The Best Advice Roundup: 2018 in Review

Top advice from across the industry - enjoy our roundup for 2018! 

By Christina Care

Spotlight has been working hard this year to bring you the best advice from across the industry. From writers, directors, producers and performers, we’ve gathered the best answers to your questions. Just in case you missed some of the knowledge, here are our top picks for all the essentials you should know, to make 2019 your best year yet.

Skip ahead to:

The Podcast

Making Work

Getting Work

Health & Wellbeing

Young Performers

The Podcast

We relaunched our podcast this year and so far you guys have been loving it! If you’ve missed any of our essential episodes so far, check it out on Podbean, on our website or on Spotify and iTunes under SpotlightUK! Episode topics so far include picking the best photo for your profile, learning how to self tape on your phone, and our final upcoming episode to watch out for: what to include in your showreel! Lots of great advice here to get you ready for a big new year ahead. Take a listen to this great episode on preparing for an audition with an accent:

Making Work

We introduced a new section of our site called 'making work', which includes all the best advice on writing, directing, producing and more. So if you're planning on creating your own show in 2019, this is definitely the place to start! 

Comedy and Performance with Mark Thomas

The ethos that you can get up and create your own work, your own material, is really important. I think that's a really positive [influence] that stand up can have on theatre performers....
Mark Thomas

Brilliant comedian, journalist and satirist Mark Thomas talked to us during his run at the Edinburgh Fringe this year on the synergy between performing and comedy. Take a look:

Devising Comedy with Just These, Please

Get some mates, in a room, and read your stuff out loud.
Georgie Jones

The fantastically charming Just These, Please ran a session with us during our November Open House on how to devise your own comedy sketches. We asked them a few questions about their side gigs, keeping up their creative energy and more. Take a look (trust us, it's funny!): 

 Disability and Performance: An Interview with Robert Softley Gale

I don't want a generic actor who looks the same as every other actor... I want real people and I actually think it makes the end product a lot better.
Robert Softley Gale

Birds of Paradise's Robert Softley Gale chatted to to Spotlight about his Edinburgh Fringe show My Left/Right Foot: The Musical. We also discussed disability and performance, challenges still faced by disabled actors, and how we can improve representation on stage and screen. Watch this enlightening chat here:

 How to Create Your Own Screen Work

Now is a very exciting time. We have the ability to be autonomous; to make our own content with very little cost. To play characters that we wouldn’t otherwise get to play by writing them ourselves and being our own brilliantly biased casting director...
Matthew Jacobs Morgan

Regular writer Matthew Jacobs Morgan gives us his tips and advice on creating your own screen work - he's been creating his own films from a young age. Now he's part of the BFI Network's Flare mentorship programme and has also done a podcast with us on film work. Read more of Matthew's great advice here.

Directing Your Own Work with Holly Race Roughan

I think this industry runs on coffees...
Holly Race Roughan

People, Places and Things UK Tour Director, Holly Race Roughan, dropped into our last Open House and held a very practical session on directing your own work. Vital reading for anyone considering creating their own show this year, so take a read here. You can also see a video with Holly here.  

On Becoming a Theatre Director with Gareth Nicholls of Traverse

The Traverse is a staple of Edinburgh's theatre scene and we were lucky enough to speak with director (and now acting Artistic Director) Gareth Nicholls, as part of our Edinburgh Fringe coverage! Read his advice for becoming a theatre director yourself, here

Finding Your Voice with Luke Barnes

The first thing is about finding your tribe.
Luke Barnes

Luke Barnes used to grace our screens on Game of Thrones, but is now a star of the UK's playwriting scene! We talked to Luke ahead of his show at the Edinburgh Fringe on what it takes to find your voice as a writer - essential viewing if you're hoping to embark on your own writing journey! Take a look: 

Vinay Patel on Writing for Stage and Screen

I think actors are the best writers because they're trained with looping emotional arcs... there is that natural instinct of creating narrative.
Vinay Patel

BAFTA nominated writer Vinay Patel shares his insights into becoming a writer, his advice for actors wanting to write their own work, and his next play - on George Lucas!

How Writing Can Help With Your Acting

The play owes us nothing and we owe it everything. It was an example of how to take part in the industry without letting it define what you are and what you can do. Every time a whisper of ‘opportunities’ or ‘wanky’ jargon came into the room, we cut it out and moved on. The play was the thing, and it served us brilliantly.
Kieran Knowles

In one of our most popular advice pieces of the year, Kieran Knowles wrote us this fantastic guide to how writing and acting can simultaneously work to improve your craft, and how writing helped him to personally overcome a lack of agency representation (and a fear of what that meant for a career as an actor!). Read more here

Getting Work

"Getting work" is our most popular category of advice on, because there's nowhere you'll find more info direct from the industry's top professionals. Here's our best advice for making sure your career is as busy and successful as it can be. 

6 Tips for Becoming a Spotlight Member

It can be a lot of work to star in, direct and write your own work – but lots of people do it! If there isn’t much work coming your way, creating some work can be a great idea for getting started.

If you're not yet a member, we'd love to have you! This piece will tell you everything you need to know to make your Spotlight application a success and join the ranks of the best performers at the home of casting. Read now!

How to Make A Showreel

Perhaps one of the most important videos of the year: how to make a showreel! Way too many actors are missing this vital part of their kit on their Spotlight profiles, so make sure you have one for 2019. Casting directors really want to see you on film, so don't start applying for jobs without a showreel!

Brexit and the Performing Arts: What Can You Do To Prepare?

As #BrexitShambles rolls on, what can you as a performer do to prepare for the unknown ahead? Luna Williams from the Immigration Advice Service wrote us this very popular piece on how you can get started ahead of Brexit day. 

