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The 10 Best Performances Not Nominated for an Oscar

February 22, 2019

Every year as the Oscars roll around, Hollywood is abuzz with the biggest contenders and snubs, and critics have their lists ready for “who will win and who should win.” But what about the performances that weren’t even nominated? Below is a list of the top performances of the year that didn’t make the cut.

  • Elizabeth Debicki, Widows— In a role that requires submission to brutality from both men and her mother, Debicki as Alice manages to come out a scene stealer, capturing the vulnerability of a downtrodden woman who finds power within herself and becomes unstoppable.
  • Charlize Theron, Tully Charlize Theron’s vulnerability in this film is tantalizing. Motherhood can be terrifying and postpartum depression is real for many women. This movie, with Theron at the helm, is bittersweet and lovely, and her performance as Marlo is fearless in the embrace of the lows as well as the highs of motherhood.
  • Elsie Fisher, Eighth GradeTransitioning from pre-teen to fullfleged teen is a terrifying time. Watching Kayla fumble through the constant trials of eighth grade life is an equal mix of cringe-inducing terror and heartwarming wonder, and Fisher soars on all fronts.
  • Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place/Mary Poppins Returns– Emily Blunt had a great year– taking on an emotionally silent role in a passion project with her husband as well as tackling an international icon. In A Quiet Place, there’s a riveting scene in which Blunt has to give birth in a bathtub– her silent screams as she tries to make as little noise as possible are still haunting. And later in the year, she showcased her talents as Mary Poppins, lighting up the screen in a very different bathtub, somehow managing to bring the character back to life in a unique but delightfully recognizable way.
  • Rachel McAdams, Game Night— In Game Night, McAdams is perfectly matched with Jason Bateman, playing her role straight and sincere. She shows off her excellent timing and emotional range with a commanding screen presence that is a joy to watch in unexpected ways.
  • John C. Reily, The Sisters Brothers-John C. Reily also had a great year, producing as well as co-starring in The Sisters Brothers and starring in Stan & Ollie and Holmes & Watson also out last year. But his turn as Eli in The Sisters Brothers was bittersweet, full of the comedic timing that we’re familiar with, and also a sincerity and sadness that we don’t always get to see.
  • Julia Roberts/Lucas Hedges, Ben Is Back— This movie gets the award for “Most Overlooked Movie of the Year.” This was a powerful story about a family struggle that is relatable to many families in America. It follows a day in the life of the Burns family as the prodigal son, Ben, returns from rehab to spend Christmas with his family. His mom, Holly, played by Julia Roberts in a fierce, loving, comeback performance, decides that he can stay only if he doesn’t leave her sight. What follows is the rollercoaster of addiction and the tension of damaged familial bonds with Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges evenly matched as screen partners in performances that deserve recognition.
  • Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther— It’s rare that a movie gives you a villain whose worldview you can sympathize with and understand. In Black Panther, that villian is Killmonger played by Michael B. Jordan in a fierce, passionate performance. It’s sad to see him meet his necessary end at the clawed hands of T’Challa, but his final lines about bondage set against the backdrop of the Wakandan sunset create an emotionally charged moment that almost makes you want to shed a tear. Michael B. Jordan maintains that mix of emotions throughout the film with his commanding screen presence and unshakeable charisma.
  • Ethan Hawke, First Reformed— Ethan Hawke gives one of his best performances in First Reformed where he plays Reverend Toller, a minister who begins to grapple with his faith after meeting with a depressed congregant and soon spirals out of control. His performance is at once subtle, manic and thrilling. In a movie filled with despair, Hawke’s performance carries a relatable truth about how to make sense of a senseless world.
  • Olivia, Game Night/WidowsYes, Olivia the West Highland White Terrier deserves to be recognized for her outstanding performances in two movies this year, particularly in Widows where she’s just as much a driving character as any of the titular widows often stealing her scenes even from the incomparable Viola Davis.

Keep Leaping

February 15, 2019

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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.

Affirmation & Trust

January 15, 2019

Recently we came across an article in Science of the Mind magazine written by actor Glenn Morshower, where he said, “Choose to express at the highest level.”

