Actors, producers and directors create images and express ideas in film, theater, television, radio and other types of performing arts. They are responsible for interpreting the script of a writer to inform, entertain and instruct an audience. While many choose to work in either Los Angeles or New York, many others work in other locations while focusing on regional performing arts.
Acting, Producing and Directing Job Responsibilities
Actors perform in radio, television, motion pictures, video or on stage. They may also work in nightclubs, theme parks and cabarets. It is the job of an actor to portray characters. In complex roles they may research the circumstances and traits of that character in order to better understand the script. Many actors find it a struggle to obtain steady work. Others may work as extras and not deliver any lines. Some perform narration or voiceover work for advertisements. They may also teach.
Producers make the financial and business decisions related to a motion picture, stage production or television show. They choose the scripts, arrange financing, approve idea developments and determine the cost and size of the production. Producers may also hire directors, principal cast members or other key production members. A large production may have an assistant, associate or line producer. The number of producers often depends on the budget and size of the production.
Directors make the creative decisions related to a production. They audition cast members, interpret scripts, direct the work of the cast and crew and conduct rehearsals. Directors are also responsible for approving design elements related to a production, including music, choreograph, costumes and sets. There may also be an assistant director who cues technicians and performers. All directors in a production report to the executive director.
Actors, directors and producers typically work under significant pressure. They must have patience as well as be committed to their craft. While actors must work to deliver a perfect performance, directors and producers must adhere to budgets, production schedules and union work rules.
Work assignments are usually short term and will range from one day to several months. This means there could be long periods of unemployment. It is not unusual for actors, directors and producers to hold other jobs in between assignments. Work hours are usually long as well as irregular. Weekend and evening work is common. Travel may also be common, especially in touring shows, when film work on location is involved or for promotional purposes.
Employment in films for television and motion pictures tends to be centered in Los Angeles and York. Most motion pictures are filmed on location. Theater work can be cyclical with more work available in the spring and fall. The employment outlook for these professions is expected to grow at an average rate.
Acting, Producing and Directing Training and Education
In order to become an actor, producer or director, there can be many paths to employment. The most important qualities include innate talent, creative instincts and intellectual capacity. For actors the best way to prepare for a career is through formal training, especially for stage work. Producers and directors must have field experience.
Formal dramatic training can take place through a university program or acting conservatory. Individuals interested in becoming an actor should consider participating in high school and college productions or working at television or radio stations. Performing with a local community theater group can also be good experience.
There are not any training requirements for producers. Writers, actors, film editors and business managers often become producers. While there are no specific training requirements, degree programs in arts management are available at many colleges and universities. Directors may gain experience as writers or actors.
Acting, Producing and Directing Salary and Wages
Successful actors, directors and producers can earn salaries that are extraordinarily high; however, such earnings are often erratic and many may need to supplement their income with other jobs. The median hourly wage for actors in 2008 was $16.59 per hour. The median annual wage for directors and producers in 2008 was $64,430. Hours of work, minimum salaries and other employment conditions are typically covered in bargaining agreements between unions that represent workers and producers. Under a joint agreement between the American Federation of Federal Television and Radio Artists and the Screen Actors Guild, guarantees are provided specifying that all unionized television and motion picture actors with speaking parts must earn at least $782 per day or $2,713 for a 5 day work week as of June of 2009. Actors may also receive contributions for pension and health plans as well as additional compensation for foreign telecasts and reruns of productions in which they have appeared.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
The Actors Equity Association, an organization that represents stage actors, has also negotiated minimum weekly requirements for members. Salaries may depend on the venue or theater in which the actor is employed.
Acting, Producing and Directing Certifications
There are no specific certifications that are required for actors, producers or directors
Actors, Producers and Directors Professional Associations
Professional associations include:
- Screen Actors Guild
- American Federation of Federal Television and Radio Artists
- Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers
- Actors Equity Association
- Directors Guild of America