How to Make A Good First Impression

The most common pieces of advice that casting directors give us is about headshots: your headshot must be clearly of you, natural, no costumes or props. It should simply show you as accurately as possible - this means that if you drastically alter your look, you’re going to need to get new headshots taken!

Some of the best advice from casting directors and other industry professionals, curated here for your benefit. Make the best possible impression as you negotiate this tough industry with this great read. 

How to Create Your Best Spotlight Profile 

Our Spotlight profile is the gateway to industry professionals, so making this the best it can be is super important! Take a read of the tips our own Performer Adviser Emma Dyson gave at our recent Open House. 

First Time Doing Panto? Here's Some Things You Should Know

There are a few little techniques I’ve found useful. First of all, be super clear and big with any signals that tell the audience what to do - save your subtlety for Pinter.
John Currivan

Debut from our newest writer John Currivan on the things you should know about panto! This is perfect for your Christmas reading list. John's insights are funny and moving - a great tribute to the joy panto brings people of all ages, year on year! Read more here

The Spotlight Mini Podcast: How to Self-Tape on Your Phone

Our most popular podcast...ever! Self-taping is huge, and to be a jobbing actor in 2019 means knowing how to self-tape. If you're on the go, your phone is usually the best way to film, and this podcast gives you everything you need to know to ace your next audition and land that great part. Truly essential listening for all working actors. Take a listen: 

4 Steps to Ending Tax Panic 

Taxes shouldn't be such a stressful task... 1tap wrote us this piece on ending the tax panic in four easy steps. Take a read

What's Your Vocal Range and Voice Type?

Every voice is an individual instrument with a unique sound.

Do you know what your vocal range and voice type is? It's important that you do! Here's our guide to figuring it out to make sure you've got the most accurate information possible on your Spotlight profile. Take a read now!

Perfecting Accent Work with Dialect Coach William Conacher

Accents have different entry points for me. Sometimes it’s the rhythm and melody, or sometimes it’s vowel and consonant changes… I believe learning an accent is much more akin to learning dance steps than it is learning a piece of music.
William Conacher

The Crown's dialect coach William Conacher answered our questions about how to perfect your accent work. A perfect complement to our podcast above! Take a read.

Health & Wellbeing

How to Be Creative When You're Not in Work

Being a performer guarantees one thing: total uncertainty. It’s hard to know when the next job is coming your way, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t still the creative and passionate performer you know yourself to be.

Taking care of yourself between jobs is super important: we at Spotlight are doing more to address mental health and wellbeing in our performers, and address your concerns working in this tough industry. This is our guide to keeping those creative juices flowing - take a look!

Post-Audition Self Care

If you’re busy eating tacos with your mates or watching the new Leonardo Di Caprio movie, you won’t have any time to be thinking negative thoughts or to overanalyse the way in which the Casting Director said “well done”. Instead you’ll be thinking ‘mmm, these tacos are good’, or ‘mmm, Leonardo Di Caprio’. And both are a very good thing.
Matthew Jacobs Morgan

Another beauty from Matthew Jacobs Morgan, this relatable and sound advice walks you through the after effects of the audition process. Make 2019 the year you take better care of yourself as an actor. Here is Matthew's guide to taking care of yourself once the adrenalin of an audition has subsided...

A Guide to Finding Help for Anxiety and Depression

Mental health is such an important topic to discuss and understand better. We created this guide as part of our series for Mental Health Awareness Week this year, and it contains some really important information about how you can help to be the best version of you possible. Live happy and healthy and deal with the demons of a tough performing life!

Young Performers

Our younger performers are really important to us at Spotlight, and this year we offered a tonne more of advice and information for parents and young performers alike! See much more on young performers here

The Spotlight Mini Podcast: How Do I Get An Agent as a Young Performer? 

With our young performer specialists Mel Brown and Ellie Samuels, we talked through the ins and outs of finding representation as a young performer. This episode is essential listening for parents and performers alike, to get a better idea of what agents can offer you/your child, what the ideal relationship should look like, and more. Lots of practical hints here, so take a listen!

What Can Equity Do for My Child?

Did you know that children can now join Equity? Read up on our advice as to why this could be helpful to you and your child - young performers receive all the great benefits that adult members receive!

Carrie Hope Fletcher on Crafting a Cross-Platform Career

It’s a horrible truth in the life of an actor that you never know what's next. I might do my next job and then not work again for another four years. That's just how it works. But having those other interests means you're constantly making work for yourself. You're never bored, and it hopefully means that you're never out of income.
Carrie Hope Fletcher

Youtuber and musical star Carrie Hope Fletcher talks to us about how she forged such a diverse and successful career so young and defying her casting type by forging her own path in the industry. She's already a published novelist, and currently performing on the West End, and has over 650,000 YouTube subscribers, all at a very tender age! Read more of her incredible story here

What Young Performer Agents Want You To Know

When entering the industry, no one gives you a 'how to guide' of how to approach agents or what to expect when your child gets signed - you are expected to find the answers yourself.

...for this reason, we've tried to demystify things a bit! Here our internal experts answer your questions on agents and representation. This includes questions on fees, on what you can expect in terms of auditions and feedback, and dealing with rejection. Here it is!

A Parent's Guide to Photographing Your Child

Casting professionals want a clear representation of what your child looks like... [displaying] your child’s unique personality.

Headshots are important for performers of all ages - but younger performers tend to change a bit more over time! This is our guide to everything parents should know if they need to update their child's headshot. 

Wishing you and your families a happy holiday season and bright new year - bring on 2019! If there are topics you'd like to see us cover, questions you want answered, or a piece that particularly helped you out, tell us about it on Twitter or drop us an email at [email protected]