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Friday, 16 December 2011

How To Teach Workshop

NYT Workshop 2010

As Artists we should be constantly thinking of new ways to earn a living from our craft, so we don’t have to sadly end up back in the 9-5 Rat Race. Sometimes this can be at the expense of our career and eventually the end of it. (See Steve Pavlina). So in a bid to learn new tools and ways to make a living when not working, I went on a ‘How To Teach’ Drama Workshop, by Bryony Roberts (Old Vic New Voices) at IdeasTap this week.

I’ve always shied away from the teaching route, my ignorance as a youngster was such that I believed teaching was what failed Actors did. I was naive to how the acting industry actually works and at the time had very few bills to pay – I’m wiser now!

I must be frank, my degree is not in Drama and I have no PGCE. BUT I have been a professional Actor for over 10 years. I have a degree, which shows I am able to understand advanced education and I have been part of Theatre In Education, been part of workshops and classes – so why the hell not?

The following information is by no means an exhaustive list of how to take a drama workshop or what to expect, but for me and now hopefully for you it is a jump start into where to look for further advice, training and opportunities. This information was aimed at teaching Secondary School aged children, but can be a reference for all ages. All of the credit goes to Bryony Roberts and the Ideas Tap course.

Top Teaching Tips

Never Shout – Wait for silence
For as long as it takes. It’s worth it in the end. They will ALWAYS be louder than you!

Choose a ‘stop’ word
Decide a word with class that means stop what you’re doing I want to move on e.g. Freeze & give them a countdown before the stop eg. 1min left – 30 seconds.

Contracts/Rules
Set up your rules with the class early. Be clear on 3 rules that you insist on e.g. Hands up, only 1 voice at a time, ‘stop’ word. Longer projects can be more detailed. Homework expectations should be announced early and WHY.

WHAT/HOW/WHY
WHAT do you expect them to do? / HOW should they do it/ WHY are they doing it? (The most important one – for them to engage they must know why!

Pace is Vital
Pace NOT speeds but using rhythm and tempo. Your workshop should have shape and be a journey for the students. Quiet time can be as useful as busy time.

Friendly not Friend
You are the teacher. Be friendly but you are not their friend, you have a responsibility and ultimately authority if needed.  Use words like “would you” not “could you”.

Keep it varied
The key to keeping students engaged is a variety of activities – offer them a varied approach to your theme/topic/source material e.g. Activities, groups, short sharp exercises, longer exercises and discussions.

Make it new/ make it up!
Drama in schools is (generally) the same activities over and over again as teachers have to tick off the curriculum. As a visiting workshop leader or out of school club – give them something different! Think creatively. NO FREEZE FRAMES! Use task cards and active entrances.

Groupings
You should always be in control of the groupings. Try to think of imaginative ways to organise students into pairs/3’s/4’s which mean they work with different peers throughout. E.g. everybody wearing . . . Mix years and put youngest in charge as Director etc.

Listen to your students
If something has engaged them, be flexible with your plan allowing discussion to continue etc.

Stay Still!
If you’re giving instructions, be still and visible. This used to be my on camera problem. Fidgeting and pacing is distracting. Apparently it’s common with creative thinkers as we think kinetically – but

Student as teacher
Always get a young person to feed back a complicated instruction, they will usually articulate it better than you and will communicate it in an understandable way to their peers.

Names
If you haven’t caught the students name after they’ve said it twice, wait for someone else to say it and/or use ‘mate’ or something appropriately similar. Use labels.

Content/Aims
An hour of games is NOT a workshop. Everything you do should have a purpose. Choose at least 2 aims for the session to keep it focused and productive. E.g. purpose = for group to bond/engage/think abut . . . Aims = to explore devices used in play/ investigate characters flaws & how they bring disaster. Your aims don’t necessarily need to be explained to students, they’re your aims. Question ‘how does everything I’m doing lead me to this end point?’

Praise
Positive reinforcement is far more effective than telling someone off. Praise good behaviour to make it a sought-after way to behave. Don’t be too smiley! Let them earn your smiles.

Teachers
If you are taking sessions in school discuss expectations with teachers beforehand.
  • They should ALWAYS be in the room (or another supervising member of staff).
  • They should only discipline students if asked.
  • They should take an active interest in the workshop (not marking books), but should only participate if asked.

Discipline
Set up clear boundaries in the first 10 mins of the session (best time to get them). No shouting, no pointing, no threats. Create your own warning system e.g. 3 strikes etc and use it consistently. Remember that it is about the student’s not the student personally.  Inappropriate stuff: Get them to verbally explain what they are doing. They usually won’t and nip it in the bud. ZERO TOLERANCE FOR BULLYING.

You do know more than them
You are older and more experienced worldly – you will be more knowledgeable than them don’t panic.

Keep the mystery
For long term projects, value the ‘unknown’. Never give too much away until at least 3rd week. Respect from students often comes from them not being able to figure you out.

