I got a request to do more blogs about my work on TV, specifically from my time on Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Intellectually I thought this would be a really good idea, but when I actually sat down to write about it I had a really hard time getting anything on paper. I think this is mostly because I don’t know where to start or really what to talk about. I could bring up fun stories about being on set, the actual process of being a supporting guy on a network show, what it’s like being in your early twenties and not sure what to make of some really rapid success or all of the above but the line between “interesting” and “self-indulgent” seems pretty thin and I want to be very careful not to cross it.
So today, as I try to keep up my pace with daily blog updates, I thought I’d offer some free advice to the young actors that are out there who really want to have a career but don’t know what to do about it. What I’m going to talk about are some pretty basic things that you might already know about and also some insights from what I have seen recently in the world of show business.
Who is this blog written for: the young actor or actress who is 11 years old or older who knows that this is what s/he want to do and has family support or a babysitting job to be able to fund some of the costs of doing business. For kids that are younger the business is a bit different and the expectations of that age is pretty different. These are some of the proactive things that an actor can do to start getting work and make a name for themselves.
- Watch TV & Movies. I always laugh when I here people call themselves “intellectual” and their proof is that they don’t watch television. You’re not an intellectual, you’re a prick. If you want to work in television and film you better know what is getting made on television and film. You will find it very difficult to audition as “an Archie Bunker type” if you have no idea who “Archie Bunker” is. Especially with the growth of children’s television, if you don’t know how an episode of Hannah Montana typically goes you might not get some of the nuances of the audition material. You don’t want to go to a doctor who hasn’t seen other patients and no one wants to hire an actor who doesn’t a show. Know your media – its your job!
- You Need Headshots. There are certain costs of doing business when you decide you’re going to be an actor and headshots are one of them. These are the pictures that you, your agent, your manager, whomever gets you work uses to send to casting directors and are the first cut when you try to get a job. Your headshot should look like you. It sounds ridiculous right, why wouldn’t your headshot look like you? You’d be AMAZED at what some people’s shots look like! I have cast a few things myself and hate it when I see a picture, it looks right, we call that person in and then when they get there you can’t even recognize them! Sure you let them read, but if I need a fat redhead and you come in as a gaunt brunette I can’t use you no matter how good you are, dude. I’ve also heard stories of actors who use other people’s shots just to get in the door and then expect to impress casting so much that they get the job no matter what the breakdown. Has this ever happened, ever? Maybe, but it’s the stuff of legend and more often than not you’re just wasting every one’s time and pissing casting off. So, make sure your pictures look like you! You don’t need to be a raving beauty – you need to be honest. There are roles out there for you! So where do you go to get your shots? I’ve got two photographers that I really like and that I use. Shultz Brother’s Photography and Alan Mercer Photography. Click on the links to see their sites and if you use them let them know I sent you, maybe they’ll cut you a deal. If you’ve been to my MySpace page or the Facebook Fan Page then you’ve seen work from both of them. The prices are reasonable, not cheap but certainly not expensive, you definitely get what you pay for and, trust me, it’s worth paying for quality. I wouldn’t endorse these guys if I didn’t work off these pictures and I do. That’s about the best endorsement you can get. When getting your pictures printed I use Reproductions LA. Again the prices and quality are both pretty good. Printed headshots are not as necessary as they used to be. Back in the day I’d go through 300 pictures a year. Now a days, because so much casting is done online, I can’t even get through 100. you need hard copies, but you don’t have to print as many as you used to. Get 100 and reorder if you need to.
- Know Your Type! Sure every girl wants to be the ingenue and every guy wants to be a leading man. You need to be honest with yourself about where you actually fit, though. I’m not the leading man type. I’m the goofy friend type. I’m skinny and average height and have big teeth. I make people laugh and get to wear fun, outlandish outfits. That’s what I do and I am really good at it. Even if you are the leading man or ingenue type you may want to try and market yourself differently. There are LOTS of people out there trying to be the next Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, but it’s a well know fact that character actors work forever, while pretty people have a shelf life. Look at Chris Pine. Sure now he’s Captain Kirk, but he was working way before as crazy people – go look at Smoking Aces again and see if you can spot him.
- Sign up for LA Casting & Actors Access. These are the two casting sites that are used by casting directors in town. Let me link them again: LA Casting & Actors Access. They cost money, again cost of doing business, but it’s an investment. You need access to the job breakdowns and this is how you get it. More than likely you are not union. These sites have both union and non-union work on them. Another site that you’ll probably want to sign up on, that is free, is the Casting Frontier. It is a single place to put your headshot, resume and all of your sizes – saves you a hell of a lot of time in the waiting room and most commercial casting offices require that you have an account now.
- SAG? AFTRA? Union? It’s every young actor’s goal to get their Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) card. It’s hard to do and there are several ways to do. However, for the purposes of this blog, it’s not a “start-up” type thing so I will not cover the aspects of getting in the unions here – that’s for later.
This is a good place to start. I hope this helps and if you have questions or comments I look forward to hearing them!
See you tomorrow!