YOU PROBABLY HAVE A LOT OF QUESTIONS
ABOUT ACTING AND THE FILM & TV INDUSTRY?
We're here to help!
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about all things acting, hopefully our answers help with your journey.
The below information is collected from various sources, including professional opinions, statistics, meticulous research, as well as our own industry knowledge and observations based on years of experience. Please consider if any of the advice is right for you, as each person's experience will differ from one another.
How do I get started in Acting?
There is no simple answer that works for everyone. It's important to know that a career in acting does not happen overnight, there is no quick fix. If you're completely new to the industry, it will take some time to learn about the craft and the industry before you start seeing results. The best way to start is to enrol in to good acting classes and start learning.
This industry is too competitive for you to assume you can get started with little or no training and experience. Just like an athlete trains hard, so do actors, especially in the start.
What classes should I take?
You should attend classes that are aligned with your goals. If you want to work on stage - train in theatre, for film - take on-camera classes. Before you enrol in to any class, make sure you know about the teacher. There are so many brilliant actors who also teach and mentor up-and-coming actors. Make sure your teacher is a professional who is thoroughly trained and experienced. You DO NOT want to invest your time and money in to classes taught by people who are not qualified. Always do your research before spending money.
Do I need head shots?
YES! Your head shot is so important, it is your calling card, it’s usually the first thing an agent, manager or casting director will look at, so it needs to stand out. A selfie, DIY or friend-with-a camera usually won’t be good enough. Invest in your career and get professional acting head shots taken. In your shots, you should look like your natural self and the images must represent your unique energy and brand as an actor. Also consider your choices of clothing and hairstyle when you get head shots taken. What do you want your shots to say about you?
What about my Showreel?
Like your head shots, a showreel (also known as a demo reel) is also crucial for being considered for auditions. A showreel is a video compilation of your acting clips, a highlights package of your best sections (usually taken from film and TV projects) that help a viewer get an idea of you as an actor. It is almost impossible for an agent or casting director to see an actor without having first seen some kind of reel or footage, so it’s important you have something – but you don’t want to be sending out a reel that doesn’t contain quality acting material. It’s better to be doing classes for some time before thinking about your reel.
LESS IS MORE - Your reel doesn’t need to be longer than 2 minutes max! Agents and Casting Directors are way too busy to sit through anything long and drawn out. Keep it short and sweet.
QUALITY NOT QUANTITY - Only put in clips that showcase you and your acting ability. Even if you have a clip where you have a lot of screen time and/or dialogue, if your acting isn’t there, don’t put it in.
ALL ABOUT YOU - Don’t put in clips where other actors are more heavily featured or outshine you. Avoid scenes with actors who look similar to you (you don’t want to confuse those who are watching)
GET TO THE POINT - Don’t add fancy intros or montages. Start the reel with the best scene and get straight into it.
ITS AN AD FOR YOU - Think of your reel as a commercial for you as an actor. Commercials are short and get the viewer’s attention immediately, encouraging them to learn more and/or invest.
KEEP IT INTERESTING - Don’t use clips that all look / feel the same. Mix it up with the styles of characters you can play well. Always play to your strengths and showcase what roles you’re capable of playing.
How do I get an Agent?
Applying for representation with an agent is quite a simple process. The general protocol is you email them politely expressing your interest in being represented by them. You must also include in your email your acting CV, professional head shots and a link to your reel – the better these things are, the better chance you have of them wanting to meet with you. It’s possible the agent isn’t taking new clients so they may choose not to meet with you – don’t take this personally, it’s very normal. It is also advised not to ring up agents and ask questions or ‘apply’ over the phone. Agents are busy people and will just find this irritating. Reputable agencies DO NOT CHARGE actors to join, they work on commission, if an agency asks you for a 'joining' fee up front, tread with caution - always be careful of scams. Like everything else, do your research.
How do I get more Auditions?
Whether you have an agent or not, getting more auditions can be tough for everyone. There will always be quiet times, but it's important to make sure your marketing material (head shots, reel, other footage) is available and strong for when the opportunities do arise. Even if you have an agent, you should still be actively seeking your own castings and acting opportunities, don't rely on your agent to do all the work. Nowadays you can apply for auditions on various online sources such as Starnow, Casting Networks and Facebook groups/pages (high profile casting directors often use Facebook for this) When applying for auditions on your own, just be cautious and aware of all the details, terms and conditions of an acting job, if you're under-age always be accompanied by a parent to auditions.
