Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tips for making homemade headshots (for new actors)

Not everyone can afford professional headshots and it is okay to take them at home. Here are some tips to making home headshots look professional:

Here are some good tips for taking headshots at home:

Getting ready: Do not put on too much makeup - look nice but not overdone

Pick a shirt that's not distracting (you want the focus on your face, not what you're wearing)

Do not wear a hat or glasses (unless you can't see without them and would need to act with them)

Picking a location:

Pick a solid background (a lighter color is good) - do not have any pictures or mirrors or shelves or windows in the background - If you use a sheet, make sure it is not wrinkled and make sure it is smooth - keep the background as far away as possible so you don't cast a shadow on it

Sunlight is the best lighting so have a window in front of you or to the side (never behind) or shoot outside (but avoid a busy background)

Taking the picture:

Have someone else take the picture. Pictures you take of yourself with a cell phone rarely come out good. You need to focus on your pose and not taking the picture.

Have the picture include your head with the top of your head almost touching the top of the frame and the bottom at your shoulders.

Take a LOT of pictures and try different expressions and poses. Take at least 10.

Review the pictures before ending the session.

Printing the picture:

Have your name nicely printed (with a computer) on the bottom

Print them in color

My homemade headshot

Getting an agent

Try to get as many paid acting jobs as possible. The paid work is what will get an agent's attention.

Call around to see which local agent takes new actors (and see which is the most helpful on the phone). Then make an appointment with a local acting agency that takes new talent and see if someone will talk with you about what you need to do to get prepared for them.

Word of warning: no not do an agent that requires a fee. Good agents only get paid when you get work. The exception is buying headshots, etc.

Here is a list of SAG approved agents. The best agents will be on this list:

To Live or Die in LA (tips for new actors: getting experience and finding an agent)

Actor Q & A with Risa Bramon Garcia, BGB Studios, from Industry Insider

"It’s a tough time for actors coming to L.A. to try and make a name for themselves in film and television. There’s just not a lot of work. 5% of actors in this town are making a really decent living. And maybe 10% or 20% are making some kind of living. And that’s it. And everybody else is not."

Here are some suggestion for new actors starting out:

- Start out getting experience in another city. LA is expensive and there won't be a support system.

"One of the reasons I think working in theater in a place like New York is so great is that people get to know you and you don’t really need an agent to audition for theater, to get seen. So maybe you do a play at a smaller theater and people see you. Eventually, an agency will agree to represent you and then that agency might have a partner agency in L.A. so you may even have representation when your get here. That was my path."

(Note from blog: New Mexico agents can be this way too... have a connection to an LA agency, so many agents around the country may have these kinds of connections).


Not having an agent shouldn't hold you back from getting started. It's up to you to make things happen.

"First of all, having an agent doesn’t always mean all that much... Your agent is not there to get you a job. They can make introductions, they can submit you, negotiate your deals, and they can tell you what’s happening out there. But you need to be creative, and proactive; you need to create your own work."


Plan on having a backup job. Temporary jobs are good, especially night jobs so you're free for auditions during the day.

Here are some possible night jobs that could work:

Work at night job at a hotel
Night shift at a store
Babysitting or nanny
Personal assistant

Also temp jobs as well as substitute teaching can be good ones so you're not stuck with a regularly scheduled job.

Monday, July 22, 2013

New Actor under 18? Move to LA? Convince your parents? (

Are you a new actor under age 18 who wants to make it big? Should you move to LA?

The answer is do it later. Wait for college. Going to a college like USC or UCLA is a safer way to make the leap. These universities will help you get training and experience as well as make connections to jobs. Plus it gives you a safe place to live while you develop your LA network (and having a network is very important to be successful). A network consist of people you know in Hollywood that can help you get jobs. Without a network, it is very difficult to get an acting job.

But a lot of young actors don't want to wait. What can you do before college? Here are some ideas:

1. School plays are great experience. Casting directors like actors with theatre/stage experience.

2. Community theatre plays are another way to train yourself and work with adult actors who can teach you a lot and maybe even help make connections.

3. Make your own short films. Even if you make bad short films, you still learn a lot of acting and then watching yourself. Have fun with it and don't worry about being good. But watch the finished film and think about how you can do better.

4. Start a YouTube channel. You can even make a little money by monetizing the video. And if you're lucky, you'll have a viral hit and make your mark early.

Trouble with Convincing Parents

If you're having trouble convincing your parents, doing the above 4 steps will show them you are passionate about being an actor and they will be more likely to support you if you show your love what you're doing.

