The Actor's Survival Guide: How to Make Your Way in Hollywood


While college drama programs primarily focus on training and technique with western theater history and aesthetics providing the context, nowhere in those programs does one find the study of business or marketing skills to facilitate the serious young actor's transition to the world of professional work. Inevitably, many thousands of these aspiring actors each year end up in Hollywood.

But newcomers will find Hollywood a minefield and a maze, ...

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While college drama programs primarily focus on training and technique with western theater history and aesthetics providing the context, nowhere in those programs does one find the study of business or marketing skills to facilitate the serious young actor's transition to the world of professional work. Inevitably, many thousands of these aspiring actors each year end up in Hollywood.

But newcomers will find Hollywood a minefield and a maze, wasting limited resources of time and money out of ignorance of its business realities. The Actor's Survival Guide functions both as a business handbook and a guidebook for newcomers to Los Angeles planning to pursue a professional acting career.

From the experience of relocating to LA, to the casting process, to the identifying (and finding work with) the key players in the film and television industry, The Actor's Survival Guide offers a business-centered road map through the pitfalls and wrong turns that derail too many promising careers and frustrate even the most dedicated of actors, and--for those who have the skills and determination to persevere--provides an extra competitive edge of experience and know-how.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826428349
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 1/15/2008
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,454,430
  • Product dimensions: 6.99 (w) x 8.47 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

John S. Robbins is Performing and Media Arts Manager at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. He began his professional career as a working actor in Los Angeles in 1978, appearing in many professional plays, commercials and films including Americathon and The Girl Who Saved the World. He has been working in education since 1986. He continues to work as a professional actor in Hollywood and the Seattle area.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents Page Preface Chapter One - Moving to Los Angeles What should I do before I move? What shouldn't I do before I move? Chapter Two - Living in Los Angeles The County or The City? The Hills - Hollywood or Beverly? The Canyons - Beachwood to Laurel Canyon? The Beaches - Santa Monica or Venice? The Valley - NoHo or Burbank The Basin - Eastside or Westside? Chapter Three - Surviving in Los Angeles 1. Employment: Who hires struggling Actors in Los Angeles? Where do I look for employment notices? What jobs should I avoid? What's better, employment or entrepreneurship? 2. Housing: Where will I find affordable housing? What do I do first? Should I rent, lease, sublet or live with someone? Where do I look for housing? What should I look for when I inspect the unit? What application fees may I be charged to rent/lease a unit? What additional Fees can I be charged if I'm approved? What are my Renter's Rights? 3. Transportation Do I really need a car in Los Angeles? What are Transportation Corridors? What's with the freeway names? What are my public transportation choices? Public Transportation vs. Private Vehicle? What about parking? Chapter Four - The Business of Hollywood How do I find a paid acting job? Who are the Buyers? Who are these 'Major Studios'? How does this Production Process work? Who are the Sellers? What is the product being bought and sold? How well do ethnic Actors do in Hollywood? Chapter Five - Marketing Tools What marketing materials do I need? 1. Headshot If casting is done electronically do I still need a Headshot? How do I find a good photographer? How do I prepare for the Photo Shoot? What should I expect during a photo shoot? How do I choose a Headshot? Where do I have headshots printed? 2. Resume What should I put on my Resume? What if all I have is training and skills? How should I organize my resume? What should I NOT put on my resume? Do actors lie or exaggerate on their resume? How should I format and reproduce my resume 3. Photo Cards What are Photo Postcards? Do I need Photo Business Cards 4. Actor's Reel What is an Actor's Reel? How do I get clips of my work? How do I go about making an Actor's Reel? 5. Personal Website Should I have my own website? How do I establish a personal website? What is the Academy Players Directory? Chapter Six - Talent Agents & Personal Managers What is a Talent Agent? What does a Talent Agent do for the Actor? Are there different kinds of Talent Agents? Is it better to have a separate Talent Agent for Theatrical and Commercial representation? How does one become a Talent Agent? Must an Actor have a Talent Agent? How do I find a licensed Talent Agent? How does a Talent Agent find new Actors to represent? What should I expect when I meet with a Talent Agent? Is it important to have a SAG franchised Agent? What is the difference between a SAG Agency Contract and a GSA? What is the difference between a Talent Agent and a Personal Manager? How do Talent Agents and Personal Managers work together? How do I know if a Manager or Management Company is legitimate? What scams should I watch out for? Chapter Seven - The Unions A Brief History What does a Union do for a Actor? Which Union(s) should I join? Why doesn't everyone just join AFTRA and not SAG? How do I join SAG? Chapter Eight - The Casting Game How does an Actor get an audition? How does an Actor learn what projects are being cast? What are Breakdowns and how does one get them? What is Electronic Casting and how has it changed casting? Does everybody use Electronic Casting now? Can Actors subscribe to this service? Which Electronic Casting services should I subscribe to? What different types of Casting Notices are posted on electronic services? How do you know if a project is legitimate? If everybody uses Electronic Casting, why do I need headshots? How do I create professional looking submissions? Chapter Nine - The Casting Game Who are Casting Directors? What is the casting process? Is the casting process the same for all projects? Are there Audition scams I should avoid? What information should I request when I receive an Audition call? How should I prepare for an Audition? What happens during the Audition? What should I keep focused on during an Audition? What shouldn't I do during the Audition? What shouldn't happen during Auditions? What could happen next? Chapter Ten - Working in Hollywood What kind of Contract and Booking Information will I receive? What should I expect of a Union Contract? What are the contractual differences between Film, Television and Commercial projects, etc.? Are there other legal documents an Actor must know about? What should I do to prepare for filming? What do I bring with me to the Set? What shouldn't I bring? What should I do when I arrive? What can I expect from Non Union projects? Chapter Eleven - Bookkeeping Does an Actor have any special tax liabilities? Does the IRS offer any special tax incentives to an Actor? What deductions may an Actor take on theeeeeeir income taxes? How do I maintain these records What should I do if I'm audited? What five mistakes should I avoid? What items are not deductible? Chapter Twelve - Continuing Education and Training What other kinds of research resources will I find in Los Angeles? What are the different training options an Actor has in Los Angeles? 1. Academic Institutions 2. Acting Studios 3. Workshops 4. Coaches 5. Pay To Play? Are there scams I need to avoid? What other kinds of research resources will I find in Los Angeles?

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