Friday, November 2, 2007

Getting Into Acting

Now that you have honed your acting skills and enhanced your natural good looks by devotedly following a rigorous aerobic regime and weight training program, you are ready to pursue a career as an actor in the film business. Yet talent, schooling, experience, and good looks, while definitely an advantage, are by no means the only things helpful to getting into the "biz" (nor is their possession a guarantee of success).

Your desire to succeed, to see your dream of cinematic achievement and financial prosperity come to fruition is even more important.

To improve the possibility of your success, quitting is not an option for you. You must be unwavering in your resolve to hang tough through the rough times, determined to endure the rocky roads that lay ahead. The reality is that the odds against making it are extremely high.

Nevertheless, if you are an enterprising individual who's capable of dealing with this high-odds reality - who can focus on that proverbial carrot tied to the end of the stick with your blinders on tightly - then don't make your journey a futile undertaking by pursuing your goal faraway from where the action is.

To be considered for the major films with the juicy roles and staggering salaries, you have to think seriously about relocating to New York City or Los Angeles. These two metropolitan areas are the hubs of the movie industry.

Yes, more and more movies are being made outside of the Big Apple and Tinsel Town, by both independent filmmakers and large studios. It is to your advantage to keep an eye out for them in your community. Along with being a way to earn money - through working either as an extra or fulfilling some other capacity on the project - they are excellent places to see how movies are put together, make connections, acquire on-the-job training, and get exposure.

But before leaving home and the support of family and friends, make sure you have a plan of action as well as a sizeable sum of greenbacks, since just trying to make the cut in the acting game carries a steep price tag. For example, you will need money for food, new clothes, renting a place to live, auto repairs, filling the gas tank to get to distant studios when they call you in for an audition, dry cleaning, insurance, social outings, and hair care, to state but a small number of expenses.

When that day arrives where you finally find yourself on the streets of New York City or Los Angeles, keep in mind that your primary mission at this point in your career is to sell your best and sole product - you. Consequently, if you're the type who has difficulty trumpeting his or her own wares, you're going to be in trouble. Nobody is going to publicize you at this juncture but you. You're an unknown commodity. Nobody knows you or your work. For these reasons, you have to get over your inability to self-promote and learn to present yourself as the consummate professional you know you are.

Sculpt yourself in the way that corresponds with the demands of your prospective employers to strengthen your chances of gaining employment as an actor. Enroll in acting classes upon your arrival in the big city. Although you may have already taken some classes in your hometown, you're going to quickly discover that those classes don't cut much ice in New York or Hollywood. You must become knowledgeable about how things are done in your current surroundings.

Next, obtain one of the most valuable tools for breaking into the business - a headshot photograph. This photograph is important because it is your key to opening doors and bringing about one-to-one contacts with talent agents and casting directors.

To decrease the odds of your photographs winding up buried in a filing cabinet with hundreds of other photographs, or being immediately thrown out, hire the most competent photographer you can afford. In addition to the headshot photograph, you need some pictures for your "book." These pictures ought to show you in different attire and depicting a variety of moods. They should be black-and-white as well as color. The photographs must not be touched up in any way because talent agents and casting directors want to see what you really look like. (Yet both men and women can use makeup to bring out their eyes, cover up blemishes, hide pimples, and so on. If asked, the photographer will hire a makeup artist as well as a hair stylist to assist in making you look your best for the camera.) You should wear clothes that are comfortable and say something about you as well. For instance, if you're a jogger, have some pictures taken in your jogging outfit. The same holds true if your physical activity is tennis or skiing or inline skating.

Have 500 copies of your headshot photograph printed, then take about 50 of them and start making the rounds, knocking on the doors of talent agents and casting directors listed in the phone directory. Leave a black-and-white photograph, with a resume attached to the back of it, at the office of each person who sees your headshot photograph. On your resume record information about your height, weight, hair color, eye color, union membership status, previous accomplishments and contact information. If you don't own one, buy a cell phone, or an answering machine, or voice mail for your landline phone, or sign up with an answering service. Talent agents and casting directors are busy people, and they won't keep calling you back.

