Friday 9 May 2014
A CV and Headshot on their own doesn't cut it anymore. Why? Well it doesn't really matter how talented or gifted an individual actor is, how much training they have had, or how much charisma or presence they have on screen, unless there is a means of physically demonstrating this to the right type of people - Agents, Casting Directors, Directors, Producers etc., then it will forever go unnoticed.
From a casting point of view, getting your foot in the door is the priority. When a Casting Director puts a casting brief out into the world, they will be inundated with hundreds of submissions from Agents and Actors, and quite possibly recommendations from other Casting Directors/Producers and Directors - for each and every role. So realistically, assuming they don't already know who you are, why should they consider you as a potential candidate based on a CV and Headshot alone.
Casting Directors are limited on how many actors they can physically audition in a given time frame (maybe 20/30 in a day), so that initial influx of 100's of potential candidates for each role has to get cut down somehow. Yes, you might get lucky and be plucked out of the bag because you have a specific look or skill that fits the role, but an actor needs more than blind luck to forge a career. They need talent and drive, coupled with the right promotional and marketing tools which can help eliminate relying on pure luck alone.
When a Casting Director is doing their prep work for setting up the audition process for whatever project they are working on, you can guarantee that 80/90% of the candidates who are actually successful in getting initial auditions have either: seen the Casting Director before; they have been personally recommended by other industry professionals; or the Casting Director has seen some form of showreel/body of work that convinced them to give that actor some of their precious time.
Showreels are not only instrumental in getting you an audition for the next big project, they are also a major factor in getting you an agent, and/or keeping them. If you are lucky enough to have a good agent and you want to keep them, then the chances are your agent will be saying - "When will we get a showreel?". Agents are in the business of investing time and effort on representing, managing and promoting actors. Remember, they don't get paid unless they get their clients work. In order for them to get their clients work, they need the right tools. Agents aren't going to go out and source or buy the tools for you, you have to give them the tools. If you don't give them all of the tools they need, and can maximise the use of, then they are essentially trying to race a horse with three legs and they will quickly get tired of flogging the preverbal dead horse.
So where do you start? If you have been lucky enough to secure some screen work then you can use existing material, if not then you should be considering creating a showreel from scratch.
1. Using Existing Material.
So you have done some student, no/low budget films, maybe had a couple of 1 day parts here and there - it is a start!
Casting Directors, Agents etc, don't want to watch epic 1 hour long showreels - they don't have the time. A good showreel should probably be no longer than 3 minutes or so. It should aim to be interesting, quick to grab and hold the attention, and give the important information that needs to be conveyed to the person who is watching it.
Don't make the mistake of including long montages of shots where you are doing meaningless things (ie: making a coffee, walking down the street etc.). It should contain the best clips you have available of you acting and reacting. It should be edited down so that it demonstrates your acting and reacting ability. Less can be more, so don't worry if when you time what material you actually have, and it only comes out at a minute long. 1 good minute will be worth more than 3 dull uninteresting minutes. You can always add to the showreel the more material you get.
If you can afford to pay a good editor to edit you material together, this can be money well spent. If not try to find some student editors who might be able to help.
2. Showreels From Scratch
So you don't have any real screen experience yet, but you still want/need a showreel. So why not get together with some other like minded actors and create one. Between you, devise or source some scenes that will best serve everyone's efforts.
If finance isn't a major issue, you could go to a company that specialises in producing showreels for actors. Alternatively try and build some links with people who could help for free - newly qualified cameramen, editors, directors etc.
After you film your scenes, the same rules apply as if you were creating your showreel from existing material. Keep it short, keep it interesting, keep it informative.
Remember you have to put in the effort if you want to see the rewards, don't rely on pure luck alone.
Monday 5 May 2014
What Is within your control...Firstly lets deal with what you do have direct control over. The materials that either you or your agent uses to promote you.
