Last month, we covered part one of The Actor’s Portfolio: The Headshot. Accompanying such a functional document should be the professional actor’s ‘Resume’. Again, just as you would attend a job interview with credentials in hand, you should apply the same principle when attending a Casting Call, a production meeting/interview, and it’s even handy to carry your resume with you at ‘work’, not taking for granted that you’re likely to meet other production personnel who may find it useful. It’s fitting, therefore, to briefly discuss what goes into such a document, how it should be presented and when.
Primarily, when an entertainment executive or industry worker asks for your resume, they’re not asking for your list of employment in the corporate world. What they would like to see is a thorough display of your production work. It’s great that you’ve been in banking for 18 years, an investment officer for 5 years and personal financial consultant to the president for 3. However, unless you’re applying for an accounting position in the film/project in which we speak of, your expertise with numbers will mean little compared to your acting abilities. Can you act? If so, how does the agent know that? He/she derives an impression of your acting expertise based on your acting experience, training and affiliations, all of which should be detailed in your production resume. I think that perhaps the best tips I can give you on the subject would be to point out the strengths and weaknesses of the resumes I’ve collected over the years.
A ‘GOOD’ RESUME:
- Is Typed – In this ever increasing digital age, hardly anything is delivered handwritten. Needless to say, a good resume is typed, hopefully error free, and delivered on clean sheets of paper.
- Bears Current Contacts – Nothing is as frustrating as trying to reach someone at a phone number that’s either disconnected, wrong or is not current. A good resume bears contact information that is both up to date and provides easy access to the bearer. If your phone number is disconnected, it would be advisable to provide an alternative number (perhaps that of a close relative or friend) until further notice. What’s important is that when you are called, you are reached. Do also provide your postal address as well, because notices maybe emailed as well as mailed.
- Bears E-mail Address / Online Info – Similarly, your email, website address and any online links should be current and accessible. Ensure that the email you’ve placed on your resume is regularly checked and not overloaded. If you do not own a website, it helps to post your photo, profile and contact information (if you’re not comfortable posting your telephone number at least post an email address) on one of the free networks. Take advantage of facebook, myspace, twitter and anything else that will give you more exposure in your field.
- Bears Physical Specs – Even though the agent may have your resume, there are a few key physical specifications that should be on your resume, such as: Sex (especially if your name sounds unisex), Age/Age Range, Voice, Height, Hair Color and Eye Color.
- Bears Experience – Of course a good resume bears your experience right! Believe it or not, some persons are shy in listing most of their acting experiences. Don’t be modest, whether some of them were in church, on a street corner, or on national television, list as many of the roles you’ve played as you can, limiting your resume to three pages the most. Include live performances, television, film and radio. The more experience an agent sees that you have, the more comfortable he/she will feel that you are not camera or people shy, and that you understand the craft of acting. If you have so much experience that you feel your resume is infinite, try to limit your listings dating as far back as five to seven years. But again, do not be shy and do not take any acting jobs you’ve taken or self induced for granted. If you’ve been in a number of school or college plays, certainly list them. Also do not take for granted any public service announcements you’ve done and voice over work. List your experiences in categories, beginning with Theatre, then Television, Radio and Film. Name the project, who wrote and directed it, the year you took part and the role you played. It’s also helpful to note the country or city you performed in if it was foreign to your own. A well traveled actor is a good sign.
- Bears Training – Again, take nothing for granted. If you minored in drama or did several drama classes in high school, or weekend workshops, or one day seminars, list them! Moreover, list your training in other areas of performing arts. Include any singing, dancing, musical or athletic training you’ve had. List the year you studied, where and who taught you.
- Bears Special Skills – If you can put your entire fist in your mouth, note it here. Indeed, list any skill or ability here that you think may be useful either to the agent or to anyone in whose hands your resume may fall. It would be more appropriate to list corporate skills here than anywhere else. You may also detail this section categorically, i.e. Education, Accents, Languages, Sports, Dance, Singing Ability (if you can sing – state whether you are an alto, soprano, etc), and so on. If you’re an excellent swimmer, or fencer, or boxer, state it.
- Bears Awards - Of course this applies only if you’ve received any. If you have, list the ones that you feel are applicable for the resume. Receiving the science award is celebratory, but you may leave that out in this case. Instead, list any accolades, mentions, recognitions or awards you’ve received in the performing arts arena, again stating the year, the award, and from whom you received it.
I’ve covered the basics of a good resume. We can just say that a ‘bad’ resume is the opposite of this, but for fun, let’s just discuss it anyway. For the sake of time, I will simply state the points:
A ‘BAD’ RESUME:
- Is Error Laden – Ask a friend or relative whose grammar is strong to look it over. Minimize the risk of spelling. Also conduct a spelling check.
- Is Outdated – The contact information is old and the experiences do not include the actor’s latest jobs for the past ten years. The ones that are listed are not specific, and only state the role played and the name of the project, leaving out the year, writer/director/producer and where the work was performed.
- Is A Lie – This resume is false, and like the submitting of a job application with false contents, may subject the actor to legal action if he/she gets the job under false pretense. Even if you’ve no experience, do not drum up a false resume. Simply present a one page bio of yourself, professionally typed, error free. Your bio should of course include your contact information, your interests, and your background and can be as brief as one to two paragraphs.
- Is Too Fancy – Your resume is not a flier. An overly designed resume that lacks relevant content and carries too much graphics and/or photos says that you’re poorly trying to compensate for what you don’t have.
- Isn’t Structured – The information is there, but it’s loosely thrown. Acting, writing and producing experiences are cited together and the time periods are not chronologically listed. A disorganized resume is likely to end up at the bottom of the pile, with the well structured ones smothering it.
In light of it all, remember that even a ‘bad’ resume is better than no resume. Seeing you, in whatever light, on paper is, to some people, better than not seeing you at all. You would’ve given an agent or producer at the least the chance to have a physical copy of your details on hand. So remember to produce and up date your resume from time to time, being as honest, inclusive and professional as you can be.
Please note that our Acting series for this season is almost complete. Immediate upcoming newsletters will cover tips in writing, producing, directing and more. Our final newsletters in the Acting series will cover Useful Tips Every Actor should know, so please stay tuned. Next month, we will discuss “The Call: What to Do If You Are Accepted or Rejected.” I welcome your questions, comments or valuable insights on these topics as well. Feel free to email topics that you would like to see covered in these newsletters or points you think readers really need to know. As always, thanks for reading. See you next time!
© Radel Parks - Sharma Entertainment 2009
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