These are things that every actor needs: headshots, online profile, demo reel. And if you don’t believe me, here’s a quick article regarding 5 tools everyone needs.
HOW TO SUBMIT, your online actor profile
This is the where your main acting profile is. It’s what agents and managers use to submit you. An AA account is free. A lot of self-submissions too, and if you plan on self-submitting then get the Showfax account for unlimited submissions and access to sides for only $60/year. Best money you’ll spend all year.
Two more submission sites. NC tends to have a lot of student projects and I’ve seen great results from them. LACasting (aka Casting Networks) is where you want to be once you get a commercial agent. I once had accounts on all 3, but found that without an agent, LACasting was just another place for student projects that were also listed on NC or AA.
Every actor needs a good headshot. This is your number 1 tool in this business so you can’t take the easy route. Don’t give your friend your digital camera and ask them to take a couple shots of you. Please do yourself a big favor and spend the money on a quality photographer. The part that sucks when finding a photographer is the sheer volume of photographers who take headshots. Some good, some bad, some great. And in my opinion, most of them overcharge you. You don’t need to spend $500, $600, $700 on a headshot session. There are plenty of photographers who do just as beautiful work for $200-$300. But hey, it’s your money.
My photographer is Michael Hiller. He does amazing work at a very reasonable price. More to come on this topic.
Getting a demo reel put together is tough. You have to do a lot of student/friend/no budget projects. Then you have to hope that the footage is actually usable. Finally, you have to wait for the footage. Waiting for the footage is always the toughest. Make sure when you’re on set you ask the director when they plan to have it ready. If it’s a student project they will ALWAYS have a deadline for class, and if it’s tough getting it from them, you are able to contact the professor to ask the student to send you the DVD. With other projects it’s much harder. It’s been suggested to sign a simple contract that states in lieu of payment you will receive copy by a certain date.
Once you get your footage you need to get it cut together. Unless you know video editing software, leave it to the pros to put together. I got my demo reel cut at SpeedReels. An acting friend of mine suggested I go because they were fast and make a great product. She was right. I was in and out of there in 30 minutes.
How do you get the word out that you’re working? Postcards!!! Book a co-star? Send out a postcard to casting directors (especially those you target and those that cast shows similar to that you just booked). Acting in a play? Send out a postcard to get people there! Finished a great acting class? Let casting know with a postcard! You should have a stack of postcards with a couple of your headshots, your name, your management (if applicable) and a way to contact them (or you) on the front. Leave the back blank (except for the return address) so that you can add a different message depending on what you’re announcing. Invest in peel and stick labels and learn how to use your mail merge in Word. And remember, postcard stamps are cheaper than regular stamps! I get my postcards done at Color Images in Burbank. Very good quality and at a reasonable rate!