The life of an aspiring actor can be hard but it’s a choice.
Just the stories we hear of hardships, struggles and challenges make it hard for actors to follow their dreams of making it big in the entertainment industry.
Many actors in the Indian film industry have said that in spite of great talent, the bottlenecks in the industry forced them to compromise on their dreams and settle for less.
But what we have to understand is that the film industry isn’t the same as others. Millions dream the same dream. Thousands of them feel they are better than the rest. And hundreds of people audition for the same role.
More than the gold, acting rewards with fame. This field has made many men and women immortal. Of course, to reach that level, one has to give more than their energy.
Many people have asked us, what should we do to break into acting. Well, there is no tried and tested formula really, as each individual is different, therefore each approach is different. But over the years a common mantra has emerged. And that is – persistence; being at it.
In the age of extreme competition and cutthroat race to rise on top, there are some habits that you can, however, inculcate early on to get seamlessly usher into the business of filmmaking, and gradually be pushed to the top.
Here are 10 tips that you can follow to do the same:
1 – Join acting classes and workshops:
Acting is an immortal discipline. You can spend a lifetime on it and still not know a lot.
Sometimes, with confidence or overconfidence, aspiring actors feel that they already know enough about acting since they are expert dreamers. If you are one of such people, you are in for a surprise. Acting is a nuanced job that involves a lot more than dreaming actually.
Through acting classes and workshops, you learn a lot about some important aspects of acting, such as voice, diction, delivery, timing, gestures, expressions and about playing uniquely different characters such as that of an old man, a little girl, a farmer, a college student etc. These are characters and scenarios that really pull an actor out of his comfort zone, especially when it portrays a person or a story that is far from the actors real life.
Acting classes and workshops give you various scenarios and situations to act in, and that helps expand your horizon and imagination.
One thing casting directors are looking for is a truly Talented Actor, someone who really loves playing characters. When you showcase your amazing acting range to a casting director, even if you aren’t clinched for this role, you will definitely be remembered. Maybe they’ll ask you to audition for another role in some other gig. This is how you slowly rise to the top.
2 – Search and hire the best agent in your budget
Whether or not to hire an agent is a polarizing subject. Many aspirants say that hiring an agent was the worst decision they ever took. Many people say the opposite.
After a lot of research, we have come to the conclusion that the result of hiring an agent depends directly on the professional quality of the Agency/Casting Agent you’ve hired. Never hire an agent on the first glance or because they are known to a common contact or because they are managing another actor well.
Every agency tries to sell itself through bells and whistles, but agent-artist is a one on one chemistry, more than anything. The agent is your manager and hence they need to be truly convinced in you to be able to manage your business in the direction that gives you name and fame but also the work satisfaction.
Talk to other actors, contemporaries and experts of the field, who may have sufficient experience in this regard, do thorough research; it isn’t very easy to find out who would best represent you in your budget, but it is not impossible too.
Once you clinch a good agency/manager, approach them professionally. Always, always, always have a professional relationship with your agent.
3 – Audition and Train Locally
They say experience is the best teacher. Reading or hearing about roles can only get you so far. But real-life experience amounts to a world of learning as well as opportunities.
Every New Acting Job has a colossal impact on your resume, no matter where you get it from. If you are an aspiring actor, of course at some point you would want to move to the big city like Mumbai or New York, but before you do that, take maximum advantage of the opportunities available at your local art theatre or film circle. At least plays and theatre groups exist in every city.
Join those local theatre groups, take part in any role that you get, sharpen your craft. Do not shy away from playing any kind of role or adding your own unique personality and mannerisms. Theatre helps an actor confront in more ways than cinema does. No retakes are the biggest practice that theatre exposes an actor too. If you have mastered delivery without retakes, cinema with its perils could be easier in a lot of ways.
As you add your theatre experience in your resume, it will be enough for film and casting directors to take you seriously.
4 – Learn by reading
Warren Buffett had once stated that the secret to his vast fortune was reading.
Granted, he is not an actor, but to succeed in anything in life, generally, any master would tell you to read. And the same goes for acting. Almost any actor that you may notice as ‘a good actor’ would be reading books.
Read books about the methodologies of acting, the philosophies, the processes of the great actors of the past and also about everything else that interests you. Theoretical knowledge goes a long way in not just understanding the subtle art but also helps in understanding how the various roles in the world of films and theatre work, such as cameramen, directors, producers, make-up artists, etc. Understanding these various perspectives is also very important.
