My title, in case you didn't know, comes from William Goldman's abridged version of S. Morgenstern's The Princess Bride. His father had read it aloud to him when he was a boy, and he gave the book to his son when he (Goldman) went on a business trip. When he came back, his son reported that the book was so boring that he couldn't even get through it.
When Goldman picked it up and started reading it, he realized that his father had cut out all the boring parts when he read it aloud, and was reading "just the good parts."
(But can I let you in on a little secret? S. Morgenstern is actually William Goldman and the story above is all made up by him, and included in the book's foreward.)
At any rate, it's the perfect title for this blog on the acting resume!
There is so much information available on what your resume should look like...you're probably wondering why I'm adding to the chaos. Well, I'm living and working in a smaller market. To me, that doesn't mean I need to change the way things are done. In fact, I believe it means I need to do what's always done in large markets in order to call myself a professional.
Some people don't, though...and some people may not actually know what a proper resume should look like. Some agents, CDs, directors, etc. don't really care as much and won't tell actors, simply because it doesn't really matter out here.
But it does if you want anyone from outside of your small market to look at you as an actor who knows what they're doing and has had the training and experience to prove to them that you're worth their time.
Some quick notes:
~Always keep it to JUST ONE PAGE. Doesn't matter how many fabulous things you've done and want to show off. Keep it to one page.
~This isn't a list of everything you've ever done since the age of 2. This is why I've titled the blog, "Just the Good Parts Version."
~Something I learned just recently: credits do not need to be in chronological order. Instead, put them in order by your strongest roles! And keep deleting credits as you add more. The weakest can be cut out entirely as you get more and more good roles.
~The third column under film does not need to be the production studio. If you worked with a prestigious director, list them. If you did a show at NBC, put "NBC."
~Your resume should be on the back of your headshot, either by stapling it or actually printing it on there. Places like Reproductions have the type of photo paper where you can do that, which is what I have. I LOVE it!
First things first: Name! Duh. Some people use their "real" name, some use variations of their names, some have names that were never actually given to them. A lot of this can be for the simple reason that when they applied for union membership, an actor with that name already existed, forcing them to choose another. I'm incredibly lucky that the name given to me at birth 1) is not being used by anyone else and 2) makes a really bitchin' stage name!
Other reasons people may choose to use another name: 1) Well, wouldn't you if your name was Hildegarde Butts? [I made her up, so you don't need to go looking for her. I really hope some poor, unfortunate girl is not walking around with that name.] And who would you rather watch: Archibald Leach or Cary Grant? 2) They may not want to be immediately associated with their famous family members (Nicholas Cage, Emilio Estevez, for instance), or want to protect their family name (Natalie Portman).
Under your name, put your union affiliation. If you're not yet in a union, DO NOT PUT ANYTHING. (Such as non-union.) If you don't have anything there, it is automatically assumed you're non-union.
To the side (left, right, doesn't matter), I also have a "mini-me." It's a smaller version of my headshot so the CDs don't have to keep flipping back and forth while reading my credits. This is not necessary, but it is helpful.
Under that goes your agency info: Name, web address, phone #, email address. If you don't have an agent, you can put your own contact info, but only your cell # and email address. Never put your home address on your resume...there are way too many weirdos out there. Some people say you should include this information whether you have an agent or not, because if they come across your resume at a later date and you're no longer with that agent, they won't know how to contact you. So at the very least, put your website URL.
Under that, you will need to put your physical traits...Hair colour, eye colour, height (don't forget the inches mark: "...for whatever reason, a lot of people leave that out), and weight. And YES, you MUST include your weight. Your current weight. The weight you will be when you walk into the audition, not the weight you hope to be in three months. If you're a singer, also include your vocal type and/or range. Don't put your age, age range, or birthdate (unless you're a minor).
Under this, I put my website URL, but you can also include that above, with the contact info.
Next, credits! In most markets, film will go first. If you're in a place like New York and you mostly do theatre, then that would go first.
When you're first starting out, it's okay to list everything you've done...short films, background work, industrials, etc. People pad their resumes with this type of stuff a lot, and that's fine. Unless you're in a large market, or you have enough other credits, that is. If that's the case, never, ever, ever, NEVER include these on your resume! Especially background/extra work. Also for large markets, you should put what type of role you played, rather than the character name. Such as: lead, principal, supporting, guest-star, co-star, etc. Featured, by the way, usually means "extra." Billing is much more important here, because everyone knows what they mean. No one knows what role "Kate Johnson" is. P.S. It's spelled "principal," not "principle." Ugh. Look up the definitions.
