Bryan Cranston to Aspiring Actors: “You’ve got to take a chance.”

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Bryan Cranston recently wrote an intimate, funny memoir entitled A Life in Parts. In turn, he’s been touring, sharing personal stories, and promoting the necessity and power of hard work. In this clip, Cranston gives inspiring advice to aspiring actors at a Guardian event in London.

The four-time Emmy Award-winning star tells actors that there are no shortcuts in the pursuit of landing roles. Rather, he insists, “It’s all about work. And that’s why I say if you don’t love it, it’s going to be drudgery to you. It’s going to be painful to you.”

As a teenager, Cranston initially wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement, and even earned an associate degree in police science. But during an elongated cross-country motorcycle trip, he came to a realization one day while stranded at a rest area in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Cranston says, “I realized how much I needed to focus on something that I really loved and hopefully would become good at, as opposed to doing something that I was good at–police work–but I didn’t love. So that was when I made that decision, at 22, to become an actor.”

When he was 25, he found work as a soap opera regular on ABC’s Loving which gave him a great sense of pride and belonging. “It really broke down a barrier for me. At first, I always had to supplement my acting with other odd jobs,” he recalls. But when he was fired from the show two years later, he took opportunities to act all he could whether it be guest star roles on TV or small parts in movies.

When he was auditioning, Cranston says he would “never stop working” because he knew “there’s always going to be people who are more talented than me.” So he committed to the task of outworking the competition. “That’s the one thing you can control,” he insists. And he learned to take risks, and in turn, now urges other actors to take chances as well, saying:

“So I would imagine that after the casting director would see about 30 to 40 guys for the same role, if it’s a comedy, whatever you’re reading is not funny anymore to them….you just have to get that sense that it’s okay. If it’s a drama, there’s not going to be any [gasp] moment from them. They’ve seen it. You’re the thirty-fifth guy coming in, reading the same material. How do you get them to pay attention to you? You can’t just do what is expected. If you just do what’s expected, that’s what everyone’s going to do. You’ve got to take a chance….It’s better to take a chance and go way out there and have the person go, ‘Oh my god! That was bizarre and interesting, it’s not what we’re looking for.’ That’s okay. But you took the chance. It’s better to be that guy than audition person number 27 who I don’t remember at all. At least you’ll be memorable.”

It would be about fifteen years after leaving the soap opera that he landed a “gift” of a role as the goofy father Hal in Malcolm in the Middle–and later, of course, the role of the science-instructor-turned-meth cook Walter White from the wildly popular Breaking Bad. Now Cranston is celebrated for his versatile work in film, on Broadway, and on television. Certainly, the hard work and risks he’s taken along the way have made himself memorable!

 

Amy Adams Doubted That She Had “It”

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“During my 20s and early 30s, when I wasn’t really working, I realized, OK, I’ll just focus on my work, I don’t have a Thing.” –Amy Adams

Arrival and Nocturnal Animals actress Amy Adams spoke with The Guardian recently about how focussing on her work has served her well through the course of her career.

Adams prefers to keep her private life out of the public view as much as possible, and she believes this separation of work and home is helpful for her acting. “I think the more people are concerned with me, the less they can invest in my characters,” she said.

Adams continued, “My husband and I are very quiet people. Whereas some people–Jennifer Lawrence, let’s say–she just has the kind of energy where she walks into a room and everybody notices. I don’t think that it’s a desire for attention, that’s just the nature of her being. I can disappear really, really quickly in a room.”

Although she’s now content with this aspect of her personality, she used to wonder if this quality amounted to a deficit in the world of acting. But as her career evolved, the now 42-year-old A-lister has come to view her ability to “disappear” as an asset. “Before I almost felt like it was a deficit, because I thought to be an actress you had to make people pay attention to you, and that’s just not my energy. It took a long time to be okay with that because you would see people receive a lot of opportunities based on something intangible, and it’s frustrating. But during my 20s and early 30s, when I wasn’t really working, I realized, okay, I’ll just focus on my work, I don’t have a Thing.”

