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Acting, Producing and Directing Careers, Jobs and Employment Information

Acting, Producing, and Directing Career and Job Highlights

  • Being an actor involves long periods of unemployment, competing for roles, and getting rejected from several auditions.
  • It is typical for actors, producers, and directors to receive formal training through a university or acting conservatory; however, several of these people find employment based merely on their own talent and experience.
  • Several actors hold jobs in other fields because their income as an actor is erratic.

Acting, Producing and Directing Career Overview

Actors, producers, and directors express thoughts and form images in performing arts media, such as film, theater, and radio. They can instruct, inform, or entertain an audience as they interpret a script from a writer. Several actors, producers, and directors have careers in New York or Los Angeles where they work in film, network, television, or theater. However, even more find work locally or regionally in television studios, theaters, advertising, public relations, and large and small movie producing companies.

Actors perform on stage, on the radio, on television, in videos, in major films, in cabarets, in nightclubs, at theme parks, on commercials, and in “industrial” films made to train and educate. It is rare to reach the status of a celebrity because it is hard for many actors to find steady work. A few famous and experienced performers may fill supporting roles, play “extras” and deliver no lines, or make cameo appearances and speak only one or two lines. Actors may also commentate or narrate for electronic media, such as advertisements, animation, and books on tape. They also instruct in high school or college drama departments, conservatories of acting, or public programs.

Producers are entrepreneurs who make decisions regarding the financial and business aspects of a motion picture, made-for-TV movie, or stage production. Producers roles include: selecting scripts, approving ideas for development, arranging the financing, and figuring out size and cost of production. They hire and approve those associated with the production, such as directors, cast members, and key producers. They also settle contracts with artistic and design personnel associated with collective bargaining agreements and guarantee expenses of salaries, rent, and other payments. They may study material, compose scripts, and supervise the production of individual pieces. To ensure that projects stay within budget and time limits, producers organize the activities of writers, directors, managers, and agents.

A Director’s role includes making creative decisions, interpreting scripts, expressing ideas to designers of sets and costumes, auditioning and choosing cast members, conducting rehearsals, and directing the cast and crew. Directors cue the actors when they need to enter or technicians when they need to change lights or sounds on a set. Directors also approve of sets, costumes, choreography, music, and other designing elements.

Actors, producers, and directors have stress from working under continual pressure, including the constant need to find their next production. Actors, producers, and directors must have patience and commitment to succeed. Actors do their best to perform flawlessly as they often work in unwanted and unpleasant conditions. Producers and directors arrange rehearsals, which entails meeting with writers, designers, sponsors, and production technicians. The need to stay within budgets and schedules and abide by union work rules promotes additional stress upon producers and directors.

Acting assignments, which usually only range from a day to a few months, cause actors to have long periods of unemployment in between productions. The uncertainty of this work results in erratic salaries and intense competition, even for minimal paying jobs. Actors, producers, and directors can’t meet living needs; therefore, they must hold additional jobs.

Actors usually perform under conditions with long, irregular hours. For instance, stage actors may have a full day of performing at night and rehearsing in the daytime. They might also perform in touring shows that travel the country. Movies actors may work in a location with unpredictable and bad weather, causing them to wait for lengthy periods of time until they can perform their scenes. Television actors usually have little time to prepare because scripts are constantly being revised or written prior to filming. Appearing live before a studio audience requires actors to improvise (substituting lines when needed) and handle unplanned situations.

Actors work in the evenings and on weekends, where they may be required to perform more than once. Actors and directors involved with movies or television programs—especially those programs shot on location—may work early morning and late night hours to complete night scenes or scenes shot in public places that must be shot outside of business hours.

Because actors must move about theater stages as well as large studio lots, they should be physically fit and have good stamina and coordination. They also must move about intricate technical sets while maintaining their character and speaking loud enough. Actors must be good physical condition as they deal with the heat from bright stage lights and the weight of heavy costumes. Producers and directors guarantee actors’ safety by holding extra rehearsals on the set. This allows actors to become familiar with the layout of props, the time needed for warm-ups and stretching exercises to ensure physical and vocal protection, and adequate break time to prevent exhaustion and dehydration from heat.

