Step 6: Marketing Yourself

Written by | B-Roll

Now that you know about the actor’s team, you may think that these people will do it all for you, but until you reach the point where you are well known enough that people are approaching you to be in their films, you have plenty of work to do.

Let’s talk about managers. Who needs one and who doesn’t, and what is the difference between the two?

In life, the more well-known you are – the more popular you are – the more people want to latch onto your rising star. I’m not condoning this, I’m just saying that life tends to go in that direction. It’s easier for the school rockstar to make friends than it is for the outsider who just moved into the neighborhood. It’s the same for an actor.

It is so easy to think that as an actor, you have no control over your career. If someone casts you, they do, and if they don’t, they don’t. This is a defeatist attitude that needs to be overcome. There is so much that is in your hands as far as marketing yourself, and I want to touch on several ways for you to be in control.

1. Your branding. As awful as it sounds, an actor is his own business, and like any other business, he needs to think about branding. The way we view actors is not an accident – it’s a carefully thought out plan. Which adjective best describes Johnny Depp?  Good ol’ boy? Quirky? Most everyone will think “quirky”. Jennifer Aniston?  Sex symbol? Exotic? Girl next door? Most people will think of her as “girl next door”. These labels do not mean that you need to be stereotyped into one character or genre, it just means that you are conveying a clear message of who you are. Do you want to be seen as a leading man/woman, a character actor, an action star? Every choice you make in the way you dress, wear your hair, etc. will reflect your branding. Your headshots need to be carefully planned out — your hair, makeup, wardrobe, style of the shots, whether the shot is vertical or horizontal, indoor or outdoor. None of these choices should be left to chance.

2. Showcases. In bigger cities, there will be opportunities to perform in showcases – and if there aren’t, maybe you need to create these opportunities. A showcase is a sort of professional talent show that, literally, showcases your talent to people in a position to hire you: casting directors, directors, and producers. The showcase may consist of five to ten people with individual or collaborative theater or musical pieces. It takes planning, contacts, and maybe a little bribery (like a cocktail hour before the showcase) to get the people in who are really in a position to cast you. This could be the only way to break into their tight-knit circles. We all know how important first impressions are, so make sure that the pieces you choose to perform are the best for you, that there are no technical issues, and that your scene partners are phenomenal. And have follow through. Make sure that you have a program with everyone’s headshot and contact info. This is also a great way to get an agent and/or manager.

3. Be proactive! While you should never pay for an audition, there are legitimate (and illegitimate ) casting call software sites to discover and submit yourself to auditions.  The ones that are reputable, such as Actors Access, Casting Networks, and those offered by Casting Calls America, all require that actors create a profile then have the profile submitted through their software so the casting director can receive and review all the submissions in a single place and format.  Those that simply list a casting call and give you access to an email are more often than not illegitimate, and in many cases, the casting director is unaware their casting call is even listed. So paying to use a casting call listing site is a very legitimate and mostly necessary expense for working actors(especially in regional markets), but be sure to stick with the legitimate ones as described above. In particular, Casting Calls America offers access to regional casting opportunities, whereas many sites offer casting calls that are completely out of your area.   

4. WORK! If you are just starting your acting career, it shouldn’t be just about the money, it should be more about the craft. So I recommend working, working, working – anywhere you can. Student films. PSAs. Video games. Theater. Some of these projects will be winners and some won’t. If the project is great, you can use a strong scene for your demo reel. If the project is a trainwreck, you will probably learn more about the ins and outs of filmmaking than if a project works flawlessly.

5. Social media. Though the popularity of YouTube videos is waning a bit, it is a great way to get seen by the general public – and hopefully, people who can hire you, too. Facebook is the least prominent form of social media with the “influencers”. Instagram is probably the most popular form of social media, followed by Twitter. As much as it seems to be a completely wrong priority, casting is quite influenced by social media numbers. Though being a well-known social media star does not make you a good actor, it does make you a marketing asset. If your numbers are in the hundreds of thousands or the millions, the eyes you can bring to a project are more valuable than any print, radio, or TV ad, as it is absolute target marketing.

Read step seven here! 

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Last modified: August 15, 2017

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