I am a lead web developer over at IADB and I build actor websites. Most of the times when I tell people that I build websites for actors, they respond with understanding and confirm that this is in fact very necessary. Other times though, I am approached by an unbeliever. "Why would an actor need a website? They're not even famous yet. Isn't getting work for an actor a job of their agents?"
Well, okay. Since you are talking like we're still living in the 80's then you probably have an idea of a talent agent wearing a suit and a fedora hat who carries folders full of resumes and headshots and a suitcase full of video tapes with samples of actors' work. But that's not quite how that works. Actor website is an essential tool for any working actor now-a-days. An actor without a professional website is like an actor without a demo reel. Can you still get a job without it - it's not impossible, but why risk it?
Everybody needs a resume to get a job. Some jobs require a little more than that. Now, if you have decided to embark on this long and difficult journey towards the show business, you're going to need an action plan. Let's talk to-do list then!
First of all, you will need some headshots. Find a good, not overly expensive photographer in your area that does headshots. You can check out our resources page to see if you can find one in your area, otherwise do a google search for "headshot photographers" with your ZIP code. Keep in mind, headshots are not portraits, and you should see the difference as soon as you research what both photography styles are. Acting headshots are the single most important marketing tool an actor has, so take care of these first.
Next, you will need a demo reel. This is a montage of various video clips of your performances for the camera. To get these, you will need some footage, of course. For your very first reel, the footage is easy to get - apply to some student films in your area, and after they're done, the director will always send you the material. Have that material professionally or semi-professionally edited into 2-3 minute montage demo reel.
Then comes your resume. If you are a member of IADB, you can use our tools to build a actor resume from your existing projects and skills. The very important parts are you experience and your training. If you are just starting on your acting career and do not have any actor training yet, feel free to browse our resources for acting schools near you. Get yourself into some community theatre, maybe even drama school and if you have an acting class in the area, book some sessions there too. When finished, put those on your resume alongside your student films, description of yourself and your special skills.
Finally, a website is a great place to keep all of these things together. IADB offers services like no one else on the web, that will allow you to add projects and training to your website with ease. You can host your headshots and videos. If you are a voice over actor or would like to demonstrate your speech or dialect skills, you can also add audio samples to your website. IADB designs websites specifically for actors. It's the only place like this on the web.
After you are done with all of these tasks, you must register on one of the casting calls websites. Backstage.com is probably the biggest and most popular one on the west coast. Here at IADB we even went as far as connected your profile directly with a casting call search so that you can browse available jobs. Begin submitting to various projects around your area and wait for offers start pouring in. Spend at least another 6 to 12 months working on these projects from the casting calls website, building your experience and collecting footage for your new, more professional demo reel.
You can also keep in mind to get some extra print jobs done. Obtaining a nice, professional business cards and comp cards is also a plus for you. If you need some help with that, here at IADB, we have actor tools that will lend you a helping hand with that as well.
If you have any time on the side, you can always do some networking. This means meeting new people from within the industry or that are somehow connected to the entertainment business. These people could be actors, screenwriters, playwrights, producers, directors, talent agents, casting directors, filmmakers, etc. They could be completely new, up and coming or established veterans. If you, unlike myself, do not reside near Hollywood, you may not have access to all the film festivals to get to know people within the industry. A great place to meet others online is stage32.com. We recommend that all working actors should register and get in touch with as many other actors and filmmakers as possible. You never know who will be the next Spielberg.