My friend Aaron Lustig, who has been a hard working actor in Hollywood for years, also teaches at the venerable Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute where he coaches young actors at the beginning of their careers. I listened to one of his lectures to a new group of students… I actually shot that first lecture… and then we took the highlights of that class and filmed those as an interview at his house in a more casual setting. (What? You didn’t know I did video? Check out Curious Cat Productions)
Aaron’s video is one of our longer ones at just under four minutes but Aaron details everything aspiring actors need to set off at the beginning of their journeys. His first piece of advice — which is key — is you must have desire, will and passion. “If you don’t want to do this 125 percent, then you shouldn’t be doing it at all,” he says. “That’s true with everything in life. Don’t do it half-assed.”
Actors also need training, headshots, a demo reel, and they need to market themselves. He names Actors Access and L.A. Casting as two of the industry standard sites to which actors can upload their headshots.
Aaron’s advice is invaluable because he’s been in the trenches. He knows the ins and outs of the auditioning process, how to get an agent, and he knows what kind of attitude you need to make it in the business. Hint: A good one. A very good one. He has funny stories about how his own lack of preparation ended up having his role recast by a more prepared actor.
Just in case you need to be reminded of Aaron’s credits, check out his profile on IMDb. And if you need a private coach, he’s available.
And oh yeah, his headshot… I took that. Come get yours! Call me, 818.481.5214, or email me at diana @ dianalundin.com and check out my headshots at Diana Lundin Headshots.
I had such a great session yesterday with Sean Patrick, an actor and musician, at his home in Hollywood. He literally lives one block away from Hollywood Boulevard, a street that is so familiar to anyone who has ever turned on a television in the last 40 years. We took the first series of headshots at the front of the building he lives in. On the porch, actually. We moved around a bit and he changed clothing, shaved, wore his glasses, didn’t wear his glasses, just a variety.
Then we moved across the street for a more urban look. Sean put on a suit, no tie, and the series of shots we took there made him look like a detective on Hollywood’s mean streets. We had such a range by the time the session was over… dad, “hooligan” (who could definitely get a role on “Game of Thrones” if only he had an English accent), computer geek, middle-aged professional, and then police officer-lawyer-doctor.
Know your character types and have your headshots reflect it.
One of the actors I like and admire most, Aaron Lustig, has posted “The Evolution of the Headshot… Mine, That is” on his blog and it’s very amusing. As a working actor for many years, he has a collection of headshots dating back to 1974. Sometimes he has hair on his face, sometimes he has hair on his head but you can see the progression of changes over the years. It’s worth your time to read it. As soon as you see him, you’ll recognize him from the films and television shows he’s been cast in.
But that brings up another point… headshot styles change. As you’ll see from Aaron’s blog, most of his are in black and white. If you’re old enough to remember, headshots were once done strictly in B&W and were shot in film. So the photographer would shoot, I don’t know, maybe three 36-exposure rolls of film (if you were lucky) which meant you had 108 choices — and who knows how many were actually usable since you couldn’t see anything until they were developed.
Now, with digital, everything is in color and you know immediately during your session what’s working and what isn’t. You can fine tune your expressions and, for that matter, your clothing choices or your hair and makeup. You can become the best you can be in your headshot. It’s brilliant, really, that digital. What I do is bring along my little 13-inch MacBook Pro so that we can look at the images together. It’s hard to fully see yourself on the back of the camera but once it comes up on screen on the laptop, you get a really good idea of how your session is going. So that way we know when we’ve nailed a look. You’ll have a lot to choose from but you know there is at least one look that just sings out loud.
And speaking of trends in headshots, Aaron’s blog gives you quite a taste of how things have changed. You’ll see that the current style is much more relaxed and casual. I also love horizontal headshots and his blog includes examples of those.
Although I urge you to go take a look at Aaron’s evolution, I’ll give you a little taste of his headshots.
By the way, Aaron teaches at the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in Los Angeles. I’ve taken headshots of many of his students and they love him!