Don't be concerned if your resume isn't the embodiment of cosmic credentials in the acting profession. You're just launching your rocket into orbit, remember? So give yourself awhile to reach a stratospheric elevation. Then again, it probably would be wiser for you not to pilot that spaceship exclusively toward the dizzying altitude of celebrity status. A more practical aspiration is that of becoming a steadily working actor. If in the process you attain celebrity status and all the trappings that go along with it - great.

After a week or two, call each talent agent's secretary to remind her of who you are and to request an appointment. Be sure to conduct yourself in a businesslike manner. You might possibly impress her and merit favorable mention by her to her boss. In turn, he just might call you in quicker for an interview.

At any rate, when you do get an appointment, make certain that you put your best foot forward: dress appropriately, get there early, don't become impatient if you have to wait. And, when you meet the agent, smile, maintain eye contact, shake hands firmly, introduce yourself, and tell him that you want to be in movies.

During the course of the interview if the agent babbles on about charging you to sign on with his agency, or if he offers lessons of any sort, be suspicious of his ethical standards. A legitimate agent doesn't charge the actors he takes on as clients anything for his services. He operates on a commission basis, receiving his earnings after his actors have been paid. Though the majority of agents are honest and above reproach, and work hard on behalf of their clients, be careful when seeking one to manage your career. Don't be afraid to ask for references and credentials before putting your signature on an agent's contracts. Also, it is wise for you to work under a non-exclusive, short-term contract of about one to two years in duration to be sure your agent can perform his duties in an intelligent, skilled, and timely manner.

Once you've signed on with an agent, he'll eventually tell you that he's set up an audition for you for a part in a movie. Don't freak out! You should expect that you'll have to do a reading. Therefore, call the people auditioning you a day or two beforehand and get hold of a copy of the script. Then pore over it from front to back, memorizing it completely.

Nervousness oftentimes overcomes actors in a situation like this. Sweaty palms, tightness in the pit of the stomach and an accelerated heartbeat are not uncommon. But you should be aware that those evaluating you are not your enemies; they don't have you in front of them to make you suffer. As a rule, these folks are courteous and friendly, and they want to see you do well as much as you want to do well. More than likely, they have auditioned dozens of actors before you that they're uncertain about and genuinely hope you're the right one for the part.

Take heed, though, that in an effort to quiet your nerves you don't resort to getting sloshed with alcohol or high on drugs. Doing either of these things will hinder you from being the best actor you can be during the audition. Furthermore, nobody is going to risk millions of dollars, his reputation, and his future in the business on an alcoholic or drug addict.

Still, rejection is a certainty. And it is one of the most difficult things for a large number of individuals to handle. However, you are going to have to deal with your ego undergoing this kind of drubbing if you want to remain sane and survive in the biz. There is no simple way to control your hurt feelings over being rejected. They are real. But you have to get over it as quickly as possible and go back to knocking on doors.

Pay attention to a rejection, but don't let it deter you from going to auditions. A rejection usually represents the opinion of one person and means for some reason that person didn't think you were right for the part. If you ask, that person might tell you why you were turned down and give you constructive feedback you can use to correct your mistakes and revamp your strategy, as well as aid you in gaining a more in-depth understanding of your particular facet of the industry.

Lastly, you should be aware that even a proven, established actor is not exempt from rejection. No matter how handsome or talented he may be, he will be rejected more often than he'll be accepted. Alas, this is merely one of many dues you have to pay in your climb to the summit of the acting mountain in the business of filmmaking. Visit web site

As a nationally certified fitness instructor, La Rue conducted exercise and bodybuilding classes for the YMCA and other organizations. La Rue also was an instructor/trainer for the Michigan Heart Association, a board member of the Metropolitan Detroit Health Education Council, and a member of the YMCA Physical Education Committee. La Rue is a Detroit native with a BA in English from Wayne State University.

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