Saturday, May 28, 2011

How Do Unknowns Do So Well in Big Movies?

The great myth of Hollywood is that a young lady is sitting at a soda fountain in a drug store and a talent scout sees her and she becomes a big star in her first big movie. The truth is that there are no talent scouts any more (except for scam operations they have disappeared along with the soda fountains). But the myth lives stronger than reality and thousands of young people (and some adults) day dream about being 'discovered' and becoming a star. Somehow people just want to believe that they could be a movie star if they could just somehow audition for a big film. Unfortunately these same people have never acted, not even in a high school play. But their friends and family think they should be actors because they are so funny or so talented. I have news for them: their friends and family wouln't know talent if it hit them between the eyes. A more biased group of judges you could not find.

I keep reading young peoples comments about this or that actor who without any experience or training is now a star. And these young people firmly believe that if this star did it, they can do it if they could only get a Disney audition. Then I look up these overnight stars and find out that they have a long history of experience and trainging. Futhermore, their parents spend lots of time and money advancing their careers. And I have further news for these young day dreamers: they are not the same people as these stars. The stars have demonstrated talent and the day dreamers have day dreams.

The fast lane to becoming a film star is closed. Only years and years of hard work building ones resume and training combined with natural talent and charming personality,and networking to get known--the bumpy, unpaved, rough road is open to success as an actor.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Keep Doing Amateur Theatre

One of the things that I encourage aspiring actors to do is to keep doing amateur theatre. Many would be film actors are somehow loathe to even consider it. But that just shows their unwillingness to do what it takes to be a professional actor. Amateur plays hone one's acting skills. Until you are a member of AEA you need to use amateur theatre to stay sharp and to build your resume.

Amateur theatre also provides many opportunities to network and to promote yourself as an actor. Networking as I discuss it in "Networking for Success" on my website and in my ebook is the key to success as a professional. It is how you get your self known in the industry and how you learn about opportunities to further your career.

Consider the email I got this morning from one of my advisees. He already does quite a bit of professional acting in films and commercials, but he realizes the advantages of stage acting to advance his career.

Here are some excepts from his email:

"Well the was a complete success.... and I felt completely free for most of the performances.My acting has come a long way and the past 2 years of hard work seems to now be paying off.
One of [the director's] friends who runs the only professional theatre company [in the area[ was impressed with my acting and said I was extremely strong throughout the whole show and would love to have me do a show with them.
In addition the agency I mentioned to you before ,,, liked what they saw as well and now I have a read with a leading agent on Friday."

Doing this amateur play is paying off for this actor. Doing amateur theatre can pay off for you as well. Maybe not in the first play, and maybe not until your networking takes effect. But for the aspiring actor it is an activity worth pursuing.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

How Soon Do You Hear About Your Audition?

Beginning actors often want to know how long it will be before they hear the results of an audition they have done . There is no set time that they can depend on. Often casting directors and directors take their time in making up their minds about casting, so it could be a number of weeks before you hear if you hear at all.

Most often when you are not selected, you never hear from the casting director. They are very busy and have not the time to contact every actor who auditioned. Thus, they only cast those who are selected or have call backs.

Unless you have specifically been told to do so, never call the casting director for information. If they want to talk to you, they will call you. What do you do, then, while you are waiting for the results? Since most often there won't be any results, the best thing to do after an audition is to forget about it and get on with your acting experience and training. If you don't get it, they will probably not contact you. and if you get a call back, it will be a great surprise and you can go on from there.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Sweet Success

How sweet it is! I had the pleasure of watching a student of mine, Roy M. Davis, do a principle role in last night's episode of Law and Order SVU. It was great to see him doing such fine work in the field to which he has devoted his life! He has reported that he has done a great deal of acting in films and TV this year. I am very happy for him.

Roy is one of those rare individuals for whom acting is everything. For Roy, it is more important that he acts than if he makes a lot of money doing it. He has sacrificed living what most of us would call "a normal life" in order to pursue his first love, acting. This morning I answered a question similar to many asked by begining actors. It was, "Should I have a back up plan as I go into acting?" My answer was, "You should not go into acting if you have any doubts about being a success at it." But being a success for an actor like Roy is having been devoted to acting and having done as much acting as he possibly could. It is not the usual dream of stardom and fame that most beginners has. And that is why most beginners fail. They are not devoted to acting. They really want fame and fortune. For the vast majority of actors, fame and fortune never happens.

Roy is neither famous, nor well known, nor wealthy. But he is a success. He has lived his entire life devoted to acting. Congratulations, Roy. Well done.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Getting into Character

I think the concept of "getting into character "as used by most actors and directors is a myth perpetuated by followers of Stanislavsky who do not understand what he meant by being in character. Being in character simply means that the actor at all times while on stage is energetically focused on what is happening in the play and energetically responding to it. . He is concentrating on the play and not thinking about other things. It is actually possible to tell if the actor is doing this by observing him. When the actor lets his concentration wander or stops energetically focusing on what is happening in the play, you can see his posture relax and his gaze shift. It is as though the character the actor is playing suddenly is pulled though the floor revealing the actor standing there. This is called “dropping out of character.”

Stanislavsky was one of the most influential advocatea of the principle that all actors on stage must stay in character all the time. His writings on how he retrained the Russian actors of the early part of the Twentieth Century to change from their former acting style of artificial posing and only being in character when they spoke to presenting more realistic performances created world-wide enthusiasm for realism in acting. One of his books is entitled “Creating the Role” and those who read the book often confuse the difference between applying Stanislavsky’s systematic approach for the actor to represent the character with the idea of the actor actually creating the character. It is the playwright who creates the character when he creates the play. The playwright reveals the character though the stage directions and dialog. What the actor does is represent the playwright’s creation, the character, by using those stage directions and the dialog. How the actor goes about preparing himself physically, mentally and emotionally to do that representation is the stuff of the Stanislavsky System or Strasberg’s Method, or any other technique or approach to playing a role. But it is not creation; it is representation.. It is merely the actor standing in for what the playwright has created. That is why acting is commonly referred to as a craft rather than as an art. Of course what the actor does may be quite inventive and original, but if it is to be valid, it must represent the author’s creation in an accurate way.

The speeches of the script are the outward expression of the emotional and physical responses of the character that has been created by the playwright or screenwriter. They contain both the action the character is doing and the emotion he is feeling. The actor does not create these things that make up the character. He represents the character.

The first thing the actor does is to provide the outward appearance of the character. He is usually cast as a character whose outward appearance is much like his own. To this he adds posture, gesture, mannerisms, and voice. He is aided by costume and make up. All of which aid the representation of the character. The actor does not 'get into character;’ he concentrates on what is happening in the scene and reacts to it. That is what people really mean by ‘being in character.”