Getting the most out of Contacts…and your career

If you are just starting out as a performer, you’ll be full of excitement and anticipation for the journey ahead. Equally, it can all look pretty daunting from where you’re standing. Even further down the line, gaining experience in the industry may not always mean assurance and confidence. A performer’s career is ever-changing and unpredictable, littered with highs and lows throughout.

Contacts Cover 2013

So if you are fresh from drama school, or even if you consider yourself a veteran in the industry, you will always find yourself juggling different aspects of your career. We have been publishing Contacts since 1947, and have always been dedicated to making all that juggling a bit easier. Whether you’re looking for a good agent, the perfect headshot, a snappy showreel, a rehearsal studio or someone to look after your dog while you’re on tour; there’s a lot to take into consideration as a performer. While we don’t have listings for dog sitters, Spotlight’s Contacts handbook aims to provide you with everything else you might need.

Contacts is published each year, with thousands of up-to-date listings for companies, services and individuals across all branches of television, stage, film and radio. In addition, our ‘Information and Advice pages’ are designed to help you get the most out of the listings, not only from us but from industry professionals who really know their stuff.

For example, at the grassroots level, you will need to find yourself an agent. There are hundreds of agents and personal managers in the UK. A good agent will have contacts and authority in the entertainment industry that you, as an individual actor, would find more difficult to acquire. Every company listed in Contacts is done so by written request to us. Some agencies have also chosen to list other information such as relevant contact names, their preferred method of contact from new applicants, whether or not they are happy to receive showreels and/or voicereels, the number of agents working for the company and/or a description of the performance areas they cover. If an agency has indicated their preferred method of contact in the listing, make the most of this golden nugget of information! Do not email them, for example, if they have stated they wish to receive your headshot, CV and covering letter by post. Using the right method will always increase your chances of getting a reply.

There is a reason the agency has taken the time to add this extra information to their listing so make sure you use it to narrow down your search and put yourself across in the best way possible. As well as using our listings, look at agency websites and ask around for personal recommendations. Unfortunately, Spotlight cannot offer personalised advice on choosing an agent but our website always has career advice or you can consult our list of Independent Advisory Services.

Having found the right agent for you, it is also important to cultivate good relationships with casting directors. Whether you have an upcoming showcase, or you are just looking for work, you can promote yourself directly to casting directors. Contacts lists most of the top casting directors in the country. You can use the information to send them your photo and CV (the advice above on methods and preferences of contact applies here too) but don’t be down-hearted if you don’t always get a response. This does not mean you are wasting your time; casting directors are often extremely busy but may keep you in mind and contact you for a future project.

And look at it this way: doing your research is never a waste of time. Simply by going through the listings and getting to know the names of casting directors, their projects and the area of the industry they usually cast for means you will be prepared if you meet one of them in a future audition! There are many more pieces of the puzzle (or balls to juggle) such as getting in touch with theatres, radio stations and television studios, perfecting techniques or accents with a drama coach, finding a festival to perform at…the list may seem endless! Unfortunately, there is no step-by-step guide to success in the entertainment industry. But Contacts may be the next best thing for getting you there and we’re not the only ones who think so:

‘’Contacts is invaluable when producing our graduate west end showcase – our bible for all those agents & CDs to invite” – Katherine Press – Spotlight Actress (Dancing On The Edge)

‘’Every actor should have two books, i) the complete works of William Shakespeare and ii) a copy of Contacts” – Andrew Keates – Director

To get your copy of Contacts, order online at www.contactshandbook.com, call 020 7437 7631 or come see us at 7 Leicester Place, WC2H 7RJ.

Written by Sarah Spahovic

Taken from www.spotify.com