The Acting Page
A business where they say you hope your best friend fails so you can succeed.
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What is an acting workshop? It is where you train to become a great film actor. From beginners to advanced Then you continue with the workshop to keep your skills sharp, while waiting for your big break.
What do you look for in an acting workshop? There are several things. 1. A good coach that has been well trained themselves. 2. Small workshops. No more than 10-12 people, max. In order to improve your skills you need to work and work. Big workshops where you work twice a night doesn't cut the cake. When you are checking out workshops and you are talking to the potential coaches, ask them this question. "What are the things you stress most in your coaching an actor?" If the potential coach doesn't mention listening in the first few sentences then they really are not for you if you are looking to become a good actor.
What is a good actor? A good actor is a person that can learn to be themselves in front of the camera. No Acting. You go to an acting workshop to learn not to act, but to be yourself in front of the camera. It is just you and only you. There is no one like you. That is what you sell. Hank doesn't sell an Actor on a Casting reading. Hank sells Hank on a Casting Reading. The only difference is you are saying someone else's words. The character becomes you -- you don't become the character.
Do actors still need workshops if they have been well trained for several years? Yes, unless you are working steadily as an actor. Again. You need to keep your skills sharp so you are ready for that big reading with Steven Spielberg. I will put this on your plate like a reference to an athlete. A baseball player never practices, he doesn't pick up a bat for several weeks. He walks to the plate and tries to hit a 95 mph fast ball. What happens? A strike out of course. Same as an actor. He doesn't work on his craft for months. The big Spielberg call comes in. The Casting Reading he/she has been waiting on for a lifetime. What will happen. You will strike out. Practice makes perfect to an athlete and it is not any different with an actor. Stay sharp. As Jack Nicholson said, " You may get only one break in this business so you better be ready when it comes."
Agents and Managers? You do not pay an agent or manager a dime up front. Don't fall into that Hollywood scam. A law was passed in California. It is the The Advanced Fee Talent Service Act of the California Labor code. The only thing they are allowed to charge is 10 to 20 percent on the money you make from jobs they get you. This means, until then they get you work, you don't pay them a cent. The relatively new Advanced Fee Talent Service Act of the California Labor code written by California State Sen. Sheila Kuehl and effective since January 2000 --- has already seen many lawsuits against agencies and management companies. They only thing you pay for is a good acting workshop and Photos. Both a must. Photos are 8x10 black and white. Headshot only. Headshot means Headshot only. Shoulders on up. You are selling your mug in TV/FILM, not tits, crotch, and ass. It is an insult to most TV/Film casting directors. Don't spend lots on your Photos. Take a good camera, get a few B/W films and have your best friend shoot you in the back yard. Believe me you don't need to spend $300 on a black and white head shot.
What can I do to avoid Hollywood Scams? For starters pay attention to how people approach you. Scam artist rely on a whole slew of tactics to draw you in, including stetting up seductive websites, cold calling, and handing out cards in shopping malls. Listen to what the businesses are saying. They might tell you they submit to different companies for jobs, that is a big difference then actually saying they get work for people. Ask questions and get references. Who do they do business with around town? Where are their clients placed? Research once you get the information. Check it out. Verify the information. Call around. Call the better Business Bureau or Department of consumer affairs. Research the number of showcases this person has done at this space. Take any or all the contracts home and read them carefully, and perhaps a phone call to a lawyer to have a look as well. If the business won't let you take home the contracts get up and walk out ASAP. Last if you feel scammed complain. It is the most important thing to do. These scumbag people need to go. This is a tough business and it will not happen overnight. To roll into Hollywood not knowing anyone it may take a minimum 2 years to 10 years to get a speaking roll on primetime TV or in Major Films. That is if you give this business 100%. So if someone tells you that you can be a star in a few months it is best to walk away.
I am new in town and can't get an agent or a good agent. How do I make it? You and hundreds of people that roll into Hollywood everyday have the same problem. For starters join a good acting workshop. Mingle and talk to other actors. You have to be aggressive in this business. If you give 100% you will make it. If you give it 99% you will fail. No room for error in pursing an acting career. Hollywood has casting director showcases that go on. They charge a fee for you to do a scene. Casting directors do them on their off hours. It is a racket and they have been trying to ban them for years. Pay to act? Well, a new actor rolls into town not knowing anyone and bingo. You pay a few bucks to see a top rated casting director right away when it may take you years to get a good agent with enough clout to get you in front of them. Check Backstage West Magazine for Hollywood showcases. Just don't do a cold reading showcase. It is really a waste of your money. Just do scene showcases. And again do not do any Agent or Manager showcases. Remember. You pay Agents and Managers zip up front
I just completed my indie feature film/ short. How do I pick the right festival.