What is a Self Tape?
A self tape (also referred to as a self test or screen test) is a video of a scene or scenes for an audition – usually used when you can’t make it to the audition in person. In the digital age of online castings, self taping has opened hundreds of doors for actors who were otherwise compromised because of location. The self tape is usually filmed of the actor framed medium closeup (chest to head) with the reader not on screen but next to camera to create a good eyeline. The self tape usually also contains a slate at the end (where the actor looks in to camera and states their name, height, location and agent) The self tape is then edited into a video file (generally needs to be under 100mb) to be sent privately to the agent or casting director. NEVER post your self tape publicly online or to social media as auditions are always highly confidential.
BACKGROUND - Use a simple backdrop (like a plain curtain, sheet or wall) for your self tape. A busy background can look messy or distracting.
LIGHTING - Make sure your tape is well lit. If doing tape yourself, soft natural light is best as ceiling lights create too much shadow/harsh light. If you do self tapes regularly at home, it might be as good idea to invest in a simple lighting kit.
SOUND - Make sure we can hear you clearly. Avoid doing self tapes in noisy areas and make sure the reader is not louder than you are.
FRAMING - If using a phone to record your self tape, shoot it in landscape mode (not portrait)
CASTING DIRECTOR - Some casting directors might give specific instructions how to do the self tape (how to frame it, upload etc) Always abide by their specifications. Don’t make their job hard by skipping their steps.
EYELINE – Don’t look in to the camera when performing your scenes. Look at the reader or choose appropriate eyelines. We need to be able to see your eyes to better connect with the performance. Avoid looking down.
HAIR/COSTUME – You don’t need to dress up / make up too much for a self tape, but it’s a good idea to dress / groom to suggest the character, just keep it simple and natural as too much can be distracting. Use common sense – if you’re auditioning for a lawyer in a court room scene, you would likely dress to represent that role, you wouldn’t wear scruffy work clothes.
MAKE A CHOICE / STAND OUT – Remember, the casting director will see so many other tapes of people auditioning for the same role you are. If you ‘play it safe’ too much you might not stand out. Think about what you can do with your performance to stand out? What can you bring to the role that maybe others won’t? What energy will you bring in to the scene? How can you make this performance connect to the viewer? Don’t be afraid to make a bold choice with your performance
How do I work in America / Overseas?
Yes the dream is to eventually fly to Los Angeles and give Hollywood a good shot. However, you NEED to be realistic about this. The competition in LA (and most big entertainment-business cities) is very high. You need to be ready as an actor but also ready in terms of maturity and professionalism. There are so many things to consider when thinking about this move such as visa/work permit, your living situation and finances. Don’t feel you need to get to Hollywood straight away, its best to do as much training and get lots of experience in your home country before going further.
VISA - There is no point attempting to work overseas if you don’t you have the right visa, a green card or work permit. In terms of USA, it’s common for Australian actors to attain the 01 Visa - attaining this visa is often a long and expensive procedure involving legal processes and background checks. You will often need someone within America to sponsor you. You’ll need various amounts of “points” such as professional credits, media publications and credible references.
DON’T GO AS A NEWCOMER - Although there are great classes to do in places like LA or London, if you’re going with the intention of auditioning for Big Film and TV shows, make sure you’re definitely ready! You don’t want to go as a newbie and think you can just “wing it” Don’t be naïve or think you’ll “get lucky” Train hard and work hard to become your very best.
ACCENT - Just because you grew up watching American Film and TV and have impersonated those characters doesn't mean you can do the accent flawlessly. Like acting in general, dialect and accents are something you need to train properly and regularly. The voice is an extremely important part of being an actor, if you don't seek coaching for a specific accent, it won't sound authentic costing you auditions and roles. And a genuine American (or specific foreign accent speaking person) will be able too hear the flaws. A good accent coach will help a lot with this.
REPRESENTATION - It’s best to have an agent and/or manager in the country you’re going as this will help get you in to those important auditions. Back to the above tips, a good manager/agent will only want to represent if you can legally work in that country and already have the training, experience, professional credits and marketing materials behind you.
