By Allen Levin
Let’s start with a warning for all actors: Free, many times isn’t free. If the wrong person offers to critique you “for free” that can have enormous expenses. It can cost you multiple bookings, confidence, perhaps even a career breaking role. If you utilize the wrong advice you can (as I’ve seen very often) go down a path leading to nowhere or worse yet a loss. That being the case, you’ll not see any free acting classes listed on this list of free resources. I think free acting classes are awesome for people that don’t want to be actors. They can go have fun and they aren’t worried about their long term path as a professional.
I’ll only list things I believe to be of value. I’d be cautious about taking any acting class simply because it’s inexpensive. Once again, you just might pay far more in opportunity costs. Many times the teacher that offers you a free first private needs to attract new students because she doesn’t have enough. Be VERY careful about taking advice from the wrong person. I would skip that “free” private lesson.
Another skipable “free” resource is the open call. Any project that has actors lining up around the block can be skipped. Hardly anyone I know has had much success with open calls. If you aren’t getting any auditions an open call can be a way to get some experience, but you are better off auditioning for (and ultimately turning down) undergraduate student films for audition experience. Keep your integrity. Let the desperate people audition at open calls. You are an actor worthy of scheduling an appointment.
So, let’s look at a list of resources that are truly free.
1. Free Head-shots
4. Social Media
5. Actor Trade
6. We Make Movies
7. Open Mics
8. Actors Access and LA Casting
9. Website Design Templates
10. Samuel French, Libraries, Bookstores
1. Free Head-shots — there are plenty of photographers that need to build their books. You won’t have to pay them. Have them sign a note that says you have the rights to this photo with their name printed and signed. You need to spend time in front of the lens. The only risk is your time. Enjoy the shoot!
2. Youtube has so many resources I could do an entire blog on it. Advice from giants like Bryan Cranston, Robert Deniro, and so many others. Listen to your gut, as some of the advice is BS, even from the titans, try things and see what works for you. Having your own Youtube channel can be the break you need for your acting career. Utilize Youtube. If you are uploading video, be sure it’s quality. Quality over quantity every single time.
3. Google is an incredibly valuable resource. Here you can get free scenes, monologues, movie transcripts, even full plays to read. Hundreds of thousands of awesome bits of content for your rehearsal needs. Enjoy!
4. Social Media is free to use and you’ll find audition opportunities, connections with managers and some agents, and plenty of legitimate opportunities including casting searches. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc, need to be learned. You can put up pages just to promote your acting.
5. Actor Trade is a free app that allows you to read for other actors and earn time for actors to read with you. Need a rehearsal partner in a pinch? Get on Actor Trade. We are so proud of Skyler Caleb for this app. It rocks! They even offer you free studio time for self tape auditions. Way to go, Actor Trade!
6. We Make Movies is a film collective where actors, writers, producers, get together and brainstorm, creating actual movies! This is the only place I’ve ever endorsed for legitimate “networking.” Most networking is a joke. This place is for real. I believe they get together on Wednesday nights. Get involved! Watching is free! (Membership is very inexpensive should you opt for it, at $20 a month).
7. There are a number of Open Mics around town that will give you stage time. Try stand up comedy. Tell an inspirational story. Do poetry slam or sing a song. Open mics are a good place to get experience and become an artist. Comedy Bureau is a great place to find them online. (Google it, nice – you are using number 3 to get to number 7! Love it!)
8. Setting up profiles at LA Casting and Actors Access is free. You can give people links to your head-shots if you don’t have a website up yet. This is a good resource. Their templates can also help you to create your actor resume.
9. Many websites have free design templates to build your personal website. You’ll need one. You are the CEO of a company with a product. Let’s get something online.
10. Make time to read. You don’t have to pay, but you do need to read. Go to Samuel French and read voraciously. Go to the library (yep, get a card!). Any bookstores will have opportunities for you to read. Reading actual books (with your phones turned off to avoid distractions) will help move you forward as an artist. Focus is vital.
This isn’t a comprehensive list, but it’s a start. There are many great resources that do not come with an expense attached. There is one I saved for it’s own list, as it’s more important than anything above:
Make sure people aren’t giving you notes (unless it’s the right coach). You must rehearse. Bounce off of each other. Run lines. Get creative. Exhaust possibilities. Find the truth.
You should never pay to rehearse anything. Rehearsals are the free resource that can’t be substituted for anything. Anyone who tells you they have the key so that you’ll never need rehearsal is a con artist.
When in doubt: rehearse!
You deserve to live your dreams in this life. Utilize the resources that can help you on your way.
Onward and UP.