In today’s video, Donald The Dialect Coach teaches you what to focus on when learning a dialect so that it will be believable. He also shows you how to keep your line delivery from being choppy while performing with a dialect. Part 2.
by: Joe Tremaine
Years ago in New York City, I auditioned for a choreographer from Los Angeles who was casting a series of variety shows to be shot in Amsterdam. I booked the job! The choreographer liked my work and when that job was done, he told me he would be choreographing a new TV variety series at NBC in “beautiful downtown Burbank” starring Jerry Lewis. This choreographer offered me a job on the project. I took it immediately and moved to Los Angeles one month later.
A couple of weeks into the Jerry Lewis TV show, another choreographer was watching our rehearsal. He later approached and informed me, “You will never make it in this town!”
Needless to say I was stunned by his frankness.
Is that what it was, frankness? Or was it jealousy? Stupidity? Bitterness?
I didn’t really know what his intent was, nor did I care because that statement “put me over the edge”! His simple statement, whatever the intent, may have been the thing that catapulted me into a very successful career in Los Angeles! Which, I may add, has lasted for over FOUR DECADES and is still going STRONG!
I am a hard worker and always have been. But somehow his single statement caused me to push a little harder and a little longer toward each thing I wanted in my career. I am now thankful for his input, whatever the intent.
Always remember, especially in this day and age, that people can say/text/post the “damnedest things,” but you must rise above them and continue on your positive path. Don’t let ANYONE derail your dreams in any way! Stick to your “love” of this business and GO FOR IT no matter what crazy things “they” may say or do!
Actors don’t have tangible products to sell. Each is their own product and they must believe in and have confidence their talents and themselves or there is nothing to sell. Confidence is essential for everyone but it is crucial for actors and performers. Vanity, arrogance or egotism is not confidence. They are usually facades for someone who lacks it. If you are honest with yourself, you know the difference.
Confident is just who some actors are. Others may have had support from family and friends and/or from of multiple successes. For most, the lack of confidence is an issue that needs to be worked on. Lets start by considering the value of building your confidence. I believe:
- • Experience creates confidence. The more you do anything, the more experienced and skillful you become. So the more you properly study, rehearse, audition and work, the more confident you are about your craft.
- • Confidence produces freedom. With real confidence, you do not worry about what others think or failing thus you have the freedom to be courageous and you.
- • With Freedom, your talent can shine. When actors get auditions, sign with an agent, receive good feedback or reviews, get callbacks and book jobs, etc., it helps them to feel confident. Unfortunately, these events are dependent on the acceptance of others. In that case confidence can come and go without these “wins”.
Here are my suggestions that are helpful in building your confidence:
Train with professional acting teachers.
When you honestly know that you have a solid acting training, you can believe in your craft.
Take improvisation workshops.
In professional improvisation classes, you learn to trust your instincts and commit. Once, you get over your fear of making mistakes, you experience that they are fun and that great moments come from messing up. This progression helps you to learn that no matter what happens in class or in life, you can handle it. This type of training goes a long way in building confidence.
ALWAYS BE prepared.
Whether putting up scenes in your classes, auditioning for jobs, or working as an actor, always be as prepared as possible. When you are unprepared, most will feel insecure about their work.
Acknowledge yourself for your successes.
Most of us are quick to find fault with ourselves and what we do. I strongly suggest that you ALWAYS take a few minutes to acknowledge yourself for what was accomplished or when you have done your creative best whether or not you get the job or the positive feedback you desire. This is really important for building self esteem. When you can be totally supportive of yourself, you will not be dependent on others to feel successful. And while you are at it, acknowledge others. It is great for them and reminds you to always do it for yourself.
Learn from mistakes.
We are human and we all make mistakes especially when we are moving into uncharted waters. Most learn more from their mistakes than from successes. So I suggest you look at mistakes as lessons and as gifts instead of emotionally beating yourself up when you make them.
Avoid negative, jealous, angry or bitter people.
Those we surround ourselves with affect how we feel about ourselves. As much as possible lose all the disempowering people in your life.
Have a full life:
The more fun and stimulating activities we are involved with the less pressure most actors attach to having to prove themselves.
Stay out of debt.
Too much pressure is put on booking work when actors have money problems. When your financial life is somewhat in balance, you go into auditions without the pressure of needing the money.
Enjoy your “survival” job.
If you have a job that you dislike, that can create negative feeling about yourself.
I truly believe that if you follow these suggestions to help build your confidence that it should have a powerful affect on your ability to feel good about yourself, thus do your best auditions and get acting work.