For starters it depends on your film or short. Unless you have star power in your Film/Short avoid the big festivals (Sundance, Cannes, etc etc, etc.) In other words they are rip-offs of young no name filmmakers. They Charge $50 on up and get 1000 plus entries. You figure it out. They forget that festivals are for up and coming independent filmmakers, low budget stuff. Not 5 million plus budgets with big name stars in them. Go to smaller festivals. Your chances are much better. If your movie has a market then enter in that festival. Horror to Horror film festivals - Gay and Lesbian to Gay and Lesbian film festivals. Etc, etc. Just don't let your dreams and hopes toss money at the above festivals unless you have a star in it or are heavily connected.
The Screen Actors Guild (SAG)
No way getting around it if you want to work as a TV/Film actor you need to be in SAG (screen actors guild). If you didn't already know how tough the business is as an actor you will know after you get through reading this. SAG has 118,000 members plus. You now may be startled to know that 70% of the members make less than $7,500 a year acting. This proves that by just being a union member doesn't guarantee you work.
How do I get into SAG?
There are three ways an actor can join SAG. First an actor gets cast and hired to work in a principle or speaking role for a producer working under a SAG contract. Problem with this most Producers will not hire you unless you are in SAG- so the big catch 22--- Second an actor completes a minimum of a year's membership in any of the affiliated performers unions. AFTRA etc, etc. Or third an actor is cast and hired as background performer for a SAG-signatory producer, at full SAG rates and conditions for a minimum of three days work. For each of these days the actor receives what is called a SAG voucher. Once an actor has collected three vouchers, he or she can join.
Should I rush to join SAG?
No. No rush but you want to get eligible as soon as you can so you can put SAG on your resume. A few reasons for this. 1. By being SAG eligible you will be able to go down and join ASAP if you get hired for a SAG job. 2. If you join you will not be able to do all the wonderful non union indie films that are filming all over the USA. Work is experience and you need that as a starting actor. 3. The toughest thing about joining SAG is that is will cost you a first time fee of $1356.00 plus the first semi-annual basic dues of $100, plus 1.85 percent for the first $200,000 earned. The problem with new young actors that role into LA is that they rush to join SAG then miss out on great non union indie films while they continue to wait tables and do only the non-respectable back ground. Career background people are not even considered actors by the industry. They are not taken serious by producers. If you have to do background work to get your vouchers then get your vouchers and stay away. Again background / extra people are not considered actors by the industry.
I Have A Screenplay completed. How do I sell it?
You and a million other people are in your same shoes. The Screenplay business has as many scammers as the acting business. If you have screenplay you want to sell for a movie the first thing you need to do is move to LA. Well, it will help. You need to network with production companies. Toledo, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Buffalo, Indianapolis etc,etc,etc. have very little productions going on. LA has thousands so your odds are much better getting your stuff read here.
I do not live in LA and never will be able to.
Best thing to do is find the production companies nearest to you. Even the smallest of big cities will have a few production companies. Contact them with your script. Always remember the world sends scripts to LA-- the world. Most go in the garbage or the idea is stolen.
What about the screenplay contest?
Most are rip-offs. They are like film festivals. They charge $45 and up and get 2000 entries. You figure it out. Please research them all and only enter well established gigs.
Do you recommend the Pitch festivals.
Again most are worthless and rip-offs. LA has a bunch.. I have attended several. Fade-In magazine is the best. Very Pricey but they have legit talent and companies that show up. To tell you a little about the competition in screenwriting. People fly into LA from all over the world to pitch their screenplays to an assistant to an assistant to an assistant to assistant of the assistant to the person in charge. The person you finally pitch to will no doubt be selling used cars next week. Before you fly to LA or invest in the pitch festival - research who you are pitching to. A good investment is the Hollywood Creative Directory-- it has every name and production company of any importance.
They ask for a synopsis how much should I reveal about my Story.
A little inside scoop -- never never never send a synopsis. Send your first ten pages to your script. It is was most writers are doing now. It is against the agent or Production companies wishes but don't let them use you. If your first ten pages are strong they will ask for the script. If you decide to send a synopsis never give the ending and give very little as possible. If they want to know the ending tell them to have a nice day. Tell them to read the script. If they don't like it tell them to get lost.
Back Stage West
The best of the best Classic Roles
Jackie Gleason Gigot (film) -- Honeymooners (TV)
Robert Duvall Tender Mercies
Clint Eastwood The Outlaw Josey Wales
Paul Newman Cool Hand Luke
Geraldine Page A Trip To Bountiful
Robert De Niro The Deer Hunter
Meryl Streep The Bridges of Madison County
Ed Harris The Abyss
Kevin Costner Revenge
Katherine Hepburn Rooster Cogburn
Strother Martin Cool Hand Luke
Walter Brennan Rio Bravo
John Voight Midnight Cowboy
Sylvester Stallone Copland
Robert Redford The Horse Whisperer
Christopher Walken The Deer Hunter
John Wayne True Grit
Dennis Hopper Easy Rider
Jack Nicholson One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Diane Lane Unfaithful
Steve McQueen Papillon
Burt Reynolds Deliverance
Diane Keeton Looking for Mr. Goodbar
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