Hi fellow artists! This information is aimed at anyone interested in acting, however, the predominant focus is Bulgarian actors and other non-native speakers of English who wish to pursue an international acting career. Hope you find it helpful.
How do you create an international acting career?
It’s easy, all you need to do is love it, go for it and learn patience. The industry doesn’t owe you. Learn how to act, how to audition, understand who you are and find your niche. But don’t stop there – write, produce and/or direct your own films and plays. The work and the hustle never stop.
I) EDUCATIONAL ACTING GROUPS AND COMMUNITIES ON FACEBOOK
1. The Craft of Acting
– ‘The Work of an Actor’ – Michael Woolson on Technique – http://michaelwoolson.com/books/
– ‘Sanford Meisner on Acting’, Book by Sanford Meisner
2. Acting, Auditioning and Screen Acting
– ‘Book The F*cking Job’ by Anthony Meindl – https://www.anthonymeindl.com/btfj/
– ‘Auditioning for Film and Television: Secrets from a Casting Director’ by Nancy Bishop – https://www.nancybishopcoaching.com/book/
– ‘Secrets of Screen Acting’, by Patrick Tucker
– ‘Acting in Film’ by Michael Caine (For fun and useful tips)
– ‘Self-Management for Actors’, by Bonnie Gillespie – https://bonniegillespie.com/the-book/4. Accent Training – a good place to begin:
– ‘American Accent Training’, by Ann Cook
– ‘Work on your accent’ by Sarah Shepherd – http://www.sarah-shepherd.com/my-book/
III) VLOGS AND PODCASTS
About: ANTHONY MEINDL: WRITER / DIRECTOR / TEACHER
Anthony Meindl is an LA-based Writer/Director/Teacher/Founder of AMAW studios worldwide, with studios in LA, London, NY, Santa Fe, Vancouver, Toronto, Sydney and Atlanta. He has also taught internationally in Sofia, Rome, Capetown, Melbourne, and Paris.
Why I recommend:
I suggest you start with his philosophy on acting video, hit subscribe and then browse through the many many videos on subjects, you as actors will find very relevant. Tony’s vlogs are lessons he teaches in class so it’s a fantastic reflection of the industry and acting as it is right now (NOT like it was 100 years ago as you are taught in most acting universities). He leads with vulnerability, as should we all as artists and humans.
2. ‘The Filmmakers Podcast’ by Giles Alderson
About: GILES ALDERSON: DIRECTOR / WRITER / PRODUCER
He has recently directed ‘The Dare’, ‘Knights of Camelot’ ‘World of Darkness’ and ‘Food For Thought’ and produced ‘A Serial Killers Guide To Life’ and ‘Cassette’ feature films. Source: https://www.gilesalderson.com/
About: THE FILMMAKERS PODCAST
Giles is host and creator of the popular The Filmmakers Podcast which he hosts weekly with fellow hosts Christian James (Fanged Up) Dan Richardson (Food For Thought) and Andrew Rodger (The Dare) Chatting with regular guests which include Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers) Mark Strong (Kingsman), Jack Tarling (God’s Own Country), Scott Adkins (Expendables), Andy Nyman (Ghost Stories), Rupert Graves (Sherlock), Ben Caron (The Crown) Mark Sanger (Gravity) Joey Ansah (Bourne) Stu Bennett (Fanged Up) and many more all about the craft of making films.
Why I recommend:
I’ve worked with Giles in producing his feature film ‘The Dare’, and co-hosted the podcast a few times. Giles is a tremendous person and he has created this amazing podcast to inspire young filmmakers and actors to follow their dreams but also to get real insight into what it means to be an independent filmmaker, actor, stunt person in today’s climate and tips on how to get your projects off the ground.