Commercial work is usually next, and most of the time, you should just put "Conflicts available upon request." When you're up for a commercial, certaion clients will need to know if you've done anything for competing clients/companies.
Next, I have "web" or you could call it "new media." Write character type here, as well.
After that, I have voiceovers, but will move this to my special skills section once I've moved to LA, or shortly before.
Next up, theatre! On mine, I have two sections: Regional Theatre and International Theatre. Here, you can put the character name instead of type.
After that, training! Very important. If you're currently studying with that particular person you can write :(ongoing) afterwards. This section doesn't necessarily need the three-column format, but you can, if you like. You also don't need to include your 7th grade choir teacher or high school drama teacher. ;)
Special Skills comes next!!! This is kind of my favourite part. :) It's fun! BUT!!! So many people include a lot of information about their day jobs, like WPM that they type, or computer skills, etc. I used to, as well. But this is only for the things you can do that would be useful in a role--that you CAN ACTUALLY DO. Any sport, dancing (plus type), dialects, foreign languages...and when you put those foreign languages, you must be fluent in them (or at least conversational). No one cares that I can speak a little bit of French, German, Hindi, and Punjabi. ;) And then you can put something silly. My friend Kendra has "burp on command" here. I put "ultra-fast nostril flaring." It gets a laugh and relaxes me when they ask about it. (Plus, my superhumanly fast nostrils are just weird and everyone wants to see!) I've also put that I have a valid passport, which can be important for some projects.
That's it...that's the basics. You can change up the format, you can include a quick review...like, "Christa Cannon is sensational! LA Times, June 2011", if you have one.
I've copy-pasted mine below. The formatting is all off, obviously, but you get the general idea. Or you can see it here: www.christacannon.com ! Ideally, you should have it in pdf and word forms for people to download, and my new website will. (Ugh...my website. It's my Waterloo, I'm tellin' ya!!!)
Radical Artists Agency ~ 303.477.4777 ~ www.radicalartistsagency.com
Height: 5’ 1” Weight: 105
Hair: Copper/Red Eyes: Blue-Green
Voice: Alto/Soprano F below to High A
The Sixth River Lead Noor Nissan Films (India)
The Lint Roller Lead PiePie Productions
Adam's Leaf Lead JonRoy Productions
The Here Between Supporting Tangra Productions
The Highwayman Supporting Inferno Films
Dancing with Dr. Love Supporting Jet Propulsion Pictures
Conflicts available upon request.
Mile High Laci Series Lead/Co-Creator/ Jazzy K Productions
Kodak In-House Promotional Video Cheese & Crackers, LLC
Coalition for Upper South Platte PSA CUSP
Grease! Sandy Main Street Players
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella Ensemble/Cinderella US Town Hall Arts Centre
Oklahoma! Fay MACU
Father of the Bride Kay MACU
Hansel and Gretel Chorus Orlando Opera Company
La Boheme Chorus Orlando Opera Company
Les Miserables Cosette Heidelberg, Germany
U.S.Army Europe Tournament of Plays Featured Heidelberg, Germany
I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change Woman #2-Principal Heidelberg, Germany
I Hate Hamlet! Deirdre Hanau, Germany
The Fantasticks Luisa Hanau, Germany
A Thurber Carnival Various-Principal SHAPE, Belgium
One-Act Play Fest: A Liberated Cinderella, Charleene, SHAPE, Belgium
Cinderella, How to Capture Polonius/Laertes
& Keep a Husband, Reduced
Shakespeare Company's “Hamlet”
Hello, Dolly! Minnie Fay SHAPE, Belgium
Grease! Ensemble Lakenheath, UK
Monologue Workshop Jennifer McCray Rincon Vision Box
Audition & Monologue Workshop David Dalton & Chad Schnackel DS Studio Works
Voiceover Troy Horne Colorado School of Acting
Acting for the Camera Elizabeth Karsell Colorado School of Acting
Cold Read Workshop Patrick Sheridan Emerging Filmmakers Project
Private Coaching Cathy Reinking (CSA) Denver, CO
On-Camera Acting Intensive Cathy Reinking (CSA) Denver, CO
Vocal Training and Coaching Various Various
Ultra-fast nostril flaring, great with children and animals. Dialects: American Southern/ Deep South, Standard British, Irish. Quick study. Of Note: Valid passport.