The 3 Cornerstones Of Good Marketing For Actors Starting Out And How To Deliver Them In The Best Light.
So I'm not going to beat around the bush here because the first part of this article: Naming the 3 most important tools for an actor starting out in terms of marketing themselves is fairly simple. They are:
A Showreel, a selection of head shots and a CV of your experience.
What goes into how they'll be received is much more important when deciding on how to go about acquiring them. Having all of these things will in absolutely no way guarantee you work, an agent or anything of the sort, but it could go a long way toward both of these things and more if you do it correctly and with the end in mind.
So here are a few things to consider when getting your marketing gear together. (Because that’s what it is).
1. Your work will speak for itself. Invest in training first. Training looks great on a CV, both three year courses at drama schools, as well as masterclasses that keep you’re development progressing. Agents want working actors, but if you’re starting from scratch they want actors that are willing to put the hours in to develop their craft.
2. Doing the right things at the wrong time can almost be worse than doing nothing at all. Train, develop a tool belt of acting techniques that work for you, find a great script with a character you could play well, find a great scene partner, rehearse, if possible get a director to direct you, scout a location, hire a professional crew and shoot the sucker. This will give you the best chance of a great final product and a better response from the people you show it to.
3. Your showreel should look like a clip from your latest feature film. (if you're lucky it actually will be) If it isn't; there shouldn't be blue sheets in the back ground, it shouldn’t be shot on a handy cam, or an iPhone. it should look and sound professional. It should cost you money, because it costs money to make a good quality showreel.
The point of all of this is while your performance needs to be great, just as importantly you need to look like you belong. Everything else is a distraction and it makes it harder for the viewer to see you working as a professional in the industry if it looks like your Mum’s filmed you in your garage on a cam corder from the 90s. I’ve seen showreels where everything is perfect but the acting. (See number 2) but Scene’s where the performances are good, but the production quality lets it down, are like the ads you see on country TV stations that have obviously been done on the cheap. It’s hard to take them seriously.
4. Not all head shots are created equal. In my opinion nobody should ever be performing in a headshot. It should be natural and relaxed. Remember the episode of the Simpsons, where Chief Wiggum gives out head shots to some big movie star in a whole bunch of different costumes. Yeah, that’s not what we’re going for here.
5. When getting head shots done you want to use an industry leading professional. If you have a photographer friend that wants to help you out, get them to look closely at examples from industry leaders and aim to replicate the feel of them with your own. Again you want to look like you belong here. You want to look your best and have a final product that allows the viewer to get your essence by simply looking at the photograph.
6. CV’s give you a track record, they prove that you’re employable, highlight your experience and hopefully your hunger to learn (by listing your training). There is an example of my CV in the Profile section of this site.
When all of this is done, one of the most important things that will effect the way your work is viewed is the approach you use when asking people to view it. How you communicate that desire is almost the number one thing that will determine if your work gets viewed at all and more importantly who chooses to view it. Because the “Hey everybody look at me” approach died in the 80’s and it doesn’t work anymore. There is so much noise now on social media and email that people just don’t have time to look at someone saying "look at me". They will look at someone they consider a friend, or someone they have a vested interest in, or someone who has built rapport with them and endeared themselves to them, or somebody who has shown them respect and asked for their advice.
I hope to cover this more exhaustively in an article on writing good emails and managing your social media. But in a nutshell: You need to earn your views by building relationships first, you need to ask yourself questions about the people you’re approaching. What are they going to get out of the experience of viewing your material? What are they made of? What level do they operate on? What are their dreams for the future? And why might this be something they could look forward to doing? This approach allows the process to not be all about you, you’re considering them and their needs. You understand their time commitments and you treat them with respect. I often find asking one specific question of the person you want to talk to that they could give an insightful answer to is the best way of starting a relationship. A couple of communications later having built the relationship of having them as a trusted advisor ask them to take a look at your show reel and tell you what they think.
Film and Theatre Actor Based in Sydney. Creator of Script Gym. Lover of Stories.