LINK HERE: http://thefilmmakerspodcast.com/
3. Interviews to Watch:
– The Hollywood Reporter Roundtable talks
– Variety’s Actors on Actors
– Off Camera (podcast or YouTube) with Sam Jones
IV) Casting Director (CD) Workshops and Short Courses
If you are based in London and you don’t have an agent, or you do, but your agent isn’t doing enough for you or simply doesn’t have the right connections, be proactive – start going to casting director workshops. Not only do you get to be seen by Casting Directors and be in the back of their mind for upcoming projects but you get to train your ‘audition muscles’. There is no guarantee you will get an audition after a CD workshop but it’s still worth the chance and the practice. I’ve had instances where a CD sees me 4-5 years after we met at a workshop. So like with anything you do when you are building a career you have to focus on the long term game!
NOTE: I don’t recommend this for people who are just starting out their acting journey. If you are a beginner, please scroll down for the ACTING CLASSES I am recommending and take those first.
1.1. In-person CD workshops:
Here’s a list of various companies that organize CD workshops in London:
1.2 Online CD Selftape Workshops:
Casting Director Manuel Puro, on the other hand, does his own self-taping workshops! The 21-day Selftape Challenge workshop is so cheap for the value it has. You will learn a lot about the technical side, the acting side, and will create a great acting habit. I really recommend these, in fact, if you are serious at all – you have to take this class. It gets you going!
You can access the 10 and 21-day self-taping challenges…
*Some of the above companies organize Agent Showcases, where you can present a scene in front of agents looking to sign new clients. As far as I know it’s rare to land a good agent but it does happen!
2. ‘Film Club’ – Screen Acting Courses – London/NYC
About: YASEN ATOUR:
Why I recommend:
I met Yasen Atour on set Ben Hur and we’ve been pals since! He is a really cool guy, bringing a lot of hard honesty to his work and teaching. Friends of mine has taken his class and have said it’s one of the best classes for honing your screen acting skills.
LINK HERE: https://filmclubldn.com/
V) ACTING STUDIOS, COURSES, 1-ON-1 COACHING AND ACCENT COACHES (LONDON)
About: AMAW studios’s acting philosophy:
‘IT’S SIMPLE: Listen. React. Feel your feelings rather than thinking them. Give up control. Surrender to the chaos. Admit that you don’t know as much as you think you do and that something greater is trying to reveal itself to you in the moment. Become a channel for flow. Get in the zone. Have more fun. Give zero fucks. Play. Risk. And finally trust that you are enough and have something to contribute as you.’
Why I recommend:
It’s no secret that I learned my craft studying with heavyweight actor Mitchell Mullen at the Anthony Meindl studio in London. AMAW studio not only taught me acting but had me face my life head on and work on my shit so I can be free in my work. Life and acting are two sides of the same coin, therefore you can never stop learning and delving deeper into each.
This is by far the best regular classes studio to go to in London if you want to train your acting instrument or even if you are a beginner. It has a gym membership structure. Please look into booking your audit spot so you can then enroll into the INTRO class.
Book a FREE audit here: https://www.anthonymeindl.com/audit/
1.1. AMAW IN BULGARIA
My company JupiterLights regularly organizes AMAW Intensive Workshops in Sofia, Bulgaria – for information on upcoming classes please ask to become member of our closed group on FB – AMAW BULGARIA – https://www.facebook.com/groups/445391395808575/
2. GARY CONDES – CLASSES AND PRIVATE COACHING
About GARY CONDES: ACTOR, DIRECTOR, COACH
‘I have been a professional actor for 30 years and am still as fully dedicated to the art & craft of acting as I was when I first started out. I have worked as an actor in mainstream, independent and low budget films, TV dramas and soaps, West-End, repertory and touring theatre. I know what it takes to be a successful professional working actor. This depth and range of experience has led me to a great many realisations, which I am dedicated to sharing as an acting teacher, private 1-2-1 acting coach and director.”
Why I recommend:
Another fantastic coach I can recommend in London is Gary Condes! I met Gary when I took his introduction to Meisner Technique course at the Actor’s Temple when I was starting out. All of his courses are intensive and you need to be in London and can’t really miss more than a few classes. I cannot recommend these enough – these courses are perfect if you are a working actor and have just finished a job and you want to go back to training, or if you are starting out and want to get some serious knowledge and training and then to go deeper into developing your talent and technique – join and make that time commitment.