The number of actors submitted for any given commercial depends on the type or role and in what city it is being cast. If the role is that of an early twenties, wholesome, attractive all American college girl casting in Los Angeles there may be thousands of submissions. As opposed to casting a role of a 5 foot tall, mid forties man who speaks fluent Russian and can juggle – there might be a dozen, if lucky.
In minor markets, actors will mail or deliver their pictures and resume to the CD. In the major markets, most commercial jobs and more and more TV and film work are cast utilizing online websites. Basically, the way on-line casting works is:
- Actors pay a fee and join the site(s), or their agent(s) or manager supervise the posting of their client’s pictures and resumes
- The casting website company displays the actors’ photos and resumes online CDs post their casting breakdowns on the casting website. CASTING BREAKDOWN: CDs posts the descriptions of the roles they are casting (delineated by gender, age and physical type) online for for the agents, managers and/or actors to view.
- Agents, managers will then submit their appropriate clients. And actors, when allowed can submit themselves.
Normally, in major markets, there will be hundreds if not thousands of actors submitted for most roles. Casting directors often have only hours to prep and set up a casting session. They will go online and scroll through screen upon screen of thumbnail photo submissions. Your pictures have to stand out, say something and look like you. The CD looks at many (not all) of the submissions to choose the actors to bring in for the audition. I would guesstimate, depending on the role, that 90% of those submitted will not get the audition because on most days a CD sees only around 60 -100 actors per role.
So how do commercial casting directors choose the actors to bring in for their commercial auditions? Obviously, your main photo should catch their attention. So it is very important to have a current professional photo that captures what you really look like on a good day. It is also important to have a resume that with or without strong credits is presented in a way that is impressive. And having four to six other shots posted that show your various other “looks”.
Since pictures are so very important, obviously you must get the best and the best doesn’t usually mean the most expensive. This takes research. Check out working actors photos which you can find online casting sites or on most photographers websites. Study what it is that makes their pictures “pop” and try to use that information when you shoot and select your headshots.
After pictures, the second most important submission tool for actors is their resume. When industry professionals look at a picture and want to know more about the actor, they view his or her resume. It needs to persuade them to bring the actor in to audition or to hire him/ her for a job. Make sure your resume is not just a list of what you have done. Your credits, training and skills needed to be presented in a way that is professional and impressive (but truthful). You can have a somewhat notable resume’ even with anemic credits when what you have accomplished is presented smartly. In my book HIT THE GROUND RUNNING, I have full chapters on getting great photos and creating impactful resume’s.
There are too many actors who want what you want: to secure auditions and get work. Granted, you are not in competition with every other actor – just the hundreds or thousands who are your age and type. To compete for the auditions, you must have powerful headshots and impressive resumes. Get the information you need on these two subjects to produce the best results.
There is a lot involved in learning to do your best at commercial auditions. For additional insights and tips, check out my book Hit The Ground Running @ www.hitthegroundrunningbook.com and for more information on Commercial Acting Classes: http://carolynebarry.com/workshops/commercial/
by: Donald the Dialect Coach
We all want to be engaging speakers.
Some people seem to do it naturally, however it is a skill that can be learned.
How can you make your voice interesting? How can you engage with material immediately? How can you make choices right away (even when cold reading)?
USE THE VERBS!
This trick alone will TRANSFORM your auditioning.
When you’re reading a sentence, find the action verbs and use them. A verb expresses action or a relationship between two things. Wait a minute – that’s what acting is all about! It’s no wonder that this tip will cause you grow as an actor immediately.
When we watch movies, what do we want to see? ACTION.
When we are speaking, we need to speak the action with our voice for the person listening. We can’t literally pantomime each thing we talk about, but we can milk our action verbs and make the audience feel as if they were there.
The great thing about verbs is that we can make them sound like what they mean. For example, The word trampled sounds like what it means. So does love, hate, fear, accept, deny, free, etc.
You get the picture 🙂
Your job as actors is to make these action verbs the star of each sentence that we say. All of the meaning and emotion in the sentence should be put into the action words.
Let’s use this sentence as an example: “I know they talk about me.” You may be tempted to use the pronouns, so that it sounds something like this: “I know they talk about me.”
Listen up, friends! Pronouns are an actor’s worst nightmare. Okay, that’s a bit extreme but you get the point 😉
Pronouns don’t deserve our attention 90% of the time.
Your best friend walks into your house, slams his car keys down and says, “I know they talk about me.” He doesn’t need to point to himself when he says, “me” in order for you to know that he’s talking about himself, does he? Nope, It’s understood. Likewise, he doesn’t need to point away from himself when he says, “they”. It’s understood.
