How to Get an Acting Agent

One of the questions I get asked frequently relates to something that most actors face in their interviews with agents and casting directors.

Here’s how a typical letter reads; I met with an agent yesterday and the first thing she said was “Tell me about yourself.” So I told her what my credits were, where I went to school, people I knew in the business and so on. She didn’t really listen. She said she’d let me know. I already know. She’s not interested. What did I do wrong?”

Q: What do I say when they say, ‘Tell me about yourself?’

Me: Whatever you do, do not recite your resume, where you went to school, and so on. Always keep in mind the kind of work you want to do … story telling.

In the case of an agent, you are interviewing a prospective salesperson for your business. It’s your job to convince a thoroughly professional salesperson (an agent) that representing your product (you) is going to produce a lot of income.

The agent’s income depends on finding, representing and selling the best storytellers he can find. An agent learns quickly how to spot the ‘comers’ and ignore the ‘wannabes.’

The deciding factor is simple: “Is this actor a good story teller?”

An observable reality is that an agent can’t tell if you are a good storyteller unless she sees you telling a story. That opening gambit, “tell me about yourself” is an agent’s way of saying, ‘tell me a story.’ If you don’t comply with this request, agents become like five year olds; ‘tell me a story, tell me a story, tell me a story.’

These repetitive requests come in the guise of, “I see you went to Carnegie Tech.” “So, you’re from Connecticut.” “Oh, you worked with Burt Reynolds.”

When you hear this kind of thing it’s just the agent trying to get the ‘test drive’ started. They want you to tell them a story.

Okay, now that you know what’s really going on, it’s time to discover what your response should be the next time you hear those words, “Tell me about yourself.”

What you should do is … TELL A STORY.

Go through your real life experiences and start creating narratives about yourself. If you have to bend the truth a bit to keep the interest up, then so be it. Fiction is our business. (Don’t make up credits or relationships.)

For instance, let us suppose that you have only one credit in a community theater production of “Sally Of The Sawdust” and you only had two lines as Cannonball Bill. The beginning of your story might be something along these lines:

“Well, I made my first entrance on to a stage in an unusual way – I was shot from a cannon.” (This is what we in the fiction business call a “grabber.”)

Now spin out a story where there’s a little suspense, a little joke, a little pay-off of some kind;

“One night we had an understudy who was supposed to say one line after I got shot onto the stage. He was supposed to say. ‘Hark I hear the cannon roar!’ He was pretty nervous because he’d never been on stage before. Anyway, when I got shot out of the cannon with a large bang, the understudy was startled and he said, ‘What the hell was that?'”

Don’t forget the drama! This is a scene you are painting for the agent. Play it.

Tell a story. A beginning. (The grabber) A middle. (An interesting thing happened) And then the end.

Tell a story that keeps the agent interested in the outcome and you’ll go a long ways toward convincing the agent that you are a ‘comer.’

By the way, when I say “create a narrative,” I’m not talking about lying – I’m talking about taking the stories in your own experiences and making them memorable. Dramatic! Hilarious! Exciting! Suspenseful!

Now practice telling your stories in such a way that the agent can’t wait to hear the next line. Believe me, once you “hook” an agent with a well-told story, you will get what you came for … representation. In other words, sell the salesman.

The same advice goes for casting directors. They are the personnel department of the company you hope to work for. The same idea applies.

Tell a story.

1. Get several good stories in your repertoire.
2. Practice telling them.

This is basic, bottom-line preparation. If you don’t have stories to tell, you are going to suffer through a lot of needless rejection.

So the next time you hear, “Tell me about yourself.” you know all you have to do is be prepared to tell a story. Make it a good story, practice telling it, listen for the cue line and go. Your positive results will soar.

One more thing … you can observe how other actors and performers “tell stories, by tuning in to the celebrity interview shows. Some are good at it and some are not so good. (I’m sure you’ll see the difference.) But they’re all trying … to ‘tell me a story.’

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Acting Tips on Memorizing Lines

Here is one acting tip – acting is not about learning lines. Yet actors often worry about memorizing lines, so below is some information on when you need to know your lines and the best way to avoid drawing a blank.

