Sunday, March 15, 2015

Getting Started as an Actor

Getting Started
    The best way to get started is to just jump in and do it.
    Pick up scripts or even books and read them out-loud. Have fun with them. Start to experiment and be sure to start to look up instead of keeping your eyes on the paper.
    Get together with friends or family and play, just play and have fun!
    Make the commitment to read this blog, to take notes and to put into practice the concepts or ideas you come up with while reading this book and which seem appropriate for you.
    Use the computer suggested links, look up the books referenced, watch the movies suggested and create your own goals and timetable, as suggested later. Read the interviews, then start making phone calls and do your own interviewing, and networking in the process.
    Make a commitment to read books, the trades and whatever you can get your hands on that involves the craft, not jut fan-based entertainment material.
    Start taking lessons or working in theater, because there can be no substitute to practice, to actually working at your craft.
    Acting is a business and you are your own corporation. Nothing happens unless you make it happen. The old story of being in the right place at the right time only works if the person in that place is ready to grab the brass ring when it appears and hang on to it!

For additional tips and information, click on "read more" below.

Daily Diary
    Grab a notebook and a pen, or pull up a laptop or smart phone, and start now. Begin recording your thoughts, goals and ideas in a personal actors diary. I know it sounds corny, but it really works.
   Talent diaries serve several purposes, all of them key to success.
   First of all they can be day schedule books (At-A-Glance, DayTimer, or other brand names work well for this purpose). Actors need to be on top of both appointments and when they are available for auditions or work. You must maintain and organize those business cards, contact names and numbers and the fine details of any networking businessperson involved in sales. You are in sales and the product is you.
    Second, when you do audition, as talent you should write in the diary exactly what you are wearing, how you did your hair and any details on how you came to the interpretation of the material they read. When they call you back, you need to consider the same or similar clothing, hair and make-up style and a similar interpretation (unless directed otherwise).
    Third, a diary or calendar book can be used as a motivational tool. It can be used to track progress and keep on top of professional and personal growth related to the industry by writing a daily diary. The diary should be detailed and include future goals or ideas on how to improve or marketing actions that may be needed to increase career success.
   The following is one suggested method provided by the on-line service The Actors Site, a private subscription Los Angeles based networking organization that does provide a free newsletter and a source for leads.  I have paraphrased this a bit, but most of it is a direct quote from the site:
    “Sit down and write about your assets. Write about your talent, your ambition, your hard work, the new relationships you are generating, the new friends you are making, and the new creative progress you are making. Write all of the things that make you, you. Then sit and write down your frustrations and the impasses you've encountered and how you intend to deal with them in the future.”
     In other words, use the diary/calendar tool to record the practical and the emotional, the right and left-brain of your experiences. As talent, we have to guard against becoming too much business and not enough observant artist.


   Make a list of places to begin to seek information, meet people and build a career foundation. Be sure to include friends, make new friends, interview those who are in a position to know the answers or to help you in your career, ask for advice and share some of your personal experiences with others who are in a position to help or to provide an ear of a shoulder. But be careful not to be too vulnerable, as a casting director or an agent can smell a car payment a mile away!
   By networking you will benefit from the mistakes and successes of others, their trials and errors, their experiences and their own extended networks. Networking can solve problems, relieve frustrations and assist all those involved in the pursuit of their careers and interests. It can be done on the net with e-mail or a web site generated bulletin board. It can be done in person one on one, in small groups, before or during class, at school or work.
    To learn more about the skill of networking, read one of the many self-help books for business professionals and sales people. The advice, and some of the systems suggested, are universal and can be applied to our profession of acting.


     Nothing substitutes for the boards and life upon the stage.
     There are techniques for film, video and various formats. These techniques are tools that build upon the craft and art of traditional theater. Most casting professionals feel or know that actors need theater to develop their talents. In addition to classes, networking, and registering with agents, starting or continuing stage acting is often an important element in building a career and developing a passion for acting. 
      The public is often unaware that many successful movie and television stars began their career on the stage, often beginning in high school or college. The list is quite lengthy, but some examples include Jerry Orbach of Law and Order, who had a long career as a Broadway musical star, Brendan Fraser (The Mummy, Gods and Monsters) started in high school theater and received an MFA in Seattle, Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex and the City) began her career as a child stage actress (including the third Annie on Broadway).
    Actors often find that the stage gives them a level of fulfillment and excitement that film or television doesn’t because of the feedback from the audience and bonds developed with fellow actors. You also get opportunities to do roles or use talents (singing, dancing) that Hollywood may not cast you in. If you take roles in school. community or professional Equity  theater, then you may gain the confidence, determination and love for the career of acting long before you take steps toward a television or film career. (In Los Angles, New York, and Chicago agents may scout for actors by going to plays). Stage acting requires different acting techniques than film or television (as film and television may be different depending if it’s drama or sitcom) but it also provides the basic skills and helps actors learn to understand and develop real characters in an imaginary world. The skills of stage acting are vital to long-term success as an actor in any media. But whether it is stage or film acting, as an actor it is your job to make a character come alive and help tell a story. It can also keep a career (and income going) during periods when the auditions and roles run dry. In any event, this is a commonly used route on the road to Hollywood, so it is worth taking into consideration.


Focus on the Brass Ring

   No matter what your long and short-term goals, be aware that to succeed you need to focus on quality and the national nature of the competition. Do not assume that only Las Vegas actors, particularly the few who may happen to have the same call time for an audition or attend the same acting class, are your competition for work. This is a national and increasingly international work market, where producers and directors interview in multiple cities and have data banks or actors they can call on, particularly to come work on projects filming in resort cities like Las Vegas, Reno or Lake Tahoe. They are your immediate competition. These “working actors” represent the level of talent, craftsmanship, achievement and business skills you need to aspire to and exceed.
    A few suggestions before you go any farther.
    Read multiple views or opinions, then use what works best for you. Read the trades and pay attention to the art form by watching television, going to see movies and enjoying the theater. Watch people on the bus, at work, at school, at the mall, in church, as they live their lives. Observe carefully and learn from what you see. Take a personal inventory of your own character, life events, experiences, emotions and observations. Interview and take inventories on others willing to help you. Become a student of life and the human condition, and then translate it into your work.
    Learn, practice and apply the basics of the craft, including cold reading, scene scoring or breakdown, improvisation, movement, voice, speech and various performance techniques.
    When you consider a new acting class or coach, first see if you can audit once for free. As you audit, watch the students. No matter whom the teacher is or how good they are, you will need to find a class where you can work with, learn from and network with your fellow students. For that reason make sure that at least some of them are at the same or more advanced level of training and skills as you are. You learn from working with people who have something to offer you.
    Make a decision, do the research, make a commitment and than do what you must to do what you know you would love doing for a living, acting!

-Art Lynch
(702) 682-0469

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