While Adams did receive attention for her role in Catch Me If You Can as Leonardo DiCaprio’s love interest, the part proved to not really launch her career considering she didn’t work for a year afterwards. She’d get close to landing roles, only to be disappointed when they’d fall through. As a result, she thought maybe she didn’t have “it.” She wondered if she should quit pursuing acting on screen. “I thought maybe I should move to New York, maybe I should do something else…like maybe this just wasn’t a good fit,” she once shared. But she soon was offered a part in the low-budget independent film Junebug. She was cast as a young, pregnant wife named Ashley. And as fate would have it, playing Ashley earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Adams would go on to receive more Oscar nominations for future roles in Doubt, The Fighter, The Master, and American Hustle. Indeed, she is celebrated for her ability to pull off a broad range of roles including comedies, dramas, and musicals.

Adams attributes becoming a mother with feeling “more raw and more open to empathy, and that helps.” But moreover, she insists that motherhood has helped how she processes her work. “I used to have a dysfunctional relationship with my work, where I was bringing home all my insecurities and expectations, and if I felt a director didn’t love what I did, it would just plague me. That had to change,” she admits.

Specifically, she refers to her time on the set of David O. Russell’s American Hustle. While playing the part of Sydney–a role for which she would go on to receive a Golden Globe, she explains, “[Russell] didn’t necessarily make me cry; I cried. The experience of playing that character struck me in a strange place, and that’s heightened by David’s energy, yeah. So I couldn’t bring that home….I remember looking at my husband and saying, ‘If I can’t figure this out, I can’t work any more, I’ll have to do something else. I don’t want to be that person, not for my daughter.’ So I figured it out….It’s not that I don’t find my work important. It’s just that I now know, at the end of the day, I’ll be back home reading stories to my daughter.”

It’s all but impossible to deconstruct and define the curious blend of talent, individuality, charisma, and luck that makes up the elusive “It” factor. But when Amy Adams doubted she had “It,” she simply dedicated herself to the work at hand: the craft of acting. She’s also proved to be flexible over the years, adapting in the ways that pertained to her particular personality and journey. And look at all she’s been able to accomplish!

Benedict Cumberbatch on Character Development

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“Yes, I do build up a backstory in my head even if it’s just for me.” –-Benedict Cumberbatch

Marvel’s Doctor Strange actor Benedict Cumberbatch’s resume includes a long, impressive list of awards and nominations for his film, television and theater work. In part, he can boast appearing in four films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: Atonement, War Horse, The Imitation Game, and 12 Years a Slave–the last of which won the category. On a recent webchat on The Guardian, Cumberbatch answered fans’ questions about a variety of topics. After sharing what his favorite flavor of coffee is, and which books he’s currently reading, the Sherlock star was asked if he takes the time and effort to create a backstory for his characters. Cumberbatch responded with an admittedly “verbose” answer. But here is his reply regarding processes to build up backstories and specific skills for his prolific characters.

“Yes, I do build up a backstory in my head even if it’s just for me,” he said. “As far as preparation goes, it’s important to understand the who, what, where, why of the character before you meet him.” Cumberbatch continued:

“That helps the character employ those tactics for whatever action they’re trying to perform, which can necessitate a limit of choice as well as a discovery of new things to be learned as an actor to portray the character with. For example, a character I played in a Martin Crimp play called ‘The City’ at the Royal Court [theater], was describing an incident where he was humiliated in his new job to his wife, and I began to [characterize] the voices in his story when Katie Mitchell [director] pointed out that it was unlikely he would have the confidence to do that as opposed to me, because I could. Those differentiations are vital, but often (and this really ain’t no humblebrag) I’m chasing the tailcoats of my character’s abilities, whether it’s their intelligence or professional excellence, or even their ability to sing/play piano/ride a horse/paint some of the great works of modern art! All these things require a heavy tutoring in new skill sets, one of the many privileges of our job, i.e., getting to learn new stuff and continuing with a form of further education, I suppose. And the results, while varied, sometimes work, but it’s all smoke and mirrors, and I often feel like a horrible fraudster. I think the worst is when I played violin as Sherlock–a skill that takes years of childhood and adolescent practice time….But just to finish, vocal and physical differences, prep of any sort, work on a backstory, learning a skill, all has to be given time and when it isn’t you run into [generalizing], and I’m fully aware I’ve done that on occasion, and so aim to create enough space around my work so there is enough space between roles and I have enough time to [honor] the tasks each present me with.”

