Spotlight/Equity

  • Jenni Sannia

    Actor

    Hi all. I am a new Actor and I have recently been looking to join Spotlight and Equity. Since I didn't go to an accredited Drama school there is no way I can join unless I have had paid pro work. I am currently applying for paid work but I feel alot of people are put off that I am not a member of Spotlight or Equity :(

    • 3rd Jan 2019
    • 19359
    • 51
  • Jez Jameson

    Actor

    Hi there

    yes it does seen like a catch 22 situation, but it might be worth mentioning that what counts as professional work is not always paid such as fringe work or expenses only films by independents or students.

    I think its also fair to say that any productions you have done that was part of any drama course counts too. You don't have to be a member or spotlight or equity to do any of the above.

    Jez

    • 28th Feb 2012
    • 1
  • Rachael Lovegrove

    Actor

    Hi

    I too have not been to a drama school and feel the same.

    I just wanted to clarify - does working on a student film count as a credit? Also how can you prove you have worked for them and do you have to?

    Thank you

    • 28th Feb 2012
    • 2
  • Mark Kempner

    Actor

    At the risk of kick starting the whole Drama school v no drama school debate….been done to death at times on here!

    It's usually only paid contracts that count...but I'm out of touch with the Equity rules... So call them and tell them you want to gain your cards asap....and they will give you the correct rules and regs/info.

    I've never been to a drama school as is the case for many actors ....and I would not say its held me back that much but then I don't chase theatre roles that much….not enough money!!

    .....I think its more a theatre thing possibly? Certainly I think a good training on a 3 year course in Musical theatre at a top school is a must for west end sing and dance sort of work?

    It may well impress good agents more if you can show a good three year drama degree? Who knows....if they feel they can sell you or use you....nobody will give a stuff in reality! I've turned away plenty of trained graduates and the like for being quite useless……and taken on untrained actors who have often turned out to be more reliable and brilliant in the end. However, in my case… I am more interested in what actors are "going to do"….not what "they say or appear to have done!" From that point of view training means Jack poo to me I'm afraid….but that's me. I'm not saying training is a bad thing at all. ….just that it is not the B all and End all of being a professional actor…..or means you will work more regularly.

    Having a killer picture/s….decent showreel (plug plug….www.markkempner.co.uk) on spotlight is an absolute must I'm afraid. that will stand you in more immediate stead I feel….than a drama degree. Its all terribly individual I feel.

    Best

    Mark

    • 28th Feb 2012
    • 3
  • Richard Goss

    Actor

    I'm an untrained actor and have just finally been accepted onto Spotlight, after a year and a half of working.

    Just basically have to stick at it, apply for absolutely everything and it'll eventually lead to enough pro credits that your application will be successful. Well, that's what I did anyway!

    I posted something similar to this about a month ago as I was getting very frustrated but since then it's worked out :) don't give up!

    • 28th Feb 2012
    • 4
  • Jez Jameson

    Actor

    ...yes, student productions do count as a professional credit. Just to answer the earlier question. Its one of the main ways actors get a show reel together.

    • 28th Feb 2012
    • 5
  • Michael Kenneth Stewart

    Actor

    Hi Jenni,

    Apply to both 'Jobs' and 'Opportunities' on Casting Call Pro. Look for 'Profit Share' stage productions - I think sometimes they're listed as Jobs, sometimes as Ops. TECHINICALLY (which is the important thing) they're PAID, though in reality there'll very likely not be any profit to share. But by doing 'Profit Share' shows (look also for 'fringe' shows, which are usually profit share), that means that you've done (techinically!!!) paid work - and it's the PAID credits you need to enable you to get into EQUITY. I seem to remember when I joined, about 12 years ago, you just needed the one paid credit. I think for Spotlight membership, it's two. Another tip: right now a lot of film students are casting for short films - also, there are usually a lot of people who AREN'T students who are casting short films. Often these films will only take one or two days to shoot, and will be shot at weekends, so they're a quick way of getting a) a credit for your CV, b) experience of acting on a film set [many of the people who make short films, students or not, are VERY professional, or may even BE professionals, doing their own thing in their own time], and c) you'll get some nice clips of you acting, which you can then use for your Showreel. Avoid working with amateur theatre groups. Many amateur groups may be good [and sometimes consist of trained actors who are taking time out from the profession], but a lot of industry professionals might get sniffy if you tell them you've been working with amateurs. They'll count it against you. Logically they shouldn't, since so many pros started in amateur groups (including the ones who went to theatre school), but logic doesn't have anything to do with it (we're dealing with human beings, and logic means little, while perception means almost everything). So far as I can gather, I think the trick to getting established in the profession (but what do I know?)is to just stick at it, and after a couple of years Casting Directors, Producers, Directors, etc., will get the message that YOUR'RE NOT GOING AWAY. Hope this helps. And I didn't go to drama school either. And nor did Helena Bonham Carter, Donald Pleasance, Timothy West, Michael Caine, Charlotte Rampling, etc., etc.

