Thursday, September 30, 2010

Character Development

Things to keep in mind when taking on a character:

  • The character is as real to the character as you are to yourself. Keep your performance based in reality.
  • The character knows what is going to happen to him as much as you know what is going to happen to you. Genuinely respond as if experiencing that particular instance for the first time.
  • The character knows if his efforts are going to be successful as much as you know if your efforts are going to be successful. Try as if you believe you are going to succeed.
  • The character knows everything he is going to say in his life (at least the part covered in the film) as much as you know all your words. Say the words as if thinking of them for the first time.
  • What is happening around the character is as real to him as what is happening around you is to you. Believe in what is happening.
  • The character knows the hidden agendas, etc of the other characters as much as you know the hidden agendas, etc. of everyone in your life. Act as if the character knows only what the character should know at that point.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Final Scream Queen Observations

This week was the season finale of Scream Queens. Meaning final blog post on my acting observations of the show. (Will try to do recap of top observations over the season in later post.) What did I take away from the last episode?

Remember who the character is. And I do not mean calling yourself "Detective Smith" when your character is "Agent Jones". Although that is probably important. The next to last director's challenge involved the actresses:
  • Getting call from creepy guy
  • Getting grabbed by creepy guy
  • Being chased by creepy guy
  • Knocking creepy guy out
  • Telling creepy guy he called the wrong girl

The direction was "we want to see a survivor". One actress played the character as a victim. She was eliminated. The judges put it this way. Horror is to film what rock-n-roll is to music. The victim portrayal was classical music.

The technical aspect is important. While you do not want to do a slow-mo thing, you do not want to go as fast as you would if you were actually being chased by a creepy guy. The guy with the camera sets the pace. If the camera didn't catch it, it doesn't count.

Have confidence in yourself. One actress was just not sure how she did. When the other two actresses felt good about their performances, she was nervous. Turns out she should not have been. She was not eliminated. Should the one eliminated have been concerned about her performance? No. Her performance, per say, wasn't bad, just not what they were looking for in this case.

Since this was a contest to be in Saw 3D, all the usual needs of the production came into play. Just replayed the final challenge for a fresh look and to see what the judges saw. I have to agree with their decision. While both actresses did well, one looked like she belonged in the role. I saw the character not the actress in her case.

Until the part is cast, you never know. When they announced the winner, the actress who won didn't respond at first. Then is was a genuinely surprised "Me?" Followed by words to the effect that she did not expect to win. The other actress, in the video diaries they keep, mentioned she was surprised she didn't win. The winner's comment about the contest was that it was so hard. All the other actresses were constantly saying she would be the next to go home. They were wrong.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Are you really an actor

If you can answer "yes" to the following, you are only an actor in the loosest sense of the word:

  1. Do you wait for your agent to call with projects to submit to?
  2. Do you ignore the business side of acting?
  3. Is your marketing material, if they exist, geared toward something other than acting?
  4. Are you only looking up IMDb info on big name Hollywood producers?
  5. Are you the acting version of the weekend warrior?
  6. Do you look at extra work as a major acting opportunity?

If you can answer "yes" to the following, you can call yourself an actor:

  1. Are you looking for projects to submit to?
  2. Do you put significant time toward the business side of acting?
  3. Is your marketing material, which does exist, geared toward acting and your place in it?
  4. Are you learning who the independent producers in your market are?
  5. Are you putting in the hours?
  6. Are you striving toward bigger roles?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Submitting Until Booking

The project I auditioned for (previous blog) is still in the deciding process. The filmmaker has not had a chance to review the auditions due to his day job. Guess I can understand that, but he should not take too long or he might find me unavailable.

