5 tips to kick-start your screen acting career
Screen acting can often feel like a hard thing to break into especially for stage actors or beginners. The following five steps have guided me along the way and helped me land some great roles in the process.
1. Invest in training
Get the ball rolling by undertaking specific training geared towards screen acting. Working on film or TV is very different to working on stage as it requires learning new techniques. My experience was mainly stage related but I had worked on the odd film project here and there. I studied screen acting at Actor’s Studio in Pinewood to help me gain confidence in screen technique. The course taught me the specifics such as eye lines, shot sizes and set language. It also helped me gain a better understanding of my casting, the importance of personal continuity and I developed an understanding of where I fit in to the industry. Invaluable!
2. Create a diverse showreel
Without a showreel you will struggle to get in the room. Since shooting my reel with Actors Studio I’ve had more auditions and more opportunities come my way. As I have developed professionally and learnt more about the jobs people are casting, what I have included in my showreel has organically changed. Every 6 months I try to update it with either a new scene or by changing the order of the clips. Casting directors don’t want to watch the same scenes over and over again so it’s important to keep it fresh.
3. Don’t scrimp on headshots
Headshots and your showreel are the two most important assets you have as an actor. All your work will be largely based on the quality of these two materials so they have to really sell you. And of course they have to be an accurate representation of you…. Not the edited version of you! Keep your hair as natural as possible and keep make up simple. Get your agent to choose the best shots they feel will help them promote you. If you don’t have an agent yet then it is a good idea to get some industry professionals to give you their opinions (rather than letting your mum decide…never a good move!).
4. Be Proactive
The hard work doesn’t finish here. It’s really important to be proactive in this industry because the competition is fierce. Write to people in the industry, attend networking events and workshops and go to the theatre. You could be the best actor in the world but you won’t get work if no one knows who you are. Continuously topping up my training has helped me develop working relationships with casting directors and other actors. Places like Actor’s Studio are perfect for this. Work on improving your sight reading, line learning, character analysis and self-taping skills. Practice these techniques regularly and you’ll feel much better equipped to deal with curve balls thrown your way in auditions or on set.
5. Get creative
You have to be a bit creative about how you find your work. Use social media to connect with filmmakers and get stuck in. I worked as a runner a few times to learn more about each person’s role on set and to make new contacts. Why not also try and write your own work and create your own dream role. Always continue training, developing your skills and keep meeting people. Most of the work I’ve done has been through contacts I’ve made on small projects. Whilst as actors we shouldn’t make a habit of working on low budget project or for free, there are sometimes huge benefits when you are starting out as it helps you get the experience you need. You never know who will remember you once day when they’ve got the perfect role for you.
Use these 5 top tips to kick-start you screen acting career. Whenever your confidence wavers just come back to these guidelines. Life as an actor can feel like hard work but the pay off of landing a great role is completely worth it. Be confident and be yourself because there is the perfect job out there fore everyone.