Acceptance When Auditioning

February 18, 2019

A great audition requires you to be in complete command of yourself, your work, and the room. Accepting everything as it is in the present moment is key to having this kind of command.

Acceptance is non-judgmental. You may not love the piece, the people in the room, or even yourself, but acceptance of all of those things is necessary for you to be entirely present and operating at full power from beginning to end.

Here’s a look at four things to accept during the audition process.

Yourself: Non-judgmental acceptance of every part of yourself is the cornerstone of great acting and great auditioning. The actor who has the most colors in his palette paints the brightest picture. If you deem certain qualities of yourself as bad, you’re most likely going to try to hide them. Judgments of good and bad have no place in the creative process. You’re a human being. That’s all. Not good or bad—just human. You have a wide variety of qualities. You’re auditioning to play another human being who also has a wide range of qualities. If you reject certain qualities in yourself, you’re denying the character those parts of your life. And what you have deemed “bad” in you may be exactly where you need to bring that character to life. You need access to all four corners of your personality in order to be the exciting, expansive actor who books the role. Don’t run from certain parts of yourself. Lean in to all of yourself, and give them a look at everything you have to offer.

The Material: Many times I’ll hear actors say that if only their audition                     material was better, then they would be great! Well, this is film/TV—not Shakespeare—so you need to get over that and accept the material as it is. The words are the vehicle, but you’re driving the car, and if you have a deep and creative way of working, you will be the one who brings those words to life in the most dynamic and compellingly personal way. Wishing that the words were better is rejecting them for what they are. When you focus on the limitations you see more limitations. But when you accept the piece for what is, you can begin to see the opportunities to expand it and make it great.

The Room. The actor who gets the job is the actor who is comfortable and in control—no matter what the environment. In other words, great actors don’t need great rooms in order to be great. Accept the room just as it is. Look at the people, feel the vibe, and say to yourself, “OK, this is my stage today, and it’s just fine.” This attitude of acceptance opens you up and helps you become part of the room.

Judgment separates you from the room. You see the room as enemy territory, something to be conquered. This “me against them” mentality creates a defensive tension that will drain the life from both you and your work. The people auditioning you are just people trying to go a good job, just like you. Accept them for who they are in the moment. When you accept the whole situation, you gain immediate control of the audition. You need nothing to be different, and you can proceed with authority and confidence knowing that the room is now a better place because you’re in it.

The Result. This last step can often be the hardest to accept! However, if you don’t book the job and you can’t find out why, acceptance is really your best choice. You could get angry and resentful, but that won’t contribute much to the greater good. When the audition is over, go over it step by step. Be honest about what worked and what didn’t. Write it all down so that it’s there for you to learn from for the next time. Then put it away and move on. Don’t beat yourself up if you did something wrong. Acceptance is key to change—you have to accept the problem in order to fix it. If you just yell and scream at yourself for screwing up you’re resisting the problem and resistance keeps you stuck and unable to move forward. It’s really not possible to hate yourself into improvement so accept the result and know it happened the way it should have for the greater good of your entire career.

When you accept yourself as who you are, you gain access to all that you are. When you accept the material for what it is, it opens up to you and presents possibilities. When you accept the circumstances of the room just as they are, you can lean into the room and be a part of it. And when you accept the results for what they are, you can have some peace, and if need be, you can go about improving yourself in a clear and kind way.



Craig WallaceCraig Wallace’s background in script development combined with his 16 years of coaching actors enables him to find the job getting moments that others miss. His expertise in breaking down text and years of coaching experience has made him “L.A.’s go to private coach.” Sign up for his group or private classes at wallaceauditiontechnique.com.



Keep Leaping

February 15, 2019

Frontier Insider

Leap and the net will appear. You’ve heard this phrase if you’ve even considered pursuing a career in the arts. Teachers have been saying it for years. Actors, writers and dancers have been taping it to their mirrors since middle school. It does, after all, require a giant leap of faith for someone to decide on a career in the arts.

But if you thought that leap was a one-time thing, I have some bad news for you. A successful career as a professional actor doesn’t require just that initial leap. It wasn’t enough to choose the arts as your major. Nor was it sufficient to convince your family that this was what you were born to do, even though that one was tough. Nope, it takes a consistent willingness to leap in the face of adversity and all good common sense to even have a shot at this. I see so many actors breathe a massive sigh of relief upon arriving in Los Angeles. True, that first leap was the falling domino that started you on this path. But the leaps that follow will make all the difference. Let’s look at a few of them.

Maybe the next most important leap of faith is to be training at all times. Just because you have a degree in theatre from the best school on the planet doesn’t mean you are done with classes. First, you probably didn’t go to the best school on the planet which means there is a class of new actors every year coming out that had better training than you. In any event, you need to keep training and whatever it takes to get this one drilled in, do it. I like to see actors in two classes at all times, but that is because I like to see you do everything you can to succeed. If that’s too much, let’s get you into at least one. Every month. Even December.

Another tough leap of faith actors must take is to live the life of a working actor before you are actually a working actor. Many actors eventually choose comfort and security and they lose sight of the daily grind required to develop a career as a working actor. The leap of faith required here is to keep that goal in sight and not opt out of the survival jobs and put acting on the back burner. You can’t be out of town all the time and you have to make enough money to be able to take any acting jobs early in your career, even the ones that don’t pay.

You will also have to take a tricky leap in your personal life because many artists think they cannot pursue personal happiness while going after a career in Hollywood. Not true. Just look at all the people that do it. Don’t put your life on hold while you focus on your dreams. Your dreams should include creating a close-knit support group of friends, family and if you are lucky, a life partner. It may seem like a distraction to those with laser focus but trust me, no one does this alone and the most successful people in this business have partners and friends and family around them. If you have a choice in this, choose community. It takes a village.

The toughest leaps are often the ones you don’t think you need to make. We convince ourselves that we are fine or we convince ourselves that the things we resist are not that important. We bargain and we make excuses and what we are really doing is blocking our own creative success. “I don’t need to network.” “I don’t have the time or money for classes right now.” If you could find the courage to make the leap of moving to Los Angeles then you can get yourself back in class. You can go to screenings and film festivals and meet filmmakers and working actors.

Once you’ve made that courageous first leap of relocating to the big market, you have set a course for success in this business. If you want to stay the course and work in Hollywood, keep leaping.

New Year’s Fresh Start!

January 21, 2019

I don’t know about you, but I always love the start of the New Year. I look at it as a fresh start, a chance to create my goals again, newly and with renewed determination. No matter what happened last year, good or not so good, I can decide for myself what I want to have in the New Year.

We have a phrase we throw around, “making New Years resolutions.” A New Year’s resolution is a tradition in which a person resolves to change some undesired trait or behavior, so that they can accomplish a personal goal or improve their life in some way. The word “resolution” means a firm decision to do or not do something.

Where did this tradition come from? It is thought the ancient Babylonians were the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4,000 years ago.

In ancient Rome, after Julius Caesar changed the calendar and decided January 1 was the beginning of the New Year, circa 46 B.C. January was named for Janus, the two-faced god; Janus symbolically looked backward into the previous year and also ahead, into the future,

The past is gone! It’s time to create a new future!

Here are a few tips for creating a successful New Year!

1) What do you want to accomplish?

As a first step, decide what your personal goals are for your career in the new year. Commercials? How many? TV shows you want to book? What type of roles? Who do you want to work with? How do you want to improve as an actor? Consider these, or anything else you wish to accomplish in your career.

Now, lets look at what might be standing in your way, any unwanted traits or behaviors that you want to change this year:

2) Are you a negative Nancy or Nick?

Don’t look back at your last audition or that job you didn’t book, rather look ahead at what you want to create in your next role, or in your career. Kicking yourself for what you did wrong or could have done but didn’t won’t help you. Deciding how to do it better next time will. Focus on moving forward into that next audition, that next character you will create, and don’t let negativity pull you down. As actors this is a good rule to follow, not just for New Year’s but every day!

Get rid of the negative!

Afraid to make a noise?

3) You need to be heard!

Make a list of shows, Directors, Casting Directors etc. that you would like to meet or work with, and the shows you want to be on. Write to them and let them know who you are. Email, Facebook, tweet, DM or even snail mail them. Social Media is just that– social! Get to know some of the people you admire and learn about what they are doing. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people. They may be looking for you and don’t know where to find you.