Gary also offers 1-on-1, in person or Skype, private coaching sessions.
I recommend these sessions if you are a working actor and have to work on a difficult character or scene, something technical or if you’ve been on a show for a long time and you just want to keep yourself from becoming a lazy actor. Gary has coached me for my roles on Berlin Station and Shadow and Bone.
LINK HERE: https://garycondes.com/
3. DIALECT AND ACCENT COACHES
– Sarah Sheperd http://www.sarah-shepherd.com/ – Voice, speech and accent coaching for actors and speakers of English as a second language.
– Rick Lipton – https://ricklipton.com/
– Elspeth Morrison – https://www.spotlight.com/contacts/listing/ace9be42-a94d-4996-8114-b302a229c3b8
Why I recommend:
These are three of the very best dialect and accent coaches out there and they charge accordingly. But damn are they good!!! You could do group sessions with less experienced coaches to save money but I really don’t know who to recommend for that – you would have to google it. But I am a firm believer that if you want excellent results you have to go to the best.
You can do these sessions ONLINE too.
4. ACTING CLASSES in BULGARIA
If you are based in Bulgaria for the time being and want to go to a good course, I’d suggest studying with Bashar Rahal at Filmforge. He is the only actor/coach based in Bulgaria, who can teach you useful and contemporary techniques.
LINK HERE: https://filmforge.org/actingforfilm5/
Other than that be on the lookout for our next AMAW intensive masterclass.
VI) CASTING PLATFORMS AND FINDING AN AGENT (ACTING AND MODELING)
You CANNOT succeed without an agent in the UK or US industries. At some point, you will need an agent. You can have lower-level agents in the beginning and use them as stepping stones throughout the years. A good relationship with an agent eventually should feel personal and should work for both of you.
You can find every agency’s contact details in Spotlight’s contacts directory, as well as other resources – https://www.spotlight.com/contacts
Spotlight is UK and Europe’s leading casting platform. All ‘professional’ actors have profiles there and Agents use the platform to submit their clients for auditions posted by Casting Directors.
IMPORTANT: IF ANY AGENCY ASKS YOU TO PAY A FEE OR MONEY UPFRONT FOR WHATEVER REASON – THEY ARE LIARS AND SCAMMERS! REPORT THEM TO EQUITY AND SPOTLIGHT. https://www.equity.org.uk/
2. MODELING AND COMMERCIALS
If you are thinking of coming to London to pursue acting and you are also a model I suggest you connect with the said agencies below. I’ve had a working relationship with most of them and they will get you auditions. If they don’t – change them!
Apart from Spotlight, which is about £150 a year, which you ABSOLUTELY SHOULD GET if you are a ‘professional’ actor, there are other platforms that could work for you in the UK depending on how far in your acting journey you are at.
https://www.starnow.co.uk/talent/all/uk – here you can find auditions for student films, the occasional unpaid independent feature film, promo and host work, or low paid or unpaid modeling gigs. BE AWARE that there can be fraudsters and pervs too so be vigilant!
https://www.mandy.com/jobs/auditions/uk/actors – This platform is similar to starnow but has fewer castings but of higher quality. There is a monthly subscription fee.
https://login.castingnetworks.co.uk/ – similar to Spotlight, this platform is bigger in the US, but some UK Casting Directors use it but ultimately all jobs will be on Spotlight anyway. I believe you can have a free profile or pay for a full profile.
https://www.e-talenta.eu/BG/en/ – European casting platform – you can pay for the full services but I just keep a basic profile on E-talenta which is free. I don’t find it to be massively useful but you never know.
https://pro.imdb.com/ – You won’t get any auditions on IMDbpro but if you have accumulated a fair amount of credits it lets you claim your imdb profile, add pictures, videos, new or old unlisted credits, CV, info etc… It looks professional. Lots of European actors don’t care about IMDb but you should if you are considering a career outside your home country. This is about $150 for a year. *
*For beginners: Again if you are starting out, I’d say save your money until you get a few roles on imdb listed projects.
Bottom line – It’s good to have a presence on all casting platforms that are in accordance with the level of your career.
