Tips for Young Actors

From Camper to Capable

Post #2 

Hey YAC campers, past and present!

We’ve just received another update from our past camper, and here’s what she’s up to…

 

Hey guys!

I’m feeling so good today! Last week I finished workshopping a play with a world-renowned theatre company (for legal reasons, I’m not allowed to say which), and it went so well; I had so much fun, met the greatest actors, and learned a wealth of information.

You know, involving myself in this production has reminded me of how much I love theater, and the work that goes into ripping apart a play and finding the truth in a character. It’s funny, the work we did also reminded me so much of my conservatory group at YAC: a small group of devoted actors, working to bring a scene, a character to life truthfully. In fact, we even participated in an exercise where you stand up on your own volition, proclaim that you ‘have something to say’, and repeat this phrase until it’s true. I know it sounds a little odd, but the results are incredible! While I personally needed a bit of prompting from the director, in the end this gave me such a sense of emotional freedom and validation, and I felt completely secure and able to give myself to the character, fully… I can still remember the first time I ever did this at camp! I’ll always keep that with me, and call on this exercise when I have trouble letting go and emotionally connecting to a character.

As for any upcoming work, episodic season is beginning to wind down, and the holidays are upon us! You know what means—a drastic slowdown in auditions and productions. Ugh! I’m gunna get antsy with no auditions for a few weeks! But, at the same time, I think it’ll be good to take a break and relax, maybe go to a workshop, see a play or two downtown, catch up on seeing movies J That’s something I also haven’t forgotten from my time at YAC—that in order to be the best actor you can be, it’s important to not only stop and relax, but to also enjoy other actor’s works.

I love not only watching movies and seeing plays that inspired me, and continue to inspire me, but looking for new inspiration in current work. In fact, I channeled an actress by the name of Mariann Mayberry in an audition last week, all because I saw her in play less than a month ago. In the end, the casting directors brought me in for a callback because of that! So, thank you Mariann!

Oy! Speaking of the holidays, afterwards comes pilot season! I personally am making the move back to LA, so I’ve got a lot to plan. Thankfully though, my team is very supportive and has already begun to help me in my preparations to get back out there, and hopefully stay. Currently, we’re working on narrowing down the teachers I could possibly train with—there are many great ones out there, and even as a working actor, you must stay tuned up!

Before I go, I just wanted to quickly thank everyone at YAC: I wouldn’t be where I am, heading back out to LA in just a few months, if it wasn’t for what I learned, the friendships and connections I made, and everything in between.

You guys are the best, and I’ll always be grateful for you!

Alrighty, I’m off to buy tickets for a new play.

Until next time  :)

 

Congrats on the workshop!

Keep up the great work!

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As young actors of today’s generation, you have the ability to audition for casting directors in Los Angeles and NYC, without even leaving your home! Yes! You have the opportunity to put your learned YAC on-camera skills to work! But, when self-submitting, there are many technical and artistic traps to fall into, with these five being the most prevalent:

1. Auditioning on video is different than auditioning in person in more ways than just the technical considerations. You don’t get to have that brief interaction with the casting people in the room, and they don’t get to gauge your demeanor, your personality as you walk in. (Both of these things could work in your favor!) More importantly, you are expected to submit a stumble-free video audition, since you have the opportunity to record several takes. In person, if you blow a line or lose your place, you’re not faulted nearly as hard. So, make sure your videos are as good as they can be!

2. Video auditions should be shot in close-up. Most casting directors will tell you that they’re looking to see the life in your eyes when you read for a part. On a video that will be played back in a small rectangle on a computer screen this is best demonstrated by shooting from the clavicle up. Why does that matter to you, the actor? Because you must be unnaturally still! Any head movement in a tight frame will look like you’ve just mainlined caffeine, or worse. Not pretty. Even wildly emotional, action scenes must be kept in that small frame, with very little physicality.

3. When filming, do not look away from your reader, even if the sides call for it, even if you’re supposed to be speaking to more than one person. The moment you look away is a moment the casting director cannot see your eyes, and it’s the moment they loose interest in your audition. While it may feel unnatural, it’s important to remember that taped auditions are special in their own right, which calls for special circumstances and practices.

4. Make a choice to focus on what you want your reader/scene partner feel in the scene! If you do that, you’ll be setting the viewer up to feel those same emotions, thus creating a connection, creating authenticity. This is what makes casting want to see more of you, which is what gets you a callback. In some sides, this may feel unnatural, and when this is the case, make a choice that allows for a refocus on the person that isn’t your character. Then, if you’re brought into the actual casting room, with the casting director, producers, director and so on, then you can shift the focus so the scene is more natural.

