Breaking into Acting For Dummies

Standards Information Network (Verlag)
  • 2. Auflage
  • |
  • erschienen am 29. März 2021
  • |
  • 352 Seiten
E-Book | ePUB mit Adobe-DRM | Systemvoraussetzungen
978-1-119-78971-0 (ISBN)
Understand the business side of your showbiz career

We all know acting can be a glittering whirl of glamour-plush red carpets, simply divine outfits, huge sums of money, and oh, the parties! But what a lot of wannabe actors forget is that it takes a lot of practical work to get to the flashbulbs of your first premiere, and that the savviest actors put as much stress on the business side of the profession as they do on the show. Breaking Into Acting For Dummies demystifies the behind-the-curtain side of showbiz to help you understand how it really works, who the decision-makers are, what they're looking for when they're picking talent, and how to get them on your side. If you truly want to be the next Emma Stone or Leonardo DiCaprio, you'll want to have a well-thumbed copy of this book alongside your pile of scripts.

Written by two friendly insiders, this guide takes you behind the scenes to help you map out your plan of attack, showing you how to open doors-and keep them open-and use your time wisely, so you're not breaking a leg rushing from one random audition to another. You'll understand how to flesh out your professional persona as thoroughly as a movie part, craft your resume as minutely as a script, and judge the angle of your headshots and webcam appearances as intimately as any director. Once you've mastered these skills, it's time to go to market as your own publicity department, building your media and online presence until everyone who's anyone knows exactly who you are.

Understand different acting markets-from theater to commercials
Network in-person and online
Build your image via resumes, head shots, and webcam
Keep a firm grip on the financial side

Whether you're studying, a hopeful amateur, or have been treading the boards for a while, this is your breakthrough script for succeeding in the business of acting, and for learning how to play your ultimate role: yourself.
2nd Revised edition
  • Englisch
  • USA
John Wiley & Sons Inc
  • Überarbeitete Ausgabe
  • Reflowable
  • 2,38 MB
978-1-119-78971-0 (9781119789710)

weitere Ausgaben werden ermittelt
Larry Garrison is President of SilverCreek Entertainment. He's worked as a producer/actor in TV and film in Los Angeles for more than 30 years. His company has produced news stories for ABC and NBC News.

Wallace Wang is a stand-up comedian and the author of more than 10 bestselling For Dummies books. He focuses on screenwriting, movies, and comedy.
Introduction 1

About This Book 1

Foolish Assumptions 2

Icons Used in This Book 3

Where to Go from Here 3

Part 1: Figuring Out the Business of Acting 5

Chapter 1: Staying on Top of the Changes in Show Business 7

Understanding the World of Acting 8

What You Need to Succeed 8

An attention-grabbing head shot 9

A five-star acting resume 9

Polished talent 10

Taking Your First Steps in Show Business 11

Marketing yourself 11

Finding your first ally: An agent 11

Showcasing your talent: Auditioning 12

Discovering the Many Ways to Make Money as an Actor 12

Managing Money (A Little or a Lot) 13

Knowing What to Expect from an Acting Career 14

Chapter 2: Discovering How Show Business Has Changed and Adapted 15

Understanding the Business of Show Business 15

Taking It "from the Top" - It All Begins with an Idea 16

Selling an Idea 17

Producing a Script 18

Going into Production 20

Action: It's Showtime! 21

Cleaning Up in Post-Production 22

Distributing the Product 23

Chapter 3: From Agents, Managers, and Unions: Introducing the Movers and Shakers 27

Producers: The Champions of Every Project 28

Directors: The Bosses on the Set 29

Writers: The Idea Makers 29

The Studios: The Ones That Make Everything Possible 30

Financing a project 31

Marketing and distributing a project 32

Casting Directors: The Gatekeepers 33

Agents: Your Door to Show Business 34

Personal and Business Managers: The Guiding Forces Behind the Scenes 34

Actors: The Talent in Front of the Spotlight 35

Unions: An Actor's Best Friend 36

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) 37

Actors' Equity Association 38

Part 2: Packaging and Marketing Yourself 41

Chapter 4: Making a Great First Impression with a Head Shot and Samples of Your Work 43

