How To’s

How to Get Started in Virtual Reality Development

Many of us are familiar with virtual reality development. Through simulation games like Second Life, users can choose and customize an avatar. Avatars can visit virtual environments and go on dates, explore new landscapes, solve mysteries and even get married. Virtual reality has come a far way, and there are a vast number of opportunities to explore.

Virtual Reality Development: Getting Started

Virtual reality involves interacting with a simulated environment. Users mostly use a virtual reality headset or HMD. Virtual reality development, which requires a particular skill set and lots of patience, is the field of creating virtual environments. These skills can be used for film, media, television, entertainment, and video games. VR is also used for business, education, healthcare, and much more. When it comes to building up skills in virtual reality development, there are a few ways to get started.

1. Build a Strong Foundation

To get started in virtual reality, it’s important to engage with apps or games. Students can also study virtual reality development projects and what makes them successful. Through practical training, students can develop fluency in product design, video game design, 3D modeling, animation, and design theory. For programming, it helps to know C#.

In other words, for virtual reality development, it’s essential to become familiar with the technologies supporting VR. NYFA’s virtual reality workshops are an excellent way for students to develop an understanding of the technology. By studying VR at a film school, students learn how to tell compelling virtual stories within this burgeoning field.

2. Choose a Particular Platform and Master It

There are plenty of platforms for students to experiment with VR. Unity is one of the most significant platforms, and students don’t need the VR hardware to start creating games. It is also freely available.

Another engine is Unreal. Start with Mobile VR and make a prototype using Google Cardboard and a Cardboard Viewer. WebVR is another entry point for VR developers. Many media companies and forecasters are betting that a 3D, immersive internet is on the horizon. As VR devices get more accessible and affordable, content developed for the 3D web will likely become the universal use of VR.

3. Make The Best Use of Free Resources

Unity comes with its own virtual reality tutorials, and there are plenty of online virtual reality courses. Once the prototype is ready, add appropriate sound and art to make the experience as immersive as possible. It’s also helpful to know how gyro and accelerometer sensors in mobile phones work, as well as image processing and speech recognition.

4. Stay Up-To-Date With New VR Developments

Virtual reality is a constantly evolving field, and the more students can explore it, the more experience they can build up. To pursue creative goals in virtual reality, it’s important to stay up to speed on the industry.


Subscribe to virtual reality podcasts, read interesting virtual reality articles about the subject, and follow the latest news. Remember that the VR industry is still at an early stage, so there will always be newer things to learn. 

Interested in virtual reality? Learn more about taking virtual reality workshops at NYFA.

Cruella: Reinventing the Femme Fatale

Cruella de Vil, a character most widely known from the One Hundred and One Dalmatians animated film, is slated to be next on the docket of Disney’s list of stories retold – the film Cruella is slated to hit the big screen May 28, 2021. Although not strictly a retelling of the Disney film, it is set to explore the origin story of the villain, with Emma Stone portraying Cruella. That is the question though, isn’t it? Just who is Cruella? Why is it important that her story be told? The answer, as we will soon discover, lies in the archetype Cruella de Vil is a member of. One that, arguably, deserves some more fresh takes, this archetype being the femme fatale.

The Origins of the Archetype

Before we begin discussing how the femme fatale is being reinvented and why, it couldn’t hurt to unravel and better understand what a femme fatale is. As far as cinema is concerned, the FilmSchoolRejects observe that the archetype comes from film noirs around the time of the 1940s and 1950s. They go on to recognize the complexity of the femme fatale by attesting to their emotional realism. That what makes them such compelling characters is that they are willing to meet whatever ends they deem necessary to achieve their ambitions, but at the same time, contend with feelings and motivations that prove counter to those self same ambitions. In a way, they are somewhat contradictory in an oppositional sense. The way they are portrayed, they often have to compromise their comfort zone in order to reach their desired state of comfort and security. It is a layer of characterization that grounds them, making femme fatales feel very authentic and human despite being fictional in nature. 

Who is Cruella?

Like a good deal of the animated Disney films, One Hundred and One Dalmatians is not a property that is purely Disney’s. It is an adaptation of a book written in 1956 called “The Hundred and One Dalmatians” by Dodie Smith, from whom Walt Disney bought the rights to (Newsweek, 2021). What’s more, the book also provides greater insights into Cruella’s character, which hopefully the upcoming movie does well to lean into. For one, to show how extreme and over the top Cruella could be, the book notes that she “was expelled from primary school for drinking ink” (Newsweek, 2021). Now you might be wondering, “well why would a detail like that be important to include in the upcoming movie?” Unsettling as it sounds, it could be framed to show that she was always an outlier or a rebel of sorts. It could demonstrate just how far Cruella is willing to go to do what she wants to, or to underscore how comfortable she is being a deviant (despite the criticisms she might face). Such an act could in a way be likened to skinning dogs for their pelts, which is something she is certainly willing to do to create her perfect fur coat by the time the events of One Hundred and One Dalmatians takes place. Especially since both acts can be considered pretty taboo. Expanding on details like these would go a long way towards helping viewers that haven’t read the book, or viewers who just want to know more in general, what makes Cruella de Vil tick and how she developed to become the villain we know. 

Cruella Close up with writing

Why is this Reinvention Important?

So far, we’ve laid out how the femme fatale operates and how Cruella fits within that archetype. This now brings us to the crux of this discussion. Quite interestingly, an article by CinemaBlend offers a thought-provoking perspective on the upcoming film concerning Cruella. The article posits that Cruella is not necessarily a character that can be easily rehabilitated, as her endgame is perceived as being too vile. In a sense, this is not necessarily an untrue statement to make, but this is why reinventing the femme fatale is so important in this day and age. The femme fatale as an archetype has evolved in way that doesn’t just reinforce the male gaze. One can argue that it can now work towards celebrating women’s power as well as providing a platform to speak out against some of the injustices they are faced with. By telling the story of Cruella’s descent into villainy, the story can inform its viewers of a couple of key concepts. For one, understanding where Cruella de Vil comes from as a character can reinforce the idea that being “evil” has more than one dimension to it. Seeing Cruella’s side of the story allows us as viewers to contemplate what allows evil to fester. Is it the way we treat people? How to what extent do our societal norms play into this process? Questions like these are what viewers should have in mind when engaging with the story the film has to tell. 

Albeit it will be twisted in a sense, Cruella’s turn to villainy could also represent a reclamation of her own personal power. Like we mentioned before, femme fatales are often faced with decisions that cause them to leave their comfort zone in order to attain the security they desire. What if turning into the brash and heinous character we know Cruella to be is the only way for her to enjoy the successes she strives to attain? This is why exploring the kinds of obstacles she faces before the events of One Hundred and One Dalmatians is so important. In addition, not only would Cruella’s character have a chance at rehabilitation, but the femme fatale as an archetype too. By making this movie, the femme fatale could do more than being a fear-inducing character that people are expected to root against. Instead, the archetype could be used to inform viewers of the challenges women face, and show that it is not impossible to overcome these challenges. Cruella releases in theaters on May 28th, 2021.

Interested in developing your acting skills? Visit our Acting for Film School page to learn more about our  acting for film programs which are taught by actors, writers, directors, and producers from film and television. 

Acting Scams: How to Identify and Avoid Them

With lots of actors and performers looking for a job, the film industry can be a treasure trove for many scam artists which are incredibly adept at taking advantage of decent people. Aspiring actors who have recently graduated from drama and acting schools are more likely to fall for the hook of con artists due to a lack of professional experience.