1. Do you need to know your lines for acting auditions?

It depends on whether you have to do a monologue, a prepared scene or a cold reading.

  • If you’re presenting a monologue, you have to know your lines perfectly. Casting directors assume you’ve worked on your monologue for a long time and expect you to have it down. If you don’t know your monologue like the back of your hand, you could easily draw a blank once you feel the added stress of auditioning. That’s not a situation you want to be in, but if you do fumble a line at an audition, here’s an important acting tip – don’t stop acting. Say the line over if you can or just move on, but don’t apologize and don’t break the fourth wall. Act the way you would if this happened on stage and the casting director will know you’re a professional.
  • If you’re asked to prepare a scene from a script you don’t have to know your lines by heart, but you should be very familiar with them. If you can memorize the scene, that’s better of course, but always keep a copy of it in your hand no matter what. That way, you won’t have to interrupt your acting if you do forget a line, plus it reminds the casting director that your audition is a work in progress, not the polished performance you would give if you got the part. Here’s an acting tip for film auditions – keep the hand you hold your script with steady to avoid annoying shuffling paper noises being picked up by the camera.
  • If your audition consists of a cold reading, no one will expect you to know your lines, but try to show up early at the audition so you can read the scene over several times. The more familiar you are with the lines, the more you’ll be able to focus on your acting and not the words. Here’s a cold reading acting tip – slide your thumb down the paper as you read your scene. This way, you’ll have a mark for your next line and you’ll be able to look up during your audition without breaking the flow of your scene.

Naturally, once you nail the audition and get the job, it’s time to memorize your lines.

2. What’s the best way to learn lines?

It depends on the type of person you are. Some actors do better if they work on the acting first because once they know what motivates their character to speak, memorization is easy. Other actors prefer to get the memorization part of the way so they can concentrate on their acting.

Try these different acting tips and methods and see what works for you.

  • Write your lines down – That’s what Anthony Hopkins does. He writes each line three times. By the third time, he feels he’s committed the line to memory. Writing your lines down will help you process and memorize them.
  • Reading lines out loud – It’s easier to learn words when you hear them, so read your lines out loud over and over while you figure out the subtext of your script. Try to read without any specific intonation so you don’t fall into a rhythm that will keep you from being spontaneous when you act. When you’re ready to test yourself, record the other characters’ lines, leaving enough space for your dialogue. Run lines with everyone you can (friends, roommates, family…)
  • Rehearsing – If you rehearse your scenes every day, working on your objectives and connecting with your partner, most of your lines will eventually come naturally because you will have worked out the impulse that makes your character say the line. The legendary acting teacher Stella Adler called this “experiencing” the lines. Actually, if there’s a few lines you just can’t seem to get right, those could be clues into things you haven’t figured out about your character yet.
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What Do They Teach at Acting School?

There are lots of different modules that are covered in Acting Schools, and to try and cover the in one article would be tough going. This article will attempt to give you an overview of some of the courses that one would expect if they enrolled into an Acting School:

The Main tool besides their body of an actor is their voice. Therefore voices need to be trained so that they be heard, understood and even felt.
Students will focus on breath work, singing, relaxation and posture as a way of nurturing their voice.

An actor’s body is their only real tool; therefore it must be developed to perform whenever and however needed.
Movement and understanding different techniques is therefore a key skill for any Actor to have in their “tool-kit”

The ability to improvise can never be underestimated when it comes to acting. Through games and exercises students will typically learn to let their imaginations run riot, how to live for the moment and how to work well with others without having to plan in advance.

Actors must also have the ability to market themselves in order to be successful. Actors are constantly subjected to auditions as part of any job interview. So a typical class would focus on developing an actor’s ability to read at a moments notice, focus on their CV, and provide live auditioning experience.

Shakespeare always features in any Acting School, that’s because many believe if you can play Shakespeare, you can play anything. A class would typically look into the classical language and students will learn how to speak it.

The Theatre and Television are also topics that one would normally expect as part of any Actors education. The courses will focus on the history of acting styles and techniques since the early ages. Students will also be expected to explore the differences between shooting a film which is typically one camera and shooting in television, sitcoms, commercials, soap operas and chat shows which typically have three camera shoots as opposed to one.

