Written by Jeffrey Dreisbach, Casting Partner, McCorkle Casting LTD
As the “CEO” of your own company, making the right investments is a good business strategy. After all, you’ve probably spent time, money, and energy into your development as an actor already. Growing your “acting business” is the logical next step. This is where I see newbie actors making less than perfect decisions for themselves. The thinking goes something like this, “I’ve already had an acting class, had new pictures taken and now I am ready to be professional”. While it may seem reasonable to think this way, there is a vital component that is missing. That is, accounting for ongoing education in your plans. You see, I believe the actor must always improve their skills with classes, workshops, seminars, and any other method of “talent investment”. Incorporating ongoing education into your business plan is critically important. Let’s look at some ways this strategy can help you with your career goals.
- Learning something new. Specific new performance skills are a great way to gain more confidence and add versatility to your resume. If you’ve had classes or training in theatre, perhaps a film and television class is warranted. If you’ve had classes in improvisation, now might be a good time to take a commercial acting audition class. If you’ve spent time (and money) in a monologue class, scene study is a great next step. Knowing what areas need improvement and what next step to take makes sense for you and is the best way to keep you moving forward.
- Making you more marketable. When you embrace ongoing education, the investment you are making provides increased opportunities. This happens in many ways. First, you will be networking with new teachers, meeting new actors, and growing your talent at the same time. Second, you become ready with the skills to embrace every new experience. Finally, the satisfaction of accomplishing a new skill is a mood changer, for the better. It just makes sense if you know more, you can do more.
- Work begets work. What I mean is that when actors are acting, whether in a class or performing a job, new opportunities always seem to reveal themselves. The universe seems to move you into the next right thing when you are making an effort. (Not trying to get too “woo-woo” here). The investment you make in classes, workshops or seminars will move you into a new arena of professionalism internally and with the outside world. I’ve seen it happen too many times with others and in my own life.
With this new understanding in place, here are some specific way to find ongoing education opportunities.
- Start locally. Are there classes in your area that interest you? Is there a community college or university that has some classes you can take? We are so blessed that there are literally hundreds of training courses, seminars and workshops that are happening every day in New York. First, determine what works for you and then check them out.
- Don’t spend too much money. There is nothing worse than feeling like you made a financial commitment to a class only to find out it wasn’t what you thought. Do your research. There are many free or low-cost alternatives you should investigate before you make a higher priced investment. Perhaps you could audit a session before committing. Don’t be afraid to ask. (I will say that if you are unable to audit a class, it may be because a policy is in place to provide a safe working environment for the enrolled actors).
- Reach out to others. Referrals are the single best way to find out about teachers, casting directors who teach, industry professionals offering a seminar. Make it known that you are looking for new training opportunities in your social media postings. You will be amazed at how many folks want to tell you about a new workshop or training session.
- Connect with professionals. I am not trying to be self-serving here. Really. But taking a 3 or 4 session class with a casting director, agent, manager or director (who are currently working) is, by far, the best way to gain industry attention. Even if the instructor does not, “bring you in”, you will have still gained insight and experience because of who they are in the business. It also humanizes industry folks who may seem intimidating or unreachable. After all, we are all trying to make a better creative environment to do our best work.
Well, there you have it. There is a case to be made for making classes, workshops, and seminars part of your acting investment strategy. It is as important as finding an agent, having great pictures and attending auditions. I also know that it can be a burden to make this kind of investment. After all, financially speaking, it can be a strain. I completely understand. I also know that with careful planning, strategic decision making and diligent research, it will be well worth it as your career makes positive steps forward.
Jeffrey Dreisbach, Casting Partner, McCorkle Casting LTD