When it comes to the acting industry, there’s no denying the fact that it really is a dog eat dog world out there. With constant criticism which is not always constructive, rejection and a plethora of competition there’s no wonder you can sometimes find yourself feeling less than fantastic in a seemingly ever-fantastic industry! But gentlemen, grab a pen and paper because below I have detailed ten absolute essentials every actor simply cannot go without.
1. Headshots – Say Cheese!
There’s no surprises that headshots make the top of the list, however, so many young actors seem to get it oh so wrong. Often it can be easier to opt for the cheaper option, however, this is rarely going to yield more than one semi-useable photo. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you can end up with a brilliant shot from a TFP shoot, but still its ideal to showcase some some kind of variation in your portfolio. As long as you have one breathtaking, standout, WOW headshot you’re going to be okay, but until then, you’re in trouble! I once went to a very well known Casting Director seminar and he preached how important it is to have variation in your portfolio. Basically, if you can round up the cash, try to go to a photography studio where they will shoot you looking three or four different ways, for example, your typical tradesmen look, businessman, beach dude and a young heartthrob look. Of course, this all depends on your personal look and what you and your agent agree you can be marketed as.
2. Business Cards
They don’t call it show business for nothing! It is one of the most competitive and hard to crack industries around the world, and guys, you need to be fully equipped to deal with it! This means having a steady supply of business cards to dish out at any networking event, casting workshop or even audition waiting room. The first couple of times you drop the line ‘let me give you my card’ you might feel a bit weird, however, soon you’ll be feeling like a through and through smooth talker. Vistaprint (vistaprint.com.au) offers exceptionally affordable business cards if you’re feeling a bit tight on cash for as little as $9.99 for 250 cards. If you can afford to stretch yourself a little further, try Better Business Cards (betterbusinesscards.com.au) where prices start from a very reasonable $79.00 for 250 cards. There are countless online stores selling business cards, however, I would try out Vistaprint first. You’ll be able to gauge how effective business cards are for you personally and from there you can move on to a higher quality product.
3. Moisturising Cream
It may seem a little or a lot girly to you, but trust me, there ain’t anything girly about looking after your skin. In this day and age of off the chart UV indexes and global warming there is no reason not to protect your money maker! Amazon.com has a huge range of moisturises just for men. Some of my favourites include Dove Men + Care Hydrate + Face Lotion($5.78) which includes a broad spectrum SPF, L’Oreal Paris Men’s Expert Vita Lift Anti-Wrinkle & Firming Moisturizer ($8.79) and my personal favourite pick, Nivea for Men Skin Essentials Protective Lotion, SPF 15 ($19.76 – pictured). Whilst all products are a great choice, the Nivea Lotion is packed full of goodness to keep your skin looking fresh all day and includes a light sunscreen to protect and your skin from those pesky UV rays.
4. Document Folder
As an actor you’re constantly needing to spend money on yourself to ensure you’re a desirable candidate for future roles. Going to the gym, trips to the barber, new outfits and acting classes all fall under the umbrella of costs associated with being a budding actor. It’s often easy to forget to keep your receipts and then when tax time rolls around you feel like kicking yourself for not being more astute. Just think of all the money you could be getting back! It’s for this very reason that I believe all actors need a document folder to keep track of all their receipts and invoices, in turn, making tax time a breeze! I would suggest buying two of these little gems – one to keep in your car and one for your home office. That way, no matter where you are, you’re likely to be able to file it ASAP! As you can imagine the options are almost endless. The top three picks for me would be the ever-handy Pendaflex Copy Safe Project Pockets ($8.57). or the Alphabetised Smead Frequency Expanding Files ($7.79) which would be great for all your important documents. However, by far the best option is the Alpine Swiss Leather Portfolio ($54.99 – pictured). This folder is definitely for the more suave and business savvy type of actor out there. This option also comes with a notepad which is a great addition for meetings and workshops and also storage space for business cards, resumes and headshots. Presentation is everything, and with this folder, you’re sure to have people remembering you for all the right reasons.