It shoots toward the end of October/beginning of November. There are three projects I have in the queue for submission tomorrow. Two of which take place toward the end of October. Third doesn't say, but my point is until I get booked I keep looking.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Rocking auditions

The other day I went on a film audition I feel I rocked. In the moment, reacting to reader instead of waiting for my turn to speak? Check. Unplanned emotional responses, varying vocal levels, and natural pauses? Check. Able to incorporate adjustment for second read? Check. (The second read w/an adjustment was planned before the first read, so probably a can you follow direction and make an adjustment vs a this is how I see the character thing.) Different unplanned nuances to my second read not due to the adjustment? Check

How was i able to deliver such a performance? Many factors:

  • I read the script so I was familiar with the story and the character's place in it. Also, when I read the sides, I knew where it fell into the story timeline.
  • Years of audition experience. Your 150th time (random number - don't actually know how many auditions I've been on) is going to be better than your 5th time in any pursuit.
  • Improv training. Each month, schedule permitting, I attend a drop in improv get-together and participate. This accomplishes two things. 1. I can keep my acting chops fresh. 2. The experience allows me to be comfortable being in the moment.
  • Going over the sides, familiarizing myself with the script and making decisions regarding the character.
  • Trusting that my preparation will come through and not worrying about saying a line a certain way or whatever.
  • Not being desperate for the role. "I need to perform well" is going to come across differently than "I'm going to have fun with this".
  • Having confidence in myself as an actor. Knowing I can deliver.

Did I get the part? Said he would get back to people today and hadn't hear from him about 5pm, so I am thinking, no. Feel bad about it? No. Of course, I would prefer being offered the role, but I never feel bad about not getting it. Especially when I had my "A" game going on and the reason is likely nothing I can do anything about unless cosmetic surgery counts.

The filmmaker is playing the lead. (Case of writing script for self - good for him!) Probably safe to assume he wishes to showcase his acting. The character I auditioned for would be number two as far as scenes in/lines, etc. Could always decide to think not getting the part was due to my acting ability. Thinking my acting intimidated him and my level is so much higher than his that he is afraid I would upstage him is a lot bigger ego boost than thinking he probably went with an older looking actor.

At any rate, I know I delivered in the audition. As long as I feel I did my part in the room, I am satisfied. Booking is icing on the cake.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Scream Queen Observations.

This Scream Queen acting observations blog is about focus and confidence.

Last SQ blog mentioned an actress doing "actor mind games" and how the judges called her on her overacting. She was trying to figure out what had caused her to lose it (she had been getting top actress at the beginning of the competition) and realized it was because she was busy playing mind games. Didn't exactly phrase it that way, but...

In the ex-safe from elimination challenge the task was to play someone performing a seance and becoming possessed by the ghost of the town tramp. One actress decided to take it a different direction from playing sexy. She approached it as if it was not a deserved reputation, but was due to the lies of a spurned lover. Hers was the best. Make choices that are not the obvious choice, but not too far into left field. Playing the tramp sexy is an obvious choice and the majority will make said choice. The aforementioned actress made a choice which was not so obvious but still believable. If she had decided to make the town tramp a nun, I would think she got the wrong sides or something.

In the skills class, the task was to learn how to play drunk. Of course, actually being drunk on set is not a viable option. One of the things the actresses do is practice the new skill. One actress was so afraid of overdoing it that she played it too safe and lost her drunkenness. She was really upset with herself and was allowed to do it again. This upset another actress because she felt you should get one shot. (This actress had gone between the other actress' two times and they had been given the same scenario to play.) So the actress felt like "yeah let her go again after I show how to do it". The coach pointed out that it was her lack of confidence that was causing her to be upset. And he was more likely to remember her outburst than her performance - which was good.

In the director's challenge, the task was to play an insane person. One actress decided to just trust her instincts. In other words, she decided to just react to what was given her. This does not mean she had scanned the script a couple of times and was winging it. She still did all those things one should do when preparing to perform. But she let it all go (at least from her conscience, sure it was at work at the sub-conscience level) and allowed herself to be in the moment. The only adjustment she was given was to amp the emotions up. She got leading lady.

By the way, the preparing well and allowing myself to be in the moment is the approach I try to use whether it is at an audition or on set.

One actress made a choice - play the insane person quirky - and committed to it. However, quirky was not a good choice. Disturbing? Perhaps, but if I was a judge, I would not buy her insanity plea. Another actress had some good choices, but was so concerned with performing well that she was unable to commit. The unable to commit got the axe. Weak choice was at the bottom. The judges were impressed by her commitment to her choice. It showed confidence.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Using BCC

When sending an email, you probably have noticed three places you can list the recipient's email address. To, CC, and BCC. Of course, everyone knows the To is for sending to a single recipient. But what if you want to send to multiple recipients? Don't want to take the time to spend an individual email to each. That is what CC and BCC is for.

