How to start acting in Hollywood

Hollywood Baby

I’ve been in California now for 6 months and I want to share a bit about my entertainment industry experience. Since arriving in LA I have been on a handful of shows doing background work. I have also done a commercial for lovebeginsat.com and I have been in my first play, Voices, a re-telling of Joan of Arc at the Underground Theatre. I’ve been making friends and learning the ins and out of the industy. It really is a great place to be. Los Angeles is all about connections, and I’ve been working on creating them while gaining experience on set. Being on set is lots of fun, you get to be around the magic of film making. You get to work with some of your idols. You start to understand the process of what it takes to put a show together. I am on ground zero and my life is exciting, for good and for bad, more on that later.

I have worked on shows for Fox, ABC, NBC and HBO just to name few. I have worked beside Jack Black, Jessica Biel, Zoey Deschanel, Tim Meadows, Ken Marino and Jay Chandrasekhar. Like I said, I’m on ground zero. I’m not trying to brag, I’m just sharing my experience so far.

Do some background work with Central Casting
Let’s get to it. When you arrive in LA and you want to start working on set, it’s easiest to start as a background actor, you have a few options. What I did was sign up with Central Casting. You have to visit their office in Burbank and it’s quite painless. You listen to a presentation about the rules, and they take your picture. Make sure you arrive presentable. Once you do that you, are in the system and you can start to look for work as a Non-Union Background actor. Everyone at Central is really nice and I find working with them quite pleasant. There is a downside. The pay is not that great and you will have to find other work to stay afloat. Lucky for us, LA is the land of side-gigs so you should not have trouble finding a few other jobs.

Union vs. Non-Union
If you wish to be an actor, your goal should be to go Union one day. You can still get by as a Non-Union actor, but the rules changes once you go Union. Suddenly you will have the opportunity to go through the “glass roof” as I think of it. Going union means becoming a member of Sag-Aftra. In order to become Union, you need three yellow vouchers. These are rare but do come up once in a while if you are lucky enough. There are other ways such as being on a reality tv show or know a director who really wants you on a show and is willing to help you with the paperwork. Go Union when you can. Currently I am non Union, but that will change soon.

Actor’s Access.
Actor’s Access is another cool site that allows you to look for Union and Non-Union jobs. That’s how I booked my commercial and auditioned and got a part in Voices.

There are other ways as well of finding jobs, these are what has worked for me so far.
Let me know if you have any questions, I would be happy to help out!

Thanks!
-Serge

Life in California: 3 Months in

The last three months have been really exciting for Charlotte and I! What a great feeling it is to be in a place where we can pursue our dreams with the best of the best! We’ve made some new friends here, and I don’t use the GPS as often as I did. We sort of have a routine going, but that’s just how it is out here.

After getting settled here in East Hollywood, I started taking acting classes with Barry Papick. What an eye opening experience this was, what I was able to take away from acting class is character depth. This has caused me to start a re-write of my script for “This is not a game”. It has changed my writing. I’m really excited to see this script through.

I started acting as well, in my 1st month I was able to land a commercial for a dating website, I will share the link when it becomes available to me. The shoot was exciting, we filmed in downtown LA on a beautiful balcony about 13 stories up, what a great view!

I have been auditioning whenever I can, recently I got a part in a play called Voices, we are currently rehearsing at the Underground Theater. This would be my first play so I’m excited about that.

Whenever I can I try to get background acting work, recently I worked on New Girl and Revenge. I’m learning so much about the “behind the scenes” aspect of television film. The hours are long and everyone works really hard, but it’s such a breath of fresh air and it’s exciting to work alongside Jessica Biel, Zoe Deschanel, Madeleine Stowe and Emily Vancamp.

Charlotte is doing really well training at the world famous groundlings theater. She just finished level 1 and is currently in level 2. She’s also doing a work/study program at 2nd city and also doing background work whenever she can. I’m proud of you Charlotte!

August is a busy month in the acting world, I’m excited to see what happens.

-Serge

Living in LA – What it’s really like

What is LA really like? Charlotte and I have been in Los Angeles for a little over a month now. As far as I can tell, LA is nothing like what you see in the movies. Could it be that growing up in the Tampa Bay area has just spoiled me? Perhaps it’s just my neighborhood? Why do I feel cheated?

Before I go any further, I just want to say that I am not writing this post to put down the city of LA. This post is merely a comparison of my previous life in the Tampa Bay area and my new life here in LA. Consider it therapy for me.

Los Angeles is crowded.

I live in East Hollywood where the streets are small and crowded. In Florida, you almost never have to parallel park or every worry about not being able to find parking. I highly advise you to get an apartment with a parking spot. Street parking is like a lottery, you will be lucky if you find a spot on your block. If we come home late at night, there will be no parking anywhere. You will be forced to park illegally or at a metered spot. Just be sure to pick up your car before 8 am when they start ticketing.  That’s the other thing about parking, parking tickets!!  I have been in LA for one month and I already got $200 in parking tickets. Yeah lessons learned here and there. Make sure you read every single posted sign on your block to make sure that it is absolutely ok to park.

Los Angeles is dirty.

The street sweepers come twice a week to my neighborhood but for some reason, there is still garbage everywhere. East Hollywood reminds me of a 3rd world country. (yes, i’ve been to one.) Why is that lady selling food from a shopping cart? Why is this other lady knocking on my door trying to sell me blankets? Why does the sidewalk smell like piss around the corner?

Los Angeles is expensive.

Everytime you leave the house, you can expect to drop at least $20 for your trip. You have to pay for parking everywhere. You have to wash your car constantly.  Your bumpers will get scratched. Gas is around $4.50 to $5.00 a gallon. The gym is super expensive. In Florida, $3o a month for a gym is expensive, in LA it’s a bargain. Our Florida apartment would be considered a luxury apartment in LA for what we are paying for.

So why am I here? The same reason everyone else is here, to somehow make it in the film industry. Competition is so high in this city. One hiring manager told me that i was one out of 80 applicants to a graphic design job.  This is where the money is.

I do not see living in LA for any other reason than that. Wish me luck in my job hunt!

The Skyship Chronicles. A steampunk action film.

A steampunk action film

I met Jeff Zampino, a fellow screenwriter at a writer’s workshop taught by modern day poet Craig’s Weeden . I’ve taken the workshop several times now and found Craig’s class a place of creative insight and inspiration. I have my journey with California Knights, a heart warming comedy to an action/comedy This is not a game!

Through Jeff, I met John Jones, a St Pete based director. He invited me to help out on set for his entry into the 2013 72 hour film challenge. I met John at the Lightwave Studios, in St Pete where we loaded up our gear and headed out to a location in Tampa to film a few scenes. As an aspiring screenwriter, I love the idea of learning about the other side of film, the production side. This was a great learning experience. That’s all I can say for now but an update will come soon

Jeff has been working on a film titled Skyship Chronicles and is giving me a chance to get on set and help out on the project. It’s nice to see a burgeoning film community here in Tampa Bay. Some film festivals to check out here in the Tampa – St Pete area  the sunscreen festival and the gasparilla film festival. Could Tampa be heading into a film making boom?