Last week we outlined the basics required to become a video / film editor. We highlighted that although it does not have the razzmatazz appeal of perhaps camera work, directing or even acting, it has a massively important role to play in the overall creative process. It therefore made sense that this week we followed this up with the perhaps more prominent of options within the TV and Film industries – the very much front of stage option of becoming an actor.
Being an actor doesn’t just have to mean appearing on TV or film, although they are a pretty popular option. Actors can find work on stage, on radio, in theatre, on cruise ships, in street performances, and of course TV shows – local, national and feature length and short films. The variety of work and the scale of pay can vary enormously – salaries can range from nothing to nine figures, although it’s important to understand that most actors remain near the bottom of the ladder, and only a few make it to the top.
Acting means performing a situation, character and event and becoming that person, and living that situation to make it seem as real or as stylised as possible. The type of performance and stories that you act out may vary, however to be truly considered as a serious actor you need to be very good at just that – acting. Real talent is required alongside lots of commitment, hard work and often periods of unemployment or disappointment.
There are various routes to entry should you wish to become an actor. Qualifications and working through a set of drama based qualifications from GCSEs through to Degree level are certainly beneficial, as is any qualification that gives you practical learning in the arts of performance and the chance to perform and act as much as possible.
Many child actors, certainly on UK TV come through specialist performing arts schools and are trained from an early age to be ready to perform on the ‘big stage’ so to speak.
Of course, no qualification, or specialist school or college can give you all the skills and tools you need to be successful – a great deal of talent, hard work and often luck is also required.
Gaining experience is key. Also you really can’t say you are an actor, if you have no practical experience in actually performing. If you are still in the throes of education, lap up all the amateur dramatics that you can find – be that a drama group, drama club, through school or college or in the community. The same applies if you are considering acting as a career and you are in the later stages of your career life – you still need to prove your worth by gaining experience and being good at it too!
You may find that work placements exist within certain big institutions, and also there are, if you look for them, potential opportunities to work as an extra, or, backstage as a runner, or camera assistant. All this practical experience will engulf you in the surroundings and even get your face known within the ‘scene’.
Skills to become an actor…
Let’s start with the mindset. You need to be determined, hard working, tenacious and be able to deal with rejection. Even the most experienced of actors, get rejected or not selected for roles, so at the bottom of the ladder expect to deal with quite a few no’s before you get that big break. That big break, might be a bit part in a performance – but at least it will keep you going. Expect to have to deal with periods of unemployment too – actors are rarely in consistent employment.
Apart from all the generic job skills like good communication, verbal, networking and team working skills, you really need to have real talent and ability to succeed. This is not an industry where you can generally ‘wing it’ so don’t hold up too much hope, if you haven’t got the talent required. This is where you might want to validate that talent by being judged by experts, or industry professionals. Asking your friends and family might get you a biased response after all!
Still fancy a career as an Actor? Good luck!! We hope these basic tips help you along the way…
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