Today I’m taking a no-nonsense approach to explore why you should never take shortcuts with your acting. You have chosen to be in one of the toughest industries in the world, so it seems obvious that you should be fully trained, prepared, knowledgeable and on the money. I say to you week in week out, it is a difficult industry but it IS possible to crack it (with the right attitude and know how), so let’s get straight down to business.
20,000 fresh actors per year are churned out of drama schools in the UK (Equity figures), that’s on top of the already existing actors in the industry. I’m taking a random guess here so don’t quote me, but I would imagine more than 99% try and take short cuts and fail miserably.
The saying is that 97% of actors are unemployed. That’s a) because there aren’t enough jobs for the amount of actors in the market and b) because a large majority of these actors do not think like a business
Holy crap, I need to get my act together!
As with any business, if you’re going to be successful a lot of investment is needed – time, financial, training, knowing your customer, learning the market, staying on top of the trends, goal setting, networking etc are you starting to understand this is not a get famous quick scheme? If you’re to take this serious and succeed you need to be serious from the word go. Now it might all be going over the top of your head because let’s face it no-one teaches actors about this stuff, you have to learn it yourself, but stay with me it’s vital you let this slowly sink in. I advise bookmarking this so you can keep coming back to it (as there’s a lot).
What shortcuts do actors take?
Maybe you’ve been guilty of some of these, I definitely have. As I always say, it’s ok as long as you learn from your mistakes. If not, you’re going to keep making the same mistakes, fall flat on your face, feel dis-heartened and quit!
- free headshots – yes we all want to save money, but If you’re not paying you don’t have the power, you have to work to that persons time frames, you feel guilty asking for changes, you don’t get exactly what you’re after and they usually end up not being to industry standard.
- a show reel full of student footage – it’s a start, but the production values on the whole are usually quite poor. This is because students are learning the way you are. Invest in yourself by either doing independent films with good quality production values or pay a (good) showreel company if you have to, to begin with.
- A poor online CV – one that is full of any and every job you’ve ever done or reaks of desperation. It doesn’t matter whether it’s on CCP, Spotlight, StarNow or castmequickimdesperate.com your CV should show how you fit in the market and look and sound professional – no gimmicks.
I know money is tight but the ROI (return on investment) is likely to be more in line with your goals if you invest properly, plus you also show you mean business.
- Under training – over looking the importance of it. You may call yourself an actor, but if you know very little about the craft, or don’t know how to use your instrument properly can you really call yourself an actor?
- Focus only on getting work – Note: This is one the biggest shortcuts aspiring actors take. Contacting CDs/agents incessantly without having had the appropriate training, with a poor head shot/CV, with no professional work to show them and without a well thought out/executed plan is the quickest way to end up in the trash box. Please have integrity.
- Not developing the skills you need – business, social, audition and not to mention skills that can bump up your USP. Lots of aspiring actors overlook this big time and they are essential.
- Not understanding the art of acting – Do you know the history of acting? Where the systems of today were developed from? How the art of acting has changed?
- Not training instrument every day – many actors simply don’t take time every day to train their instrument and brush up on skills. Athletes don’t win if they don’t do this and neither do actors.
- Not building up connections – Everyone has to start somewhere. If you have a small network, spend time getting to know people by building genuine relationships. Having a good network of connections is a small part of helping you get a foot in the industry.
KNOWING THE MARKET
- Not knowing who your competitors are – competitor analysis is great because you can learn from what your competitors are doing and adopt the bits that work for them in your own strategy.
- Not understanding where you fit in the market – Casting type is a good thing. It shows you fit somewhere in the market. Make it easy for those who have the power to change your career and shout about it. Find out where your type fits into the market. Is your type trending at the minute?
- Not developing a good reputation – Poor punctuality, under-preparing, making excuses, being rude/arrogant, being a know-it-all. Be the person that is a dream to work with.
- Not learning the industry you’re in – do you know the etiquette of the industry, the dos and don’ts? If not find out.
- Lying – about who you know, the work you’ve done, where you’ve trained, your experience. It’s a no-brainer not to lie but you’d be surprised how many people do. It’s easy to lie and even easier to be caught out.
- Not setting any goals – If you don’t know where you’re going to, how are you ever going to get there? Setting goals gives you clarity, it gives you something to aim for.
- Not reviewing your goals – If you don’t review them, how will you ever know how close you are to achieving them? How will you know what’s worked for you and what hasn’t? You might keep doing the same stuff that isn’t working.
- Lack of planning – it’s all good and well having goals, but do you have a strong plan to guide you on your journey? Do you know what your plan should include?
That’s a lot to take in and we’ve only just begun scratching the surface. By taking shortcuts you simply aren’t valuing yourself. Without valuing yourself you will fall for anything. I hope you can now see why you should never take shortcuts with your acting.
I know you will have struggled with some of these points and so will your acting friends. Share this with them to give them a helping hand. It can be difficult and lonely trying to do things all on your own.
I’d love to hear from you. Has this resonated with you? Has this highlighted anything for you? Let me know on the comments below.
PS if you know you need help with the business side of the industry so you can achieve your goals and dreams, you might want to apply for our actors career development course, which is being held Weds Jan 27th 5:30pm – 9:30pm, where we will go through your strategy and how to implement it. APPLY HERE
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