Acting, Producing and Directing Training and Job Qualifications

Those who become actors, producers, and directors follow several paths. Employers usually want individuals with the creative character, natural talent, and intellectual capacity to perform. Actors should have a strong desire to perform and enjoy providing entertainment for others. Most of those aspiring to become actors participate in high school and college plays, employ in college radio stations, or perform at local community theaters. Young actors can earn credentials toward joining an actor’s union through experience in local and regional experience or by working in summer stock, on cruise ships, or in theme parks. Being a member of a union or obtaining work experience in smaller communities may direct work to larger cities, specifically New York or Los Angeles. In TV and film, actors and directors usually begin by performing in smaller television markets or with independent movie production companies. They then progress to higher media markets and chief studio productions. Only a few actors actually become stars because of the intense competition.

It is typical for actors, producers, and directors to receive formal training through a university or acting conservatory; however, several of these people find employment based merely on their own talent and experience. The majority of people perusing a bachelor’s degree enroll in courses having to do with broadcasting in radio and television, communications, film, theater, drama, or dramatic literature. Several receive further academic training and get a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. Higher level curricula may include stage speech and movement courses and others in directing, playwriting, and design. This may also include rigorous acting workshops. The National Association of Schools of Theatre acknowledges 128 theater art programs.
Actors of all levels may obtain workshop instruction through conservatories of acting or by a mentoring drama coach. Actors also study out roles to help them take hold of concepts quickly during rehearsals and comprehend the setting and background of a story setting. Often actors make their characters seem more real by learning a foreign language or developing an accent through coaching.

Because actors portray diverse characters, they must have talent, artistic ability, and training. Actors should have a variety of performance skills, such as singing, dancing, skating, juggling, or miming because competition is so brutal. Further experience in physical activities like horseback riding, fencing, or stage combat can also give actors the upper hand and special recognition to impress producers and directors. Actors need poise, good stage presence, and the abilities to influence an audience and follow directions. It may also be beneficial to have modeling experience. A deciding factor for actors getting a certain role is usually their physical appearance, including their size and features.

Several professional actors find work, settle contracts, and make career plans through agents or managers. Agents usually earn a fraction of the actor’s pay as specified in the contract. Remaining actors attend open auditions to find work. These auditions are posted in trade publications and include times, dates, and locations.

An individual wanting to become an “extra” generally has to be listed by a casting agency, such as Central Casting that provides extras to the major movie studios in Hollywood at no cost. Applicants are cast when the amount of people of a specific type on the list—such as athletic young women, old men, or small children—drops below the probable need. Lately, very few have actually become listed.

Producers require no certain training qualifications and their background make-ups are diverse. Talent, experience, and business insight are essential for determining the success of producers. It is common for actors, writers, film editors, and business managers to become producers. Additionally, several people who begin as actors advance into directing. Inversely, some directors might direct their career to acting. A lot of times producers begin in theater administration and work for a press agent, managing director, or business manager. Others begin their career as members of a performing arts union or service organization, working with directors behind the scenes, serving on boards of directors, or promoting their own work. The job of producers requires no formal training; nevertheless, an increasing number of colleges and universities currently offer art management and nonprofits managing degree programs.

With growing status and box-office draw of actors, producers, and directors, work may progress to bigger budgets and productions on network broadcasts and more well-known theaters. Actors may progress and fulfill leading roles, receiving celebrity recognition. Some actors transfer to jobs associated with acting, such as stage, radio, or major film directors as well as private or college drama coaches.

Acting, Producing and Directing Job and Employment Opportunities

Through 2012, employment of actors, producers, and directors is projected to grow approximately as quickly as the average for all occupations. Even though more and more people will aspire to obtain these positions, several move on to something else quickly because the work is rarely available, hard, has long and hard hours, and has low pay. There is stiff competition partly because there are much more highly trained and talented actors auditioning for roles than there are parts available. Regular employment can only be given to the most talented actors with a lot of stamina.

The demand for actors, producers, and directors should increase due to developing cable and satellite television procedures, expanding production and distribution of independent and major motion picture films, and continued development of media that is interactive, like direct-for Web videos and movies. However, in the industry if broadcasting, concentration in national entertainment productions may result in fewer employment opportunities.

Many job opportunities can be offered through the following live entertainment venues: Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters, traveling productions and repertory theaters in several major urban cities, theme parks, and resorts. Nevertheless, actors in these venues are always changing due to a fluctuating economy.

Historical Earnings Information

In 2002, median yearly income of salaried actors was $23,470. The middle 50 percent pulled in between $15,320 and $53,320. The lowest 10 percent earned lower than $13,330, while the highest 10 percent earned higher than $106,360. It is important to remember however, that actors who are successful can make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Some even make millions.