Acting School is truly the place to go if you want to unleash your true acting potential.

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Alternative to Acting School

Do you have the money and 4 years to dedicate to an acting school? If not, read on, I might have what you need.

If you want to learn about the history and different styles of acting, acting schools are the way to go. There are lots of different acting schools and it’s hard to choose. But what they have all in common is that most are very expensive. If you want to get a very rounded perspective on acting, then go to an acting school. There are so many styles of acting.

Here is what you can do. Get a list of all the acting schools in your area. If you live in New York City or L.A. you should find a bunch. Some of the schools are not 4 years and don’t cost a lot of money. Gather this list. Find teachers teaching private classes and workshops. Work independently with these teachers. It’s cheaper and the personal attention that you will receive is definitely worth it.

Getting a graduate degree in an acting school is overrated. What is important is talent. Are you good? Are you a quality actor? Can you play the role with your unique ability?

Unlike what you get when you join an acting school, you will be able to study whatever style of acting that suits you. Choose your own schedule. And this will cost you only about a third of the price. This is what I chose and I have never regretted it.

Now I am not saying that an acting school/university is not for anyone. If you need some structure, and like the traditional study standards, then maybe you should opt for a school. But before you go that way, do your research. There are a lot of other possibilities out there. Lots of schools and styles. A lot of workshops where you will receive personal attention. There are a lot of opportunities and everywhere there is something to grasp or let go.

Sebastien is an accomplished actor and film maker. He now teaches acting in a well known University. He also teaches multiple workshops with a dozen students at a time.

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Improve Your Acting – 10 Reasonably Good Tips!

You could probably fill a library with all the books on how to improve your acting! So to save you a little time I have put together a list of 10 tips, that I hope, will help you the most.

  • Know your script. Read, re-read and then read again, and not just your own lines. From this foundation you can go on to identify the reason for your lines, this will help you react with the right lines and make remembering easier.
  • Listen actively, you should give the impression that what your character is hearing is purely of that moment. Resist the temptation to be quick with your lines, just to prove you know them, it is a conversation after all.
  • Be brave, the quickest way to improve your acting is to realize that your first choice will usually be the easiest for you to do – not the best one for the part. Look beyond your initial choice.
  • Learn to breath, practice 20 minutes a day. Inhale as deeply as possible and exhale for twice the amount of time you spent inhaling (i.e. inhale 15 seconds exhale 30 seconds). This will help pre-audition stress and stage fright.
  • Be professional, turning up on time, or early, will give you all the warm up time and, more importantly, the space you need.
  • This one might not be so obvious, avoid bad mouthing your fellow actors. This is not only good advice because eventually they will find out what you’ve been saying, but also the actors who are quick to insult other actors are the ones who blame others for their own shortcomings. If you always blame others, you will miss out on the opportunity to accurately evaluate your own performances.
  • If everyone around you is loosing their heads – keep yours. If you find yourself in a situation where every piece of furniture is being chewed by your fellow cast members, hold your nerve and avoid the melodrama. Your performance will stand out like the calm at the eye of the storm.
  • Act! The more you act the better you should get. Practice makes perfect after all. The more acting you do, the greater the number of actors and directors you will work with. This will help improve your acting by enabling you to find the truest way for you to develop.
  • Improve your acting by making your colleagues look as good as possible. It might sound odd but getting the best from colleagues will reflect on your own performance and help you develop. It will also improve your professional reputation which, in turn, should mean you get more work.
  • Finally, be thick skinned. You have to have the courage to stick to your guns when you think your right, even if you consider the criticism harsh, or are getting lots of rejections. Be honest with your self and be brave, most actors get rejected for most jobs most of the time!
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Open Disney Casting Calls – The Big Opportunity

Disney is an enormous business with Films, TV shows, Theme Parks and Hotels all of which are always looking for new faces and ways to improve what they already do so well. As an Entertainer, Actor, Singer, Stunt Performer, Musician, or any other specialty act, taking the time to go to an Open Disney Casting Call for one of its theme parks is a great opportunity in many different ways. An open Disney auditions can be a lot more than just getting a job at a Disney venue.