CC is carbon copy. BCC is blind carbon copy. Basically, in each case, a copy of your email is sent to each recipient. The difference: With CC everyone you send the email to gets the email address of everyone else. With BCC no one's email address is shown.

Have no idea why CC is even an option. Always use BCC. Most importantly, most people do not want their email address to be given to everyone on your email list. Think of it this way: Using CC is like sending a physical letter to several people and including a copy of every one's mailing addresses. Do not assume they are all friends with each other and already had each other's addresses.

Even if you know for a fact that everyone you are sending the email to has each other's address, use BCC. Ever get a mass email sent CC? Annoying to scroll through every one's email to get to the text. And if you go to print... I suppose some email programs might work differently, but I have gone to print off mass CC emails with five lines of text and ended up with two printed pages. Yes, I could take steps to make sure just the text gets printed, but that means extra steps. And I do not print off such emails often enough to remember to take those steps in time. Usually remember part way through the print job.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Turning Down a Role

The other day, I went to a play audition. It is a new play so there was not much info on it. Actually, I think this will be the first performance other than stage readings. I am not going to go into the particulars about how the audition was conducted because it is not important for this discussion. Let's just say I feel genuinely good about my audition and honestly feel it would put me at the top of the consideration pile.

I turned it down. Why? At the audition, I learned the play has nudity. I do not do nudity. It is a religious issue. The director said to email her after the audition (but before the posting of the cast list) if we were to decide the play is not for us. Since the audition does not involve nudity, even if it is a nudity scene, and the director implied we were still free to audition even if we planned on passing due to the nudity issue, I stayed.

Why stay if I was not going to do it? First, I want to point out that right after the director brought up the nudity, she mentioned emailing her afterwards if we decided the play was not for us. This told me she was not expecting anyone with issues regarding nudity to leave the audition room. Otherwise, I would have politely bowed out at the start of the auditions. So, why did I spend the evening auditioning for a play I was going to turn down? Honestly, I had no real motivation for staying at the time other than I was there and no one had told me to leave.

Am I glad I stayed and spent the evening auditioning for a play I planned on turning down? Yes. I followed the director's directions regarding turning down the play. My audition rocked and I'm sure the playwright (who was there) will write other plays, the director will direct other plays etc.

Any bummer parts? The fact that I feel my audition rocked and I had a real chance at getting cast. It would be nice to do another play. While I have done film work, it has been awhile since I've done a play. And the fact that I will probably never know if I would have been cast.

Do I feel bad about turning down the play? No. After all, as I mentioned it is a religious issue with doing nudity. If you are putting plays, films, etc ahead of your beliefs, you probably have your priorities mixed up. Or you are a member of that religion in name only. Of course, if you are turning down a role because the character is a murderer and murder is against your religious beliefs...

Scream Queen Acting Observations

Time for another blog on acting tips I observed watching Scream Queens 2. This week we cover making strong, good acting choices; being organic; and mind games. Also a note on scene partners.

Strong, good acting choices: For this I will compare the performances of two actresses in the director's challenge. This week the actresses had to perform where they were attacked by a ghost. Actress one was told previously to stop playing it safe. She stepped it up. The only reason she was not named the week's leading actress was due to her work earlier in the week. Actress two had been told her acting choices were weak. This week was an example of weak acting and it resulted in the axe. (That means she was eliminated.) Being attacked by a ghost means being thrown around. The director had to bite his lip to keep from laughing at her being thrown around choreography. No pun intended but nothing will kill a horror film faster than the audience laughing. I suppose if the contest was for a remake of Beetlejuice...

Being organic: I will compare another two actresses in the director's challenge. The only mark they had to hit was ending at a particular spot. One actress overacted. She was making all sorts of facial expressions and hand gestures. The result was the actress putting on a performance. The other actress decided she was going to reach the mark organically and did not preplan the attack. She simply let the moment takeover. She was told her performance was completely believable. The result was the character being attacked by a ghost.

Mind games: Overact actress has a history of attacking organic actress (being organic example)verbally regarding her acting ability. After the director's challenge when the actresses were back at their house, overact said organic's performance was the worst. Overact would probably say that if organic's performance was Oscar level. Organic is taking overact's comments personally.

