Headshot help? Spotlight sorted? Marketing mishaps? With Bonnie Adair
Updated: Jan 21, 2019
I'm often amazed at how many talented actors struggle with the business side of being an actor. The reality is that if you want to have a chance at making a living out of Acting, you'll have to imagine your Career as a business. One in which you are not only the product or brand but also the Outreach/PR and Marketing Departments, the Administrator and Accountant and potentially even the editor. Of course a lot of these roles can be outsourced but if money is tight or you're in the earlier stages of your career, chances are you'll need to do a lot of these things yourself. So where to start? The key is to start simply. It's really not all about rushing off to find an Agent until you understand a little bit about the Industry and where you fit into it. For example do you know your casting type? Your playing age? These may sound like simple things but you'd be amazed at how inaccurate people are when defining their own.
You'll need a good quality headshot taken by a professional headshot photographer, a CV (one that can preferably be viewed online) and a Showreel (or at least one clip of you actually Acting if you don't yet have enough footage for a reel). Casting Director's want to know who it is they're inviting into the room, so it is essential that your headshot and showreel are a true representation of you, not who you'd like to be. One of the best ways to get started is by looking at other actor's materials. Find an Actor whose work you admire (preferably one who is slightly ahead of you in terms of their career path) and ask if you can buy them a coffee. Ask them who did their headshots and edited their showreel and any other questions you can think of that will help you to get your basic materials together. Look at how they have laid out their CV so that you understand what needs to be included. You can also utilise services like Equity, The Actors Guild and Spotlight, all of whom offer advice to Actors at all stages in their careers.
Once you've got these materials together, ask people you trust (preferably people in the industry) for feedback, so that you feel confident that you've got it right. Too many actors skip this stage and then wonder why they're not getting called in for castings. Now you're ready to make a simple business plan and start getting your brand noticed. There are so many ways of doing this including joining casting services like Spotlight, Casting Networks, IMDB, Mandy.com (the list goes on), Social media (including specific groups such as Actors UK) and contacting Casting Directors and Agents directly (another of the topics we cover during The Business Of Acting), alongside the option of creating your own work (valuable both for the experience and to have something to invite people to if it's theatre or having something to send people if it's film).
Whatever stage of your career you're in, it's important to connect with other people. Being a freelance Actor can be lonely and at times disheartening, especially if you're going to audition after audition with little or no feedback. Take the time to connect with others, even if it's just for half an hour. The most wonderful plans have been made by two actors just sitting and chatting over a cuppa - the world truly is your oyster.
Bonnie Adair is a Tutor at The Actors Temple and also teaches The Business Of Acting Workshop Series Internationally. To join the next Business of Acting Workshop, running on Thursday 7th 11:45-2:45pm, which covers the above in more detail, book here.