When it came to developing Doctor Stephen Strange, the English actor delved deeply into the character using the source material as well as relying on president of  Marvel Studios and “superfan” Kevin Feige and the film’s director Scott Derrickson’s encyclopedic knowledge of the character and story. He also referred back to his experiences as a teenager when he taught English in a Tibetan monastery which got him in touch with “the power of the mind to change your reality.”

Here is a clip of Cumberbatch and Derrickson as well as actor Mads Mikkelsen talking about how they prepared to capture the mystical world of Doctor Strange.

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7 Ways TV Commercials Can Help Build Your Television and Film Career

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  1. TV Commercials are the fastest way to get on national television, make great residual income and begin building a recognizable brand in the TV/Film casting community.
  1. The Actors Search! When you do a National Commercial, due to the hundreds of times it runs on television, the exposure can lead to a TV/Film Casting Director that is casting a project calling you in to audition because you fit the type they are looking for in one of the roles they are casting.
  1. Commercial Casting Directors that also cast films. Some Commercial Casting Directors also cast Independent and major Films. When you work well with commercial casting offices you can also get called in to audition for Films.
  1. Commercial Directors that also direct television shows. The Russo Brothers, Ridley Scott, Joe Pytka etc…are Television and Film Directors that also direct TV Commercials. When you work well on-set on a TV Commercial, you will be remembered and favored in casting offices, by Commercial Directors that also direct TV and Film.
  1. Commercials to put on your Theatrical Demo Reel! The “Slice of Life” TV commercial (the 30 second scene in a sitcom type of commercials) can be put on your Theatrical Demo Reel. Some Theatrical Agents even request it as it can help the Agent pitch you for certain TV/Film roles, especially when you don’t have a reel.
  1. On-Camera Audition Skill Building. Some of your TV/Film auditions will be recorded in the Casting Directors office and sent to the Director. Most Scene Study and Improv classes are not on-camera so the actor does not develop the skills needed to audition well at TV/Film castings when being recorded on-camera. All work in our 4 Week Course is done on-camera. Helping the actor build great audition technique skills that are necessary and helpful in TV/Film Casting Offices.
  1. The fastest way to become SAG/AFTRA and make all or most of the money back quickly to regain the dues you had to spend to join the Union (Guild). Moreover, most major TV/Film Casting Directors will not audition you for television shows and films if you are not SAG/AFTRA. Your major TV/Film career trajectory will accelerate when you become SAG/AFTRA. Commercials can help you get there faster!

mikepointer

Booking Coach Mike Pointer of Hey, I Saw Your Commercial! Has helped thousands of actors over the last 17 years book hundreds of national television commercials as well as television and film work. Coach Mike, a successful commercial actor for over 28 years himself, teaches outstanding, cutting edge strategies that has helped hundreds of actors quit their day jobs, and build a successful career in TV commercials. Coach Mike’s powerful on-camera techniques and outstanding business strategies has set a new standard and cutting edge approach in the on-camera commercial training industry. These classes are highly recommended by top commercial agencies as well as top Managers, and Casting Directors that also teach classes!

Casting Director David Rubin Reveals What He Looks for in Talent

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In this PBS interview, Casting Director and Academy Governor David Rubin shares insights into how he makes casting decisions. Rubin’s casting resume includes a long impressive list of box office hits including Gravity, Men in Black, Hairspray, and The English Patient. He’s also received an Emmy for casting HBO’s Game Change.

According to Rubin, “The most important thing for an actor to bring to the table is themselves, their own idiosyncrasy. And so many actors get preoccupied with what they thing the filmmaker is looking for. And frankly, what we’re looking for is them.”

He has expressed similar ideas about this topic last year when interviewed by the Academy. When asked the number one thing that he looks for as a casting director, he responded: “I look for compelling and, ideally, unexpected ways of portraying each character. Our choice of each actor must help tell the film’s story in a particular way and hopefully gives it a depth and a dynamic that might even go beyond what the screenwriter and other filmmakers had originally envisioned. In order to do that, I’m looking for actors who are skilled in their craft and who bring an individuality that makes them distinct from so many others.”

Rubin also addressed what actors sometimes do that stop him from considering them for roles. He said: “The most important thing for an actor to do in a casting situation is to prepare well and make clear choices for your character in the audition scene. We realize you often don’t have access to a complete script and are making guesses about the character, based on little information, but making firm choices and playing with conviction is the key. So what really turns me off is the lack of distinct choice. Even if an actor is wrong for that role, if they’re true to their instincts and are committed to their acting choices, I’ll remember them and happily have them in for a future film!”

