Category Archives Entertainment

6 Netflix Shows An Aspiring Actor Should Study

2017-07-05

 
Most people don’t think of “Netflix and chill” as a way to do their homework. However, most people aren’t actors who are devoted to their craft. You can binge-watch hundreds of series on Netflix. Some of the highlights are the original Netflix series, many of which feature actors showing off their chops in a unique way. Here’s what (and who) to watch if you’re an aspiring actor.
 

GLOW

As Ruth Wilder, Alison Brie goes beyond her usual girl-next-door role in this campy comedy-drama. Although she does play a naïve, doe-eyed actress, she delivers moments of darkness, loneliness and desperation. Brie really shines during a fantasy scene in which she is all-out fighting with her arch-nemesis Debbie, who is played by Betty Gilpin. The tiny actress becomes larger-than life in the wrestling ring.

In GLOW, Brie also shatters the image of the polished, uptight women that she typically portrays. In GLOW, Brie allows her rough edges to seep through her perfect smile. Her performance is so authentic that you can glimpse her inner fearlessness.
 

Gypsy

In this psychosexual drama, Naomi Watts plays Jean Holloway, a therapist who develops her own fascinations with the objects of her patients’ obsessions. A Meisner-trained actress, Watts authentically draws viewers into every moment on screen.

The camera often focuses on close-ups of Watts’ face, which reveals the expressions of a suburban housewife as easily as those of a fanatical lover and skillful liar. She seamlessly contrasts the brightest and darkest sides of her character in much the same way as she did in her breakout film, Mulholland Drive.
 

Orange Is The New Black

We couldn’t write an article about Netflix shows to study without mentioning OITNB. Like GLOW, the show’s characters are well-defined and rife with unexpected as well as predictable qualities. Playing these types of characters requires an ability to tap into a well of emotions.

The character who is confident on the outside often reveals her most vulnerable insecurities at the most inopportune moments. The strangest characters have the most relatable backstories. The most conventional characters have surprisingly eccentric qualities.

It takes skilled actors to effectively portray these personas. Their motivations must come off as realistic for the audience to bond with them. No matter how outlandish the storylines are, they resonate with the viewers because the actors access genuine emotions to express them.
 

The Office

Although Michael Scott, played by Steve Carell, is an extraordinary lead for this mockumentary-style comedy, the other actors support the comedy in genius fashion. Watch this series for a look into how to create a solid character.

This television show is about more than great writing. Each actor has developed specific mannerisms and quirks that represent his or her identity. While some of these traits are over the top, others are starkly subdued. Observe the way each actor develops his or her character alone, in contrast to and in conjunction with the other characters.
 

Stranger Things

If you want to be amazed by the proficiency of an ensemble of child actors, watch Stranger Things. Although the Netflix-original series deals with the more bizarre side of the supernatural, the superb acting makes the oddities seem relevant.

Even if Winona Ryder has irritated you in the past with her exaggerated portrayal of drama and despair, you’ll buy her interpretation of a worried mother agonizing over the disappearance of her son. Her agitation contrasts well with the more even-keeled nature of the children.

It’s interesting to watch these young actors portray children who are passionate about finding their friend but don’t let the mystery derail their motivations. Their performances are entrancing.
 

Bloodline

Is good acting enough to keep a show going? That’s the question posed by many Bloodline reviewers. The Netflix-original series features an ensemble of actors who brought depth to roles that might otherwise have been shallow.

Kyle Chandler is perhaps most well-known for playing the role of Coach in Friday Night Lights. He had to work hard to disassociate himself with that character to play the role of the “good” brother with a villainous undertone in Bloodline. He performs his role fluidly, as do his costars.

Sam Shepard plays the patriarch of the family. Shepard studied under Wynn Handman, a protégé of Sanford Meisner. Ben Mendelsohn’s performance also stands out. He has been nominated for several awards for his portrayal of Danny, and in 2016 he won the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.