VII) HEADSHOTS, SHOWREELS & SELFTAPING
Headshots are massively important! The UK likes a certain style and standard of picture when it comes to your headshot. The US has a completely different style preference and Europe is just artsy about it.
So if you wanna work in the UK I suggest you ‘pay the money’ and get your headshots done by the right photographers. Every agency has their favorites but here are some of the best and trending headshot photographers:
Unfortunately, I cannot recommend a good company that shoots bespoke showreels. The ones I’ve seen during the years are pretty bad but I’ve heard there are some good ones so …. DO YOUR RESEARCH.
FORMAT ADVICE: But what I can tell you is that the UK industry typically likes short showreels ranging from 2-4 minutes. NO MONTAGE, NO MUSIC! It starts and ends with your face. You can include a card in the end with your agent’s details. Add subtitles if your footage is not in English. You can add a little intro of 10 seconds where you speak English and then
I found a tip from a casting director about SHOWREEL COMPANIES and she said she isn’t a fan – https://www.spotlight.com/news-and-advice/interviews-podcasts/top-tips-from-leading-commercial-casting-director/
Also, if you are shooting something specifically for your reel avoid shouty or crying scenes… do something simple and in your typecast. Think of how you will get cast based on your look, age, sex, nationality etc… (read Bonnie Gillespie’s book about that).
How to selftape – you can find a lot of information about self-taping online but I find that Manuel Puro has the clearest and most concise advice that I’ve seen: http://www.purocasting.com/self-taping
VIII) ADDITIONAL MATERIAL
Here are some Videos TO WATCH and BOOKS TO READ:
These are recommended by various top acting studios like AMAW and JRS in LA.
Ira Glass: The Gap https://vimeo.com/85040589
Brene Brown: Power of Vulnerability http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCvmsMzlF7o
Brene Brown: Shame http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psN1DORYYV0
Amy Cuddy: Body Language http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks-_Mh1QhMc
BOOK SUGGESTIONS (IN ORDER OF IMPORTANCE)
2. Elizabeth Gilbert’s BIG MAGIC
3. Steve Martin’s BORN STANDING UP- Please send me videos or articles that truly touched you and changed/broadened your life/mindset or have enhanced your artistry to email@example.com
IX) MY THOUGHTS ON DRAMA SCHOOLS IN THE UK & BULGARIA
If you are thinking of going to NATVIZ – DON’T. If you are already there – it’s fine – just get out of there as soon as you can and start taking other classes to unlearn some of the bad habits you now have.
Again, this is just my opinion but from my experience certificates and diplomas are worthless when it comes to having an acting career. They might be of minimal help in the first few years and graduating from a drama school in London will give you a shot at a good agent because of their final year showcases. BUT I hear a lot of stories of foreign students being cast as receptionists with two lines in the Agent Showcases because they are ‘ethnic’ and ‘realistically that’s all they are gonna play’. Plus drama schools tend to create really toxic atmosphere and competition between students. Unlike acting studios where people help each other. Generally drama schools, even in the UK are a bit old-school and theatre oriented BUT you can forget doing theatre in the UK if you don’t have a good agent and a British accent. You will probably learn how to be a good actor but it’s an unnecessarily long time, you might end up resenting acting and you still might not get an agent but you now owe £27,000.
That being said – great if you wanna go, or your parents want you to go – go, but you really don’t need to. Instead what I would do if I were 19 is to move to London, start training in a few acting studios, learn different skills with private coaches or courses (voice, body, accents, dance, etc…), and (maybe) enroll in a filmmaking university. You get a diploma as a filmmaker (GREAT), you learn how to make your own films and in your spare time you learned how to act. Win-Win-Win.
I will leave you with this story. I recently worked with someone who mentioned that from his class at his drama school (it was one of the top 5 schools), out of 20 graduates, only 3 are still acting. He is 31 so it took the other 17 ‘professional’ actors less than 7 years to quit and change careers.
I will keep upgrading this information periodically. Please if you have any useful info send it over to me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer – I am not sponsored or endorsed by any of these companies or individuals. These are good people that I have worked with or met throughout the years.