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Breaking into the Australian TV Industry – A Complete Guide

How to land your big break on Aussie TV

The Australian TV industry is often seen as a launchpad for future Hollywood stars, with many famous Australian actors starting in local soaps. For aspiring actors, breaking into this industry is a crucial first step, though highly competitive. Hunter Talent, with extensive experience in helping actors secure Australian TV roles, offers this guide to navigate the industry. It includes tips on gaining experience and acing auditions, aiming to help you launch a successful career in Australian TV.

Start with the basics

And by basics we mean acting lessons or to be more precise, TV and film acting lessons. No matter how great you may have been in your high school musical career, acting on TV and film is a very different ball game to acting on stage. In TV acting, the camera captures every subtle movement and expression, and actors need to adjust their performance to suit the camera angles and shots. Close-ups, medium shots, and wide shots are used to convey emotions and tell a story, and actors need to be aware of the camera’s position and movement at all times. On top of all that, TV acting often involves multiple takes and filming out of sequence, requiring actors to maintain consistency in their performances regardless of when they film.

So with this in mind, you really should be thinking about starting some acting lessons.
Ideally, you’ll want to work with an acting coach who has experience with actors working on TV or better yet, a coach who has done some acting of their own on TV. It might not be quite so easy finding the latter, but the former should be no problem at all.

If you’re interested in TV work, then the chances are that you’re looking to land a role on one of Australia’s many successful soaps especially if you want to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Chris Hemsworth. There are some acting schools and coaches that will specialise in acting for soaps and it might be a good idea to start honing your skills in one of those classes.

Aside from the obvious acting lessons have more benefits than you might think:

  • Improve Communication Skills: Acting lessons teach you how to use your voice and body language effectively to convey emotions and communicate with others. This skill can be a serious benefit in many areas of life, not just acting!
  • Unlock Creativity: Acting requires imagination and creativity, and acting lessons help you tap into your creative side, allowing you to think outside the box and approach problems in new ways.
  • Confidence Building: Acting lessons can help you build confidence and self-esteem, as you learn to express yourself more freely and overcome stage fright and performance anxiety.
  • Better Memory and Focus: Acting involves memorising lines, blocking, and stage movements, which can improve your memory and focus skills.
  • Networking Opportunities: Acting classes and workshops provide opportunities to connect with other actors, directors, and industry professionals. This could lead to future career opportunities. You never know when a connection might come in handy, right?

Aim to have at least a few months worth of acting lessons under your belt before you go for your first audition. Of course, this isn’t essential, but it’s highly unlikely that an actor with no experience or acting lessons will receive a callback after their first audition. So give yourself the best chance possible and get on those acting lessons as soon as possible.

And speaking of experience…

Build your experience

‘But how do I get experience in acting when I have no experience?’ — This is a question that we’re often asked when we advise aspiring actors to go out there and get some experience for their portfolio. And to be honest, it’s a very good question because who will give you a role if you’ve never even stood in front of a camera before?

The truth is that there are tons of people out there who will do just that. There are so many legit opportunities to help you hone your acting skills and pad out that portfolio and all it takes is a little extra effort on your part.
For example you could:

  • Join a drama club – Amateur drama clubs are the perfect environment for learning how to work with others, memorise scripts, pick up some skills from experienced amateur actors.
  • Act on the stage – Local theatre groups are always on the lookout for people to star in their shows. Sure, it’s different to on-camera work, but it is still good experience to stick on your resume.
  • Work on student films – Your nearest film school or university campus will have an endless supply of unpaid acting opportunities where you can help students with their film projects. The great thing about this type of work is that you will have at least one or two clips from the project that you can drop in your acting portfolio.

Get professional headshots

Basic industry knowledge 101 here but we’ll go ahead and point it out anyway — your headshots are a hugely important aspect of your portfolio as they are your chance to make that all important first impression. That’s why they have to be taken by a professional photographer. No home-taken photos or edited smartphone selfies. Your headshots must be shot in a professionally lighted studio and retouched by someone who knows what they are doing.

 

Casting directors want to see what you look like in studio conditions and that’s what they’ll expect from your headshots. So don’t disappoint them.

 

Your photographer should have headshot experience so they can give you advice on which angles work best for your features and what shots are essential for your portfolio. It may cost you a little more to get them done properly, but trust us, this is an investment in your career that you don’t want to scrimp on. Remember, a first impression can never be repeated so make yours a good one.

Sign with the right acting agency

While Hunter Talent is a strong choice, we recognize that every actor has unique needs and goals, making different agencies suitable for different individuals. We advise actors to research and consider several agencies, including those local to them, to find the best fit. It’s important to communicate your goals to potential agencies and gauge their response. Look for an agency with a solid industry network and success stories, which you can usually find on their website or social media.

Remember, an agency should be interested in your career goals, not just in collecting fees. Choose one that is selective and dedicated to promoting and managing your acting career effectively.