Sometimes, an actor’s performance can go above and beyond the writing, storyline or plot of a television show. These series, which are available to stream on Netflix, are ideal examples of this. When you watch them, you’ll get pulled into the emotion, drama, comedy and action because of the actors’ brilliant execution of the script.

Elements of a Great Script for Actors

what_makes_up_good_story
One of the most vital components to crafting your art as an actor is working with an excellent story. Even the best actors may struggle with films that have mundane, confusing or poorly developed plots. Reading script after script may leave you scratching your head, wondering which movie stories are the best to hone your craft and reach an audience.

Regardless of the genre, elements of a good movie story remain the same. Learning these elements can help determine which scripts offer the best use of your time. If you wish to lead your own project you should also ensure your story follows these basic rules.

An Opening Hook

The first thing a good movie story does is grab the viewer’s attention. A movie’s opening act sets the tone for the rest of the film. This does not necessarily mean that a movie must start with an exciting event or surprising twist. Screenwriters must simply pay as much attention to the beginning of the story as they do to the plot and characterization.

Excellent Character Development

A screenwriter should know his or her characters inside and out. Fully developed characters have motivations for their actions. They have genuine emotion, backstories and personalities that ring true.

Character development should not be confused with excessive or unnecessary exposition. A well-fleshed does not always need overly apparent details. Indeed, some of the most intriguing characters on film are those that are the most mysterious.

An example of excellent character development in film is Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. There is little to no backstory available for each of the lead characters, yet their motivations and actions ring true. Tarantino took time and care with each role, even going so far as to give the anonymous criminals real names and backstories that are not necessarily revealed over the course of the film.

A New Way to Tell Stories

Storytelling is an art form that few can master. A story that is too simplistic may work well for young children, but will leave most viewers feeling empty. Using complexity to tell a story makes even a somewhat common plot seem refreshing and new. A good example of complex storytelling is seen in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. At its heart, the story is one of a struggling actress seeking revenge after heartbreak and rejection. Using a unique storytelling device, one that introduces the actress’s fantasy to the viewer before eventually revealing reality, turns what could be a common love story into a deeply moving film.

Christopher Nolan has made a career out of using complex storytelling techniques. A prime example is Memento, a simple, noirish revenge story. It is told using backward chronology. This was a technique that was seldom explored prior to the film’s 2001 release date.

Plotting and Subplotting

Complimenting a complex storytelling technique is the importance of a clear plot. Movies with muddled plots are difficult for actors and viewers alike. Most successful films have single plots that drive the story and subplots to keep the story interesting. A prime example of this is James Cameron’s Titanic. The plot of the story is seemingly the sinking of the Titanic, but in actuality the focus is on the love affair between the two protagonists. Subplots of a jealous fiance, a needy mother and a greedy treasure hunter only serve to highlight the main story.

A good movie story can, and in most cases should, be told in a linear fashion if it has a unique plot. This may be particularly important for fantasies and science fiction. Movies that already pull a viewer away from his or her own reality may create more problems if told in a way that is outside of the norm. Alfred Hitchcock was a master of using unique plots and characterization to drive stories with plots that pushed the viewer outside of their comfort zones.

The Importance of Believability

A good story is believable to the viewer. Characters should specifically behave in ways that would seem fitting for whatever situation they are in. This is as important for films with fantastical settings as it is for movies that take place in our world.

Movie stories set in the real world can take advantage of viewers already knowing the environment in which we live. That can be a downside to a storyteller who may wish to take liberties with reality. There are often problems with historical films that don’t portray past events in a realistic way.

Stories that take place outside of our world must build credibility, which can be difficult except for the greatest of screenwriters. An actor must sell the humanity behind situations that take place in outer space or in a world in which monsters exist. However, an actor can only be adept at this if the story is written in a way that allows viewers to accept this alternate reality.

Good movie stories are as varied as the people behind them. While the plots may greatly differ, the basics of an intriguing story told in an interesting way always remain the same.

An EMAS Valentine’s Day Discussion: Romantic Movies

Seeing as it was our last EMAS faculty meeting before Valentine’s Day, we want to take a moment to have each of our acting teachers to share their favorite romantic movies & performances. We hope you might discover something new, allowing you to sink into a story of love, including the rough and the smooth :)

Have a favorite romantic movie ? Let us know what it is and why you love it!

