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Thursday, April 03, 2008

A "job" hunting tip for actors who want to get started in indie films or want more indie film acting options

By indie films I mean real indie films; non-studio funded, low budget movies that are being made in every major city in America (mostly shorts, some features too) & if they get completed they may end up in festivals, or on the web in youtube or at a similar site, or get distributed by the filmmakers themselves (DIY distribution), and in very few cases they receive wide distribution.

Job is in quotes in the title of this post because a lot of the first short or other indie film acting work that you will get or go after will not be well paid or not paid at all in most cases; so regardless of that difference between the mainstream notion of work & pay, here is one indie film acting job hunting tip:

There are two popular methods used by filmmakers for casting most indie films: 1) auditions, 2) using your friends. Auditions are an excellent tool for casting movies, but it is a very formal & limited, in my opinion, process, and it leaves very little room beyond the performance (the readings, monologues, etc.) for the actors to influence the decision making by the filmmakers. So, it maybe useful to actors to get to know area filmmakers LONG BEFORE they have the need to hold an audition to cast a role or a movie. Many indie filmmakers are active on the web or use the web as a promotional tool for their work, & they have blogs, & there are networking groups with a web based component (a yahoo group, etc; good source for finding out what area indie filmmakers are up to) - find these sites (a google search on your city + independent film might get you started), get in touch with filmmakers through their sites - if possible (blogs where u can comment, sites where there is a contact e-mail), say you live in the same area & are always interested in indie film projects, get on their mailing lists, re-visit the sites from time to time, & try to keep in touch if the filmmakers are interested. So, such reaching out to filmmakers could mean that filmmakers who did not know many actors, or who only think about looking for actors when the time comes for casting, will have acquaintances or friends who are serious about acting/have some acting experience/are actors. Then when the time comes for the filmmakers to decide between casting an actor found through an audition or casting one of their friends or acquaintances because they get along well with them (an essential thing for comfortable filmmaking), the filmmakers may have a third choice - casting a friend or an acquaintance who is also an actor/can do a great job at the audition/in the role, etc.

Another popular practice in real indie filmmaking is working with what you have easy access to. If a filmmaker already knows actors, is in touch with a few on a regular basis re: various things, it would be very easy for the filmmaker to try out possible new ideas for films with his/her actor friends and acquaintances, before getting to the formal casting phase. I think such a situation will give the actors who already know the filmmaker an advantage when attempting to secure a role in the fimmaker's movie.

Of course some filmmakers probably do not want to be bothered with getting to know new people, etc. Those people probably are not on the web, blogging, updating their MySpace page or doing similar things. But the filmmakers who are open to community and networking probably would be glad to know a few actors - such a situation might even lead to new projects; director/writer's often write for people they know or they create characters based on people they know.

Also actors should consider creating blogs & websites for themselves & updating them regularly & responding to comments by the blog's readers, etc. A Blogger blog (this blog that u r reading is published on Blogger) can be set up & operated for free/no cost, and can be done quickly (i just created one for an actress earlier today in under 10 minutes); and by spending some time with it, the blog/site can eventually be made to look very interesting. Basically a regular presence on the web & keeping in touch with people who are interested in the site can be very useful for all kinds of artists in promoting themselves; including actors.

In DC area at least, a lot of actors hang out with & keep in touch with other actors, and filmmakers hang out with & keep in touch with other filmmakers. People from each group who are regularly in touch with the people from the other group might have an easier time getting indie films made & or being in indie films.

Perhaps something to think about, if you have not given it much thought already. Could be useful perhaps. (And do use all regular precautions that you use when making new acquaintances & friends through the web (this goes without saying, but there it is in case someone needs to hear it :) ).

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You could also attend screenings & other indie filmmaker events that happen in the non-web/real world & meet filmmakers that way. But the web networking thing is easier to do, time wise, I think. You could do both - networking at some real world indie film events & then also do lots of networking on the web.

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- Sujewa

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