9 Tips for Graduates Pursuing a Career in TV/Film

Springtime: a season for rebirth, renewal, reinvention…It is the time just after pilot season when agents and managers have shortened their rosters and are looking to strategically replenish their talent. Among the many venues talent reps, network executives, and casting directors seek the next generation of talent is at college MFA/BFA showcases.

A common discussion among executives, agents, managers and soon-to-be graduating students is the growing disconnect between how the presentation of showcase material fits the West coast market. Film and television requires a more subtle skill set, which is often missing at these showcases. Here are 9 steps to better prepare students in an acting program for the film/television world.

1. Material is key. Your scene should be two minutes tops, contemporary, and age appropriate! Show your audience how you’d be cast now, not the future you, nor the glamorous you after hours in hair and makeup.

2. Know your castability. By age 21 you’ve played old Gremio in “The Taming of the Shrew,” the Emcee in “Cabaret” with a meticulous accent, and your celebrated one-person experimental deconstruction movement piece of Ibsen’s “The Master Builder” was a crowning achievement. While the audience may be entertained with your ability to deliver a foreign accent, unless it’s authentic, this will not help casting and reps know your type. Now, take a look at the medium you will be cast. You will audition for roles ranging in age from 16-25, with your exact physical attributes. The more savvy you are about the shows being cast and the types of roles your physical type would play, the better prepared you will be in choosing your showcase material and succeeding in Film/TV.

3.Know your room. Working actors know the tone of a piece, the medium it would be performed in, and how to share it appropriately with the audition room. Your audience wants to get a sense of the medium you want to perform in—in Los Angeles it is film and television. Your classically trained skill set will likely need to be adjusted to the contemporary film/television medium you are performing for. Many colleges are adding video to their showcases to show their students range in both mediums.

4.Find the humor. In your dramatic scenes, find the humor and find the grounded moments in your comedic work. In other words, play your opposites to create dimension and authentic human beings…

Read the rest of this piece from Backstage.