    • 28th Feb 2012
    • 6
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Hi Jenni,

    With no training I too struggled for Spotlight acceptance.

    I applied for everything and said no to nothing for many years.

    I was turned down on my first application to Spotlight and so I gave them a call and found out from them direct exactly what I was falling short of with regards my application. I was accepted upon my re-application.

    One accepted by Spotlight it was the next logical step to join Equity; which was hassle free with Spotlight in place.

    It may take you a little while but it can be done, but do expect to be turned away at first, just don't give up. If you want it badly enough, it's going to happen.

    "wits fir ye, 'll no gae buy ye" as my granny used to say.

    and Mark, I've bookmarked your webpage for future reference.

    • 28th Feb 2012
    • 7
  • Hugh Terry

    Actor

    It's the old Catch-22 eh? But neither Equity nor Spotlight is necessary for getting acting work, if that's what you want. Go to every audition you can, make as many contacts as possible, hang around theatres and get a part in something - even unpaid! Then the rest will follow.

    • 28th Feb 2012
    • 8
  • Mark Kempner

    Actor

    PLUG PLUG again....but the other approach is to present Spotlight with a purpose made reel perhaps? But if its actual credits they are looking for.....you will need to put in the very hard work and be patient. Building up the CV and Film work as you go.

    In my day....equity wanted 12 paid contracts for teh provisional card....and a furher (7 I think) paid gigs for the actual full card!! you think its hard now...eee by gum we had it tough!!!

    I guess there are no real substitutes for hard graft and work....relentless as it might seem....if you want it bad enough....and all that!

    • 28th Feb 2012
    • 9
  • Jensen Freeman

    Actor

    I did have to have a nosey at your profile.... You have a BAHons degree in drama! Are any of the credits you list paid at all? I would challenge their decision and point out your degree at least.

    I was turned down initially and then replied stating my 13 -part commercial series and recent one year international theatre tour which covered over 400 performances more than met their criteria! They must get hundreds of applications and on first glance reject if you don't immediately tick the right boxes for membership. It's worth following it up.

    • 28th Feb 2012
    • 10
  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    I think Mark is absolutely right and most actors of earlier generations would actually say that modern actors have a fantastic *ease* of access to organisations like Equity - the requirements for eligibility are set very low indeed in comparison to the days of the 'closed shop' union. This is partly because Equity was forced, in the mid 90's, to, in effect, deregulate and partly because of the growth of a tacit recognition that it's actually much harder for a budding actor to come by solid paid credits immediately in the modern industry than it used to be. It should also be said that Equity - now that actors no longer *have* to be members of it - values the ability to take on new members and wants your subscription money to help support the union funds, so it is not desirable for the union to set the bar too high in order to prevent you becoming a member of the union!

    At the same time, the union has to be seen to pay a certain amount of lip service to refusing to 'legitimise' low paid work (because this is implictly undercutting union rates and so encouraging you to work for less than you are worth) but, in practice, I think it's true that, as has been said, profit share will tend to be recognised as a valid credit these days (profit share is agreed to on the basis that you *will* be paid, it is just that often the profit doesn't get made, so no-one *actually* gets paid in reality - in truth, even if you do see a return, you are unlikely to receive more than a fairly nominal amount). But the work should still count as a credit - it may be worth talking to Equity themselves about this, and double checking the details: they should be happy to take the enquiry as the officers are employed, to some extent, to respond to these kinds of enquiry, and will be eager to know that you are thinking of becoming a member even if you aren't one yet.

