The entertainment industry is a notoriously difficult place to build a paying career. I encourage people who want to break in to do something else for a living, and use the income from that other thing to finance their creative careers.
Here are some ways that emerging actors and actresses can use short film to help an acting career. Also, how to afford a short film on NO budget, which is likely to be your budget if you’re starting out and struggling to make ends meet.
Monologues suitable for auditions. Well written pieces that will be fresh and interesting to the audition committee. Tailor them into characters and scenarios that are perfect for you.
Short projects suitable for a promotional package. Show off your range and wit in a wide variety of characters. Package them into a single short film around 5-10 minutes target duration. Shoot the short film in a weekend or two.
Use the short film as a demo video to promote your work online. Send links to the film (or embed in email) to producers, directors, and ad agencies. Get your face and talent in front of people who can hire you.
Post the video publicly. Here is a list of social media communities and services where you can post video online. Many of them will host your video for free. Build yourself as much of a fan base online as possible! Think like the indie bands and musicians who are getting buzz on Youtube and through online communities like Slashdot.
If you want, you can produce a series of short films instead of just one. But one is all you need to start.
How to afford a short film on NO budget as a struggling actor or actress?
Use short film screenplays (or rewrite them if necessary) to use the props and clothes of your own everyday life, not a million-dollar imagination.
Use locations that you have or can easily get access to through friends, work, school, family, or your local filmmaking community.
Write only for the equipment you already own or can borrow for free. A simple monologue can be filmed with a smartphone or webcam in a single take. Or one take at a time. No editing. If you have friends with equipment, offer a deal – you’ll act for their demo reel as a collaboration in which you both share the work and use the product to promote your respective creative businesses.
Need screenplays to help you start promoting your acting? For only US$26, you can get my collection of 26 short film screenplays written to be produced on a low budget, or no budget. With monologues, dialogues, many ideas to help you get started.
If you make a short film using my screenplays, you don’t owe me any royalties. You don’t have to haggle with me about creative vision or any of that. Take the scripts, customize them to fit your talents and resources, and start promoting yourself.
As an added bonus, if you use my screenplays (with proper writing credit), I’ll gladly help promote your short film by blogging, twittering, Facebooking about it. I don’t mind doing joint press releases and working with you directly to come up with other ways we can co-promote on a budget. Every little bit helps, right?