Acting Scams

However, if actors just starting out know how to spot and fend off these cons, they have no reason to worry. Especially for those vulnerable recent graduates, experts from Vip-Writers have collected and described some of the most common acting frauds an average performer usually has to deal with at the beginning of their career:

Manager Scams

In the film industry, there can be many swindlers who pretend to be legit managers. They usually ask aspiring actors to pay a “submission fee.” They convince their victims that they are using their funds for submitting them for acting roles and that performers should cover these costs themselves. Meanwhile, these con artists rarely try to actually help the performers get their careers started.

Both fresh grads and experienced performers should note that honest managers never ask performers to pay them anything but an industry norm of 10-20 percent cut of what actors earn while being promoted by them.

Talent Agent Scams

This scheme is very similar to those used by those pretending to be legitimate managers. The latter introduce themselves as talent agents and give naive performers big promises and false hopes since “they are very talented and have all the chances to succeed professionally.”

These scammers blow smoke at aspiring performers telling them about many superstars they claim to have found and represented. In fact, every actor should be weary of all offers that seem to be too good to be true.

These “professionals” usually give actors their contact info and lots of promises. Once these performers call these agents to get more info about an offer, they are always asked to pay additional and/or random fees they probably weren’t told about ahead of time. These excess fees are a clear red flag you should always be weary of.

Online Scams

Since the Internet has become a primary source to find casting calls, and since it is very easy to set up fake websites and social media accounts, many scammers perpetuate their fraud online. There are many scam-like platforms charging a fee to performers to post their headshots, and many in the end do little to nothing with these resumes.

To fend off online fraud, performers should only use well-known, legitimate websites, and keep away from services asking them to pay unnecessary fees!

Contract Scams

Another type of fraud very popular with shady agents can happen to new actors and seasoned ones alike. For all performers, it is important to be alert when signing off on any official documents. Therefore, they should ask a legal counsel to read the fine print before agreeing to the contract terms–no matter how legitimate their prospective talent agent or manager seems.

There are many impostors tending to include outrageous terms on these contracts, which green performers may be willing to accede to. It can often be worth paying extra money for legal counsel; otherwise, these actors take the risk of signing away their rights to scam artists.

No honest professional will be insulted by performers asking for a few days to familiarize themselves with a document and show it to a legal counsel. Legitimate professionals also know about these frauds and thus are flexible with the actors’ requests. If someone insists on a contract being signed right away, then this is definitely a red flag.

The longer acting school graduates pursue their profession, the better their gut instinct will get at identifying and avoiding various types of acting frauds. Since fresh grads are just starting their career, they should take every offer with an abundance caution–better safe than sorry!

Interested in Applying? Click Here


How To Transition from Screen Acting to Stage Acting


To the untrained eye, acting is acting, regardless of where it takes place or who is present; which is to say that one might assume an incredibly successful and talented screen actor would be just as good on stage as they are on film. For those of us whom have either trained in acting or have firsthand industry experience, however – especially those who’ve attempted to make the transition from screen to stage – know this is definitely not the case. There are quite a few notable differences in both arenas, so if you’re thinking of transitioning from screen to stage, you’ll want to consider the following:

Body Language

When it comes to acting on screen, an actor needs to focus a significant amount of energy on the camera than the average person might think. Unlike an audience full of theatre-goers, the camera will focus on the most microscopic and intricate expressions, including something as minute as an eyebrow twitch or a slightly clenched jaw. For this reason, the actor must always be conscious of where the camera is positioned and perform in accordance to how it will look on screen, paying particular attention to their own face and eyes.

When you communicate emotion on stage, however, you use your entire body and voice. Vocal projection and inflection is of utmost importance, so that even the audience members sitting all the way in the back row can not only hear but understand everything you’re saying.

Similarly, using your entire body to translate even the smallest emotion is a critical element of every stage actor’s repertoire. Physical movement needs to practically be exaggerated – even something as simple as standing needs some attention to detail. The actor needs to be conscious of every physical detail to project the most obvious import.

For example, if a character is meek and timid, in a scene that requires dialogue, a stage actor might hunch, twiddle their thumbs, or perhaps turn their toes inward for a slight pigeon-toed stance — common idiosyncrasies observed in those with similar personality traits. And yet they still need to speak loudly enough for the audience to hear them! Seeing as a loud voice may not coincide with those personality traits, this is essentially why body language is so critical in conveying the right message.

In contrast, a screen actor doesn’t need to focus as much on larger gestures (unless required in a particular shot) but instead relay as much of those character quirks in more subtle expressions and verbal delivery. As such, if the screen actor’s power of emotional expression lies more in the face and eyes, the stage actor’s is in the body and voice.

Teamwork Vs Me-work

The emphasis on teamwork and trust among the actor and the director is somewhat multiplied on film, as film is primarily the territory of the director. So unless the actor is also a producer or a huge box-office name with enough pull in the industry to call the shots, the director is generally the one who decides how a scene is played. That’s not to say the actor doesn’t have any control over their own performance, but the director may choose to shoot a single scene several times, directing the actor to perform each take with slight changes, later choosing which take best belies their vision.

Because of this to-and-fro for each scene, screen actors need to be as adaptable and cooperative as they are talented in their own craft. In addition, film actors need the ability to work quickly to put together a scene that will then exist forever, whereas stage actors may rehearse for months to nail a performance that lasts only as long as the show’s running, for a much smaller audience.


Add to this the fact that this theatre audience is a live one, so that stage actors can rarely make mistakes. A poor performance on screen can be mitigated by editing, film score, etc. – a luxury stage actors don’t really have. As prominent director of The Actors, Conor McPherson tells The Guardian, “in the theatre, there is nowhere to hide. If your performance is bad or lazy, you stick out like a sore thumb.”

Because of this, McPherson also points out the accountability stage actors have on delivering a good or bad performance and inversely, the flexibility they have in character exploration. Screen actors are required to always deliver their developed character from moment to moment through scenes shot in random order with minimal rehearsal time, while stage actors have a lot more freedom to explore their character as the show plays out through its run.


It may seem obvious, but the importance of rehearsal for a stage actorit cannot be emphasized enough. If you’ve only ever been trained to act on camera, the first thing to do when transitioning into stage acting is to prepare to rehearse.

Unlike acting on screen, where forgetting your lines can be a minor hiccup that’s rectified in seconds with multiple copies of the script at arm’s length, forgetting your lines on stage can be disastrous. Stage actors are required to memorize an enormous amount of dialogue spanning the entirety of the play, which is a feat in itself. But then to have to perform it in front of an audience, night after night with the same amount of emotion and energy throughout can be exhausting.

Not to mention a live audience will inevitably cause unexpected interruptions that can easily disrupt an actor’s flow. So as the trusty old adage goes, the best defense is a solid offense: preparation is key. Being quick on your feet will come in handy (excuse the pun!) when those unexpected interruptions occur, so stage actors will commonly partake in improv classes or similar activities to build tools that can deal with such unpredictabilities. Additionally, investing in a vocal coach is an absolute must for theatre.


In the end, it comes down to personal preference for an actor. Some thrive on stage, others on screen – some can bounce between the two without blinking an eye. But you won’t know what’s best for you or what you have a passion unless you try both — and hopefully the advice above will help you navigate between screen and stage. Break a leg!

Interested in attending acting school programs? Check out more information on the New York Film Academy here!

How To Find Your Acting Mentor

Current “it man” of acting, Michael B. Jordan, said of his mentors, Forest Whitaker, Ben Affleck, and Oprah, “As an actor, a solo mission doesn’t really happen that often … somebody that’s been through it before that’ll reach back and give you some sound advice is so valuable … and I’ve been pretty lucky to have some good people.”

Jordan is a great example of how having a mentor, in what is easily the most competitive business in the world, can be an incredible resource, perhaps even helping aspiring actors navigate from waiting tables and getting a big break. So, here are some helpful tips on how to go about finding your own acting mentor:

Connect with your teachers.