Wherever you are and whoever you’re with, all of us at EMAS wish you the happiest of Valentine’s Days!

 

What is… EMASLA in a Jeopardy Question!

Well, you’ve got to take pleasure in life’s little surprises and, last night, we had an excellent little surprise: Seeing the Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio pop up in the answer to a Jeopardy question!

A list of all of last night’s Jeopardy Questions: (hint) “Take the ‘A’ Training” for $600, Alex”

Here’s the clip in all of it’s glory:

 

If YOU’d like to “Take the ‘A’ Training” at the Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio, view more here.

 

EMAS Acting Teachers give their Oscar Picks

academy award candidates

The Oscars are almost here – a time of year when everyone looks back takes some time to contemplate on their favorite movies and performances of the past year. From academy members to cinephiles to casual moviegoers, everyone has their own opinion about which work merits recognition.

Getting in the spirit of things, we asked our staff of acting instructors to share their thoughts on which films and actors impressed them the most in 2015. Below are their votes for the 87th  Academy Awards:

Jordana Oberman, Technique instructor

Best Leading Actor: Eddie Redmayne
Best Leading Actress: Brie Larson
Best Supporting Actor: Mark Rylance
Best Supporting Actress: Kate winslet
Best FilmSpotlight
Best Direction: The Revenant Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Sandy Egan, Meisner Instructor

Best Leading Actor: Leonardo Di Caprio – just for shooting conditions alone (I also really liked Matt Damon)
Best Leading Actress: Saoirse Ronan – a beautiful heartfelt performance
Best Supporting Actor: Mark Ruffalo – I like him in everything
Best Supporting Actress: Rooney Mara is the very soul Carol
Best Film: Spotlight – it worked on every level
Best Direction: George Miller – a great achievement so late in a long career [Mad Max: Fury Road]

Thom Rivera, On-camera Instructor

Best Leading Actor: Leonardo Di Caprio or Michael Fassbender
Best Leading Actress: Brie Larson
Best Supporting Actor: Mark Rylance
Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vykander  or Kate Winslet
Best FilmThe Revenant
Best Direction: Alejandro Iñárritu

Ken Weiler, Meisner Instructor

Best Leading Actress: I’m going with Brie Larson. She won the Golden Globe for Room. Her performance was raw, and powerful. She’s new, even though she’s been working for over 20 years. Ha! Room is just the sort of movie the Academy gives Oscars to.
Best Leading Actor: I’m going with Leonardo Di Caprio. He’s overdue. His body of work is remarkable and he hasn’t won an Oscar yet. And he was incredibly good in The Revenant.
Best Film: The Revenant, Alejandro Iñárritu won last year for Birman and, as crazy as it sounds, I think he could win again.
Best Direction: Alejandro Iñárritu, The Revenant is just so cinematically magnificent and, like Birdman,left me asking “How did he do that?”

Elizabeth Mestnik, Founder & Director of EMAS

Best Leading Actor: Leonardo Di Caprio
Best Leading Actress: Brie Larson
Best Supporting Actor: Mark Ruffalo
Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander
Best Film: Spotlight
Best Direction: Alejandro Iñárritu

 

Have your own thoughts on who did the best movie work of 2015? Let us know what you think!

Most Googled TV Shows on IMDB – Summer 2015

For every blockbuster star, their are a hundred actors who practice their trade on the “small screen.” With the productions from cable channels such as HBO, and the expansion of online streaming sites into the creation of their own “TV” shows, the quantity and level of quality on display in today’s series has increased tremendously. Season premiers now frequently generate more buzz than premiers on the big screen.

Wit that in mind, we thought it’d be interesting to take a look at what shows people have been looking up on IMDB this summer (through Google). The word cloud below illustrates the most-searched series in mid Summer of 2015.

infographic most searched tv series on imdbIf you have aspirations to act these or other series, check out our scene study/on camera acting classes.