Introducing the Head Shot: An Actor's Calling Card 44

Examining Variations on the Standard 46

The commercial head shot 47

The theatrical shot 47

Creating the Perfect Head Shot 48

Hiring a professional photographer 48

Picking the right look 50

Making the most of your photo session 50

Getting Your Head Shot Ready 51

Publicizing Your Head Shot with a Twist 52

Avoiding Problems with Head Shots 52

Is that really you? 52

Technical problems: You look great but your head shot still stinks 52

Using Film to Represent Your Work 53

Chapter 5: Creating a Five-Star Acting Resume 55

Tackling the Basics of Creating a Resume 56

Creating an Online Resume 56

Identifying the Info to Include 57

Your name, union membership, and contact information 57

Your physical characteristics 58

Your acting experience and education 59

Your knowledge of special skills 60

Avoiding Resume No-Nos 61

Examining Sample Resumes 62

The beginner's resume 63

The intermediate actor's resume 63

The veteran's resume 66

Chapter 6: Training to Improve Your Acting Skills 69

Mastering the Art of Auditioning: Taking Classes 69

Benefiting from an auditioning class 70

Advancing your auditioning skills 70

Improving Your Performing Skills 73

Stand-up comedy workshops 75

Improvisation classes 75

Speech and accent coaching 76

Singing and dancing lessons 76

Developing Physical Fitness Skills 77

Improving Your Unique Skills 78

Part 3: Taking Your First Steps into Show Business 79

Chapter 7: Representing Yourself, Networking, and Promoting Yourself on Websites 81

Looking for Your Own Work 82

Relying on the actors' unions 82

Staying in touch 82

Reading trade publications 83

Using casting websites and social media 83

Contact casting directors on your own 84

Advertising Yourself 86

Showcasing Yourself 86

Chapter 8: Seeking Representation: An Agent, Manager, and/or an Entertainment Attorney 89