The advantage of being in NYFA’s Acting for Film School is that you already have access to a vast number of skilled instructors who are active in the industry and who are there to guide you through the ins-and-outs of what to expect in the “real world.” NYFA’s professional faculty provide their students with exceptional training, and students have the opportunity for additional guidance through private consultations with their instructors.     

Enthusiasm begets enthusiasm, so every teacher is at their best when their students are eager to learn. Always be present, don’t hesitate to ask as many questions as possible, sign up for extra workshops, and make sure to stay in touch with your teachers beyond graduation.

Reach for the stars.

‘90s singer and songwriter Lisa Loeb, most known for her number one hit song Stay from the classic film Reality Bites (1994), got that gig with just a little faith and a lot of courage. She lived next door to the star of the film, Ethan Hawke, and took the incentive to hand him her demo tape — which Hawke then passed on to director Ben Stiller. Now, this may deviate a little from the narrative of budding actors finding acting mentors, but it’s a great example of how simply asking can go a long way. Make a list of your heroes, do a little bit of research, and find out what events they may be attending next — Q&A’s and discussion panels are ideal. Prepare the most compelling question(s) for them. You might even consider asking your hero to be your mentor!

Anything is possible, so long as you try.


Networking isn’t just about building contacts to find work, but is also a great way to find people even just a few steps ahead of you to learn from. Attend acting workshops, conferences, screenings, join an improv group, and use social media to your advantage. Facebook has an infinite number of groups you can join, and you’ll be sure to find multiple mentors on discussion boards alone.

Read Books

The next best thing to being mentored in person by your heroes, is being mentored through a book. Whether it’s an autobiography like Bossypants, by Tina Fey, or more along the lines of a step-by-step guide like Sanford Meisner on Acting, every actor can improve their craft with the pearls of wisdom in the pages. The best part about this is there’s no security, agent, or even time getting in the way of you and your mentor.

The main takeaway from all of these points is that as a mentee, to be successful, the key is to always be open to learning and to never stop asking.  

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Acting Without Talking: How to Make a Big Impact — Without Lines!

The New York Film Academy knows that acting isn’t just about conveying emotion through spoken words. It’s also about posture, facial expressions, movement, and body language. Mastering techniques like the ones previously listed will help you become more present, more emotionally available, and genuine. As a result, you’ll feel more confident, natural, and you’ll be able to be present in the moment of your scene.

Here are some tips to help you improve certain aspects of acting without having to speak any lines. Once you master these, you’ll be well on your way to perfecting your craft.

Eye Contact



Direct eye contact can convey a score of thought and emotion. Your acting coach has probably drilled into your head that listening to a partner is key. However, if excessive, direct eye contact may come off as too intense and ruin the emotion of the scene. Conversely, if your eyes dart around to other places during a scene without focusing on your partner, it can convey that you’re not invested. When it comes to eye contact, it’s all about achieving that equal balance.

Body language

Body language can be a driving force in expressing emotion and visual storytelling for an actor without having to speak. The first step–literally–for an actor is to determine where they need to stand, especially in relation to other actors in the scene. Don’t stand too close but don’t stand so far away that your co-stars can’t hear when you speak. Once you have determined where you are going to stand for your scene, you will want to set up your launch stance. A launch stance is the way you stand that keeps you relaxed, comfortable, and confident. Both feet on the ground with head up, shoulders back, and knees slightly bent is a common launch stance.

If you want the director or your scene partner to feel like you are listening to them, point your feet and torso in their direction. It shows that you are open toward them, and will help keep tensions low.


Don’t underestimate the power of microexpressions; facial expressions and gestures can make or break an act. Directors want to be around people who are positive and happy. Try to smile genuinely while you are acting out your scene. In order to smile genuinely, think of a thought, joke, or scenario that makes you smile.

As an actor, you should be aware of the seven universal microexpressions. Knowing and understanding microexpressions will help you better prepare for scenes. The seven micoexpressions are: disgust, anger, fear, sadness, surprise, contempt, and happiness. They can occur from 1/15 to 1/25 of a second, so it’s important to be aware as possible when it comes your body language.

To learn more about decoding microexpressions, watch Vanessa Van Edwards discuss them one by one, and how to detect the hidden emotions from other actors.

At NYFA, it’s important for us to offer students a hands-on approach to help students prepare for performing both in front of the camera or on stage. Some classes that we offer students include: voice and movement, movement, and advanced movement.

Designed for aspiring actors with busy daytime schedules, our 12-Week Evening Acting for Film workshop teaches students the nuances of acting for the screen through hands-on, practical experience. Visit our 12-Week Evening Acting for Film Workshop page to get started.

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3 Ways Acting For Film Is Different From Stage Acting and How to Adjust

Are you finding it difficult to make the transition from theatre to film and TV? If so, it may be that your training for the stage is getting you into trouble. From auditions to final product, stage and screen acting make different demands on actors.

Here are three major differences with tips on adjusting your performance.

1. Distance matters.

If you’ve been on stage, you’ve probably heard it said that you must play to the back of the house. In your movements and your voice, there is not a lot of room for subtlety. Small facial expressions and soft voices will probably not reach beyond the first few rows.

Conversely, when you are acting for the camera, you must be as contained physically as possible. As this Theatrefolk article puts it, “Because of the close-up perspective, actors on film must use more subtle, controlled, and natural expressions and gestures. Large, exaggerated ‘stage acting’ can look awkward and silly on screen.”

Nearly every emotion conveyed on screen is done through facial expressions. Your eyes can betray you. If you are thinking about your lines or your hair rather than about your character’s situation, the camera will see it and the audience will disconnect from you even if they don’t know exactly why.

2. Preparation and performance.

If you’ve been in a play, you know that a lot of time goes into rehearsals. Once the curtain rises, there can be no do-overs. You need to know your lines perfectly and perform them with energy every time.

Often in film and television, you’ll probably not get more than a cursory run-through before cameras start rolling. It is also not unusual to have script changes at the very last minute, so flexibility is important.

No matter what, you have to work on memorizing lines, so that when you hit the stage or set you are not the one wasting everyone’s time! In this article, we offer tips to help you nail your lines whether you have months to prepare or merely hours.

But keep in mind that in theatre, the play runs its course linearly and it is likely that there will be an emotional pull to the end. In film and television, scenes are shot out of sequence. This means that different challenges face the screen actor, who must move quickly between emotional frequencies with little time to prepare.

3. Familiarity vs. originality.

When people go to a play, they are often already familiar with the characters and plot. They are there to see an actor bring Juliet or Willy Loman to life. As this Backstage article puts it, “The audience and critics will compare you to past versions of the same show. Because many stage characters have been played over and over, there is only so much leeway an audience will accept before they start to complain.”

In casting for film and television, it is often the case that the script will be wholly original and brand new for everyone, and its creators are looking for an actor to bring herself to the role. Especially in television, a part will grow and change with the actor. This means that when auditioning, it is important to be as natural and authentic as possible — something much easier said than done!

Ready to learn more about acting for film? Study acting at the New York Film Academy.


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How to Make the Most of a Part with Minimal Lines

Every aspiring actor dreams of one day playing the lead roles. But whether you went through an excellent acting school or spontaneously gave it a shot, you’ll usually have to start at the bottom to reach the top. This means taking on small roles where, if you’re lucky, you’ll get to say some lines.

1. Remember that small parts are still important!


Before you even show up to an audition or start practicing your lines, it’s good to keep one thing fresh in your mind: every part matters. And whether you have one line or one thousand, it’s important to do your work and know your part inside and out.

