Many people embark on acting classes with a dream of breaking into the movies, no matter if they are from Liverpool or Los Angeles. Taking acting lessons is a great place to start, but it’s important to include some specific skills in your training to give you the best chance of success. Here are some top tips.
There are some differences between acting for live stage performances and acting for screen, so it’s important for aspiring film actors to have some camera training. When looking for a suitable acting school, make sure that the course covers this aspect of your education. You can also practise interacting with a camera at home, even just using your phone.
This will help you get used to seeing how you look, move, and sound on film, and to always be aware of your actions in relation to the camera lens. The camera can pick up subtle nuances of facial expressions and tone of voice, so you will need to develop good prosody skills and be able to express emotion without exaggeration or hamminess.
Be prepared to start small
It’s unlikely that you will be cast in a big-budget movie straight away, and it’s a better approach to build up your experience in low-key productions. There are plenty of online resources with adverts for auditions in student-led or low-budget projects, for example.
It may even be useful to accept an entry-level job as a runner on a production. Although you won’t be acting in this role, it’s a foot in the door and a great opportunity to observe how the whole process operates.
It is also a good chance to network with more experienced and well-connected people, so even if work is unglamorous, it pays to be enthusiastic and show that you are not above hard work and are a good team player.
Build up a network
Many opportunities in film come about through word of mouth, so it’s useful to build up a network of contacts. Attend small film festivals where you have a chance to mix with other actors, directors and creatives. The UK has a thriving independent film scene, with highlights such as the Leeds International Film Festival that takes place in November.
Even attending auditions is a great way to connect with fellow actors and get noticed by useful people in the industry. Therefore you should always try to be friendly and approachable with everyone you meet, even if you feel a little nervous and stressed out by the occasion.
Put a portfolio together
You will need to have a professional portfolio including a headshot, resumé, and a demo reel. Make sure that your headshot is natural and accurately represents your appearance, rather than a heavily made up face and filtered photo. Wear neutral clothing that doesn’t distract from your face, and make sure that it is updated every six months to keep it current.