Big Apple TV
It used to be that New York had three TV shows. Any actor here could rattle them off easily: Law and Order, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and Law and Order: Criminal intent. One of those shows is shutting down. But thanks to Mayor Bloomberg and the talent pool of the city, that’s changing. The NY Daily news reports that instead of three, there are now twenty-three TV shows being shot in NYC.
What does this mean for us actors in New York? Time to get to work!
Pilot season isn't actually all that far away, and if more studios are thinking like the ones behind these 23 shows are, then you don't want to miss out on your chance to get work on the small screen. I suggest four things:
1)Get your demo reel (polished). If you don't have one, put something together using any footage you have of your film work and the editing tools at your disposal. Watch some good ones on the sites of the big agencies for the basic format, then use iMovie or Windows Movie Maker with your footage, to put together something good. If you don't have the tech skills or time, you can hand the job over to a production studio, like Endless Picnic.
If you don't have enough footage, the students at NYU's film dept are there to help. Audition for Scene studies on mandy.com, actors access, and, of course, backstage, and do some fun skits with a good NYU equipment and student crew. Be ready to pester the **** out of the college student director after you're done or they will not give you the footage, no matter what they say. It's not because they're malevolent or incompetent, it's because they're college students, and like all college students, are busier than anyone in their right mind ever should be.
2)Take some classes and free seminars. You know the names in town: The Network, Actors Connection, Scott Powers, etc etc. Take a class or two about acting in front of the camera-- not only to increase your skills but also your network of other actors interested in doing the same, as well as the casting pros the classes are almost always taught by.
Now, these classes are, while good, sometimes quite expensive (Mr. Powers, I'm looking at you). And a lot of us actors are poor and/or cheap. So do what I do: look for the free ones. Not so great if you really are hunting for an agent, but great for networking and skill building in general. Scott Powers does free lunches, Actors Connection holds free seminars. Other people do other free things too, so check their websites.
3)Get background work. All these TV shows need extras. Make sure Central Casting, Grant Wilfley, etc have your name and number. It's cash, experience, and good contacts. Hint: it's a lot more cash if you're union, but easier to get if you're non-union.
4)Start auditioning. Yes there is backstage, actors access, etc. But you should also be looking other places too. Check online for listings of open calls in town-- there are lots of good ones. Also, if you or a friend is a member of SAG or AFTRA, look at their websites. They will have the info you need on good shows casting in town. Find the casting pro's full name and preferred method of receiving headshots and resumes, and start sending them out. If you have an agent, look these up anyway and tell your agent your findings. Don't count on the agent to do it for you.
Break legs, and see you in the audition room (and, with any luck, on set)!
image courtesy of filmclick.com