Acting : Looking for advice by Lydia Kalmen

Lydia Kalmen

Looking for advice

I've been an actor for several years now in both theatre and film. I'm trucking along, getting a good amount of gigs, SAG and Equity now. But I feel like I've been stuck at the same level for awhile. Mainly unpaid/very low paid gigs. Being Equity now, I can get myself in the door of big theater projects easy enough. But with the film/tv world you really need an agent to get you in the bigger auditions because without an agent one doesn't have access to the bigger level breakdowns. 

I've had a hard time getting an agent. Even when they love everything about me, they still won't sign me. I've even been flat out told that because I'm Caucasian with blonde hair and blue eyes, "the industry" is over it. I've worked so hard for so long to get to this point. Being an artist is my life's passion....and of course I want to make a living at it...earn a livable wage from my art. How can I get the attention of the bigger name casting directors and directors and producers without an agent? It's like Kate Winslet says in Titanic "I feel as if I'm standing in the middle of a crowded room, screaming at the top of my lungs and no one even looks up." How do I get the right people to notice that I exist?

M L.

Have you tried It's not quite which is what you really want but that's only available to agents. NY Castings should have some decent postings.

Lydia Kalmen

I checked it out a couple years ago, at the time it had the same things as Backstage...just unpaid student films and background work. But I’ll check it again and see what they’ve got, thanks!

Sam Borowski

Lydia, If you ever wanted to try my class, I would take $25 off for you to try it. If you are in NYC as your profile says, I am in the neighborhood. ;) My actors really work. We've had a friend of mine who worked for Universal Studios, a major New York Casting Director, a producer of over 40 pictures, one of the main actors on The Sopranos, one of the major supporting actors from The Warriors AND tons of independent filmmakers as guests. But, in addition to scene study and some improv, I talk a lot about the 'business side of the business.' We talk about better ways to network. ALSO< more than 40 times people have been hired out of my class, either by guest filmmakers, other guests or myself. Reach out to me and I can give you more info, but My Advice in the Class is part of the draw. My youngest student got a major supporting role opposite Oscar-Winners Allison Janney and Viola Davis in Troupe Zero (Ashley Brooke). Others have worked in leads opposite some Oscar-Winners. And, the list of actors I have produced and directed includes Oscar-Winners Benicio Del Toro, Ernest Borgnine, countless Oscar-Nominees including Sally Kellerman and Mickey Rooney, the legendary Paul Sorvino and the polarizing Natasha Lyonne. Check me out on IMDb and reach out to me. ;) GOD BLESS and STAY FRESH!

M L.

Btw, the two stars of Broad City pitched that show EVERYWHERE and nobody cared. They finally did it as a webseries themselves know the rest. Same with High Maintenance. Started as a spec, got bought by Vimeo, then backed.

If you don't write, pair up with someone you know that does and work together.

Jon Snow

Lydia, have tried doing casting workshops? Or mixers, or other means of meeting CD’s? I’ve been able to make contacts with different CD’s, and I’ve built relationships with them that have turned into opportunities for me to come be a reader for them. I went without an agent for so long and still worked because reading in front of producers and directors turned into jobs. Even now, with representation, I still get more work because of those relationships than I get work that comes through my agent’s work.

David Timber

I empathize with your situation. It's a matter of persistence and perseverance at this point. You're not alone in your struggle to break through. I have projects that have no champion to escort or spearhead to the next level so I will be my own advocate. Along the journey, the chances of being noticed, respected, appreciated and solicited by producers and agents will manifest. It's all risk taking and creating a vibe or energy that leads to your goal.

Sam Borowski

Lydia, the key words that you used: So far. You are a fine actor and there is a place for you at the table. 2020 - TONS OF OPPORTUNITIES just beginning ... As I said to you on Saturday, GOD BLESS and STAY FRESH!!!

M L.

If you're up to take workshops, my best recommendation are the labs from Joan Scheckel. I did the Action lab when she was in NYC. I had a very interesting experience with it and met some cool people. Many of them are done in LA but she is doing more in NYC by demand. These are labs where you will meet people who are actively working in the industry. Screenwriters, DP's Directors and other Actors. Only thing is that it isn't cheap. Expect to pay close to $2,000 for a 3 day class. However, it's worth it. She's got actual credits and you've heard of the films she's worked on.

Tasha Lewis

My course on obtaining an agent and manager demonstrated the value of having both work on your behalf and what each one needs from the screenwriter to aid and assist with their ultimate success. For example, accepting a lower budget project with future opportunities. Pitching to smaller studios or new venues like streaming video or using film festivals.

Shawn Speake

what about a ten-minute short starring you to showcase your talent...

Debbie Croysdale

@Shawn hits the nail on the head. Put out your own demo. Make a short OR at least a mini reel of what you are all about and post it. Even if shot on an i phone, if the DOP is GOOD and your acting is GOOD, it will stand. ART and CRAFT is not a gift to be “bequeathed” by third party people who rent an office and charge money to the artist for them to say its OK. An agent is an agent. An artist is an artist. If an agent is off the equation do not let it stop you showing your art to the world.

Lydia Kalmen

I’ve got demo footage and more on its way. It’s not getting the demo footage that’s the issue, it’s not having access to the breakdowns of the projects at the next level up that’s the problem.

Stephen Foster

put your demo together and send it to agents AND casting directors. AND send it out to directors who have recently won awards at film festivals.

Tasha Lewis

Here are some resources. Stage 32, Backstage,com and .

Rob Bane

We always say if you can't find a gig make one.

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