social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter provide exposure to a wide audience. Creating your own actor web site is a great way to advertise your skills and also acts as a reference for casting directors. Finally, video sites like YouTube and Vimeo are excellent self-marketing opportunities to display your acting reels and past projects.
There are no rules to follow if you want to become an actor, but the steps above make a loose guideline. Most importantly, actors are doers who understand the challenge and rise to meet it. In A League of Their Own, Tom Hanks makes another great point about becoming an actor when he says, “It’s supposed to be hard…the hard is what makes it great.