Alfonso Faustino: As an actor, do I need to move to and live in LA?

I am not a known nor influential actor — there’s A-list Actors and B-List actors…well, I’m a Z-list actor — an unknown with several film credits, but nothing to brag about, and ~20-some-odd television commercials (mainly locals and one national). As of November 2018, I started my career as a full-time actor based out of Los Angeles for the very first time, as an actor — I call this the Phase II of my acting careeer:

  • I have an agent;
  • I have a manager;
  • I am a member of SAG-AFTRA*;
  • I have my reels and video clips;
  • I have my up-to-date head-shots;
  • I have scene-study work completed at an acting school;
  • I have experience as an actor on film;
  • I have my current resume; and,
  • I am 100% audition and set-ready to work work as an actor.

* I always wanted to be SAG-AFTRA, so the moment I qualified, I joined without hesitation; and, I’m glad I did.  This might not be a necessary requirement for you if you are focusing on television commercials — according to hearsay, agents are looking for non SAG-AFTRA actors for television commercials; because, a large number of companies are using non union actors for their commercial because of the company’s interest to lower their production costs. One of the companies that don’t use union actors for their commercials is Amazon.  For theatrical work with a television series and major feature film with studio distribution, union membership (SAG-AFTRA) is a must.

The purpose of this BLOG is for me to share with you my experiences, thus far, as a new actor in LA for the very first time in my life.

I always get asked this question, “I’m interested in acting — do I need to live in LA?”

After we discuss the specific aspects of the goal, I find he or she is in-line with my acting objectives and goals; hence, I answer the question with,”no,” but…you need to have reputable LA representation by way of manager and agent if you wanna work on a television show or big studio feature film.

Most reputable LA managers and agents pick up talent in LA — why would they need to search outside of their immediate area?

So, that’s another element you must consider…managers and agents have access to talent in LA; hence, if you’re trying to get a reputable LA manager and agent, then you most likely have to live in LA as one of several requirements managers and agents look for in talent.

Sure, sometimes the television networks, agents, and managers do an open-call for new fresh talent from all over the US, but that is a rare event. In 2018, I only heard of two nation-wide open-calls: ABC and CBS doing a nationwide diversity call.

So, if you can get a reputable LA manager and agent, without living in LA, then you have one very big barrier knocked down; and, that’s a HUGE win! You should go out to celebrate; because, getting a reputable LA manager and LA agent is no easy task, regardless of your home location.  

Actors in LA, who don’t have representation, have a hard task of getting an agent or manager; actors with existing representation, looking to change agents or managers, have an easier time than those actors that don’t have representation, but it is still a hard task for an actor wanting to switch managers and agents — unless they are an A-lister or an up-and-coming B-lister.

So, if you, an actor, not living in LA, with no present representation in LA, and you happen to acquire a reputable LA manager and agent — well, daaaang — that’s huge!  Celebrate that win, too!

After you celebrate that win, the next barrier you have to address is, “do you have the time, funds, and energy to commute back and forth to LA to hit your auditions?”

If you have the funds, time, and the energy, like I do to commute back and forth to LA at a moment’s notice, then groovy like a drive-in movie — that’s another huge win.

If you are like most Z-list actors, you, most likely, don’t have the time, funds, nor energy to hop on a jet, at a moment’s notice, to hit a 5-15-minute audition…then, hop on a jet back to your home-base outside of LA. Well, if thats the case, that’s another conundrum and barrier you need to figure out — yes?

(Sidebar: 31-January-2019, at 1900 Hours PST:

Agent emails me: “You have an audition tomorrow at [1530] [hours] at Hollywood Casting and Film.”

My reply: “Confirmed — I will be there.”

Action Steps:

– Book Flight: $378

– Memorize lines, break down the scene, and run lines with auditon coach: $30

– Lyft from home to SFO: $36 (including tip)

Lyft from LAX to Casting: $37 (including tip)

Food: $21 (including tip)

Audition lasted 10 minutes.

Lyft from casting to LAX: $38 (including tip)

Food at LAX: $38 (including tip)

Lyft from SFO to home: $32 (including tip)

So, these are my costs for a 10-minute LA audition, which I ended up not getting. If you can afford the time, energy, money AND the possibility of not booking the gig, then you don’t need to live in LA as an actor.)

So, most likely, the answer, “yes — as an actor, you need to live in LA area — at least part-time.

Recently, I keep a studio in Beverly Hills, CA; hence, I live 80% of my time in LA and 20% of my time in San Francisco, CA — when I get more work as a television or film actor, I will increase my residence in LA to 99%.

Managers and agents are interested in two main things in their talent — getting to an audition and booking gigs; and, like any smart business, managers and agents want efficiency — in other words, they want to know that their talent is at their beckon call to hit an audition.

Managers and agents don’t want to have unnecessary phone nor email discussions with their talent about schedules.  I NEVER give my manager and agent any grief about schedules — they tell me the date and time of my audition; and, I email them with the word: “Confirmed.”  Simple and efficient — easy-peasy lemon-squeezy — no hassle — I just do it — that’s it.

If I’m booked on a Monday at 1400 hours for an appointment in San Francisco, and I get an email or call from my agent or manager that I have an audition for a television pilot in LA…guess what?  I’m going to make that audition — I will cancel my previous 1400-hour-appointment in San Francisco, hop on a jet, and I WILL make that television pilot audition — as an actor, that’s the high-level of performance I must operate in — I won’t pass up an audition; and, I won’t pass up a gig I booked. The LA market is tough, and I’m easily replaceable — so, I grip it and rip it every chance I get when it comes to acting opportunities for me.

But what about self-tape auditions?  Aren’t self-tape auditions done remotely — anywhere?

Self-tape auditions provide cost and time efficiency for both the actors and casting directors.  Both can work out of their homes and save time and money.  If all casting calls were self-tape auditions, then actors really don’t need to live anywhere in specific — like LA; however, don’t forget, two things:

  • The entertainment industry is not at 100% self-tape audition-mode; AND,
  • You still need LA representation to get that self-taped audition.

In addition, my agent asked her actors, “Is there anyone interested in being a local hires in the Southwest and Southeast areas?”  I, of course, answered in the affirmative.  I bring this up; because, certain areas in America are becoming emerging markets for the entertainment industry; so, we, as actors, have to consider our accessibility to auditions in theses emerging areas of the film and television industries; and, once again, these emerging areas and the respective auditions in those areas are monitored by LA agents and managers.

So, after you factor in all the stuff you need to do to get an agent and manager in Los Angeles, and you factor in all the stuff you need to do to get to your auditions in LA, you might conclude the answer in the affirmative:

“yes, as an actor that wants to work on television series and production studio (e.g., Warner Brothers, Paramount, Fox, and etc.) feature films, I need to take residence in Los Angeles.”

Of course, after you make the A-list rank, you can live anywhere; because, scripts will be written just for you, and the industry production folks (e.g., producers, writers, and casting directors) will be knocking on your door and calling you regardless of where you happen to reside.

Break-a-leg!

Check 6!

/s/ Alfonso Faustino

 

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