    Getting into Spotlight works on a similar basis: again, the bar is not set ridiculously high because the money you bring as a subscriber is welcome, although it is very important to be in Spotlight in order to secure an agent these days because they all work through the online Spotlight casting resources. In short, you shouldn't see Spotlight or Equity as actively trying to *discourage* you from signing up: they are, in fact, hopeful that you will meet the criteria and can be made eligible, as its in their interests to have you become a subscriber/member.

    Clearly, the problem you then encounter is with employers; those who won't show interest in trying you at audition because of your lack of accreditation. There is sadly no obvious remedy for this: you just have to keep firing off applications, finding your niche as a performer, learn how to sell yourself to the right people and ensure that when you do secure an audition you nail it, in order to prove yourself as an employable performer to those who might have doubted it on the basis of your CV alone. Eventually, as Mark said, if you are any good, the quality of your work begins to speak for itself and it is of little interest to anyone who employs you whether you trained etc.

    I tend to believe that comparisons to those who have been successful 'but didn't go to drama school' that date back thirty or forty years are unhelpful because, in those days, it was accepted that something like 50% of the profession didn't go to drama school: instead, cutting their teeth in repertory theatre, provincial touring and so on - it must be realised that the entire nature of the industry was different. However, what is certainly true is that plenty of people who were never on an accredited course have managed to win Equity membership, got into Spotlight and developed careers these days, and, if they were able to do it, then I hope you will be too. Good luck!!

    • 28th Feb 2012
    • 11
  • Jenni Sannia

    Actor

    Wow. Only just seen all these replies. Thank you. I was feeling pretty hopeless about the fact I haven't been to Drama school but I feel so much better now that I have heard it I'd possible to still get work without it. I still have my drama degree. I just have to keep the faith. You are all right. I'm hiring an acting coach to help me with auditions though. I will just keep going and going. Good advice about the student films for reel material! Thanks again everyone. So glad I'm on this site. It's nice to know that people know how you feel sometimes and it's good to have support from fellow castingcallpro people.

    • 16th Mar 2012
    • 12
  • Blake J Askew

    Actor

    Jenni

    TRAINING is not the same as drama school. There is a snob factor in this country that says drama school is non negotiable but there are many actors who don't go to a drama school and do ok.

    I would say that I would suggest you invest in better headshots as yours at the moment dont do a great job at selling you and you need to appear as professional as you can...

    • 17th Mar 2012
    • 13
  • Jenni Sannia

    Actor

    Really. I think my headshots are good. They were shot by a pro photographer!

    • 17th Mar 2012
    • 14
  • David Hopper

    Actor

    I would not say there was a snob culture involved in having not been to drama school. Its got nothing to do with snobbery if a casting director see's that an actor has graduated from a top drama school, it is almost a proven fact that he is going to be a good actor. Casting directors and agents are so busy these days I don't blame them for wanting to see actors from credited drama training over none trained actors. I wish that I went to drama school my training to the vast majority of casting directors means nothing.

    • 17th Mar 2012
    • 15
  • Jenni Sannia

    Actor

    I have to say that I feel there are some snobs out there that want people to have gone to a Drama school. I also think that going to Drama school does not mean that you are going to be a better actor than someone that hasn't. Its all about how determined and hard working you are. I know a guy that is brilliant and hasn't been to drama school.

    I have thought myself about applying to do an MA at drama school in the future, but at the moment, it is daylight robbery. I am not paying 12 grand for something that still won't necessarily get me work!

    • 17th Mar 2012
    • 16
  • David Hopper

    Actor

    I think it does not make you a better actor as such however you build up the contacts and respect from casting directors a lot quicker if you have been. You are also going to be taught by people who know exactly what they are talking about. Where as I was given horrific advice in my first two years of my "training".... My favorite's being " Just lie to get on Spotlight" and "dont audition for anything, just make your own work." Saved only in the third year by a professional actor who became my teacher, I have to say saved my interest in drama. I think also you build up contacts with actor's that are in the same place in there career as you. Which is what I feel I am missing out on the most.

    • 17th Mar 2012
    • 17
  • Jenni Sannia

    Actor

    I can see what you are saying and I do agree with you on that score. It's not to late to do an MA and it's certainly something I will keep in mind when the prices are lowered again. 12 grand for 1 year!! Joke in my opinion.

    • 17th Mar 2012
    • 18
  • David Hopper

    Actor

    Don't think it will ever go down again.

    • 17th Mar 2012
    • 19