3. Shoot the audition from a seated position. It doesn’t matter what the character is doing. You will perform better (i.e., be more still) if you have both feet solidly on the floor and your butt on a chair. No one watching the video will know whether you were seated or not.

4. Do not fall into the trap of recording your audio on the built-in mic on the camera. There are many inexpensive solutions to this problem, and you are not to be forgiven for not taking advantage of them. Recording your voice to the on-board mic, even from just a few feet away, is the equivalent of submitting a faded black and white headshot – with jelly smudges on it. Not good.

5. Make sure your contact information is part of the video itself. You should always have your name and contact info on the video itself to make sure you’ll never be the answer to the producer’s question: “Who is this actor that we almost called in for our last project, but who would be great for our next one? I’ve got her audition right here, but the file name is Rejecteed_BR_Untitled9087.mov.” You don’t want to loose out on a part just because of a silly thing like this!

 

Happy Acting!

As a new, budding young actor, an agent may not be the best thing for you to invest your time in… yet. Here are five reasons having an agent might not be a good move at this point:

1. You’re not ready to act professionally. Ouch! I know, that might sound a bit harsh, but just remember! Everyone starts out like this. If you’ve only just started out in your acting classes, or have no training to speak of, that’s a sign that you’re most likely not ready. When auditioning professionally, there is a standard that must be met and is expected, but how can you know this unless you’re taught? You can’t! That’s why it’s important to continue training, until both you and your teacher agree that you’re capable of handling the professional world. Until then, why waste the time, energy and money to find an agent? But, if even then you still feel like you should be auditioning and want to submit yourself without an agent, you can do so by visiting the many acting websites dedicated to open calls and self-submission tapes, such as Now Casting, Actors Access, Cast It Talent, and more.

2. You have little to no acting credits. Before you and your parent drop that bundle of headshots and resume into the mailbox, do you ever wonder why exactly an agent would be interested in you? Most actors just do it and pray that something will spark their interest, but why don’t we even know what might ignite that spark? How can we possibly be sold, when we don’t know what we have to offer? If you don’t know what you have to offer, aside from perhaps your looks, you have nothing to offer. Regardless of headshots, reel, and general look, you have to have credits. The main criteria for any job is experience, and in the case of acting, credits. If you have not done any work, you are not a professional actor so why would you be trying to get represented by a professional agent? Try gaining a couple of credits first, train, hone your craft, make connections, and agents will be far more receptive to you.

3. An Agent’s Reputation & Your Funds. An agent gets paid 10 percent, taken from your paycheck after a day’s work. Not only is that money being taken from you (which you want to save for training, workshops, new headshots, and anything you’ll need as a new actor), but that also means that an agent is not going to put their reputation on the line trying to convince a casting director that you’re so right for a role, until they are sure you are the next Dakota Fanning or Josh Hutcherson. When you find an agent, you want them to be one of your biggest cheerleaders, because they know how amazing you are! Why sign with anyone else? Wait, and you’ll be rewarded with a great team.

4. An agent can’t change the person you already are. A common phrase you may see or hear when potentially looking for an agent without the above ‘it factors’, is “developmental talent”; this means that the agent is interested in just that, developing you, helping you grow as an actor into your full, professional self. But, despite seeing and hearing this, in reality, no one truly wants to develop talent. That’s like gambling blind with really long odds and very little to gain. They would rather have someone signed that knows what they’re doing, has training, maybe some good credits, a good look, and so on. Agents and managers are happy to sell you, but they have to know what they are selling and it needs to be more than a headshot.

All of this may seem a bit pessimistic, discouraging, but don’t be! Don’t be disappointed! As a young, beginning actor, no one expects you to have it all just yet; you’re learning, developing your craft, skills, and who you are as a person, and that’s more than great J. Of course, don’t let being young stop you! Go after your dreams, take classes, workshops, attend YAC, where you can take classes covering topics such as these, on-camera classes, and more!

 

Happy Acting!

There are many things that can be disputed in the entertainment industry, but one thing that cannot be challenged is this: actors who can’t audition are not likely to have a future.

But don’t panic! We’re here to help! But remember, while these steps will help you stand out, it’s important to continue your training, honing your craft as an actor, which you can do by taking auditioning classes, or attending a camp like YAC, where classes specifically pertaining to auditioning are offered!

