WHAT CASTING DIRECTOR JOEY PAUL SAYS ABOUT THE ACTOR
According to Award Winning Casting Director Joey Paul, an actor needs to be “WELL TRAINED”.
There will be many actors with much longer resumes, and the jobs will go to those actors. It’s very hard for an older actor to get a break. The older aspiring actor must be very well trained.
Ms. Paul states, "It is very difficult to enter the business as a teenager or young adult. You need to be drop dead gorgeous, very talented and/or extraordinarily unique to get a part as a teen or young adult newcomer.” Customarily all the teen and young adult parts go to “old timers”, actors who started when they were very young children and are extremely well seasoned.
It doesn’t seem fair that it is so hard to break into the industry if you don’t have the experience. You have to understand that there are literally thousands of dollars being spent per minute on the set, and an untrained or unruly actor can cost the producer a fortune, or worse, cost both of them their jobs.
The bottom line is - Training, Training, Training, and Workshop, Workshop, Workshop.
Becoming an actor is the same as becoming a lawyer, only more demanding, and there is no middle class. It took Harrison Ford twenty years of supporting himself with set construction to become an “overnight success”.
If you don’t pay the dues, going to workshop religiously every week and doing any and all free jobs you can snag to build your resume, you will not float to the top.
GO FOR THE GOLD
Think of it this way, if you want to be a track star you have to run every day, if you want to be an actor you have to act as often as possible.
The average actor will never have enough jobs or auditions to stay polished. There is little feast; mostly there is famine. During the slow times it is imperative that the skills be kept fluid with workshop.
As we will discuss later, stage is the exact OPPOSITE of film, television and commercials.
If the actor has extensive stage background, this very often is viewed as a NEGATIVE on the film and television resume. If you play soccer, you don’t train for baseball. If you want to be a film or television actor, DON’T train for stage. Stage requires very big acting; film and television require great subtlety.
It is possible to be successful in both realms, but the training is completely opposite. Think of stage as football, and television and film as figure skating. They are completely different worlds.
WHAT TO DO FIRST
The common misconception is that the first move is to get an agent. Then the agent will get your actor a bunch of auditions, and a bunch of work. This is absolutely WRONG. Here is the proper schedule of events:
1. Acting Coach/Workshop
The exception is the infant. Obviously, training is not an issue, but socialization is. If you are frightened in a crowd of strange people, don’t become an actor. If you are a fussy, cranky person, don’t become an actor. You’ll hate it
If you exhibit the “free spirit” described in the last chapter, then first you must get the proper training. Think of it like ice-skating or track.
If the actor is not properly trained he will fall flat on his face and embarrass everyone. An agent will certainly not sign him, unless he is extraordinarily gifted. This is not usually the case. Usually he’s just a nice guy (girl) who wants to be an actor.
FINDING A COACH
When you decide that an acting career is the direction you want to go, the first and most important move is the acting coach.
Unfortunately, the perception is to be an actor you first must have and agent. This is wrong. The actor must first be trained. THEN seek out an agent.
The most affordable training is in high school and Jr. College. Most now have great TV and Film departments.
The best way to find a good acting coach is to check with several reputable talent agents in your area. Call and ask if they can recommend a workshop for your age actor. Make sure it is an agent that represents your age.
Be sure to tell the agent that you will call for an audition for when the coach says you are ready. They will be amazed at how savvy you are. They may even remember you.
When you call, don’t insist on speaking to the agent directly. If they are not available the receptionist is fully capable of giving you the information you need.
Be appreciative, courteous. The entertainment industry is a very small town. There is nothing more entertaining than discussing “psycho wanna bees”. Word gets around fast.
You must look around your community and find the best coach you can to train you in the art of auditioning. No matter how good an actor you are, if you don’t have auditioning skills you will never get a chance to act.
THEATRICAL V.S. FILM
A common misconception is that theatrical training prepares an actor for film. IT DOES NOT!
Live stage coaching is a detriment. You must understand that in theatre an actor must project sound and expression to the back of the theater. He must be big, loud, very exaggerated.
