There are many reasons why young people dream to be a star like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Priyanka Chopra or Deepika Padukone. Let’s not go into the reasons. However regretfully, the fact is they have no knowledge of this ruthless industry and what goes behind being a star or even how to become just an actor and survive in Mumbai.
The result is catastrophic. After a few years when their eyes open, they witness their shattered dreams, bankruptcy burdened with huge debts due to incurring staggering fees of acting schools, fraudsters and cheats who promise a break in films, portfolio, show reel, registration fees with coordinators and pseudo casting directors, living expenses and transportation costs in Mumbai and many other hidden costs.
Then what should they do? Quit and go back home with their head down?
Because it's not just about how talented they are. It's about how organized they are, and whether they can run their life as a business.
Here are my top 8 survival tips for those first few years in the real cine world, be it Bollywood, TV Serials, Commercial Ads or Modelling! ... And for quite a few years afterwards actually.
1. “You” Are the Best
Frustrated? Though getting roles, but nowhere near what your dreams are?
Wait! Remember you are unique. It's important to go into each and every audition or interview and show them who you are, not what you think they want you to be. Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is "You".
2. Don't Wait for Your coordinator to Ring you
Many of you they then sit around and just wait for the telephone to ring. In no time they are blaming their coordinator or agent for their lack of work.
The solution is to work better with your coordinator or agent. Chase them again and again for work, and find out what is going on. Ask your coordinator what more you can do to help them to get you work or auditions. Having invested so much in your training, portfolio, monologues, show reel, to name a few of your expenses, why would you put all chances of success into someone else's hands? And remember: finally it depends on you, and your tireless efforts which will get you a true break! Coordinators are just facilitators. They can’t replace you
3. Take Up A Part Time Job
Life in Mumbai for aspiring actors is tough, mentally and financially
Even if you are supposed to be ‘successful’, you won't spend 100% of your time working.. Think about what job you can do alongside acting. From call centers to restaurant work, and promotional work or other customer relationship roles - some in Mumbai even specifically wants actors. I recommend even to work part time in reputed production houses like Asstt. Director or Production Asstt. or if you have a good communication skills, may be a part time acting teacher in an acting school. Something that you can go back to with a reasonably regular income, that allows you time off for auditions. And of course, something that uses some of your acting skills will give you more job satisfaction.
(This tip is irrelevant for those whose parents are rich and sending at least Rs 40,000 a month to them)
4. Don't Blame Fate or Luck; Be Organized
Analyze and know your strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities. If you don’t know how to identify, ask your acting coach. Once you know your “SWOT” then-
Set your goal- career and finances
What you want to be in, let's say in 5 years from now?
Then break it down year wise till 5 years; In 4th, 3rd, 2nd and this year. Finally, narrowing it down to weekly and daily.
Not only do you have to keep a diary to know what it is that you want to do. What does success look like? Playing the lead in a Bollywood film is a good dream to have, but is it a relevant, attainable objective for your first year out of acting school? Set yourself some smart objectives. Let your objectives be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and properly. For example, scheduling your daily activities on improving your acting craft-body and mind; body building and voice improvement exercises, observation, focus and concentration exercises, meeting industry people, coordinators etc. That way at the end of the year, having achieved your small daily, weekly and monthly objectives, you will have a rightful feeling of success that will carry you forward.
5. Just One Thing a Day
Don't spend your whole time being multitasked and mooching around being depressed because you're out of work. Do one thing each day that might help you to get work and then get on with living your life. Casting directors choose "confidence"; they don't buy desperation and depression. Working actors don't need to act each day, but they should remember, never and never waste your time doing anything which is NOT relevant to acting. For example chatting on Facebook! This is a deadly enemy for aspiring actors!
6. Develop Resilience (The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties)
Even if you are successful, an awful lot of people will still say no to you in your career. Don't take it personally. In most cases, it's not because you're bad, it's because you're not right for the role in their eyes. After each rejection, take stock and move on quickly.
7. Building up Relationship (Network)
Quite often when you've been on the TV serials or films, more work follows as people are reminded of your existence. If you're not working, then this can be hard to achieve. Get out there with your actors tribe. Develop friendship and contacts with other actors, crew on the sets, ADs, Cameramen, Makeup artists. Got to hang out joints of coffee shops, theater shows etc. and find out what’s going on.
8. When To Give Up
We all change with age and what might be a burning passion at 22 can weigh us down and destroy our dignity and self-esteem by 30. We fall in love, have families and priorities change. Acting is a hard job if you're the breadwinner. As per survey by actors association Mumbai, only 5% of actors earn more than Rs 30,000 a month, and there might come a time when that's just not enough. So okay, well, you tried your best, much better having done it than lived a life of regret.
In my opinion, you should give a maximum of 5 years for your business of acting to succeed or perhaps till you are financially managing yourself or your family (If married) reasonably well without borrowing money from any source, including your parents.
Perhaps God has thought of some other destiny for you, a better and a happier one: there is no shame in moving on. Just quit and be proud of being “on the move”
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