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Dear Ms. Bubbette: Stage actor wants to work in film - where to start? The Cage. UT/RTF student film submissions - how to...
by Ms. Bubbette
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
I am floundering a bit here! I am a stage actor who has recently moved to this area and REALLY want to work in the film/tv medium. I have taken a couple of classes to that end, but don't really know what steps to take to get the work. this is soooo different from how I get theatre work. I am a degreed and experienced woman in the world of theatre, so am not writing from a beginning actor stand point, but I have no idea where to start. Could you point me in the right direction? Sincerely, Begging for a Chance Redhead Goddess J
Dear Redhead Goddess J,
I can commiserate with you as I too, started off in theatre. All the degrees in the world won't help you land that movie role if it's not approached in the correct manner.
I presume you already have headshots with resumes attached? It seems they ask for those in theatre nowadays too. So your next job is to find a good AGENT. Is an agent necessary? Absolutely, if you want to be taken seriously in this business. They are the middleperson between you and the casting director. They will not only submit you for acting jobs but they will also fend for you should a paycheck not arrive. There is absolutely no charge to join an agency. If anyone tries to charge you a fee, run hard in the opposite direction and report them to the Texas Film Commission. The agents get paid only after they have procured work for you. When your check reaches them, they deduct their 20% ( or thereabouts) and mail you the balance. Fortunately this is not Hollywood where you can't even get to talk to the agents. I suggest you call the Texas Film Commission 463-9200 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for an updated list of local talent agents, explaining that you're new in town and looking for representation as an actor. They can either email the list or fax it to you. Another excellent source for everything you need to know in this business is Mona Lee's BIZ DIRECTORY. It is the actor's bible. A unique feature of this book is the in-depth interviews with the Texas Talent Agents and Texas Casting Directors. You will know everything about them - what makes them tick - before you even meet them! Order - 323-2090
So, now you have your list of agents - what to do next? Ask other actors, who would they recommend and why? Choose 5 or so you wish to see and, with your headshot and resume, include a cover letter like so: "Dear so-and-so, I am seeking representation as a new actor in your area. You come highly recommended and I would like to set up an interview with you. Attached is my current resume and headshot. I will be calling your office in a few days to hopefully meet with you personally, etc etc" (Make sure you include your phone numbers and email) Mail it in a large manilla envelope and with cardboard protecting your photos. And then, do follow-up with those phone calls.
Texas Film Commission also has a 24 hour Production Hotline 463-7799 where you can listen to the latest audition notices - or go to their email (above) and click on Texas Production Hotline. And to build that resume quickly don't be adverse to doing extra work on the movies. One of the few jobs you get paid while you learn and they feed you well too. Third Coast Casting Extras can help you on that one - 472-5385. I have seen as many as 9 actor-extras upgraded in one week to principal roles ( a difference at that time of $50 a day to $500 a day! And they became SAG eligible) It's been said (and I haven't an earthly who said it) that Robert Redford had over 200 bit roles (extra work) before he landed one line?! That's perseverance!
Anyway, Redhead Goddess J, give it your best shot and if you get no joy from my suggestions, write me again and I will print the latest list of talent agents (should be on its way to me as we speak)
Good luck. And that's my final answer (I think) Sincerely, Ms. Bubbette
P.S. UT student films are fun and a great way to get experience. And it can lead to Independent movie roles. M.B.
Ms. Bubbette forwarded this information from UT's The CAGE:
"The Cage, a resource center for UT/RTF film and video production students at UT Austin, is looking for actors' headshots. We want to expand and update our extensive collection of headshots that are widely accessed by students, nonstudents, and other independent filmmakers. Please submit 1 headshot to: CAGE CMA 6.118 UT AUSTIN Austin, Texas 78712 or drop them off during office hours, listed on our website at www.utexas.edu/students/cage (Since these are generally non-paying gigs you might want to include your home phone number on your resume if you feel comfortable doing that.)"