Here are three first steps to begin your acting career.
There are many personal qualities you need to be a successful actor in Hollywood. First you must be good looking, meaning that you look good on film. In a word you must be photogenic. But let’s say that you already figured out that you photograph well enough to be on the screen. The next personal quality you need to have is talent.
Well there is just one way to find out if you have acting talent and that is to act and see what people think. You need to land a few beginning roles and start performing in front of the camera. So get ready to start auditioning for parts in movies.
1. Sign up for Acting Classes
Part of acting talent is the natural talent that you are born with. But acting is also a skill set that needs to be developed and practiced. So your first step is to find a school and sign up for acting classes to begin developing your acting chops. Professional acting classes can run into a bit of money, but this is career training so you have to expect to make an investment. The are many different acting methods and theories. For beginning classes it probably doesn’t matter which method or technique you start out with.
Here is a tip: an inexpensive place to find beginning acting classes is the local community college. Here in Orange County you can take a whole semester of classes at Orange Coast College for just 20 dollars per credit. In L.A., look into Santa Monica College. This is a low cost way to discover if you really want to act and if you are any good.
2. Get Headshots
Headshots are the currency of the talent industry. In a business where it matters how you look, well, you have to show them how you look. Get professional headshots but don’t spend a whole lot because you will get new headshots at least every year. Later on you can spend $500 or more with a top Hollywood headshot photogapher. For now, find a good photographer who will shoot you for $150 not including prints. If you have a good relationship with a photographer try to sweet talk him into doing it as a trade.
Traditionally a headshot was a Black & White 8×10 glossy print. Nowadays it is just as likely to be a JPEG image file sent by e-mail. Your photographer should give you the negatives or CD so you can find the best printing deal yourself.
3. Send Out Headshots and Resume
Once you being taking acting classes, start applying for roles in small films. These will be no-budget short films with no pay. The filmmakers may be students and are as green as you. The film is probably shot on DV (Digital Video) or maybe HDV (High-Definition Digital Vide0). You and everyone else are donating their time to gain experience and have something for your resume.
Send your headshot and acting resume and if the producers like you they’ll call you in for an audition. Once upon a time sending out 50 B&W headshots every week would cost a small fortune. Nowadays submit your headshot over the Internet for free.
At this point don’t even think about agents or managers. You can’t get a decent agent until you are marketable. At this point in your development no decent agent will meet you anyway so don’t waste your time. And watch out for scam artists who want you to sign a contract. You have to be solely in charge of your own career at this point.
Here is some good news. You can do these three things without moving to Los Angeles. Years ago the only places where movies were made was Los Angeles and New York. Nowadays filmmakers can be found in every major and minor city in all fifty states. So start out in your hometown. If you stink up the joint in Poughkeepsie, you’re not going to smell any better in L.A.