If you are one of those who dreams of having a prominent space on the big screen, then you can kick-start your career as a freelance actor. Acting is an art, and it is one of the most lucrative industries in the world, producing a chunk of millionaires and billionaires every now and then. However, because of it being a major career option, the competition is really stiff and cruel. Many decide to become full-fledged actors, but only a few manage to make big in their career and rest have their presence die down into oblivion.
The success of an actor depends much on his/her skills, connections and luck. If you have all these three you can get the best of everything in a short span of time. So, the big question is how to obtain all the aforesaid magic elements? While luck is beyond control, we can have some grasp on skills and connections, and a lot of them can be gained through freelancing. Career as a freelance actor is a nice and wise option, and may eventually become a ticket to big theater groups or film industry.
In this article, we shall explore the key elements involved in the making of a freelance actor, and these elements have been mentioned below:
1. Job Requirements
If you are serious about becoming an actor, you are required to extensively study about the job requirements of actors. That is, you have to study how to become to become an actor and whether it mandates a professional qualification. The world is a witness to the rise of great individuals as actors who have never been to a professional acting school or a theater group, but things are changing and so are the perceptions.
Before you decide on anything, read the following thoroughly:
- There is no gainsaying that formal training acting is not mandatory, but those seeking freelancers often look out for those with academic qualifications. If your main aim is acting then it is recommended you obtain a Bachelor’s degree in acting, performing, theater arts and drama. Even if getting a degree is an expensive affair, then you can subscribe to a diploma or acting courses organized by acting institutes in and outside India throughout the year.
Such courses impart theoretical knowledge of key aspects of acting and provide a platform to enhance our acting skills under the guidance of experts from the theater and film industries. Thus, such courses work as proofs that you have the right amount of theoretical knowledge and practical experience to commence an acting career.
There are a number of acting institutes in the country such as the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India, Roshan Taneja School of Acting, Barry John Acting Studio, National School of Drama, Anupam Kher’s Actor Prepares, etc. If you wish to learn at international acting institutes, then here are some of the most popular institutes: Tisch School of the Arts, Yale School of Drama, University of Southern California, Oxford School of Drama, etc.
- If you do not want to join an acting school for whatever reason, then what to do? Well, then, you have to increase your participation in dramas and theater groups. If you are in college or school, start engaging in the drama activities of your institution. Join local drama and theater clubs, and through them establish connections with prominent regional theater artists and movie actors. This is called networking, and it really helps in the long run.
Keep a tab on regional auditions and acting contests and participate in them even if they are small scale. The more you engage yourself in these activities, the more on-field experience you will gain. If you do not have academic qualifications, you can definitely win clients through your marvelous experience.
2. Skills required to become a freelance actor
There are millions dreaming of becoming an actor, but you have to stand out and showcase the best you have got. In order to become an able and promising actor, you will have to prove the existence of crucial skills within.
The following are the skills clients are looking out for:
- Voice: An actor should have a refined voice capable of attracting the attention of the onlooker. Actors will fail if they are unable to verbally deliver emotions convincingly. You should be in full control of your pitch, volume, and tempo.
- Movement: Your movement matters in acting. You have to move your body as per the requirements of the script. For example, if you are to play the role of a tomboy girl, you have loose much of the feminine postures. Similarly, if you are playing the character of a stoic and brutal army officer, you have to maintain a straight, stiff and proud posture and movements.
- The sense of timing and awareness: A promising actor is he who is aware of his surroundings and adapts to changing circumstances. This means, even in awkward situations, the actor knows what he should do to eliminate awkwardness and maintain the onlooker’s attention. It is his awareness which often earns laudation.
- Coordination: When you are acting, you may be guided by behind-the-stage cues, which you should be able to quickly and subtly incorporate. You should strike implicit communication with the director and the cameraman.
- Zeal to study the script thoroughly: It is praiseworthy if the actor invests some time understanding the psychology and background of the character he/she is playing. For example, if you are playing a real-life ancient ruler with a magnificent background, it will be helpful if you study about the actual rules in detail. This will help you to establish a closer connection with the character.
- Ready to accept instructions and criticism: You can never be a perfect actor and therefore, you should welcome applauding and unceremonious feedback impersonally. Incorporate the suggestions made by the film director and practice as much as possible. The more hard work you put into your acting skills, the more you will improve and the more impressed your director and others around you will be.
- Versatility: An actor needs to be versatile. If he acts one kind of roles again and again, he will generally lose his appeal among the masses irrespective of his physical appeal and long record of films or theater performances. In fact, as an actor, you should look out for more diverse roles by yourself, instead, waiting for someone to bring you a script.
- Self-maintenance: An actor is a public figure; therefore, he is expected to maintain himself in the most representable and reasonably fashionable manner possible. This creates a good image to the public and increases the number of followers.
3. Where to work?
Acting jobs are not easy to get, especially in top-notch places such as Bollywood or Broadway, but this does not mean it is impossible. As a freelance actor, you can work in the following:
- Join theater or drama companies in India or beyond. While you will inevitably aim for the big names in the field, do not neglect small-sized or medium-sized theater or drama groups. Some of the celebrated theater companies in India include National Centre for the Performing Arts, Mumbai; LTG Auditorium, Delhi; Akshara Theatre, New Delhi’ Birnbaum Blossom Theatre; Dramanon; Yours Truly Theatre, Bangalore, etc. If you are looking for international theater companies, then you can go for the following: The Public Theatre, Sydney Theatre Company, 13P, Prospect Theatre Company, etc.
- Start your journey to the film industry of your choice with the help of your network, or, if you do not have any, independently. Apply to major film production companies in the country such as Red Chillies Entertainment, Zee Entertainment, UTV Movies, etc. There are also international film-making companies such as Warner Bros, Disney, Viacom, Sony, 21st Century Fox, etc.
- There are a number of freelance websites that offer freelancing opportunities to actors such as freelance.com, worknhire.com, guru.com, upwork.com and whatnot, and each one of them requires the creation of an account, the portfolio of skills and online application to the clients or employers.
Create a thoroughly structured and relevant portfolio of skills and submit it along with the application. Follow up periodically, but do not pester the clients unnecessarily.
4. Pay rate
Much of your earnings will depend on your qualifications and experience. If you are a well-qualified actor with a well-experienced background, then you are entitled to maintain a lavish pay rate which may or may not go beyond the prevalent market pay rate in the freelance acting community. If you are not so experienced but possess some incredible academic qualifications such as a certification from an elite acting school, then you may demand a high pay rate. However, if you are a total rookie with no exceptional qualifications and/or experience, then you should refrain from demanding unusually high pay rate and stick to the present market pay rate for rookies.
To gather substantial information about pay rates, you are advised to join discussion forums of freelance actors, whether online or not. These forums are hotspots of new as well as experienced freelance actors who may help you understand the industry better.