Pretty nifty, huh?

Prior the Audition:

Firstly, let’s talk about the basics: get a proper amount of sleep the night before, have your lines memorized, dress appropriately, and have your headshot and resume ready to go. Now, attitude; you have to walk into that room prepared, without a care in the world. Auditioning is an opportunity to act, and that’s the one thing you love most, right? So don’t worry about booking the job or getting a callback. Just focus on giving a good performance. If you can do that, you’re already halfway home.

It’s very common for actors to freak out when arriving at the casting director’s office, to find 10 other actors who look just like them. Or on the flip side, actors are often stunned when everyone else is a different ethnicity, or age range. But the question here is, who cares? None of those people are your concern. The audition is about you, not them. So keep your focus and don’t allow made-up anxiety to get in your way.

Here’s something else you need to know. Agents don’t expect clients to book when they send them out on auditions. Now of course, bookings are a good thing, and your agent wants you to succeed, always, but auditions aren’t always about getting hired. They truly just want you to do well so the casting director will become a fan and start bringing you in on a regular basis. The more that happens, the more likely you are to become a working actor.

Remember, casting directors want you to do a good job. They want to be impressed. If an actor nails an audition, they’re that much closer to being done with the part.

Here’s a great quote from acting coach Ian Tucker: “They are dying for you to blow them away. They’re on your side. What do you think—they want to go through hundreds of people and settle? No. Just do what you do. Either you’re right for the part or you’re not—let them decide.”

After the Audition
:

When you’re done, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask if the casting director has any notes. If the answer is yes, listen carefully and make the adjustment. If the answer is no, say “Thank you” and leave the room respectfully. The audition is over.

On the way home, it’s a good idea to go over the performance in your head. Congratulate yourself on what you did right, and make a note of what you can do better if there’s a callback. But don’t obsess, and please don’t beat yourself up for tiny mistakes no one noticed! You’ll do much more harm than good. Again, the audition is over.

And there ya go! If you follow all of these steps, you’re already a head above the rest! Look at you go!

Now, the sad truth about the business of acting is that you will spend more time looking for work than actually working. That’s why it’s so important for you actors to enjoy their auditions. And that process begins when you first hear about the audition, not the moment you say your first line.

Happy Acting!

From Camper to Capable

Post #1

Hey YAC campers, past and present!

We’ve just checked in with our past camper, and here’s what she’s up to…

Hey guys!

Labor day has just ended, and I’m taking a much-needed break from all that’s been going on here!

I’m so excited to get back to LA, which may be as early as January, but I love being back in my home-city, Chicago!

These past few weeks have been very busy: it’s episodic season (the time of year when the episodes of many television shows are being cast and filmed; the series regulars were probably already cast during pilot season, occasionally some roles are re-cast, but for the most part the casting directors are now focused on casting co-stars, guest-stars, and recurring characters to fill out the episodes of their upcoming television season), and with six shows being shot here, I have what seems to be two to three auditions every week, PLUS going into my manager’s office to be put on tape for projects in LA and NYC. To say I’m exhausted would be a gross understatement… but simultaneously, I love what I’m doing. I have to remind myself of that sometimes, when my world feels particularly hectic.

But in the end, none of this feels like work, but play!

Thankfully though, I’ve found that if I take a least one hour a day to relax, listen to classical music, meditate, stretch etc., my auditions are much better! I’m focused, present, and I can fully embody the character. Coincidentally, this is something I was taught in the college conservatory program at YAC: to work out your own mind and body before you can fully take on another.

Aw, and now I’m missing everyone!

… Anyway, I’ve also discovered two new tricks that have allowed me to memorize more effectively, which is something I struggle with:

-Naps

Yep! This may surprise you, but research has found that when learning new material, it’s best to take a 20-minute nap afterwards, which helps solidify the information into your short-term memories. Personally, this is very effective, and I’m always sure to take these power naps when I have only a day to memorize scenes.

-Focusing on the character’s mind/why they say a line

If I put more energy into fully implanting myself into the mind of a character, consequentially helping me with why they say a line, it’s much easier to remember the lines. The way I see it, words are just words, and when words are just words, they’re much harder to remember. But when they have meaning, and that meaning makes sense to me, the memorization comes easier.

Hopefully these tips are just as effective for you as they are for me!

Oh! I just found out that I have a callback scheduled for next Monday! Ahhh! Okay, this means I need to add it to my schedule, wear the same outfit I wore to the original audition, re-print a resume and headshot, go over my scenes again, and do a bit of research on the director and producers I’ll be meeting…

So much to do!