Do you put things off for later?

4) Do it now!

If you don’t someone else will, and they will be there to get the job. Send those postcards, write those letters, do your research and audition prep to be totally prepared. Work on being a better actor now, not later. Don’t put it off. Start in a class that feeds your inspiration! Seize the moment!

All of these things add up to being prepared and feeling confident in your work. Put the past behind you and create the future you want by getting into action on your goals. Make this your best year yet!

The Acting Center helps actors to gain control over their work, teaching them to rely on their own instincts, imagination and choices. Our scene study and improv classes produce confident actors who bring an original voice to every production.

In fact, the most distinctive thing about an Acting Center student is how different each one is. We train actors to speak in their own artistic voice—producing characters that are rich and layered. They become the artist they always wanted to be.

Theater, television and film are all collaborative mediums, so an actor must work well with other actors, directors, casting directors and many more. Our technique trains them to do just that! That’s why directors love to work with Acting Center students.

Casting Director Justin Radley’s Tips For Commercial Auditions

December 18, 2018

Jason Bateman once said, “I’ve always loved commercials. I like working out how to organically weave a brand’s message into the writing process. It’s like an improv show, where comics ask the audience to throw out a word and a skit is built around it.”

The commercial format is unique amongst visual mediums. Unlike a feature film or a television pilot, a commercial must connect with an audience and promote its brand in a very limited amount of time.

For an actor, this can be especially challenging. Here, a performer does not have two hours or an entire season to flesh out a character. Their persona and how it ties into a product or service must be revealed instantly.

But how can an actor maximize their chances for success during commercial casting calls?

Well, today we tackle that question. Recently, we had the opportunity to speak with Justin Radley, commercial casting director and President of The Commercial Casting Directors Association of Los Angeles. With over 20 years of casting experience, Justin shared his advice on the do’s and don’ts of commercial auditions, and how he sees the process of casting talent evolving.

Alright, let’s get started!

How Justin Got Started in Casting

From an early age, Justin was interested in storytelling. Enamored by the work of Steven Spielberg, he majored in English in college, with a concentration in screenwriting.

After moving to Los Angeles, he got a job as an office manager at an LA casting office. For Justin, casting talent was entirely new. But, it didn’t take long before he found himself compelled by the process. Soon, he was working his way up through the casting ranks, and eventually settled into the role of commercial casting director.

To Justin’s surprise, casting reminded him of writing. Like his favorite novels and screenplays, acting had the ability to bring to the surface the most unexpected elements of reality. It’s a phenomenon he still cherishes.

“I’ve always had an interest in storytelling, and my approach to casting reflects that,” Justin says. “The casting process is about finding the right actors to tell the story the way the director wants to tell it. Sometimes an actor will read for a role, and suddenly you realize a whole new way to play it. The story just opens up in a way that nobody expected. I love those moments. I have the highest respect for actors who really know their craft. As long as actors continue to surprise me with unexpected choices, I’ll keep coming back to the office every day.”

Commercial Auditions are About Being Prepared

As with most acting roles, preparation is key to conquering commercial auditions. Now, this may seem obvious. But, in Justin’s experience, this is one of the things actors neglect most during casting calls.

For him, it’s a simple yet essential component when pursuing acting jobs.

“If the script is available in advance, study it,” he says. “If there is dialogue, know your lines, but don’t be so locked into them you won’t be able to adjust if there’s a last minute script change. You aren’t required to have your lines memorized in commercial auditions, but if you do memorize them, you’ll stand out in a good way. It’s hard to gauge someone’s acting ability if it looks like you’re reading lines off the cue card in the audition. It comes off like a bad SNL sketch where the host didn’t have enough rehearsal time.”

In Justin’s view, actors need to be malleable. Part of the preparation process is the ability to adapt. If you go into casting calls with just one approach ready, then you may be hurting yourself. It’s important to take time to understand the scene, and the many ways those emotions can be represented.

“Think of a couple different ways you could play the script,” he continues. “If there’s dialogue, practice different ways to deliver your lines (and not just changing the inflection of certain words in a sentence like the Seinfeld episode where Kramer practices his line for a movie, “These pretzels are making me THIRSTY… These PRETZELS are making me thirsty.” If it’s non-verbal, come up with several different reactions. When you get in the audition room, you’ll most likely be given specific direction, but it’s always good to have a few different ways to play it if you’re allowed the freedom to show something else in a second or third take.”

Along with understanding the scene, it’s also important to understand the brand behind the commercial. If you’re unfamiliar with the product or service the commercial is promoting, then how can you properly support its message? In all cases, make sure to familiarize yourself with the history of the product, and how your performance can act as an extension of its essence.

“Know the product the commercial is advertising,” Justin says. “If you’re not familiar with it, do some basic research. If you go out for a guest starring role on an episodic, you’re going to watch an episode (or several) of the show to understand the tone and style. Commercials are no different. Understand how your character relates to the product in the scene.”

Don’t Think Like a Casting Director

One of the age old questions when it comes to acting jobs is should I or should I not think like a casting director? Is it necessary to develop the mindset of a casting director during commercial auditions?

For Justin, the answer is no. In his experience, the more important element an actor should focus on is the scene at hand.

“I don’t think actors need to get into the mindset of a casting director for an audition, but it helps if they have a basic understanding of the process,” he says. “They should know that there are a thousand and one reasons why they might not book a role, but if they are consistently getting callbacks, then they’re doing their job. If they’re not getting callbacks, then maybe they have a good headshot that gets them called in, but they need some more training. When actors walk into the audition room, I don’t want them worrying about gaining advantages over the other actors. I want them focusing on the script, their role, and showing us what they can bring to the material.”

Understand Your Personal Brand for Acting Jobs

In the world of acting, when we think of the word typecast, there’s usually a negative connotation associated with it. But, because of a commercial’s time constraints, a character must read instantly. Unfortunately, there’s no time for complicated character biographies. Whether it’s a heart-broken cheerleader or a disgruntled farmer, a viewer must understand the character right away.

This is why Justin believes it’s essential for an actor to take time in understanding their own personal brand.

“Commercials are all about a quick-read,” he says. “They’re trying to tell a story in a very limited amount of time, so the more instantly recognizable someone is as a character archetype, the easier it is to tell the story quickly. For example, if someone looks more blue collar, then they should have a headshot showcasing that look. If someone is more of an “everyman,” they should have a headshot that makes them look friendly and relatable. It’s a good idea for actors to have a few different looks, but they should all be looks that are realistic for them to book. Actors should pay attention to commercials to figure out what kinds of roles they would book. Once they determine that, they can promote themselves in a way that makes it easier for casting directors to see where that actor fits in.”

Commercial Casting Directors Face Challenges Too

Because of ever-evolving technologies, Justin sees the commercial casting industry changing not only for actors, but casting directors as well. In light of these developments, he says casting directors will have to monitor advertising trends in order to thrive in the future.

“The major obstacle commercial casting directors will face is keeping up with the evolving landscape of commercial advertising,” Justin says. “With the advent of new forms of media and streaming services, advertisers are spending their money in different ways than they did a decade ago, and many casting directors have had to adapt their businesses to stay relevant. It’s hard to say how technology will continue to change advertising in the next ten or twenty years.”

Using Casting as a Way of Helping the Community

Since assuming the role of CCDA President, Justin has wanted to find new ways of supporting members of the commercial casting industry, while also giving back to the community. During his tenure, he has implemented a number of successful initiatives addressing both the concerns of his members, and the needs of local LA neighborhoods.

“I’m very proud of continuing the annual charity fundraiser the CCDA started last year,” Justin says. “With the support of the acting community and talent agents, the CCDA/LA was able to raise significant donations for families and children in need. “

“I’m also very proud of the dialogue we’ve opened with SAG-AFTRA to share our knowledge on issues at the heart of some advertisers using non-union talent over professional performers,” he continues. “By utilizing the relationships we’ve built at SAG-AFTRA, some of our members have been able to persuade their non-signatory clients to hire a third party signatory in order to put their spots on the SAG-AFTRA Commercials Contract and cast better performers. On a daily basis, commercial casting directors handle negotiations with talent agents on behalf of the ad agencies, and we understand the way to get the best available talent is to offer what both sides consider to be a fair deal. We will continue to share what we have learned in an effort to help guide each side towards a fair resolution.”

