You don’t have to go to New York City to get started in acting. The Greater Philadelphia area offers plenty of resources. Here are some recommendations by local actors.
Local actress Colleen O’Brien, who has written about acting for Yahoo! Contributor Network (see her profile) recommends checking The Greater Philadelphia Film Office, which offers a searchable database of acting jobs, allowing would-be actors to look for paid or volunteer positions, or to limit the search by date or location. For those who are just starting out, you may find student films to be a good stepping stone in order to augment your acting reel. More experienced actors will find opportunities ranging from commercial shoots to independent films and more.
In addition, she recommended Heery Casting, a Delaware Valley casting company, posts casting calls on both its Facebook page and Twitter account. They cast actors at all levels and ages for TV shows, movies and pilots. Get in the door as an extra or get lucky and grab something with more screen time. She mentioned that Mike Lemon Casting in King of Prussia casts films, commercials, industrials, voice-overs, print and live events. In addition to casting, the firm also offers acting classes and other services for actors.
O’Brien also recommends searching the local Craigslist ads for Philadelphia and surrounding areas in the categories jobs > tv/film/video and gigs > talent.
For live gigs, O’Brien suggested checking out the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia Web site and its Yahoo! Group.
Another Philadelphia-area actress, Carol Fritz, recommended that beginning film actors look for opportunities to participate in film races, where films have to be written, shot and edited within a short period of time (24 hours, 48 hours, 1 week). One such example is Project Twenty1, where short films, under 10 minutes long, must be written, shot, and edited within 21 days. Look for related casting calls at the Susie Filmmaker page on Facebook.
For those interested in supporting the cause of promoting the growth of the film, television and commercial industry in Pennsylvania, Fritz recommended the Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PaFIA). Membership is low-cost and offers networking opportunities, as well as a chance to expand opportunities for filmmakers and actors in the state.
Both O’Brien and Fritz suggested taking improv courses at ComedySportz for actors to hone skills in character and scene development. As Fritz put it, “Two hours of guaranteed laughter a week: What’s not to love?”