The unrepresented actors survival guide

Surviving as an unrepresented actor
Photo Credit: Taber Andrew Bain via cc
Unrepresented actors are faced with the eternal catch 22 situation, how can you get an agent without work, and how can you get work without an agent? It is a really tricky situation, but life is full of tricky situations. As an actor things are always going to be tough, so get used to the hard graft, grow from it. Although things will never get easier, the effort makes the end result a better prize, the treading of the grapes makes the juice sweeter.
You only grow when you are alone
Paul Newman Actor
First rule when looking for an agent is that you must never, ever pay to be seen or to be represented by someone. Performers should never pay for auditions and there are unscrupulous people out there.
I would also be careful with companies who ask you to pay for the opportunity to be seen by a Casting Director or people offering ‘Showcases’ for unrepresented actors to find an agent or be seen by the industry. If it was me I would avoid this kind of event like the plague. I have never met an actor who has found work through this type of event. I myself in my early days paid out a lot of money to be included in a VHS showcase (yes, I am that old) which was sent to hundreds of agents and casting directors. I can guarantee no-one got cast from that VHS, I doubt any casting person even watched it. The only people smiling were the ‘company’ that made it and took our money.
Most of the time I do feel like I need someone else when I’m alone. But I can still get by with just my own company and that makes me a stronger person.
Leonardo DiCaprio Actor
Occasionally Casting Directors will hold classes and events. In these cases if you can afford it, then it would definately be beneficial going along. I am not saying you will be cast from these sessions, or find work, but learning from casting directors about what they look for is always going to be great advice. I also love these events because they give you an opportunity to network with other actors in the same boat as you, and also mix with actors who might already have representation.
Yes, I know I am saying on one hand that paying for the opportunity to see or be seen by a casting director is wrong, and then straight away I am saying that paying to see a casting director is right. Let me try and clarify the difference: You need to research and search out classes which are offering you the skills needed for auditioning and working professionally. You need to find classes where the teacher or casting professional will work with you, critique your performance and offer constructive feedback.
As well as learning and growing in your technique, these classes give you the chance to mix, to network and it is this way which I think often is the best way to find representation, referrals, and even jobs.
The Unrepresented actor’s survival guide
Photo Credit: Jo Naylor via cc
The acting world really is a small industry and the more people you meet and mix with and work with the smaller the industry gets. Honestly, spend time with every actor you meet and get to know them, it will pay off in the future. The industry really is a community and you need to get out there and meet your neighbors!
Spotlight and Equity host workshops and events. These tend to be free (once you are a member). Look on their websites and see what is coming up and you might be able to get a place on one, get along to it and learn and network.
It’s all about people. It’s about networking and being nice to people and not burning any bridges. You talent is going to impress, but in the end it is people that are going to hire you.
Mike Davidson Brand Consultant
The Actors Centre is a great place to get along to for their classes. You need to be a member to go to some of the classes, but some classes are open to non members. Check out their website. I would really recommend joining if you are early in your career, as not only do you get to go to these classes you also have a base in London. The café at the Actor Centre is a great place to spend an hour or so, use the free wifi but also network and meet fellow actors at different stages in their career. Be bold, and approach people, introduce yourself and be honest about looking for advice. The Actors Centre has a reduced membership rate for new actors.
“UK Actors Tweetup” is a social media gathering for actors, writers, directors, producers, and other creatives. Join online, contribute to the conversations, get to know others, and when they hold their meetings, get along and mix and mingle.
We are a community. Our individual Fates are linked; our futures intertwined; and if we act in that knowledge and in that spirit together we can move mountains.
Jimmy Carter
Leaving the best to last, the most important of all of my suggestions is to join a community. Ask around, check art centre noticeboards, look on Facebook Pages, search Google +, start Twitter-ing, reach out to your connections and use your network. Even join us on Facebook or Twitter and interact with other ACTORhubsters!
Networking isn’t meeting the powerful and influential, it is meeting and mixing with your peers. The more you get out there and network the more powerful and useful your network will be, and help and opportunities will come your way.