Since there is no curriculum, or set pattern to make a career in this business, many actors feel helpless, frustrated, lost, and waste time and money trying to make the right decisions. Here is a sample guide. Monitor yourself, where are you and how are you doing. It is a guide only. Review your energy, check your strategies, and goals. Use it as a barometer, a guide, add and subtract according to your own situation, needs and desires.
Beginning Actor: (one year)
- Takes an acting class on acting craft and the process (at least once a week).
- Reads one play a week.
- Sees 1 to 2 plays a month.
- Sees 3 to 4 movies a month.
- Reads Backstage West each week.
- Volunteers or works in a theater (box office, lights, stage manager, etc), the purpose being to be around actors, see them work, observe, and learn about theater.
- Reads books of the nature such as “The Artist Way” by Julia Cameron”, “The Road Less Traveled”, by Scott Peck, etc.
- Reads acting books by other well known teachers and techniques such as “Respect For Acting”, The Meisner Technique, The Method, Harold Clurman, and biographies on their favorite actors, etc.
- Does something outside acting to supplement working on their instrument; yoga, voice class, dance, martial arts, singing, stand up, etc.
- Keeps a journal.
Intermediate Actor: (2-3 years)
- Takes a class at least once a week.
- Has two monologues prepared.
- Has 6 – 12 scenes that have been completed.
- Is involved in a theater situation where there are audition possibilities, play readings, and productions.
- Has a good headshot.
- Is building a resume of experience – plays, student films, videos, non union projects.
- Reads Backstage West cover to cover each week and submits for anything and everything.
- Auditions for everything, understudies, gets on stage as much as possible.
- Has or is seeking an agent or manager
- Has taken a commercial workshop and has, or is seeking, a commercial agent and auditions for commercials.
- Reads at least 2 plays per month.
- Sees at least 1 play per month.
- Sees 3-4 movies per month.
- Is working on ways to get tape on themselves, either by a project already worked on or self produced.
- Networks in showcases, theater, scene nights, play readings, and projects that can “put them out there to be seen and gain experience.”
- Works on getting featured and co starring roles in television and film.
- Is working on or has gotten in the Unions, SAG and AFTRA , and maybe EQUITY.
- Has a good resume for gaining work and representation.
Advanced Actor (5 years +)
- Has a great headshot and solid resume.
- Takes a class. Either in a class and/or is working on a job.
- Does 2 – 3 plays a year
- Has several current and good TV Credits
- Has been in several films (union or non- union)
- Has good tape
- Has a good relationship with their agent and/or manager and communicates on a weekly basis
- Participates in a theater where they can audition, perform, do play readings, showcases, scene nights and work out.
- Has a database of casting directors that they know, auditioned for, or worked for, and stays in touch with on a regular basis. (post cards, notes, stop ins, etc.)
- Knows every prime time show and who casts them. Knows every show they are “right for” and gets seen by the casting directors for them.
- Reads Backstage West, Hollywood Reporter, and Variety regularly.
- Has several projects on the side they are working on. (screenplay, play, putting together projects for themselves, pitching ideas, etc.)
Some people are carving their own way and aren’t interested in conventional routes.
- Writer, producer, actor. Working on their own project, not interested or passionate about an agent, and the general route of auditioning for parts in TV, Film and Theater.
- Starts a production company and does their own thing.
- Buys a camera and starts making their own film or documentary.
- Runs or is active in a theater company and expresses their art there.
- Belongs to a cooperative and creates with these people – theater, film, etc.
- Crosses over from another aspect of the business – makes contacts and “gets in” that way: Examples: stand up comedians, dancers, musicians, stunt men, writer/actor, improv troupe, director/actor, producer/actor, works at casting office, works at a production company, friend or family member is in the business and hires them.
- Writes a one person show or show for themselves – film, theater, series idea.
- These people may never even pursue and agent or audition.
– Fran Montano, Artistic Director