BE PREPARED AND PATIENT - Plan ahead, save money and have a game plan. Be smart, think everything through and be strategic. You must be patient and be aware it won’t happen overnight; all good things take time. Have a thick skin as there will be a lot of rejection. Keep a positive mind set and learn from your mistakes and experiences.
What casting websites should I be on?
WARNING: There are plenty of "Get Discovered" websites out there promising Hollywood success and stardom...for a fee! Always do the research before signing up.
In terms of Professional casting websites in Australia - Casting Networks and Showcast are the two most commonly used ones for legitimate Film, TV and Theatre productions. The vast majority of casting directors in Australia use one or both these websites to submit briefs to agents who then submit their clients based on the specific criteria of said casting. When you sign with an agent, they will likely ask you to create a profile on these sites so they can easily submit you when the right castings come up. When you do create a profile, be sure to include your professional marketing material (head shots, reel, your credits and training etc) Your profiles will potentially be seen by hundreds of casting directors - you want to make a good first impression.
SITES TO BE ON:
· CASTING NETWORKS - Australian and International Film, TV & Commercials
· SHOWCAST - Australian and International Film, TV & Commercials
Can I get work without an Agent?
Having an agent is hugely beneficial, as they have access to prestigious castings, mostly
not available for public information or application. Agents also have your best interest at heart and therefore crucial for navigating through contracts and making sure you’re treated fairly when employed for a production. However, you can technically get work without an agent, this is called being a freelancer. As agents generally don’t sign actors without experience, you’ll most likely start your career as a freelancer, thus it’s up to you in being proactive in seeking your own opportunities. You can do this by self-submitting (sending your CV, head shot, reel) directly to casting directors when possible. Websites like Casting Networks and StarNow often post open casting calls where you can self-submit. It’s also a good idea to follow local production companies, filmmakers, casting agencies and groups on social media to immerse yourself into your local acting community.
Seeking your own opportunities is also recommended to actors who do have an agent, though it’s proper etiquette to always keep your agent in the loop with any self-submissions and offers that arise.
Whether you’re represented or not, the important thing about applying for acting jobs or attending auditions, is that you’re ready for that opportunity. Training with an acting coach is the best way to get started. This way, you’ll attain the skills and confidence you’ll need when you do start self-submitting.
I just finished a big audition, now what?
You’ve just completed an audition or self tape for a part you’d LOVE to book, and now you’re wondering what happens next? The casting process can be quite long. The casting director will usually narrow down the selections to a smaller group and present options to the director and producers. From here, a few actors from the selected group will be invited to attend a call-back, which is the next round of auditions. Often the director will attend the call-backs and participate in the audition, giving direction and getting an idea of what the actor is like to work with.
After this round, if the actor is still in the running, it’s possible they will be invited to attend another round called a “chemistry test” This is where the actor workshops the scenes with other actors who have either been cast or are also auditioning. This process is to see how well the actor interacts with the other potential cast members.
FORGET ABOUT IT - Once you’ve completed an audition, the best thing you can do is forget about it. If you hear no news, it likely means you were unsuccessful. Sometimes the casting process can take time so there is no point spending each day after the audition wondering whether or not you’re in with a chance. This will drive you crazy! You just need to move on after the audition and put it out of your mind.
FEEDBACK - Unfortunately Casting Directors don’t give feedback. They are very busy people whose job is to source suitable casting options. Do not contact them and request feedback – this will be considered unprofessional. The best people to seek feedback and advice from is your acting coach, this is also advised to do before the audition (especially if you’re new)
DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY if you don’t get the part. It can be disappointing if you had your heart set on a role and you don’t get the part, which is why you shouldn’t put the weight of your happiness on whether or not you get cast. The reality is, there are many other actors auditioning for the same role as you and the odds are always against you. Most of the time, it isn’t necessarily because you did a “bad” job, but that there was just someone else that bit more suitable. Learn from your experience. If you did a good audition, the casting director will likely bring you back in the future.
RESPECT THE PROCESS – Remember to always be on time or submit the self tape on time and to abide by the specific directions and requirements. If you don’t get the part, and you later get a chance to meet the director or casting director, don’t question them as to why you didn’t get the role.
Have you got a question you’d like answered?
Feel free to reach out