Let’s cover the second part of how to get into acting, and it’s all about preparations. I take it you’ve read the first part of how to get into acting #1 then?
How To Get Into Acting — Preparations
The second part is the perfect time to talk about thins you have to think about while still in drama school (or rather, as soon as you get into the drama school) or if you haven’t gone to a drama school but decided to take an alternative approach. But if you decided to go with the drama school, then I hope you followed all the advice I’ve given in drama school auditions and drama auditions, and I sincerely hope that you were able to get into one of the best drama schools in London or maybe even the world.
How to Get Into Acting — Things to do #1
Approach. Start looking for your own approach towards acting, acting techniques. You will be taught or at least introduced to more than one, but not all of them; for the rest, you’ll have to do your own research, and I strongly suggest you to do so. Spend a good first half a year or maybe even a year reading and learning what every acting technique is about until you find one that fits you well. Drama schools will only cover the basics and teach you voice, movement, improv, some screen acting, etc., but they will only stroke the very top of actual acting techniques. Most drama schools are fans of the system, or for our American readers, the method. Don’t just go with the flow — see if it really works for you. I’ve started with the basics of the method, but then realized that Meisner Technique is where I’m best. However, the mixture of all of them usually might be the best solution; just take the best out of each one.
Connect. In my free handbook Acting In London, I talk a lot about networking, which is a big part of an actor’s career once you’re out there. Start practicing networking when you’re in drama school. You will meet a lot of teachers, casting directors and directors, some TV and maybe film producers, etc. If you’re in one of the best drama schools in London, then you’ll get to meet those people a lot. Remember their names, where they work, who they are, and if possible — try to make them remember you. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they will remember you when casting, but it’s worth a shot.
How to Get Into Acting — Things to do #2
If you’re in drama school, and if you’re “stuck” there for 2 or 3 years, then it’s the best time to show how hard you can work as an actor. While training in any accredited drama school is very tough, you still do get some free time. Living, and enjoying life (meaning going out, and having fun, etc.) is necessary for an actor, but remember — you’re not a student on any regular University course, you’re an actor. “Live” once in a while, but mostly spend your free time preparing for the cruel world that is waiting for you when you’re out of the drama school. Create new projects for yourself: producing, writing, plays, screenplays, own theatre companies, web series, anything. Just do it! Exploit your acting skills, work out your imagination, find yourself. I’m not going to give into much more detail, because it’s all about the craft, and I’m not really that good of a teacher.
There’s only one thing I would like to mention for the benefit of young actors. A respected teacher and author Simon Dunmore keeps saying in his books for actors: “Contrary to popular image, acting has to be highly organised in order for it to seem spontaneous.”
While I respect Mr. Dunmore and I’ve read all of his books, this is a WRONG approach to acting. Organizing your life is good when it comes to business of acting, and I cover this in the handbook. But when it comes to the craft of acting, you cannot organize anything! The best acting comes out of you when you’re thinking on your feet. LISTEN and RESPOND. Don’t script or structure, or organize anything. Only when truly listening and then responding to your partner is going to make you look natural. It’s tough, but the more you do it, the better you’ll understand the benefits of it. That’s the only advice I’m going to give you on the craft of acting here; the rest you’ll have to figure out by yourself.
Organizing your business. So like I said, being organized when it comes acting business is a very good idea. Start thinking about it as soon as you get into the drama school; or if you didn’t get in, start thinking then too. Read this whole website, download my free handbook Acting In London for more advice about the business — work your ass off, it will pay off in the end.
How to Get Into Acting — Things to do #3
Stage/screen name. A lot of students change their names when they are ready to graduate. Actually, about 95% of students change them. Now let me tell you something: your success doesn’t depend on your name, not anymore at least. Actors like De Niro used to change them based on their agent’s advice because that is how the market was back then; it’s not anymore. So think twice before changing it. It does make things more complicated when you get to work on serious projects and get paid, especially if you’re going to be working overseas — LA or NYC. Your name might just be perfect already, so act your ass off instead of trying to come up with a cooler name.
If, however, you’re name is very complicated or it’s already taken by someone in the industry (you can check that with Equity), then you have to change it. Another problem with students these days is that they change it at the very end of the third year. No, you have to do this at the end of the first year. And that is because I hope you followed my advice on working your actor’s rear end aside from drama school’s training — student films, producing and writing your own stuff. And in case you do do that, then it’s a good idea to already attach your screen or stage name there.
Actor’s essentials. If you’re in London, and you’re out there trying to get some extra work while still training in drama school or you didn’t get into drama school and you’re looking for some experience before applying to one next year, then make sure you have all those essentials: resume, headshot and business cards. You’ll see how many students leave this until they have third year final showcase. I’d say don’t be one of them, and put yourself out there as soon as you can. Get cheap headshots for your first couple of years, make yourself a resume and some business cards (you can get them cheap at VistaPrint). Go out and find some extra work.
How to Get Into Acting — To Sum Up…
So whether you did got accepted into a drama school or not, whether you’re looking to apply next year or not, you still want to become a working actor, right? And it’s entirely possible if you know what steps to take and if you’re prepared to work hard for it.
These few little tips on how to get into acting, as well as the ones from part number one of how to get into acting #1 will give you an idea of what needs to be done. Make sure you think for yourself as well, and come up with new ideas on how to raise your chances of getting more work, becoming a better actor and putting yourself out there. Basically, start early with the primary objective of putting your name on the map of London’s acting industry.
I’ll try and continue this series of article on how to get into acting, but don’t rely just on my writing — think how you can make something happen for yourself on your own.