Planning
Always over-plan to prepare & take account of lulls/dead time. Know what you’re doing thoroughly – don’t just glance at your plan the night before.

Be passionate about what you do
When you enjoy it – they’ll enjoy it.

Legalities
Need Enhanced CRB check – get in touch with local councils for this.


As I said I've never facilitated a workshop alone and this is new to me too but hopefully from here you and I can research further and get out there and work. Good luck!


Useful Links



Bigfoot Arts Education



Chris Johnston books for workshop games & structure etc

Keith Johnson books for workshop games & structure etc

Teaching Assistant roles






Sunday, 20 November 2011

Money Matters


 locationproperty

I constantly urge serious Actors to join Equity. Any Actor who is entering into legal contract, signing dotted lines and receiving money SHOULD be a member of Equity. As many of you already know – because I shout it from the rooftops – Equity have been indispensible to me in the past. They have delivered me from the Devil himself. Without their legal backing and full knowledge of this dog eat dog industry I could have been a very sad and lonely person for a hell of a long time. They are well worth every penny.
Not only do they pack Legal clout, they provide a wealth of other perks and benefits for members. This week I attended a FREE course on Freelance Business Management and I cannot rate it enough! The course was called ‘Money Matters’ and was run by the FEU (The Federation of Entertainment Unions) http://www.feutraining.org/ .

The speaker (Stuart Worthington) managed to pack possibly a whole year’s worth of study into 6 hours. It would take me forever to try and reiterate everything he said but I will break it down as much as possible:

Aims & Objectives
As “Owner Managers” of our own business – be that ourselves as self employed performers or Theatre Companies we should decide what it is we want from our work and set specific and realistic milestones/objectives to meet. Stuart Worthington said it takes 5 years to stabilise (stabilise debt, put methods into motion) and 10 years to become successful (be free from debt and enjoying the fruits of your labour). Stuart seemed like a pretty switched on guy so who am I to disagree. His teaching method used his own personal experiences of self employment and he said things I’d heard before from reading The Secret (without being all “New Age”) and other Personal Development writers such as Steve Pavlina.


Budgeting/Cash Flow
This next part was harder for me personally to swallow. I don’t CARE about overheads and costs, I’m a Creative God damn it! Don’t we have people to deal with this for us? But my ignorant train of thought was soon left reeling after Stuart and a few other class members spoke of being left holding the ‘baby’ after leaving it all up to incompetent/negligent Accountants. Apparently, according to the Court, they don’t care if you paid someone to do your accounts/Tax. If they did it wrong or failed to do it at all, THE BUCK STOPS WITH YOU! And seen as I Self Assess my Tax every year I better get a damn handle on this money stuff and FAST!

He said there 2 types of self employed people. Exhibit A) The happy go lucky type(numpty) who goes from job to job, barely having a handle on their own finances, just living life as it comes. This would be me!

Exhibit B) The one who budgets and forecasts and knows which are good months and which are bad months. Who has a complete understanding of what is coming in and going out and can PREPARE for things in the future. This is what I want to be!

So here comes the maths (dread – but stay with me) We must budget and document everything that comes in, goes out and when. Do this monthly, 3 monthly and annually including your Gross and Net profit (If you don’t understand this see the useful links I’ve added at the bottom). What does each month cost? Have you broken even?  How much do you need to make in the next 6 months? Budgeting and looking at cash flow should allow us to both forecast for future months alongside the actual figures. Which areas are contributing and which are taking away? Where am I wasting money? There are iPhone/iPad/computer apps that can make all this very easy for us

Tax
This was my FAVOURITE bit #sarcasm.

Being a law abiding self employed person I file my Tax return every year (with help). I never understand it 100% but I have all my receipts collected over the year in a file under their various headings ready to be assessed and added to my allowable expenses – or not. I hand over my money and forget the whole nightmare until the following year. This I’ve learned is to be my downfall. We should embrace the tax return or at least get to understand it enough to see what we are entitled to or not.

With advice from Equity and the HMRC there are a whole host of things I could be claiming for that I never knew about, particularly vehicle allowable expenses (Not fuel or mileage).
Not only did it cover allowable expenses and such, but he explained our position when it comes to Tax and employers. Apparently we are SELF EMPLOYED when it comes to Tax but we are EMPLOYED when it comes to National Insurance (on Equity contracts). In Layman’s terms we deal with our own Tax but whoever employs us deals with our National Insurance. Equity are supposedly fighting this out in Court at the moment so keep your eye on this.

One very important issue came up and that was Tax when working abroad. I never knew this but depending on what foreign country you work in, you could be paying Tax both at the HMRC AND in that specific country. This is called Withholding Tax. He advised to investigate at the HMRC or F.E.U (Foreign Entertainment Unit of HMRC) whether that particular country is subject to or not and get a Withholding Tax Certificate at least 3 months before you travel. This allows Withholding Tax to be reclaimed.

National Insurance
This whole ridiculous debacle was cleared up for me once and for all. Again Actors we are SELF EMPLOYED when it comes to Tax but we are EMPLOYED when it comes to National Insurance (on Equity contracts).

