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.
LOCAL ONLINE ACTORS NETWORKS
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!