CHARLOTTE ACTING: BLOG
So You're Thinking About Trying L.A. for Casting Season
Get The Tools You Need To Go Out There
They call it “Pilot Season” and it starts in January and wraps in June. Agents get the breakdowns for new shows, some of which will be picked up for series.
In the south, which includes Wilmington, Charlotte, Atlanta, Orlando and Miami, you don't usually need a SAG-AFTRA card (union) and you are sometimes doomed to a life of “acting unemployment” if you do have your SAG-AFTRA card. North Carolina is a “right to work” state. There are so many projects shooting here that aren't union. Once you are union, you can’t accept nonunion work, so wait to join the union.
In Los Angeles, agents will have a very hard time getting you an audition if you are not SAG-AFTRA. An eighteen-year-old actor who is nonunion will have a difficult time getting good representation in L.A. For the actor who is commuting to both coasts, the best is to be SAG-AFTRA eligible. Los Angeles and New York agents will send you for auditions if you are SAG-AFTRA eligible. That means you have worked on union movies, television shows for three days, or more, even as an extra.
DON'T JOIN THE UNION UNTIL YOU HAVE TO
And don't panic about needing money to join when you do get a principal SAG-AFTRA role and you must join. You can get a loan from SAG-AFTRA to join. Again, once you join you will be turning down many nonunion projects in North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
YOU WILL NEED A REEL
Do low, or no-budget, video productions so you can start collecting scenes (footage) for a reel. You can join Charlotte Film Community and see casting on their message board, you can also ask other actors about casting. Also, join Actor's Access.
YOUR HOMEWORK, IF YOU WANT TO GO TO L.A. FOR PILOT SEASON
Have representation with an agent here in the south. Work on SAG-AFTRA television and movies, as extra to get SAG-AFTRA points. There are so many SAG-AFTRA deferred pay films, which will give eligibility. Talk to your agent, or call SAG-AFTRA in Los Angeles directly to inquire about points when you are cast in a SAG-AFTRA project.
Take acting classes now. It is so important for you to be working on your craft, so you will be ready when nerves are present and you are reading for the director, producer and casting director.
When in L.A. Acting classes I recommend: The Beverly Hills Playhouse, and Lorrie and Dianne Hull in Santa Monica. There are other good classes, ask around.
Attend some casting seminars while in L.A. with the best casting directors—about $35-$40 per session. You should go to 6-8 sessions to meet the working casting directors who are casting projects you are right for.
A Car — you can rent cheap cars for $15-$20 per day in L.A., or you can buy an old car. Don’t forget the expense of gas and insurance. Everyplace is 20 to 30 minutes away, figure $75 gas every week and you need car insurance.
Living — Ramen noodles, always good, but you need to eat well. Get a part-time job now while on the east coast with a company that has locations here and in L.A., so you can have employment as soon as you step off the plane. Or contact L.A. event planners, caterers and employment agencies for part-time employment, which will allow you to make a living and have free time for auditions.
Housing — a great place for month-to-month rent is Oakwood Garden Apartments off of Barham Blvd. in L.A.
A FINAL THOUGHT
You can take a semester off to pursue your dreams, but go to college.
AN AGENT SHOULD GET A COMMISSION WHEN THEY GET YOU WORK.
Sometimes my head spins with dizziness when I hear the logic of my students. It’s a fairy tale logic and sometimes, just sometimes (in a different dimension, on a different earthly plane), I want to go down the path, because it sounds so good. “Pay money and get discovered.” That is the most “bogus” fairy tale there is.
Students have told me they paid $2,500 – $9,000 to showcase their talent in Texas, Florida, New York, etc. I ask the student “why?” If an actor is ready to go to New York, or Los Angeles, send pictures to agents in those locations. Agents who will consider representing the actor, will meet the actor for free.
Many times these actors go to the “bogus” showcase in other states with no intention of moving to Los Angeles or New York, even if they were “discovered,” which, again, is a candy-coated scam.
In California it is illegal for anyone to charge someone for the possibility of work.
It takes hard work to be a working actor. Get an agent in the area you are residing. Put in your dues—work, study and when you are ready, take the leap, go to Los Angeles, or New York and get the agent there.
Believe me, doing that showcase for $2,500 to $9,000 isn’t going to further a career.
An Acting Reel
You have tape of the work you've done, it is time to get your "Reel" in order. A reel should be 2-3 minutes. Your best work first. The time a casting director will watch before making a decision is 12 seconds. If your reel is chronological, or has too much fat, the casting director might never see your best work!
If you need help with your reel, my editor at Corlin Productions has years of experience in editing actor's reels (you may go to www.corlinproductions.com and click Projects, click Theatrical Film, Television Icon button and go to #8 George Chakiris to see sample. Cost $80 per hour (average actor’s reel takes 2 -3 hours to edit.)).
If you don’t have your work on tape, that should be your priority. Look for low, or no budget, projects. The production company will give you a copy of your work in leiu of payment. Be picky, though. Look at the quality of what the director and director of photography (DP) have done before. Or, get a scene partner and split the cost to have your scene videotaped. You can hire Corlin Productions (www.corlinproductions.com) or do it yourself, but make sure you get the microphone off camera.
A great headshot that looks like you makes all the difference when trying to get an audition, agent, or booking an acting job. It can be indoor studio, or outside. A great photographer in the Charlotte area is Mark Hanson Photography (www.markhansonphoto.com/ Mark@markhansonphoto.com).
The order of work on your resume should list Film, Television, Theater, Commercials, Training and Special Talents. If you have many theater credits but no film credits, put theater first and omit film. Make sure you staple or paste your resume to your picture or it could get lost when a casting director is looking through hundreds of submissions.