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How to Gain Acting Experience and Improve Your Acting Resume

Updated on November 1, 2016

Gaining Acting Experience

Many professions have a pretty clear path to gain entry into that occupation and begin your career. Acting, however, is not so clear. It takes hard work, training, acting experience, and lots of motivation to get anywhere. For those of us starting out our career or just pursuing a hobby we really enjoy, it is often difficult to figure out where exactly we can get more acting experience and build our acting resume. Over the last year, I have found many methods to find roles to audition for to help me gain experience in theater and in film, I would like to share with you these methods to hopefully help you build on your acting resume and gain some experience so that you may be able to start your acting career a little easier. Granted, nothing in this field is easy, but you can find projects to get more experience.

Community Theater

One of the best ways to gain acting experience for the stage is to join your local community theater. If towns as small as mine have one, then I am sure yours will as well. Having said that, the size of your community theater will probably depend on the size of your community. Auditions are generally open to the public. You will most likely have to join and become a member once you are cast in a play, but the fees usually aren't that much and at least the money goes to promoting performing arts.

Most of the auditions I have researched are typically a cold reading of scenes from the play.  The upcoming plays are generally posted on their website or in your local paper. It's a good idea to try to read the play before you go to the audition to give you a better understaning of what is going on in the scene and it gives you a little better chance of landing a role.

There is a lot you can learn from this experience. There are lots of different kinds of people who are usually involved with local theater. This may include drama teachers, drama students, former professional actors of stage and screen, and no telling who else. These are all people that can help you learn the craft. Since most everyone is there just for the joy of the theater, you can usually pick up a lot of pointers to improve your performances. Plus, you can add these plays to your acting resume.

Low Budget or NO Budget Films

Most people that want to act, seem to want to be movie starts. This is a tough cookie to crack. I obviously cannot tell you how to make it big in Hollywood, but I can give some tips on how to improve your demo reel. The improvements in digital camcorders has made it possible for almost anyone with the time to be a director. Not necessarily a good one, but nonetheless it is a little easier these days to make some kind of film. The up side to this, is it offers more oppurtunites for us actors to get a role in some sort of independent film.

Craigslist offers a section for talent and tv/film that many indie film makers use to recruit a cast. While some of these may be a few high school kids goofing around, there are a few small production companies that make decent quality short films or webisodes. I recommend trying to find out any previous projects they have done and try to find them on YouTube or their website before committing to a role. Some of the production companies I have found have some very entertaining films or shows out there. We cannot forget about the film student either. If there is a University nearby that offers film, these students will need actors for their school projects. This is a great way to get in early with what may possibly be the next big director. Most of the time your only compensation is a film credit. But, some will offer a percentage of any proceeds the film makes later if it's a success. There is also the added benefit of it being submitted to any film festivals where other directors can view your work.

Some cities also have websites purely dedicated to performing arts projects. St. Louis has St. Louis Auditions. A website that is dedicated to the performing arts. There are casting calls for Film, Theater, Dance, and more. You should use Google to try and find something like this in your area.

While you probably won't get cast in the next Avatar with these methods, they can add to your demo reel and resume. They always say you have to pay your dues before you make it and this would be part of that payment I presume.

Community College Theater

 I recommend checking with the theater departement at any local community colleges. The local college in my area has several plays a year. The best part is, you don't have to be a student to be an actor in their plays. I'm sure there are more schools like this. You just need to find out when the auditions are for upcoming plays and make sure you show up.

One thing about working with students who are learning a craft in this industry whether it be acting, directing, stage tech, etc. is that these people are going to try and make a career of this. How is that good for you? The ones that do succeed could help you out in the future. So, be sure to try and build a good working relationship with the crew as well as other actors. There is never anything wrong with building a network of people with the same interests.

Acting Classes

 Depending on where you live, this may or may not be much of an option. I know in my location, there are not any acting schools other than the University around. I personally cannot take off in the middle of the day and take acting lessons at the University that I would have to become a student at, so that is not really much of an option. However, in cities or larger metropolitan areas, there usually is some form of acting school. I have found one a couple hours away that seems to have some pretty good classes. Though I am not able to go to the weekly classes, they do have weekend seminars where they bring in casting directors, directors, or professional actors to offer a workshop on a Saturday or Saturday and Sunday.  This would be a great way to build on your experience and learn a thing or two. Also a great place to network I'm sure.

Happy Auditioning

 I hope this has opened up a few avenues of approach for some of you aspiring actors. If you are a young person considering this for your future, these tips could really help you start honing your skills before you ever go on to get any formal education. If you're someone who'd just like to act for fun, then maybe you've found a new way to enjoy yourself. No matter what your reasons for wanting to act, I hope you have fun and remember, look me up when you make it big!

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      Martin Ngo 4 years ago

      This was exactly what I was looking for. After years of cold feet I realize there's only one thing that connects me to a sense of deep passion in my life. Of course, I was unsure of how to "beef up" my resume so fate led me to your page. Thanks, Wayne.