The final installment of this is Beginners Guide to Getting Started in Hollywood is all about that precise time where preparation meets opportunity and you can create your own breaks within the industry. This is where it all comes together: Firstly, you have to know about how to advertise your own product (See Part I). Secondly, you have to find the best representation to deliver the message about your product to casting managers, potential clients and your target audience (See Part II). The final phase you must implement to begin to work in Hollywood is to find your edge over the competition - something that makes you different and stand out from the crowd. That's how you're going to get your product sold. All these steps together culminate in making your own break and get your foot in the door of the Hollywood market. This is precisely the time that you must step up to the plate and prove yourself. After all if you don't believe in yourself - why should anyone else?
My break came in the form of a television commercial for the company Squaretrade, which provides people with insurance protection for their electronic gadgets including breaks, spills and the mishaps of everyday life. The job itself was literally a “Godsend”. Dressed as Moses on the set at Hollywood Centre Studios was most definitely a dream realized for a kid from Surrey, England. I can’t tell you how much it meant to be working in Hollywood – a scenario I’d daydreamed about so often as a child. But there I was - a principle cast member on a US National TV commercial and I’d made it happen.
I’d literally made my own break. I found my edge and exploited it. Advertising and marketing my product through an extensive portfolio of gymnastic and action photographs, when the technology giant came to my agent looking for a 5’7 gymnast/stuntman who could throw themselves down a mountainside – my name was at the top of the list.
This job was incredibly significant, not only from a personal achievement point of view, but more importantly from a business perspective. This commercial provided new tangible assets for my product and brand that potential employees and casting directors alike could consider and consequently pay forward. This will also help to be taken more seriously by bigger agents to get the representation you want, which in turn will put you in prime position for bigger and better jobs. As your repertoire and skill base increases, so too does the flexibility of your product providing a wider range of work opportunities.
By using ‘your tools’ effectively you can add new dimensions to your product and brand, which might just give you the edge to get the next job you cast for. As result this commercial success lead on to many other fantastic jobs on other major TV shows including 'Criminal Minds Beyond Boarders’ and MTV’s Zombie cult classic ‘Death Valley’.
Using your imagination for your own advertising is vital. Basically, to work in this industry you have to find your edge. Everyone is vying for the attention of the same casting directors, clients and agents. You have to be different. You have to make your product as versatile as possible so that you can exploit as many niches as possible and increase the probability that you will make that sale and be chosen over everyone else. Look at the stars you see today - they are distinct - they bring something to the table that nobody else has. Look at the most distinctive voices in the realm of pop music. They are many artists who are by no means the best singers or have the best technique. They are simply different, they don't sound like anyone else and stand out from the crowd. This is what you must achieve. You have to find that edge.
My friend Ray Park got the role of Darth Maul in the Star Wars films because he had fantastic martial art skills. When George Lucas was looking for someone for the role and started to get ideas for the action the character should have - in the end he said well why don't we just use Ray as he has the skills - the acting was secondary. He then went on to play 'chameleon' in the X-Men films and he's still acting today.
I used to train with Jason Statham, diving at Crystal Palace. I still remember him selling watches at Wembley market. He had a distinct accent - a cheeky chap wide boy character - he's exactly as he comes across in the movies I think knowing him, but it makes him different and Guy Ritchie loved that about him enough to give him his break in 'Lock Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels'. With his outstanding physical ability as a sportsman it is certainly no surprise that he found fame in the Transporter series of movies.
My friend Mark Rhino Smith works all the time because of his unique appearance. He is huge in physical stature as a body builder and landed the role of 'Rhino' on the hit 90's TV show Gladiators. His unique look and physical attributes make him stand out and together with his great acting skills he works all the time too.
Stunt people get featured acting roles most trained actors would kill for - but because we can do the skills that many parts require, we walk straight to the front of the queue. I am living proof and it happens to my stunt colleagues all the time
Expect ups and downs
Success on any level doesn’t happen overnight. You have to be prepared to put in the time, be incredibly tenacious and above all develop a very thick skin. Hollywood is a tough town. There are no guarantees even if you’ve been successful somewhere else. I moved to Hollywood after working on huge movies in the UK such as 'Harry Potter and the Deathy Hallows' parts 1&2, which at the time were two of the biggest films in cinematic history - but I had to swallow my pride and go back to doing extra work just to make ends meet. I had to start again from scratch and peddle my wares from door to door again. That’s how I know my strategy works.
This can be a lonely and harsh business and in the day to day struggle of trying to make it in this colourful arena, it can be hard to keep your dreams alive. This practical and hands-on guide is designed to help other professionals improve and develop their own craft and careers. I've had so many of my wildest dreams come true within the business, that I hope it will inspire you to walk the same well trodden path and keep pushing to make your dreams, no matter how big or small, a reality too.