Differentiating between Agents, Managers, and Entertainment Attorneys 90

Getting the Ball Rolling to Find Representation 91

Discovering potential representation 91

Contacting potential representation 93

Calling for an appointment 94

Staying determined and be positive 96

Interviewing with Prospective Representation 97

Preparing for your interview 97

Arriving for your interview 98

Conducting yourself during your interview 99

Ending the interview 102

Signing On with an Agent 104

Working with Your Agent 106

Staying in touch 106

Following your agent's advice 107

Sharing auditioning information with your agent 107

Releasing Your Agent 107

Letting your agent go: Why you'd want to 108

Leaving your agent: The how-to 110

Chapter 9: Auditioning: The Art of What You Need to Know 113

Looking at the Types of Auditions 114

Going to open casting calls (cattle calls) 114

Attending casting auditions 115

Auditioning from Home 116

Preparing for an Audition 118

Planning ahead of time 118

Deciding what to wear 119

Grooming 120

Arriving at the Audition or Callback 120

Impressing a Casting Director 121

Auditioning: What to Expect 122

Speaking your lines 123

Making your exit 124

Preparing for the Next Audition 124

Evaluating yourself 124

Getting on with your life 125

Hoping for the Best That Can Happen: The Callback 126

Dealing with Rejection 127

Saying Thank You 128

Chapter 10: Understanding Diversity Challenges in Show Business 129

Defining Who You Are in the World of Diversity 130

Finding Representation 131

Seeking Diversity in Casting 132

Acknowledging Diversity in the Academy and Emmy Awards 134

Chapter 11: Adapting to Difficult Personalities 137

Dealing with Professionals 138

Treating the casting director with respect 138

Showing respect to the director on set 139

Considering other professionals 140

Respecting Your Fellow Actor 140

Respecting Everyone on the Set 142

Part 4: Scoping Out the Markets 143

Chapter 12: Acting in Film and Television 145

Landing a Job 146

Filming from Different Locations Using Your Computer and Phone 146

Acting in Front of the Camera Versus Acting on the Stage 147

Fine-Tuning Your Performance on Film 148

Playing to the camera 149

Acting consistently with different takes 151

Successfully acting scenes out of order 152

Hitting your mark 153

Recognizing different shots 154

Dealing with close-ups 154

Performing on a Set 156

A typical day on the set 157

What to do when your scene's done 161

Participating in Post-Production: Looping 161

Gaining Experience and Exposure by Working in Different Markets 162

Chapter 13: Acting in Commercials 165

Understanding How a Commercial Gets Made 165

Preparing for a Career in Commercials 167

Taking a class or workshop 167

Studying working actors 168

Hiring a commercial agent or manager 169

Auditioning for a Commercial Role 169

Fitting the part 170

Preparing your part 170

Handling yourself during the audition 171

Understanding the Market for Commercials 173

The Wonderful New World of Commercials 175

Chapter 14: Acting in Theater 177

Mastering Your Skills Onstage 178

Gearing Up for a Theatrical Career 178

Taking the academic route 179

Pounding the pavement 180

Auditioning for Theater 182

Finding auditions 182

Being prepared 182

Familiarizing Yourself with Stage Types 184

Proscenium stages 185

Thrust stages 187

Arena stages 187

Rehearsing for a Play 189

Read-through 189

Blocking with stage directions 190

Scene work 191

Work-throughs 191

Run-throughs 192

Technical rehearsals 192

Dress rehearsals 193

Working in Different Markets 195

Chapter 15: Performing without Being Seen: Voice-Over Acting 197

What You Need to Succeed in Voice-Over Acting 198

What's that you say? Speaking clearly 198

Voice versatility 199

Testing testing: Playing to the microphone 200

Training for a Voice-Over Career 201

Finding Voice-Over Work 201

Preparing Your Demo 202

Including all the right stuff 202

Laying down the tracks 204

Recording subsequent demo 204

Getting an Agent or Manager 205

Auditioning for Voice-Over Work 205

Getting Paid as a Voice-Over Actor 206

Chapter 16: Working As an Extra 209

Delving into the Glamorous World of an Extra 210

Recognizing types of extras 211

Getting work as an extra 211

Examining a day in the life of an extra 213

Appreciating the Advantages of Being an Extra 215

Investigating the technical business of show business 216

Studying the acting side of filmmaking 217

Networking with fellow actors 218

Making a little (emphasis on "little") money 218

Advancing Your Career Beyond an Extra 218

Chapter 17: Getting Your Kid into Show Biz 221

Considering the Commitment 222

Does your kid really want to do this? 222

Do you really want to do this? 223

Setting goals for you and your child 225

Exploring the Acting Options 226

Modeling 227

TV commercials 228

Film and TV shows 228

Theater 230

Investigating the Biz of Child Acting 230

Starting as a proud parent of a child actor 230

Procuring the paperwork 231

Watching out for your child's welfare 231

Restricting time on the set 232

Educating on the set 233

Managing all that money 234

Helping Your Child Deal with the Ups and Downs of Show Business 236

Part 5: Managing Your Money as an Actor 239

Chapter 18: Don't Get Ripped Off! Avoiding Con Games, Scams, and Self-Destruction 241