Justin is also passionate about laying a foundation for the future of commercial acting. For him, it’s important to prepare the next generation of talent to enter the industry.

“A few years ago we started a teaching arm of ASG Casting, Inc., called Camera Left / Stage Right,” he says. “Our classes focus mainly on commercial audition technique for both adults and kids. We also have a great improv class for kids that teaches them the fundamentals of improv, as well as one of the most important skills every actor needs — how to listen. We started these classes to help actors rise above common mistakes and pitfalls we see so often in commercial auditions. My business partner and fellow casting director Arlene Schuster-Goss and I take turns attending the classes to answer questions and to give some deeper insight into the casting process.”

Wrapping Up With Casting Director Justin Radley

For many people, a job is just a job. It’s a means of making money, and if you’re lucky, an activity you can tolerate. But for others, a job is a calling. Yes, it’s something you do to survive, but it’s also a pursuit you believe improves your life, and society as a whole.

Justin Radley belongs to this latter group. By assuming the role of casting director, he is concerned not only with acting roles and commercial auditions, but using art as a vehicle for change. To show how acting, and storytelling in general, helps to shape and influence the reality around us.

Legendary actor Max Von Sydow once said, “There are casting directors with lots of imagination.”

Lucky for us, Justin is one of them.





Creating Your Own Original Content

December 11, 2018

As an actor, you’re constantly trying to find work. As classes, auditions and casting calls can take up a considerable amount of your time – not to mention any side hustles. In auditions and productions, you’re pretty much at the mercy of the director and the production team, and your creative and artistic decisions are pretty much affected by their input. But sometimes, you want to exert more control over your work, your career, your destiny: you just want to be able to call the shots. What if, instead of always trying to book and work on projects by other people, you could just make projects on your own?

If your answer to this question is “Yes!” then you should consider creating your own content. In a nutshell, content creation is the production of online digital media such as blog posts, web sites, podcasts, and videos meant for consumption by a specific audience in specific contexts. It’s one of the favorite marketing strategies used by businesses to attract new customers and engage loyal ones by providing information and articles that may be useful and interesting to them. So if businesses big and small are marketing themselves by creating their own content, then you as an actor could also use the strategy of content creation to market yourself, create a fan base, and express and showcase yourself and your talent to more people in the way that you want.

Streaming sites have made it possible for anyone to share their videos online and make them public. You can try creating an online portfolio of excerpts of your acting work. Create and use your reel to promote yourself on your social media accounts. Better yet, you can create original video content and and channels that represent you. Who knows, with enough views, you could become a partner and monetize your videos. Or you could attract enough attention from the right people if your content goes viral. You might even be able to leverage your newfound online fame to book gigs, get your own show, create your own movie, and get yourself an endorsement deal…pretty much find work. And the best part? It’s not going to cost you an arm and a leg. Most streaming video sites have free registration and membership and and your smart phone has an HD camera. There are video editing apps that are free or you could spring for them because they are definitely going to be a blessing if you decide to edit your own videos and indie movies (who knows, they may eventually pay for themselves!). You could ask your friends to help you with the locations and music, or you could take care of these details yourself: a lot of top Hollywood actors also tend to get involved with the production and direction of their movie projects, so why can’t you do the same? Unleash the multi-hyphenate in you!

The only other thing you need to create your own original video content is a cast. If you’re an actor who needs to cast other actors for your project, Casting Frontier can help you find the talents you need to make your original productions come to life.

Content creation is probably not going to replace your daily grind of auditioning and working to get roles, but it should complement your work in other productions, helping you to further hone your skills as an actor. It’s not for everyone, but it may just be the strategy you need to help you put your work out there, and eventually let YOU be the one to call the shots.


It’s The Skills

November 15, 2018

I was on a panel recently and one of the questions we were asked was: “what do you think the most important thing an actor needs to achieve success?” Someone said “passion,” another panelist said “determination.”

When it came to me I said, “Skills – passion and determination mean nothing if you can’t deliver.” When asked to explain further, I said that, as far as auditions go, the people in the room are looking to see if you have the skills make the role come life in a way that will engage the audience and enhance the project. They want to see the effortlessly connected, dynamic result of your hard work. If you go in to an audition passionately determined to blow then away, but you don’t know what you’re doing, all they’ll see is an unfocused mess, no matter how determined and passionate you are to make it good.

As an example, I said that I had just come from my accountant that day. I didn’t choose her because I admire her passion for accounting – I hired her because she knows tax law and can save me money. Same with my doctor. He may have had passion and determination to get through medical school, but all I care about is that he can read the lab results correctly and that he knows what to do when he puts the rubber gloves on.

It’s about the skill. And even though our profession has a large creative and emotional component, in the end, how frequently you work will depend on how skilled you are at getting and performing the job.

While passion and determination aren’t magic bullets and are far from being enough on their own, they can be helpful as part of a successful work ethic and as motivators to be the absolute best actor that you can be.

But, it’s important to use these qualities in the most positively artistic way possible. With determination, for example, there is a big difference between stubborn determination and artistic determination.

When I hear some actors say that they’re determined, it’s many times code for bull headedness. It means that they’re going to keep doing what’s not working, but with even more energy.

Creativity is not linear. The answers that will most enliven your work and your life will be found through deep, open and honest exploration. So, being artistically determined means that you’re aware of what you need to work on and doing that work willingly and energetically; to dive in and grow, enrich and improve.

It’s not about trying to make it all happen your way – that’s the stubborn kind of determination. Yes, it’s about being driven, but more importantly, it’s about being flexible, not fighting obstacles, but incorporating them as part of the path that life has laid out for you.

Determined to be a successful, working actor, but doing so in the rhythm of life and the spirit of creativity.

And yes, be passionate. But be passionate about the work – not the fantasy of fame and fortune. True actors are so excited about the process that they don’t see it as work at all. They have a passion for knowing themselves more deeply and specifically, and a passion for connecting to other people. They’re passionate about listening and learning about human nature. And they’re passionately curious about acting in all of its forms and have a passionate dedication to learning and widening the scope of their art.

Having a strong sense of passion and determination and a week set of skills is a recipe for frustration and anxiety. You don’t deserve something just because you’re passionate about it – you deserve what you earn through doing the hard work of making yourself the most highly skilled professional you can be.

Someone saying that honing your skills and working your ass off may not seem as “inspirational” as telling you that being determined and passionate are going to be enough to succeed. But it’s honest.

And to real actors, what could be more inspiring than to hear that the real key to success is getting better and better at doing what they love?

Craig WallaceCraig Wallace’s background in script development combined with his 16 years of coaching actors enables him to find the job getting moments that others miss. His expertise in breaking down text and years of coaching experience has made him “L.A.’s go to private coach.” Sign up for his group or private classes at wallaceauditiontechnique.com.



The Perfect Class

November 15, 2018

Training is one of the most important decisions an actor ever faces. You have to pick the right type of class, the best teacher for you and then it helps to do it in the right order. And most of you need to accomplish all of this on a budget, right? That sounds complicated. It’s not. Let’s simplify it.

This blog probably should have been titled, “The Perfect Class for YOU… at this moment in time.” Actors are often way too cavalier about which class they take and when.

Don’t put the cart before the horse. Scene Study class is not a good idea before the basics. It’s the ongoing class you take once all the heavy lifting is done. This means you get at least one major technique class out of the way first. I would also recommend doing Groundlings or UCB before Scene Study class. Scene Study is the class you are in while you are going out on auditions. Improvisation and Technique will be necessary before you enter casting offices.

The commercial world is a bit different. I like to see actors jump in a good commercial class for a month as soon as possible because you don’t need intense training to sell toothpaste. And the money you earn from that national commercial can help you stay in class and allow you to work that survival job less.

When selecting any class, please do your due diligence. Do the research. Don’t just jump from class to class because your friends or significant other does them. Find your own classes. It should be a personal experience that works for you.

If you do sign up for a class with a friend, because I know many actors like to do this, do not be swayed by their experience, good or bad. One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor. In other words, I have yet to meet a couple who successfully navigated Hollywood from beginning to end as a couple. Sure, actors meet on a series, fall in love and stay together. But they weren’t together every step of the way through every class together for thirty years. There’s a reason you can’t name a single couple that did that. It just isn’t natural for two different human beings to need exactly the same classes at exactly the same time year in and year out.

