So: you aspire to become an actor, but you don’t want to move to the hustle and bustle of Sydney or Melbourne. As a Brisbane dweller myself (Brisburnion? Brisbanite?), I can empathise with my whole, merry heart—the weather here is awesome all year round, the the traffic here ain’t too busy for a capital city. What’s more, with major productions getting shot here in what feels like every other month, there is more work for us Queensland actors than ever! “Heck yeh, Sam! But how to I get some of this sweet, sweet work you just mentioned?”
If you want to get acting work in Brisbane, you’ll need to track down opportunities to audition. In this article, we’ll cover some of the best places to find acting work for Brisbane-based actors including agents, casting profiles, universities and social media.
Ah yes, auditions. For some, they are a pain in the metaphorical bottom to do. For others? A transcendental experience where all of your acting problems go away and your dreams come true. Most of us seem to sit somewhere in the middle. And for any actor, they’re simply a part of the life. When it comes to all things Brisbane auditions, read on for all my insider info…
Being an Actor In Brisbane
Despite the huge industry boom that Brisbane (and our neighbour the Gold Coast) has had, we still do not have quite the same opportunities as our Sydney and Melbourne counterparts. Getting auditions, here—and therefore acting work—can still be an aloof activity that feels hard to grasp. So you’re going to have to go beyond what you may have originally thought getting an audition entails in order to find the auditions you want. Here’s somethings to keep in mind on your search.
- Be safe. If some random guy slides into your DMs asking you to audition for the next season of Netflix’s biggest show, then you should be wary and politely block them. If it seems too good to be true, then I am sorry to break your optimistic heart, but it probably is. Always remember that you should NEVER pay to do an audition, and be wary of who it is that is asking you to audition and where. Always try and bring someone with you, and listen to your gut if something feels off.
- Don’t be desperate. Hitting up every one you know—and every person you have met—for an audition for anything won’t do you any favours. In fact, that is a good way to get blocked or told, “Delete my number.” Don’t be desperate thinking that you have to get an audition at any cost. Even auditions take time to come to fruition. Be patient.
- Know what you want. If you want to be a big movie star, you’re probably not going to find auditions for the next big Netflix series advertised on Facebook. However, if you want to gain some audition and acting experience, Facebook pages are a great way to find some potential auditions for an indie film. Want to work in theatre? Then getting an agent that only deals with screen would not be the way to go. Set yourself some goals as an actor, and work to them from there.
Of course, the above points are best learned out there on your journey. No matter how many times you hear old timers (too much?) like me handing down our wisdom, chances are you’ll still make that wrong call, or freak somebody out with your enthusiasm or audition for the latest Prime series that turns out to be a student film. Relax: this is all part of the journey, and how you grow as a career-savvy performer.
Where to Find Auditions in Brisbane
Now that we’ve got the serious stuff out of the way, it’s time to look at the good bits. Auditions in Brisbane! Here’s where to look:
Without a doubt, the best way to find auditions in Brisbane is though an agent. We talk about this a lot on StageMilk, as securing representation is one of the most important steps an actor takes in their career. If you feel like you are at a stage to try your luck at the big leagues (talking parts in movies and TV shows, commercials, regular work) then getting a good agent is how you get auditions to these projects.
Considering you are specifically after auditions, it is preferable to have an agent that focuses their efforts on that—compared to an agency that mostly deals with extras. Nothing wrong with being an extra: if anything, it’s not a bad way to get future roles. I know actors who have been bumped up from extra to an actual part because they either looked the part, were easy to work with, or both.
You don’t necessarily have to wait for your agent to submit you for roles. In fact, you don’t have to have an agent at all. Signing up for casting websites will give you the chance to apply for castings all on your own. As always, though, be aware of scams and anything that seems too good to be true. Casting Networks, for example, is a pretty safe bet as it is an established and reputable and holds place for many industry professionals. In contrast, a site like StarNow is more like the wild west, where anyone can post for anything (within reason). This is bittersweet. A lot of independent filmmakers will post here, so if you are looking to get some good audition experience this would be a good place to start.
We have plenty of information on casting websites in the US, UK, Australia and Canada. Just remember that less established sites will have very little protection against scams and unsavoury characters. Just watch out for anything weird, and trust your gut.
We are super lucky here in Brisbane with the fact that we have multiple film schools for us actors to collaborate with. It’s the perfect team-up! We need experience and showreel footage, and they need actors. As an actor looking for auditions in Brisbane, Griffith, JMC, SAE, and QUT should all be on your radar. Follow their social media and bookmark their websites: these are the first places they will post about any upcoming auditions.