Let us first look at what abundance you will find at an Open Disney Casting Call. There are a lot of people in your chosen field of work all looking to be seen and all of them looking to be given an opportunity to show their talent. So you are at an open Disney audition, and you are surrounded by professionals and semi professionals and even amateurs with unique perspectives and approaches. All of these people you meet at an open Disney casting call can be a great source of information for you. You can find out a lot of new techniques and ideas for your self, just by observing the different approaches to a script or a song or a piece of action that the other entertainers are doing. You can see who stands out at the open Disney audition. You will notice how they look, what they say, and how they say it. All of this is building your own experience of being an entertainer, and helping you build a bunch of new ideas and examples you can draw from in the future. Every audition is an opportunity to practice this. Your casting call is like a free acting class filled with enthusiastic entertainers. So make sure you take a little pad and jot down those insights when you see them or think of them.

Just by watching and listening you can gain knowledge, but you can do more than that just by letting the information come to you. You can actually go and seek it out during your open Disney casting calls. At an Open Disney Casting Call there is also the opportunity to find entertainers like your self that are eager to grow more in their chosen field of expression. You will meet singers that are wanting to be better singers, actors wanting more acting opportunities, musicians wanting some expansion with their music, and stunt performers that are wanting to gain better skills. All of this is a buffet of advice and direction for you at any casting call.

So, keep your mind open to the opportunities that surround you, not just your open Disney casting call.

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Where Can I Find Free Casting Call and Audition Info?

There are many theatre companies in your own local city that offer free acting classes and lessons. Believe it or not this is where you will find lots of work. Many actors who became big film stars started out working in theatre. It is also in theatre where you will become familiar with how performing works. Auditions listings are posted daily in newsletters and theatre newspapers by the acting coaches, directors and instructors.

Never Pay for free information. There are many online websites out there that advertise claims that they can can lead you to your next audition or big gig but the majority of them charge a a fee.

You should never have to pay someone to give you a job. As many casting websites as there are out there asking you to pay them to access their information, there are just as many websites out there who provide the very same information for free.

Many open call castings and auditions don’t give you a heads up on what to prepare for, so you should always have resume and head shot picture ready. Even if you don’t have any acting experience – you should still have a written resume that gives the casting directors a little bit about information yourself such as height, weight and your training. Also have at least 16 bars of a song prepared in case a casting director asks you to sing. It’s even better when you have sheet music as accompanists are provided at the auditions.

Network! Network! Network! It’s always good to get out and network in your city in areas of the arts and music. Learn about the who is who of the business and what they do. Collect business cards and socialize with other individuals who share in your career field of interest. You never know who you may meet or what may happen.

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How to Find Free Casting Calls

The free casting calls make a good platform where anyone planning to get into acting or modeling career can start from. If you have ever thought of getting in the show business or you have just come out of the art school; getting as much information as you can about open casting auditions can be a suitable starting point. The auditions are open for anyone who feels they have what it take to rise in the acting industry. Many people coming out of the art school are normally challenged on where to jumpstart their career. Nonetheless, the following article will seek to demystify the jigsaw puzzle holding back your career by guiding you on where you can acquire free casing calls information.

Become a member of free casting calls audition forms and message boards. The columns do list all the important projects coming up in the near future. The forums also feature fans in the industry and hence you can acquire information from them; not to mention the tips shared in the sites.

Craigslist is another good source to get casting call updates. The site does list a number of important gigs you can take part in. Acquiring the particular talent people are searching for is simple. You only require login into the site and choosing your location. Browse under the `talent’ or `gigs’. You will find numerous upcoming roles looking for musicians and actors endowed with different kinds of skills. However, it is crucial for prospective candidates to understand that most of the jobs listed in the site are meant for promotional job listing purposes and hence it is crucial for them to be careful when submitting their personal details.

Another smart way you can get free casting calls is through using search engines. Type in the phrase in the search robot and wait for the results. A number of sites offering the service will come up. You should however understand that there are some pay sites offering the same service. Before signing in, ensure that the site you are signing in will not ask you to pay before you get access to the casting call list they have gathered.