Would it kill you to be in the same class at the same time with your significant other? No. But just like dating someone at work, what happens if the relationship goes sour? And you both love the class? And you have to watch the girl you still have feelings for do a love scene in class with some other guy? Fun.

And keep things fresh. Even a great class requires a little break now and then. Studying with one teacher for ten years when you’re not working as an actor might be an indicator that some fresh tutelage is needed. Many actors find that by mixing it up a bit they sometimes cause a breakthrough in the work. It’s not that your current teacher isn’t a good fit, but just the act of mixing it up can create an energy that forces you out of your comfort zone. That should mean growth.

Another important thing to remember about classes is that the most expensive classes are rarely the best. Some teachers know that by creating a higher rate, they present the illusion that their class is one of the best ones. But do you really want to study with a teacher that is all about the money? There are so many great classes that won’t break the bank. I urge you to shop around to find those teachers who put their students first.

Most importantly, create a group of classes that will tell us by looking at your resume that you are a well-rounded, well-trained actor. I like to see a bunch of classes beyond college. Nothing you did in college was more than three months concentration so that isn’t going to stand up to someone who had a two-year Meisner or Stanislavski on their resume. Add to that a nice array of different classes and I might give you a chance. Then, you can show me in the office what you have to bring to the set.

mark sikesMark Sikes began his casting career in 1992 for Academy Award-winning filmmaker Roger Corman. In the past 25 years, he has cast over 100 films as well as television series, commercials and web series. He has cast projects for Tobe Hooper and Luke Greenfield and many others. In the past few years Mark has also produced four feature films.

Based in Los Angeles, Mark has cast films for many markets including the United Kingdom, Peru, the Philippines and Russia. Domestically, he has cast films that shot all over the country in Texas, Ohio, Massachusetts, Virginia and multiple projects in Colorado.

He currently teaches three weekly on-camera, audition technique classes in West Los Angeles.  Follow Mark on Twitter @castnguy.

Creating, Promoting, Marketing and Protecting Your Brand Online

October 17, 2018

The digital landscape has changed all of our lives, from how we stay connected with each other to how we create and build our careers. But with the tremendous opportunities now available to both have a voice and to build an audience also come the dangers of having too loud a voice and the risk of brand damage, which can be nearly impossible to dial back.

I have a tremendous interest in performance for social change. How an actor’s participation or involvement in that process can potentially benefit tremendously or damage irreparably that person’s brand and reputation is one of my favorite topics in my college curriculum. But studying this academically, when it is someone else’s client, is very different when the person under fire for a comment, action or misdeed is your client- or you.

Controversy can stall or kill a career, which is why I urge actors to avoid public displays of opinion that could, inadvertently, cost them an opportunity or even a career. Exhibit 1: Roseanne Barr.

Having an opinion and wanting to have a voice in a matter that you have great passion for is an American tradition- and, of course, our right to speak out is guaranteed to us by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. But, as Oliver Wendell Holmes,Jr. argued in a 1919 Supreme Court case, while we have that right, we cannot yell “fire” in a crowded theatre.

Holmes was not a talent manager. He was a free speech advocate who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1902 – 1932. While his position, of course, had nothing to do with a “social” media that would not arrive until nearly I00 years later, it is applicable to the means of communication we now have that was unfathomable in 1919.

Your social media platform of choice or your website is your theatre. Do not yell “fire” from any of these spaces. While it might get you the attention of an audience you seek, there are also steep, potential consequences as a result.

It is never a good idea to mix your politics with your business, particularly online, and particularly now … unless you have earned the stature of a (Exhibit 2) Meryl Streep, Oprah Winfrey, Susan Sarandon, Angelina Jolie, Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney or others on the A-list of stars for whom speaking out has, to date, worked for their brands. They have earned those platforms and strongly believe that there is more to gain from speaking out than there is to lose from staying silent in fear of offending a fan who disagrees with their politics.

However, as a new-to-the-business actor or as someone working on a career rebranding, your business presence on the World Wide Web is intended to grow your business, not promote your personal agenda. lnstagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook … they also all offer tremendous opportunities to create platforms for your brand. But, words of caution still apply: Use these platforms for building and growing your professional career by only posting content that reflects positively on you and your brand. Never post content that could be potentially off-putting or controversial to a site visitor. Instead, build your online presence in ways that support your journey, not your opinions.

If you are passionate about being able to publicly express your personal views on topics that matter to you, then express those views on a separate personal, not business, social media platform. But activist beware: proceed with caution, at least until we can add your name to Meryl’s, Oprah’s, Susan’s, Angelina’s, Leo’s, George’s and the others on that list. Then we can discuss it again.

Brad LemackBrad Lemack opened Lemack & Company in 1982, following his stint as a publicity executive at pioneering producer Norman Lear’s TV production company, housed on the lot at Universal Studios, in Hollywood.

In addition to Brad’s leadership at Lemack & Company Talent Management/Public Relations, he has also been a member of the faculty at Boston’s Emerson College Los Angeles campus since 1995, where he created and teaches courses in entertainment public relations, the business of acting and entertainment industry career development through the College’s acclaimed internship program.

In 2010, Brad added to his academic responsibilities when he joined the faculty of North Carolina’s Elon University Los Angeles Program, where he created and teaches entertainment PR and film unit publicity. In 2013, he also created and taught a strategic acting for the camera class at California State University, Northridge.

Brad received his Bachelor of Science degree from Emerson College in communication studies and his Master of Arts in theatre arts and dance, with a concentration in performance for social change, from California State University, Los Angeles.

Brad is the author of three popular books for actors:  The Business of Acting: Learn the Skills You Need to Build the Career You WantThe New Business of Acting: How to Build a Career in a Changing Landscape and The New Business of Acting: The Next Edition. He also co-authored, with Emmy Award-winning Jeffersons star and decades-long Lemack & Company client Isabel Sanford, her autobiography, titled You Can Call Me Weezy

He also developed and edited the book Acting and How To Be Good At It and Acting and How To Be Good At It: The Second Edition, by noted character actor, acting coach and another long standing Lemack & Company client, Basil Hoffman

Living Between The Lines

September 14, 2018

script analysis

One of the first things any actor does when he get a script is to look at the lines. What do I have to say? How will I memorize all this? The attention is all on the words and not messing up! Going up on your lines at a casting session, on stage or on set– it’s the actor’s nightmare.

This is a far cry from what an actor should be concentrating on.

What is an actor’s real job? It is to BE another person and live the life of that character in the script. It is not just going up on stage or in front of a camera and spitting out the dialogue to perfection. Sure, one needs to know the lines, which are the thoughts of the character, but first one has to BE the person who has those thoughts.

Some of the greatest moments of a performance can happen “between the lines”. Those moments of thinking the thoughts of the character, reacting or responding, without speaking any lines, living the life of the character as it is happening.

A vital part of bringing a character to life is knowing how you think about things as the character and letting it affect the next thought that they have.

It’s what an audience wants to see, a real person having a real experience. A person who listens, processes information given by other characters, thinks and then says what they think. Living between the lines as a real person would.

Knowing who you are as the character, how they think and allowing yourself to live “between the lines” will help make the dialogue and the character come alive!

Persevering Will Make You Lucky

August 14, 2018

Last week, I saw a former student of mine on a morning talk show. He studied and coached with me for a few years. I got him an agent and he began to audition. After many auditions, he booked a few co-star and guest star roles and then finally he booked a series regular role on TV show, which made him famous. On the talk show, he was asked the pat question, “How did you get the role?” He responded, “I don’t know. Guess I was just lucky.” I wanted to yell at the TV (okay, I did yell at the TV!). “Why don’t you tell them about the four years you spent working your ass off?”

For him to simply brush off all his hard work by saying it was “just luck,” does not tell the whole story; the many hours spent in acting class, the millions of auditions he went on, the rejection and disappointment he had to work through and that “survival job” he hated.

It also sends a message to the aspiring actors out there watching that all they need is “luck” to be successful. Leaving out the key to success; hard work, commitment, passion and courage.

The word “luck” is thrown out there a lot, especially in Hollywood.

You hear it time and time again: “Oh, he was just lucky…to get that call, that meeting, that audition, that role.” Or worse yet, when the actors themselves say, “I guess I was just lucky!”

