Breaking into the film business isn’t the easiest thing to do in the world, but people continue to do it again and again.
So what’s the secret?
It comes down to three things: talent, experience, and luck.
This pretty much applies to just about every job in Hollywood, but especially for actors and actresses.
That’s why it’s hard – that’s not to say there aren’t talented individual people out there that find they’re most happy when they’re acting.
For the latter, there are a few things you can do to enhance your chance of winning over a casting director and their assistant during your next audition.
1. Let Your Talent Shine
One of the most important elements casting directors look for in actors and actresses is talent. They want to see that you have some sort of spark of talent that has the capacity to blow up and surprise us.
If you’re truly talented, and you’ll know because you’ll have tasted positive feedback, mild success, and other great things from your acting … even if you have yet to start pursuing it. As a child, did people suggest you become a movie star? Were people impressed with your personality or ability to act? If so, you’ve tasted the social proof that you entertain people.
Though this isn’t required, it’s often one of the signs that you really are talented.
2. Build Your Experience
Try to build your experience as much as possible. Talent scouts constantly lurk the crowds of shows and acting schools looking for that special someone they’d like to present to their client.
Do something so you can say you’ve done it. Perform in a show. Star in student films. Act as an extra. The key is to gain as much experience possible … and you should want to do this, not feel obligated.
Those scouts and agents are looking for you … help them find you. With just the right amount of luck, you’ll land representation and move on to bigger and better projects. The more you have on your resume, the more likely the casting director is to give you the opportunity to impress them with your performance.
Which brings us to the next point …
3. Make Your Own Luck
The more you do, the more likely you are to get lucky – that is, the more likely you are to bump into a producer, catch the eye of a scout, or land a roll with a project that actually goes to a festival.
Get out there and dig – success doesn’t come to people, people go to success.
This point doesn’t necessarily lead to impressing the casting director directly, but it might just lead to your casting director.
Overall, the idea is to walk into the casting office confident and ready to have fun. Build your experience, show your talent, and get a little lucky in the process and you might just impress the casting director enough to be called back for a second audition.
Article written by the Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio
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Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio
6581 Santa Monica Boulevard
Hollywood, CA 90038
The Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio is welcoming in warm arms our new upcoming acting classes beginning from the 20th of September. We are all very excited and love new projects and acting adventures. See our website to find out what we are all about and be sure to read about the Meisner technique and our beginner and advanced classes.
We welcome you all to our acting class. Thanks.
Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio
6581 Santa Monica Boulevard
Hollywood, CA 90038
How is the Meisner Technique different than other approaches to actor training? Why would you pursue this type of program over all the other acting classes in Los Angeles? In this age of immediate gratification and short attention spans, it seems like The Meisner Technique may fall out of favor, and yet it is still one of the most respected techniques in Hollywood. Why?
The Meisner Technique demands that an actor make a commitment to their training, and if you are in a program that follows Sanford Meisner’s syllabus, this training will take place over 9-months. This is serious training for serious students. Those who come to Hollywood to get famous quickly and easily wouldn’t even consider something like this. So why should you make this sacrifice of time, effort, and yes – money? What does the Meisner Technique do that is so special?
To put it simply – it gets you in actor shape.
I have always compared Acting to other difficult endeavors like playing an instrument or sports, endeavors that also show that whatever effort you put in shows in the product you put out. So, to continue this metaphor, if acting is like, say… Gymnastics… then Meisner is the daily workout at the gym to get strong and flexible. The more traditional acting skills (objectives, actions, character biography etc) are like learning the different elements, – (the cartwheel, the back flip, the somersault etc.) Most Acting Classes teach you the elements, but don’t know how to get you into shape.
Now I will be honest with you. I can do a somersault, and I can even do a cartwheel – but they are pretty pathetic because at the age of 42, I’m really not all that strong and flexible. But if I worked out every day to increase my upper body strength and the flexibility of my spine, those elements would look much better. And when Olympic gymnasts do these elements, we are in awe, because they dedicate themselves to knowing the elements and being fit enough to execute them.
The actor who understands the “elements” like playing an action, or making a character choice, but isn’t emotionally connected to the material leaves the audience cold, or even worse – uncomfortable for the actor. Like me doing my somersault, we don’t want to see it again! The out of shape actor can make sense of a part, but will lack the heart. And we need for the audience to be drawn into our performance, to feel what the actors feel – and if the actors feel nothing – well, the audience will feel nothing. THAT IS NOT ENOUGH! So we train, rigorously, like professional athletes, to take our performance to the next level. To put our abilities on par with the best actors out there.
So why take Meisner? Because it gets you to:
- Discover who you are and how you are unique
- Learn how to bring your uniqueness into performance
- Work honestly off of your acting partner
- Access and strengthen your emotional range
- Be fearless in your work
- Make bold and honest choices
- Work from your instincts and not your intellect
- Personalize any material so that you can connect to it
- Remove self consciousness by focusing on the tasks and people in the scene
- Really do, really feel, really fight, really laugh, really be…Really!
THE ABILITY TO DO THE ABOVE MEANS YOU ARE IN ACTOR SHAPE!
When you complete a Meisner Technique program and can put it on your resume, it also says a lot to the people who might hire you about how dedicated you are to mastering your craft. A casting director who sees that you have completed a true 1 or 2-year Meisner Program knows what they can expect. Spontaneity, emotional range, self-knowledge, brave choices and truthful behavior.