Both Peter and I feel that this phrase captures so much of how we both like to approach our work as actors and as teachers. Our aim is to examine the possibilities of a truth one can use in knowing who we are and what our creative potential may be.

As film actors, expressing the truth of how we feel and react to the premise of the script and the other actors in the moment is the best choice. The truth of how we feel, not what we think the character should be feeling, or what the director or society thinks, but to express what one’s truthful impulse is at that given moment.

Another favorite quote comes from silent film star Louise Brooks: states, “The actor’s sole hope is to set free his honest spontaneity.” Remember the camera sees and records the truth of the moment visually, and there is a distinct difference between a planned response and a truthful impulse.

We see how our fellow actors limit their potential by not recognizing and knowing what we are. We can remember that we are unique individual expressions of life’s energy, and serve society, and ourselves best when we tell the truth of how we feel about our moment-to-moment experience.

How can we know and be true ourselves if we don’t allow ourselves to express how and what we experience truthfully? Where we want to grow is in realizing there is more of this unlimited potential in our work and life experiences.

We tend to think that we are taking big enough risks just by being an actor and hoping to get a paid job. However, we can fall into a trap and not express our full potential and ultimately give our “gift” when we don’t take bigger risks. If we can learn to understand that trusting our impulses creatively will only help our careers and our work grow exponentially.

Take the risk of telling your truth with enough energy that you cannot be misunderstood or ignored. Take the risk to dream BIG. Where do you want to go in your art and career? Believe in your unlimited potential and take the actions to manifest beyond your self-imposed limits.

Some steps to take to develop more self trust:

  • Focus your attention away from the self and completely on the other actor
  • Get your energy as high as possible
  • Work to get out of control, not stay in control
  • Commit fully to the premise then see where it takes you
  • Respond truthfully in the moment
  • PLAY don’t WORK
  • Workout in a safe and supportive environment
  • Love yourself, you are the only YOU.

Furthermore, when you can be in control of being out of control, totally free to allow impulse to determine your responses and behavior, you have a magnificent skill. When the only rule or restriction is that nobody gets hurt, including yourself, and nothing gets broken unintentionally you have great freedom. You can learn how to generate great energy with practice at using a little more each time you work.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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

The Basics of Starting and Maintaining Your Own YouTube Channel

August 13, 2018

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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.  

 

Human Resources

July 14, 2018

JULY_Frontier_Insider.2018_Header
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.

Helping Yourself By Getting Involved

June 14, 2018

I tell people all the time that, “If you wait for Hollywood to call you, you will die of old age.” Actors can help themselves by getting involved with small episodic series’ or creating one of their own. These types of projects are a great compliment to any acting class that you may be taking. Getting real world production experience is invaluable and it’s a free education!

I see people who call themselves actors all the time, doing everything but acting. Then when a role comes up, they confirm they will be there, only to never show up! On the other hand, the one who does show up, is professional, and nails the audition gets the role.

First a little background in my company, Cineplex Studios. We have been producing shows for the web and TV in LA since 2009. The key to our success is the fact that we are a small company and are able to get projects done quickly. We have produced sci-fi, political thrillers, fitness shows, commercials, as well as distribute other productions on TV.

Our most recent production, Hawaiian Sovereignty, is a series that is now on Amazon Prime. The show is set in Hawaii and deals with the state’s sovereignty movement and how FBI agents are torn between their loyalty to the United States, their feelings about the movement and the politics involved.

In the casting process, we found an actress who we believed could lead this cast. However this person dropped out after only 6 episodes! We quickly turned to another actress on the cast named Ruby Mercado. She had only a small role in the series but made it known to us that she had a desire to be the lead actress in the series. After giving it some thought, we granted her the leading role in the remaining episodes of Hawaiian Sovereignty.

Ruby took the ball and ran with it! I have never worked on a production that ran as smoothly as Hawaiian Sovereignty after Ruby became the lead. She set the bar for all the other actors to follow. Her professionalism was outstanding. Her attitude was always upbeat. She never had a bad thing to say about anyone. The other actors immediately noticed this and quickly followed her example. Ruby helped make Hawaiian Sovereignty a success and brought with her a high energy level that had previously not been there. Now, Ruby has gone onto several well-known Network TV shows. It all started with sticking to the one she was in and completing the season.

