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Still Frames in My Mind
I’ve been collecting pieces of previous work, and while searching for movie posters, a still frame flashed in my mind…
It was your average sub zero day in Minnesota and coincidentally, I was working on an indie feature called “Thin Ice“.
The film stars Greg Kinnear, Lea Thompson, and Alan Arkin to name a few.
There were other key players, but these were the few I happened to work with.
I was working as an extra at the beginning of the day, but fortunately, it transitioned into a featured role as a real estate agent working across from Lea Thompson.
If you’re a bit younger and unsure who Lea Thompson is, she’s been a Hollywood player since the early 80’s.
She played Michael J Fox’s mom in “Back to the Future” and also had a successful sitcom, “Caroline in the City“, throughout the 90’s.
Anyway, while waiting in wings, I was discussing the industry with another actor when Lea walked passed us into the restroom.
We continued to talk and a random PA started fumbling with the shoddy restroom door. Suddenly it burst open, and there she was… sitting on the pot.
She was completely covered, but I can’t tell you how awkward the moment was. We were like deer in headlights and it felt like eternity. -AWKWARD-.
The guy quickly apologized and shut the door, while my colleague and I thought, “that poor s.o.b. just lost his job”.
Fortunately, Lea was totally cool and said it was nobody’s fault. She said, “the door was janky and shit happens”. That’s humility folks… what a trooper.
Anyway, I love sharing my stories on set… come back next Thursday for another throwback.
The Groomsman by Nick Hansen
Last week I had the pleasure of working with Nick Hansen on his latest TV Pilot, “The Groomsman“. We previously worked together on his short film “Ostensibly“, last Spring.
For this project, he asked me to play a bit part as the restaurant owner who trips and falls while escorting the lead actress, Abby Arrowsmith, to her table.
Although I was only on set for a little while, the production was top notch. His team seemed to be in tune with one another and everything ran smoothly.
This will be Bashan Creation‘s (Nick’s production company), first foray into the romantic comedy genre, but I have a feeling they’ll knock it out of the park.
If you’re interested in supporting and learning more about the project, check out the kickstarter page HERE.
5 Great Self Tape Audition Tips
A little over a decade ago, the self taped audition started making an appearance. With today’s accessible technology, it is more prevalent than ever.
In fact, I’ve never even met my Des Moines based agent, Steve Meyers, in person. We had a Skype interview a few years back and I’ve been self taping auditions for him since.
Anyway, I recently attended an audition workshop at Agency Models and Talent and my agent, Charles Hubbell, went in depth on the process of self taping.
He gave us some key takeaways that might seem obvious, but he said that actors continually make the same mistakes…
1) Stand in Front of a Blank Wall or Screen.
We reviewed several auditions that had distracting items in the background. It’s best to just find a solid colored wall (or use a screen or sheet).
As far as color, it’s preferred to have a muted white, blue or grey. These colors help the performer pop out in front so all the focus will be on him/her.
Speaking of distracting items in the background, we also noticed harsh shadows in a few of the videos. I suggest getting an affordable lighting kit from Amazon. I use this set all the time and it works wonders.
2) Shoot the Video Landscape vs. Vertical
This should be common knowledge, but make sure to shoot your self tapes landscape (aka horizontal). Many casting directors still receive vertical auditions… If you send one in, you will come off as an amateur. DO NOT SHOOT VERTICAL. -NO EXCEPTIONS-.
3) Use a Tripod
You should always use a tripod. ALWAYS. We watched some handheld auditions, and although they tried to steady the camera, there’s always some shake, and it distracts from the performance.
You can get a decent tripod for under 30 bucks retail, or you can try your luck finding a used one at a thrift store. That’s what I did. I found a heavy duty tripod for 8 bucks at a local Goodwill.
If you’re using a cell phone to tape your audition, then you’ll need a cellphone mount for your tripod. They’re pretty cheap. THIS is the one I’m currently using.
4) Use A Reader
If your sides include dialogue, use a reader! Not just any reader, try to find a decent actor. A bad reader can really ruin the audition tape… I’ve had the unfortunate luck of using family members and it really didn’t do any good.
If you don’t have a reader with you, you can get another actor to read with you via Skype. Check out THIS Facebook Page. There are tons of actors in this group willing to Skype in and read with you.
Make sure to pay it forward and help other actors by reading for them. It’s a great way to network as well as get some extra practice.
5) Memorize Your Lines
If you have the time, I suggest you memorize your lines. It’s not required, but if you’re off book, it’ll give you freedom and the ability to be in the moment.
You’ll be able adjust your performance in a natural, conversational way, and it’ll come off as honest and real. This is the foundation for giving a solid audition.
If you like these tips, make sure to subscribe to our monthly newsletter. You’ll be the first to know about new posts and get the inside scoop on the indie film world. See you on set!
ACTORS ON CAMERA WORKSHOP
This past weekend I attended the “Actors On Camera” workshop with local Filmmaker Andrew Hunt.
Andrew is a well known director in the area and teaches production and screenwriting at IPR, the college of creative arts.
It was good to see the film making process from another person’s perspective… especially from someone as experienced as Andrew.
I learned a great deal about performing for the camera, taking direction, and adjusting my performance for the edit.
In the first half of the class, I performed an assigned scene from the 1940’s film “Gaslight”. We were given direction for 3 different takes and the scene below was cut from the 3.
See if you can tell the difference in the edit:
If you’re interested in learning more about Andrew and these workshops, you can visit the IPR website HERE.