It’s a great way to get used to the audition process, too, as the stakes are low. Odds are you’ll be auditioning for students themselves (rather than casting directors), which takes off a lot of the pressure of having to impress a recurring industry figure. Still put your best foot forward, though, and take the process seriously. It’s always important to remember that student filmmakers have the annoying habit of turning into industry professionals who suddenly wield a lot of power. Collaborate well with them and be patient. They will remember you.
It may seem like a strange suggestion at first, but social media (specifically Facebook) can be a viable way to find auditions in Brisbane. First of all, it is where you can find access to all of the universities mentioned above. When students are looking to find actors for their film slates, they post it on the institution’s Facebook page. Follow them so you don’t miss out on any potential auditions!
It’s also worth looking at Facebook pages and groups for auditions in Brisbane. “Brisbane Actors,” “Casting Calls Australia,” “Brisbane Musical Theatre” and “Brisbane Actors Network” are notably worth a follow, as they post casting calls and networking events on the regular. As always though, be careful, be safe: feel free to ask the group if a casting call feels off or not.
You will also want to follow all of Brisbane’s top casting directors too, as every now and then they will pos looking for a specific role to be filled. But please, for the love of Uta Hagen, never ever direct message a casting director about auditions. Following them on social media a great idea, but sliding into their “DM’s” is not. The same rules apply if you meet one in real life. This goes back to one of the original points of “do not be desperate.”
Networking: Classes and Events
First of all: as an actor, you should be going to both of these things anyway. Keeping your skills sharp by going to classes is a must if you’re just starting out, and there are plenty of Brisbane-based classes and coaches to choose from. Networking events allow you to take a more guerrilla approach to finding audition opportunities. No matter what industry you are in, networking is important. But actors have so much to gain from successful networking that it really is a skill in and of itself (and worthy of just as much attention of nailing self-tape technique or learning lines.)
In Brisbane, if you’re looking for specific networking events, Eventbrite is my usual go to (after I ask around too and get recommendations from people in his, on set, etc.) All you have to do is put in your location, then type in what kind of event you are looking for. Keep the website in your favourites so that you can check on it regularly. Screenhub is another great website where you can find networking events too.
And when you get to the class/event? Make friends with people you vibe with. You don’t have to click with everyone, but be kind and generous to every person you speak to. Attend to connect and collaborate, rather than to get something specific out of someone—like an audition or a job. If you go out there and connect with people in a genuine way, and put yourself out there as an actor, the likelihood of someone thinking about you for a role increases tenfold.
If you are interested in joining a great local acting class, check out our 6 Week Screen Acting Class (Brisbane)
Late last year, with the help of a great team, I had a script that I wrote shot here in Brisbane. After years of auditioning, the tables had turned (and yes it felt a little weird) and I was the one holding the auditions. The actors that we auditioned and cast? All people the producer and I had known previously. How did we meet these people? At networking events and through past classes we had taken. People that had put themselves out into the world, connected with us on a genuine level and did not ask for auditions. They were all good at what they did, were easy to work with, and were overall nice people. Be kind to everyone you meet, because you just never know how these interactions can play out in the future. Speaking of putting your self out there though…
Make Your Own Work
Don’t like auditions? Make your own work! I know this seems like vague advice; when I was first starting out and people would tell me this, I was always left a little confused and dazed. So what’s an easy way to make your own work?
It depends on what your goal is. Let’s go small at first and think abut your showreel. Having some A-Grade footage shot in 4K by a uni student with their university resources for their film project is usually my recommendation for your showreel scenes. However, that involves auditioning (usually) and they don’t always happen that often. So learn how to do it yourself.
Most camera phones now are far superior to most cheaper cameras, and the latest ones even shoot in 4K. Find a writer friend, or learn to write yourself, and then go out and learn how to shoot a short scene, film or TV pilot. Hopefully, you took our earlier advice and have been going to networking events and classes, so that you have friends that you can call upon to collaborate with you on your project.
Will making something yourself get you straight into the bigs leagues just like that? It’s not impossible, but unlikely. But making something yourself gives you creative freedom and the chance to do what you love without having to have someone else give you the green light. For example: that aforementioned project I talked about? You bet your life I played a role. Because why not?
This goes for theatre, too! Places such as “Backdock Arts” in Fortitude Valley host independent shows all the time. Getting a group together and making something from scratch can be one of the most challenging tasks you can do as an actor, but believe me when I say that it is worth the feeling you get when you pull it off, and learn a thing or two.
Hopefully by now you have come to realise that auditions in Brisbane aren’t going to just land in your lap: you have to go out and find them yourself. Remember, your chances of getting work and auditions increases tenfold when you leave the house and show up. That means going to networking events, film festivals, classes, theatre, and so on. Opportunity rarely knocks on your door when you’re home, you usually find opportunity by running into in the world that you wish to work in.
So get out there, and run into something great!