Running a Career Outside of London (Part 2)

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 Michael Jackson, Standby Method Acting and Equity. Who will all be in attendance at the event.

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

Beverley Keogh Casting: Go to and perform in as many fringe performances, where there are opportunities to work in front of and meet producers. Directors, etc. low budget films, either side of the camera. Since the decentralisation, there are a lot more situations in the new media centres around the country. Make sure your showreel is the best it can be; Directors are asking to see showreels more and more.

Stand By Method Acting Studio: To network away from London I would advise to be involved in projects. Networking is all about the know, like and trust factor and what better way than working with people who will get to know you AND see your talent. One project usually leads to another if the people creating them like you. There is a huge fringe scene in Manchester, which will keep you on point with your craft and performance skills but also allow you to grow your networks. Doing independent films are a great way of meeting people too, check on social media/Equity website whether there are any local networking events in your area, or what the local film/theatre scene is and get involved with the local actors twitter hours. If you can get to auditions with your friends or are able to support your friends on set/backstage during rehearsals do that too, you never know who you may meet and it’s less informal than a networking meeting.

Equity: Equity holds Branch meetings in the core areas of the country. Look one up and attend their meetings to keep up to date and in touch with actors living and working in that area. In Manchester specifically… There is always something happening! Attend a fringe show and hang around afterwards. Thank the performer for a splendid performance and ask if you can meet other members of the production. Not just restricted to fringe venues either, often any cast from any production may meet in the bar afterwards. Hang around and meet those involved. Royal Exchange Theatre have a new enterprise called OPEN EXCHANGE run by Davinia Jokhi and Associate Artistic Director Matthew Xia. These meet ups organised by Royal Exchange expose a practitioner to like-minded people or better still people they might not usually meet such as designers or choreographers or they could be workshops that are run by Open Exchange members. Very useful tool. Script workshops where an actor helps the budding writer to develop their new script by reading aloud with other actors get you meeting like-minded people. Contact Theatre used to run one called Scriptworks but I think this has gone. Kings Arms Theatre, Bloom Street might have something similar. Scratch Nights are also a great way to stay connected.

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

Beverley Keogh Casting: Look at the quality of the project, the director, etc and make a decision. Here’s an example: an actor can audition to read 3 lines in a soap and still be there many years later. Directors tend to be very loyal to actors, who, regardless of the size of role, turn in a good performance and will keep them in mind for future bigger roles. It’s terrible to have to travel the length and breadth of the country by car or by public transport, but if that’s where you are with your career, you have to do it. If you don’t, someone else will.

Stand By Method Acting Studio: Firstly I would advise that you begin seeing yourself as a business. Each month set aside 10% (or what you can realistically afford) for travel/audition expenses, that way you are always prepared financially. If a production is low pay/no pay and you were to land the role you seriously need to consider whether the travel and expense surrounding the rehearsals/production and missed pay from not working is going to be worth it. Ask yourself these questions – will the project raise your profile substantially, will you be introduced to other people who could potentially employ you, does the role you are auditioning for fit in line with your acting vision. If you can answer yes then see it as an investment in your career. Don’t be afraid to be picky over roles. Lots of actors in the beginnings of their career feel they have to go for each and every role that is offered. You don’t.

Equity: The fee, the duration/dates of the job and, how many other people are going to be there? If your agent doesn’t want to ask that last question, consider how the casting director heard about you. Was it a submission by Spotlight? Were you approached directly via CCP/StarNow or your own website? Is the fee worth the risk/investment of the train fare?

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

Beverley Keogh Casting: Go with the ‘best’ one you can. Best means high profile, proactive, and some one you have faith in to promote your career. The location of the agent is irrelevant, as you probably will communicate by phone 90% of the time. You should only have one agent, regardless of where they are located, most agents will insist on sole representation. The advantage with an agent outside London, is that Casting Directors in the provinces will have a better knowledge of their local talent, with local agents, for the smaller roles, which, if you are asking this question, is probably what you’ll be auditioned for.

Stand By Method Acting Studio: A good plan of action for actors is (if you don’t already have a substantial profile), to start at the lower end agents and work your way up. Plan where you will start, where you want to end up and how you’re going to make this happen. In my opinion it doesn’t matter where the agent is based, it’s the contacts they have that are important and how they are going to progress your career with these. Remember you are paying them on a commission basis to do this. There are some wonderful agents outside of London. As for having two agents I would say no. An agent for commercials and acting is o.k. but having two acting agents could be seen as a conflict of interest. Most agencies work on a sole representation basis anyway, so if you do want two be sure to check this. Eventually as you work your way up the ladder, you will find the top end agencies are based in London anyway.

Equity: There are certainly stories that say yes, you should but others that would argue what’s the point? The jury is out on that one as there is no ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. This industry doesn’t come with a rule book as clear as that, sadly. If you have an agent that has solid contacts in both London and Manchester, brilliant. But be prepared to travel down to London more frequently!

 

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