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How to Shoot Video That Doesn't Suck

Getting Started in a Video Career

Hi Steve,

My Dad gave me a copy of your book to help my roommates (all of whom are filmmakers at NYU) make great films in their classes.  It’s been a really helpful guide for them! I was just wondering, since I’m majoring in acting, if you have any tips for actors trying to get into these “videos that don’t suck”.

Do you have any advice on how to find projects to work on without being one of those desperate wannabe actor people who annoy every agent and production company in the city trying to get some kind of work?

Nicole

While this is not an acting blog, yours is a pretty common question from everyone who wants to get into a film or video career.  If you’re not an actor, just insert your career goal wherever the word appears:

Entertainment is a portfolio business. The first thing an agent or casting director will want to know is “what have you done?” So the secret to an acting (or writing or directing or producing) career is to do stuff.  There’s no magic other than that.

Better still, do stuff with people whose work you love.  They don’t have to be established– just on your wavelength. If you know good student directors and writers at NYU, get to know them and get in their videos.  If you write, produce or direct (or want to)– make your OWN videos and star in them.  Look for talented people around you, and do your best to seem incredibly helpful and talented too so that they invite you into their projects, and vice-versa.  Do stuff.

Same is true when you hit NY or LA to start a career.  Do that experimental theater with friends in front of 10 people in a loft in Soho. Shoot your own movies on your iPhone. Do a student film at UCLA.  Write your own one-woman show.  Take classes with teachers whose approach you love.  Hone your craft. Get experience, meet people.

Remember it’s not “production companies” that hire you to work as an actor.  It’s not agents either.  It’s a particular casting director who shows your latest work to a particular director.  It’s another actor who likes and recommends you.  It’s the guy who sees you off-off-off broadway and tells his sister the producer about your performance.  If you’re not doing stuff, you’re never going to meet them.

Good luck!

Hey!  Are you following me on Twitter?  I’m thinking perhaps you should.  @SteveStockman

3 thoughts on “Getting Started in a Video Career

  1. Good article Steve – it's so hard to get started but if you take your shots when you get them you can go a long way.

  2. This is great info. I struggle talking about myself, but making a video about what I do is something I been thinking about. I have been supporting myself doing freelance work for about 6 months now and I'm at the point where I know I need to transition from being the videographer to being the production company.

  3. I agree Lugu, freelancing is good as long as you take it as a side job. It's always good to aim high.

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