Every time an actor seeks representation from an agent, submits his picture for a "picture-pull" or goes on an audition, his resume must be up-to date, professional and set-up according to "industry standards". A picture or "head shot" as it's known in the business is used for identification purposes and to see your personality. A resume shows that you are a professional, that you have experience and training, and what you can do well (besides acting).
Many actors make the mistake of going to a business service center to design their resumes. Although they are great for copying, cutting and such, they usually know nothing about building an acting resume. Unlike a business resume, acting resumes should never include career objectives, dates of employment, job descriptions, or the word "experience". A well written resume is a must in this business.
There is an accepted standard by which to set up an acting resume.
First of all your resume must fit neatly on the back of your head shot. Since pictures are 8x10 and paper is 81/2 x 11, your resume must be cut to size. It is easier if you set it up on your computer (type-written resumes are no longer acceptable) in the upper left hand corner, so that you only have to make two cuts rather than 4.
Your name should be in the center of the first line in a bold font size of at least 24-36pt. The less work you have the bigger the font should be.
Under that, also centered but in a smaller type should be height and weight, Flush to the left. Do not put hair and eye color on your resume because all head shots are in color now (industry standard), so those details will be obvious.
Never put your social security number or your address on your resume. Head shots and Resumes are thrown into the garbage on a regular basis if an agent, manager or producer is uninterested in you, so you will not want your personal info getting into the wrong hands.
The following categories should all start at the left margin:
The first category should be Film. Align the category name with the left margin then hit enter so that the first entry is at the margin as well. If you do not have any entries in a specific category, such as Film, do not put the category on your resume. I know this seems like common sense, but we see it all the time. All this does is call attention to the fact that you haven't done anything in that category. In the first column you would list the name of the Movie, then you would tab over a few spaces to your next category which is for the role you played, also called your "Billing".
For film, your billing categories are lead, supporting, featured and extra.
In Florida it is acceptable to put extra work on your resume if you haven't done any lead/principal work, as it shows that you have worked on a set. (The word principal - spelled with a "pal" - at the end is synonymous with lead, but I recommend using lead, since it is universal.) Some agents want you to put the role you played in the scene such as "restaurant patron" or "party guest" etc., instead of "extra". That's fine, but everyone knows it is still an extra role. Extra work is OK for your resume in Fla and NYC - but DO NOT list it on your resume for LA work. That's a big NO-NO.
If you work more than one day on the same film, playing different types, only use that project once on your resume. If you had a speaking part you would list it as a Lead, Supporting or Featured.
The next column (once again a few spaces to the right) is for the directors' name. Even if it is a student film, use the directors' name. That looks most professional.
Do not list your credits chronologically, but by most impressive. A lead in a student film would definitely take precedent over any extra work even on the biggest movie. A lead role in a major film would be rated more highly than a supporting in an unheard-of indie. So list all leads first in order of most important, then all supporting roles, then all featured, then all extra work.
Your next category is TV. The format will be similar… TV show name first and flush to the right… on the same line a few spaces over is your Billing and then a few more spaces to the right would be the production company or Network. For example: Paramount, FOX, Oxygen, E!, ESPN, ABC, etc. Billing for TV is different. You still use the same idea of grouping like billing together, but now your billing is Series Regular, Co-Star, Guest-Star, Host, Featured and Extra.
Next category is Theatre. Here you would list the name of the play in the first column, the name of the character you played (such as Juliet) in the second. Theatre is the only category where you would use the name of the character, as opposed to the billing. The third category is the theatre name and state, such as the Sugden Theatre, Fl. You may use high school theatre if you don't have anything else. High Theatres have a name, so use the official theatre name. Even if you are just starting out later in life, you can use high school plays - as long as it is true. NEVER LIE ON YOUR RESUME. You will get caught.
After Theatre would be Commercials. NEVER list commercials on your resume, simply write "list available upon request". That is an industry standard that any agent or casting director understands. If you've done a Coke commercial (as long as it's not still running) you are free to do a Pepsi commercial, but the Pepsi clients might reject you if they see it on your resume, so instead you have a list which probably only your agent will ask for.
If the Pepsi people ask you if you've ever done a Coke, tell the truth, but also let them know when it was and that it is no longer running, so you would still be eligible to do the Pepsi spot. If you have a coke commercial running, you can't do a pepsi commercial… same goes for any competitors like McDonald's and Burger King, Ford/Chevy, Verizon/ATT. This is considered a conflict of interest. That's why you never list commercials - you would take yourself out of the running before you had a chance to explain that the spot ran 10 years ago, so there was no conflict.
Training comes next. This should be any training you have had, including real-world certifications in nursing or science, etc. Every movie has consultants. Who do you think makes medical shows or procedural dramas look authentic - REAL doctors, nurses or detectives. Include stage, TV/Film, Commercials, music, dance, voice and body, stage combat and anything else an actor would use in his career. College degrees could be important - in the consulting field - so list them as well. Again, it should not be listed chronologically but by "industry importance".
If you take a weekend on-camera auditioning workshop with a well-known industry professional, like Los Angeles Director Tom Logan, this will mean more to a client than your 2-years of acting training with a local acting teacher. This is not to say that you don't need quality acting training in order to get the most out of these weekends. I'm simply talking about setting up your resume. Of course if you have a degree in acting from a respected college or University, this would rank above a five or six week class. Again, set it up as you think it should be, then ask your agent or another industry professional to double check the formatting for you.
Special skills are next. Sports fall under this spot. Musical instruments, singing, dance - anything you do would go here. These should include any skill that might be needed in a Commercial, Film or TV show. You need not be a professional or Olympian in the field but you must be able to do it well for a full day.
Acceptable entries include rollerblading, languages spoken, firearms, improvisation, swimming, diving, golf, drive 5-speed etc. List them, separated by commas on the same line. If you do not have a lot on your resume, you can make columns vertically to occupy more space on the page.
Things that shouldn't be included are cooking (unless you're a chef) sewing, computer skills etc. because anyone can do these convincingly on TV.
Once your resume is completed, make copies and have them cut to 8x10. No laser printing! Two reasons: 1- you are basically saying you are not getting anymore work, because you cannot update a resume once you laser it onto the head shot, and 2- Unless you are using an expensive laser printer and really good ink - that ink will bleed and become a mess, getting on everyone's hand and clothing. Then you look like you are not professional and that isn't good.
Stick to stapling the resume onto the back of your head shot. Use one staple in each of the 4 corners, with the FLAT SIDE of the staple on the picture side - very important. It is a tiny detail that makes the presentation of your head shot neater. NO GLUE-ing your resume to the back of your head shot. It can peel off or get bubbly. Stick with staples… they are simple, fast and changeable.
Last but not least, do not lie on your resume. You will eventually get caught and it will be very embarrassing. Be proud of what you have done and where you start. At some point, everyone started with only a few things and then built it up. Make sure your presentation is professional, neat and organized. Get proper training, learn the industry protocols and you will be on your way!
For more info on getting into the business, I recommend the "How to Succeed in the Business" Seminar: How to Succeed in the Business Seminar Details