In his quest to deliberately open up roles to actors among a diverse talent pool, Rubin has a practice of ignoring screenwriters’ character descriptions early on. “It’s not that I don’t respect the intentions of a screenwriter. But writers describe characters very specifically, NOT for the filmmakers, but really for studio executive and financiers, so they’ll read the script and see a movie in their heads which they’ll hopefully want to finance and distribute. But once a movie is in pre-production and we’re contemplating casting options, I think it’s best to forget about specifics like age, race and gender and just think about who are the actors who would be believable in a role and help drive the story forward in interesting ways.” Broadening the casting options becomes an important part of the conversation with filmmakers as they explore various ways to bring life to each of the characters in any given project.

And actors should keep in mind that when they believe they’ve  botched an audition, don’t worry about it. Any “mistake” just might be what most intrigues casting directors like Rubin. “Often those are the most illuminating auditions to me–those kind of organic moments where an actor connects with a character even though they may not even realize that they’re doing it,” he says.

Commercials – A Slice Of Life

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Hundreds of years ago (well maybe it just seems that long ago) I moved to Los Angeles to be an actress and a singer. Like most people, I was told the way to become an actress and get a TV/film career was to start out in commercials. Well, in those years I did fit the qualifications for a young mom, a girl who loved pizza and someone who loved to be traveling on an airline. So I immediately went out and found a commercial agent who agreed that I had the perfect look. They even gave me a commercial copy to read – I don’t think I was very good at it but they traded my lack of knowledge for my bubbly personality.

I was a speech therapist during my early 20’s so after I taught I would go on these auditions where I would get to know all of the commercial actress’s in my category. In the beginning, it was intimidating as I recognized many of them from actual television commercials. The process was the same. I would get a call from my agent telling me to show up at a certain casting office. I would sign in and then be given the copy of the commercial. I was very nervous because all I did was read it over a few times and hope that I wouldn’t bomb in the audition! That did happen a lot but eventually I began to understand what they were looking for and started to book them. I did so well that I bought a house with the money that I had earned. It was a fun game. Run home to open the mailbox and guess how much money I made that month on a national commercial.

Looking back, the only thing I liked about commercials was the money. I didn’t have “Margie Haber” to teach me that a commercial is a small slice of life. The creation of one line, 2 lines, 2 paragraphs or 2 pages is the same for a commercial, a co-star or guest star, a series regular or a film. It is all about creating the life. All of the commercials I did would have been so much more awarding if I understood that premise. Pizza Hut, American Airlines, Formula 409 and Tang were opportunities to experience the life – to use my imagination and live it.   One commercial was Tang with Florence Henderson. In that commercial I had a child and went to visit my neighbor (Florence Henderson) and we sat on her patio drinking her Tang loving the taste of it. I didn’t know that I could actually create a life for my “character” rather than worry about my lines. I could have said,” I am this person living this life” – what was it like to have a child?  Did I watch her play sports or listen to her playing the piano? What was our ritual before I tucked her in bed? Create my relationship with my neighbor. How often did we come over on a hot summer and sit on the porch drinking Tang and sharing stories of our day – not trying to sell the drink Tang. If you want to see my commercials in the 70s and 80s they are on my “Stop acting” app that you can find on your iphone/ipad or vimeo on demand.

My advice – don’t be technical – create any life and enjoy the process!

 


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With 40 years of experience, Margie Haber is known as Hollywood’s top audition coach. What is it that Margie teaches? The answer to that question is within title of her book:  Margie teaches actorsHow to Get the Part Without Falling Apart.  Margie takes away the “three p’s”- Pain, Panic, and Performance Anxiety- from the cold-reading & audition process and gives back the “Big P” – POWER- to the actor.  She teaches actors her philosophy, “Stop Acting and Start Living the Life”, using her unique 10-step approach to breakdown the slice of life physically and emotionally, rather than intellectually.  Her revolutionary Haber Phrase Technique has helped thousands of actors use to use the page without losing the life, while supporting relationship and purpose. MargieHaber.com (310) 854-0870

Tips to Analyze Scripts

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The skill set of script analysis is a powerful, if not vital, tool for actors. This applies to small parts, starring roles, and anything in between. To understand, move, breathe, and speak for another person, actors must dig into the internal life of the character. And how much time and effort an actor invests in their character shows. Indeed, preparation can be the key to unlocking a truly moving performance.