Identifying the Elements of a Con Game 242

The hook - Baiting the suckers 242

The line - Exploiting your trust 242

The sinker - Taking your money 243

Exposing Common Show Business Con Games 243

Fake screen tests 244

Phony agents 244

Shoddy photographers 247

Worthless acting schools 247

Sleazy casting directors 249

Meaningless beauty pageants 249

Shady get-rich-quick schemes 250

Dealing with Dishonesty 251

Potential problems with non-union productions 251

Unscrupulous business managers 252

Casting and networking parties 252

Missing residuals 253

Protect Yourself: Beating the Con at His Own Game 253

Being Your Own Worst Enemy 255

Dealing with drug abuse 255

Separating sex from show business 256

Dealing with alcohol and drug addiction 257

Curbing excessive spending 257

Avoiding criminal activities 258

Handling emotional and psychological problems 258

Chapter 19: Working to Pay Your Bills until You Hit It Big 259

Considering What Kind of Employment You Want 260

Getting temporary work 261

Getting full or part-time work 263

Considering supplemental work 263

Working for Yourself 263

Getting a Job That Pays You to Be Entertaining 264

Teaching traffic school 265

Performing on the street 265

Amusing patrons at an amusement park 266

Entertaining the kiddies 266

Catering to the public or the acting crowd 267

Working in a film or television studio 267

Reading scripts for payment 267

Winning big on a game show 268

Doing a song and dance in a casino 269

Performing on a cruise ship 269

Acting in an interactive play 270

Reading for actors during auditions 271

Getting "extra" time in the studio 271

Chapter 20: Managing Your Finances 273

Handling Your Money 273

Saving it! 274

Dealing with income taxes 275

Digging yourself out of debt 276

Investing your earnings 278

Living Well Without Going Broke 279

Dealing with housing expenses 280

Eating cheaply 280

Buying clothes 281

Deciding When to Quit Your Day Job 281

Part 6: The Part of Tens 283

Chapter 21: Ten Myths Debunked about Show Business 285

Myth #1: Show Business is Closed to Outsiders 286

Myth #2: It's Who You Know, Not What You Know 286

Myth #3: Only the Young and the Beautiful Get Work 287

Myth #4: You Have to Move to L.A., Vancouver, or New York to Succeed 287

Myth #5: Plastic Surgery and Body Implants Get You Work 288

Myth #6: You Have to Sacrifice Your Principles 289

Myth #7: You Can Break into Show Business by Taking Off Your Clothes 289

The myth of posing nude 290

The myth of sleeping with someone famous or powerful 290

The myth of appearing in adult movies 290

Myth #8: You Can Be Discovered and Made into a Star 291

Myth #9: The Right Agent, Manager, Coach Can Get You Work 291

Myth #10: Show Business Will Destroy You 291

Chapter 22: Ten Traits of Successful Actors 293

Respecting Other People's Time 294

Planning Ahead 294

Being Flexible and Adaptable 295

Being Professional 296

How a professional actor behaves 296

Acting professionally with your agent 297

Acting professionally with casting directors 297

Acting professionally on the set 298

Being Yourself 299

Being Well-Groomed 299

Being Persistent 300

Avoiding Mind-Altering Substances 301

Being Willing to Improve Yourself 301

Believing in Yourself 302

Chapter 23: Ten Tips for Improving As an Actor 303

Mastering the Art of Auditioning 303

Knowing How to Audition and Act for the Camera 304

Auditioning for the camera 304

Acting for the camera 305

Expecting the Unexpected: Improvising 305

Developing a Sense of Humor 306

Overcoming Stage Fright 307

Understanding Human Psychology 307

Developing Your Voice and Improving Your Body 308

Your voice 308

Your body 308

Maintaining a Reliable Source of Income 309

Avoiding Guaranteed Failure 309

Staying Sharp 310

Chapter 24: Ten Ways to Act Just for the Fun of It 311

Join a Community Theater Group 312

Become a Storyteller 313

Join an Improvisational Group 313

Volunteer at Your Local School Drama Department 314

Put on a Play for a Charity 314

Appear in a Student Film 315

Work as an Extra 315

Volunteer at Your Local Museum 316

Appear on Public Access TV 317

Produce Your Own YouTube Show 317

Index 319

Chapter 1

Staying on Top of the Changes in Show Business


Succeeding in show business

Comprehending how show business works

Preparing yourself for an acting career

Nearly everyone fantasizes at one time or another about being a star. Who wouldn't love to see their name on a big-screen marquee or experience the thrill of bowing before an audience that's giving a standing ovation just for you?

For many people, the idea of becoming a star in show business will always remain just a dream. This chapter serves as your starting point to guide you; perhaps you can be one of those few who turn their dreams of acting into reality.

Understanding the two sides of show business is important. On one hand, you have the "show," which means learning how to act and includes the glamour and fame that comes from being a star. On the other hand, you have the "business," which includes the money and the negotiations that make a profit for everyone involved. The business side also means treating acting as a business, so you can get paid to act. If you remember nothing else from this book, at least remember this: Acting is a business. The more you treat acting like a business, the more likely you'll be to succeed.

Here, you get a quick peek at what you need to succeed as an actor, whether you live in London, Los Angeles, or Lima, Ohio. You can see how actors market themselves by using a head shot, a resume, their representation, and the Internet, and how persistence and determination are the real secrets that can help you break into show business faster than you may think. If you ever thought that you could be an actor, you can. And this chapter gives you a brief introduction to that wonderful world of show business.

Understanding the World of Acting

If you want to succeed in show business as an actor, you need to learn how to act. But you also need to be familiar with the business side of show business.

Every year, thousands of hopefuls flock to Los Angeles and New York. And every year, thousands of these same hopefuls wind up disappearing into obscurity. The reasons are simple. Many aspiring actors embark on their career without knowing how show business works. So before you quit your job, pack up your bags, and move to Hollywood or Broadway to become tomorrow's next big star, take a sneak-peek behind the production curtain in Chapter 2. Then take a look at Chapter 3, which introduces you to the movers and shakers of show business who can open doors for you.

What You Need to Succeed

If the thought of spending years studying acting, working in bit roles, and getting paid sporadically (if at all) depresses you, maybe acting isn't for you. On the other hand, if you truly enjoy acting for the sake of acting, the previously mentioned obstacles will be nothing more than minor nuisances on your way to success - whatever form that success may ultimately take.

Every successful actor has to have two skills:

  • A certain amount (but not necessarily a lot) of acting talent, which usually comes from a combination of natural ability and constant training.
  • Knowing how to market yourself as a product is essential.

