Every trade has its tools – chefs need good knives, construction workers need good drills, and actors need good headshots and a good resume. This is not optional.
Everyone has that uncle that is a part-time photographer. Unless that uncle knows all of the specs for a headshot, bite the bullet and pay someone to take good shots. A good headshot is not a glamor shot. If you want a glamor shot, go to the mall, get a glamor shot, then go get a headshot. What are the keys to a good headshot?
The first and most logical is that the shot needs to look like you. “Duh,” you may say, “It’s a headshot.” If it were that obvious, I would not continue to push the point that your headshot needs to look like you. Several people make that happen. You control what you give a casting director. If your headshot has you as a brunette with hair to your waist, don’t bring that shot in if you now have short, spiked blond hair, because, again, your headshot will not look like you. If you lose weight, gain weight, get a tat on your neck (not recommended) – any substantial change warrants a new headshot. There have been so many occasions when I loved someone’s read, and at the end of the day, I go through headshots to find the person’s name in order to give them a callback. I go through the headshots, and with great frustration, realize that I cannot recognize the person from their outdated headshot. In those cases, the actors and I both lose out. I hate that.
The other people who control the look of your headshot are the photographer, the hair and makeup people, and the stylist (if you have one). A good photographer will be able to capture the essence of you. Just you. No more, no less. They’ll get that look that is so you. They’ll capture your quirkiness, your beauty, your sense of humor. The most important element of your headshot is by far the eyes. Practice making your eyes “smile.” Your entire persona is displayed through the eyes.
As far as your look for your headshots goes, keep it simple. Don’t let your jewelry, your makeup, your hair, or your clothes take the attention away from you. You are what people want to remember – not the necklace you were wearing.
A headshot is not necessarily a headshot anymore – it can be full-body, it can be fun, it can be vertical, it can be horizontal. Regardless, the eyes are the most important part of the shot.
On the flipside of your headshot is your resume. Your headshot will be 8”x10” and your resume needs to be the same size. Staple your resume to the back of your headshot so that the headshot and resume are both facing out. Cut your resume down to be the same size as your headshot. Keep in mind that you will be handing your headshot and resume to the casting director – that is your calling card. Your headshot and resume represent you and your professionalism. Make sure that they are neat, cut down properly, have no hand-written notes on them, and most certainly no typos.
On your resume, it really doesn’t matter if you don’t have a tremendous amount of experience. Your audition will speak for itself. Probably the most important part of a resume for me is the training. I like to see that an actor has trained. It means that they are taking acting seriously.
Different people have different opinions on the layout of a resume. I like to see the name of the director on a project you’ve done. It means more to me than the character or the production company. The reason for this is that the director makes the final decision of who is cast. If I have great respect for Director John Doe, and I see that Director John Doe cast you in a project, it gives you an automatic stamp of approval.
You can get all of your questions answered about headshots if you write into ReelGuru. Robyn Adamson will do her best to answer your question in her column 8×10.
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Last modified: August 15, 2017