Social sites do also list crucial casting calls coming in the near future. You can get this information on the wall of companies and other institutions that may be holding casting roles. Some agencies are also members of the social book; therefore, they also advertise roles on their wall. Just make a habit of browsing once in a while in the social sites.

Going through the local journals can also be a smart idea. The casting agents will always advertise major roles in the upcoming local projects. Read through the ads section and the entertainment as well. These are the common places where a casting call ad is likely to be found.

Lastly, seek good networking connection. Hire a professional agent and inform your friends as well. Agents normally have contacts in many places they can use to get you a casting call audition. Likewise, your friends can help in giving you contacts about upcoming projects they have heard about.

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Free Casting Calls – Where to Find Them

Free casting calls can be located in many places. A very simple way to find them is by plugging the term free casting calls into a search engine like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. You will discover pages of sites with free castings and auditions.

Craigslist is another great site to find castings. Simply go to the city you wish to find an audition, then go to the section titled jobs, finally go to the tv and film section. You will find many free casting calls in your city. The great thing about Craigslist is that every day more and more castings calls and auditions are added, so everyday you can be assured that their will be a new posting.

Social Media websites like MySpace and Facebook are becoming the status quo, so many companies including audition and casting companies are utilizing them to stay connected with their customers. You should find these companies and add them, so that you get there updates. Many of them will do updates when you they have castings call and auditions available. They will be sent directly to you so you will know when new free casting calls are available.

Another option you may look at is hiring an agent to find you casting calls and auditions. A reputable agent should keep you in the spotlight and get you continual jobs. The only thing that sucks is that an agent does get a percentage of your money, usually 10-15 percent. You should definitely look into this option as it has both positives and negatives.

The last thing about free castings is that you won’t always nail the audition or casting call, But by being prepared and focused you will greatly increase your chance at landing a part that you auditioned for.

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Reality Show Casting Calls – Getting Noticed

Reality shows are incredibly popular these days. They are great entertainment for the viewer. Many people end up breaking into show business by getting onto a popular reality show. Let’s face it, when we personally get into watching a reality show, we fall in love or get really attached to some of the people’s stories and background. Standing out at the open casting call will be one of the most important things for you to get through to the next audition call back. Many times, you may be at the casting call with hundred’s and hundred’s of other people wanting to get onto the show as well, this is called an open casting call. So, knowing what the casting directors are looking for will help you stand out and get noticed at the auditions.

The first step is to get through to the next group of call backs. Be honest about yourself, and be yourself. Casting directors for reality show casting calls are often looking for the most sincere individuals that have heaps of passion about what ever it is they are casting for. For instance, if you are casting for a reality show about singing, then, you should have an avid passion for music and singing. If you are casting for a cooking show, then, obviously, you should have a passion for food and cooking. Don’t do something obnoxious or outrageous that isn’t really you. You’ll notice that those obnoxious people get onto the show for a second, but, they don’t ever end up on the show for long term. Reality means just that! Reality show audition directors want sincere reality. They don’t want you to make up a story, or not really be that passionate.

Once you make it past the first open casting call, you will want to make sure you come across as real. If you have the chance to talk directly to a reality show casting director, you are going to want to speak to them as if they were a friend of yours. With the same enthusiasm and passion you would discuss with your friend, you will want to treat the casting director the same way. If you try to ‘act’ or ‘put on a show’, the director will see through it, and you will be at the end of your audition. I know you may feel a bit nervous, and that is to be expected. But, as long as you aren’t putting on a show, your sincerity will shine through. Treat them as if they are someone you just met that is really as passionate as you are about what ever it is you are auditioning for, and let them know why it is so important to you.

Sometimes a reality show casting will require an application. On the application there will be lot’s of questions about yourself. Take your time in answering these questions. The casting director’s want to know if you have a dynamic personality. If you just answer yes and no to the questions, they will think, “Oh geez, this person doesn’t really have a lot to say.” Don’t be afraid to tell stories on the application and let your personality shine through. They are looking for dynamic personality, as well as sincerity. They don’t want you to be ‘acting’. So, be yourself and enjoy meeting your reality show casting directors.

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