As an actor, you're a salesperson, and the product that you're selling is you. In order to sell yourself to the people in position to pay for your product (you as an actor), you need a head shot (so people know what you look like), a resume (so people know what experience and skills you have), and the necessary talent to wow a casting director when you audition for a role.

An attention-grabbing head shot

Talent and determination can increase the odds that you'll succeed in show business, but until people know who you are, you're just another face in the crowd. Because you can't possibly introduce yourself to everyone who may be able to advance your career, you have to use a head shot instead.

A head shot is a photograph that acts as your calling card by displaying your face for others to see when you can't be present physically. Your head shot should capture your best physical features in order to make casting directors and agents say to themselves, "I've got to meet this person!"

Have multiple head shots that look like you and represent your comedic (smiling) and theatrical side (serious). Some actors portray different characters that they're likely to be cast in their head shots. For instance, if you're going to play a gang member, have a picture showing that different side of you. Not every casting director or producer will have a wild imagination to cast you in certain roles.

Because head shots can be such a crucial promotional tool, you absolutely must have the best head shot possible, which means finding the best photographer and developing a specific image for your head shot to project. In Chapter 4, you can find out how to choose a photographer, what to wear during your photography session, and how to look your absolute best, so that your head shot highlights your unique personality.

A five-star acting resume

While your head shot projects your physical characteristics, a resume lists the acting experience and unique skills behind your attractive face. After seeing an actor's head shot, casting directors often study an actor's resume to see whether that actor has the ability to perform in a particular role.

A good acting resume answers any questions a casting director may have about an actor's ability to play a certain role and supplies enough evidence to convince a casting director to choose you. The resume is then secondary to the actual audition. Chapter 5 discusses ways to create an award-winning resume, whether you're a complete novice, a seasoned veteran, or someone in-between. (Psst, Chapter 5 also shows you what to put on your resume and what to leave off to increase your chances of making a great first impression.) By knowing how to create and present your acting experience and skills in the best light possible, you can use your resume to help you land roles again and again.

Polished talent

Everyone has some talent for acting (think of the last time you called in to work and pretended to be sick so that you could take the day off). Even if you have astounding natural acting talent, you should still want lessons or coaching to nurture and further develop that talent (see Chapter 6 for more information on improving your acting skills with training). Here are some of the different ways to polish your acting talent:

  • Majoring in drama in school
  • Attending an acting class or workshop
  • Working with an acting coach
  • Learning on the job
  • Finding out how to film a professional audition tape

If you're serious about becoming an actor and you're already in school, you can't get any better training than performing in your high school or college drama department. Not only does such exposure give you an idea how much fun (and how much of a pain in the neck) acting can be, but it can also teach you all the technical details necessary to put on a play, ranging from creating backdrops and building sets to sewing costumes and marketing the show.

If you've already graduated or just want to jump right into the world of acting as soon as possible, you can choose from plenty of acting workshops, classes, and coaches available for varying prices. Once again, some acting teachers have better reputations than others, and some charge outrageous amounts of money while others are more reasonable. Chapter 6 gives you tips on how to pick a workshop or acting coach that's right for you.

The best way to develop your acting skills is to keep looking for acting roles wherever you can find them, whether they're lead roles in small plays or bit roles in larger productions. The Internet now plays a major role in giving you the ability to see what producers and casting directors are looking for in upcoming projects. The more experience and knowledge you can gain by acting in a real role and watching others perform, the more you'll discover about the world of acting that no class or coach can ever duplicate. A famous acting coach, Lee Strasberg, taught me (Larry) to go out and study individuals in my environment that I may replicate in future roles.

Taking Your First Steps in Show Business

How did big stars like Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Gabrielle Union, Al Pacino, Octavia Spencer, Ben Affleck, Denzel Washington, Julia Roberts, and Angelina Jolie break into show business? They all started as beginners. So as an aspiring actor, you too can follow in the footsteps of the most successful actors in the world if you figure out what to do first and how to get started. Who knows? Within a few years, people may be clamoring for your autograph. The following sections help you get started.

Marketing yourself

Some people just happen to be in the right place at the right time when some Hollywood or Broadway producer spots them and suddenly decides to turn them into a star. Then again, some people win a million bucks in the lottery, too, so you don't want to base your future on blind luck.

Unless you happen to become an overnight success (ignoring the fact that most overnight successes actually take ten years or more...

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