Whether you’re an experienced amateur stage actor or someone who has just caught the acting bug, breaking into TV and film acting in Australia can be tough. Agencies, classes, acting styles, auditions; and that’s before we even think about actually working on set! Safe to say that it can be a confusing and sometimes even frustrating industry to get started in. We’ve heard countless stories of talented individuals who almost gave up because they simply didn’t know where to start.
So with this in mind, we’ve created this quick guide to getting started in the business of show business. From acting classes to finding auditions, if becoming one of Australia’s most famous actors or actresses is your dream, this is everything you need to know.
Start at the Beginning
And when we say the beginning, we mean the very beginning. Yep, we’re talking about acting classes and why even the most naturally talented actors can benefit a great deal from some structured lessons.
Acting is a career where you are constantly learning. From different acting techniques such as method acting through to learning how to act with emotion or even how to master certain accents, there’s always something new to pick up. Like we said, it’s a never-ending learning curve. But that’s actually a very good thing because it means that acting is a learnable skill which also means that anyone with the right attitude can master it.
It’s also a great way to make some contacts within the industry and perhaps even land yourself an audition or two. Acting coaches often have good working relationships with agencies and they may, from time to time, recommend suitable actors for upcoming roles. Impress your coach and who knows where it might lead.
Before you go looking for a class, we’ll just let you know that you may feel a little overwhelmed by how many class topics there are. Comedy improv, acting with emotion, using your body to convey emotions; there’s so much to learn. At the start of your acting career, it’s probably a good idea to get the basics down first, but if you are genuinely interested in a particular acting niche then you could try a class that specialises in that right from the get-go.
So get yourself into an acting class or sign up for some online classes and webinars and get those skills up to scratch before you do anything else.
Get Some Experience
For most people reading this guide, you likely have very little experience as an actor and so it’s time to change that. And yes, it is totally possible to get that experience even as a complete beginner.
All you need to do is look for some community theatre groups and sign up to get involved. Sure, this will be almost exclusively stage acting, but that’s okay. Casting directors (the people who hire actors) will be happy to see any theatre or live acting experience as this shows that you are genuinely interested in the industry and that you have some understanding of what is required of you.
Stage acting can also be quite tough as you have no opportunity to do a retake. You have one shot in front of a live audience and if you can manage that, then there’s a very good chance that you can handle acting on a TV or film set.
You can also consider student films for getting some experience in front of a camera. If your local college or university has a film department, then you will find heaps of opportunities to ‘star’ in a student film. Just remember that you may have a lot of work to do and you certainly won’t get paid! It’s good experience though.
Sign up with an Agency
This is perhaps the most important step in your journey and even if we weren’t an acting agency, we’d still say the same thing. This is because your choice of agency will determine how much work you book and possibly how successful your career will be in the long run. Yeah, kinda important, right?
Look for an agency with good experience in the Australian acting industry. One that has proven success stories and that can show you a list of clients that includes major production companies. Now, here’s the part where you’d expect us to say just come to Hunter Talent and yes, we’d love you to do that. But, and this is crucial, it’s important that you come to this decision yourself through our research and any gut feeling you get when you meet with the Hunter team. Sometimes an actor and an agency just don’t click and that’s perfectly fine. Remember, it’s your decision and no one should pressure you on this in any way whatsoever.
Things to Prepare Before you Audition
There are three things you need to have before you start auditioning:
- Showreel / Portfolio
You should start working on all of these immediately, even if you don’t have any professional experience yet.
For your headshot, hire a professional headshot photographer for the best results. Your headshot is the first thing a casting director sees, so it should be high-quality and besides, they will expect a proper image and not a holiday snap that you happen to look great in.
Your headshot should also showcase your real personality. The person who shows up at the audition should actually look like the person in the headshot. Don’t get all glammed up for a sexy headshot if that’s simply not you. Be yourself in your headshot so that casting directors won’t be surprised when you walk into an audition.
For your CV, keep it clean and professional. Your personality will shine through in your headshot and showreel. Your CV is for the facts that the casting director needs to know about you. List your training, previous experience, special skills, and contact information. Remember that your contact information should be the agency’s information. Unless you are representing yourself, your personal phone number should not be on the CV.