In film the camera is as close as six inches away. It is the opposite; everything must be understated, subtle. Low key. If you move six inches you could disappear from the picture.
You can accomplish with a 1/4” move of the eyebrow what it takes great-exaggerated body movement to convey in the live theater onstage.
Many actors who are successful in the Theatre wish to move into film. They need to re train themselves just as an athlete who plays football must completely re train to figure skate.
Unfortunately, sadly, many actors think that because they are the darlings of their local Theatre Company they will be the darlings of film. Not unless they retrain themselves. They have to “woodshed”.
Most theatrically trained actors hit a brick wall when they get feedback from their first film auditions. “Way too big, sorry.”
The first step is to find a Drama school, workshop or community theatre group that that offers “on camera” acting classes. Start here PRIOR to looking for a professional coach. These classes will bring you up to the level of skill that is acceptable to a professional coach.
At the second level, when you have your basic on camera training, you now will need to move up to a professional acting (on camera) coach.
In looking for a professional on camera acting coach you will want to find one who is coaching WORKING actors. Do not go to a modeling school, unless the actor wants to be a model.
If a school touts themselves as strong in film, ask them for a list of WORKING actors they have trained. Call that actor’s agent and ask for a reference on the school. Anyone can say they trained someone; you need to verify the credits.
It is not uncommon for coaches to take credit for training a performer if they only gave a single one hour session. There is a vary famous vocal coach who uses this tactic.
The most reliable way to be referred to a good acting coach is to call a reputable talent agent in your area (get a list from the Screen Actor’s Guild in Los Angeles or New York) and ask for the name of a few coaches they respect.
Tell them that you are interested in acting and you would like to go to a good coach prior to seeking an agent. This will give them a real buzz. Rarely are “newbie” actors that smart.
Until you have been with a coach for a few months DO NOT ask for an audition with a talent agent. When you are good enough, the coach will tell you, and they help you get an audition with an agent or two. You will come in the door with the recommendation of a person the agent respects. And, more importantly, you will be well trained, ready to enter the fray. You will be a “contendah”. You will be very powerful.
When you are ready to present yourself to agents, your coach will be happy to help. Your success will get the coach more clients, so the coach is very motivated to help promote their talented well trained actors. It gets them more work!
A reputable acting coach will charge from $150 to $500 per month for acting workshop. This is a must for all serious actors.
Private coaching sessions cost in the range of $75 to $200 per session. Private coaching is done by the actor’s coach, prior to an audition. Generally the workshop classes are one night per week. NEVER pay for more than one month at a time.
Watch other actors in your coaching classes, you will learn as much as they do. You will also be able to compare you proficiency level against the overall class, you will know if you can make it yet or if you need more time. If you are worried about your skill, practice!
If you are not having fun and not cutting it, then back to the soccer. If you are really passionate, but feel you are not getting up to speed, you may want to change your coach. Maybe their technique is not “gellin” with you.
If you want to act in film, you also have to decide if you’re willing to uproot your family. (If you have one)
If you don’t live in an area where there is work in film you will have to move to the appropriate area. That would be Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, Montreal or Vancouver. The majority of all film work is there in North America, in that order.
WORST DOWNSIDE SCENARIO
When you find a good coach, you should train for a minimum of three months of weekly workshops prior to seeking an agent. That is the very minimum time required to get you up to speed and competitive.
Even after you get an agent you will want to work out weekly with your acting coach for the same reason, track stars work out to be in top form.
Even for the very successful actor, jobs are far and few between until you are very well established. If you don’t work out you will loose the skills.
If your agent has a coach they really respect, try them. Every different coach you work with will bring you new perspective and skill.
TVI Actor’s studio in Los Angeles and New York are great because they bring in many different talent agents, managers and coaches for the actor to work .TVI provides many other necessary services such as free casting director mailing labels and a roster of approved photographers.
To put it into perspective, an actress I worked with made $12,000 in the first quarter of a year. But the money was based primarily on work she had done in the last year. The first quarter of the next year she has had only one job.
But meanwhile she goes religiously to workshop every week. When she is called for an audition she is a well-oiled machine.
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