More acting tips at

Simple Acting Improv Tips (3 important things to do to be good at improv)

The key to improv is to:

1) do the first thing that comes to mind related to the situation/scene/topic

2) don't try to be funny

3) always say yes (agree with what the other actors do and build on it)

More improv at

Friday, July 12, 2013

Facial expressions and emotions when acting

Question: "How to work on facial expression for acting? i cant convey my emotions when i act. do you have any tips and examples for each emotions like sad, frightened, nervous, etc. is squinting a bad thing. how do i move my eyebrows downward"

Answer: Rather than trying to create the emotions on your face, work on feeling the emotions. Pick something that makes you feel a certain way (scared) and try to really feel that way.

Here is a great monologue with a variety of emotions:

Try to think of times in your own life where you have felt like the character and then remember these emotions while doing the monologue. Record yourself and forget about the camera while you do it. Focus on the emotions and really feeling them.

More acting tips:

Thursday, July 11, 2013

TV Audition Tips from a Real Audition

I've never been the best at auditioning. I tend to be one of those actors that gets more parts from reputation (seeing my past work) than successful auditions. But one thing I've learned from auditions is to try and have fun with it.

As an acting, there are going to be a lot of auditions, a lot of unsuccessful ones, but why have it be a stressful or bad experience. Have fun with each one and give a reason to have the casting director call you back again for other parts. Even though I don't always get the part, casting directors do seem to like me and do ask for me by name. Maybe it is because I make an audition fun for everyone.

For the latest audition I did yesterday (for a television series), we were supposed to come in Western costume. I recently moved and didn't bring all my costumes with me so I had to quickly hit the second hand stores for a costume. I managed to put together a western-ish costume. Sadly I couldn't find a cowboy hat, except for a dorky straw one. I got it and decided to have fun with it. When I did my "slate", introduction of myself, I did a joke about someone stealing my good cowboy hat and getting stuck with the bad one. Then I ditched the hat and did fine without it, looking Western enough I believe in a long sleeved dark shirt and black vest and jean and cowboy boots (although the boots weren't on camera, it still helps to get in to character to wear the right thing). The casting director was really happy with the few lines I did for a small part, she had me read for a bigger part. That was a very good sign.

Getting a new part is a challenge at the last minute. I'd worked all day on a couple of lines (saying them at everyone slight opportunity in regular conversation - thankfully my wife didn't get too annoyed). Suddenly I had four new lines to do. They offered me a few minutes to prepare so I took it. I went out in the hall and went over my new lines. Then I jumped in and did it. Amazingly I got the lines right on the first try.

A few things I learned this audition (always try to learn something new from each audition):

1. Be prepared for changes. Practicing memorizing something quick is a good skill.

2. If you get more than one chance at lines, try to make them better with each try by doing something a little different. The casting director was very happy with my final try.

3. Try to stay in character for most of the audition. I forgot to do this at one point and probably ruined one of the takes. Thankfully I got another.

4. Remember that the casting director isn't the final word. They are recording you for a reason. Someone is going to decide if they want you or not based on your camera performance so make your on camera time count.

5. It never hurts to say thank you. I'm going to send some thank you emailed to the casting directors now.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Should actors eat before performing?

Question: Is it a bad idea to eat before a show? If your doing a play is it a bad idea to eat a meal before it? Or should you wait till after?

Answer: Eat really healthy before you perform. You don't want to act on an empty stomach and you'll actually be more nervous if you don't eat. Try filling foods that are healthy (veggies, fruit, nuts) and avoid fast food, fried foods and gassy foods.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Can you train to act at home?

Question: Train as an actress at home? I don't have enough money for an acting coach and I don't have any clubs I can join for acting. But I love and want to be an actress. Can I study characters and try to say their lines with the same emotion?

Answer: The best way to learn is by doing. Look for school plays and community theatres to audition for. Or if that's not available you could do short movies with your friends.

Here are some short scripts you can use to make short movies: Then you'll have the short movie to watch and get ideas on how to improve your acting.

You can practice on your own as well with monologues:

After you practice and memorize the monologue, you can act it for friends or family or video yourself doing it and watch it on your own for ideas to improve. If a part is boring or hard to watch, then think of ways to make that part more interesting. Do the monologue over until you feel like you'd be proud to show someone else. When you do show your video monologue to someone else (or even a small group of family and friends), watch how they react rather than watching the video with them. Are there parts that they have good reactions to? Make a note of the good parts and then think of ways to improve the other parts.

Here are some more acting tips as well in the Free Acting School: