4. Yes, you will need an agent to work in T.V.
or film, or most paying theater gigs. 99% of all legitimate paying roles in the industry are cast through casting directors who are contacting credible agents for submissions. Your photo will not be seen by a casting director, regardless of the color, size or shape of the envelope in which it is sent. Save your money for food and rent.
Getting an agent is not simple and they are no more likely to open your photo and resume. If you're planning to "market" into the wind, I would suggest postcards are better than 8x10 photos and mailing to managers is a more receptive audience. Also, having a showcase or play to invite them to see is a good thing to do. Don't expend, again, a lot of capital to produce a showcase or play and mailings. These folks are busy and inundated with invitations.
Again, the smart money is on working a job from inside the industry, getting to know the players and over the long haul, giving them the chance to know you. They ain't kiddin' when they say, "It's not what you know, it's who you know" that makes the difference in the end. There are published lists of agents and managers that can be purchased through the Hollywood Creative Directory at www.hcdonline.com and clicking on the "Hollywood Representation Directory icon.
This directory is not cheap but includes talent agencies, management companies, TV and film casting directors and publicity companies nationwide. They also have a subscription service that is updated twice a year and have a mailing list label service as well. You will find a plethora of websites designed to show you exactly how to be a working actor, find auditions without an agent, help to get you discovered, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.
My feeling is that anyone who asks you for money up front for any of the above is not worth the money. You can find publications that will have ads for actors and models for their upcoming film/project, but these will not be career making opportunities and, worse yet, may be exploitative or even dangerous. Legitimate agents will never ask for anything besides 10% of whatever you make (this is the law). Managers are not bound by the same law that regulates agents that are "bonded by the State." Managers can take whatever you give them and typically will ask for 20%. On the topic of managers; I had one for the 17 years that I worked in the industry and he remains my friend to this day.
He helped me get my first agent and was always a close advocate for me and someone with whom I could talk on a daily basis. I cannot recommend whole-heartedly the acquisition of a manager - that is a personal decision. I can only say that in my mind, especially in the beginning, the extra 20% was not a risk because I wasn't making anything yet and the manager increased my chances working. Again, with 10-20 clients rather than 100-200, the personal manager is a lot more attentive to your needs and has a greater vested interest in your success. 5.
Photos Great photos are KEY to you getting in the door - any door. There are many very talented photographers in every city in the country. Finding the one with whom you feel comfortable is very important. Do your research, make the phone calls and actually meet these people.
Take the time to look at their books and see what kind of work they do. Don't necessarily go for the biggest and most expensive photographer around, there are plenty of talented newcomers that may even be willing to work with you for free, or a great discount, in order to expand their portfolio. The conventional wisdom used to be that black and white was the way to go, but color really is the best indicator of what you really look like. Dress simply for the shoot and simplify your look (make-up) for the purpose of giving the "audience" a good, clear picture of who you truly are. That brings me back to the point of being comfortable with the photographer.
The person, the environment, even the music playing in the background are all going to impact how you feel and therefore how you come across on film. One shot where you are looking directly into our eyes and communicating the essence of who you are is all you need. Models need "zed cards" with multiple poses and wardrobes, they are selling their bodies as well as their faces. Actors are communicating through their souls, and as the eyes are their windows, look very carefully at your eyes in the photo you ultimately choose. Those eyes will be speaking volumes to the person gazing into them, looking for their next potential star. Finally, remember that, as an actor, what you have to offer is - YOU.
Love, nurture, develop and protect YOU. Find what works for you, find people to align yourself with who believe in you and are dedicated to protecting that essence. I truly love the craft of acting and have incredible respect for those who are willing to put themselves out there in pursuit of their dream.
I wish you all the best and will publish further article in future if I come up with more tips that I feel will be valuable. Feel free to respond with comments and/or questions. "Break a leg!" Scott Thompson Baker.
A full list of the author's credits can be found on http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0048913/