Dear Ms. Bubbette: Teenager needs auditions When should an actor make the move to LA? How to find extra work Acting school frowns on outside acting work?! - Beware! Can one have more than one agent per city? Quelling the jitters and returning to acting
by Ms. Bubbette
Dear Mrs. Bubbette,
My name is Ashley Hufford, I am from Austin, Texas, and I am 13 years old. I REALLY want to act, any role would be fine with me! Just as long as I am on camera in a major motion picture! Even an extra role would be GREAT! I just want to start small, commercials would be FANTASTIC! The only problem is, I can't find ANY auditions in my area that are looking for teens. Could you PLEASE help me find some auditions in my area? Thank you for your time.
One step at a time! If you are really serious about being an actor you will have to treat it more as a business - not just a moment of glory on the silver screen! And, as in any new business, we all have to start small - in most actors' books that means extra work. Even getting into commercials takes a lengthy learning process and then comes the payoff of finally being the 'chosen one' from hundreds of auditioning actors. These actors are requested by the casting directors through your talent agent. So if you don't have an agent yet, you will probably not get very far.
Your agent will represent you and make you known to casting directors by sending out your headshots and resumes (they will tell you how to do this) . Not every movie has speaking roles for teenagers but most movies have a need for extras - background people - from every age group.
If you are not ready to get an agent and spend many hours learning the art from some of the best teachers in the country, right there on your doorstep, then I suggest you get a feel for the business by doing extra work first. You actually get a small paycheck and meals while you learn a little bit about this crazy business. And you definitely will learn the hardest lesson - patience! Called 'Hurry up and wait!"
And how do you find extra work in the Austin area? Beth Sepko Casting and Third Coast Extras Casting is at 501 N. IH-35, Austin TX 78702; their phone number is (512) 472-5385. Get your name on their list - find out when they will have another Open Call, which is not an audition but is known as a "Cattle call" . Anyone can turn up to that. They usually require a recent photo (not a headshot) and get you to fill out an application. Then you are filed under age groups and can be called any time during a movie that is shooting locally.
Do read the following letters for more ideas. OK? And get onto Dan's e-mail list for daily local postings on auditions especially for independent movies. This is a great way to get experience on camera and even a small speaking role, even though most are unpaid. His e-mail : email@example.com
Good luck Ashley. Let me know when you make the movies...
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
When does a local actor make the great move to Hollywood. I hear that someday I' might have to be out there. I know there are far more opportunities daily out there but there are far more people as well. What does an actor do. I do not want to master only the local scene but I do want to learn the ropes first. I am in my middle twenties and feel as though I have a talent to show. I feel as though I can be Will Smith's replacement when Men In Black III is up for casting in about two years. This is the confidence I have but I know it can't be done from Austin. So how and when does a person make this transition. Please help!
This is a tough call! And one I wouldn't make unless I had a year's salary stashed away in a bank account before heading out. Because, as you have noted, there are more actors out there. Unfortunately, many thousands more hopefuls exist than acting jobs, hence the myriad of actors waiting tables. However, a true actor would not allow that to daunt him! When you have a reasonable resume showing you have worked principal roles in Feature Films or Made-for-TV movies here, have a hot demo reel showing your skill in these roles, have a place to stay in LA, have an agent lined up ready to go, and that magic bank roll, then i would say the time is right to make that move. I know of several fine actors who have done this and headed over for the Pilot Season. Some have made minor roles but most have returned within the year ready to settle for what Texas has to offer. And you have more chance of being cast in Texas than in overloaded LA.
It all depends on you and the depth of confidence you have in yourself. Landing that big role depends on being in the right place at the right time with an outstanding talent to offer. If you can dream it and taste it don't let anyone tell you, you can't do it. Be prepared for rejection but never lose faith in yourself.
If you haven't already done it I suggest you get into Mona Lee's film classes, learn the ropes from a pro. and get used to shooting on location. (512) 323-2090. It was during one of these classes, this writer was called by Columbia Studios in LA , to play a principal role in a major Soap Opera. Mona's classes inspire actors to these higher levels!
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
I have an adorable 13 year old son who has an agent in Houston and Austin. He is just starting in this business and is very excited. Everyone who meets him loves him! He would like to be an extra in an upcoming movie...how do we go about finding out how to do this? Thanks for your help!
Your son's agents should know when the Open Call for extras is slated for any locally shot movie. If not, do read the letter above to Ashley and get in touch with Beth Sepko Casting and Third Coast Extras Casting. They are at 501 N. IH-35, Austin TX 78702; their phone number is (512) 472-5385. Tracy Roswell Casting handles extra work at times too. e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Sometimes the Open Call is announced in the local papers in Lifestyle sections. Another source is to call the Texas Film Commission and ask when the Open Call is for a particular movie coming into town. (512) 404-4562 Or listen in weekly to their Hotline (512) 463-7799
I hope your son has much fun in this business. When it stops being fun, then that's the time to quit!
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
I'm currently in an intensive acting program, but feel the strong to desire to do things outside of school. The program looks down upon things outside of its own productions and tends to now leave enough time to do them anyway.
