Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Finding Acting Gigs


Obviously, the most important part of being an actor is, well, ACTING.  All other parts of the business aside, nothing else will qualify you as such, nor will anything else will improve your skills or teach you how the film industry works as well as getting out there and just DOING it.  What's more, you can start finding gigs TODAY.

You may not have started because you didn't know where to look for opportunities in your area, or even if there are ANY opportunities where you live.  You may be surprised.  While the number of acting gigs varies from place to place, and even season to season, almost everywhere is going to have SOME acting positions needing to be filled.  It's all a matter of knowing where to find them.


If you haven't heard of it, Craigslist.org is a free classifieds website with area specific pages for cities and regions all over the U.S., as well as the world.  Besides selling your used car or finding that special someone in the dating section, there are a couple of posting areas that should be of special interest to the aspiring actor.

To get started, locate the area that best represents where you live (for example, for me, this is the Hawaii - Oahu area).  Once on that page, the two main places you are going to want to look are "Jobs - tv/film/video" and "Gigs - talent."  Where I am, both of these receive new posts daily, often multiple posts a day.  While many are won't apply to you, what will pop up occasionally will be offers for roles in student films, small independent projects, local commercials, and all kinds of unique opportunities.  A large number of the roles I have been in, from my first background role to leading and supporting roles in student films to my first television commercial (a paid, lead role at that), have come from responding to posts on Craigslist.

One new and useful tool that has come out recently is the Craigslist app for android phones (I guess they have it for iPhone too.  Before, I would often forget to check the website daily for new opportunities, and by the time I got around to looking, a submission deadline had passed me by.  With the app, I have it set to notify me whenever a new post is made, and I can view and respond to it right on my phone.  I recommend it to any beginning actor with a smart phone.


So far, I have acted in two localities - Utah, and Hawaii.  Both areas are what I consider "medium" acting markets - not huge like LA and NY, but enough work that there are always films or TV shows coming through.  In both places, someone has taken it upon themselves to create a local acting network, and these have been great tools for keeping up with local acting news, as well as keeping in touch with other local actors.

In Utah, they have Utah Actors.

In Hawaii, it's the Wells Brothers' Hawaii Actors' Network (HAN).

The Teddy and Snoopy Wells have also created the Film Actors' Network, which has been designed to provide networks for all 50 states.  I don't have any experience with this site, but it's worth checking out to see if a community in your own area has taken root there.

Wherever you are at, I recommend you search for and join one of these networks.  They always have places for people to post casting calls, and usually contain a profile system where you can upload pictures, your resume, and videos of your work.  I recently got a gig in a PSA (Public Service Announcement) that played on local TV.  The director had seen me in a different commercial but didn't know how to get a hold of me, so he used the Hawaii Actors' Network to find my contact info.  That left me with some high quality reel and TWO television spots playing at once, giving me some serious exposure.


The entirety of my time spent as an actor so far has also been time spent as a college student, first at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and then at BYU-Hawaii in Laie, HI.  Wandering around campus between classes, I started to notice the places where film and theater students always posted their casting notices.  Every campus has places like this.  In a smaller school, there might be one bulletin board where everything on campus gets posted.  In larger schools with actual film programs, there might be a specific places in the arts building, ect., where students always have fliers up, looking for actors for their next play or film project.

Usually, you don't have to be a student to audition.  In fact, much of the time these young directors are looking for types that are not likely to be found among the student body (much older or younger parts, for example).  If you live near a college campus, it's worth it to find out where these posting locations are and check them out every week or so.  Student productions don't usually pay, but they are a great way to get lead and supporting roles on an otherwise empty resume, as well as keep you working when you live in an area where paid roles are few and far between.


Actors Access is a "breakdown service" website.  No, it's not like Triple A.  Actors Access is a place where professional film projects go to post their casting notices.  These are organized by region, including the obvious ones like LA/NY, but also smaller markets like "Chicago-Midwest" and "Mountain Region (CO, UT)", and even a couple in Canada.  Actors can create a profile with pictures and a resume, view breakdowns for parts in their region, and submit by either paying a subscription fee or by paying per submission.  I understand that this is an invaluable service to actors living in major areas like LA and New York, but so far, I have never submitted to any parts through AA.  It is worth checking out at least once, to be aware of its existence, and then you can determine from there how often to check if gigs ever appear in your area.