You don’t have look far to find A-list stars who began with bit parts, knocked it out of the park, and slowly worked their way up to build a strong reputation as a professional artist. For example, Robin William and Tom Hanks, two of the best ever to grace our industry, played various minor roles (both of them on “Happy Days”) before making it big.

Even as a day player, delivering excellent craftsmanship and making a good impression on set is always an actor’s first and foremost priority. Remember, any role can lead to future roles.

2. Prepare for the role.


A big mistake many burgeoning actors make when given a “small” role is thinking it’ll be a piece of cake. Since they’re only reading one or two lines, they don’t take it as seriously as they should and fail to prepare. Whether you’re saying one line or many, a good actor always does the work to make sure their character has originality and depth.

Needless to say, you should definitely arrive to the job able to play your handful of lines without looking at the script.

3. Show up knowing you’re not the star.


It’s easy to get excited about any role, but remember that although you did all your homework and are completely wrapped up in your character’s backstory, you’re there to collaborate. You will be supporting the work of the entire crew and fellow performers, including the stars. So forget about impressing the director, or worse of all, ditching the script to say your own lines. The last thing you want to do is put your ego first: do a great job, know your work, and support the story. That’s the surest way to make a great impression, after all.

4. Don’t ruin an opportunity.


A minor role is a good way to sharpen up your skills and improve your own work ethic while showing you’ve got what it takes to create success in the industry. Small parts are a part of building a career, and it’s important to take them seriously. As actress Laura Cayouette, author of “Know Small Parts,” puts it: “One reason small parts are a big deal to me is that I make a living playing them.”

No matter how minor your role is, your work is an opportunity to not only strengthen your own professionalism, but to build relationships. Show gratitude for the opportunity by playing your role well, sure, but also by showing professionalism in how you handle yourself off-camera. This is your opportunity to build a reputation as being an actor everyone wants to work with. Don’t be the one slowing things down or giving the crew headaches.

5. Be present and connect.


Every actor approaches their work differently. Some will want to connect and chat in between takes, some will want to remain in their process. One of the best ways to connect with other characters in your scene is respecting your fellow actors when the camera isn’t rolling, whether that means carving out space for yourself to do your necessary preparation or whether that means breaking the ice socially.

Either way, it’s important to make an effort to be respectful and acknowledge not just your fellow actors, but everyone you interact with throughout the project’s process — from the casting director to the crew. Listen to instructions and incorporate new ideas or directions when requested. Note that people who get called for another role in the future may have not been the “best” actors — rather, they were more enjoyable to work with and showed they can have good chemistry with others, functioning well in the environment of the set.

6. Give it your all.


There’s a big difference between trying your best and, as we’ve already covered, overdoing it. Your work is not about your ego, so let those worries fade and focus on your craft. In fact, you’re less likely to get the part in the first place unless you truly commit during a reading and transform into the character. Even if it wasn’t the role you initially wanted, showing passion and enthusiasm both on and off the set can make a lasting impression and generate more gigs down the line.

What are your favorite tactics for developing your work in “small” roles? Let us know in the comments below! And study acting for film at the New York Film Academy.


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Acting for Film: How to Put Together a Fantastic Demo Reel

Like most aspiring actors, you’re probably torn on whether you need a demo reel or not. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “No reel is better than a bad reel.” However, demo reels are an industry standard, considered more effective than head shots and resumes alone. Here are a few tips on putting together a great demo reel.

Get By With a Little Help From Your Friends


If you’re just starting out and you have no footage to draw from for a demo reel, you can create your own footage! Try filming three short 1-minute scenes featuring yourself and a few actor friends, and be sure not to skimp on a professional microphone, camera, and lights if possible. This will give you some footage you can edit into a demo reel, ideally between 90 seconds and 3 minutes. Make sure to include your contact information at the end of your reel. It can be expensive to rent professional equipment, but if you can use the footage from the demo reel for multiple actor friends, the cost will be split.

Keep It Short and Sweet


A demo reel should be two to three minutes, maximum. Casting directors don’t typically watch demo reels longer than that, and if you go any shorter you risk losing the chance to capture your talents accurately.

Film a few different scenes and edit them together; one scene alone may not entice a casting director, especially if you want to show your range and diversity as an actor. You may want to use one dramatic scene and one comedic scene to show off your skills and prove your versatility. Whichever you choose, make sure not to overdo it with your editing; splicing too many short scenes together creates a choppy reel that will turn directors away. Instead, focus on choosing scenes that convey a strong sense of your presence and skills.

Gather Footage from Current Projects


You don’t always need to film your own reel. You can use material from current and recent acting gigs. Understand that if you are currently performing in a film project that you would like to include in your reel, the material will take a few months at least to receive: You have to wait until the film goes through post-production. Stay in good standing with the director, editor, and producer of the project; write down their contact information and save it somewhere important. When the film is finished, write or email the director to very politely ask for a copy of your footage. The footage can be delivered over Dropbox or even through a jump drive.   

Update and Don’t Reuse


Ensure that you consistently update your demo reel with your latest projects. This demonstrates to casting directors that you are constantly challenging yourself as an actor. It also shows willingness to persevere in a tough industry. Furthermore, don’t reuse the same project for multiple clips in your reel. Each project should yield one scene: otherwise it looks like you haven’t done anything else in your career.

Market Yourself


Once you have your demo reel, it’s time to promote yourself as an actor. Create your own website, which is relatively easy and inexpensive; you can register your domain name for under $30 per year. Link your website to your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram accounts and post updates on projects regularly. Embed your demo reel on your new website so casting directors can get a quick glimpse of your skills in addition to your headshot and resume.

Interested in a career in acting for film? Our 1-Year Acting for Film Program is an intensive one year study that provides students with hands-on, practical experience in acting in front of a camera. Visit our 1-Year Acting for Film Program page to apply today.

How to Reach for Acting Roles That Are Right for You


Actors actually have a great deal of agency when it comes to how they set goals, choose auditions, and decide whether or not to commit to projects. If you’re a burgeoning professional actor, it may feel confusing to decide which direction to go in terms of how your pursue your work opportunities or commit your time.

One way of making auditions easier on yourself is to spend some time before you even submit for auditions in deciding what kind of acting roles you feel would be the right fit, and why. Think beyond your dream role to the kinds of productions you’d like to be a part of, the kinds of teams you’d like to work with, and the kinds of scripts that set you on fire. Once you have this mental picture, it may feel easier to make decisions about how to invest your time and energy when pursuing work as an actor.

To help you focus your time and energy, we’ve compiled some questions to ask yourself about your professional goals. While often the primary challenge is simply to book work, sometimes actors find themselves overwhelmed with audition submissions, or in the dilemma of choosing between jobs, or wondering whether they should turn down a role. Some actors even find themselves in the enviable position of having one or more projects to consider.

Whatever your dilemma, the following can help you sort through your goals when it comes to your acting roles.

Which roles make the most of you and which roles can you make the most of?


One of the most important things to understand as an actor is the unique set of traits you bring to the table. , which can have a direct effect on your marketability. While these traits  may not always reflect your full goals and your full range as a performer, knowing a bit about type can help you focus your job search and understand the most effective ways to present yourself to casting directors, agents, and producers. An exploration of your comedy chops or something as simple as “type” can be powerful tool when used with expertise, precision, and strategy.

Think of Goldie Hawn working with the “dumb blonde” trope to build an incredibly rich career, eventually using her success to break barriers and create her own work. Do you make a good dumb jock or are you more of a funny best friend? Are you comfortable as the hot blonde or are you a perfect fit for the role of nerdy guy or girl? Know your strengths, know your industry, and play to those strengths.

The good news is that with experience, you’ll eventually have more range to play various types. To learn more about finding your type, see our piece on how to find your type as an actor.

Is the role exciting to you?