But how does one become successful at this like Ruby did?

You stick with a show as long as possible. Get as much camera time in as you can. Ask to continue with your character in more episodes. Talk with the director, the writer, the producer. Keep developing your character in as many episodes as you can.

If you take a look back at the older days of Hollywood TV series, you will find that most of the memorable actors were on shows that lasted for 36 episodes per season! That is a lot of screen time. Then Hollywood started changing and the number of episodes dropped to 24 and now the series of today will like last more 12 episodes.

Regardless, if you are getting paid for an acting role or not, you want (and need) to be in front of the camera as much as possible. You need to be exercising your acting muscles on a daily basis.

How does one standout to get on a series, especially as a lead actor?

Develop and build your fan base via social media. This is one of the hardest things for most actors to do, but it pays off. Using any downtime to build your audience across Instagram, Facebook and YouTube will show producers that you’re a valuable addition to any commercial, episodic or film

In summary, it’s key to do what you can to book an ongoing series. Work hard to build your fan base. Show your professionalism by completing the projects you signed up for. Don’t drop out because you get bored, or there is no money.

You cannot do a little acting here and a little acting there with a couple of acting classes. It’s too easy to drop out and give up.

This is how you can create your own success.

 


Fred CopelandFred Copeland is the Founder and Owner of Cineplex Studios. He has been in the entertainment business for over 35 years and is a former ABC-TV morning News Producer. Fred is also a signatory member with SAG and the WGAw.

 

A Guide on How to Book a Role

May 17, 2018

There is never enough time to be ready for an audition, especially when it’s the one you’ve been waiting for… the one you really want. When an audition comes, you usually have at most one day with the sides to be ready to prove you’re the right pick for the role.

There is a tangible reality, the more you do something the better you get at it.

The more you audition, the better you get at it. The reason being, you are practicing your preparation and discovering what connects and disconnects you to living in the moment. Some characters will be easier and some will be harder.

It’s important to work many kinds of scenes that challenge you. This way you stretch your skill set so you can grasp a range of abilities that support mastering your auditions. The more roles you feel you have rehearsed and worked, the more resources you have to pull from. Your preparation time will shorten the more you practice.

But the fact remains: You must be working on your acting skill prior to actually getting any audition. Being great is allowing yourself to be free to become the choice that will bring the character to life. And it’s up to you to discover it.

Knowing how to prepare for the audition is half the battle. Here are some steps for your preparation.

1) First breathe. Don’t overthink the sides when you first get them. First breathe, relax, and be.

2) Simply read the scene for what is on the page. Find out everything you can about the script. You’ll want to answer these simple questions:

  1. What genre is it: sitcom, film drama, procedural, etc.?
  2. Who are you?
  3. What’s the backstory, what just happened?
  4. Who are you talking to and what is the relationship?
  5. Where are you, what’s the environment?

These simple questions are important and will give you an understanding of the scene. If one or two aren’t evident it is up to you to take clues from the material to decipher its code. This is why being able to analyze a script is so important.

3) Get up and play with a moment before. Experience where the character is emotionally and look for any changes in the feelings of the character. Are they winning or losing their scene objective?

4) Remember to listen and never plan your reactions. Respond organically from listening and hearing in the moment to what they are saying and what it means to you in the scene.

5) Explore and play. Try different choices. Pick the strongest choice that reflects what is most meaningful within the truth of the script.

6) Eliminate any negative thinking, any doubt that you may have in yourself. Run with the love of the process of discovery.

7) See each audition as a learning experience and give yourself plenty of room in your heart to enjoy them. Know that growing as an artist comes with the journey of booking sometimes and not booking sometimes. It’s fun to act. Remember, every time you audition, you get to act!

Ultimately you book your dream role, as an actor, by preparing your whole life for it. You never know when it’s coming. It could be next year, in two years, many years down the line or even tomorrow.