When we stress a word it’s like we’re pointing at it with our voice. The meaning in the sentence is contained within the verbs.
“I know they talk about me.”The way he says the word “know” answers two important questions.
- How does he know?
- How does he feel about knowing?
The same is true for the word “talk.”The verbs are the meat of every sentence. Pronouns are just filler. Yes, you have to say the pronouns in a sentence, but you don’t have to use them.You will be amazed at how quickly using the verbs will impact your acting.
Everyone wants to become a “regular” on any show or series that they’re a part of. But how do you make the leap? How do you take a small part and parlay it into a starring role?
Actress Jennifer Hall was on her way to San Francisco, to quit acting, when she got a call to play a one-time guest star role in the HBO series, “Unscripted”. She prepared for the part in the same way that she describes in this video and ended up becoming one of the three leads of the series.
The same thing happened when she played (what was supposed to be) a small role on the Will Arnett/Maya Rudolph series “Up All Night”. Her “small role” ended up lasting the entire season. And the same thing happened to her on the soap opera “All My Children”.
What kind of philosophy and technique is Jennifer using to generate these exciting results?
- Be Exactly Who You Are. “I auditioned 63 times before I booked my first role. At first, I tried “giving them (the casting people) what I thought they wanted”. But then, at an audition, someone gave me some advice- they said “If you’re a can of tomato soup- then be the best can of tomato soup you can be. Don’t try to be Vegetable or Chicken Noodle. Just learn to bring the maximum amount of YOU that you can bring to any role.” It was a pivotal moment for me because instead of trying to be glamorous or sophisticated in my acting- I started bringing the goofy, awkward, weird person that I am with my friends into my work. And that’s when I started booking parts! Turns out, people like tomato soup!”
- Make something up about your character that excites you. Often writers focus on the lead roles, so when it comes to playing the smaller parts, it’s up to us to create the exciting inner-life of the character. For for example, it might not be in the script, but in your imagination maybe your character has a secret trip planned to Hawaii- or maybe a crush on one of the other characters. As long as it doesn’t contradict the script and helps to serve the overall story, creating a backstory for your character, that makes your character more fun and exciting to play, can be a great way to make that character come to life!
- Don’t be afraid of sucking. “Sometimes, when you feel like you’re sucking it really just means that you’re outside of your comfort zone. And very often, that isky-feeling is a sign that you’re onto something useful and exciting. So let yourself suck every now and then.”
Do you have a comment or a question for Jennifer, Gerry, or MTT staff about booking, comedy and acting? Please post it below and please follow Jennifer at https://twitter.com/TheJenniferHall and sign up for Gerry’s newsletter at http://www.standupcomedyclass.com/. Thanks!
by: Blue8 Productions
Yes, you read correctly. Action tells a story! Amazing stunt men and women know that fight sequences are not just a string of kicks and punches, but a great story telling device that can reveal a lot about the character. It takes incredible artistry to it pull off.
As actors, we are constantly looking for more ways to express ourselves, tell the story, and enrich the character. Wouldn’t it be awesome to lend more of your physicality to your work? We aren’t saying everyone needs to go practice high falls or set themselves on fire, but training yourself to be physically able to perform basic stunts and fight sequences will indeed help you to become a more versatile artist and performer.
Action drives the story forward.
How boring would some of our favorite blockbusters be without the amazing action sequences that had you sitting at the edge of your seat, white knuckling the arm rest, laughing, then crying, gasping, then sighing in relief?! Remember that awesome “hell yeah!” feeling you got at the beginning of The Avengers when the Black Widow kicks a supreme amount of ass from a chair? Not possible without action actress Heidi Moneymaker doubling for Scarlett Johansson. Anyone see Lone Survivor? Their actors went through an actual Navy Seal training program, where they did special operations conditioning and tactical training just so they could portray an incredible story.
As our own Blue8 Tactical Advisors say, “Legitimate creativity is rooted in reality.”
Looking to get started? Wanna dip your toe in the stunt pool? Come on in the water is fine! Here at Blue8 we train multiple disciplines to ready our bodies for anything the entertainment industry can throw at it! From Kung Fu to Yoga, Dance to Parkour and Military Tactics; we love it all and practice on a regular basis. Throw in a few specialty workshops and you are well on your way to feeling more confident in those action film auditions, not to mention the built in physical fitness benefits that come along with it.
Now go clear out some space on the special skills section of your resume! You’re going to need it! 🙂