Like the first flowers of spring, the film and TV industry is starting to reopen. Will you be ready when it does? Here are nine ways you can prepare to succeed when those auditions start coming your way.
One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that just about every good acting school is now offering classes online. This means that you can have access to some of the greatest acting teachers in Los Angeles, regardless of where you live. Take advantage of this incredible opportunity.
Natural talent can take you a long way, but you are competing for roles with other actors who ARE trained, so why handicap yourself? If you’re not sure where to start (and it can be confusing, as there are a LOT of acting teachers and schools out there) take a look at my latest book, Top Hollywood Acting Teachers, which features interviews with twelve of LA’s best. You’ll learn something valuable about acting and the industry in every chapter, and possibly find your next acting teacher there too.
2. Put together a solid self-tape setup.
Even before COVID, casting was moving toward self-tapes as a means to see more actors more efficiently, at least for the first round or so of casting. The pandemic has simply accelerated this trend, and now 100% of casting is done remotely, either with self-tapes or Eco Cast Live. This trend is here to stay, and it means your home setup is critically important.
Your setup does not need to cost much, but it needs to be quick and easy to put up and take down (unless you have the space to simply leave it up). Not sure how to do this or what you need? Check out my post on:
Self-Tapes: Pros, Cons, and How-Tos
Or get my 10-page Self-Tape Guide HERE.
3. Practice your self-tape skills.
Once you have your space set up (solid backdrop, good lighting, a tripod or way to keep your recording device steady, etc.) you need to actually PRACTICE doing those self-tapes! Auditioning is its own skill, and so are self-tapes. Like anything else in life, the more you practice the better you will get, and the closer you are to actually booking the role.
You can practice with scripts you find online, and there are apps available to help you as well. Two of my favorites:
4. Educate yourself about the industry.
If you want to succeed in any industry, you need to understand how it actually works.
Read books, listen to podcasts, and follow industry news like Backstage, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, etc.
My Hometown to Hollywood podcast is one of the best resources available, with over 125+ episodes and counting, and two new episodes each month. Subscribe starting at just $5/month and immerse yourself into the education and inspiration of top talent sharing their wisdom and experience.
If you’re the parent of a young actor, my first book, The Hollywood Parents Guide is considered the “bible” in that area.
5. Get a subscription to IMDbPro if you haven’t already.
Seriously. The first month is free and if you get an annual subscription, you pay only $12.50/month. Monthly subscriptions are $19.99/month.
IMDbPro is a gold mine for research on EVERYTHING film and TV-related. Trying to figure out if a potential agent or manager is good or not? Check them out on IMDbPro, and see who else they represent, and what kind of projects their actors are doing. Looking for an entertainment lawyer to review your new manager contract? See who other up-and-coming actors have for legal representation.
The actor pages list all of their reps and their contact info, so you can design a dream team of representation. If investing $12.50/month for this kind of peek behind the curtain of the industry feels like too much, you might not be taking this path seriously. It’s an indispensable research tool.
6. Update headshots when you feel safe doing so.
I know it’s probably been at least a year since your last headshot, and you’re in good company. But as casting continues to pick back up, you need your headshot to be the best possible representation of you.
Your headshot is your calling card. It needs to look like you on a good day, and we need to feel as though we are connecting with your soul when we look into your eyes. If none of that is true, you need a new one. Casting will not look past your headshot to see your wonderful reel and resume if they can’t connect with you instantly in that little thumbnail on their screen.
One great option if you’re in LA is The Headshot Truck. They are open now and shoot under strict Covid safety protocols.
7. Polish up your special skills
Many actors get their first big break because they can do something that much of their competition can’t do. If you can do something besides being a great actor, you will instantly be in a smaller pool of actors who are considered for certain roles.
The classic example of this is the Triple Threat, an actor who can also sing and dance. But there are infinite other special skills you can develop, and they are part of what makes you unique. Don’t spend your time developing a talent you don’t enjoy just for the sake of it; you will inevitably be better at something you feel passionate about. So sign up for those voice lessons and dance classes. Let yourself explore a sport you enjoy, or improve your skills on a musical instrument. Explore martial arts. And when you feel confident in your abilities, add those special skills to your resume.
Shameless family promotion: my daughter Claire Hosterman is one of the top vocal coaches in Los Angeles. She is absolutely amazing. Check her out here: https://clairehostermanvoice.com/.
8. Update your resume on Backstage/ Actors Access/ Casting Networks etc.
Dust off your passwords and get into your online casting site/s. Take a long hard look at everything you have posted to represent yourself. Do the entries on your resume represent the types of roles you aspire to play? Or are you sharing everything you’ve ever done just to pad it up? Edit out anything that’s too old (unless it’s really impressive) or that doesn’t make you look professional.
Don’t list the background/extras work you may have done under acting experience. That’s not considered legit acting by the industry, and you will effectively be announcing that you are a background player, and not a serious actor.
Finally, make sure that all the fields are filled out, especially the age range, which does need to be updated regularly. Your actual age is less important than the believable range you can play. The exception to this is if you are under 18, in which case both are very important, as the age of a minor directly affects how many hours they can work on set. If you are 15-17, you might be able to work adult hours as a Legal 18 if you can pass the CHSPE. Curious about that option? Check out my posts on the CSHPE here:
9. Take care of your instrument: mind, body, soul.
It’s a cliché because it’s true: an actor’s body is their instrument. I’d go further and say it’s all of your being, because even if your body is in fine shape (fit and healthy) you need to have your mind and spirit in healthy working order as well if you are going to be able to clearly and convincingly portray other human beings. If you are blocked emotionally you won’t have the full range of human expression available.
The most successful actors understand that it’s a big part of their job to take genuine care of themselves. This means eating well, sleeping well, and supporting your overall health. This is not vanity, it’s being responsible. If a main actor gets sick on a shoot and can’t work, it can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and throws the entire schedule off in a way that can be disastrous.
So consider this the permission you may need to invest in your genuine health, whatever that means to you. And if you are the parent of a young actor, this goes double for you. It doesn’t need to cost much, it’s more a matter of intention and consistent action.
What are you doing to be ready when the industry opens up again fully? Pick one of my suggestions and start today.
Did you enjoy this post? Consider booking a one-on-one consultation session with me. In just 60 or 90 minutes, I can help with your most pressing concerns, and set up a roadmap for your success. What are you waiting for? The future belongs to those who believe in their dreams.