In fact, many would suggest that all you need to make it in Hollywood is luck; that it’s strictly a numbers game and a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

Actually, there is something to luck. I do believe in the idea of luck when it comes to our individual lives. We experience luck every day. Luck is when you win the lottery or when you avoid injury in a serious accident. Luck is when you’re speeding and you zoom by a cop… just as he looks away. Luck is a cosmic blend of fate, karma and forces beyond your control leading you to (or helping you avoid) certain life paths, choices and events that will ultimately propel you to your destiny.

When it comes to your acting career, however, luck is very different. In your career, luck is something that you can help shape. You can bring luck on to yourself by putting out positive intentions. Positive intentions bring positive outcomes.

For an actor pursuing an acting career:

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity!

Write that down in your Actor’s Journal. Read it again. In fact, say it out loud. This is a mantra I use and truly believe in. I’ve seen proof of it through the years. I’ve seen so many actors create their own luck simply by working hard, by being ready, by persevering.

If you work hard, luck will come your way. So you better be prepared. At some point, you will get an opportunity to meet the right people, audition for the perfect role, and book the job that will launch your career. You owe it to yourself and all the hard work you’ve done to be ready for the occasion.

Let me give you a concrete example of what I mean. An actor in my class told a story about a producer who came into his restaurant, where he was waiting tables. This actor had been working hard at his career for a few years. He was devoted to his training and he was always auditioning. He was talking with the producer about his acting career. The producer liked him and thought he was perfect for a role on his show. He called him in to audition the next day. The actor went home, got his sides, worked on his material, coached with me early the next morning, and went to the audition completely prepared. He booked the role.

As my student told this story in class, another student said, “Boy, were you lucky!

That’s not luck! That actor was prepared for when the opportunity presented itself and that preparation paid off.

Luck starts with you putting it out there, stating exactly what you Want, what your goal is. You declare it to yourself, your friends, your family, your acting coach, the universe. It can be anything from your overall goal of being a successful actor to more individual goals like getting an agent or landing a good audition. You tell everyone, you make that goal your top priority, and you put yourself in the mindset that you WILL accomplish that goal.

Once you accept the notion that you can create and orchestrate your own luck, it puts your destiny back into your own hands.

Scott SeditaAbout Scott Sedita – Whether you’re auditioning for a co-star or a series regular on a half hour comedy, sitcom guru and acting coach Scott Sedita will teach you The Sedita Method of sitcom acting, which comes with it’s own terminology, coined phrases and unique glossary.

Scott’s internationally best-selling book, “The Eight Characters of Comedy. A Guide to Sitcom Acting & Writing, 2nd Edition” has sold over 100,000 copies and has become a “bible” to Hollywood comedy writers, directors, producers, and actors and is used as a textbook in over 100 colleges and universities. Find Scott and his staff of professional actors, teachers and coaches at ScottSeditaActing.com.

The Basics of Starting and Maintaining Your Own YouTube Channel

August 13, 2018


YouTube has revolutionized the way content is created and distributed. According to Wikipedia, YouTube is the second most popular website on the internet. With 300 hours of content uploaded every minute, the platform is also the second largest search engine.

Because of this, creatives and brands have used YouTube channels as promotional tools. But, success on the site entails more than just an attractive video. Your YouTube channel page, which includes the channel name, icon, art and trailer are all vital to a channel’s longevity.

However, with approximately 50 million channels on the site, what’s the best way of starting and maintaining your own? Well, today we answer that question. We’re going to review the basics of developing and sustaining your channel for the long run.

Alright, let’s get started!

Define Your Target Audience

As we’ve mentioned, YouTube is a crowded, competitive place. This is why defining your audience is vital. When it comes to channel positioning, specificity is key.

The first, and perhaps most import question you should ask is, “Who is this channel for?” With 50 million other channels floating around, you need to devise how to make your channel unique. The more specific your target audience, the better. Creating a generic auditions channel or an acting coach vlog will not help you to stand out.

Instead of casting a wide net, define who specifically is going to be interested in your topic. That way, you have a better chance of having your videos watched, liked and shared.

Determine Your Channel’s Value Proposition

Along with defining your audience, the next important question is, “What type of value am I going to provide?” Do my videos show how acting jobs help vegan moms? Do they reveal how casting calls are the best way to learn new acting skills? As with an audience, a targeted message is the most effective. You have to give your audience a reason why they should subscribe to your YouTube channel. Why is your content and message different than all the rest? Determining a specific value will help in the creation of your content.

What Types of Videos Should You Make?

So, you’ve narrowed down your target audience and chosen a value proposition. Now, it’s time to decide what types of videos you will produce. Is this going to be a How-to? A vlog? Of course you don’t have to limit yourself to one type of video. But, like all things having to do with content creation, it’s important to remain focused. Starting out with 1 or 2 types of videos is the best route to go. Then, as your YouTube channel grows, you can experiment with different formats. What you don’t want to do, is proceed with a format that doesn’t support your value proposition.

For example, let’s say your value proposition is, “Online casting techniques that lead to better acting roles.” Well, interviews and inspirational videos may not be your best format. However, a how-to would be of great interest to your viewers.

Ultimately, select the format that best addresses the values of your target audience.

Devise a Publishing Schedule

Along with what types of videos you will produce, you also need to determine how often you will upload videos to your YouTube channel. Viewers and subscribers want to know you publish content on a regular basis. Now, there’s no one size fits all when it comes to scheduling. Some people publish every day, while others only once a month. Regardless, it’s important to construct a schedule that gives you enough time to produce compelling, original content.

Organization and Visual Style of Your YouTube Channel

It’s no surprise that the visual style of your YouTube channel is instrumental to its success. As we’ve said, the goal is to stand out amongst all the competition. Because of this, each visual element needs to be crafted to support your brand. This includes animated logos, on-screen graphics, wardrobe, video thumbnails and channel art.

Take time to define the style that will represent your channel. The important thing is to keep the style distinct and consistent. Try to use the same font, colors and design elements throughout the entirety of the channel.

Along with the visual style, organization is essential. This is where channel sections come into play. Channel sections tell viewers and potential subscribers here’s what this channel is about. It also helps current subscribers discover more content. Organizing videos into specific sections makes finding content much easier.

Choose The Right YouTube Channel Name

As the title suggests, the channel name is the name for all the content you upload to YouTube. It can be a person’s first and last name, or a phrase to describe the channel’s overall topic. Examples would be “Mastering Wizard Acting Roles,” or “Think Like A Casting Director.” A channel name is important because it appears on your videos, channel page and in YouTube’s search results. It’s a powerful tool, and an integral part of how viewers define your brand.

When it comes to YouTube channel naming though, brevity is key. Yes, you want a name that’s unique. But, it’s also important to have a name or phrase that’s easy to remember. It should be easy to pronounce and spell, and typically unfolds in 2-3 word phrases. “Acting Coach Psychology,” or “Canine Acting Jobs.”  If you’re having difficulty, try a free service like Shopify Business Name Generator. The site generates business name options and checks for domain availability.   

Pick An Effective Channel Icon

When a person searches for your channel on YouTube and Google, the channel icon is what appears. A YouTube channel icon is a small, visual representation of your channel. This icon is important because it appears in more places on YouTube than any other component of your channel.

For most people, the icon will be the first image they see from you. Because of this, a channel icon that accurately represents you is essential. If the channel revolves around a single individual, then a headshot is most appropriate. If you’d prefer not to include a headshot, then create a channel logo for your brand instead. But remember, the channel icon is small. You want to select an image that displays clearly no matter which section it is in. As far as dimensions go, the icon should be an 800 x 800px image. Once it’s uploaded, review and crop if necessary.

YouTube Channel Art   

Channel art is the large banner running across the top of your channel page. It is used to convey key information such as a channel’s upload schedule, tagline and social media accounts.

Now, when it comes to your channel art, you typically have three options. First, there is the creator shot. This works well for personal brands and vlogs, and features a professional-looking headshot. Next, there is the representative shot. This is simply an image that represents the topic your channel will be covering. Examples would be scenes of actor preparation or casting calls. And finally there is the logo.

Along with your channel art, come up with a tagline you can feature in the banner. Your tagline should be a short description of your channel’s value proposition. An example would be “Squire Auditions Made Easy.”

To get started with channel art, use a tool called Fotor. This free application has a feature specifically designed for creating YouTube Channel art. For more complex designs, try using graphic design tools such as Canva or Snappa.