New York acting coach, John Windsor-Cunningham tells a story of Anthony Hopkins who once answered questions before a reading, saying sometimes there are actors who read a play 20 times to prepare. Continuing, he’s quoted to say, “I don’t understand that…everyone’s welcome to work in their own way, but it wouldn’t enter my head…To read a script in advance 20 times. Because it wouldn’t enter my head to turn up at a first rehearsal of a play or a film without having read it at least a hundred and twenty times.”

While that might sound extreme, properly analyzing a script can indeed take several reads. The journey of exploring the material starts with getting acquainted with the storyline and characters, but soon moves on to interpretation. Actors can notice similarities with their own experiences, or what they’ve observed in others. Interpreting the material also requires a curious mind to ask questions like “Why?” and “How?”

Kimberly Jentzen, the author of Acting with Impact urges actors to, “Remember that history justifies behavior. So if you don’t understand why a character does what they do, the best thing to do is to read the whole script or the whole play, and you’ll really get some clues. A script is laden with clues and dynamic, interesting thoughts and ideas and metaphors that give us the meaning and the understanding and lead us to our interpretation.” Jentzen strongly believes that any time actors sense they are being general about something, then that is not good. When it comes to matters like a character’s history, intentions, or personality, she insists, “Everything must be specific.” 

Also in pursuit of interpreting a script, many performers make a point to experiment with which word to emphasize in each sentence. Robin Wright, for example, chooses a word that she loves in each sentence, and one she hates–as well as the reasons why her character feels this way. For practical purposes, once actors have decided on which word to emphasize, they can pencil mark their decision onto the page before continuing with the script. Also, many actors find it advantageous to pencil mark their script where changes in emotion occur. For example, if a portion of a particular sentence starts off tearful, an actor can mark precisely where those tears shift to outright anger. For this reason, a script can get messy with markings and notations. Pencils are always handy because they allow for changes later on.

Script interpretation comes in many shapes and forms though. Christopher Walken, for example, has described breaking down his scripts in a unique way. He describes his process saying, “I cross out all the stage directions, I cross out all the places where it says, you know, ‘He says this angrily;’ I cross out all the punctuation. And I just speak without punctuation. I mean, except the way it happens…No periods, no commas, no nothing. Really. A period comes when it comes. But it’s a good thing really. If you, next time you take a script, take all of that out and read it. Because the other actors are going to tell you what their talking about anyway. And it’s better to hear it from them.”

Regardless of your personal approach, it’s vital to come to understand your character without passing judgement on him or her. Uncovering the character’s true nature along with his or her vulnerabilities and flaws is much more important than if you personally like the person he or she is. And really getting to know your character frees you up to be spontaneous when new approaches to the material are thrown at you. After all, many people on set might be involved with the details of your character including wardrobe specialists or, of course, the project’s director. Directors likely have their own vision, and have a say about creative decisions for your character. Whether the director gives suggestions or specific directions, actors need to be ready to adapt, while maintaining a firm understanding of their character. Often times, the collaboration between a well-prepared actor and the director takes the depth of a character to the next level.

Mila Kunis Pens Gender-Bias Essay

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Mila Kunis describes herself as “livid” in a recently penned essay calling out Hollywood on issues of gender bias. The essay was published on her husband, Ashton Kutcher’s website aplus.com.

The Black Swan star describes her experience with an unnamed producer who was pressuring her to pose semi-nude for a men’s magazine to promote an undisclosed film. However, Kunis writes, “I was no longer willing to subject myself to a naive compromise that I had previously been willing to.” This refusal was met with a threat by the producer: “You’ll never work in this town again.” Feeling livid and objectified, Mila stood her ground for the first time despite fearing the possible repercussions to her career. Much to her relief, she states, “And guess what? The world didn’t end. The film made a lot of money and I did work in this town again, and again, and again.”

Mila joins a growing list of women who have called out industry sexism over the years. Other actresses taking a stand include Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Zoe Saldana, Sandra Bullock, Kerry Washington and Geena Davis. Indeed, according to research from Geena Davis’ Institute on Gender in Media, women are underrepresented in film, and when they do appear, they are seen and heard far less than their male counterparts. They are also paid less, and are three times as likely to appear nude in scenes as their fellow male actors.