Stay focused on what you want and don’t let the disappointments get the best of you. Oftentimes, auditions are opportunities to practice on the way to becoming the actor that makes an impact on the world.

For more on how to book the role and build your skill to achieve your artistic and career goals, get Kimberly’s book, Acting with Impact: Power Tools to Ignite the Actor’s Performance. Available at Samuel French Bookshop and at actingwithimpact.com.

 


Kimberly Jentzen is a multiple winner of Back Stage Reader’s Choice Awards: “Favorite Acting Coach,” “Favorite Acting Teacher” and “Best of: Acting Coach”. She has directed and/or developed over a dozen plays, including Yolanda King’s critically acclaimed homage to her father, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Achieving The Dream. Kimberly won a Best Direction award from the Actors Film Festival for Reign. Reign went on to win nine awards including Best Short and Audience Favorite from the Louisville International Film Festival and New York Independent Film Festival. She also garnered awards for her film, Of Earth & Sky. She is the author of Acting with Impact and Life Emotion Cards, available at Samuel French Bookstore and at Amazon.com.

 

Standing Out And Making It On Your Own

April 19, 2018

With literally thousands of competing actors out there…

What makes you stand out?

What gets you the audition?

What gets you the callback?

What gets you the avail?

What gets you the booking?

It sounds complicated, but, in fact, the answer is quite simple. All of these things occur when you do what only YOU can do. I’d like to repeat this because it is the primary factor to really being successful in this business. The above-mentioned things occur when you do what only YOU can do.

So, what does this actually mean?

It means that you MUST make what you do your own with complete confidence! This is what will set you aside from all the others. Every person is unique and when you are able to let that shine, positive things will start to happen.

The actors who come in and read with no emotions, forget their lines, try to be funny, try to be liked, rush through the scene or are so nervous that basic human functions are compromised, any chance of a fun and authentic read will be completely shattered and the chance of booking the job will be destroyed.

Now we have all been there and there is nothing worse than walking out of an audition with any of those, but on the flip side there is also no greater feeling than walking out knowing that you killed it in the room.

That’s what keeps us going – that high you feel when you are 100% certain your agent is going to call with some great news. When the casting director thanks you on the way out with a big smile or when everyone in the room looks away from their laptop and laughs out loud at your read or when you shock even yourself on the way home from the improv choices you made or when you trust yourself and know that no matter what choice you make, it will be the right one.

Nobody is capable of bringing your personal uniqueness into the room because you are one of a kind. When you are able to fully embrace that fact, it will ultimately set you apart from the assembly line of standard actors who are constantly seeking approval by pretending to be someone they are not. These needy actors plague audition rooms day in and day out and casting sees right through them.

There will be so many things that will get in your way: the traffic in route to the audition, the lack of parking when you get there, waiting over an hour because they are running behind, noticing everyone around you in the waiting area that looks like a better fit for the role, the clients, writer, director, and ad agency who aren’t paying attention.

All of these things must be pushed aside. You can’t worry about any of these and you certainly can’t take it personal because they are truly out of your hands. If the job is meant to be yours, nobody can take it away from you, and if it’s not, then you won’t get it. It’s that simple. There is no point in beating yourself up, especially for things that are out of your control.

The minute I realized that I should not sweat the stuff beyond my control, my bookings went through the roof.

When heading into the audition room…

Be prepared Make strong choices Bring a little bit of our own personality to the role Have fun (Most importantly).  Sure, there are times we have our best audition in the car on the way home from the audition and we begin to question ourselves…

Why didn’t I say this? Why didn’t I think of that?

We are human and it’s bound to happen again and again. But the more you do this, the more you will have those amazing auditions right there in the room where they need to be.There is something I heard years ago and I will never forget. Don’t worry about the booking because that will only last a day or so, concentrate on making a new fan in that room because that will last a lifetime. How do you make a fan?

Confidence is seriously the key.

But let me preface that by saying there is a big difference between confidence and arrogance. Never trespassing into cockiness, but sheer confidence. You have to know that when you walk into that audition room, you will win it over regardless of the outcome.

