Maybe it’s better in Atlanta? Read on to find out how moving to a smaller market can mean more auditions. Guest Blog post from Hilary Pingle, a brave and talented actor who moved from Los Angeles to Atlanta and reports here on the ATL market and how to capitalize on it!
So you are thinking about moving to a smaller market, like Atlanta, for the film and tv industry—great! The two big things I learned in my first year in the south is 1) Embrace the differences and 2) Be ready to travel!
Stop comparing ATL to LA—it’s different, it’s new, you’re new. The quicker you can accept this fact, the happier and more fulfilled you will be in the transition. However, since these differences help educate you on a possible location change—let’s chat! What are these differences? Let me give you a quick and brief rundown.
AUDITIONS: Since this is thing I’m asked most about, I’ll cover as much as I can here. You’ll get more of them! A lot more!
In LA, I was getting about 3-4 auditions (commercial and theatrical combined) a month. This was with some good credits, an agent and manager and a decade of actively networking with the casting community under my belt. In ATL, I average 2-3 a week! The most I have had in one week was 7. Auditions in the South East (SE = 13 states) market are mainly co-star roles, but tend to have more meat to them than your normal 1-2 line co-star. I’ve auditioned for guest stars and series regulars, as well as leads in films. However, SE actors for those roles tend to be seen as back-ups to LA/NY… but you are being seen.
Most SE states are right to work, meaning there is a lot of non-union work to be had, and an actor can do an unlimited about of Union work without being union.
The pool is a lot smaller here. In LA, casting directors quoted upwards to 4,000 submissions per role/per episode. In the SE it’s about 500. However—out of that number, they “see” and send off to producers about the same number of actors. You’ll notice “see” is quoted… that’s because 95% of auditions are self tape.
The great thing about self tape is you can do them anytime that works for you, prior to the deadline. You also have more control over the final product, because you choose what is sent to casting/production. However, you should always be off book, even if the audition sides can’t be seen! The downside, it’s very rare to get feedback—which we all crave! Also, unless you have an excellent home studio set up and actor friend who will read with you, you will be paying studios for this service. Depending on the location and needs of the audition, $10-$45 per self tape.
REPRESENTATION: I’ve found that it’s a lot harder to be seen or get auditions without representation, but it’s a lot easier to get representation than in LA.
You still need a good headshot, training and business attitude—but they are not so concerned about a ton of credits, because it is still a new market. Most actors did not go to college for this, but are doctors, lawyers, police officers who train in their free time and simply love the craft. It’s also easy to get lost in the shuffle if you don’t work hard.
Your four big ATL agencies are: The People Store, AMT, Houghton and J Pervis. I am not with any of these, and very happy with my representation.
CASTING: There are about 15 must-know offices/CD’s in the SE: Alpha Tyler, Big Picture Casting, Coulon Casting, Erica Arvold, Feldstein/Paris, Fincannon and Associates, George Pierre, Jackie Burch, Jessica Fox, Matthew Sefick, Olubajo Sonubi, RPM Casting, Ryan Glorioso, and Shay Griffin.
And they are all pretty accessible. I am personally a huge advocate of casting director workshops in LA, when it’s done at the right time, with the right people, in the right way! I owe my career to them. However, most CD’s are open to generals, and often will do what is a traditional workshop for a group of actors through an agency connection for free. Yes, workshops happen here, but not as often and they are often geared to the beginner actor. Feldstein/Paris (Tara and Chase) do Twitter lunches about once a month, where they announce their lunch location and just hang out to answer any questions or touch base for a few hours.
TRAINING: Because it’s still a new market, I found a lot of classes were targeted to beginners. Those actors that have extensive training, where I might be in a class with them back in LA, are now the teachers. My suggestion is to audit as many classes as you can.
Some great places to look at are: Drama Inc., The Company Acting Studio, The Alliance Theatre, and Get Scene Studio.
NETWORKING: Embrace the southern charm. Everyone is so willing to help you out here! There are some great Facebook groups that help you get connected like Georgia Film Tv + Casting, Atlanta Film Community, Atlanta Film Society and Film Bar Mondays. If you have a question—ask, people want the industry to stay here, so they are happy to point you in the right direction. Also, see my above comments about casting for more insights on networking with them.
Lastly, be ready to travel, and usually on your own dime.
I’m ashamed to admit it, but a year ago, I could not tell you what southern state was where. Now I know. Because I’ve been to them or driven through them all!! You will no longer complain about going to Santa Monica oN Friday at 5pm from the valley when you get a callback in Charlotte, NC from Atlanta, GA… 3 ½ hours away… one way. In person auditions or callbacks are rare, so when you get them—you go! If you are booked on a SAG project outside of ATL, usually you will be a modified local hire, which means they can only afford $300 in travel pay. If you choose to fly in or rent a car, that’s on you, do not expect production to reimburse you over $300. If it’s a non-union project booking, you can negotiate, but it’s rare to get a travel reimbursement. But all auditions and callbacks are on you. The plus side, usually carpools are easy to find, books on tape or podcasts help pass the time, and the scenery in the SE is gorgeous and GREEN!!
Thanks for all your wisdom Hilary! Keep up the amazing work!
HEY! IF YOU ARE LIKEWISE AN ACTOR IN A SMALL MARKET (LIKE NOLA OR PORTLAND) AND HAVE TIPS TO SHARE ON YOUR COMMUNITY, PLEASE COMMENT BELOW!