When starting off, you’ll probably be willing to take on any acting gig that’s right for you just to get experience under your belt. However, one way of keeping yourself motivated as an actor is by joining projects that you actually think you’ll love.

If comedy is your thing, look for acting roles in this category that allow you to demonstrate your passion for making people laugh. Find a role you’re so enthused about that you can’t stop talking about the film or play when talking to others.

How is the pay?


Money can be an ugly word when your love of acting alone is the reason you chose this career path. But as many struggling professionals will tell you, being an actor comes with its own set of economic challenges. Not everyone out there is making millions per movie.

The best thing you can do is figure out a budget for your life as an actor. There’s nothing wrong with rejecting a role if the pay means you’ll starve to death and miss paying rent. With good planning, you can figure out a budget so you know which roles will work for your plan and which will leave you stressing.

Is the script any good?

Like we’ve mentioned, it can be tempting jumping into any role just for the cash or experience. But if the project ends up panned for reasons outside of your acting skills, it can be a devastating blow.

One way to avoid this is by learning how to study a script in order to determine if the film or play is going to be a stinker. Actors reject roles all the time after analyzing the script and deciding it isn’t the right choice for their time and effort.

Is the role something you want to be known for?


Being typecast can be a nightmare for some people, but only if you’re repeatedly getting offered acting roles that you’re not happy with. If your dream is to be a leading man or lady, it can be a bummer always playing a supporting character. If you already find yourself in this position, here are several tips to help you recover.

Is it an acting role you’ll learn from?

The fact is, most of the best actors and actresses of our time went to some form of acting school. It’s there that you’re given the tools and resources needed to decide if you really have what it takes to act for a living. Seeking out specialized training, such a the Acting for Film programs at NYFA, can also help you stand out from the crowd when hunting for a role, especially if you invest in advanced training to further sharpen your skills.

But just like any college degree or program, school is not the same as the real world. Only by being involved in real world projects  can you get a taste of what acting is truly about. We suggest targeting roles that will contribute to your growth as an actor. This can include working with experienced actors and directors, or it can simply be a project that’s unique and will force you to try new things.

What are your professional goals as an actor? What kind of acting roles do you aspire to? Let us know in the comments below!

How To Analyze A Script For Actors

Analyzing a script

All the activities we pursue in our daily lives have directions. When you drive on the road there are laws meant to prevent us from getting into accidents, when we cook we follow a recipe and when we build with LEGOs we follow the literal directions so that our castles and spaceships turn out just right. For acting, the closest thing to a set of directions for how to proceed is a script. However, complications arise because of the different ways that readers interpret scripts. This means that the primary job of the actor is to analyze a script to uncover the truth about a character so they can accurately portray then on stage or on camera.

The First Read

Script analysis is a process and the process may be slightly different depending on the actor, but, in general, script analysis starts with the basics and gradually adds details. On the first read through, it is important to understand the literal situations and events that affect a character at each point in the story. These facts from the script are the given circumstances and help to determine the actions that you will take in performance.

As you read a script, make a list of all the facts about your character. Anything you can glean from a script is helpful. What do they do for a living? Where do they live? Who is closest to them?

Breakdown into Scenes and Beats

After you have a feel for the character, map out the story into scenes and beats. Good scripts are written as a series of related events where A leads to B and B to C and so on. The practice of making a scene map helps the actor to understand the story sequentially and provides built-in points to change action.

Look for points in the script where the setting changes or the characters on stage change, or time passes. These are common ways that scenes change. Beat changes are smaller shifts within the scenes where the characters may change their action, attitude, or topic of conversation. After identifying the scenes and beats….

Identify Your Characters’ Actions

Ask yourself, “What does my character want to other people in the scene to do?” The answer that question is your character’s objective. How are you going to accomplish your objective? That’s what is important because that gives you an action to play in each scene.

Usually, characters want other characters to do something, feel something, or understand something. For example, perhaps your character wants someone to get the mail. How will you get them to go to the mailbox for you? Charm them? Barter with them? Yell at them? The right action is the one that is true to your character and helps you to start identifying your character’s type.

Stay Open to Notes and Change

Remember that acting is a collaborative exercise and actors must also take a director’s opinion into account. Listen to what a director says and incorporate it into your character in an honest way, based on your own analysis of the script. Sometimes your initial analysis won’t be correct and you will have to make adjustments throughout the rehearsal process. But, with a strong foundation for your character, built from a thorough analysis of the script, these changes will be minor and your performance will be natural.

[su_note]Our Acting for Film workshops provide both aspiring and experienced actors with hands-on experience in acting in front of a camera. Taught by industry-leading instructors, our workshops span 1 to 12 weeks and are tailored to a variety of busy schedules. Visit our Acting for Film Workshops page to find one that suits your interests..[/su_note]

How To Create A Convincing Character

Robert De Niro

If you want to be a great actor you should know the importance of conveying a character as well as staying in character. Anyone can read words off of a page, but truly creating a convincing character takes much more than that. Your goal as an actor is to be able to tell a story. What type of person are you? What events have happened and how are you affected by them? There can be a laundry list of questions. Here are some helpful tips to guide you in the direction of creating a convincing character whether it be on screen or the stage.

1. Get Into It

You should immerse yourself in the role. Forget the audience is watching you and forget that your mom is in the front row. You need to focus on your character and how they feel. Be in the moment. You can use sense memory to help with this. Sense memory is a technique, developed by Stanislavski and Strasberg, where a person can access their subconscious memory to bring emotional truth to their work. They can access the memory of sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. For example, if your character is stuck in a long dark alley and it’s full of trash, you can try to recall a memory of you being fearful in the dark at some point in your life or recall a time when you were faced with an unpleasant odor. These small details can make a big difference when conveying feelings.

2. Be Prepared

Make sure to carefully read through your lines as well as memorize them. If you don’t study your lines you will be unprepared and it will show in your performance. It will also take you out of character. Take the time to read through the script with your fellow actors and take rehearsals seriously while of course still enjoying the process.

3. Take A Moment

Take a moment to breathe in your scene.  Don’t just regurgitate the lines, but take a moment to take in the environment, and the other characters/actors in the scene.  Build and feed off of the scene and what the other actors are giving you. Take that split second to let it all affect you and process how your character will react.  This can also apply to auditions where you may be given a cold reading. A cold reading is text or script that is un-rehearsed and is often given to you at an audition. Take a moment to look over the lines and make choices about your character, think about how your character will react. It’s often fine to ask the casting director if you can take a moment.

4. Focus

Pay attention to what is going on around you in the scene. Be in tune with what other actors are doing and saying. By doing so you will have a more natural reaction to what’s going around you. Focus will also help you to not break character be present in the moment. Learning to focus more can be developed through rehearsals. However if you find yourself forgetting a line or you drop a prop on stage, just keep going. Life often throws us curve balls so just react naturally.

The more experience you get with rehearsals, auditions, and performance the more you will find yourself feeling comfortable and confident in your skin and your characters skin. You can use these tips to guide you in a direction that presents a convincing character. Break a leg!

[su_note]Learn more about the School of Acting at the New York Film Academy, with campuses in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami.[/su_note]

How To Succeed As An Actor After Acting School

Class of actors

So here you go, off into the real world you go to become an actor. You just graduated, so now what?  Where do you start? Like so many aspiring actors out there you want to jump right in. You may have heard some of these tips in school or maybe some are new or insightful, either way I hope they help you take those big steps forward towards a promising career.

