The Essential Utensils For The Expat Thespian


One day I was doing my usual research on how to further my career as an expat thespian and came upon an amazing Youtube series called The Workshop Guru. The host, Ajarae, was explaining what an actor needs in order to succeed in this business.  It was called the Actor's Tool Kit. 

As I listened to this host I realized that the tool kit for the expat thespian would be a bit different.  Hence, this blog post came to fruition.  Without further ado here are 

THE ESSENTIAL UTENSILS FOR THE EXPAT THESPIAN

1. GOOGLE DRIVE - I know this may seem trivial but it is very important to have your personal cloud to be able to access your vital information.  Film professionals are always asking for your bank information i.e. bank name and account number so you can get paid, alien registration card, pic of 1st page of your passport, resumes, pictures etc.

As an expat thespian you won't always have access to your personal computer, smart phone or a printer.  With a Google drive you will be able to jump onto any computer and provide your details.  In addition, be careful, this is your personal info, know exactly who you're giving it to and why.  Make sure your drive is organized so you know where everything is. Nothing says that you're unprofessional more than disorganization.  

2. FULL IMDB PAGE - No, I don't mean the amount of credits.  I mean that each credit on your IMDb should have a picture and a plot.  I find it lacking when an actor has over 100 credits and 50% of them have no picture or plot.  Remember, you're not in your home country and casting directors need to see the best version of you possible.  It doesn't matter if you have 2 credits or 200 make your IMDb page strong.  You want anyone looking at your page to know that you're serious about being an expat thespian.   

Additionally, just because you're acting in a foreign film or television series doesn't mean that you can't add the credit to IMDb.  There's usually a website to reference the project and an English title that you can use for the credit.

3.  STUDIO - I've got to admit I'm still working on this one.  Nonetheless, self-tape auditions are the new trend.  You can use your smartphone but I would prefer a makeshift studio.  Don't misunderstand me, if you don't have studio apparatus don't wait to send in your audition.   Keep sending until you acquire studio equipment and make sure that your lighting & sound are good.  However, a good inexpensive camera, lighting & sound tech, tripod, and a backdrop can be found online.  There are bargains everywhere, you just have to look. 

4. A TRUSTED ACTING BOOK - You need one acting book that you regard as your Bible.  This book must be able to help you with script breakdowns, improv exercises, building a character and be your 'craft' source of reference.  My book of choice is The Power of the Actor.  Yours can be whatever you choose that fulfills those 4 requirements.  In non-English speaking countries it can be hard to find an acting coach.  Sure, you can train online but that can feel a little impersonal and nothing beats a literary treasure.  

5. TRAVEL INFORMATION - No, this isn't a vacation but it'll be fun nonetheless. As an expat thespian you must have a working knowledge of flights, hostels, and acting workshops that are in or around your host country.  Every sovereign state has flights that go to neighboring countries for an inexpensive rate.  Hostels, Air BnB, and Couchsurfing are everywhere, making it more feasible to travel on a tight budget.  Acting workshops are in every country and more personal that online training.  Let me be clear, if you don't want to travel then train online.  Do something to learn your craft but if you plan ahead you can save a lot of coin.  Keep abreast of your surrounding events you'd be surprised at what you find.  

6. GREAT ELECTRONIC TRANSLATOR - Not all electronic translators are created equal.  When you get to your host country ask a native what translator they use to convert their native tongue to English.  9 times out of 10 that translator is the best.  I found that some American translators were not up to par with the Korean language.  However, Korea has a tech giant called Naver whose app is better than most when it comes to translation and grammar.  Then there's always the old fashioned way...learn the language. 

7. AN INTRODUCTION VIDEO - This is not a demo reel.  This is a video of you stating your name, nationality, age, and casting representation.  It's different because it's a full shot of you, from head to toe, introducing yourself and then slowly turning clockwise so the person watching can see your full body.  This one has always been strange to me but just because it's different doesn't mean it's wrong.  Your host country may have different requirements so find out what they are.  

8. THE USUAL SUSPECTS - Just because you're an expat thespian doesn't mean the same rules don't apply.  You still need a website, demo reel, headshot, resume, business cards and USB.  There are always production companies that can assist with your demo reel.  If you're in Korea here are three for you convenience, Giant Company, Roll The Dice Pictures and AJP Productions.  Please refer to my Tips For The Working Expat Thespian in reference to headshots and resumes.  Lastly, I know what you're thinking, "Why do I need a USB if I have a Google Drive?"  Glad you asked.  I've learned one rule as an expat thespian --- Back Up Everything.  You can never go wrong with a spare of anything.  

The expat thespian is the prepared thespian.  If you don't have all the essential utensils yet don't rush it.  Take your time.  Rushing will only cause sloppy work and that's not what you need. 

I hope you enjoyed my list for the expat thespian. Do you agree?  

Please reply in the comments below with your thoughts. 

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                                                          Kahlid Elijah Tapia


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Kahlid Elijah Tapia is an award winning actor who built his film career in Seoul, South Korea.   He began to flourish in 2010 gaining experience in film, television, and theater. He is known for Jojakdwen Doshi (2017), Haebangchon (2015) & Gamgi (2013).