During interviews for the The Actor’s Career Bible, performers new to the industry or stuck in a rut would sometimes tell me they wanted to work harder on their careers. However, they were often unsure in which direction to focus their efforts.
Talking to experienced performers, career coaches, agents and casting teams it became clear that there are a several career building-blocks that any actor can work on. In this post, we’ll overview those building-blocks, that form a map of everything you can work on. You can improve your chances of success by making sure you understand each one and by identifying which might need some attention.
Based on industry experts’ advice, there are four main areas to work on:
Dealing with money and unemployment
1. THE BASICS - getting the simple stuff in order
Your selling points
Your ‘selling points’ are your various strengths as an actor; anything from your acting-related skills to your particular casting types.
What to work on:
Understanding your current strengths
Picking out areas you could improve
Making plans to improve what you already have and working on new selling points
Understanding the industry
Being able to quickly find industry-information is vital to almost all your promotional efforts.
Researching the industry; learning where to look and what to look out for
Organising the information you find so it’s easy to refer to and update. Many actors interviewed for The Actor’s Career Bible had created a simple spreadsheet mini-databases
Focusing in on your most realistic opportunities. Narrow down the huge number of agents and casting teams out there to give yourself the best chance of finding work
Photos, CV, showreels and email
Your photos, CV and showreel/s (your ‘marketing materials’) advertise your strengths to the industry. Meanwhile, there are a few simple things you can do to create professional-looking emails, guaranteeing you make a good impression whenever you contact the industry.
Creating your marketing materials
Making sure they’re easy for industry figures to view and use
Keeping them updated with your latest selling points
Finding the right time to upgrade
Smartening up your email
2. FINDING WORK - getting the attention of agents and casting teams
Casting sites include any online service that allows you to apply for work yourself.
Choosing casting sites that suit your career stage and budget
Using the sites effectively
“Direct contact” refers to any email or letter you send out to the industry.
Understanding the principles behind effective direct contact
Using direct contact to apply for jobs
Inviting industry to see your work
Staying in touch with current contacts and emailing potential new ones
Finding the right agent
As one leading career coach explains in The Actor’s Career Bible, finding the right agent is about ‘working out what you want realistically … and then looking for the person who is going to do that for you.’
Getting everything in place before making approaches
Creating an effective submission
Navigating agent meetings
Dealing with a ‘No’ at any point
Building the relationship with your agent
Maintaining a useful attitude
Making yourself easy to promote
Adopting the right level of self-marketing
Finding the right options for you
Building your online presence
Using online marketing for research and finding opportunities
Understanding the basics of networking
Using your network
3. AUDITIONING - making the most of opportunities
Many interviewees for The Actor’s Career Bible picked out preparing for auditions as the most important area an actor can try to improve on.
Preparing for auditions
Prioritising what to prepare
Improving each element of how you prepare
On the day
Using the hours before an audition
Avoiding common mistakes in the room
Keeping a level head afterwards
Picking out lessons to learn for next time
Experimenting with your set-up and becoming comfortable with each aspect of the process
Familiarising yourself with other self-taping options
4. UNEMPLOYMENT and MONEY - dealing with quiet periods
The aim is to make quiet periods bearable and productive; now and for the longer term.
Dealing with unemployment
Keeping yourself mentally buoyant
Staying afloat financially
Giving yourself the best chance of getting back into acting work
Tax and self-employment
Understanding the basics
Knowing what to do, when
Going through the list above, ask yourself which areas are most relevant to you right now? Within these areas, are there any points where you lack some understanding or confidence?
To begin addressing any problems, look out for future blogs, take advantage of the free work-sheets in the ‘Tools for actors’ section of this site, and for more tips and guidance, get your hands on a copy of the The Actor’s Career Bible.