By Felipe Mattei, @FelipeMatteiOil
Be honest, have you never secretly considered giving acting a try? Wondered how it would be like to star in a movie? But then only to let your dream deflate against the hard truth that it’s just too risky to try.
But what if there was a way to start acting without leaving your job or studies? Would you finally give it a shot?
I found the time to start my acting career in London without having to spend three years in Drama School and while working full time and setting up my own olive oil business. Hera are seven steps that will take you from zero experience to become a player in the industry without sacrificing your other commitments.
Step 1: Take an Acting Course
Unlike common belief, acting is a craft that needs to be learned and sharpened and not something that you simply do or not. Yes, there is a huge element of whether it comes natural to you, and that is why the first step is to discover just that. There are several 6 to 8 week evening courses in London which you can easily accommodate around your schedule. Take a course and assess your talent potential objectively.
Step 2: Get a Headshot
Given your evening course uncovered talent, it’s time to invest more into acting. You will need a professional headshot to market yourself, which is the industry standard 8×10 picture of your head. Let me emphasise that you must hire a professional headshot photographer to take this picture for you. Mobile phone selfies won’t do you any good! Do your research and find a photographer whose work you like, you should be able to find something for about £100.
Step 3: Sign up to Casting Websites
The best way to learn is actually doing it, so now it’s time to use your headshot to promote yourself. Casting Websites are the equivalent of LinkedIn for actors. They are subscription based platforms where casting directors post jobs which you can apply for using your online CV. E.g. roles in feature or short films, commercials, etc. Good starting points are StarNow and Casting Call Pro. It’s also a good idea to register yourself self-employed with the HMRC (it’s easy and can be done over the phone).
Step 4: Build Experience
Actively apply for job listings in your chosen casting website(s). When you apply for a role, the casting director will normally judge you based on your experience and appearance fitting the role description. If you meet the criteria, you will be invited for an in-person or video audition. I strongly recommend you apply for student short films in your early days, although these are often unpaid they give you screen time which you would not be able to get in bigger budget productions due to your lack of experience. Additionally these short films are usually shot in a few days which means you can get time off work to attend it. Education never ends and so I also recommend you to continue to work on your craft by attending at least one weekly evening acting class.
Step 5: Put a Showreel together
After you act in jobs, you should request and receive a copy of the edited footage so that you can cherry-pick scenes for your Showreel. Showreel is a 3-4 min video compilation showcasing your best acting work. It is easy to create it using any video editing software, however if you are unable to do so there are professionals who can do it for you.
Step 6: Get to Spotlight
Spotlight is the top industry casting website in the UK and is used by casting directors to find talent for big budget productions. If you want to have a chance of making in this industry, it is your objective as an actor to get a profile there! However it is not open for everyone, there is strict entry eligibility and you need to earn your way in through experience.
Step 7: Find an Agent
Once you have developed your craft, gained experience through work and education, put a great showreel together and managed to get a profile in Spotlight it’s time to find an Agent. An Agent is an industry professional with whom you have a professional relationship with and who will find acting work for you. Agents will receive casting calls from directors through Spotlight and will actively put you forward for roles. Whenever you get a job, your agent will normally take a 10% commission from your payment. You may also wish to join Equity at this point, which is the actors union in the UK.
This is it! After you go through the 7 steps you are in business and it’s just a matter of finding that one job that will set your career sky high. However it’s worth noting that this industry doesn’t follow the somewhat linear progression scheme from the corporate world. Some people make it fast, others never get anywhere. Additionally it is not what celebrity magazines induce us to believe, it is hard work and involves a lot of sitting around waiting and doing the same scene over and over again!
I have seen people from all walks of life begin their acting journey; my friend Sam Vaughan (left in picture), who I met in acting class and later co-starred with in a film, decided to rethink his life and took the leap to become a fine actor after a tragic accident involving a house fire nearly took his life as he tried to save his girlfriend who unfortunately did not survive it.
There is a way to start acting without leaving your job or studies. If that’s what you want, what else do you need to finally give it a shot?
For more information visit www.felipemattei.com – [email protected]