5.Full Length Mirror
A full length mirror is a very important tool for an actor because what you see in the reflection is exactly what the casting director, agent, or other actor is going to see. By studying yourself in the mirror before you leave the house (read; checking your hair, teeth and fly is done up) you’ll be able to walk into any room with the confidence that you look exactly how you set out to look! The Crown Mark Cheval Mirror ($46.06) is streamline and can stand alone which is especially helpful if you’re living in a rental and not allowed to mount a mirror on the wall. However, my personal fave is the Frenchi Furniutre Traditional Style Cheval Mirror ($41.95 – pictured) because of the old-style wooden charm and retro edge it possesses. As well as being a stand alone mirror, it has a pivot function so even if you’re living in a tiny room in Darlinghurst basement, you can still rotate the mirror back and forth to see your entire reflection.
6. Notepad and Pen
This might seem simple, but believe me, I know people who do not own a singular pen! To me, this is madness, especially as an actor! Note taking is an integral part to bettering yourself as a performer. Whether it be deconstructing or analysing your latest audition sides or simply taking notes on techniques used by your favourite actor. There is no end to the research one can undertake as an actor. To make note taking fun, I would recommend this fabulous Goose Quill Pen with Powdered Ink ($10.95- pictured). For a more conservative or traditional note taker, I would suggest Paper Mate Flair Point-Guard Porous Point Pens($11.99), or, Paper Mate InkJoy 300 RT Retractable Medium Point Ballpoint Pens($2.78) all of which are available from Amazon.com.
7. Video Recorder
Every actor knows that any audition, whether it be for a student film or Hollywood blockbuster is recorded by the casting panel. This is done for a number of reasons however, the most important reason you as an actor need to be aware of, is to determine how you look on screen. What better way to practice your onscreen presence and movements than to buy your own video recorder and ensure what you’re doing looks great! A recorder will also come in handy when you’re required to self-test for various auditions! The Sony HD Video Camera($198.00) would be a good option if you want to buy according to brand name, especially if you’re looking for a camera you can use for a wide range of recording purposes outside of your acting sphere. The Kodak Mini Video Camera($89.95) is also a viable option for anyone serious about perfecting a screen test. For me though, the pick of the bunch is the Vivitar HD High Definition Digital Video Camcorder ($28.00 – pictured). Very affordable yet completely user friendly and functional there really is no better product on the market.
8. Subscription to Apple TV or Foxtel on Demand
It may seem like too much fun to be on this list, but watching the latest movies/series – especially those which cleaned up during the awards season is a vital part to becoming a better actor. By watching and mimicking amazing performances by famous actors, you as an actor will also benefit. There is nothing embarrassing or silly about learning and trying to recreate famous movie scenes. After all, they’re famous for a reason, right?! If you see an action or a phrase that you love as an actor, steal it and then make it your own. You never know where or when it will come in handy!
9. Collared Shirt
As an actor, there is no doubt you are also a businessman. Any businessman needs one really fantastic shirt to impress the person you are meeting with. Whether it be a casting director, agent or panel of important persons you simply need to look the part. It will also be handy for when you’re sent to corporate/business type castings. With so many great options available on Amazon.com you could spend hours trying to find the perfect shirt. You can’t go wrong with the style and fit of The Tommy Hilfiger Men’s Twill Dress Shirt($39.99) however the colour is slightly lackluster and won’t demand attention. Stone Rose Mens White Designer Shirts with Square Buttons($149.00) is a good option, however, white can be risky and doesn’t look great on screen so my choice would be the Kenneth Cole Reaction Men’s Spread Collar Tonal Solid Woven Shirt ($24.23 – pictured) because the colour is strong and gives off an air of certainty – exactly what you want to convey!
In this day and age – everything is done online! So its no wonder there is so many useful online sites for any upcoming actor. Keeping connected is key! Smart phones may be useful but there are certain limitations when using smaller smart devices – with both software and hardware! It’s much easier to use a laptop to keep on top of daily emails, your Starnow account, IMDB, AT2, Showcast.. the list is endless! If you don’t like the idea of the size of laptops – you could try the ASUS VivoBook Touchscreen Laptop (Black)($300.99) although for me, they are too small and finicky to get used to and I think I’d find the touchscreen all too much. If you are a dedicated Apple user than you cannot go past the Apple MacBook Pro Laptop with Retina Display($1469.99). My personal favourite is the simple yet effective and easy to use Toshiba 16 Inch Laptop ($409.98 – pictured). I love the Windows operating system and find it easy to go about my daily business seamlessly on my Toshiba.