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GUEST POST BY SAM GARLAND: Why You Must Create Your Own Work

April 6, 2015

Please welcome guest poster Sam Garland to the blog! She’s here today sharing why self-producing is one of the greatest tools for actors that most people never take advantage of. And you all know how much I admire actors self-producing! 🙂



There are many reasons why it’s important for actors to be creating their own work. (In fact, I just hosted a free training call where I delved into all of them. Plus, I shared some awesome-sauce ideas on how to jump in and get started with a project tailored to your talents. Want to grab your free copy? Click here.)

But I wanted to highlight one in depth for you today. Quite simply, it will make you a better actor.

Let me explain.

First, I have to confess that I am slightly addicted to acting classes. I love the safety, the support, the constant stretching. I love knowing that I’m growing, and working on my craft. And I love the high I get from being in front of an audience and committing to a role.

But the difference between acting in class and acting as a job is like — apples and snakes. 

Having a crew standing around, staring at you, or worse – checking their phones – while you give it your all, can throw you off your game. Having a loud, obnoxious, drunk audience talking through your show (which is being performed in a bar, because that’s where all great indie theater gets its free space), is a whole other beast.

I remember one of the first professional shows I did in NYC was set in a park, in a borough of Brooklyn called DUMBO, which is short for Down Under the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a beautiful park, but the bridge it’s under has two train tracks and the subways rumble by every 3 minutes. We had been rehearsing for weeks, and had created a beautiful, heartfelt performance that we were excited to share with our audience. Right before calling places, the stage manager came up to us and gave us our most important direction: “yell every line.”

Because suddenly, a helicopter had swooped in and was hovering over the park. Plus, the trains were rumbling overhead. And some jackass kicked up his motorcycle and seemed intent to rev it in place for the time being. It felt disastrous. But actually, it was art meeting reality. If we couldn’t be heard, then the show would be meaningless. We had to hope our prep work would carry through, and we committed to yelling. every. line.

It was as huge eye opener. One I’m sure many of you have experienced in your own hilarious, distressing, unexpected ways. These are all the makings of great theater stories.

The more you work, the better you get. And the more you create the kind of work you most want to be known for, the more prepared you will be to deliver when the stakes are high and you’re auditioning for your dream director.

When I self-produced my first play, I was shopping for my co-star’s shoes two hours before the show, and was doing set touch-ups 30 minutes before the show. I hadn’t looked at the script in 3 days, and hadn’t thought about my character when I launched into my opening night performance. It taught me to trust my training, to be in the moment, and to just surrender.

The truth is there will always be unforeseen circumstances. There will always be crazy days, things going awry, a lot to juggle. Learning to get out of the preciousness of perfect acting and into the messy reality of delivering when you’re too tired, too stressed out, too overwhelmed… that will make you a better actor.

One of the reasons I started producing my own film work was because I didn’t have a reel. But what it taught me about being in front of the camera – coming from a theater background – was huge. And the more I make my own work, the better I get. And the freer I become in front of the camera. The more I face my fears and share my work, the more I commit to growing as an actor and making the next thing even better. And the better I create, the more it gets seen. See a pattern here?

I know it can seem daunting to tackle writing, producing, and possibly directing on top of all the hats you wear as an actor. (R&D, agent, head of sales, customer relations, … am I missing any?) That’s why I’m focusing on some fun, simple ways to dip your toe in the waters. I hope you’ll join me.

Sam Garland is a Creative Career Coach who helps actors, writers, and filmmakers take charge of their journeys and uplevel their careers in powerful ways. If you want to grab your copy of her training call on 3 Innovative Ways to Create Your Own Content, you can get all the details here.

And since this call was a preview to her upcoming 4-week teleclass on Creating Your Dream Content to Jumpstart Your Career, she wanted to extend a special discount to our readers. Use code GRB to grab your spot for the special price of $97!

Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom and badass creating self, Sam!

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