Okay, I’m off—Until next time!

Get it, girl!

Keep up the great work :)

It seems that many young, aspiring film actors believe they can’t begin their career until they’ve moved to Hollywood, which, of course, means after they’ve graduated. Yet this notion couldn’t be farther from the truth. Many of today’s biggest movie stars began their acting training in local Thespian Troupes and high school drama departments.

Acting for the stage and acting for the silver screen are not two entirely separate crafts; there are many skills that are common to both efforts. Thus, if you’re a young actor of any kind, the best thing you can do while completing your vital high school education is to get as deeply involved in local theatre as possible. The stage could very well be your ticket to the studios.

Casting directors look for child and teen actors with ample stage experience, while universities look for applicants who are dedicated to extracurricular activities, clubs and the International Thespian Society (more about ITS in tip seven).

So here are seven ways to utilize high school and local theatre programs to hone your craft and develop your confidence, to help prepare you a killer college application and to build an impressive acting resume that could open the right doors for you in Hollywood.

1. If you’re not already taking drama classes at school, sign up for theatre immediately.

Learn everything you can about acting techniques for the stage. By becoming a well-trained theatre actor, you will take direction more easily, understand cues and impress casting directors at film auditions.

2. Join any afterschool drama clubs available at your school.

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that universities look for students who have been deeply involved in extracurricular activities. By joining your theatre or drama club, you will not only get to work with other young actors and immerse yourself in the acting world, you will also be significantly improving your college application. And chances are, if you love acting, you’ll have a ton of fun in your high school drama club!

3. Audition! Try out for as many plays as your schedule will allow.

It doesn’t matter if you’re not immediately cast as Romeo or Juliette. If you’re auditioning, practicing and participating in your high school plays, you are learning to act – which is the name of the game.

So get out there and be bold! After you’ve auditioned a few times (and played a few roles!) you’ll begin getting comfortable with theatre. Learning to memorize lines, understanding scripts and becoming a confident stage actor will only help you when it comes time to audition for film.

4. Learn everything you can about performing on stage… and what goes on backstage.

Becoming a great actor also means becoming an expert in the drama industry. It’s not enough to simply deliver your lines and know your placement. To set yourself above the rest of the world’s fierce competition, you must try to understand all that goes into stage production: lighting, sound, direction, music, casting and set, costume and makeup design.

The more you know, the more successful you will be once you do reach Los Angeles. Hollywood directors are hungry for young actors who have already learned the ropes of stage acting and whom they don’t have to handhold through the process of learning film acting. So set yourself ahead of the pack and become an informed, knowledgeable thespian.

5. Research the theatre companies and acting schools in your town – and get involved!

One of the worst things you can do is to limit your acting possibilities by telling yourself you are only a “film actor”. Above all, movie-casting directors love versatile, adaptable, well-trained and intelligent young actors. So do your best to become one!

Be diligent in your investigation and look up regional theatre directories at your local community center and cultural affairs office. Keep up with the arts and culture section of your local newspapers and magazines to stay informed on the various workshops and events available to thespians in your area.

Then don’t hesitate to go to these venues and introduce yourself to whoever is in charge of the play. If they’re not looking for young actors at the moment, at least they’ll know you’re available if a part does come up. And you can always volunteer to help backstage! By getting involved anyway that you can, you’ll continue to learn about acting and production.

6. Participate in your area’s community plays and theatre festivals.

You’re already staying up-to-date on all of the film festivals and movies being shot in your area… right!?! (If not, you should be!) So do the same for all of the stage acting opportunities for thespians, too. Again, don’t limit your acting possibilities by claiming you’re only a “film actor” – just be an actor! Take a part whenever and wherever you can.

This might even mean volunteering at a Renaissance Fair, at a Shakespeare Festival, at a kids puppet show at the public library, during Christmas at your church or even at a convalescent home to cheer up the elderly.

Everything that you can get involved with now will not only look great on your college application and your actor’s resume, it will help you further develop into a brave, competent and talented actor. Without those three traits, making it in Hollywood will be nearly impossible. So start honing these skills today!

7. Once you’ve completely immersed yourself in all of the theatre acting possibilities at school and in town, apply to your high school’s International Thespian Society troupe.

The International Thespian Society is a prestigious honorary society for grades 9-12; and membership is earned through a point system. There are over 3,600 troupes in the U.S., Canada and abroad. The mission of the ITS troupes is to honor student excellence in the theatre arts and to help further develop, support and educate young thespians.