Take on ALL the TV auditions

Yes, even those ‘I’m never getting that’ type auditions. The idea here is to get yourself as much experience as possible auditioning for TV roles so that you can really perfect your auditioning skills. The other main advantage to doing this is that the more auditions you do, the more confident and at ease you are in front of the camera and casting directors. Even if you try out for 20 roles and don’t get a single one, that’s perfectly fine. It’s all experience and long before you get to audition number 20, you’ll have learned to manage your nerves.

Attending lots of auditions is also another great way to get your name out there. Even if you don’t get offered a role, casting directors will start to remember you once they see you a few times. And once you are capable and relaxed in your audition, they’ll remember you for the right reasons. Bear in mind that the reason you may not land a role could be because you’re not quite the right fit, but if a casting director likes you, they may remember your name and consider you for a more suitable role at some point in the future.

Create a TV-specific showreel

And we really do mean everyone. Your neighbours, your aunt in Western Australia, your colleagues at work, your old school chums — everyone should know that you are looking to break into the Australian TV industry.

 

This means being very active on social media about your work and your auditions. Of course, you need to be careful about what you share online as you don’t want to upset a casting director if you tell the whole world about the project they’re working on. But you do want to let your followers and connections know that you were auditioning today or that you have just completed an acting workshop.

 

You will also want to share your wins when they come along and they will come along. However, as important as it is to be highly visible online, it’s also super important to remember that you must remain professional at all times. No complaining about a casting director or getting angry about not landing a role. Remain positive at all times as it’s this type of person that people want to work with. Treat your social media profiles like a public resume and you’ll do just fine.

Let EVERYONE know your plans

And we really do mean everyone. Your neighbours, your aunt in Western Australia, your colleagues at work, your old school chums — everyone should know that you are looking to break into the Australian TV industry.

This means being very active on social media about your work and your auditions. Of course, you need to be careful about what you share online as you don’t want to upset a casting director if you tell the whole world about the project they’re working on. But you do want to let your followers and connections know that you were auditioning today or that you have just completed an acting workshop.

You will also want to share your wins when they come along and they will come along. However, as important as it is to be highly visible online, it’s also super important to remember that you must remain professional at all times. No complaining about a casting director or getting angry about not landing a role. Remain positive at all times as it’s this type of person that people want to work with. Treat your social media profiles like a public resume and you’ll do just fine.

Network like never before

Some people will tell you that working in TV is all about who you know and while it’s not all there is to getting work, it certainly does help to have a good relationship with some industry professionals. Of course, you could go hardcore and cold call casting directors and inadvertently land yourself a role just like Margot Robbie did, but that’s not quite what we have in mind.

 

Instead, we’re going to recommend that you attend any industry events where you may meet casting directors, directors, filmmakers, or perhaps even screenwriters and TV network bigwigs. Yep, you’re going to want to speak to them if given the chance. This could be at casting calls arranged by TV networks or even local TV and film festivals where industry professionals may be speaking on panels.

 

If you get the chance to speak to anyone, introduce yourself, collect numbers if it’s polite to do so, and just let people know how awesomely friendly and enthusiastic you are. But there’s a fine line between being enthusiastic and being downright annoying, so be careful how you approach networking. For example, you may not want to start a conversation with a casting director in an audition but if you meet them at an industry event, then knock yourself out. LinkedIn is also an option for connecting with industry professionals so make use of it as people on the platform will expect you to connect with them. Yes, we are actually recommending LinkedIn for actors! Who’d have thought it?

 

Like we said earlier, it’s all about getting your name out there and being recognised and remembered for all the right reasons.

Pay attention to the industry

As great as your agency may be and even if the agents there have an amazing relationship with casting directors, there’s always a chance that you might spot a potential casting opportunity before they do. This is particularly true with network TV where the network may decide to bypass agencies and put out an open casting call for new actors.

These opportunities that bypass agencies don’t come along all that often, but when they do, you want to be there to take full advantage. So follow all the soaps and production companies on social media. Follow the networks, casting directors, and anyone else that is even remotely involved with the production of TV shows. This could give you the inside track on any announcements so you can throw your hat in the ring as soon as possible.

But remember that any time you want to put yourself forward for an opportunity, you must speak with your agency as soon as possible. It’s not a good look if both your and your agency put you forward for the same role. It causes confusion and suggests that you’re not great at communication which isn’t a great look for you or the agency.

Keep working on your skills

Always work on improving your acting skills, as continuous learning and development are key in the diverse acting industry. Attending classes and workshops not only enhances your abilities but also enriches your resume, showing casting directors your dedication to the craft.

 

Breaking into the Australian TV industry is challenging and requires hard work, perseverance, and patience. However, with the right attitude and representation, you can launch a successful career. Hunter Talent offers the industry contacts and expertise to guide aspiring actors. Reach out to us for the support you need to potentially secure your big break.

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