If you have followed my blogs over the years you’ll notice that in the beginning of the year I like to discuss the business of being an actor.
Each year I like to give different views and exercises that you can look at to help with goal planning and accountability.
I’ve been asked by a number of people to repeat this particular information, so here it is again. It’s been a few years since I posted this, so if you’re looking at this for the first time, see where you fit in. If you remember this, see how you improved, have you moved forward in your career?
DIFFERENT LEVELS OF ACTORS IN LOS ANGELES
Since there is no curriculum, or set pattern to make a career in this business, many actors feel helpless, frustrated, lost, and waste time and money trying to make the right decisions. Here is a guide. Monitor yourself, see where you are and how you’re doing. It’s only a guide. Review yourself; check your strategies and goals; and use it as a barometer. Add and subtract according to your own situation, needs, and desires. At the end add your ideas or what you may have or are doing.
Beginning Actor (one year):
- Takes an acting class on acting craft and the process (at least once a week – the more the better, if you have the time and can afford it; it’s a good investment and will pay off in the long run).
- Reads one play a week.
- Sees 1 to 2 plays a month.
- Sees 3 to 4 movies a month.
- Reads the trades – Backstage, Variety, blogs, etc.
- Volunteers or works in a theater (box office, lights, stage manager, etc). The purpose is to be around actors, see them work, observe, and learn as much as possible about theater. (Remember this – stage is an actors medium, film is a directors medium, and TV a writers medium. Take advantage of the creative freedom that theater offers.)
- Reads books on creativity and Self, such as “The Artist Way” by Julia Cameron, “The Road Less Traveled,” by Scott Peck, “The Creative Habit” by Twyla Tharp, and others. Learn to know and improve yourself.
- Reads acting books by well known teachers and techniques, such as “Respect for Acting,” “The Meisner Technique,” “The Method,” Harold Clurman, and biographies on their favorite actors, etc..
- Does something outside of acting to supplement working on their instrument: yoga, voice class, dance, Martial Arts, singing, stand-up comedy, etc.Keeps a journal to reflect on them self. Has some form of spiritual practice, prayer, meditation, religion, etc.Works on sets as an extra or small part to gain experience and feel what being on a set it like, personally and professionally.Web series can be good opportunities to get experience, tape, and make contacts. Get on one.
Intermediate Actor: (2-3 years)
- Takes a class at least once a week.
- Has two monologues prepared.
- Has 6 -12 scenes that have been completed.
- Involved in a theater situation where there are audition possibilities, play readings, and productions.
- Has a good headshot.
- Is building a resume of experience. Plays, student films, videos, non-union projects, web series, or works with friends on camera.
- Reads the trades, signs up and has a working knowledge of casting services. Makes a practice of submitting for anything and everything.
- Auditions as much as possible for parts they are right for, understudies, gets on stage as much as possible.
- Has or is seeking an agent or manager.
- Has taken a commercial workshop and has (or is seeking) a commercial agent, and auditions for commercials.
- Reads at least 2 plays per month.
- Sees at least 1 play per month.
- Sees 3-4 movies per month.
- Works on ways to get tape on themselves, either by a project already worked on or self-produced.
- Networks in showcases, theater, scene nights, play readings, and projects that can “put them out there” to be seen and gain experience.
- Web series can be good opportunities to get experience, tape, and make contacts. Has done at least one with a substantial role..
- Works on getting featured and co-starring roles in television and film.
- Is working on or has gotten in the unions, SAG, and maybe EQUITY.
- Has a good resume for gaining work and representation.
Advanced Actor (5 years +)
- Has a great headshot and solid resume.
- Takes a class and/or is working on a job.
- Performs in 2 – 3 plays a year
- Has several current and good TV credits.
- Has been in several films (union or non-union).
- Has an excellent tape and footage on themself.
- Has a good relationship with their agent and/or manager, and communicates on a weekly basis.
- Participates in a theater where they can audition, perform, do play readings, showcases, scene nights and “work out.”
- Has a database of casting directors that they know, auditioned for, or worked for, and stays in touch on a regular basis (post cards, notes, stop-ins, Facebook, etc.).
- Knows every prime time show and who casts them. Knows every show they are “right for” and gets seen by those shows’ casting directors.
- Has several projects they are working on on the side (screenplay, play, putting together projects for themselves, pitching ideas, etc.).
- At the flip of an email can connect to anyone in the world with their picture resume, and representation of their work.
- When they meet someone, that person could already have an idea of who this person is, either by having seen them in something or can go to their site and research them.
- Has their own website where there is video, photos, and media on them. A place where directors, agents, and casting directors and find more about them.
- Understands their “Brand,” what they have to sell.
Some people are carving their own way and aren’t interested in conventional routes.
- Writer, producer, actor. Works on their own project, not interested or passionate about an agent, and the general route of auditioning for parts in TV, film and theater. Wants to do “their own thing.”
- Starts a production company and does their own projects.
- Buys a camera and makes their own film or documentary.
- Runs or is active in a theater company and expresses their art there.
- Belongs to a cooperative and creates with these people – theater, film, etc.
- Crosses over from another aspect of the business – makes contacts and “gets in” that way. (ex., stand up comedians, dancers, musicians, stunt men, writer/actor, improv troupe, director/actor, producer/actor, works at casting office, works at a production company, friend or family member is in the business and hires them.)
- Writes a one-person show or a script to showcase themselves – film, theater, series idea, etc.
- These people may never pursue an agent or have to audition.
Where do you fit in here? Use this a guide. There are many more items in each category, like having a coach, a team, etc. For now, this is an overview. The length of time it takes you is not as important as making sure you’ve hit all the levels. This gives you another opportunity to do a self evaluation, and maybe a chance to fill in the gaps.
All the best to you on your creative journey. Happy 2020!