Creating Your Channel Description

YouTube channel description is a succinct outline of what type of content you are publishing. It shows up on your channel page as well as in YouTube search results.

Now, the first 100-150 words are the most important. This is because YouTube displays a 100-150 word description snippet next to your channel in the search results. Because of this, you want to convey your channel’s goals and values immediately.

When coming up with your description, always keep the viewer in mind. A lot of YouTubers focus the channel description on themselves. Sure, this is fine for larger brands. But, the best strategy is to answer the question of what is the benefit subscribers will receive? How can they learn from my advice?

The Importance of The Channel Trailer

A channel trailer is a video designed to help viewers quickly learn about the content you publish. When enabled, the trailer appears at the top of your YouTube channel page.

In terms of duration, aim for 30-90 seconds. Of course there’s no perfect length. But remember, when it comes to YouTube elements, brevity is key. Keep it short, but make sure to give yourself enough time to get your message across.

A popular format for the trailer is known as the T.O.P. formula. This stands for Target Audience (casting directors, acting coaches, etc.), Origin Story and Pitch (asking viewers to subscribe). It’s also advantageous to include a highlight reel of your best clips within the trailer. This acts as ideal b-roll while you’re describing your mission and value proposition.

Respond To Channel Subscribers

Because a subscriber is notified when you publish new content, they are more inclined to view a video than a non-subscriber. This is why staying engaged with subscribers can increase watch times for your videos.

To do this, reply to comments. The best way of sustaining subscribers is to create a community atmosphere. A sense of community enables a deeper connection with your viewers, and promotes long-term growth for the channel. Often, it’s a powerful feeling to receive a message directly from the content’s creator. When people see you responding, they’re more inclined to comment and subscribe themselves.

Promote Your Videos In Forums and Q&A Sites

Besides the standard social media promotion, forums and Q&A sites such as Reddit and Quora are ideal places to promote your videos. People visit these sites to get answers and view new content. Your videos can accomplish both of these desires. Let’s say you just published a video on using the psychology of a casting director to master casting calls. Now, find places where actors go to get their questions answered about auditions and acting jobs. Once there, share your video with the group. But remember, don’t just drop in a link to the video. Make sure to compose a full post detailing why this information and content is useful to the online casting community.   

Wrapping Up YouTube Channels

Advertising guru Leo Burnett once said, “What helps people, helps business.” This is at the heart of what a successful YouTube channel is about.

You may want to discuss the benefits of online casting and actor websites. Or, important yet neglected acting roles. Whatever the topic may be, a YouTube channel can help explore that. Now of course, these are just the basics of a complex platform. But hopefully you have a stronger foundation for pursuing your own content creation.


Inside Circle Seminar: Four Ways The Acting Center Reinvents The Acting Workshop

August 10, 2018

Over the years, there’s been much debate about acting workshops. Are they worth your time and money? What makes one school of acting better than another?  Why should I listen to an acting coach who isn’t a celebrity?

More than anything, an acting workshop is supposed to bring out the most powerful emotions a performer has to offer. It’s supposed to train an actor to reveal themselves during casting calls and auditions. As Jesse Eisenberg once said, “In acting class, you’re trained to express yourself as much as you can.”

However, this often becomes a difficult task. With the unique biases of an acting coach, a performer strives to fit the sensibilities of another. As a result, they neglect or suppress the innate emotions that are begging to be released.

This struggle is something Eric Methany and Tamra Meskimen are well aware of. As founders of The Acting Center in Los Angeles, the two have made it their mission to alter the perception of what an acting workshop can be.

Through scene studies, improv and private coaching, the pair have taken the focus away from criticism. Instead, the center teaches performers to rely on their own instincts and imagination.  

This past July, Casting Frontier partnered with The Acting Center for a day-long seminar. There, Eric and Tamra discussed and demonstrated The Acting Center’s unique approach to acting roles. In case you missed the class, here are 4 important lessons from the day.

Acting Jobs Come From Acting More

Both Eric and Tamra have been acting since they were teenagers. As the years went on, and they attended a variety of acting workshops, they kept coming across a common denominator. Acting classes tended to have more talking than acting.  It was a trend they wanted to avoid when starting their own studio space.

“Actors get better at acting when they act,” Eric says. “We spent three years researching everything we could about acting and acting jobs. In the end, we knew that learning by doing was the best approach.”

The pair like to tell the story of their very first acting workshop 15 years ago. In a dingy, cramped space above a 7-Eleven, Eric and Tamra took 17 actors through a six-week course. By avoiding the excessive analysis that often bogs down a performer, they watched as nearly every actor booked a role before the end of the six weeks.

For them, this was a strong sign for action over analysis. It’s an approach they practice and encourage to this day.

Acting Roles Require Being Another Person

A question that both an acting coach and a performer often wrestle with is what is acting? How do you define it?

For Eric and Tamra, this question was the prime obstacle they had to tackle. Like the technique itself, there are thousands of interpretations of what the responsibilities of an actor are.  

Bette Davis said, “Without wonder and insight, acting is just a trade. With it, it becomes creation.” Whereas Meryl Streep remarked, “Acting is finding the similarity in what is different, then finding myself there.”

Yes, these are beautiful statements. But, they are also what Eric and Tamra feel contribute to actor confusion. Eric and Tamra didn’t want personal, abstract definitions. Instead, they were searching for an explanation of acting roles that was practical and actionable.

For them, the simplest, most accurate definition of acting is becoming another person. It is about changing one’s identity. And for Eric and Tamra, this is already a tool people use on a daily basis.

In their view, life is about performance. In each situation, individuals take on different personas that will allow them to thrive and survive in the world. Performers should not think of acting as some mysterious element to be deciphered. Rather, they should think of scenes and auditions as everyday situations. Instead of asking what am I supposed to be, ask who am I supposed to be. From there, you can enhance character emotion, and improve dialog.

An Acting Workshop That Avoids Criticism

In the early days of The Acting Center, Eric and Tamra asked themselves can we teach acting without criticism? Traditionally, acting has been taught on a performance and critique basis. An actor performs, and someone then describes what they liked or didn’t like about the performance.

For Eric and Tamra though, criticism, at least as it pertains to acting, has often caused more harm than good. “The only thing you learn from a critique, is what the person critiquing you is like,” Tamra says.

Objectivity, especially when it comes to the arts, is nonexistent. With each unique perspective comes its own unique biases. According to Eric and Tamra, from a critique you learn much about the likes, dislikes and overall sensibilities of the critic. However, you learn very little about yourself. How are you supposed to learn new skills if you’re always shaping your performance to the narrow worldview of one particular audience?

Now, Eric and Tamra know this can be a difficult pill to swallow. After all, if you don’t tell actors what they’re doing wrong they won’t improve. More likely than not, casting calls will not be a walk in the park for them.

Often, people present them with the analogy of math and building a bridge. If you use the wrong math, then the bridge will collapse. For Eric and Tamra though, acting jobs are not math.

Art is all about opinion. And when it comes to opinion, there is no good or bad. When you visit a museum, there are some things you like and others you don’t. But, all these works exist in a museum. They’re still considered art.

This is why the pair feel criticism hinders an actor’s innate creative spark. By eliminating criticism, a performer can work faster, better and stronger. Or, as The Acting Center dubs it, The Daft Punk method.

“We have a model that does not follow the critique system,” Eric says. “Our class doesn’t bow to an acting coach trying to mold a performer into their image of what an artist is. We want people to find their own road. That’s what makes stars. People who know what they’re doing, and have faith in their work.”

Character Commitment Is The Key To Acting Jobs

Of course, Eric and Tamra know how debilitating criticism can be. Once someone’s bais enters an actor’s mindset, everything can be thrown off. Instead of exploring something new and unique, the actor censers themselves. In an attempt to head off any criticism, they interrupt scenes and auditions by breaking character.

Eric and Tamra feel this is a mistake. In their opinion, to overcome insecurity on set and during casting calls, one must fully commit to their character. For them, this is the best solution to combat criticism.

They give the example of playing a Boston firefighter. In this situation, the accent is the most difficult part. Instead of throwing up your hands and breaking the scene out of frustration, go with it. Don’t think of the tonal differences as a flaw. Instead, use frustration to your advantage. Come up with a reason for why this accent is a bit off. What happened in this character’s life that made their voice sound like that.

