How I Booked the Lead in a Major Feature Film Without Reps
Holy crap. I’m the lead in a legitimate, independent, FEATURE film. I’m working with Emmy-winning actors and people I grew up watching in movie theatres and on television. I am literally living my dream.
Acting in AMELIA 2.0 was a dream come true. I got to spend a month in another city, fully immersed in the story and character I had fallen in love with. And it all happened without reps.
Let’s back up.
But let me start by saying the trap many of us fall into is to immediately become obsessed with tactics. The how.
How did you book the job? What website did you go to, what email signature did you have, how long was your demo reel?!
The truth is there is no specific step-by-step process, no magic “book a job” phone number. You can, however, develop relationships that lead to work.
On the surface, I booked this role by randomly meeting someone and becoming friends. Later I learned they were a producer, focused on helping them out, and then one day they put me on tape and sent it to the director.
But let’s look much deeper.
I’ve discovered there are 5 keys to booking work without reps:
1) ADD VALUE
Quick test: If you needed to pack and move all your stuff tomorrow, how many friends would come help you? If the answer is “not many,” then I invite you to start practicing adding more value to those around you.
When I found out my friend was a producer, my immediate response was, “that’s amazing. How can I help you?”
Turns out he was looking for a certain kind and caliber of script. I started connecting him with various writer friends of mine and their scripts.
And—this is key—I wasn’t expecting anything in return. I was simply helping him because I want to see my friends succeed.
Add value to everyone you can, not because they’ll do something in return, but because a) it’s scientifically proven to make you happier, and b) it’s human nature to treat people the way they treat others.
Treat people with love and support, and that’s how others will treat you.
Be the kind of person people will go out of their way to help. Jona will be going into more detail about a powerful way to add value in our complimentary Book TV/Film on Your Own online training.
2) BE A GOOD PERSON
If I’m going to hire you based on our relationship, I want to know that I can trust you. That you’re going to show up on time, be kind to the grips, and that you’re reliable enough to know your lines.
There will always be more actors than roles. So why would someone hire an asshole? Someone who’s going to be rude on set or a total fun hater.
Go to therapy. Improve yourself. Practice kindness.
Be the kind of person people want to work with.
3) BE EXCELLENT AT YOUR CRAFT
The actual “audition,” if you can even call it that, was at my friend’s house in their living room. I had maybe ten minutes with one of the scenes, and then I read with their roommate. Who was an accountant.
There was no audition room, no fancy camera, no lighting. Just my friend holding his phone and taping me.
All the years of classes, working on bringing my best work even in extraordinary circumstances allowed me to bring my best at that moment. To tell a compelling story regardless of my reader, limited time with the story, etc.
The business side is important—if no one knows you exist they can’t hire you. But skill matters. Artistry is imperative. Being an exceptional storyteller is of tremendous import.
Sure, every once in a while someone gets a job simply on looks or money or whatever, but almost never does that turn into a long-term career if not backed up by skill.
Be a master of your craft.
4) REMIND PEOPLE YOU’RE ALIVE
Just because someone knows you and likes your work, doesn’t mean they’ll think of you for a role.
I hear actors get mad about this, but the human brain can only pay attention to so many things. Studies have shown there is a very finite limit on the number of people we can actively have in our social circle at any given time.
Send postcards, take people to lunch, and send personal emails. Set up a google alerts for people you care about and send a congratulations when something great happens for them. Keep in touch on social media.
Do great work and then get it front of people.
Stay top of mind not just by sharing your own wins and work, but by constantly adding value.
5) MAXIMIZE YOUR LUCK
So you’re working on yourself, committed to genuinely adding value, getting out there, and being an excellent storyteller. Now, it’s a matter of luck.
I mean, it’s a small miracle that some writer imagined a role that’s a good fit for you, that role ended up in a script that’s actually getting made, and the people making the project know you exist.
“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” ~Coleman Cox
Luck, in a way, is a numbers game. The more people know and like you, the higher your odds they’ll give you a job. The better actor you are, the more people will want you in their projects. The more value you add to other people, the more people will want to add value to you.
Make your own work, build relationships with casting, and network at film festivals.
Take even small steps forward every day. Put yourself out there and live the life of an artist.
Understandably, as actors we often obsess about auditions—how many we have, what they’re for, and how long it’s been since we’ve had one.
But auditions are NOT the only way to book work.
Think about it. If you were casting your own film tomorrow, would you rather post a breakdown online and find a stranger for the role, or hire one of your friends?
Create authentic relationships with decision-makers and fellow creators, and watch your career take flight.
For more insight, tools, and tactics on booking work, download our exclusive 3-gift series with insider strategies from working actors that have actually worked. CLICK HERE for your free download.