I recently decided to take part in a program called Hollywood Immersive which involved a week in LA workshopping scripts, meeting all sorts of industry people and daily seminars on everything from how to conduct yourself during a media interview to how to apply for your USA 01 Visa. Not only was this one of the most inspiring weeks I’ve ever had, but it was empowering as well.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, LA is the Actor’s Mecca. I live in Melbourne and although I am passionate about the Australian Film industry, there is just not the money or the population to make it an easy thing to work as an actor in the industry. Australian actors are flocking to LA and are being cast in so many roles that there is even a bit of a backlash starting. In LA you can have multiple auditions in a day; in Melbourne it’s not uncommon to have one audition every two months, and if auditioning is a numbers game, then statistics say you’ll probably be employed once every 3 years. Fun! One of our tutors said that it’s extremely viable to be a consistently working actor in LA and that is music to my ears.
We met with a writer from Breaking Bad, who spoke to us about the casting processes he has been through and how he writes, directs and produces for the show. It was so great to see this guy, who was a family man and so down to earth talk about one of the most successful shows on TV. Both he and so many of the other industry professionals that we came accross were happy to take our headshots, busines cards or anything else we had and were more than willing to let us email them. This is something that amazes me about the US industry, you are applauded for making contact, going out of your way to introduce yourself and giving it a shot. In our Australian Tall Poppy Syndrome we are so often discouraged from this, and asked to sit on your couch and wait for a phone call. This is possibly the most depressing way to live life, because you’ll be waiting there until your death bed unless you are one of the lucky few who gets discovered standing on a street corner, but those people are few and far between.
Being powerless seems to be part and parcel of being an actor, begging for roles, working for free, the desperate actor makes me cringe so much and possibly only because I’ve been there and done it. What many of us don’t realise though is that you don’t have to be powerless and this was one of the most important lessons I learnt in the week. I’ve been told to make my own work before but most of the time it felt like a huge and dauntingly impossible task. However when people break it down for you like they did for me, you can see the yellow brick road. It wont necissarily be easy, and it’s not for the dispassionate, but the rewards are more than worth it. I know that I would much rather be crazy busy than twiddling my thumbs or working in jobs that I hate.
For anyone looking to make a start in LA, I highly recommend the Hollywood Immersive program run by casting director Lilly Dawson, who is passionate about helping actors get work. Of course there is the other option of helping our industry grow by making your own projects here and injecting money into the Arts. I think every Australian actor regardless of stature should be contributing to our industry in some way but that’s a whole other blog.