However, Kunis describes several kinds of “microaggressions” she’s encountered along her career path, saying:

“Throughout my career, there have been moments when I have been insulted, sidelined, paid less, creatively ignored, and otherwise diminished based on my gender. And always, I tried to give people the benefit of the doubt; maybe they knew more, maybe they had more experience, maybe there was something I was missing. I taught myself that to succeed as a woman in this industry I had to play by the rules of the boy’s club. But the older I got and the longer I worked in this industry, the more I realized that it’s b***! And, worse, that I was complicit in allowing it to happen.”

To rise above this treatment, Kunis formed a production company with three women she admires. Together they develop shows for television, and work with many professionals who demonstrate equity and respect while tending to project details. However, Kunis describes how from time to time she continues to encounter “appalling” comments from others.

In turn, she concludes with purpose:

“I’m done compromising; even more so I’m done with being compromised. So from this point forward, when I am confronted with one of these comments, subtle or overt, I will address them head on; I will stop in the moment and do my best to educate. I cannot guarantee that my objections will be taken to heart, but at least now I am part of creating an environment where there is the opportunity for growth. And if my comments fall on deaf ears, I will choose to walk away.”

She hopes other women who experience similar unwanted remarks and diminishing treatment in the workplace will be inspired to assert themselves more readily.

Mark Duplass Shares How He Made Films with Limited Resources

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“If you really want to be in the business of being an actor, the days of thinking only as an actor are probably over. The most frustrated actors I know are the ones that are waiting for someone to give them the gig. You must make the gig….And the tools to make stuff now are available to everybody. You could make a movie on your phone. And people do.” —Jason Alexander

Duplass Brothers Productions is an independent film and television company founded by Mark Duplass and his brother Jay. Together they write, direct, produce and act in their projects. Known for creating movies on limited budgets, their work comes to life with a strong emphasis on improvisation and collaboration. And it especially digs deeply into what people attempt to hide from others, namely their vulnerabilities, insecurities, fears as well as moments of joy associated with what’s often considered to be small events. As a team, they don’t allow skimpy resources to stop them from creating projects that they’re passionate about.

Originally inspired to be like the Coen brothers, they followed the “rules” that seemed to be laid clearly before them; that is, work hard, go to film school, and learn all the required and practical production skills. “And we got so obsessed with the propriety of everything,” Mark recalls, that they neglected to tend to the most important part of filmmaking: “the meat.”

Years passed, and although the brothers felt the conviction that they indeed had “something to offer,” they weren’t really yet achieving their creative goals. In this Off Camera interview, Mark describes how one day he spontaneously told his brother, “Forget all the **** we learned in film school–forget it all. Like Mom and Dad’s video camera, I’m going to get a tape, and I’m coming back.” By the time Mark returned, Jay had given some thought as to what subject matter might work. Jay described a time when he nearly had an identity crisis while struggling to record an outgoing greeting on his answering machine. The brothers went with the idea–just the two of them–right then, and improvised as they worked. Mark describes the process of making the seven-minute short film This Is John by saying:

“This felt like us when we were little following our instincts. All communication was nonverbal–very Neanderthal-like. And we edited it down, and it was our first movie that got into Sundance. And that has set the tone for everything we’re doing today, which is–as much as possible–to trust that weird little voice that’s inside of us…And the more I do that, the better off I am generally.”

Their subsequent work includes The Puffy Chair which also screened in Sundance and attracted the attention of major studios; the comedy-drama film Jeff, Who Lives at Home; they co-created HBO’s series Togetherness; and the duo recently finished the comedy romance about two ex-high school sweethearts who cross paths 20 years later in the film Blue Jay which will be released on Netflix this coming December.

Mark firmly believes in allowing actors to go off script in the quest of capturing an authentic emotional moment. “If you’re locked to the words on the script, as good as those scripted words are, if you didn’t have the time to rehearse them correctly or if the perceived dynamic between the actors is different from what the writer imagined, and you’re not allowed to stray from that, you’re going to have a stilted scene,” he insists.

Here is the short This Is John–the film that had such an impact on their careers. Mark and John’s work serves as both a reminder and an inspiration that it’s indeed possible to produce quality work with limited resources.