PhotographsDo your photographs look like you? Do they do you justice? This sounds like an obvious observation, but so many actors make the mistake of getting a makeover before getting their first set of photographs done. Or they "Want to look different, and stand out from the crowd". The reality is that your photographs need to look like you. Think about how you are going to turn up to an audition at 9 O'clock on a Monday morning. Are you going to get that same makeover done beforehand? Or make an effort to look significantly different from the crowd? Probably not. Your going to be too busy reading through your audition script, running for a bus or a train, trying to stay calm and not sweat too much. Your photographs need to be a good representation of who is going to turn up for that audition. Too many times to mention have I received photographs from actors, and on meeting them thinking "who are you kidding"? Keep them simple, keep them current and keep them looking like you.
CV'sAnother simple observation that often beggars belief. Keep your CV up to date. That doesn't mean update it every couple of months just to keep on top of it. Update it every time you you have something, no matter how insignificant you think it is, to update. Now the important bit is to not only update the version sitting on your laptop or PC, update all the public copies of your CV. Make the effort, this includes updating your agents copy, as well as promotional and media based websites that you may use. Think of the bits of information on your CV as nuggets of gold, just one of them might be the nugget that buys your way into that next audition.
Show ReelsWe live in the information age, and our lives have officially been taken over by the digital revolution. So why do I still meet so many actors that don't have a show reel. It doesn't have to cost a fortune to edit together a basic show reel. It doesn't have to cost anything if you are willing to do a little but of learning. Most PC's come with Windows Movie Maker as standard and it has a relatively simple learning curve for editing together a basic show reel. If you don't have enough material from a professionally shot film or television, get together with some like minded actors, borrow a decent camera and shoot some scenes. The point of your show reel is to convey the message "I am a good actor". If you can create some scenes where the audience, IE the casting director/director/producer can see that, then the objective has been achieved. We are moving into the an area where the concept of "self-taping" for specific castings is becoming more prevalent, so why not take the time and self tape your show reel if you don't have enough experience. One final thing that I have came across with numerous actors over the years. Don't be too precious about your show reel. We want to see you act from the start. We don't want to see a series of clips of you walking, running, smiling and looking angry. We want to see you acting and reacting. If you are unsure what material to use and you have an agent - ask them for advice, and take their advice. These are all simple, common sense steps that might just help you get foot in the door of the next audition. But what if you still don't get an audition? What then?
What is not in your control...Even if you do all the right things, sometimes there are considerations outwith your control that will prevent you from getting that audition or securing that part. You're too tall, you're too old, you're too thin, you've the wrong colour of hair. There are numerous factors that industry professionals have to take into account when casting - it isn't always purely based on the talent factor. It is about finding the best talent who best fit the part.Often during the casting process the brief for your part may change as other parts are cast around your character. Are you going to be part of a family - do the casting team need to find a family resemblance?, Do you look too much like any of the other actors that have been cast in other roles. None of these factors are within your control, so don't take the result to heart.If you get an audition, then the point of that audition is to show the casting team what you can do. Do a good job, be the best you can be, and they will remember that. If you happen to get the role you are auditioning for - then that is the bonus.Don't pin all your hopes and dreams on one job, or one big payday. Try and enjoy the journey of just being an actor - that is the prize.
Sunday 4 May 2014
Every actor wants to know the secret to getting the very best head-shot. What type of head-shot is going to get them more auditions, more work? Which photographer should they go to? What should they wear? How should they look? So here are some tips for getting the best head-shots.
Choosing a photographer is something that too many actors overlook. It has to be someone who you feel comfortable with. Someone who you feel you can relax with. After all you are about to spend the best part of £200 for photographs that are you going to use as one of your principle marketing tools. Too many actors choose their photographer because their friend went to that one, or because that photographer is the "must have" option. The truth is, if your friend went to that photographer, they might've been the right photographer for them, but not necessarily for you. If most of the actors your know are going to a specific photographer in the city, it is probably because that photographer has marketed themselves accordingly for their business and secured themselves a regular income from actors queuing up at their door - that doesn't mean they are still the best photographer for you.
Spend some time collating the contact details of various photographers. Call them up, and make an appointment to meet them - not to get your head-shots done, just to discuss the possibilities of getting head-shots done. Look through their portfolios, talk to them, ask them how they see you and what type of photographs they would suggest. Gauge how you feel in their company. Do they make you feel relaxed? Did you manage to have a laugh with them? Did they get you, how you see you? Choose your photographer accordingly.