Learn How To Become A Film And Television Actor Or Actress
The best resource on the web for free acting tips, articles and resources for the aspiring actor or actress
This site is here to give aspiring actors and actresses somewhere to go to learn what it really takes to work in film and television.
I say "really" learn, because there is a lot of bad information out there about working in the acting business. If you really want to work in this business, then take some time and read through the free acting tips and articles that I provide here. I'm confident that you'll soon realize that the information here is the real deal.
The reason the information here is different is because, unlike almost all of the writers and "gurus" out there, I've actually worked in the film and television industry professionally. I've been working steadily in this business for almost 20 years now. Everything I write about on this site and in my books is based on real life experience working on actual studio films and network televsion shows. In other words when you hire writer for essay about a movie, s/he doesn't even have a drop of my experience.
I've also studied acting and graduated from the two year professional acting program at the Sanford Meisner Center in Los Angeles. I know from personal experience how and why actors get cast, what they have to do on set, when they have to do it and why.
So, please, don't get scammed by some con artist running a "modeling and talent" agency where they want you to sign up for some crazy expensive classes. Most of the information here is free, the books I sell are inexpensive and I guarantee that you will not find a better source of real world information about working as a professional actor or actress anywhere.
|"Real world acting tips and advice from someone who actually works in the film industry."|
In both working behind the camera and studying to be in front of the camera, I started to realize that there was a major gap between what got taught at the acting schools and what is needed on a film or television soundstage. Most people that I've seen get started in acting end up spending tons of money on headshots, marketing materials, casting workshops and all kinds of crap when they don't even have a realistic chance of getting a job.
I'm here to change that.
I saw quite clearly that just about everyone that was learning about acting in this town was learning the creative aspect and that very few people knew or were even aware of what the technical requirements of the job are.
The Missing Link(s)
What I have observed of the vast majority of actors around town is that they don't realize:
1- What is expected of them during an audition.
2- What is expected of them on a professional film or television soundstage.
3- What specific skills they need to do the JOB of acting correctly.
4- What the CREW needs from the actor to be an efficient member of the production team.
5- What success as an actor requires and more importantly why those requirements are there.
The worst part is that most (read ALL) of them ASSUME that they know the above, which is the part that bugs me the most. I really hate seeing the disillusionment and the hurt that inevitably befalls these young actors and actresses as they trudge along out there. Bouncing from class to class in the vain hope that the NEXT guru will give them the magical key to unlock the mystery of Hollywood, when the reality is that the guru doesn't have the foggiest idea either.
I mean, if they did, they would be out booking acting WORK, right? It doesn't take a genius to figure out that working as an actor would generally pay better than teaching it. So, why aren't they working instead of teaching?
Well, it IS a tough business and no, the jobs aren't exactly falling off trees. But, observable reality says that people DO book work in this town. Repeatedly. People make whole careers out of it and sometimes very lucrative ones to boot.
So, how does that happen? The more important question you should ask yourself before you shell out another few hundred (or thousand) bucks on yet another acting guru's class or seminar or lecture or book even is "why aren't THEY making careers out of THEIR work?" The simple truth is, because they either can't or didn't and they probably don't have the slighest idea why.
|"...Hollywood NEEDS fresh faces, but once you're no longer 'fresh', the work dries up...it's the dreaded 'Second Year Curse'..."|
Technical vs. Creative Acting
There are indeed two sides to this business of acting. The first and most easily identifiable aspect is the creative. It's what we see on the stage and on the screen (big or small) all the time. It's the ACTING, the emotional rendition of a writer's work in line with a director's vision.
It's the part that makes us laugh and cry and all that great stuff that makes it so attractive to watch. This is the principal realm of the acting school / coach / teacher / guru. And for the most part, those schools and coaches and teachers and gurus are pretty good at teaching the emotional aspects of acting. Well, some better than others, as you've probably discovered by now.
Some of these guys are just unbelievable jackasses though...shocking really.
At any rate, then there's the OTHER side. The side that no one sees, save for the people who are working on set. Unfortunately for you and most of the other people that want to get into acting for film and television, this is the important stuff. That TECHNICAL side is the one where the ENTERTAINMENT meets the BUSINESS and it is the biggest guiding force in this industry.
Some people refer to that force as "COSTS".
All those things about acting and actors that I listed above stand for one thing in the real world of film and television production...
Time and Money
It's just that simple. What an actor does or does not do on a set and the manner in which they do it can have either of two effects. It's either going to cost the production MORE money. Or, it's going to SAVE the production money.
Which actor do you think the production company wants to hire?
If you as an actor or actress don't know what to do on set or what skills you need or what the crew needs from you, you are going to cost more money. Period. It takes time to explain to you what to do. It takes time when you don't do it right even when it's been explained to you. That lack of knowledge about the JOB of acting slows the filmmaking process down.
Slowing down the filmmaking process WILL prevent you from getting HIRED. Even if you DO book a gig, that lack of knowledge WILL prevent you from being RE-HIRED in the future.
It's really unfortunate too, because I see so many really dedicated people struggle and claw their way into an acting job and then show up on set with nothing more that a vague THEORY as to what they should be doing. Even worse, because filmmaking is so expensive ($700.00 PER MINUTE) no one has TIME to help these young actors out.