5 – Develop new skills
This is a no-brainer. Once you make a name for yourself, you would want to take on more and more challenging roles. Each of these roles will be unique and may require additional training.
If it’s a soldier’s role, using arms may be a requirement. If it’s the role of a musician, playing an instrument may be expected of you. You never know what special skills you may need to bag your next big role.
What you can do is convert “No, I don’t know how” to “Oh yes, I actually can, I took classes.”
Try to learn as many skills as possible. Horse Riding, playing musical instruments, juggling, driving a race car, scuba diving, anything that comes your way. Of course, don’t try to do everything at once….Remember! one thing at a time.
There are many skills that you can learn or upgrade virtually, for free or at very affordable prices. Remember, developing new skills in no way means to become an expert. Obviously, no one expects you to become Beethoven. What we are saying is have a working knowledge of your skills, and cover the basic groundwork. Basic as in enough so that it should genuinely look like you know what you’re doing.
6 – Write
Not many Actors in India do this, but it’s utterly important. Learn to write.
You don’t have to be an expert to start. Just start. Whatever that goes on in your head, whatever you feel, jot it down on a paper.
Writing for an actor is like taking that one extra effort to be the best. If you really believe that you are a good actor, it’s only a matter of time before a casting director sees it too. Writing provides a whole other dimension to your perception. It adds depth to your character, eventually giving you room to grow mentally. Write stories, about characters, about feelings, about art, whatever that you may feel like. Think of it as a daily mental exercise.
Plus, you never know, your writing skills may come to your own use someday. You may just end up writing a story that you may be cast for.
7 – Learn how to establish your brand
In a world where landing even a single, tiny role in a movie has become so competitive, you have to work and market yourself aggressively. Just like salesmen appeal to customers and convince them to try out their products, similarly, you also have to work relentlessly to convince casting directors that you are perfect for the role. Just like establishing a brand- except this that, the brand is you!
You have to convince people that you are the real deal. Here are some things you can do to build your brand….
Build your online portfolio, as in a website or a profile page dedicated to you and your work.
Build social media profiles for yourself on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Be active on those platforms and share your real-life experiences, thoughts and work updates. Don’t overdo. The world does not need to know what you ate for dinner but it would be nice to know that love to cook!
Be open to conversations with various people and network with them. Even when there is no real agenda to do so.
8 – Get used to rejection
When you go out to audition for various roles, you may be rejected 8 out of 10 times, especially when you have just started. Doesn’t matter how good you are, there will be a lot of rejection, as there are literally thousands of other aspiring actors out there like you, probably more experienced or more practised for this role than you.
Therefore, rejection is a very common factor in this business. You have to learn to not take it personally. In fact, every time you’re rejected, ask the casting director what you could have done better, and then work on it. If you don’t get an answer, do a mental rewind of what was asked and what you did and think through the plus and the minus. Request for a clip of your audition to watch it a couple of times and be your own critic. Not too much, not too less.
Some of the Greatest Actors we know and love had been rejected for a large part of their former years. Neeraj Kabi, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Irrfan Khan, Tabu, Shah Rukh Khan, Ranveer Singh, Konkona Sen Sharma, Akshay Kumar and many many more actors were all rejected multiple times in the Indian showbiz.
9 – Be Patient and Persistent
Deriving from the point above, patience is a must-have for this profession. There will be times when nothing would seem relevant, things would seem to have been stuck for too long when it would feel that so much time and money and energy has been put for nothing.
We feel that there is absolutely nothing wrong in switching over to a more sure avenue of revenue generation. Having said that, if you are really an actor in your heart, through and through, and you feel that you can’t dedicate yourself completely to anything other than acting, then never lose hope.
Believe in yourself, your capabilities and talents, and have faith that you are on the right path. We understand you may be running out of patience, but just hold on…
There are thousands of actors who come to the city of dreams to be a star. But less than a handful make it all the way through. What do you think, they made it overnight?
10 – Be Financially Prepared
Acting isn’t free trade. If you wish to earn a name, you have to pay for it. Online classes, acting classes, workshops, seminars, headshots, portfolio building, fashion and apparels, all of this costs money. A significant amount of money. We’re not advocating reckless spending, but every now and then, you have to shell out money from your own pocket.
We recommend that until you get an acting job, take up a part-time job. At least one that gives a fairly regular income.
It is often said that establishing a Career in the Film Industry is very seldom a speedy run, for most people it is like anything between a brisk walk to a power walk. Very rarely it turns out to be a walk on the plain; more often than not it’s like climbing a hill. It is tiring, it is time-consuming, but the view atop is worth it.