This is the first full post since
my breakdown at the start of my hiatus back in November 2020. Since I “quit blogging”, I’ve been acting and studying the Meisner technique for over two years, but I have over six years of set experience. I want to share with you the things I did to get started in my acting career that were absolutely free. These things are little but can make a big impact and lead you down your path to success and learning more about yourself.
*Even though this post is about how to get started for free, there are still affiliate links in this post for basic and affordable tools for actors on a budget. I only earn a tiny commission if you choose to make a purchase through these links.
7 Ways To Get Started As An Actor With No Money.
1. Follow and/ or join Facebook groups and pages for actors.
When you search for them, try to use your city or state name and then follow it with words like “auditions”, “film group”, “screen actors”, “casting, crew, production”, “movie makers”, or “film group”.
For example: If you’re in Cleveland, you’d look for groups like Cleveland Film Group or Northeast Ohio Auditions.
If you live in a very small town, just use the names of the major cities closest to you.
These are a start and over time Facebook will begin to recommend more groups to you.
2. Follow local casting offices near you.
Some may have a site where you can register to be on their talent database. This next tip is very important, please don’t skip this advice. If they provide guidelines on how you should upload your photos, please PLEASE do what they say to the best of your ability. If the local casting office doesn’t provide guidelines, here’s an example from a casting office near me.
No hats or sunglasses.
No one else in the picture, friends or children.
The picture should be current.
No Snapchat or similar filters.
No photos in a car.
Show only your current hair color
Men, if you have facial hair currently, the picture should show it. If not, it should not.
You must upload a file. You cannot send IMDB links or other links to your picture.
Image files must be 1023px x 1023px or smaller and less than 300 MB.
Related Post: How to pack for a day on set as a BIPOC actor. Part One
3. Look for background/ extra work.
Doing background or extra work gives you set experience, which is really important because you can learn set lingo, how long a shoot can last… *cough* 15 hours on average for a film *cough*, what to do, and what not to do. Such as, DO read the call time instructions to know when you have to arrive to set and where. DO NOT take photos of yourself in costume, the actors, the set, the crew, etc., it can get you kicked off set.
Also, it is possible to find paid background work. For me, I prefer paid background work. I’ve only done free background work once. Those checks are small but helpful, especially when you work more than 8 hours on set because you get time and a half on your check. I’m also a parent and my time is very precious to me and my son.
4. Find local or online acting classes that allow you to take your first class free to audit.
This will give you some insight into how actors train and you’ll be able to watch more experienced actors react to each other because that’s what acting is.
These are the legitimate online acting schools that I personally recommend. One of them offers in-person classes here in Cleveland and has online classes, The Houde School of Acting.
The others are the Hollywood Winner’s Circle and Anthony Meindl’s Acting Workshop. I recommend these because I either currently take classes with them or have attended a workshop hosted by these acting coaches and I genuinely love them all!
5. Follow Actors and Acting Coaches on YouTube and Read Their Books.
Some of the coaches that I recommended have their own YouTube channels as well as some of the students of these coaches. They give excellent advice on how to get started, how they got their start, do’s and don’ts, and so much more for absolutely free.
1. The Houde School of Acting. (Pronounced like “hood”) A.k.a “Houde School” (as we students and those who know the school call it) was founded by Jessica Houde-Morris. Focuses on the Meisner technique and also offers improv, script analysis, self-tape coaching, scene study, and more.
2. Acting Career Center by Kurt Yue (A teacher and former Houde student.) Kurt is a real down-to-earth actor with over 50 IMDb credits and has been in multiple Marvel films. His advice is practical and realistic.
3. Script Tips For Actors by Kellen Boyle (A Houde School teacher and former student.) Kellen
4. Wendy Alane Wright. A beautiful and passionate soul who gives practical advice on acting and how to survive as an actor. She’s even written some really helpful and affordable books.
5. Amy Lyndon. She offers realistic advice for actors and has even created her own technique. She’s written a couple of books that can be found on Amazon and you can watch her on YouTube as well.
6. PlayGrounds Channel. They don’t post often, but their content is still rich.
6. Find Scripts and Plays to Read.
It’s important to know how to read a script, imagine what the characters might look like, imagine yourself as the character and the choices you’d make, read different writing styles, and become familiar with classic stories. You could even find scripts online for your favorite movies and shows. It first helps to watch the film or show and then read the script along with the show while noticing the choices the actors made.
I’ll create a separate post listing all of the plays that I was recommended to read before I can head into doing scene work. It will also be combined with a list of sites to find scripts from film and tv as well as monologues to practice auditioning with.
7. Practice Auditioning Anyway!
If you’ve already read scripts and you’re ready to practice auditioning just to start somewhere, make sure you have the right equipment. At this point of your journey, I highly recommend practicing against a blank wall, using a really good lamp or *natural lighting, and using a tripod. If you want to get lights specifically for filming your auditions, I recommend either box lights or umbrella lights.
Using a blank wall eliminates distractions so that casting or whoever is watching can pay attention to you and only you. Use a tripod with an attachment that can hold a cell phone or buy an attachment for it. You’ll need a tripod that can go up to your head height or taller if you’re a little above average. This will provide a stable shoot.
Also, avoid distracting patterns on your clothes. No polka dots, stripes, flowers, etc. No bright neon colors either, friend. Just wear solid colors.
*I will admit that natural lighting can be hard to use because you’re limited by the amount of daylight you might have in a day, the direction of the sun and even clouds passing by, the weather, etc. can change everything.
If you aren’t sure how to set up for an audition watch this video here.
Thanks so much for reading! Please leave a comment and let me know what you’d like to know about breaking into the world of acting.
Talk to you soon!
Join the B.L.O.S.S.I.M (BIPOC Lives On Set, Stage, & In Media) Facebook community group!
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