1. Headshots

Before you can even audition you need a good headshot. It’s your calling card. You are marketing yourself, so make it the best you can. I know you are most likely working one or two jobs and trying to balance auditioning, while living paycheck to paycheck, but don’t go cheap with your headshot. Keep in mind that a bad headshot won’t even get you in the door. In general a great headshot showcases your personality all while looking ah-maz-ing.  Avoid too much make up, you want to look like you. But if you do wear makeup you might want to consider hiring a makeup artist that specifically does makeup for headshots (often times photographers will partner with a makeup artist). Don’t wear white and avoid distracting graphic shirts or prints. Do your research on headshot photographers, check out their websites and previous work.  Ask your actor friends who they used and whose photos you like and are drawn to. Also, some headshot photographers will do discounted group rates, so if you and some friends want to go in together you might be able to save a few bucks.

2. Attitude

This business can be cruel and disheartening like a bad ex. However, remember that rejection will happen and the best thing you can do is take the criticism and feedback and turn it into a positive. You will experience set backs, but stay positive. A good upbeat positive attitude will get you a long way. Don’t forget what you love about acting and why you are pursuing your passion.

3. Get involved

Find theater groups or take some commercial classes. Why not both. By taking commercial classes you will attain the skills and learn the basics (like how to slate) and it doesn’t hurt to go on to take the advanced classes as well.  Go out and see local theater, improv shows, and professional theater. Make mental notes and get inspired. By getting involved you will have the chance to meet other aspiring performers like yourself and why not make some new friends.

4.What is your type

You should have a clear view of who you are going to play as far as age range and physical type. This can be discovered through theater coaches, casting directors and by asking your friends and teachers.  It doesn’t mean you can only play one type, but you should be aware of what you would be considered for and hopefully cast as.

5. Acting is hard work

You need to work at it. Every. Day. This means getting headshots (and keeping them up to date/accurate), attending workshops, submitting to casting calls and being as active a you can possibly be. Surround yourself with smart, talented people that you admire. This will challenge you to be the best you can be.  Research casting agencies and do what you can to get an agent (this may take some time, partaking in commercial workshops or classes can be a great way to meet the right people). Create your own website to market yourself and to keep a professional collection of the things you are doing and have done. It may take some time to build, maybe even years, but it can be helpful as you work towards branding yourself.  The whole process can be challenging and exhausting at times, but don’t give up.

I find that people in the Arts are some of the most well balanced, because they often have to hold down a day job as well as constantly audition, attend rehearsals and perform. This is a highly competitive field so just remember it takes lots of hard work and dedication. You should be fully committed to your craft and the lifestyle it comes with. I hope you find much success while pursuing your acting career.

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How To Transition From Modeling To Acting

Dijmon Hounsou

Former model and acclaimed actor, Dijmon Hounsou.

Modeling and acting are different arts, no doubt. But for being different they are awful similar in many ways and the transition from modeling to acting is a well-established route of many performance artists. Mark Wahlberg famously modeled Calvin Klein underwear and Channing Tatum was a heartthrob in Abercrombie advertisement before they became Hollywood stars. Charlize Theron and Monica Belluci became huge in the fashion industry before they embarked on long and successful film careers. So, if it is possible to transition from modeling to acting, how do you do it?

Educate Yourself

 Reading blogs, acting books, and plays is a great way to begin the transition to acting. The New York Film Academy blog and website has resources to help aspiring actors learn about the craft of acting and the steps required to pursue an acting career. After you have educated yourself of the basics, and are truly committed to becoming an actor, consider taking acting classes.

Go To Acting School 

There’s no substitute for the training one receives during Acting School. All actors should invest in acting classes, and models are no different because with education comes experience and confidence. Models have an advantage when it comes to becoming an actor due to their comfort in front of the camera. However, acting classes will teach the important aspects of acting that models may not be familiar with.

The ability to analyze a script, breakdown a character, and make appropriate performance choices is the primary focus of acting classes but there are so many other advantages. Acting courses offer the invaluable opportunity to study with other aspiring actors, directors, and writers. Essentially, classes are the best way to learn about acting while building a network of friends in the entertainment industry.

Use Your Industry Connections

Through modeling work models meet agents and other artists, many of whom can help with the transition from modeling to acting. Actually, a lot of modeling agents also represent actors or can help find agents that do. Other models and photographers may also work in film or commercials and have advice on for how to get started as an actor. Point being, models should use their existing connections to help start their acting career. After all, you aren’t the first to make the transition to becoming an actor. Just ask Ashton Kutcher.

Understand the Challenge

It is never easy to become a professional actor and the transition from modeling to acting will be rife with challenges. A support network of fellow models and actors, as well as a firm self-belief will be needed to make the jump from photographs to moving pictures and stage plays. However, models have the unique advantage of having worked in a similar industry with high expectations. Use your past experiences and seek out acting classes to learn the ropes and help ensure that your transition from modeling to acting is the smoothest it can be.

Build a foundation in acting for the screen and in front of live audiences with our 1-Semester Acting for Film Program. Students hone their acting skills through a variety of core acting classes designed to teach them the nuances of acting in front of a camera. Visit our 1-Semester Acting for Film Program page to learn more.

How To Elevate Your Craft As An Actor With Improv

Improv theater marquee

In a city where we continuously elevate our fashion sense, our taste buds, and our little tiny city apartment spaces, why not constantly elevate our acting game? As actors we gravitate towards new styles and methods of performing. The one I found to be fun and most rewarding is Improvisation.

Forms of improvisation have been around for many years. Comedia del’ Arte, which in Italian means “comedy of professional artists” is a form of improvisation that became popular in the 18th century and is still performed to this day. The performers wore costumes, masks and used slapstick props while often performing in the back of their traveling wagons. The scenes often dealt with local events and scandal, which is also similar to our current day entertainment.

Improvisation by definition is a form of theatre where all, or most of, what is performed is created in the moment of that performance. Think of it as a ready, set, go, moment, in which it’s up to you to decide what you are adding to the performance through improv. Anything goes, so don’t think too much, just act.

For example, if your scene partner says you are at the airport and you forgot your luggage, go with the moment. Why not raise the stakes in the scene: be at the airport with no luggage and you just missed your flight to your best friend’s wedding. Now that makes it more interesting! Explore where your strong choices take you and the scene. Remember there is no wrong path!

Most performances are scripted and your job as the actor is to take those words on the page and bring them to life, turning them into a believable reality. By using the principles of improv, you can be more present and focused, and less concerned with memorizing the scene, even when acting alone. This lets you be more in the moment, and able to focus on other details of your character.  When doing improv there are no rehearsals. However you can apply the below guidelines at read-throughs, rehearsals or the technical rehearsal (which is the final rehearsal before the performance) to improve at each step of the way. The lessons that follow will elevate your performance from good to great!

Exercise your acting and improv muscles

Improv is an art form. With most art forms you need to train in that craft. Practice, practice, practice; which means sign up for improv classes, join a team (or even form your own), or anything else that flexes your improv muscles and keeps your acting chops strong.  It also doesn’t hurt to get out and watch other comedy/improv performances. Take notes, get inspired, and apply everything you can to all that practice you are doing.

Be daring and imaginative

There are many moments in life where we are fearful or cautious.  With improv this is your moment to let loose and not be afraid. Create characters, develop relationships, make strong and decisive choices, and see where it leads you in the scene. Trust you are in a safe space and go for it. After all, Amy Poehler said it best: “No one looks stupid when they’re having fun.”

Trust yourself and your partner or team

Avoid questioning yourself or your partner, which can often stop or block the movement of a scene. Like your high school coach once said, “There is no I in team.” This is also true with improv or any acting performance for that matter; it’s a team sport. This trust can be built through improv exercises or workshops in which each performer needs to rely on one another.

