Running a Career Outside of London (Part 1)

Surviving Actors Manchester is almost here.

This year a key area of the event will focus on ‘Running a Career Outisde of London’ which will be incredibly useful for all you North West and further afield actors.

Get yourself there on Sat 10th Oct

10am-4pm

Manchester Central Convention Complex

FREE entry – REGISTER HERE.

We have put together a 2 part blog series as a taster of the type of info you can expect to gain from the event. Featuring Casting Director Janet Hampson, The Actors Centre’s Career Advisor Neil Rawlinson and Acting Coach Scotland; who will all be in attendance at the event.

What would your advice be for how actors can keep networking when out of London?

Janet Hampson CDG: There are some great networking opportunities outside London – I don’t know them all but one I’d recommend is actonthis.tv. It’s run by an actor, Ross Grant and he has some great advice and podcasts on the site. When you join a cast outside London, whether it’s screen or theatre, ask locally based cast members for their top networking tips and for introductions.

Neil Rawlinson The Actors Centre: It is really important for actors to maximise on the plethora of opportunities out there. The shift in social media over the last decade has led to mountains of opportunities being advertised for events/networking opportunities/potential meetings nationally – granted most are in London – but it is up to actors to be on top of what is out there locally and cherry-pick the larger national events that might be worth the travel expense. Managing your information streams, from simple email management to effective social media marketing, is a key place to start in today’s tech heavy world. Actors need to transfer their digital footprint to an actual footprint…walking through doors to meet actual people. Never put yourself at a disadvantage no matter how small, if you are not doing these things, thousands of other are…Be proactive!

Acting Coach Scotland: IMDB is a treasure chest of what’s being made where and with who. There’s no excuse: research, research, research. There are things being made everywhere.

For actors that need to travel for auditions what would you advise they consider to decide if the trip is worth it?

Janet Hampson CDG: Travelling to auditions is always a balancing game. I can only say I don’t bring people in to make up numbers. If you’ve made it through to my shortlist I really do think you are in with a chance. So look at the script, ask what the pay is, then weigh it all up. If you really can’t get there, ask if you can submit a self tape – they can get you onto a recall list – when you will have to decide if you can afford the travel all over again.

Neil Rawlinson The Actors Centre: Most auditions are in London…it has always been that way. As much as this doesn’t need to be the case, and more and more production is moving to the regions, as an actor you must acknowledge that London is the country’s production hub; London based Casting Directors and production companies won’t begin travelling out of the M25 looking for talent when there is so much talent around that will come to them. Therefore allowances must be made to travel. “But it is so expensive” I hear you cry…also true, but there are some cheaper travel options out there with the likes of Megabus and companies like Bla Bla Car. If the work is artistically viable, has enough exposure and obviously paid Equity minimum then surely the trip is worth it? I refer you to the above question about managing information and suggest checking out if there are other opportunities you can engage with on the same day, in order for you can capitalise on the expense of travelling down. Matinee shows, press nights, screenings with Q&As, workshops at places like the Actors Centre can all be taken advantage of. It is also worth knowing your facts about claiming audition travel costs back from the tax man. Audition travel is a business expense, so you may be able to claim some or all of it back. Acting is a lifestyle as much as a career choice and you must invest in it 100% to be ahead of the game.

Acting Coach Scotland: I would have my clients ask a few simple questions. Who is writing, directing and producing this work? Will it move my career forward? If it’s a good project, and it will move your career forward then do it – if it’s your 24th TIE tour, give it some consideration.

Should actors aim to have an agent based in London as well as their home location?

Janet Hampson CDG: I know some agents have 2 offices but in my experience the London office will have a different list to the Manchester office. The best thing is to have an agent who believes in you, knows how to market you and has good industry relationships.

Neil Rawlinson The Actors Centre: Agents in the UK all have access to Spotlight and any other casting platform out there. In this hyper connected age in which we live, technologically speaking, no agent is at any disadvantage of another. Multiple agents could cause contractual headaches and if the Agent is worth their salt, having another in a different city is unnecessary. It is the job of Agents (whether based inside or outside of London) to know the national employability landscape as well as they do locally. The overall decision is subjective, but boils down to whether your agent is proactive enough to build and maintain national relationships and contacts for potential work. Some agencies like Narrow Road have made a business choice to have offices in multiple locations (London & Manchester); these types of agencies may be the ones to consider approaching if you feel this to be a benefit. A good place to start when looking in to agencies is the PMA (The Personal Mangers’ Association), whilst they do not give “HOW TO” information on getting representation, every agent signed up to the association is also signed up to an ethos of good practice. You can find a list of PMA agents HERE. My advice, if you are looking to move or looking for representation afresh is to research agents thoroughly. Who do they have on their books? Are their actors working with some consistency? What type of work are they getting? Is it the type of work you want? How spread (nationally) are the production companies/casting directors giving that work?

Acting Coach Scotland: My opinion is that you need the best access possible to opportunities, so you must do whatever gives you the most and best opportunities.

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