By Diane Christiansen
Acting is a competitive sport. The supply of actors is much greater than the demand of roles. Nowhere is this more true than in major motion pictures. The production powers that be do everything they can to protect the huge monetary investments they make in a film, which often means casting “name talent” to help carry the film into box office success. So how do you become a “name” that the industry knows? This may come as a shock, but student films are a great place to start and go a long way toward getting your name out there. Think about it. Today’s student filmmakers are the big ticket directors and producers of tomorrow. Getting in on the ground level and establishing a name for yourself at local film schools can be a launch pad for future projects long after the once student filmmakers have graduated.
In addition, several film schools in Los Angeles have a great reputation for cranking out talented young filmmakers, including University of Southern California, American Film Institute, UCLA, CALARTS and Loyola Marymount University, to name a few. Having film credits from these top-tier schools on your acting resume is an impressive feat that can help you stand out to casting directors. You may even run into alumni of the schools on your resume in the audition room. Upon glancing over your resume, they will almost surely make mention of your mutual affiliation with their alma mater. You can then take the opportunity to establish rapport and familiarity just by virtue of having a common institutional connection.
Finally, student films can provide great footage for your demo reel, especially if you can happen upon a senior or graduate level film. Advanced students are typically more experienced at making quality films. Plus, they are even more likely to produce their most quality work when the film is part of a final thesis project that will represent the full culmination of their studies. So if you are cast in a thesis film, consider it a big accomplishment. Not only have you added another credit to your resume, but you can bet that your student filmmaker will be working overtime to ensure that both of you look your best. The thesis film is the student filmmaker’s baby, and nobody wants an ugly baby. So you can be sure that they will work their hardest to create a quality film in all aspects from directing, to cinematography, to editing, and everything in-between, which all adds up to golden reel footage for you!