How do you create a showreel if you don’t have any professional experience? This is where those student films come in. Your amateur acting gigs will make up your showreel until you start booking jobs. If you have a great filming setup at home, you can also add self-taped scenes to your reel while you’re starting out.
Your reel should be no more than three minutes, and it should only include your best work. Just like your headshot, your reel is the first impression you make on casting directors so it should be top notch.
Not all auditions require them, so start auditioning for the ones who don’t first while you work on your reel. It’s better to wait until you have enough footage for a high-quality showreel than to send out a poor quality one.
Once you feel confident in your skills, and you have found that perfect agency, you should start auditioning as often as you can. This is where your choice of agency comes into play. While the agency cannot guarantee that you have a certain number of auditions every month, if it has a great network of industry professionals at its disposal, then you’ve got the best possible chance of getting seen by the right people.
When you do get a chance to impress, make sure to take every audition seriously. Be professional, do your best work, and treat every audition like a learning experience. Remember, you will audition way more often that you book work so don’t get downhearted by a perceived lack of progress. It’s typical to only book one job out of every twenty auditions, so you must learn not to take rejection personally. Every audition, successful or not, is a sign of progress.
Finding Auditions Yourself
Some aspiring actors choose not to sign with an agency and while this means a lot of extra work on their part, it is possible. And even if you are represented by an agency, you can still look for auditions yourself too. But, if you find one, you must be sure to contact your agency and let them know ASAP so you don’t get booked twice for the same audition. This happens more often than you think and casting directors hate it when it happens so take care.
You can create an account on showcast.com and backstage.com to search for auditions and casting calls by location. However, you may be asked to send in a taped audition instead of auditioning in person.
Start getting comfortable taping yourself now. Make sure that you have a space in your home with a clean background and good lighting to set up your camera. Ask a friend from your acting class to read scenes with you that you can tape and watch back.
The more comfortable you get with taping yourself now, the better any auditions will go.
You can also check out industry groups and forums online to see if there are any opportunities there. We’d even recommend following production companies and TV networks on social media as you may spot an open casting call from time to time.
How to Book Acting Work
A couple of things need to happen for you to book acting work. First, you have to be right for the part. The smallest things can get you eliminated from the running, like your height or even just the colour of your hair. Remember, that casting directors may have been given a hyper-specific brief and so they may not even consider you for a role no matter how talented you may be. If you are signed with a good agency, like Hunter Talent, then it’s highly unlikely that you will be put forward for any roles that you are not suited to in terms of basic requirements.
However, if you do make it to the audition, and you are eliminated as you are unsuitable, just keep your chin up and keep auditioning.
The second, and perhaps most important thing that you need in order to book work is acting talent. This is why taking those classes, doing theatre, and getting in as much experience as you can is so very important. It’s only with the right skills that you can truly impress at the audition and even then, the booking process isn’t quite done yet.
If the casting director likes you at an audition, they’ll probably ask you to come back and audition again for the director. In some cases, such as for TV commercials, this may not be necessary. But for most TV or film productions, you will have to do a second audition and may move on and audition for the producer or perhaps even network executives, which is usually the last step before you find out if you got the part or not. Yes, that’s right, you could have two or three or even more auditions before you actually book work. Getting to this stage of the process is huge, so you should feel proud of yourself no matter what happens.
Should You Relocate?
Becoming an actor in Australia isn’t easy. There aren’t as many opportunities as there are in Hollywood, but being in the right city can definitely help. If you want to get into screen acting, then moving to a major city is a good idea. But if you want to go where the most opportunities are then you should be in Sydney or Melbourne.
So should you relocate? That depends on what type of actor you want to be and how much of a career you want from your craft. If you are happy to do the odd commercial or local TV show from time to time, then living in any city in Australia should give you some opportunities to do just that. But if you dream of the red carpet and want to make a major splash in the industry, then perhaps you should consider Sydney or Melbourne.
Never Give Up
Our final tip is one that sounds a little cliche but is actually one of the most important pieces of advice you’ll get — never give up. If you have the right attitude and keep working on your skills, then your opportunity will come. Each and every audition you attend could be your chance to impress someone who could springboard your career so never give up on your dream.
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