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ACTING TRAINING: COACHES AND TEACHERS

Remember your teachers and give them thanks in your Oscar acceptance speech. Besides my husband and children, these are the teachers I want to thank: Bill Kerr, Greg Quandt, Bob White, Rick Davis, Samantha Harper, Joan Darling, Steven Nash; current acting coaches Caryn West, Scott Sedita, Kimberly Jentzen; life coaches Dee Wallace, Wendy Haines and literature tutor, Chuck Rossman. The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. - William A. Ward Great teachers have always been measured by the number of their students who have surpassed them. - Don Robinson It takes many teachers in life to develop an actor. Following are teachers, tools, suggestions and recommendations that have helped me and others to develop our lives and careers. There are countless paths, and part of an actors job is to keep exploring new ones. You should always be studying. Your training will be a constant expenditure so dont skimp in this area. Your technique and acting knowledge will make you more employable. Choosing an acting coach is an important choice, but it is not a life or death one. Choose one, take a months classes, give it your all and then evaluate what you have learned. If youve improved and others in class have grown and improved, then stick with it. 45

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Acting Is Everything

Jerey Marcus, an inspiring acting coach, answers, Why train?


An athlete, musician or doctor would never ask such a question. If acting were such an easy career, why wouldnt everyone want to do it? Acting is a discipline that demands such skill, and yet, can be done without any. Of course, we can all act passionately and emotionally all by ourselves. But when the stakes are high and tension and self-consciousness creep in, we need techniques to fall back on in order to soar.

William H. Macy, when asked in Back Stage West about what kind of teachers actors should seek out, said, I believe that an actor is held in better stead if he doesnt rely on his talent. What you rely on is technique. Talent is given by God and theres no negotiating. Technique is something anybody can learn, and for a technique to be a valid technique, its got to be scientic. Its got to be repeatable. Its got to be testable. Thats what they should look for in a teacher. Eve Brandstein, Casting Director, Producer, Career Coach, says about choosing an acting coach:
I think you have to see a teacher work. You could have heard that this is the greatest teacher in the whole world and theyve taught some of the biggest names in the business, but if theres no chemistry, forget it. Some actors are better o in a negative situation and others in a positive one. One teacher says, Why do you bring that piece of s into class? Youre a terrible actor; who ever said you could act? And this inspires the actor to greatness. Another teacher says, That was beautiful work, but what about this? And that works for that actor. You have to nd out if the teacher and you are magical together.

Joan Darling, legendary acting teacher and director: Q: Should working actors still go to class?
If you nd yourself starting to be disappointed after you nish a job instead of feeling that you grew and things are wonderful and you cant wait to act againthen you should get into a class where the working on ones art is respected and you have fun. If you dont exercise your acting muscles at top capacity, youll lose them.

Q: What if an actor cant aord to study?


Find a teacher that you can apprentice yourself to. Or get other actors with the same desire and meet in your living room once a week. Ask a friend who knows about acting to conduct this workshop for you.

Section One: Acting Training: Coaches and Teachers

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Larry Moss, respected acting coach, when asked about acting teachers in a Back Stage West interview, said:
I believe that the aim of a teacher should be to help the individual students nd the tools to realize their greatest potential. When you try to teach from a singular point-of-view or method, youre going to hurt the student.

About the expense of acting classes.


I have actors who hold down two jobs in order to take class. I think that your education as an actor is something that you pay for because you care about it. Its like therapy. I had a therapist who once said to me, If you dont think enough of yourself to pay for therapy, how do you think youre going to get well? I dont think the classes would be as productive for the students if they werent making some sacrifices. I dont think that life is about getting it easy. I dont think being an artist is easy. I think you get to earn things in life.

Cherie Franklin, actress, acting coach and well-known dialogue coach on feature lms and television: Q: What should an actor gain by working with a coach?
The value of working with an acting coach on an ongoing basis is this: they can oer a safe environment that can allow you to reveal your fears and bring your work to a place where you can face your truths. This work state will invite you to trust in yourself, creating condence and steering you clear of self-sabotage throughout your journey as an actor.

