Friday, October 23, 2015

Acting: The only thing you need to know.

Through our years of experience talking with the various actors in the movie scene in Texas and in Houston, the road to success in a market in this part of the country is, dare I say...challenging. We have come across many actors that pick up their belongings and make the trek to California in hopes of "making it in the film industry". What most don't realize is that YOU are pretty much a small fish in an ocean of talent. Well, needless to say, so I will say it, most will eventually come back to Texas and back home. Some will even venture to Austin, Texas where the film industry is a bit more accommodating, but accommodating doesn't pay the bills when there isn't a budget to pay anyone and, again, eventually, most will come back home or quit. 
There are some that say, that when you are "between gigs" you ought to hone your skills, spend the money and take acting classes from, in this part of the country, people that really haven't "made it".  There is an old saying, when you have reached your peak in the industry, you teach. I am not seeing a lot of people driving around in expensive cars or living in mansions. And, from what I can tell after watching countless independent projects in Texas and in Houston, you either have "it" as an actor or you don't. No matter how much training you get from those, so called, teaching the craft, the simple fact is that YOUR success is determined by YOUR desire to "want it" and your quest to perform in front of a motion picture camera.

So, you want to be an "ACTOR"!

Step one: The first step in becoming an actor, living in Texas is finding a job that pays your bills and that allows you the opportunity to audition for the parts that fit YOU.
Step two: Once you find that job, forget the idea of heading to Hollywood, at least until you have some experience under your belt. (an impressive resume is one that contains credits, not only for short projects and film race competitions, but feature motion pictures with speaking parts).
Step three: Step back from yourself and think, seriously and objectively, about the kind of parts, characters and such that you think you can play and come natural for you. (Start there and expand your character resume as you gain experience and knowledge).
Step three.one:  Start up an IMDB page. Include, a picture, contact info, and list off the names of the project, the characters you played, the names of the production companies,  the name of the directors, links to their movies, the year made, etc. Don't be shy. This is your calling card. And, when people ask if you have an IMDB page, know the address.

Step four: As you progress, as you get your auditions, as you move from your buddies projects to independent short movies to feature indie movies to lo-no budgets to projects that have big budgets and studio backing, you will have to learn the BUSINESS side of what you are doing. This is an aspect of the movie scene that is not taught in any book or class. The reality is when you are first starting off you will take any part that puts a credit onto your resume because, basically, you are not a "A" list actor with the ability to draw in an audience. You are not even in the alphabet.  In fact, at best, your performance will not be noticed and when you walk out of the premiere, you will most likely not give out one autograph...(but, keep that dream...because it will happen if you so desire it) YOUR success as you ponder why a casting agent or producer is calling you, out of the blue, to be in their movie may be determined by your ability to negotiate the things you want out of this project. Know who you are and your ability to draw in an audience. Know when by knowing the business.

Step five: Keep expense records. YOU are an independent contractor. YOUR time is money.  YOU may get some tax advantages and you may be able to utilize the tax code.

Step six: Learn to market yourself. Don't be shy in meeting the people behind the camera, unless there is a policy that restrict it. This includes the producers, people in the media, people that have the power and the connections to push your career to another level. Make simple business cards with name, picture and email address. Talk to everyone, grab a picture with everyone. (YOU will be surprised at how far that will take you). Believe it when I say this...YOU never know who you are really meeting. That person in the far corner, hugging the wall at a mixer/mingle may be a casting agent, a director and executive producer.  Networking is a good idea, but know when to go and when not to go. (YOU don't have to go to every networking opportunity). I don't and I can't. 

Step seven:  Do the best you can to keep your mouth shut when it comes to negative gossip about people. Be professional.

Step eight: When you get a "gig" be prepared, be on time and be ready. At this stage in your career, you are not a commodity, you are just an actor on a low budget independent project. There are hundreds of people that can do the exact same thing you are doing and maybe even better. Be humble. The last thing you want is to be labeled as "difficult to work with".

There are a lot of steps to becoming a successful actor. YOU don't really need to come from a theater background to be in front of a camera. Hell, I can do that. YOUR ability to be comfortable and natural in front of a camera is one of many factors that determine your future. Knowing the first steps and being professional is something that will keep you acting, keep you focused and keep you moving in the right direction. We have known actors that are full of themselves with no talent and we know actors that are grounded with amazing talent. Whom do you think is successful? 

Written by H.Luna, Producer
C47Houston News & Entertainment Magazine
C47Houston WEEKLY
HLMedia Productions
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