A role, a role! My kingdom for a role! Or more accurately, “My savings for a role!” The most legitimate way to find acting jobs in London is to subscribe to London casting calls websites, which is yet another essential acting expense on your list.
When business, finance, services, and manufacturing pay a king’s ransom to head-hunters, it seems perverse that, in the entertainment industry, impecunious actors are the ones who must pay to not only to be selected but to even find acting jobs in London.
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Unfortunately, that is the reality of show business – you have to pay to get in. However, there are other approaches other than subscribe to London casting calls through subscription based websites.
6 Alternative Ways to Finding Acting Jobs in London
Casting call websites, such as Backstage, Casting Call Pro, Spotlight and others are the main way to get auditions. That is where you can find 99% of acting jobs in London, or wherever you live. It’s simply how the business works. Of course, all those London casting calls websites are paid.
But fear not, my dear aspiring thespians, because in today’s connected world, it’s possible to find somewhat effective introductions that may eventually lead to finding more acting jobs in London while you’re saving every penny. You just have to get creative.
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The below methods aren’t an ideal way to fish for acting gigs, but if you’re really struggling financially right now, you may give some of these a try.
- Website: https://www.equity.org.uk/home/
The first thing you should do is join the Equity union. While not as powerful as SAG-AFTRA, its US counterpart, nor as essential in getting work for actors, Equity – the British actors’ union – is open to all actors, including students still in drama schools, and the membership is a recognised mark of professionalism.
Apart from reserving your professional stage name for acting in the UK, Equity union can be an important source of support, advice, and information on job-hunting, the law, accommodation, tax, and much more for actors.
If you want to join, the annual membership for working actors starts at £123 ($187) if you’re earning under £20,000 ($30,500) a year. There’s also a one-off joining fee of £29 ($44).
For students, annual membership is just £18 ($27.40) plus a one-off joining fee of the same amount.
The annual fee rises in steps to 1% of income when you earn over £50,000 ($76,000) annually. Non-British actors must be members of an FIA-affiliated union (SAG-AFTRA is one) in order to apply. For more information, visit their website.
2. Your Website or Blog
Why not put together your own website? Again, if you’re not up to the technicalities – although they’re not difficult to master – have someone else do it for you. However, another actor has given a great explanation as to why it’s not necessary to pay for any website building services and how easy it is to do it yourself.
Having your own acting website allows you even greater design leeway than a social media page. It doesn’t have to be complicated; a single page will do, so long as it looks attractive, has your details and headshot(s), and includes links to your social media profiles and other relevant sites.
Using your personal website as a resource, you can always post many different demo reels on the site to demonstrate your skills and potentially get someone interested in you and your skills.
Next, you can also start a blog on your site and include links to it on your social media pages.
What should the blog be about? Anything, really. You can write about your acting journey, giving advice to other aspiring actors just like we do here; you can write about movies, plays, TV shows, TV commercials, or anything related to the industry.
Make your website and your acting blog snappy, idiosyncratic, and invite comments. Get a dialogue going with participants and follow up with anyone you think might lead to a valuable connection within the industry. Everything is possible – you just have to play the game right.
3. Social Networks
If you’re unable to find acting jobs in London, or you don’t have or you cannot get a job permit to work as an actor, social networks are a good way to get started in acting. Or the very least it’s another legitimate way to put your name and abilities out there for someone to pick up on them.
Social networks aren’t the only or even the best way to acting jobs, but they can save you some money while providing a few opportunities to get auditions.
First, submitting through social networks is free.
Second, you can customise your entry to some degree, rather than follow the templates that many casting sites force on you.
Third, you can – and you must – broadcast your entry to everyone you know within the social media page, or even just an e-mail address. That includes adding the links on any application you make to an agency, casting director, or producer.
Fourth and finally, compose a neat signature for your e-mails and submissions, with clickable icons to take readers directly to your personal website for extra exposure and to your social media pages. Basically, use social media to promote yourself as if you are a product.
Which sites are most effective? Everyone has a preference, so post your entry to all of them. Having a demo reel completed and a thorough resume will raise your chances of getting some attention.
Take a lot of time over your entries, ensuring correct grammar, spelling, and a simple, uncluttered, layout. Use short sentences, bullet points, and include links to relevant sites, such as those for any production you’ve been in, no matter how small your part was.
If you’re not good at writing, pay someone to do it for you. A cost-effective way to find a good writer is to post an offer a platform like UpWork. It will get you, literally, dozens of eager bids from all around the world, nearly all willing to do the job quickly.
4. Casting Call Websites
Assuming you already have the basics – Equity card, professional acting headshots, well-composed acting CV/resumé, demo-reel, actor business cards – these are the most professional route to finding acting jobs in London.
While all the above should not be your only line of approach, these actor marketing tools are, or can be, cost-effective and open to anyone with a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
If cost allows, sign up for several casting call websites, or make use of the free, but less complete and less visible, entries that some allow. However, it’s a good idea to scan online user reviews of London casting calls websites before making any choices, since those can be costly regrets.
For foreigners, you may need a work permit even to be allowed to post on these casting call websites, but some sites don’t have that barrier.
Now that you’re the spider at the centre of the web, advertised everywhere; it’s time to get AFK and into real life.
5. Community Theatres
Some renowned professional companies are among those involved, seeing it as a means of spotting new talent in-house. You don’t get paid when working at a community theatre, so there are no issues with work permits. It’s a great way to meet theatre people – a specific, live, social network.
Need some examples? You can browse through our drama clubs list. Here are a few examples:
- The Old Vic Community Company
- Network Theatre Company
There are many more like these three, from the wonderful to the wacky, and on to the just plain weird. Google “London community theatres” and follow your nose, and in the meantime, here are a few details on these three.
The Old Vic Community Company
A hallowed London company since 1818, with its venue near Waterloo Station, the Old Vic has an active community theatre, open to anyone based in London. You can sign up or simply drop in for a look at their website.
- Website: http://www.oldvictheatre.com
Based in Ealing, West London, and described by a leading London newspaper as the city’s “most successful amateur theatre”, Questors has 1,400 members and two theatres, the 350-seat Playhouse and the 100-seat Studio. It holds an open evening in the theatre bar (free drink included) on most Wednesdays and actors are always welcome.
- Website: http://www.questors.org.uk
Network Theatre Company
Voted one of London’s top ten fringe theatres, Network is buried under Waterloo Station, not far from the Old Vic. It may be hard to find, but anyone can become a member for a joining fee of £10 ($15.20) and a £25 ($38) annual subscription, entitling you to join a production as an actor.
- Website: http://www.networktheatre.org
6. Acting Classes
All types of acting classes and film acting courses are another effective networking opportunity for actors, especially as some drama schools, universities with acting and film programs, and colleges have their own production departments who regularly have something to offer actors.
Here on Acting in London website, many other writers have covered this topic before and provided a lot of helpful pieces on London acting courses and classes, but it’s just a selection of the better-known ones.
On top of what has already been mentioned, there are many smaller classes, some affiliated with fringe theatres or drama clubs, that can be used for finding more acting jobs in London.
Our drama clubs list of 75 locations, no less, has quite a few suggestions. All the links are included and are up-to-date.
Having started this piece with an awful warning about the fact that actors need to pay for play, I hope that by now your despair has lifted. The acting world is known for its resourcefulness, so apply that attribute to this short overview and you’ll be on your way, paid or not.