GUIDANCE – PERFORMING – DRAMATIC ARTS
This section covers all aspects of the entertainment business where you perform in front of the audience or camera, we offer guidance in getting started and have isolated a few important things which are essential if you want a career in this industry.
We intend to provide you with an introduction to the business and to help in organizing your approach to obtaining the employment you want. We can direct you to the essential contacts and give the answers to man y of the questions you may have.
In you are looking for a career in acting, presenting, comedy, singing or dancing read on. If you have an interest in other aspects of the industry read the section on ‘Management, Production, Technicians and Crew'. Otherwise, stay with us as we introduce you to some of the common issues facing anyone wishing to be in front of the audience or camera.
When considering entering the entertainment business the process appears very confusing and it is difficult to know where to start. We can provide assistance with the following:
- What are the necessary qualifications
- Where can the training, guidance and experience be obtained
- Joining a Union
- Needing the services of an agent
- Obtaining interviews and auditions
- Avoiding being taken advantage of
The entertainment business has been said to provide an emotional release; it's an artistic expression; but most of all it may provide a path to work and possibly fame.
THE POINT OF DECISION
So, you've decided to chase your dream. What you don't do is to jump on the first plane and fly to the closest large city in the hope that this is where it happens and perhaps where you will be discovered. Forget it! It doesn't work like that.
There is a right way and a wrong way to proceed. Most famous entertainers worked at regular jobs before getting their big break. They scrimped and saved money for classes, photographs and bus fare to auditions. The cliché “The struggling actor” is true. So, in order to keep the struggling to a minimum you must adopt practical ways to administer your time and money.
Perhaps you have finished your schooling and you now know a bit about character development, a bit about singing and dancing, and you have an idea about wardrobe and make-up. But did you spend any time in learning about “the business”? It isn't exactly glamorous but it is necessary – you must know something about legal and financial issues, from taxes to contracts. You will be confronted with dealing with Talent Agents, Managers, Photographers and Agencies to mention a few. Now that information technology has become a daily part of our lives you must learn how to make the best use of it. It can be very helpful in keeping you organized, keeping track of appointments, time scheduling and in getting you to appointments on time.
It is also important to learn the proper etiquette----from contacting agents and photographers, attending a photo-shoot or attending an audition.
Many new people to the business obsess about whether to join the union and when is the best time. What are the pluses and minuses of working outside of the union?
Before joining a union, try as many different environments as you can – acting classes, showcases, or in student and independent films. Also, speak to seasoned actors about the reality of making a living in this business. Experience will also help solidify your conviction to be an actor. Before you spend thousands to join a union, be sure this is what you want to do.
For example, if you join SAG or Equity at too young an age, you may price yourself out of the market. The number of twenty something performers far exceeds the number of suitable roles for them—especially those lacking professional experience.
Experience counts: Producers look carefully at credits; they know the difference between being a lead in an independent film and being an extra in a Nicole Kidman movie. It is easier to find clips for a demo reel from the twenty minutes you appear in a non-union feature than a children's television program. In small films and stage productions you learn professional behaviour while developing your craft and gaining credits for your resume.
When you are ready for union membership remember to study their contracts and policies carefully before becoming a union member. The major unions are strict about their rules regarding membership, so follow them carefully.
So, if you have decided to become an entertainer consider the following:
It is essential to be properly prepared which means that you need professional training. Whether you are seeking to become an actor, singer, dancer or comedian there is much to learn. In this section you will find helpful links to many of the Courses offered by Universities and, or private schools.
Whether you take classes at a local college or acting school, or study one-on-one with a coach, you'll need to learn the basics: voice and movement; working with a script; warm-up exercises; acting for stage versus acting for camera; and so forth. There are extensive areas of study in the fields of singing and dancing and you will find these identified within this site.
Be prepared to train your body and mind; make yours as strong as possible. First, get yourself in shape; eat, sleep, and live a healthy life. The craft you are about to undertake will be physically demanding, so start with a proper exercise regime. If it is your intention to be an actor or presenter read as much as possible. Preferably, read plays aloud with friends or classmates. If you want to be a singer or dancer you must practice vocal lessons and/or various types of dance steps. Practice, practice, practice.
To begin with, work on as many amateur productions as possible. School plays are a great start, as is community theatre. If you own a DV camcorder and a computer, make movies with your friends. If not, find a local college that offers filmmaking classes and volunteer to work on student films.
This is an extensive area covering everything from tap dancing to horseback riding. The main thing is to constantly work to expand your area of knowledge and skill. This can include various languages and accents as well as stage protocol and the grace of dance movements. Always remember something as basic as a Driver's License can also be surprisingly helpful.
RESUME'S / HEADSHOTS / COMPOSITES:
These are essential tools used to present your self to the professional bodies. As to exactly what they are and the differences between them can be found in the menu for this section. Once you have them you may either use them to directly approach casting directors, agents, agencies, etc or you may choose to have a professional service make the approach on your behalf; such as PRO-ACTIVE.
This is a tough part of the industry and there is no escape. You must be properly prepared so study the section on this carefully. There is excellent advice in the section for Fashion and Modeling, so don't overlook this. At auditions, an actor performs in front of a casting director. You will be asked to read a few pages from a script (called ‘sides'), or to recite a monologue. At musical auditions, you'll either sing part of a song (usually 16 bars) or be required to display your dancing abilities. Attend as many auditions as you can as it will provide good experience. It is a skill you need to learn.
People in the performing arts gravitate towards large cities as there is usually more work available and more opportunity. Large cities are inevitably expensive so make sure you have saved several thousand dollars, as a safeguard, before you go.
Inexperienced and hopeful people are taken advantage of by crooks and scam artist; their enthusiasm and willingness to pay any price – in time or money to achieve their dreams or to get an edge makes them prime targets.
To arm your self against the most common scams – as well as new and usual ones – check the Scam Alerts site, which will be updated regularly. Keeping you informed is the best way to prevent being fleeced by unscrupulous folks.