On Camera Workshops for Actors
When I became a member of the Casting Society of America (CSA) I was delighted to see, in our by-laws, that education was an acknowledged component of casting. There are guidelines of course. For example, taking a workshop with, a CSA is in no way a guarantee or a promise of a role in projects that we cast. We cast and we educate about the casting process as well as the acting process. Each casting director is unique in the way that they deliver their content. That said, there are really only 2 main workshops that I (and many others) offer for the camera outside of studying a particular 'method or technique': Auditioning Workshops and Scene Study Workshops. The Casting Director's Workshops Auditioning Workshops offer opportunities to continually hone and practice your audition skills. Since auditioning is the major way of booking a gig in film or tv, (and of course theatre) it is a good idea to attend auditioning workshops if you feel your technique needs developing, improving or both. I often advise Actors to take auditioning workshops from different 'casters' or coaches because we all have different ways of teaching and you might find a particular process or coaching style works better for you than others. You will also learn something different with each coach/casting director. That said one auditioning workshop does not an actor make! We expect a lot from other 'performers' such as atheletes; but sometime I get the feeling that people think 'anyone can act'. To that I would say anyone can memorise lines; the two are not the same. We expect athletes to continually hone their most basic skills, musicians too. It is the same for actors. I expect them to be in classes on a regular basis. My auditioning classes tend to include information in the following areas:
- Importance of marketing tools for Actors
- On line profiles in databases such as Actor’s Access, Casting Network, Casting Frontier, Breakdown Services.
- Headshots,Resumes and reels
- Understanding what the casting director sees as well as the ‘end users (producers)
- Protocol in auditions
- Understanding the differences between general auditions and producer callbacks
- On camera Auditioning with coaching and feedback from me
Auditioning Workshops include:
- CD POV (Casting Director’s Point of View)
- The Business of Acting
- Cold Reading
- Tips Tools Techniques for Auditioning
The Actor's Coach
Outside of my role as a casting director I am also an Actor's coach. I choose the term Actor's coach because I coach Actor's in the powerful art of being rather than in acting alone. My actor's process involves becoming conscious of the thoughts (primarily) that block them from connecting authentically with a scene partner or indeed, themselves. As humans, attempting being, we are not always conscious of the ingrained habits that control us as we blithely operate on auto pilot. Actors bring these auto-responses to the work. Being unconscious in never a good thing! It is what the Master of all theatre practitioners, Peter Brook, would call 'deadly'. If one is unconscious there is a deadness to their countenance. As an Actor's coach, I coax the actor into a state of awakening, so that they become a channel for the character and story. I provoke and entice them to 'open up', so that they are in a feeling zone, more than a thinking a zone; and so that they are alert but not 'amped up'. The actor-self, is a supremely intelligent being if it is recognised, respected and ushered forth in a conscious way. When the actor is in full possession of their senses, so to speak; they a become like a magnet for the scene partner and the camera. Scene Study Workshop offer opportunities to continually hone and practice your acting (or being) for the camera, and your scene partner This includes but is not limited to
- Cold reading
- Developing a character for a role
- Acting technique; Method, Chekhov, Meisner, Adler, Hagen,etc
- Working with the body, the breath and sense memory
- Work with the given circumstances.
- Girls on film/Guys on Film
- Scene Study - varying levels from beginners to advanced
- Developing a role/character for the camera
- Learning the acting techniques of specific practitioners as above.
If you are a professional Actor then you know how to decipher the language of acting workshops and what is being offered. If you are new to the business I would suggest starting with some basic level auditioning workshops. These give you a broad level understanding of the business. (I also encourage my professional actors to take a basic level class occassionally, in order to be reminded of the fundamentals of their craft) Once you have a grasp of the terminology you can begin to understand what direction you would like to study in. Do not be afraid to take the same acting workshops again. In fact I encourage it. There is always more to learn and the idea is not to simply amass information which is then regurgitated in the form of memorised lines. No!
The idea is to allow your self to unfurl so that you can embrace a role and let the camera capture both of you; in a single moment.
(Photograph from Z Nation Zombie School workshop and auditions. 600 participants took part in this workshop. 1163 extras were used in Z Nation which currently airs on Sy Fy #ZNation. #SyFy. 335 human, 828 zombies. Background casting director, Jennifer Gatts)