Be true to your character and scene

Stay in the present and make strong choices (there’s that “choice” word again). Don’t upstage. Rather, the better you make your scene partner look, the better you will look. Take the suggestions from your partner and go with it. Create a story. Most importantly, be true to the character you create and react truthfully. This will ground the scene, make it more believable, and give you the freedom to explore the scene you are creating. Storytelling is a word often used in improvisation but it means something a bit different. Storytelling is when the audience wants to see something happen, or a story developing. Just remember there are no mistakes when it comes to performing improv, just be true to your character and the scene.

Tina Fey once said, “Say yes and see where that takes you. “There is an improv principle called “Yes And,” which reminds performers to go with (“yes”) what their scene partner gives them and then add to it so the other person can “yes and” again.” These improv tools will help you on a performance level, as well as in your everyday life. Improv can elevate your mood in a positive way, give you a new way to approach daily obstacles and become more comfortable socially (plus you’ll probably meet all sorts of cool improv folks). So get out there and say YES!

[su_note]Learn more about the School of Acting at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.[/su_note]

How To Use The Internet To Boost An Acting Career


Al Gore may have claimed to have invented the internet, and Barack Obama’s presidential campaign may have used the internet to aplomb, but it is another renowned American politician whose pre-political career could’ve benefited from the internet. Ronald “The Gipper” Reagan rose to Hollywood stardom before the internet. He had to go about spreading his name the old fashioned way, through auditions, callbacks, and pounding the pavement.

Nowadays, more film and television casting happens online than in person and casting directors aren’t the only ones turning to the web for professional support. Writers, producers, and directors all utilize the internet to search for talent and to display their own successes. Actors can follow suit to boost their own budding careers by making the most of the resources and networking opportunities that the World Wide Web has to offer.

Internet Movie Database

They call it IMDb in the industry and it is the holy grail of online advertisement for the entertainment industry. On the website, actors can post headshots, film credits, and basic biographical information for industry professionals (and the public) to view. A basic profile is free and if maintained, can provide a certain amount of credibility to an aspiring actor. The downside is that because IMDb is such a large site, profiles can get buried, never to be discovered by Hollywood decision makers.

Personal Website and Blog

 A personal domain and associated blog can act like as a marketing tool, reference site, and efficient means of communication. An actor website doesn’t have to be complex. In fact, it should be simple to use, yet neat and organized. On a personal website, actors can post their resumes, headshots, reels, contact information and more. Once you generate a following, a blog is an excellent way to keep in touch with your fans and inform them of upcoming projects. The advantage of a personal website is the control it affords the actor, at a low price. A custom WordPress domain can be purchased for about $4 a month, well worth the investment just for the ease of exposure.

YouTube Account

If you can’t beat ‘em, you might as well join ‘em. Committing to improving as an actor can go a long way toward a successful career. Taking classes at New York Film Academy, auditioning for local plays, and studying acting technique are important for all actors. However, as casting director Heidi Levitt (The Artist) says, “The Internet is now your casting room,” and the number one streaming video site is YouTube.

As we discussed in our prior piece on essential resources for actors, all over the world actors are producing their own short videos, sketches, and vlogs (video blogs) and receiving millions of views as a result. All you have to do is create a YouTube channel and begin making videos and the views will come. YouTube videos show talent and determination to casting directors, and they also act as generators of traffic for your personal website. Although the goal of the videos should be to expand your artistic and professional horizons, if enough people view them, actors can turn a profit on the hobby.

Social Media Presence

Some actors hate it, some actors love it, but the fact is that social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are changing the way the industry networks. As a general rule, a professional fan page should be different from you personal page and should focus on your acting accomplishments. Shameless self-promotion may not come naturally to some, but the practice is becoming a standard for many actors. Share photos and videos from the set, post updates and information regarding upcoming shows, and tweet to your heart’s content.

The internet is a crazy place, full of interference but brimming with opportunity. Any actor who is able to harness the promotional power of the net can serve themselves well in the future. Remember, all the above-mentioned websites are connected and they feed into one another. A little effort on the computer and a little creative thought are all that separate you from winning one for the Gipper.

[su_note]Learn more about the School of Acting at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.[/su_note]

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How To Budget As An Aspiring Actor

American coins

Part of the allure of acting is the uncertainty, challenge, and endless opportunity. However, those things also make acting a difficult career to weather, especially at the beginning. Actors toil for years trying to establish a sustainable career in the arts, usually working a day job on the side. The result of this constant struggle is an inconsistent income that must be managed carefully if the actor is to succeed.

Establishing a budget for life is one of the best strategies for approaching an acting career because a budget informs all the business choices that an actor makes. A good financial plan, meager though it may be, is crucial for survival in the cutthroat field of acting. Here is some advice on how to create an honest budget to reduce stress and reserve the creative energy for auditions and performances.

‘Breakdown, it’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright’

Tom Petty said it, and it applies to budgeting. First, actors should breakdown their expenses to know how much their day-to-day lives truly cost. This is important because knowledge of minimum required expenditure, even in times when income is a goose egg, will help determine the amount of money that should be saved each paycheck.

Start keeping track of everything that you spend over the course of a week or month and divide spending into two categories: essential and non-essential. Essential expenses include housing, food, utilities, transportation, internet, and cell phone. These are the things that you need to live and maintain an acting career. Loans and debts owed should also be counted in the category of essential because not paying them actually costs more money in the long run. Nonessential expenses are just about everything else, including clothes, drinks, leisure activities, Starbucks, and movie tickets (although an argument could be made).

Now, take the total number from the “essential” list, and know that this is the baseline. This is the minimum amount of income needed to keep swimming in the acting world. But, since acting income fluctuates unknowingly, actors need to supplement the baseline number with savings. Financial experts recommend saving $100 or 10% each month to start building emergency savings. Add that to the baseline, the new number is the benchmark.

‘So bye-bye miss American pie’

Don McLean comes into this, I promise. After calculating spending, take a look at earnings. Budgeting 101: Income must exceed spending or else. But really, if the benchmark number is out of reach, something needs to change. Either spending needs to be reduced or earnings need to be increased, perhaps by doing extra work.

To reduce spending, attempt to find areas of essential costs that can be reduced or consolidated. Find a cheaper cell phone and internet plan. Use less electricity and water. Cut down on groceries. For example, pie is delicious but unessential. Only buy food products that are on sale. Move to a cheaper apartment. These are all actions that can be taken to cut down the cost of living.

Conversely, earnings are not locked. Ask for more hours at work. Find part-time work online. Sell possessions that you no longer use. Diversify as an actor by auditioning as a model or voiceover artist. If earnings can be increased and spending decreased, a surplus can eventually be generated that leads to the “non-essential” list.

‘It’s hip to be square’

Huey Lewis figured it out in the 80’s: It’s never too late to get square, budget-wise, or otherwise. Making a financial plan is an intelligent (albeit scary) way to attack the challenge of becoming a professional actor. Once you hit it big, drink all the Starbucks you want, but after you meet your benchmark, of course.

[su_note]Learn more about the School of Acting at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.[/su_note]

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How To Prepare For A General Audition

If you’ve read our guide to finding an audition, you know hundreds of these auditions are posted online every day.

Once a year, most cities host a cattle call audition session that lasts for days and includes dozens of theater companies and hundreds of actors. In Seattle there’s the TPS Generals, in San Francisco they have the TBA General Auditions, and in Toronto they have the TAPA Generals. The various acronyms are not important, but what is important is the preparation, because general auditions are a little bit different than regular, invitational auditions.

What makes an Audition General?

Generally, auditors narrow the field of actors before they begin the audition process. They have characters in mind for the play or film they are casting and use those character types to select actors that might fit. If you’ve read our guide to finding an audition, you know hundreds of these auditions are posted online every day. In contrast, general auditions allow anyone, of any skill level or type, to audition, usually for a small fee.

