Advice and How-To's Especially for ACTORS!

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How To Get Started As An Actor


I coach 15-20 actors a week, and those that are new to the business often approach me with the same question, “I’m passionate about getting started, but I don’t have the money to pursue things fully. What should I do?” Further, even if they did have the money to take class, they wonder, ”What kind of acting class should I be taking?” There are so many options - audition technique, scene study, Meisner, Strasberg, monologue prep, acting for the camera… and so on and so on. So, how is an actor supposed to know where to start, particularly in a large city where resources are vast and, frankly, a little confusing?

One of my followers from Twitter, let’s call him “Charlie”, send me this email recently:

Hi Erin, 

Thanks for taking a moment and reading this. I am pretty much new to the acting world, I want to try it, I feel some sort of an attraction towards it. However, I do not have enough money to move to LA and or take classes. Where can or do I start? Thoughts? 

Thanks!! 

First off - I want to address his concern about not having enough money to take classes. If you want to become an actor and you expect to make money at it, you must put resources into it -- which includes training. It is a very rare case that an actor can be successful without some sort of training (not to mention other resources needed to be an actor.) I’ve written two “tough love” articles on this topic:


You might also want to look at a recent “BackPage” article on Backstage, where a prospective actor got a dose of reality from one of their staff writers when he asked if it was possible to become an actor without having any money to spend.

The first thing I always recommend to someone who wants to become an actor is to start looking for a place to get training. Like any profession, if you want to make acting a career you’ll need to have good training to build the skills necessary to being an actor. There are classes than you can take in the evenings or on weekends to accommodate your work schedule, and there are affordable options for just about every budget. For beginning classes, I often recommend taking a look at one of your local community colleges, which often have 10-20 week courses for a fraction of the price you’d pay to a professional studio. This will allow you to “try out” acting before making a large investment of money. 

One of the key resources an actor has in building their career is the ability to RESEARCH. There are lots of ways to find out exactly what it means to be an actor:

• Start reading blogs by actors & teachers (like this one: Bite-Size Business For Actors: or my acting blog: The Erin Cronicals.)

• Read books on the business and craft of acting (here’s a list of acting books I recommend.)

• Watch as many movies, plays, musicals and TV shows as you can, and start thinking about what kind of career you envision for yourself. 

• Read biographies on respected actors, directors, writers, and producers. Read plays & screenplays. 

• Subscribe to professional publications like Backstage to start getting to know the industry. 

There are lots of other things I can recommend, but in the interest of time I sent the above information to “Charlie” in the hopes that it would be enough to get him started.

“Charlie” then wrote back:

Hi, Erin. How are you? Thanks for your response. I have done my share of research and took some basic steps towards the acting thing, signed up for actors access, got a head shot etc. I wanted to ask you, what kind of classes should I take? Where? Can you recommend any places in the city which are reasonable? I was thinking maybe commercial work shops to learn how to audition for commercials etc. Let me know your thoughts when you get a moment please. Thanks :) 

My first reaction to this was: Wait a minute, you said you don’t have any money for classes, but you have money for headshots and Actors Access? That seems a bit backwards to me. It doesn’t make sense to spend money on the business elements until you have the artistic elements to back it up. There is no sense in learning about auditioning until you have taken an actual acting class, which will teach you what you need to know once you actually get the job.

It’s baffling to me that brand new actors are being wooed into spending money on things that will be of no value until the actor has some basic training under his/her belt. New York and Los Angeles, in particular, are hotbeds for businesses that prey on new actors with stars in their eyes. So, let me help you wade through the crap and give you some real world advice:

If you want to be an actor, there are no shortcuts. You must be trained. You must put in your time. And you must take it as seriously as a medical student in pursuit of being a doctor or a law student in pursuit of being a litigator. Acting is high profile profession that requires skill, moxie and determination -- anything less is an insult to the profession.

I’ve written these three articles (plus numerous others) that expound on my deep and passionate feelings on this topic:

If It Seems To Good to Be True (It Probably Is.)


If there are other questions that "Charlie" did not address, please feel free to leave a comment - I may be able to answer them right away, or use your questions/concerns in a future blog post.


Have a comment or question? Leave it by clicking below!

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has done national tours of plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. To learn more, check out http://www.theactorsenterprise.org.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Duplicate Names on IMDB


IMDB has long been the “it” database for all things film and television. Many actors consider it a right of passage to have their name added to the database, with the hope that their credits will burgeon and casting professionals will flock to them.

But what happens when you go onto IMDB and you notice that someone has taken your name? Is there any recourse? Take a look at a question that I received recently from Sierra:

Hello Erin,

As mainly a Theater actress, I have had little experience or need for IMDB (yet…).  However, recently I was told I had an IMDB page, which made little sense because I have no film credits besides some minimal work in Los Angeles.  In AFTRA, SAG & AEA, my union name is “Sierra Rein,” and when I searched for this on IMDB
this page came up.  However, the one credit associated with this name - “The Professor” - has nothing to do with me (unless I’m having amnesia about playing “Rea”), so I figure this is another actor with my name…although that would be quite remarkable, since my name is pretty unique.  Or, perhaps the person who submitted the information entered it wrong (either by mistake or on purpose).

What do you know about reclaiming an “actor” page on IMDB, even if I actually don’t have any credits to reclaim it? Or do you think I should just let it be until I book something that has some “heft” to claim my name back on IMDB?  What are my options?

Thanks for answering!

-
Sierra Rein

Hi, Sierra. Thank you so much for your question! It’s a common frustration, so I’m glad you’ve given me a chance to address it here.

IMDB, as you know, is the leading database on film & television. It includes both union and non union work that has been premiered for an audience (paying to non paying.) As you mentioned, you have cleared your name through your union, which means that no one else can officially have your name. But because IMDB it features non-union work, there are situations (particularly with common names) where there are multiple people with the same name.

So, what can you do to remedy this? There are two things that come to mind:

1) You can buy a membership with IMDBPro, which allows you to create your own page. When you create it, it will remind you that there already is a Sierra Rein listed, and it will ask you if you want to claim that one or create a new one. You'll have to create a new one, and you'll be listed in the system at Sierra Rein (II).

2) Rather than creating your own page, when you get your first IMDB-worthy credit, make sure that the producer knows that the Sierra Rein in the system is not you, and that s/he’ll need to add a new listing for you. This means that when s/he adds your credit, and a warning pops up that “there is already a Sierra Rein listed. Use this one?” s/he’ll need to add a new person to the system.

There's not much else you can do, unfortunately. Hopefully one of the above will work for you. Let me know if you have any questions, and good luck with your career!

Have a comment or question? Leave it by clicking below!

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has done national tours of plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. To learn more, check out http://www.theactorsenterprise.org.

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