You may not book this commercial, but you can bet that they will remember you and will call you in for something else. I can tell you from experience because it’s happened numerous times. There will be directors who will ask for you by name from an audition you did months ago because, although you may not have been right for that particular job, you stuck with them.

You never know why you do or do not book a job, so once you leave the audition room, put it behind you and move on. It’s out of your hands at that point. So before you beat yourself up for not booking the job, I can assure you there will be another one right around the corner, and chances are it will be even better.

They say this business is 33% Luck 33% timing and 33% who you know, but I think it’s more like 75% who you know.

When they know they can count on you to show up, deliver with confidence, and make them look good, you can bet they will continue to call you in again and again. Despite popular perception, this is actually quite a small business and casting directors all talk and you can’t keep talent a secret in this town.

The brand new book by David Banks
How To Make a Living As a Commercial Actor is available now at Amazon or Barnes & Noble


David Banks is an American actor. He is well known for his performance in several funny commercials. He has appeared in over 100 national commercials.
David studied at the Groundlings, which claims some of the funniest comedians such as John Lovitz, Will Farrell, Chris Katan, and Lisa Kudrow.
Since David’s move to Southern California he has appeared in commercials with companies like Coors Light, Samsung, Eastwood, Reebok, Motorola, Best Buy, Hoover, Elephant Insurance,Little Caesars, Comcast, Red Robin, Mitsubishi, EA Games, Ditech, Milk, and Citibank to name a few. Banks recently joined Lisa Kudrow, Janeane Garofalo, and Fred Willard in the new hit cartoon Lovesick Fool. Directed by Dominic Polcino (The Simpsons, Family Guy, and King of the Hill).

The Role That Got Away

April 16, 2018

As actors, we audition, but we don’t always get the role. This is part of the job. Sometimes we may not even be in the running, and other times we get so close we can smell craft services.

The director, casting director, or producer may respond positively; they may seem to love you. You’re moving forward in the process. You perform for more members of their team in callbacks. They laugh, cry, are moved as you audition for them again.

Your agent calls: you’re “pinned”, or you’re the “top choice”, or “it’s down to you and just a couple of others, but they love you!”

You think to yourself, “This is it! I got this role!”

Alas, your agent calls and breaks the news that they “went another way.”

After hearing this, it can be hard to accept the compliments your agent relays about how much they “love your work.”  All that resonates in your mind is that you didn’t get it.

This can sometimes lead one to look inward– wondering, “what did I do wrong?  Why aren’t I as good as that other actor?  What am I missing? Is it my look?  Are my dreams of playing roles like that just delusions?”  Etc., etc., etc.

This trip down “Self-Doubt Lane” is crippling to an artist.

So what can one do about it?

The Artistic Facts

Let’s break this down into facts:

FACT 1

If you don’t feel confident about how to consistently create a character and perform it in a compelling way, then you need to learn workable, reliable facts (not opinions) about the process of acting. 

These facts are exactly what we teach at The Acting Center.

In the above scenario, understanding what acting is wasn’t the problem. You did great. They legitimately loved you!  They actually do admire your work.

Throw any question of “am I good enough?” out the window. That was not the problem.

Hold on to the fact that you performed a character that was  admired, and was engaging, exciting or moving.

This is the reason why you continued to be in the running.  You did your job well.

FACT 2.

Final casting decisions are made in relationship to many things that have nothing to do with the actor’s skills or performance. 

Behind the scenes of a casting process there are many “cooks in the kitchen”. The director, producer, studio or network all have their own ideas about the way the meal should come together. This relates to every aspect of the show – the style, lighting, shooting style, how the characters look or sound together, how they contrast with or complement each other, and on and on.

There are also financial considerations; how much money this or that actor will require, based on their popularity.

All these things, of course, are outside of your control.

The aspects that one can control are in preparing and researching the character, and in doing a great audition.

Again, in the scenario above, you already made it through many hoops. They called you in because you were the look and type of person they wanted. You survived the process as long as you did because you performed well, and they liked your take on the role.

Whatever behind-the-scenes factors played a part in another actor being considering a better choice is something you could not have predicted or controlled, and has nothing to do, really, with your “rightness” or “wrongness” for this particular part.

