You may already have a list of tips and tricks for a great acting career in Hollywood. You might have great headshots, an impressive resume, and a reel that you’re proud of. You’re ready to blow your potential agent away, you’re prepared for any audition that might come your way, and you just know the audiences will love you. Great! But there’s one more thing. How do you get famous? You know that you’ve gotta be in exciting blockbusters and entertain the pants off of the public, but how do you get into them in the first place? You’ve heard about actors being so high up the cinematic food chain that they just get offered roles, and of course, it’s because of the movies that they were in before that. But how did they get into those movies that came first?
Salary – $0
To start from the beginning, you’re going to have to work scrub jobs with all the other wannabes. Before you even get an agent, you’ll probably be working on student films, doing little independent projects, or maybe even making your own stuff for experience and for your demo reel.
Salary – $500 – $1,000
Once you’re ready to take the next step, you need to get an agent. This won’t be any cakewalk, but it’s not like trying to win the lottery. Once you’ve impressed them enough, your new agent will do several things for you. First, they will receive breakdowns from casting directors and producers looking for certain types (looks) of actors. At this point, you won’t have any say in the movies you do, so just be prepared to pay your dues and start building some real credits. If your type matches what they’re looking for, your agent will send your headshot in, and if they’re interested in seeing you, your agent will set up an audition. Your job is to just kill your audition, and when you’re filming, stand out a bit so that people will notice you. You’ll want to exercise creativity and humor to do this, otherwise you’ll just be another prop like all the other bit part players.
Salary – $2,000 – $5,000
Once you graduate from these (and your agent, impressed by your growing success, starts investing more energy in your career), you’ll start getting better auditions. Some of these might be in the form of leads in tiny, little movies, and some of them might be semi-supporting roles in bigger movies. Again you’ll have to keep killing your auditions, and wooing all who watch you when you get on camera. Remember, many of the people who see you on the big screen will be other agents, casting directors, producers, directors, writers, and others who may be impressed by your performances, so give it your all. In the event that another agent takes interest in you, they may buy you out from your smaller agent, and you’ll literally move into a position with more bargaining power.
The Next Level
Bigger agents have more sway over industry professionals, because they’ve already nurtured successful stars of their own. With these credentials, they can open many, many doors for you. In the event that someone else is impressed by your work, they may invite you to work on something specific sans audition, and you’ve got to continue to churn out the magic.((More than likely, though, your work thus far will simply help open more doors. Your agent will be able to cite your work, and at the very least, they will be able to open more audition doors for you. Those supporting roles that you were wondering about that put today’s leading men and ladies where they are now are these ones. And the thing is, you can’t even get into these auditions without a little clout already.
Salary – $50,000 – $200,000
At this level, you will either be invited to audition or your agent will be able to work a little extra magic thanks to your success, and you’ll have access to bigger roles that you couldn’t get a few years beforehand. These are the roles that can open those shiny new doors to starring parts. When you get to this level, you’ve got to entertain like you’ve never entertained before. This is the last step you must accomplish (perhaps a few times) before you earn your first starring role in a major film.
Salary – $500,000 – $5,000,000
Now comes the big show…potentially. If you’ve done your job all the way up to here, someone is either going to want you for their movie or your agent will be able to get you auditions for those starring roles. This is your chance to really shine. This is when you want to start getting a little more picky about the movies that you’re in.((Once you get your starring role, you’ll want your movie to kill at the box office. Think of movies like Juno, 10 Things I Hate About You, and Risky Business. Alongside those 3 potential new star-makers, though, are 60 others with other potential stars that never got off the ground. So when you’re choosing scripts to audition for, remember why you started this journey in the first place. There are other articles on the CelebSystem site that can teach you which movies make the most money, so you should know how to pick them when the time comes. And assuming you choose well, you can find yourself in one of two places. Your movie is either a blockbuster or a mega-blockbuster.
Movie Star Status
If you score a blockbuster, it’s like getting a power-up boost to your career for a year. Skip-the-audition offers will roll in, your salary will start to reach the high hundred thousands or maybe even the low millions, and for the first time in your life, multitudes of strangers will recognize you.((There’s just one caveat: don’t let it go to your head. Every year, some new starlet or pretty boy becomes the next it person in Hollywood, let’s the VIP treatment go to their head, starts buying up expensive cars and designer clothing like it’ll never end, and they stop working.
Some go on vacation for months at a time (while all the offers slowly dry up), some blow through all their cash, some decide that they can start acting in little independent films, and some even quit, deciding they’re set for life. Do not let this become you. Keep your head on your shoulders, and keep working. You’re not a real star yet. Fame from a single blockbuster only lasts so long before people start to forget about you. It only takes about a year before you become yesterday’s news, and you’re back at the bottom of the heap. So what do you do? Find another blockbuster, and lay into it until you hit the big time: a mega-blockbuster.
These are the monstrous movies that create Hollywood superstars that reign for decades. This is when you become a true film titan, and everyone wants you for everything. Everything will change at this point in your life. Paychecks for subsequent movies start to reach $10 to $20 million, you’ll start to see true long-term fame, and you’ll experience all the associated VIP luxuries. So what’s the difference between a blockbuster and a mega-blockbuster? About 15 million tickets sold. Every movie star had at least one that made them who they are today. Keanu Reeves – Speed. Julia Roberts – Pretty Woman. Leonardo DiCaprio – Titanic. Cameron Diaz – The Mask. Eddie Murphy – Beverly Hills Cop. Nicole Kidman – Batman Forever. Nicolas Cage – The Rock. Jodie Foster – Silence of the Lambs. Russell Crowe – Gladiator. Meg Ryan – Top Gun. Harrison Ford – Star Wars. Will Smith – Independence Day. All of these movies were released right before these superstar actors and actresses became the insanely popular movie stars that they are today. They’re not hard to find nor predict. They mostly follow the same guidelines that I’ve given all along for blockbusters. Popular subject matter, an entertaining plot, and it helps to have a big budget.
There are some wonder hits that come out of nowhere with shoestring budgets, like The Blair Witch Project and My Big Fat Greek Wedding. But if you want surefire success, look for movies that have huge budgets that studios are going to invest a lot more focus into.
If Warner Bros. sinks $80 million into a movie, unless the finished product is absolute trash, you can be sure that they’re going to throw a huge marketing campaign at it as well to ensure it reaches blockbuster status. They will take care of you and make you famous.
Louis Foxfire is a motivational writer and speaker who has helped dozens of successful actors the world over through his independent acting course, CelebSystem. He lives in Los Angeles, CA with his fiancée Caelun.
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