Five practical ways to get started as an Actor

So you’ve caught the acting bug. Whether you’re undeniably sure that you want to be under the hot lights or a curious closet thespian, one question will hover around you like flies on bullshit. And trust me, in this business, expect to wade in it and at times, be completely dunked. But if that doesn’t deter you, then continue…

The question is, where/how do I start?

For all intents and purposes, I’ll be writing primarily about gaining traction in the San Francisco Bay Area acting scene (yes, there is one…) but many of these ideas can be carried over to other, more industry heavy cities; You know, like L.A. where the celluloid (fast becoming obsolete, replaced instead but a digital frontier) reigns king, or NYC, Chicago or Atlanta, land of stage milk and honey run free.

While some of these options will require some kind of monetary transaction, you’ll be able to gather enough useful information on the (free) surface level.

Theatre Bay Area (http://www.theatrebayarea.org/)

There’s so much content here related to the Bay Area Theatre scene that it would behoof you to acquire a subscription as early as possible. It’s choke full of stories from local industry professionals, and people and places you’ll want to acquaint yourself with. On top of that, they’re usually on top of their Social Media game and can easily be reached and communicated with. There’s still a wealth of information to be had if you were looking to hold back from signing up. Just check out their website: http://www.theatrebayarea.org/

SF Casting (http://www.sfcasting.com)

My initial dealings with SF Casting (then Beau Bonneau Casting) was slow going and a bit confusing. That was in 2002. Flash forward and after fully signing up (and yes, paying up –a small fee, considering) and pushing it to full throttle, I highly recommend this as valuable resource to connecting yourself to projects. While mainly dealing with on screen projects, you’ll still run into a few stage productions, but don’t count this as your go-to stage resource. What it excels in is, ease in submission for auditions, maintaining a flow of information on industry trends, and hosting your online profile which will include headshot, resume, additional photographs and other media related work. Don’t have a reel? There are enough student projects and indie film auditions posted here to get you started! If you’re going to make a leap into the wild unknown, this will offer you a perfect springboard to gain some distance. Here’s what the online profile would look like (plugging myself here!) http://sfcasting.com/tasialabastro

Actors blowing in the wind. On set adventures…

My only advice when dealing with this is to make sure you have a e-mail filter for this. You’ll undoubtedly be showered with daily e-mails of prospective projects, but that doesn’t mean they all relate to you. Finding a way to separate these e-mails from your daily ones will be a huge help making SF Casting work for you. I use Google mail myself.

Theatre Bay Area Bums (http://tinyurl.com/7ee6shm)

Even if your ultimate goal is to be on the silver screen, you’ll want to keep the theatre-front fortified too. Through it’s robust community listing and various methods of delivery, I’ve found Theatre Bay Area Bums Google Groups to be a perfect filler for project searching and audition hunting. Not only will it have those posted, you’ll be able to familiarize yourself with names of organizations that are active in the community. And the kicker, it’s FREE! That’s right, just sign up, customize how you want to receive information and bam –you’re all set.

Classes

The Bay is littered with studio training that shine as bright as any gem. The problem is, uncovering them as some don’t operate with a large enough budget to paper the streets. But if you follow your e-nose and do some digging, you’ll find some terrific ones. Comparing a independent drama classes to College courses is like comparing two different species of apples. Having had the opportunity to experience both –I’d say both will have valuable lessons for life as an actor and a person. It was in a college drama class the term “If you’re early, you’re on time” hammered in to my ethics. But it was in an independent class I learned to value my own talents because everyone in class was there for, more or less the same reason. And that reason does not include college credit. For my own recent past, I was a student of the Bay Area Acting Studio, working on the MEISNER technique.

These classes are also a wonderful place to start networking. You’ll undoubtedly run into people who are either just starting and are hungry for connection, or veterans who are back to hone their skills. Either way, the more you make yourself available to opportunities, the better off you’ll be. But practice common sense.

DIY

Do It Yourself. That’s right. Write your own material, act in your own production, act a fool in public. Just do something. I understand that everyone will have varying degrees of success with this but, if all else fails (or if everything works!), pull out a pen and a pad and start writing. One of the earliest films I appeared in after moving to California was a piece I made myself. I invested in a relatively inexpensive camera, a tripod and learned some basic video editing. Those experiences added another dimension to my work, I appreciated the traditions behind the camera and in the process, found a joy in writing and directing. And here I thought I would stick to just acting –hah, boy was I wrong. Go out (or stay in), and Do It Yourself.

I’m not saying you’ll be guaranteed a spot as Casting Golden Child if you adhere to the aforementioned ways but it’ll certainly get you started on a good foot. What you do in the audition is entirely up to you and there are other blog posts that discuss that. Consider the links below. They are from Berkeley Repertory Theatre and from Melissa Hillman, Artist Director of Impact Theatre (both of which you can follow/retweet/interact directly with that link if you had a Twitter account).

Which brings me to one last bit of resource –this one is free and its effectiveness is entirely in your hands (or thumbs). The Internet. More specifically, social networking. I won’t even begin to go into it because it’s such a broad and well discussed topic, it would do little to add to this particular post. Look into them, if you’re too timid to post, that’s okay, sign up and read about industry related people are talking about. Establishing that connection is another way to help get the foot in the door. Because, let’s face it, you can have all the talent in the world, but if no one sees you –what then?

I hope you join me on this journey because I, myself, am still learning (and enjoying) the ins and outs of the craft and industry and I’d love to hear what your thoughts on the subject.

Leave me a comment below, or connect with me on Facebook and Twitter! If you found this write up useful, definitely share it! In addition, if you subscribe and join the mailing list, I will be providing a compiled list of theatres in the Bay Area and links to their audition pages.

(Official trailer to YES, WE’RE OPEN, a feature film I had the opportunity to play in –premieres 2012!)

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Filipino Festival says:

    Reblogged this on FilipinoFestival.com.

  2. Miles G V says:

    You are the man, Tasi! Thanks for taking the time to think of the many other aspiring actors out in the world. What detail, passion, and thoroughness you bring to your article/page. Is this the first of many to come? Keep on pursuing, my friend. Stay hungry, stay open, stay positive, stay hopeful, stay alive. I know you WILL. I look forward to the day when you and I are working on a project together!

    1. Miles! You honor me with your input. Thank you! You inspire me too man. So much tenacity and kindness, always the kindness. I am, indeed, looking to build on top of this. There’s so much more to talk about; Headshots, monologues, callbacks, taming the rejection demon –you know, those things. Haha…anyway, thank you for reading through. And I’m also looking forward to working on a project together!

      1. Miles G V says:

        For sure, for sure! You are welcome. The gratitude is entirely mutual. I look forward to seeing what else you share – and then, of course, what ideas WE can bounce off each other. I have the page bookmarked, so I will continue to check back, stud!

        Headshots, monologues, callbacks, and “taming the rejection demon” – all great, great topics. I look forward to them. Especially that last one! That’s a tough one, ain’t it?

        Thanks for your generous, curious, enthusiastic spirit, my friend. It is CONTAGIOUS. 😉 You are definitely a star among the actors I know. I am happy and grateful to know you, sir!

        Let’s start lookin’ for that project!

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