Remember my mentioning made the director laugh actress getting the axe? All previous weeks the decision had been unanimous. This week the decision was split. Guess who got that one descending vote for elimination. That's right, Miss Overact. I suspect next week's episode will involve some proverbial crow eating.

I already mentioned the ghost in the director's challenge. This meant the actresses had to use their imagination. The safe from elimination challenge which no longer guarantees a callback involved green screen work. Just the actress, the green screen and marks (in this case a floating ball) to help with eye line. While few of us are likely to have an opportunity to co-star with a ghost it is a safe bet any actor in the business long enough will end up in front of a green screen.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Updating Acting Sites

Working on updating the various acting sites I have a profile on. Was thinking I just needed to add my latest credit. Pretty good about keeping my personal resume, the version on my agent's site, and my profile on the casting site the major casting director in my area uses up-to-date. (Use personal resume for self submissions.)

Apparently I have not been so diligent with the other sites I am on. I updated two sites (in addition to the three mentioned above) Each had a different version of my resume. Never of them the most recent previous update.

Wonder what the rest of my profiles will look like.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Scream Queen Observations

This week's Scream Queen observations:

The further you get in the process, the better you need to be. The safe from elimination round is still taking place, but the winner is no longer safe from elimination. Your audition delivery might get you a callback, however, your audition delivery at the third round of callbacks probably will not be good enough. I don't mean totally change up your character choices. I mean have it polished.

Do not be safe...when making character choices. Making the safe choice only results in being safe from being cast. Make a strong choice and go for it. And don't worry about what choice the powers that be are hoping to see. As long as it is a strong choice that is appropriate for the character in that scene it will be what they are hoping to see. Even if it is a choice they had not thought of. Naturally, you should keep yourself flexible enough that if given more character info in the audition room or you are given an adjustment, you will be able to incorporate it.

There are two memorable performances: Strong and in the proverbial left field. At the no longer a safe from elimination challenge, the task was to be a zombie escaping from a coffin and going to a rock. What zombie movie style (Zombieland, 28 Days) the actress's zombie best fits was up to the actress. Left Field was so concerned about making a stand out choice she forgot the character. Her choice was a Wayne's World inspired rock musician. No zombie in her performance. Strong kept in mind the goal or intention of zombies. Find brains to eat. She visualized victims. The other actresses concentrated on how does a zombie walk.

Remember the character's intent. The person judging the contest in the contest mention in the previous paragraph was able to see the hunger in Strong's performance, but not the others. Her actions were basically the same as the others. There was no one actually playing a victim and she did not eat a pretend victims brains. She did not do "I am hungry" physicalities. Her intent on finding brains to eat and visualizing victims resulted in those watching seeing hungry.

There are multiple levels to you. Don't play the character at one level. If your character is a nerd, your character is not just a nerd. There's sexy nerd, introverted nerd...

Knowing how to do the technical things like hitting your mark is just as important as making a strong choice. One actress doing the now poorly named elimination safe challenge looked at the mark eight times. Any more she probably would have gotten whiplash. She was told it would be terrible if she turned out to be the best actress, but didn't get it because she did not know how to deal with the technical aspects.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Types of Reality Shows

Decided "reality" shows fall into four categories. In no particular order:

1. Those that can be truly called reality - Cops. Granted there is editing for time and entertainment, but what you see is unscripted life unfolding. Continuing with Cops as an example, you probably do not want to be "cast" unless you're law enforcement or go to jail on national TV is on your bucket list.

2. Those that are supposedly peeking into the regulars actually lives - The Real Desperate Housewives of... These have regulars that continue from season to season. The purpose of being on a show like this is marketing. The only thing to win is opportunities that come up because you are now a recognizable face/name.

3. Contests to win a prize - Survivor. The purpose of being on this type of reality show is to walk away with the big cash prize. The goal is to stab all other contestants in the back (proverbially speaking) and have them proclaim you one of the greatest people they know and that you deserve the big prize.

4. Contests to win a contract - American Idol. While winning the contract would be cool, the purpose is to get noticed by the powers that be by showcasing your talent. Guess that would be a recording studio for American Idol contestants. (Don't know how singing careers work.)