That is why you invest in a Meisner Technique Training Program. To get in shape. Quite simply, to be the best.
Have you always wanted to try acting but felt intimidated and unsure where to start? Recommended by NBC’s Talent Development Initiative, the Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio (EMAS) in Los Angeles is where trained professionals work with small groups of 12-14 student actors at a time to instill the most effective, efficient techniques to help them mature in the craft. For beginning actors, the Acting Foundations class, part of the Basic Technique series offered at EMAS, the perfect way to get your feet wet. This class is excellent for new students to gauge how advanced their skills are, and it provides a safe environment for them to learn new tools to be successful in the acting world. Meetings start September 23rd and are on Thursday nights at 7:00PM; the class runs for 12 weeks until December 9th.
The Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio takes training actors seriously and uses effective techniques to help students develop a useful, impressive skill set – it is no wonder that it is one of the top acting schools in Los Angeles. Visit www.emasla.com for more information.
With all of the different options for actor training, it’s sometimes difficult to navigate all the different schools and classes, techniques and approaches. Even for the experienced actor, finding the right place to study can be challenging, and sometimes downright discouraging. There are a million types of classes, Scene Study, Meisner Technique, Movement, Improv, etc. So let me break down some simple distinctions that could help you find the right acting class in Los Angeles.
- Technique class:
A technique class is the best place for beginners to start. It’s also a great place for experienced actors to return to when they need rejuvenation. It is a class that emphasizes acquiring skills rather than putting together a performance. All the exercises should help the students develop a character and perform a scene, but the emphasis is on developing the skill itself. Skills such as how to:
- Break down a script
- Create the environment
- Work off of your acting partner
- Tap into your creativity and imagination
- Strengthen your voice and physicality
- Develop a character
- Learn who you are and how to bring yourself to your work
These are just a few of the skills an actor needs to master before they can deliver a fantastic performance. There are a variety of techniques that can get you these skills, Meisner, Adler, Hagen, Strassburg. The best technique classes do give you the chance to test these skills out in a scene or monologue, but the focus is on skill acquisition.
The most important thing is that a beginner NOT put the cart before the horse and hop into a Scene Study class too soon. That would be like someone who wanted to dance ballet being told to dance Swan Lake in the first class and then being told what they did wrong. A technique class is like learning the various steps. Learn the steps before you dance. Learn the skills before you act. And like ballet, you need to be patient; it takes time for us to acquire these skills. No one does a triple pirouette the first week. No one performs a moving scene that easily either. Avoid the 4-week workshop if you are looking for a good technique class. That is not enough time for this work to germinate. Nothing worth learning comes easily; make the investment to become a master of your craft.
Good training can access parts of the student’s creativity and talent they never even knew they had. Technique is the bowl that holds the actors talent for us to see. Without it the actor’s talent can escape like water through their fingers. The best actors, the Robert Duvalls, Meryl Streeps and Phillip Seymore Hoffmans, have dedicated years to studying technique to shape and release their amazing gifts.
2. Scene Study:
This is a class where students who already have some mastery of the above skill sets can put them to practice. You will be working on a scene, trying to get it to, what I call, “performance ready”. For this, it is very important that you have a good rapport with the teacher. I think it is important that the instructor have the ability to improve your technique in case you need it (to give you exercises or work on your instrument), but also work as a director so that you get used to working towards a result. If Technique Class is about process, then scene study needs to be about process and product. The format is pretty simple. Two actors prepare a scene. They perform it, at whatever stage of readiness it is in. The instructor gives coaching and directing, and may even work on specific issues. The actors rehearse the scene on their own, to bring back to the next class. It varies a bit, but for the most part – that is how a scene study class goes. Here are a few things to look for in a Scene Study class:
- You should work in every class.
- There should be more work than discussion.
- You should want to work with this instructor over a series of months, with different material, as it does take us some time to get to know how you work, what your weaknesses are and how to move you forward in your craft.
- Your classmates should be as committed to rehearsing outside of class as you are.
- The class should be no more than 4 hours long (ok, so this is pretty subjective, but I think that 4 hours is about the limit any creative person can stay alert, and work productively. I’ve heard of the classes that go until the wee hours of the morning – either the class is too large, the scenes too long, or the teacher likes to talk too much)
- Cold Reading/Audition workshops: Cold Reading is an audition technique that is particularly important in Hollywood, where you could potentially get the script you are working with literally moments before you go in to audition. These workshops are often taught by industry professionals (casting directors, agents etc.) One thing I need you to understand is that casting directors are not necessarily acting coaches, and so although they can often tell you what they want to see, they may lack the proper tools to get you there. That is why it is very important that you be very confident in your training before you put yourself in front of any casting director or agent (you don’t want to make a bad impression). If you don’t have your skill set completely under your belt, make sure your Cold Reading class is with a coach not a casting director.
There are a huge number of acting teachers and acting schools in Los Angeles, some are amazing and gifted, some are hoaxes and some are even abusive. Nonetheless, there ARE enough really insightful teachers out there who are passionate about training actors that you need not settle. There are a lot of things you do not have control over in this crazy business, but your craft is not one of them. Take control of it, master your craft, train, rehearse, and I hope to work with you soon!
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