You’ve got something on your tongue. It’s stuck there, inexhaustible, dancing to the tune of your ambition. “How do I make it?” goes the chorus, between verses of oscillating enthusiasm. The everlasting, unanswerable question we all ask at the dawn of our careers. We want the E = mc2 of success, the pass-go-and-collect-200 of life. If only it was so easy.
Film and acting careers, like all creative careers, are a hard nut to crack. Though study is a great leg-up, there is no one way to develop and succeed in the industry. Your personal journey to the top will be just as unique as your fingerprints and the 100 billion buzzing braincells between your ears. That’s not to say, however, that you don’t need guidance and good advice to get there.
Enter our film and screen acting tutors. From writing to directing to post-producing, they’ve walked the length and breadth of the industry, speedways and dead ends included. Though they can’t offer you the Route 66 of career development, allow their motivating words to signpost your way.
Filmmaker and sound designer / Film sound tutor and creative practitioner
“It’s really important to do some self-reflection and self-examination to learn about who you are and what you’re putting out there. Once you’ve done that, create a personal manifesto and work diligently and passionately to get there. Do not re-invent the wheel; learn from what others have done before you. Thoroughly research your characters and topics and, whatever you do, don’t reproduce cliches or stereotypes. Learn by doing, be honest about your strengths and weaknesses, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.”
Actor and director / Screen Acting programme lead and screen acting, performance skills and directing tutor
“I have loads of advice on how to develop your acting career – and acting skills in general – so I’ll split it into three categories: acting skills, professional and networking.
When it comes to developing your acting skills, my number-one piece of advice is to make it your obsession. Get curious: find out what you can do well and learn how to do it better; spend five minutes a day in the mirror seeing what your face can do; sing in the shower; actively look at people every day; steal what you like from everyone and make it your own. Never stop learning and keep going to class – remember, a master musician still does scales every day. Finally, teach yourself to cry on cue! Everyone can manage being happy but those who can show us suffering are few and far between.
Professionally, get really organised. Get your photos done, get a business card and get an agent – but make sure it’s the right agent. Save all of your good stuff and put it into a kickass showreel – no one cares where you studied, they just want to see your showreel. And the best way to find work is to make it yourself; start your own company and start making things.
Networking is key to your career, so work on your charm. Go to opening nights of shows and stay to talk to people. Go to screenings, festivals and events and make connections. Regularly go out to see theatre shows and, again, stay and congratulate the performers and director if you genuinely enjoyed the show. It’s also important that you stay in one place long enough to develop a network in the first place.”
Director, writer, illustrator and entrepreneur / Film programme lead and storytelling, directing and camera tutor
“A Film career can mean anything from directing hotel videos, to working construction on sets, to doing accounting. Almost every single possible job that exists also exists in the film industry, and the ‘industry’ ranges from billion-dollar pirate movies, to no-budget indie dramas, to commercials, to documentaries and so on and so on. There is no one ‘path’ in getting a film career. You just have to meet people, work on stuff, and slowly progress in the direction that interests you.”
Freelance Producer / Film Bachelor programme lead, film theory and cinematography tutor and creative practitioner
“Watch a variety of old and contemporary films and series and learn from the masters! Deconstruct, analyse and reflect on them. Figure out how they achieved certain effects and themes for their stories.
Venture into other worlds; head to galleries, exhibits and concerts and visit different cities. Getting inspired by experiences makes your work more unique. Likewise, meeting new people and strengthening your creative network is great for personal and professional development. Share your ideas.
Go to events and festivals and attend film sessions or lectures with Q&As on trending topics. Keep educating yourself – you can never stop learning. Read a book, jump online, watch tutorials and read journal articles and blogs about new trends and innovations.
Create your own work – don’t wait for work to come to you. It’s important to exercise your creative muscles every day, work really hard – always give 110 percent, even if it’s a small project – and be persistent with your personal and creative goals. Then show your work and let people know what you do. Enter it into festivals, post it online and share it with others in the community.
Finally, get over it! Know that the struggle to succeed will always be there. You will fail, you will make mistakes, but you will learn from them. The sooner you accept this, the better.”
Film and TV director / Directing, documentary film, storytelling, production, camera and light tutor
“Love what you do. I believe you can’t be a great pro without being passionate about the stuff you are building your career on. Many people have said it already: if you love what you do, you won’t be working a day in your life – because it’s just fun, not work.
Secondly, don’t be afraid of making mistakes. If you are, you will probably miss the most original and interesting stuff. Sometimes you need to be lost to find the right way. And just do it. Instead of thinking of what you should do, just go out and do it – it is the fastest way to learn. Likewise, it’s important to be able to commit and persist. Sometimes it might not feel like what you’re doing is working, but you might be just one step away from success – make sure you take it.
Teach and help others and they will do the same in return – some kind of karma action-reaction effect. Be a person of your word; don’t let down other people and do what you have promised, even if it might ‘cost’ you more than you thought.
Be curious and ask questions because all people know everything. You can never underestimate the power of knowing as many people as possible, either. I never got a job via an ad – always through a person who knows a person who knows a person. People will give you a project when they are sure you can pull it off. So, if you want to get another one, make sure you are always pulling it off.”
Want to join our international creative community? Learn about our film and acting courses here.