The benefit of general auditions is the exposure. Because they are planned far ahead of time by a reputable organization, general auditions attract attention from theatre companies large and small who are searching for talent. In many cases, the audition room will contain film producers and agents as well.

What to Expect at a General

Actors typically sign up, pay their fee, and receive an audition time and place. The most important thing is to show up on time, ready to go. The time will probably be odd as they are scheduling auditions back to back, all day long. If something happens and you cannot make the audition, be sure to cancel in advance so you don’t look like a flake.

When you arrive, there will be a line. It’ll be full of actors of different ages and looks, unlike most auditions. You will get in line and wait. When you are on deck, you will be shuttled into an empty room and then you will be summoned to the audition. You will walk out on stage and have hundreds of eyes silently staring at you. People will scribble on their pads. They may yawn, because it’s a long day for everyone and you are just one of the hundreds of actors on the auditor’s list which has its advantages and disadvantages.

How to Prepare

Most importantly, take the time to prepare and be aware of the audition rules. Generals usually have a strict time limit around two minutes and actors must prepare appropriately. That is enough time to perform two, short, well-rehearsed monologues that show type and range.

Choose your audition pieces carefully. Avoid monologues that are overdone or contain offensive language. The overarching goal is to make a bunch of strangers like you, so try to make them feel happy and entertained. Your two audition pieces should be specific to your type and specialty. If you are a Shakespearean actor, do your best Shakespeare. If you aren’t, do a couple contemporary monologues. Whatever you choose, make sure you are comfortable and confident, because it will rub off on the auditors.

Take the time to thoroughly prepare for the audition. Read the entire play, research any words you do not know, and analyze your monologues intensely. Make interesting, motivated choices with your actions and words. At a general audition, the audience is full of professional artists who know good acting when they see it. Strong choices are an indicator of preparation and confidence, two qualities that casting directors want in their talent.

Remember, a general audition is an audition for the future. The audience is looking for type and ability to act. It is the opportunity to earn an invitation to audition for plays in the upcoming season so relax and hit it hard, you have nothing to lose. And, if you do mess it up, you’ll be forgotten in minutes and have the chance to make up for it next year.

[su_note]Learn more about the School of Acting at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.[/su_note]

How To Find Your Type As An Actor

Find your acting type

Let’s talk about type. It’s not who you are, or what you do, or what you know that counts. Type, for an actor, is simply about what other people think of you. For casting directors and producers, typing is a way to organize and categorize the thousands of names and faces they see every day. Therefore, knowledge of type is important for actors who are serious about landing roles in TV, film, and professional theatre.

An actor who knows their type well, and prepares to play a specific type of role by aiming their headshots, monologues, and auditions toward that type, will be more successful than someone who has no focus. Later on, after you are booking gigs and have a level of respect in the industry, you will be able to flex your range by playing against type. But, at the start, follow these directions to help find your type as an actor.

Knowledge and Honesty

In literature and film, there are thousands of characters, but most of them can be easily categorized by their broad type in only a few words. Some popular, recurring types throughout history include The Knight in Shining Armor, Mad Scientist, and Ingenue. Actors need to develop knowledge of the different common types in order to better identify themselves.

Common Types Today:

  • Leading Man
  • Leading Lady
  • Dumb Jock
  • Girl Next Door
  • Funny Best Friend
  • Angry Old Man
  • Reluctant Hero
  • Hot Blonde

There are many common types and all actors will fall into at least one category. Depending on age, gender, tone of voice, and other physical attributes, actors may be a blend of two types, or type might change during your career.

Because type has both positive and negative associations, actors must be brutally honest with themselves. Part of understanding your type is knowing that you are different in life than the characters you play on the stage or screen. Try to explore the good and the bad side of your type to infuse you performances with the truth that casting directors desire.

Ways to Find Your Type

  1. Watch – Watching TV and movies with an eye toward character type is one of the best ways to identify types. As you watch other actors, think about which roles you could play. Make a list of actors who play the same roles as you, and think about their type. What do you think when you look at them? What is your first impression? Odds are, people think similar things about you.
  1. Ask – Don’t just ask anyone. Ask people who work in entertainment that will be honest with you. Actor friends, coaches, and directors with whom you have a good relationship are the best for this. You may not like their answers, but it is important to listen and respect their opinions. After all, you may have a vision of yourself that is different from how the world sees you.
  1. Look and Listen – This is an exercise in self-education. Look in the mirror or at your headshot and observe your unique features. What emotion do you naturally project? What are your most prominent physical characteristics? What makes you different? Listen to your own voice. What do you sound like? Do you sound gruff, gentle, sweet, sarcastic, or something else?

The final step is to trust your research and the observations of others and apply these findings to your career. Surprisingly, actors audition for roles out of type all the time. Unsurprisingly, they don’t get cast. Discovering type is not just a good exercise in introspection, it is also a vital career move.

[su_note]Learn more about the School of Acting at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.[/su_note]

How To Find Your Next Acting Audition

Find acting adution

You have a resume. You have a headshot, or something close. You have ruthlessly prepared a monologue, or maybe two, just to be safe. You know what type of character you play best, but you need a chance to perform in a real production.

One of the sobering facts of the acting biz, especially for beginners, is that roles don’t come to actors; actors must go to roles. The only way to land a role is to audition, and to audition, actors have to find the opportunities. Some actors have agents who do the bulk of the search for them, but even represented actors can pursue auditions for themselves.

How does an aspiring actor find the role that makes them a star? Where are new auditions posted? We all have to start somewhere. Conveniently, hundreds of auditions are posted online every day. Some require a fee to gain access, but many are free to submit, you just have to know where to look.

Pay to Play

At the top of the audition listing food chain is Since 1960, Backstage has been the “most trusted name in casting” for a reason: they are the best in the business.

They post daily, nationwide auditions for film, theatre, singers, and dancers; from studio productions to independent web series. The only catch is that a subscription to the service costs $19.95 per month, or the equivalent of $11.66 monthly if you buy a year’s worth of access up front. On their site, Backstage also offers articles and tips for actors, and is a valuable resource for established actors.

Similarly, Casting Networks is a national, subscription-based casting service that is commonly used by professional casting directors. Represented actors can create a basic account for free with a valid agency code. Unrepresented actors are subject to various fees upon registering. Currently, a $25 yearly membership fee gives you access, with various add-ons available for additional fees. Perhaps best suited to the represented actor, Casting Networks is a premium auditions website that can even help unrepresented actors find an agent. But of course, you’re going to have to pay.

Free Casting Resources

On free, public casting call boards actors cannot expect to see big budget jobs, but for beginners and intermediates, these are excellent resources to find work.

Facebook is the king of social media and has something for everyone these days, including casting boards for actors. Every major city across the country has a Facebook group used by industry workers to fill roles, hire crew members, and post notices. These are publicly moderated forums that are usually trustworthy because they are policed by respected industry professionals. Do a Facebook search of audition and casting calls in your city, or ask around to see what Facebook groups your actor friends have joined.

Craigslist is Facebook’s less responsible younger brother when it comes to auditions, but sometimes there are hidden gems. There are two places where auditions are primarily posted on Craigslist: under the “Jobs” tab, in “tv/film/video” and under the “Gigs” tab, in “talent.” It might be worth scouring the posts as a last resort, but be cautious of scams and “Adult” content. Never give out personal information beyond what is required to audition, and trust your judgment. The organization and professionalism of a casting call is a good indicator of the production as a whole.

Spin Work into More Work

No matter where you find an audition, or what project you are cast in, maintaining a professional reputation is vital. Believe it or not, the best way to get work in the future is through your work in the present. Be polite, professional, and well prepared, and casting directors, producers, and filmmakers will return again and again for your services.