Q: Who is your ideal student?


One who is committed to excellence, to daily homework, to investigating his emotional levels, to understanding his blocks, and understanding what he does and doesnt do well. Someone who wants to be the best actor they can be, who is willing to do all that it takes to get what they want. Homework might include journal work to discover emotional blocks, practicing cold reading, vocalizing, the reading of a play, seeing a TV show or a new directors work and so on. Bottom line, an actor should remember that perfect is an end state. Therefore, as actors, we have the privilege of becoming a better craftsman with each new day, whether working on set or at home. We can continue learning and advancing as the business changes.

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Acting Is Everything

SECTION TWO PICTURES AND RESUMES HOW TO TAKE GREAT PICTURES


Your 8x10 pictures put you into the acting business; they are your most important career marketing tools. An 8x10 picture or a small online image is usually your rst introduction to the people who will be calling you in for interviews and auditions, and casting you in their productions. You must have pictures, they must look like you, and you must like them so you never have to apologize when handing them out. Color pictures are recommended when submitting for castings in Los Angeles. Black and white pictures are used for specialized submissions. Agents, casting directors, producers and directors will arrange to meet you because of something they see in your eyes, attitude, look or style. An actor always brings an 8x10 picture to every interview; or at least has them available in the car. Actors at a higher casting level no longer bring a picture. Agents and managers send headshots to the casting oce electronically. Consider your photo shoot an important acting assignment. You will be investing a great deal of money, time and energy. Preparation is the key. To research various looks, characters and attitudes you can play, use the pictures from the websites, tear pictures out of magazine ads, watch shows, commercials and rent movies. Gather the appropriate clothes for these aspects of yourself from your wardrobe, thrift stores and new purchases. Dont borrow clothes; what you use for your photos will soon be your audition wardrobe. Have the clothing items altered, cleaned, ironed and ready. 146

Section Two: How To Take Great Pictures

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Here are recommendations from renowned photographer Ray Bengston for dierent looks to consider when shooting headshots.
Men
Scruy/Tough Guy: Unshaven, garage mechanic, criminal, grunge, undercover cop Business Man: Suit, power look, glasses Dad: Smiley, warm, casual shirt and khakis Sexy Leading Man: Best outt Goofy/Nerdy Guy: Grad school geek, Laptop/software whiz, witty techie

Women

Down and out/victim: No makeup or hair styling whatsoever Casual Mom: Smiley, warm Working Class: Blue collar look, earthy Secretary: Quirky, cute look, funny assistant Business Woman: Power suit, hard-edged, ice queen Sex in the City: Attitude, sure of herself Lawyer/Doctor: Nurturing professional

Your rst step is shopping for a photographer. Study the photographer websites in the following listings and on my website: JudyKerr.com. They use their best pictures in the latest Los Angeles styles on the sites. Look at the pictures of people who look like you. If you have blue eyes, check out the blue-eyed actors to see how the eyes look. How do they handle your gender, ethnicity and age bracket? If you are 18, dont look at the 30-year-olds. If you are 40, dont look at the 20-year-olds. If you are a woman, dont look at the mens shots. Print out shots that you would like to achieve for yourself. Narrow your photographer choices down to three and interview them. The photographers personality and environment are very important. You must feel comfortable in order to take the risks of letting the camera see inside you. Certain personalities click with our own and others make us uncomfortable. Your instincts will tell you what feels right. Dont ignore your gut feeling and go with someone because all your friends got great shots or the photographer is famous. The price for a photo shoot can be from $150 to $900 plus makeup for women and also men who need it, though some photographers do their own. My students and I have obtained good pictures from photographers in all price ranges. If the picture helps you get interviews, it has done its job. Pictures are one of your biggest expenses and greatest payos. This is the place to use a good percentage of your available promotion dollars.