Being accepted into ITS is the pinnacle of success for high school theatre actors. Membership will drastically help your college applications and set you up as a serious, well-trained actor – which again, Hollywood directors love and seek. To find out if you school has an International Thespian Society troupe, and to learn more about the membership point system, visit http://schooltheatre.org/society.

So go forth young actors and find out everything you can about your school and community theatre programs. Don’t merely wait to move to Hollywood “someday” to begin your acting career. Start today and get involved!

So – what is Pilot Season?

First, a “television pilot” (also known as a “pilot”, “pilot episode”, and “series premiere”) is an inception episode of a television series. At the time of its inception, the pilot is meant to be the “testing ground” to see if a series will be possibly desired and successful and therefore a test episode of an intended television series. It is an early step in the development of a television series. This early work is when casting is given the green light to use more unknowns / new talent than any other time of year.

“Pilot Season” in Los Angeles has been traditionally known as very specific months of casting for these pilots, February through April.

Young Actors Camp is in our 8th year of housing young actors for a two month stay, February 15th – April 15th so that they can pursue work and train in the Los Angeles area full time.

What are the living conditions?

Young Actors Camp has secured three apartments on the Oakwood’s- Toluca Lake site, a complex that houses thousands of child actors and their parents/nannies from all over the world. Each apartment will have a nanny in one room and three kids in another. The apartment complex is GORGEOUS! It has tennis courts, swimming pools/spas, gyms, and even a store. It’s more like a resort.

Who chooses the Nanny and what are her responsibilities?

Even though the Nanny is interviewed by the Directors of the Young Actors Camp, the parents will be given the same applications that we am provided. We will discuss the interviews with parents and explain why I feel one applicant over the others is better suited for the job. The Nanny is responsible for getting their kids to/from acting classes and auditions, and of course for the overall care of each child.

What is the responsibility of the child?

The children will be responsible for cleaning, maintaining school work to the highest standards and keeping proactive in the submitting themselves for auditions under the guidance of YAC. Each apartment will have a schedule board so their classes and auditions are marked for transportation. Each apartment will have a schedule for cleaning.

What about school?

The Oakwood Apartments has a school on the site. The kids walk to the next building. This situation is more like a tutor helping with homework. Based on the arrangements with the home school, homework maybe collected from the school by parents and sent to your child or they may assign all work before the child departs for California. The tutors are state licensed teachers capable of helping with the most difficult assignments. This is the same situation you will find on a studio set. The truth is, if your child has problems keeping their grades up at their home school this may not be the best move. On the other hand, this dream situation makes great leverage for better grades or they go home- your call. The Nanny will not be asked to get these teens off to school on time or check on completed assignments. They must be at least that responsible to participate in this program.

The Costs

The costs are all living expenses split between 3 families. The average in the last few years has been about $6500 for two months. (Nanny salary, apartment rental, tutoring service, and incidentals). This does not include acting classes, fun or food (food is purchased as a group weekly)

YOUNG ACTORS CAMP DOES NOT PROFIT FROM THIS PROGRAM.

Then why do we do it? This is what sets Young Actors Camp apart from any other acting camp in the world. We’ve provided an excellent summer training program, presented industry professionals to our young actors for inspirational discussions and then we send the actor back home with no possible way to purse the Los Angeles industry- not the case. Though the BEST situation is that a young actor is here with tier parent and NOT a Nanny, this is not always possible when the parent has a job or other children to care for. Young Actors Camp is committed to helping our young actors pursue their dreams to the furthest extent possible.

REQUIREMENTS TO PARTICIPATE: The actor must be between the ages of 12 to 18, have above average grades and have participated in a residential YAC program within the last two years. There are NO EXCEPTIONS to these requirements.

How do I secure my child’s place in the two month stay program?

Email our office immediately so we may note who is expressing interest. Just reply to this email. A $1500 deposit will be accpeted on a first pay / first secured in apartment basis. Small payments after your initial deposit can be made up to November 30th. EASY refunds are offered to November 30th. After November 30th NO REFUNDS are available.

For more information go onto the Young Actors Camp Temporary move link here, http://www.youngactorscamp.com/temporarymove.htm

To apply for Young Actors Camp 2012 summer programs in preparation for our Pilot Season stay 2013, open the application with special pricing here, http://www.youngactorscamp.com/app.htm. Please note that all three week and longer programs will begin a waiting list this week.