Behind the Scenes

The questions ...and answers....you've always wondered about.




question  on Young and Restless
dear
What does a stand-in actually do?



Answer
If you audition for a role in a movie and are cast to be the stand-in for a star, that's great! Stand-ins stand in for the star for lighting and camera set-up. They are picked based on height, skin color, and a body shape similar to the star. No acting is required, and the pay is better than extra work. More importantly, you work the whole time the film is shooting in an area. You might even go on location for the whole shoot if the director likes your work, so be prompt, polite, personable, and presentable at all times.




question
dear
I want to audition for a commercial and they have the rate of pay listed as "$575.00 for a buy out". What does that mean?



Answer
I understand it to mean, "To purchase the entire stock, business rights, or interests of." This is done so that they don't have to pay residuals to the actors.

This is why the unions are so important. A union actor does not have to give up their future this way. The worst part of a buy-out is when a commercial so exposes an actor that no one else will hire them because they are so identified with the buy-out product. Remember "Where's the beef?" and "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature!" I can't remember those actresses ever working again.




question
dear
I have been trained on what and what not to do at auditions for theatre and even for movies. However my question is a Simple one...Is it a good Idea to add in NON-VERBALS to the script to make yourself more comfortable? Such as... Ahhh or AYE!? For ex. If I had a line that was scripted as follows: "Well, I see what you're saying, but I'll Stick with what I know best." Would it be appropiate for me to read it as: "HHMmmnn, Well, I see what you're saying..." etc etc...or even..."AAAAHhhh Well, I see what you're saying...." etc etc. Is this Acceptable, Appropiate, or WISE!?!??!?



Answer
It is not a good idea to add anything to a script at an audition. The person who wrote the script could be offended by your altering the words they worked so hard to pen. And if it's a commercial, there are dozens of people - mainly lawyers - who have vetted the script and don't want even one syllable changed. After you get the job, you can ask your director about having certain words or phrases altered and see if that is okay. Before the job, ask your acting teacher to explain how to make the script work for you so you are always comfortable with the lines.




question
dear
Do I need to work on being more convincing in my acting?



Answer
To be convincing, just be convinced. Just believe in your role and think as your character thinks, and you will be great every time.




question
dear
I had a speech to make, but when I got up to speak I worked without cue cards and forgot half of what I wanted to say. I'm embarrassed that I might have looked bad for forgetting.



Answer
No problem. None of the people listening knew your speech. As far as they were concerned, what you said was all you had intended to say. It's the same if you forget your lines in a play. Only the other actors and the stage manager will know if you dropped a few lines. Just keep going as if everything is fine, and the audience will never be the wiser.




question
dear
There seems to be acting classes held by casting directors and agents as well as coaches. Which class should I take?



Answer
If your funds are limited and you can only take classes from one teacher, it's smart to pick a coach based on your level of experience. This means that if you already know how to act and you have a lot of self-assurance and confidence in your acting ability, you may want to take classes from casting directors who are currently casting films. That way you get to strut your stuff in front of people who can put you in the movies. However, if they are not currently casting or have not cast in some time, all you may learn from them is what THEY like to see in an audition, not what all casting directors want. The same thing applies when taking classes from an agent. If you need an agent and the agent giving classes has an excellent reputation and represents several well-known working clients, by all means do your thing there. But if you are not ready to audition for them, don't blow your chance to be seen in the best light by doing a less than satisfactory job. Remember that casting directors and agents are thinking WIIFM: "What's In It For Me." If you can't cut the mustard, no casting director will risk recommending you to the producer, and no agent will take you on and send you out. And if you were in their shoes, you wouldn't, either. Learn your craft first from the best acting coach you can find... someone who is or has been an actor and who won't be prejudiced by initially imperfect performances. THEN show off at the other kind of class. And remember: it's not the method your teacher teaches but your connection to the teacher that matters. Most systems and methods that stem from Stanislavski are quite similar. Go with a coach whose classes feel right to you.




question
dear
Q: Why do you say to study acting with an actor, and how can I know if s/he is qualified to teach me?



Answer
If you want to learn to cook, would you study with the chef or the person who owns the restaurant (unless they are one and the same)? If you want to repair cars, would you study with the mechanic or the guy who owns the gas station (unless they are one and the same)? There is enormous value in learning from people who can do what you aspire to. To qualify prospective teachers, ask them for references and referrals to check their professional credits. Next, look them up on Internet Movie Database. Ask other actors who have studied with them what they learned from this person. Make sure a teacher is in the actors' union you either belong to or that you will want to join. If your goal is working on Broadway, an actor who is only a member of Screen Actors Guild may not be your best choice. Finally, take a workshop with a teacher you have heard good things about or ask to audit a continuing class. The proof is in the pudding. If you are comfortable with a certain teacher and their way of instructing and if you feel you have learned something, stick with them. Make a commitment and let them help you maximize your potential. Just as it's wise to sign with that one agent who is building your career instead of continually shopping around, check out all available teachers first, then religiously attend the classes of the teacher you feel will take you higher.

"A real decision is measured by the fact that you've taken new action. If there's no action, you haven't truly decided." -- Anthony Robbins




question
dear

Q: What is an "actors' director"?



Answer
Very often it's someone who garnered fame as an actor before finding fulfillment in directing. Sean Penn, Clint Eastwood, Ida Lupino, and Ron Howard come to mind. During my fifteen years on network television, I learned the hard way how important it is for the director and even the producer and writer to know the actors' craft. When I was cast on my first soap, there were two directors who worked on alternating days. One, Peter Levin, had been an actor who had begun performing as a child and as a teenager had starred on Broadway as Peter in "The Diary of Anne Frank." The other... let's call him Fuddy... was a "picture" director. The screen was his canvas, and the sets, props, and people were his paints. For the actor, there is nothing wrong with someone being a Picture Director as long as they are an Actors' Director, too. But the problem with directors like Fuddy is they can't help you interpret a script since they have no understanding of what actors do. One day Fuddy wanted both Michael Hawkins and I to be looking towards the camera in the same shot, so he directed me to play this emotional scene with my back to my co-star. When I asked Fuddy what on earth my motivation to turn away was, he snapped, "Your pay check!" This joker acted as if actors were puppets, not people. Peter, on the other hand, taught me more about the craft than I had known coming in. Remember when Russell Crowe attributed winning his Best Actor Oscar to his director on "Gladiator"? If you have ever had the misfortune to work under someone like Fuddy, it's no mystery why an actor would feel such gratitude. Learn who the actors' directors are and do your damnedest to work on one of their pictures. Short of that, study with a teacher who can arm you with the resources you'll need to handle this type of adversity.



'Have a question about your craft or the business of show business? emailtheactorsalliance@earthlink.net and I'll post an answer that may help you.

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