“A character is a living person,” Eric says. “We have to convince the audience that we are this person. By committing fully to the character, you are moving past the insecurity that comes with criticism.”

For Eric and Tamra, it is this commitment that increases an actor’s chances for success.

Wrapping up with Eric Methany and Tamra Meskimen

Russell Crowe has said, “The important thing to me is that I’m not slowed down by people’s criticism. I’m just trying to work at the highest level I can.”

In the realm of art and performance, criticism is everywhere. The danger of this being its potential stranglehold on originality. More than anything, Eric and Tamra’s acting workshop encourages performers to avoid relying on the biases of others. Instead, listen to your gut. Immerse yourself in the character, and and allow your emotions to guide you in the right direction.  


SCRIPT ANALYSIS: Part 1 – Actors! You Really Should Know What You’re Talking About

July 17, 2018


Two Questions:

If you were given the instruction manual for a new product but the manual was meant for a completely different product, do you think you’d have much success properly operating that product?

If you landed in a foreign city and were given the map to a completely different city, would you be able to navigate the streets of that city very well?

Not likely!

Holding a script that you haven’t correctly analyzed is like holding the wrong instruction manual or trying to navigate with the wrong map. Imagine being handed a script for one scene in an audition but after reading it you then deliver a read that’s completely different from the scene as it is written. Now, would you purposely do that? Of course not. However, it happens all the time. Right now, just as you’re reading this article, there are actors all over this city, and beyond, misreading their copy, and as a result… blowing their reads as well as their chances of winning their auditions (let alone the room). Not a very good situation to be in.

Continue reading this article for a deeper insight into the prevention of this chronic actor ailment.


We’re going to cut to the core of script analysis in order for this teaching to empower you with the tools necessary to understand copy as the writer had intended it; we call this Writer’s Intent or Given Set of Circumstances.
Writer’s intent is similar to the blueprint for a building project. If you don’t follow the blueprint during construction, the end result will not turn out to be exactly what the designer had initially envisioned. In telling a story on film, it’s the writer’s job to provide the roadmap or blueprint, and it’s the actor’s job to stick to that blueprint. That is if your intention is to bring the story to life as the writer originally envisioned it.


Of course, actors are always looking for ways to make strong and interesting choices in order to stand out. In and of itself, the bold act of making interesting choices is not a bad thing. However, it’s important to remember that interesting choices can’t directly conflict with the given circumstances and must line up with the story’s original intent or there’s going to be issues. What kind of issues? The kind of issues that will prevent you from getting called back.
Remember: It’s not the job of the actor to change the blueprint… even if you think you have come up with something better. You must first understand what’s on the page before you can nuance what’s on the page.


Never criticise or insult the writing during an audition. The writer could be in the room! If you honestly feel the writing is subpar and you’re still willing to audition for the project, then prepare something nice to say about the script ahead of time, such as “I am excited to be working on this material right now.”

I often remind actors in my studio to consider the writer as the smartest person on the project. Remember, more often than not, writers have worked very hard and labored long hours over word choice, syntax, grammar and placement of punctuations. It’s out of this general respect for all the hard work committed by the writer that the actor should seek to honor writer’s intent.

If you feel judgemental over the quality of the writing you’re only building up obstacles that can prevent you from really analyzing the script and digging out all the nuggets. Sometimes the simple act of believing that the writer is the smartest person on the project will open your eyes to things in the script that you hadn’t seen before and you’ll end up elevating the writing through your performance. Just as bringing the character to life is your performance art, the writer’s art are the words on the page. Honor them!


Now that we’ve established that the script is the blueprint for an actor’s performance we can set about the daunting task of reading this blueprint. Because, after all, a blueprint is completely useless if you don’t know how to read it. In other words, we know that it’s the job of the actor to understand writer’s intent, but how exactly do we know what the intent is? The process of figuring out writer’s intent is called script analysis.

As actors, we need to be able to read a script and understand all of its ins and outs, its literal and suggested content, its text and subtext and all of its detail. Basically, it’s our job as actors to be able to properly decipher and then communicate to the audience what the writer wants to communicate through the story. This is a tall order, and for some actors, decoding and analyzing story is incredibly intimidating. If this applies to you, don’t worry… we’ll take it step by step so by the time you’ve finished with this article you should have a lot more of the tools necessary to become a better interpreter of copy, script, and, story and as a result you’ll become a better actor!


It’s true. Everything is all about story! Any actor who’s studied with me for even a little while knows that I fervently reinforce that everything, everywhere, all the time, has always been — always is — and will always be — about STORY! Think about how we communicate in everyday life: What’s your story? Would you like to hear a story? What’s the latest news story? Let me tell you what happened. Look at this picture. Check me out on Facebook and Instagram. Look at all of my photos, videos, blogs, and status updates. It’s all story!

And, that’s exactly how we’ve all been constructed. We’re built to respond to story. So, keeping all of this in mind, can you see how having a better understanding of story will empower you in your ability as an actor to tell stories? It should.

So let’s talk story.

Without turning this into a writing intensive I’d like to point out that there’s a general agreement amongst writers that there are really only a small handful of basic story plot structures that simply get reinvented over and over again. Some believe that there are only seven basic stories, some think that it tops off at twelve. Director Ron Howard makes the statement that there might only be one! Regardless of the number you come to, the bottom line is that there aren’t that many. As an actor it would greatly benefit you to learn these stories and become proficient at recognizing their patterns and identifying their structures. Doing so will definitely help you when it comes time to analyzing a script. If you’re serious about diving deeper into this topic, here’s a great blog-post I came across by Neil Perkin. Neil’s post is a good jumping off point in your study of basic plot and story because he presents an argument for seven core story structures as well as a couple opposing views. He also provides links to further resources that you can reference for a deeper understanding.

This particular post is titled How Many Stories

If after reading How Many Stories you still want to learn more, or confuse yourself a little further… then read Damien Walter’s post titled Two. Four. Seven. More. How Many Stories Are There? Damien also provides resources for the monomyth theory (the argument that there may only be one type of story).

The more you dive into the research the more you’ll find there is contention over the number of different stories there may be. But remember, as actors, knowing the number doesn’t matter… being educated in story structure is what matters. So take some time, do the research, learn the difference between a story that’s about overcoming a monster, and a story about a journey. Having this knowledge will greatly benefit you as you journey through the analysis of scripts.

There’s so much more to properly understanding story for effective auditioning. However we’ll pick this up in Part 2 of this teaching. But for now, the first step is to raise your awareness of script analysis and writer’s intent. Don’t miss this because you want to focus on memorizing your lines. Instead, develop proper cold reading skills you can count on and spend the little time you don’t usually have prior to your audition on the understanding of scene-story as well as the character’s story. Doing so will take you so much further than simply giving a memorized read. Take your time, put in the work and you won’t be that actor who doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

Clay BanksClay Banks is a former Fortune 500 Business & Life Empowerment Coach, a Motivational Speaker and Consultant. After a successful eighteen year acting career, he founded Clay Banks Productions & Studio International (CBSI) where he’s the Head Coach offering ongoing on-camera acting classes. He’s presently a recurring Master Coach at SAG-AFTRA Headquarters as well as a regular-guest Master Class Auditioning Coach with the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Hollywood.

Human Resources

July 14, 2018

I recently released a breakdown for a SAG-AFTRA feature film and I thought I would write a blog about my side of the experience as it was happening. I’ve always considered myself to be the person in charge of Human Resources as it pertains to the cast of any project I work on. I’ve hired thousands of actors over the past 25 years. If that doesn’t make me a human resources expert then I don’t know what will. That’s what I do as a casting director. HR. And if you want to work more and book better projects, you should think of us that way, too.

What’s the first thing a casting director sees when they release a breakdown? Headshots. Lots of teeny, tiny headshots on our computer screen, sometimes thousands for each role. In my latest breakdown I got over 10,000 submissions for only five roles. So how important do you think a great headshot is? It’s very important. It’s your calling card. It’s the first thing we see. So you could easily make the argument that your headshot is the single most important element of the casting process. It can be what keeps many actors from ever seeing the inside of my office. Put “Get great headshots” on the top of any list you have made for 2018.