So skip the self-doubt! You did great work; they know it, you know it. You may not have booked the job, but you very likely made some new fans that will think of you for other roles in the future.

FACT 3.

The freedom to make personal choices as to how something should look, feel or come together is necessary to achieving effective art. 

This is a key point in letting go of any concerns about “the role that got away.”

Let’s say you had a show that you were casting. Wouldn’t you want to have full artistic control on who was cast in each role, so it would come together the way you envisioned it?

This is one of the realities of the casting process: the creators get to choose the cast that works best for their vision, or for the vision of the creative team as a whole.

It is also one of the rules of making any art: one is free to choose what is made and how.

The freedom to make choices is part of the joy of artistic creation.

Your individual choices and ideas are actually what make your work desired and admired.

If one allows that freedom to exist in one’s own work, one must allow for others to have that same freedom in theirs.

Focus On What’s Next

Now that the “almost booked” audition is behind you, it’s time to focus on the future.

If you feel you could be more confident or consistent in creating characters and performing them, don’t wait–get into class!

If that role you lost is still something you would like to tackle, work on that type of role in class. You could find or get someone to write a short scene with that type of character and work on it in class.  You can even shoot it for your reel so that others can you envision you in this kind of role.

Lastly, realize that there are no lack of characters as alive and interesting as that one that “got away.” New scripts and roles are written every day, and if you are actively honing your craft, you will be ready for them when you get the call.

Opportunities arise again and again in the course of a actor’s career. Follow your interests. Create and perform all kinds of different characters at every opportunity, and the future will be filled with many roles for you to book and play!

 


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.

Commercial Acting— Training is Essential

March 16, 2018

 

Use what you know. Don’t worry about what you don’t know.

—Michael Shurtleff, playwright, casting director, and author

Maybe your friends tell you, “You’re so attractive, you should be in commercials!” Or perhaps you’ve been approached at the mall by a talent agent who says your child is a natural and it’ll be easy to get her into commercials.

Acting in commercials has the lure of seeming to be a simple profession. Everyone believes it’s easy to get into, easy to achieve quick success, and of course you will make piles of money!

But as commercial director Kevin Emmons says about a British actor: “I was working with this actor on a shoot. He was classically trained and brilliant, and he is now suddenly in front of a teleprompter with all these lines, and he has to do this specific action while walking and talking . . . and by the third take he was overwhelmed. He said he acted his whole life and this [commercial stuff] is hard!”

Good actors make commercial acting look easy. However, saying words that are product-driven with little- to-no time to practice or rehearse, getting virtually no background explanation whatsoever, making it look like you’re having an everyday conversation with a friend in front of complete strangers while the camera is rolling—it is all a lot more challenging than it looks.

A student in his late 50s took my 6-week A-Z commercial class. He was a successful ear/nose/throat surgeon, and typically impatient. After the final class he asked, “How long does it take to get a job?”

“Well, how long did it take you before you began prac- ticing surgery?” I asked with a smile.

He said, “Four years of college, two years of grad school and four years in a residency.”

“Okay, and so what makes you think you can master commercial acting in six weeks?” I said with a little glint in my eye and steel in my tone. He was speechless.

Casting director Ross Lacy told me once, “I always laugh when someone says, ‘Omigosh, I would like to be in commercials,’ and I say, ‘Sure you would! So would everybody. That’s why these people are training and go to improv classes all night long because they make it look easy—and it’s not! And the people who think it is are mistaken!’

Ross continues, “The one thing I know is that training is imperative if you want a lasting career in commercials. Of course there are stories of the person who walked in, booked the job, and made a pile of money off one spot. This is definitely the exception. The same odds apply to winning the lottery.”

Just like my acting student /surgeon, most people wouldn’t dream of trying to start a new career in any field other than acting without getting the proper training, doing whatever it takes to make themselves competitive.


Judy Kain is an actress who has appeared in over 400 commercials. Most recently, she has had recurring roles on The Fosters, Hand Of God and The Odd Couple. Judy currently teaches acting and business of acting classes at her acting school, Keep It Real Acting Studios, in North Hollywood, California.

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