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Seven Signs You Have A Professional Acting Career

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I’ll never forget the eye-opening moment when I was asked by an agent whether or not I wanted to be an actor. I was crushed. After all, this was years in to my ‘career’ (or what I thought was my career). As difficult as it was to have that question asked, it changed my perspective. It made me realize that there is an industry standard and that – maybe – I wasn’t playing my cards right.

Now, I look at things differently. I learned to judge my work from the viewpoint of someone who would want to hire me.

Becoming a professional actor is all about a series of step-by-step accomplishments, much like in a college program. It will take hundreds or thousands of hours of studying, preparation, application, and practice to get to a professional level. The actor hobbyist and the professional are vastly different. Curious which category you fall under? In this blog post, I’m going to provide some qualities that all professionals share in order to move themselves forward and ultimately… to make money.

  1. Getting paid for your work

I would say that the first time you get booked for a paid project through an agent is a pretty good indication that you are on your way to being, or already are, a professional actor! Having said that, don’t’ skip out on your acting training just because you are booking work. Continuing your education feeds your momentum. If you’ve been working but haven’t taken a class in a while, consider taking something that is new to you or something that will strengthen a big weakness of yours.

  1. You have a professional headshot

A portrait session with a reputable photographer (recommended by your agent or manager, most likely) that produces at least one theatrical headshot and one commercial headshot is essential. A simple black border with your name at the bottom (legibly- i.e. not in cursive!) will suffice. A snap shot or Instagram photo will instantly make you less of a professional. It could be seriously damaging your getting a booking.

  1. You have an Agent and/or ‘Team’

A top requirement to become a professional working actor, right after your training, is having a quality agent. Although the majority of your work should come through them, you may also find

work yourself, and most actors are constantly looking. Try a range of agents until you meet one that really jives with you and understands your goals. Not all agents are created equal! One agent may not be enough, however and you may require a manager, publicist, lawyer, PR agent or more in order to be adequately represented. You may also choose to have different agents representing you in different areas (one for voice, one for theatrical, one for commercial, one for print, one for stunts, etc). The more helping hands you have, the greater the chance for success.

  1. You invest in yourself

Acting is an investment. Headshots, acting web sites (such as CastingFrontier.com or IMDB.com), classes, etc. all take a significant chunk of change to maintain. However, those who take their careers seriously do not skimp on ways to further their careers. Of course some things you can do on your own, such as social media updates, and maybe even writing and producing your own productions (Ben Affleck or Matt Damon often do this). Use your own voice to create what you want to see in the industry.

  1. You put acting first

This comes off as a simple one, however it is far from it. Auditions happen fast, with little notice and often with high expectations. An actor who is constantly missing auditions, requesting a change of time slots or is available with limitations such as: only on weekends, only on nights or only during the day, may not be cut out for a position in the film industry. Give yourself the best shot possible, and that means putting acting first.

  1. You’ve found your ‘sweet spot’

Many people struggle for years with good acting talent, or having a ‘look’ that is not in demand. You may find that your hair color or length is not catching the attention of professionals. For example, commercial spots love a good hair cut, shoulder length and above. If you are not getting in the door, something may be off with your look or may not be on trend. Actors do not always get the perk of looking exactly how they want, and I’ll never forget hearing Jennifer Garner mention how she just wanted to gain some weight without the scrutiny of everyone in the world. Professionals learn to find their best ‘looks’ and stick to it.

  1. You know how to fake it ’til you make it

That’s your golden ticket and your secret weapon. When you walk into the audition room, every casting director expects a professional regardless of experience level. A professional actor knows the rules of the casting room, is courteous and polite. He or she keeps their nerves in check, studies the scene before arriving and is familiar with the script. If you’re a pro, you know how to slate well and have possibly seen the director’s previous work. These little things will make big impacts on the individuals you need to impress.

Whether or not you are a professional, aspiring, or acting as a hobby – remember to keep pushing forward, keep studying and keep showing up. Work on your positivity, support your industry peers, embrace your competition… and always, always be fearless!

 


 

taylortunesTaylor Tunes (too-ness) is an actor located in Portland, Oregon. Look for her in an upcoming Netflix original film (still to be titled), starring Elijah Wood and Melanie Lynskey.