Should amateur work be on your CV?

  • Torya Winters

    Actor

    Prompted to start this thread by Andie's question about non-speaking roles, it made me wonder about something else.

    What is people's position on the inclusion of amateur/non-professional work on a CV? Would you include student films in this category, or just village amateur dramatics groups?

    My personal view has always been that I would never put anything on my CV that wasn't professional - student films excepted. However, I just wondered what the general consensus is?

    • 25th Jan 2009
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  • Andrew Wright

    Actor

    I will say if its a named character and speaking part ,plus if you are building up a showreel my answer is yes .

    I might be wrong but if it looks good and shows your acting why not !!!!!!.

    • 24th Jan 2009
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  • Nathan Head

    Actor

    hmm I'm not certain.

    i think ANY good credit is good for you cv, amateur or not.

    but i ain't a famous or well established actor. if i was, id say only professional as putting smaller productions on cv could harm reputation

    • 24th Jan 2009
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  • Mary Gerardine Hooton

    Actor

    Perhaps if it was an am dram credit this should be mentioned in the name of the company section, similar to when people put collage of drama school credits on.

    • 24th Jan 2009
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  • Alice Brockway

    Actor

    When I was training I was told not to put any amateur credits on my CV.

    I have seen people who have done - including shows I was involved with - but I don't see that they're very useful. A casting director isn't going to know the company and if they do they're going to know it's amateur. Could end up looking like you're grasping for credits.

    • 24th Jan 2009
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  • Reuben Liburd

    Actor

    Well of course you need to put it on your CV as long as its a speaking role of course.

    Thats how Actors start off in this industry and working their way up because its all experience and adds up to a showreel and then in interviews you would also have more to show and talk about.

    Remember you cant just jump straight into Eastenders unless you're Lacey Turner and dam she's one HOT SEXY GIRL.

    Reuben Liburd

    • 24th Jan 2009
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  • Blake J Askew

    Actor

    NO NO NO NO NO.

    Amateur work should NOT be on your CV. I have had agents tell me either you are a professional actor or an amatuer. Amateur work is done by people for the pure enjoyment and professional work has a standard that in many cases is high above, although are are exceptions.

    No casting director, agent or professional director will take those credits seriously for the most part.

    Drama school credits, NYMT, NYt etc are different, but an amateur group in general will do NOTHING for the progression of your career 9 out of ten times. Its better to work on the Fringe and gain credits that way, or join a scene study group, or the Actors Temple and get some training productions that way.

    • 24th Jan 2009
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  • Peter Sheldrake

    Actor

    The answer is NO. Casters (and agents) very often are put off by long lists of credits that include a host of of Drama School work. But would not be impressed by Amateur credits.

    • 24th Jan 2009
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  • Reuben Liburd

    Actor

    I have met and read about many actors who have suceeded by starting off in amateur work.

    Reuben Liburd

    • 24th Jan 2009
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  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    Again, this comes down to a question of what is defined as 'amateur'. Many actors CVs carry student film credits when they are at a point in their career when they haven't done a great deal of more 'professional' screen work - this is because a) often, the schools are themselves well respected in the industry, and employ tutors and practitioners whose work is recognised as high grade and b) the students are assumed to be working towards active careers in the industry. The execution of *some* student films are a disappointment, but many are extremely well made, sometimes DOPed by the tutors, who are invariably industry professionals (at least at film schools per se, as opposed to universities, where they may simply be academics specialising in film studies) and make great showreel additions. They are certainly no more 'questionable' than an actors' own drama school credits - which you certainly ditch from the CV the moment you start working in better productions, but have a similar sort of validity - they are created by professionals (the tutors) working in tandem with the students.

    Lines are increasingly hard to draw in this day and age, anyhow - many professionally mounted productions don't pay the actors much, if anything - which is a different argument entirely, but no one would deny the quality of the production. I recently saw a number of friends perform in 'Christmas Carol' at the King's Head, for instance - a wonderful production, which garnered rave reviews, and will look great on their CV's for many months to come - and yet, it was still profit share at the end of the day! As previous threads have pointed out (wisely), profit share productions may be dubious in all sorts of ways, but from the point of view of *intent*, they hope to make money and garner industry recognition for the performers and the company - in that sense, they're professional. A low - budget film that is seeking distribution is 'professional' etc. etc.