And just like any other HR executive, I look at what seems to be an endless amount of resumes each time I release a breakdown. Sure, I look at more headshots than resumes because many times the headshot can tell me I need look no further to know I am not bringing you in. But, I look at hundreds of resumes which makes them the second most important piece of your puzzle. If I don’t see competitive credits or training why would I ever bring you in? If your format is wrong, you’re done. One special skill could get you called in.

The week I release my breakdown is not the week you want to send me a Facebook “friend request.” It never fails. I release a breakdown and I get a bunch of friend requests. And I never accept them. Also, if you email me directly that same week please, don’t expect an answer. That’s not how this works. I get emails from actors I have never met or heard of every time I am casting a project. I am too busy going through thousands of submissions and answering agents’ calls and emailing reps back about appointments we are trying to coordinate. So, if you want to lessen your frustration then I would recommend submitting through normal channels and focusing your energies on things that will yield better results.

A week into the process I am still getting submissions. It tapers off but I would say that it takes at least two weeks for them to stop coming in. If I’m moving fast, you better get your materials in front of me that first few days. I’ve cast roles within 48 hours of releasing my breakdown. The best agents and managers make sure I have their submissions and a phone call within that first 48. On a feature, I spend a couple of days talking to my usual suspect reps, the ones I have the best relationships with, the ones I actually trust. I go through the submissions and select my actors and start setting up appointments. If it’s a remote shoot I may ask for self-tapes so make sure you can have an audition in my email in a day or two.

You never know how long my process will last so it is never too late to submit and it is always a good idea to stay on my radar. Your post card or headshot may be just enough to make me think of you the next time I’m casting something.

I may not be the CEO of the project, but I am your direct supervisor and if you remember I’m also the Head of Human Resources you’ll have the best shot of working for the company.


mark sikesMark Sikes began his casting career in 1992 for Academy Award-winning filmmaker Roger Corman. In the past 25 years, he has cast over 100 films as well as television series, commercials and web series. He has cast projects for Tobe Hooper and Luke Greenfield and many others. In the past few years Mark has also produced four feature films.

Based in Los Angeles, Mark has cast films for many markets including the United Kingdom, Peru, the Philippines and Russia. Domestically, he has cast films that shot all over the country in Texas, Ohio, Massachusetts, Virginia and multiple projects in Colorado.

He currently teaches three weekly on-camera, audition technique classes in West Los Angeles.  Follow Mark on Twitter @castnguy.

How Meditation Can Help Your Acting Career

July 6, 2018

When we hear the word meditation, certain images come to mind. For some, it’s that annoying neighbor chanting om at the top of their lungs. Sure, it’s easy to joke about these eccentrics. But there’s a reason the practice has endured for thousands of years.

Director David Lynch says, “Meditation is to dive all the way within. To go beyond thought, and to the source of pure consciousness. When you come out, you come out refreshed, filled with energy and enthusiasm for life.”

We spend so much time focusing on the health of our bodies, that we often neglect the health of the mind. Of course, meditation has long been a symbol of calm and concentration. But can this technique be useful in the complex world of acting jobs and auditions? Can meditation be a type of acting coach?

In this post, we want to show how meditation benefits an actor at all stages of their career. Through scientific research, we see that the activity does a lot more than simply keeping a person at ease.

So, as David Lynch would say, let’s dive in!

The Science Behind Meditation

Under meditation, activity within the human nervous system slows down. As the processing of information decreases, the production of gray matter increases. Gray matter is neural tissue that aids in the distribution of information. The more gray matter you have, the more powerful your brain is.

Recent studies have shown that during meditation gray matter accumulates in the frontal lobe area of the brain. The frontal lobe is responsible for strategy and problem solving. By strengthening this area a number of cognitive functions benefit. In fact, with meditation, the entire structure of the brain changes. This is known as neuroplasticity.

Meditation Reduces Fear

Of all the emotions affecting an actor, fear is the most common. Whether attending casting calls or preparing for acting jobs , thoughts of making a mistake hinder a performance.

Fear begins in the almond-shaped area of the brain known as the amygdala. Once an emotional stimulus is detected, the amygdala signals whether a person should stay or flee. This tug of war between fight or flight is all too common for actors.

Well, meditation may prove a helpful solution. In a Harvard University study, researchers conducted an eight-week meditation trial. In it, participants were asked to meditate for 30 to 40 minutes a day. At the end of the trial, researchers discovered a reduction in brain volume. Specifically, the amygdala area had grown smaller. Participants felt more at ease, and less fearful of upcoming responsibilities.

For actors, it’s important to balance preparation with spontaneity. If you’re constantly afraid of making an error, you can’t concentrate on acting roles or casting calls.

Improve Memory With Meditation

Ah yes, memorization. That vital task every actor must master. But with so much to process during auditions and acting jobs, it’s easy to draw a blank during these important moments.

This is where meditation comes in handy. Researchers at UCSB had 48 undergraduate students take a meditation class four times a week. The results showed that the cortical walls of the brain grew thicker. Cortical thickness is associated with decreased aging, and improved memory. Students confirmed that their memorization abilities seemingly improved. In fact, during a span of two weeks, their GRE scores went from 460 to 520.

In an industry where memorization is key, meditation can keep the mind of an actor healthy.

Meditation Eases Stress

Okay, it’s the night before an audition. You have to research the casting director, decide on an outfit and find someone to watch your cat. Understandably, it’s going to be stressful.

The culprit behind stress is cortisol. Cortisol is often called the stress hormone, and is released from the adrenal glands during times of conflict. When released, the hormone causes increased heart rate, blood pressure and respiration. Three things a performer doesn’t need when pursuing acting jobs.

Here, meditation again comes to the rescue. A study in the journal Health Psychology shows that increased meditation slows down the production of cortisol. During the trial, 57 people spent three months at a meditation retreat. At the end of the study, researchers measured a clear reduction in cortisol levels. Participants reported feeling less anxious and more energetic.

Stress can be crippling. In the world of performance, it’s something that needs to be managed.

Learn To Focus For Acting Jobs

Be it casting calls or an acting workshop, actors need to focus. This of course is no easy task. With everything to remember and accomplish, it’s easy to get distracted.

Meditation has long been associated with focusing one’s thoughts. Through breathing exercises, the practice helps to regulate emotion and attention. But recent research shows it’s more than breathwork that helps meditators focus.

A study by the Journal of Neuroscience examined twelve zen meditators who had been practicing for at least three years. Researchers compared the meditators to a control group of twelve individuals who had never meditated. An MRI showed the meditators had more stability in their ventral postermedial cortex (VPMC). Yeah, that’s a mouthful. Basically, the VPMC region of the brain is linked to spontaneous thoughts and mind-wandering.

As researchers tested the subjects with logic games, they found the mental focus of the meditators to be stronger and more reliable. Getting distracted can sabotage acting roles. With its ability to stabilize wandering thoughts, meditation again proves to be a valuable resource for actors.

Sleep Better With Meditation

For some actors, sleep is a luxury. With auditions, acting jobs and a day gig, it’s easy to neglect this important function. As we know, sleep deprivation causes major health problems. If not attended to, the personal and professional consequences can be dire.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that meditation is a powerful tool in promoting healthy sleep. In a Harvard Medical School study, researchers examined 49 individuals suffering from sleeplessness. After practicing mindfulness meditation for six weeks, the subjects experienced less fatigue, insomnia and depression.

Sleep influences every aspect of our being. With the physical and emotional demands of casting calls and acting roles, regular, healthy sleep is essential.

Meditation Combats Pain

Actors are used to conjuring emotional pain. But, a performance can be physically taxing as well. Long days with repetitive tasks can take their toll on a body.

Medications have traditionally been the mainstay for treating pain. However, the often-addictive quality of such products have made some people hesitant to use them. Now, researchers at Wake Forest University are suggesting meditation may be helpful.

The study found that mindfulness meditation reduced pain intensity in their subjects by more than 40 percent. This is impressive considering most pain-relieving medications, including morphine, typically reduce discomfort by only 25 percent.
Of course, meditation is not going to cure diseases. But, its abilities in reducing pain can help actors tolerate demanding situations.

Wrapping Up Meditation For Acting

It’s often said that frustration makes you more creative. Sure, that’s easy to say. But it’s another thing when you’re standing nervous in front of a casting director or acting workshop. Although meditation may not work for everything, science has shown that it can have a significant impact on the human mind and body.

As we said, think of meditation as another type of acting coach. A tool that can ease your fears, and help you to find balance in uncertain situations.

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