I'm going to be making the process of getting an agent its own article, but a list of getting gigs would definitely be incomplete without listing my agent as one of the ways I get work.  My first paid gigs, extra work on the TV show One Tree Hill, as well as on the films Den Brother and Battleship, came through my agents.  Every audition I have had for a TV show, including Hawaii 5-0, Off the Map, and The River, have also come through my current agency, Kathy Muller Talent & Modeling.  Basically, many professional productions only go through agencies to find their talent, making having one a necessary middle man between you and many roles.  Basically, you want one (a good one).


In the end, no one can keep you from acting, especially in this day and age of easy to access technology.  If you want more work and are having trouble finding it, write something yourself, grab a couple of friends and a camera, and shoot it!  Upload it to the internet, you could could find out that you have an audience just waiting for something like your project to appear.


With so many ways to get into acting, there is no reason why you can't get started today.

If you have any tips about finding gigs, or would like to share your own gig-finding experiences, including where you live and how often you work, leave me a comment!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"The Office" - How to Be in a Student Film

Student Films  

One of the best ways to get experience and start building your resume as an actor is in Student Films.  This was the first student film I was in. I had a great time and thought that it turned out really well.  I played "Tim".  Here's what I learned about student films!
  • If you live anywhere near a college, chances are there are film or video production students looking for actors for their next project.
    • I live near BYU in Provo, UT and UVU in Orem, UT – both have film programs.  This was a UVU student project.  The director had to film his own interpretation of an already existing scene.
  • To find student film projects happening in your area, regularly check your local Craigslist page under “Jobs – tv / film / video” and “Gigs – talent”, as well as find out where fliers are posted on campus, especially around the media arts department.
    • I found this one on Craigslist.  He had me e-mail him my headshot and resume.
  • Student films rarely, if ever, pay, but this can be a blessing in disguise for the beginner actor.
    • Student films will sometimes provide “craft service”, or food, on set.  We got pizza on this one!
  • Students are often desperate to find someone willing to work for free, and won’t mind as much if your experience level is low.
    • The director was going to have me audition, but then just decided to cast me without one.
  • As with any gig, these are great opportunities to network with other actors and crew – make friends, and exchange contact information.
    • This was the second time I worked with fellow actor Skip Warner, who played David Brent.  We had previously met as extras on the set of You’re So Cupid, and would go on to work together as featured extras in Dr. Limptooth.  We became good friends, and would often joke that we must be the only two actors in Utah Valley.
  • Make sure that you arrange to get a copy of the finished product – some of these projects can turn out very well, and can be great additions to your reel!
    • It took the director months to get me the copy – I finally got it a few days before I moved from Provo to Hawaii!  If he hadn’t, I still would have pestered him to mail it to me. 
So that's all you need to know to go find a student film to be in yourself!  

Did you think this was helpful, or do you have something to say about the film?  

Leave me a comment below! :)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Who am I?

My name is Alex Denney, and I'm an actor.  Now, don't start scanning your brain for the credits of all of the movies and TV shows you've seen in recent memory, because you won't find my name there.  I don't even live in L.A.  I'm not a famous actor, not yet, but that's the point.  Most people don't go from being a non-actor to a big name star immediately, but you can go from not acting ever to being on film, or "Zero to Action!", very quickly.  This blog will be a place to share the work I've done, as well as knowledge and experience I have and will gain from my journey towards being a rich and world famous actor, so you can learn how you can get started and use the tips I have learned along the way.

 To give you an idea of the kind of work I've done so far, in two years I have:
  • Been on the sets of major motion pictures and television shows
  • Had lead and supporting roles in several student and independent films
  • Had lead and supporting roles in theatrical productions
  • Auditioned for casting directors and producers of hit tv shows
  • Produced short films of my own
 So whether you are looking for super-stardom or just some fun, whether you are just starting or already have some experience under your belt, I'm sure the videos, podcasts, and articles to come will have something for you!