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Don't Quit! You Can Act!
by Ryan Davis
Listen up and don't quit! Have you ever wanted to be a star? Do you want to be famous? Well Austin, Texas is the place to become an Extra/Actor in feature films. If you are already acting, this is for you too. Theres no need to pack all your stuff and move to Hollywood. Austin is called "Little L.A." and the "Third Coast." Check out the Texas Film Commission's list of current projects. Most of them are being made right here in the Capital City.
For the last ten years, I have worked on crews for feature films, video production, independant films, television, and commercials. Moving up in the ranks seemed slow, even though I had a college degree in Radio/Television/Film. Then I made a change, acting. For the last two years I started taking acting classes. After gaining confidence and practicing skills, I began to seek out film projects and plays. I auditioned everywhere, at Zachary Scott Theater, for Independent Films, and Student Films. I met people and started seeing familiar faces in front of and behind the camera. Therefore, I went into auditions less nervous and with no pressure. I found myself doing this as a hobby, and success started following. Recently, I signed my first contract for an Independent Film. Now its a question of keeping the ball rolling.
My tips are to get seen and get advice from other actors. Take classes one after the other and explore a variety of instructors and genres.
Dont Quit! ?????????
Try comedy improvisation, its very relaxing and fun. Comedy Sportz teaches Comedy Improvisation at Zachary Scott Theater. Other acting coaches in town are CK McFarland and Mona Lee. If you have the time, work on Independent Films. These projects usually do not involve paid actors. Dont worry about it. The experience and exposure is immeasurable. The money will come in time. Becoming known in the community is as much a part of the job of being an actor as doing good work in front of the camera or on stage. Keep a job; don't try to live off the money from acting. Join professional organizations like: Austin Circle of Theaters, Actor's Alliance, Actor's Forum, or the Screen Actors Guild. Go to the meetings and talk to others in the profession.
An agent and headshots are important, but not necessary to get started. Business cards are great to pass out to other actors and casting people. Accept others' business cards as well. Start e-mailing other crewmembers and actors to keep up with current projects that will be casting soon. Also, join any e-mail services that are local and free to get more project information. Be friendly to other actors and crews. Try to memorize the lines at an audition. I know it's hard, but it helps. If you are practiced in improvisation, it kicks in when the lines are not totally memorized.
Once you think you are too good to work as an Extra, others will think that too. You better prove it to everyone before you get picky. Last piece of advice, try not to ask for autographs on the set, not too cool. Get out there, and get em. I want to meet other actors that can say, "Don't quit! You can act!"