How do I know if I should leave school early ( I feel like any NBA recruit). Am I spitting upon my craft if I leave to take jobs doing commercials and voice work?
A Next Generation of Oscar Winner
Dear Next generation of Oscar Winner,
I can't believe what I am reading! You are attending an acting school and they frown on your auditioning and working on 'outside' acting jobs?? Isn't that what they are supposed to be training you for? Movies, commercials and voice-overs - you name it! Did they make you sign an agreement not to take outside work? Do their productions pay you a salary? Are they charging you an arm and a leg for acting tuition - teaching skills you can't put to use on an outside job? Something smells very 'off' in that 'acting school.'
Unless you have signed an agreement to only act in their production company, they cannot stop you auditioning and acting elsewhere. I think you owe it to yourself and your craft to audition for everything in sight. How else do you get auditioning skills? Any school that looks down on an actor practising his art is highly suspect. I would say get out of there while you can and go to more reputable teachers who have already proven themselves as professional actors and who will back you all the way in your acting endeavors.
Dear Ms. Bubbette,
I would like to add in response to good children's acting classes AlleyWood Studios here in Austin. Our daughter took that class and it helped her bring out so much of her natural talent. We too our currently in the process of seeking that perfect fit for an agent. Do you know if you can have more than one agent in Austin? She is currently working on UT films to build up credit and we are just networking to learn more about this field in general. Our little 8 year old girl has such high hopes and inspiration. She is definitely not your mainstream child and so I'm trying my best to put her in a professional venue where she can promote her natural abilities. The other day at a local agency she performed her acting monolog and played ALL the parts. Never having been in acting myself except for a few plays growing up this is all very new to me. Any guidance help or suggestions from you would be most appreciated.
Isn't it fun when one finds a talented child under one's roof! And I'm so glad to hear your daughter did well at Alleywood classes. Yes, I do highly recommend them too and I'm sorry I missed them in my last response. But don't leave it at that will you? Keep taking classes and there are all kinds of fun summer acting camps happening right now. Austin Circle of Theatres at 4402 Burnet Rd should have a list of those - phone: 454-9700. Young students can be members of this prestigious group for a mere $15 a year and receive a monthly magazine "Curtain Call" full of audition notices, classes and acting articles. They also get free previews and ticket discounts.
As for having more than one agent in a city - not advisable in Texas. (In LA it's handled differently, with agents specializing in one thing, say, theatre. Another will handle commercials, another - film and so on. But in Texas, where there's not as much work, an agent handles all categories of acting in one agency.) You don't want to start an agent war! Scenario - Both agents are called for the same job, your daughter gets it, so now which agent are you going to pay the commission to? They will both expect it! It's not wise in Austin to have a San Antonio agent as well, as agents from both these cities handle both areas. Houston and Dallas are far enough away to warrant another agent.
But my thinking has changed over the years over the value of having more than one agent around the State, thanks to the Internet closing the geographical gaps. I would rather have one good agent who is on top of jobs all over Texas. Always remember, if you accept a job out of your city, you usually accept the 'local hire' ruling. No travel or hotel/food reimbursements unless it's in your contract.
So many things to learn about aren't there. That's when it strikes home as being just another business and has to be handled that way. And once again, remember the professional actors' show business guide for the whole of Texas. Covers everything the respectable actor needs to know about the business. THE BIZ DIRECTORY. & BIZ INTERVIEWS (agents and casting directors) Ph: (512) 323-2090
Keep reading this column for further tips! Good luck with your daughter, Debby.
Hi Ms. Bubbette.
I am originally from NY and did some acting in college. I have been in Austin for 8 years and have not done any acting since I have been here. I am itching to get back into it. It has been so long that I definitely need some MAJOR refresher courses. I think I would need a class or classes for "older" never acted in my life actors. (I am 30, but don't look it ;)) When I was acting, it was hard work for me to get past my jitters for an audition. Anyway, now that it has been so long and I am out of practice. I would be very nervous at any audition or experienced actors class. I want to get past that again and give acting a shot. I know it is in me! Thanks for your help and suggestions.
Welcome back into the acting world. I can't believe you've held back for 8 years in a town like Austin, so full of theatre and movies and student independent films! But before you go dashing into auditions it sounds like you need to spend some time in re-training yourself into the art.
I'm going to give you a list of professional actor/teachers - my personal favorites - who understand where you are coming from - they've been there, done that. You will find people in your age group in their smallish classes.
Mona Lee: (512) 323-2090
Michael Costello: (512) 260-3323
Gabe Folse: (512) 794-1067
C.K. McFarland: (512) 441-3738
Marco Perella: (512) 869-0623
There are many more fine teachers which you will find out from other actors as you progress.
One word about the jitters. All actors have nervousness - they wouldn't be the sensitive beings that they are otherwise. But, like fear of flying, it's something you have to train yourself to conquer. The way I did it and have successfully passed on to my pupils, is to forget about yourself and the impression you are making - instead learn to listen hard to the other actor/director and just react to them naturally. If you are thinking about your next line you will not be listening to them and your concentration will fly out the window. The result - you get the jitters! In a way it's a selfish thing! I'm sure you will conquer that.
So now, get going girl and join the happy actors of Austin. Good luck!