Monday, July 26, 2010

An Acting Career Must Have a Sound Foundation

Over and over again I see young people (and adults as well) wanting to know how to start a career in acting. Mostly, they want to know what web site or 'acting agent' will put their mostly untested talents in front of producers, directors and thusly in front of the public as new and shining stars in the firmament of Hollywood. Of course, that is not how people become actors. Oh, there may have been one or two people who went from being just another person in this world to being a film star. They among the hundreds of thousands or even millions of those who want to become actors. Such a rare event is the mythology of Tinseltown, and it is reapeated over and over like the myths of Ancient Greece until most of the innocent and unschooled actually believe it is the way someone becomes an actor or actress. But it is MYTH. There may be some truth in its creation, but the truth becomes lost in its retelling over and over. In REALITY, an acting career needs a solid foundation. The main feature of that foundation is experience. Experience is acting in plays and films. Plays are the most numerous and easiest to access. Thus, almost every professional actor begins his or her career by acting in the school and community theatres available to them. Amateur theatre is the well-spring from which careers are begun. And I am not speaking here of just a few plays as the foundation for a career. (One naive youngster actually wanted to know the exact number of plays that should be on their resume before submitting to an agent for representation.) The foundation of a career must have as many plays as possible included. I had been in perhaps fifty or sixty plays in the years between ninth grade and the time I auditioned for a speaking role in a film at forty years of age.
I had also read a great deal about acting and having a career in acting. Several books on each topic were in my background and I am still reading such books long after my retirement. I had also been in a government film and had been an extra in a film when I auditioned for my first speaking role. With my background, getting the role was easy. I knew how to act, how to audition,and how to do the role. I was an excellent actor with a very sound foundation. Now, it is not necessary for all aspiring actors to spend twenty years from their college graduations preparing to become professionals. But it is necessary to have as much experience as one can get to really have a sound foundation for their acting careers. I do not recommend colleges for professional acting preparation, but colleges are often the very best way for someone to get a lot of experience on stage over a four year period of time. It does take time, years and years in most cases, for someone to become a professional actor. Those years are the time the aspiring actor spends building the foundation for his or her career.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Second Thoughts on Actor Training

Lately, I have been suggesting to a growing number of young people that they go to college or a professional academy to train for an acting career. I still don't think either the colleges nor the academies give a rip for the individual student, but so many young people who want to be actors are so woefully lacking in experience that the ony way they can get it is to go to college. And there are some areas of professional acting that are so difficult to break into that the student just needs as much training as he or she can get--musical theater is one of those areas. All of NYC theatre is very snobbish and they care alot about the applicants' training and experience. Film is much different--they could care less if you have training, they only care if you look right and can act the role effectively. Many people and institutions of acting in NYC simply believe that only live theatre is really acting and film work is something akin to prostitution. Of course they are wrong to harbor such bias. Their bigotry often becomes aparent when they take jobs in films. I still am highly suspect of all insitutionalized acting 'training.' Acting is a natural talent that one must be born with. It cannot be taught. But musical theatre is so demanding that it takes years of training to compete. All it takes to complete generally as an actor is talent, personality, experience and just a little training -- two or three classes or workshops that are evidence that you know what you are doing. And of course, as always, LUCK.

Friday, July 16, 2010

when reality and idealism meet

It would be easy to write about this topic in relationship to all the teens on Yahoo Answers who think they are wonderful actors but have never been in a play. Yeah, right! But I wanted to talk about my own idealisn and the reality of many young people who want to be actors but are light on expereience. It that case, you almost have to go to college to get experience, it takes too long in commuinity theatre. At a good state college theatre program with a summer stock, you can be in up to nine or ten plays a year. My advice of course is not to be a theatre major if you want to be an actor,because it is too easy to get distracted and wind up a teacher or a techie. Nothing wrong with that I was a teacher for years and I have know techies who have had outstanding careers. The point is, however, that you want to act. So you pick a school where you can be in the plays without being a theatre major. There are plenty of them, because there is always a huge need for good actors at smaller colleges and so they allow anyone to audition for their plays. My idealism is that someone who has a great background can come out of high school and start working toward being a professinal actor, but the reality is that there are so few of those people that I have begun recommending college more and more often. It can work for you, especially if you have a good mentor. You are only 22 or 23 when you graduate college, a good age to start working on becoming a pro.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Finally, the scams are revealed.

I have been warning young, starry-eyed people about the 'talent fair showcase' type of scam for years, and I was delighted to find this answer to a question regarding Barbizon on Yahoo Answers. The pity of all this is that thousands of unsuitable people will continue to think they will become stars if they just do one of these things like iPOP or IMT or Hollywood Here I Come, Explore Talent, etc, etc, etc. Parents always think their kids are pretty,cute, dainty, and talented, even if they are just the opposite, and not wanting to disappoint thier kids, they spend thousands of dollars to send them to these showcases. Every once in a while a really talented, photogenic person will get an agent and work from these things, but all aspiring models and actors and their parents should watch the following videos.

The Today show did a piece about their "auditions"…Or read this transcript and watch the video clips from the Dateline investigation

The scam is not that they don't do what they promise. They do that. They give people a chance to be seen by agents. The scams is that they have no compunction about taking thousands of dollars from completely unsuited people and sending them off to these things to get no results whatsoever.

My advice to people about these things is that they are for the very very talented, very very photogenic and very very rich. If you are not all of these things, don't go, because the chances of success are the same as for all aspiring actors about one in a billion.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Foul Mood

I am in a foul mood today. Just learned I need surgery next Monday, and I am not thrilled. Hopefully it will fix what ails me of late and I will emerge from convolescence a happy camper. Unfortunately, I don't think there is any cure for the plague of young teens and preteens who want to become actors (mostly females). They report that they are very talented, often have no experience, that their parents are not in favor of it, or that their parents support it (which means they have said "yes, dear" in response to some question or other about acting). Only one or two out of thousands report that their parents are willing to work to make it happen which is the only way it can happen. Most report they want to be on Disney, but it is obvious that they do not live in LA, so that is again a never, never situation. Otherwise, they want to be famous as soon as possible. But none of them have any idea how to get started as an actress. It never occurs to them to be in the school plays. They want to be film and tv stars, because they think it is easier to act in those media. Ha. They had better get some acting experience and the only kind available is school and community plays. No magic web sites exist that turn nobodies in Nebraska into Academy Award winners in Hollywood. That isn' t what agents do, either. Poor dears, not a hope in the world for them. You see, people who want to be actors, really want to be actors, are already acting in plays at school and in the community and they are learning what to do next. Fortunately for all, the afore discussed preteens and teens will change their minds soon, especially when they learn their parents have to be involoved, because most of them haven 't told their parents they are dying to be actresses, because their parents are sure being an actress is one step below being a prostitute. At least by this time next year, the current crop of would be actresses will have faded away and will be, depressingly, replaced by a new crop of their clones.