    'Pure' amateur work is the type of material that is solely put on within the confines of a very limited forum - it is not intended to be competing with the professional productions of the capital or elsewhere - the casts are primarily made up of dilettante enthusiasts for acting, rather than those who consider acting a full time profession. And there *is* a world of difference between an actor who has to make ends meet by temping/serving bar/stacking shelves etc. in addition to performing, and a teacher/estate agent/retired colonel/accountant whatever, who does a bit of acting 'on the side' in the local village hall. This type of work is pointless on a CV - it can immediately be acknowledged for what it is - and Blake is right, casting directors will take you less seriously if you are seen to be taking *it* seriously. Rather than thinking you are an inexperienced neophyte actor who may need to be given a chance because you have, as yet, gained few decent credits, but are clearly working hard to try to, they will think you are a self-important prima donna who cannot tell the difference between actual work, and impressing your friends and family!

    This isn't to say Reuben is wrong - you will probably find that 75% of actors (including myself) started off in amateur productions - only a few are lucky enough to immediately fall into being given a supporting role etc. in a professional production off the bat - and from then on, they are bitten by the bug.

    But that's not to say quoting them on a CV is a good idea - there are a very few exceptions - somewhere like Questors has such a good industry rep that having performed there is worth mentioning, if you need to pad the CV out. Although I never did a great deal of amateur theatre, I did loads of good roles with university drama societies (and even got selected for the National Student Drama Festival on the basis of this)...but I have never listed them on any CV, other than mentioning them in my drama school application, because I realise they carry no weight within the industry whatsoever. There are many reasons for this, although one obvious one is this: in university groups/amateur setups, you can easily be cast in a part which would never be given to you in the actual industry in a million years, and it has been given because there is a very limited number of actors to cast from within such a grouping. This sort of thing is just not worth referencing.

    If you feel that this experience *is* important to you, and reveals an extra side to your performance history, I would suggest adding a note or rider to the CV, under e.g. 'other information' and pointing out that you have experience of working with such and such an amateur theatre, particularly as this is often a long-term relationship, and have played such - and - such roles in your time with them. Then at least people can acknowledge it without being bothered by it. But even then, it may ring hollow, unless you really are just starting out.

    • 24th Jan 2009
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  • Torya Winters

    Actor

    Thanks for all the comments - very interesting replies. I can see the point of including student films - I do so myself, as I haven't got a lot of screen experience.

    However, I'd still draw the line at including amateur drama credits on my CV. I've seen them on other people's CVs when using this site as an employer, and it's always made me less likely to want to call them for an audition, especially when the amateur credits are the main proportion of the CV. I know a couple of other employers who feel the same way.

    • 25th Jan 2009
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  • Blake J Askew

    Actor

    Reuben,

    Amateur work is not the question. many people HAVE started off in amateur work and got the acting bug but then got PROFESSIONAL training and got PROFESSIONAL credits and left off the amateur work. Granted, sometimes you can make a good contact in there , but more often than not its a waste of time.

    • 25th Jan 2009
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  • Alan Brent

    Actor

    ANSWER IS NO

    • 25th Jan 2009
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  • Rebecca Probyn

    Actor

    No, only professional work.

    • 25th Jan 2009
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  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    A nice contrast - as I can write a small essay paper on the answer to this question, and Alan covers it in three words. Brilliant. :)

    • 25th Jan 2009
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  • Torya Winters

    Actor

    So those who do include amateur work on your CV, do you think it's helped or hindered you?

    This is quite interesting - I've always been strongly against it and thought it wasn't the right thing to do. It's interesting that quite a few people think it's fine.

    • 25th Jan 2009
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  • Torya Winters

    Actor

    Lee, I love your essays - you must put so much time into every answer!

    I do love Alan's straightforward succintness (is that a word?) as well though.

    • 25th Jan 2009
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