They simply work around them and the actor or actress is never the wiser. But, those "work-arounds" take extra time and money to accomodate and that extra time and money is the real career killer. A lot of times you'll hear a new actor say "My first year out here, I was booking work left and right, now I can't even get arrested."
The Second Year Curse
If you haven't heard of it, it goes something like this: A young actress moves to Hollywood to start her acting career. She takes some classes, gets an agent and books a role on a TV show. Then she books another small part and another and another. Maybe a dry spell here or there, but first year out of the gate and she ends up booking a good dozen or so roles on primetime television or a couple of features.
She might even call home to tell Mom and Dad that she's 'on her way to the big time'...and then the next season...nothing.
So, it goes on this way for the next four or five years. Perhaps she picks up a role here or there, maybe gets a commercial, but for the most part nothing. This is where that cliche of waiting tables starts to get rolling...you gotta' eat, right? But, the three or four or five years of that struggle and the frustration starts to set in. And, one day they've had enough, they pack up their things and move back home.
So, what happened?
Most people immediately blame the entertainment industry as a whole. "Hollywood doesn't know good talent" or "It's all who you know" or "It's all who you sleep with" or some variation on that theme. And for the most part they're all wrong.
The simple fact of the matter is MONEY.
Our young actress stumbled into a couple of monetary realities in the acting business. First, Hollywood needs "fresh faces". As in, they can't have the same 20 or 30 people play "waiter" or "girlfriend" or "police officer #2" over and over again. People will start to recognize them and that ruins the illusion.
Second (and WAY more importantly) they need people that know how to do the job really well. At $700.00 per minute, they don't have the time to "train" people how to do the job. They NEED you to know how to do the job right, or they can't financially justify using you in any meaningful capacity.
So, when you're no longer a "fresh face", but you don't have enough job skills to work quickly and efficiently, you stop working. Plain and Simple.
The Money Men (or Women)
People that budget for films and television shows are experts at what they do. They strive to account for every expense right down to the pencils! If it takes you three takes to "geti it right" when a pro can do it in one, how much do you think that's going to cost over the course of a film shoot?
Figure on a feature film, you are going to do THOUSANDS of takes over the course of the shoot and if each take takes just two minutes...well, your two or three "extra" takes is going to cost the shoot HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS.
|"...Most people blame the entertainment industry...'it's all who you know' or, 'it's all who you sleep with', but the TRUTH is much simpler...it's all about MONEY..."|
The problem is that one need's experience under the specific environment of film and television acting to learn how to do the job. This is the same for any job really, whether it's a mechanic, a cook or a bartender. Just because one can mix a drink, that doesn't necessarily mean that you could work a crowded bar. As such, just because you can ACT, that doesn't necessarily mean that you can work on a professional set either.
There's the "Catch-22" as it were. Much like getting a credit card, the more credit you have, the easier it is to get a credit card. Same for acting, the more CREDITS you have, the easier it is to get more CREDITS (work).
So, how do you get those credits? Time is the easy answer. But, to use the credit card example, imagine if when you got your first credit card you charged it all the way up and made late payments all the time.
Then, when you finally got your credit fixed up enough, you did the same thing with your NEXT credit card.
And then the next one.
How long do you think it will take to build up GOOD credit that way?
I'd say it would probably take you at least ten years, if ever. And, as far as acting goes, that's precisely what happens in the "second year curse" example. Our actress had the opportunity to prove herself, but she just didn't know HOW.
But, imagine that when you got your first credit card, you used it responsibly, made your payments on time and did everything just right. And then did that with your next credit card and the next one and so on. How much faster is your credit rating going to go up then?
Two or three years and you could probably buy a house with just your signature. THAT should be your goal for your acting career as well. If on your small gigs, you know how to do the job well, they'll give you bigger gigs. Do well on those and you get bigger and better ones. That's how it works, pretty simple, no?
The truth is it's hard to find a "good" actor or actress that KNOWS how to do the job of professional acting really well. So, how do you learn the job?
Learning the "Ropes" of Acting
For the most part, actors learn the job of acting for film and television by trial and error. This is why it takes an average of TEN YEARS to get enough experience under your belt to reliably do the job well. If you think I'm exaggerating, just look up your favorite actor on IMDB.com and check out their resumes. You'll be surprised how many of them started acting either when they were really young or after they struggled for a long time.
Worst of it, acting schools don't teach this stuff, because most of them simply don't know. Same is true for MOST books, which is precisely why you will find so many "getting started" or "survival guides". Those authors simply don't know either. Remember, it takes SPECIFIC experience to know how to do ANY job, not just acting jobs and if they don't have the experience, they certainly can't pass it on to you.
For any price.
Hopefully, this is where this site will help you. I wrote Acting For Film And Television specifically to address that huge grey area that isn't covered (as best as I can tell) anywhere else. It's all about how to do the job of the film and television actor. And, I wrote it because I LIKE actors and I want to see them succeed.
I sincerely hope that you will at least read the free preview. Once you do, I'm quite certain that you will see that it's nothing like anything else out there. And, it's great information that I'm happy to share with you as well. I love to hear about actors and actresses succeeding in ths rough and tumble business and if I can help them along their way, then all the better.
While you're here, feel free to browse around and check out the articles and links I've provided. There's some good stuff here that will hopefully be of some help to you and your career. And, please feel free to e-mail me with any thoughts, questions or concerns. I actually answer them.
Best of Luck out there and remember, you can't fail if you don't quit.