“The minute that you’re not learning I believe you’re dead.” – Jack Nicholson
My name’s Paul Valentino, and I sometimes worry: if my hairline recedes, at what age I’ll have to shave my head?
You’re not on the wrong site, because I’m also an actor and aspiring filmmaker (that feature is coming to Sundance any day now…)
That’s me on the right, gambling my savings away at 3am in Las Vegas, pumped on caffeine.
I studied acting in England and in 2013 I moved to Los Angeles, CA from London, UK with a goal to switch from doing theater plays to acting in film and TV. Now I’m sharing advice with others.
Here’s a little more about this blog
Storytelling time. Once, I helped a new actor who approached me for advice. That may have been a mistake, since it started a trend. I soon noticed that people from my acting classes and other social settings began referring newcomers to me.
You see, I’m pretty bad at giving short answers. If I set out to give advice, I have to expand and provide as much detail as possible to ensure you’re set. That’s just my nature. Proof? My extremely detailed articles like How to Get an Agent or Cost of Living in Los Angeles.
So, majority of questions from new LA transplants and aspiring actors would range from anything on living here, to starting as an actor, signing with agents/managers, self-promotion, etc. After repeating myself for a while, I thought it would be best to create a resource for all of that.
That’s the birth story of ActingPlan.com. The reason for this site name is twofold: (a) I always tell people about the importance of planning, and (b) I was just in a rush to come up with any name because I was too excited to launch it.
What’s it about?
I’m your acting crash test dummy in Hollywood. I go see and review acting classes, agencies, coaches, services and other parts of the industry for you as well as for myself (and hoping not to get sued). We all need to know what’s a scam and what’s worth the money.
I have to use a pen name and hide my face because as an actor, it’s out there already. With my goal to provide you a 100% honest outlook on the industry, mentioning specific people and businesses in LA, I really don’t want this to come back and bite me in the ass eventually.
Under this Batman-esque disguise (see the photo above), using my experience and research, I’m sharing actionable advice on how to start your pursuit of an acting career in LA, so you can do this efficiently, with minimum time and money wasted.
Here are some of the topics you’ll see me explore on this blog:
- How to move to Los Angeles and where to live;
- What are the costs of living and working in LA as an actor;
- How to get a manager, agent, or where to find the best publicists and lawyers;
- Which type of survival jobs are best for actors, and how can you support yourself;
- Breakdowns of talent agencies and which ones are most likely to sign you as a newbie;
- My personal tips and tricks on nailing auditions and working on film sets;
- How to please casting directors and how to make connections with them;
- Filmmaking advice, how to create your own content and why you should do that;
- How to make perfect eggs Benedict.
I can provide you with all of this information, but I wouldn’t trust me on that last one.
My aim is to use my personal experience as well as all the things I’ve learned over the years by doing a lot of extremely thorough research.
In the end, I want to use this website to bring together many aspiring actors and create a community so we can all share useful tips. Hopefully, you can also help me to persuade professionals from the entertainment industry to come and give us all honest, valuable advice.
Am I a guru on this topic?
Hell no. I’m just another struggling actor, trying to do the same thing you want to do: act for a living. And even though I have been acting since I was 7, there are far more experienced actors out there than myself.
I am, however, a sucker for knowledge and optimization. I like taking the scientific approach to career planning, and over the years I have found ways to beat the competition, develop relationships with players in the industry and have people remember me and hire me.
The neurotic type in me loves reading, researching and well-thought-out groundwork. This obsession brought me many good things in life, no least of which was achieving significantly more over the same period of time than many others who came to LA at a similar time I did.
Besides all the research and Q&As with other pros that I have done for myself, I’ve also read maybe 250-300 books (and counting) that I thought would help me as an actor to get ahead of my competition. That’s not just acting related information, but also filmmaking, business, biographies, writing, creativity, selling, screenwriting, marketing, branding, networking, etc. I’ll be sharing all of that with my subscribers.
You can see a small part of my book collection I’ve got here with me in LA at the time of this writing, accumulated over 2-3 years. (Would you like a quick recommendation right now? Read “Five Easy Decades” by Dennis McDougal. Best actor biography book bar none.)
After doing my job – acting – in Europe and LA, I realized that to be successful in this field, you need to combine many different skills, a lot of which are outside of the creative field. If you don’t, you can only depend on luck to get you to where you want to be.
As much as I am a fan of Hollywood’s golden age and old-school actors, today’s show business isn’t the same. We need to stop romanticizing this career choice and focus on what matters if we’re actually going to succeed.
I couldn’t be more certain that actors must treat their careers the same way entrepreneurs treat their businesses. You’re only an artist when you’re on a film set; the rest of the day you are running a business, and that is most of your time, day in and day out.
To become a working actor, you must be business savvy. You need to understand how to network, how to market yourself both in the real world, and online. You need to know how to sell yourself and build a brand around yourself as an actor.
Furthermore, actors must start creating their own content. You need to write, film and produce things. It’s the best way to get noticed in LA.
If all this sounds like something you can relate to, then this blog is going to be for you. Don’t be shy and hit me up on social media (Facebook & Twitter), or say hello to me over email. And remember to subscribe below for updates and some secrets I don’t share on the blog.
“I know how to learn anything I want to learn. I absolutely know that I could learn how to fly the space shuttle because someone else knows how to fly it, and they put it in a book. Give me the book, and I do not need somebody in front of the class.” – Will Smith