The National Insurance classes were explained to me:

·         Class 1: Employee

·         Class 2: Self Employed (£5,135-£7,225 pa – this may change)

·         Class 3: Voluntary (Don’t have to pay N.I but still want benefits of e.g. Future State Pension – yes we can laugh later at that 1).

·         Class 4: Self Employed (£7,225.01-£42,475 etc)
We should not be paying Class 1, 2 and 4. Check which is relevant to you and TICK THE BOX ON THE SELF ASSESSMENT FORM THAT ALLOWS YOU TO ADJUST YOUR NATIONAL INSURANCE CONTRIBUTIONS IF ALREADY PAID.


VAT
The whole VAT issue is a long story but I will give relevant points.

There are 5 types of VAT that apply to items:
·         Standard
·         Exempt
·         Reduced
·         Outside Scope (e.g. out of EU)
I’m not yet VAT registered. Compulsory registration is £73,000 in last 12 months and sadly – let’s say it’s been a bad year.
However if you do the calculations and it looks beneficial and you may hit that mark soon, you can apparently do a “Mischievous Registration” in anticipation of hitting that mark.

What I didn’t know was any VAT registered person/business can claim back any VAT they’ve had to pay on items. So for example: I hire a vehicle for work. I pay 20% VAT. If I’m registered I can claim that VAT back in my VAT annual Tax return (a separate entity for your Tax Return). The only change I have to make is adding VAT onto my costs. However if you are being employed buy a VAT registered company they won’t care because they too can claim it back. If it’s starting to sound like a secret party for the boys – it’s probably because it is. All we need to do is get our budgeting right and in 10 years we’ll be at the party too! #Optimism

Tips
·     If you can have a separate personal Bank Account for you and your work (not necessarily a business account). Separate any incoming and outgoings to make bookkeeping easier.

·     Do any credit control or enquiring over the phone rather than in writing

·     Double check anything you’re unsure of with Equity or HMRC

·    Let the Tax Office know well ahead if there are going to be any major changes like LESS MONEY COMING IN.

·     Investigate in detail allowable expenses for Tax Return

·     Make a contract if going into business. Even if it’s a sibling or your best friend. A little bit of paper with expectations and a signature can save a whole heap of madness.

·     Get a programme to help with bookkeeping. They’re fairly inexpensive or even FREE on iPhone. After a while, one touch of a button and your whole budget is done.

·     Join Equity http://www.equity.org.uk/home/
`

Final Note
It is OK to get an Accountant to do your return if you feel more comfortable that way, but at least get an understanding of what’s happening with your finances so you can ask for a report/ copy of your return and it will make sense.


Useful Links

·         FEU Digital Learning Centre: http://www.feutraining.org/digital-learning-centre/

·         Intellectual Property Office: http://www.ipo.gov.uk/

·         London Freelance Rates Guide: http://www.londonfreelance.org/rates/owners/_nuj_lfb.html

·         HM Revenue & Customs: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/index.htm

·         Foreign Entertainers Unit (FEU) http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/feu/feu.htm





Monday, 31 October 2011

Top Sket

 shamelessmag

Sket: "Short for Sketel. Caribbean term for Super Ho" (Whore)

Sketel: "Caribbean Creole word for a class-less, tasteless, loose girl, who characteristically displays slutty, animalistic or beast like qualities."


With the new Film Sket due to come out in cinemas and Top Boy about to launch this evening I think it’s time I wrote this piece.

There’s been a lot of hype on Twitter and other Social Networking sites and it’s clear the audience are in 1 of 2 camps. You’re either in the camp of “Yes we love it, can’t wait to watch them both, how excellent”. Or you’re in the camp of “Why oh why do the media and Film Industry keep churning out these negative misrepresentations of our youth, with no counterbalancing alternatives”.
As an Actor my ‘World’ is very small. I know people that have worked in and on both productions. I know one of the leads in Sket and I know someone who worked on the Production of Top Boy. The problem is this. I know that both of these people are hard workers. They take their job seriously, they have both worked in this industry a long time and they are both excellent at their job. So when anticipating what’s to come from both productions I know that they will have been made to the highest quality and will both have the best Acting. But how constructive is it?

As an Actor there is a difficult decision to be made when taking parts. This is not Hollywood and most of us are not yet in a position to pick and choose our roles. We have to take what we are given and if the Tax Man is on your ass or the rents due, you better take whatever you can, be it the role of a prostitute or a gang member and you better smile and like it. That old saying “fake it till you make it” is definitely an unspoken understanding in the Acting world. For career progression, Actors (including me),  most definitely take what they can and act to their best ability, to eventually make a name for themselves so that they can then pick and choose roles more carefully.  But how constructive is it?


I think there was a need for ‘urban’ (hate that word) cinema. There was a need for gritty, ‘street’ drama. There was a yearning, definitely from my neck of the woods, to see people like us on screen. To see places like ours and to see lives like people we knew and then the flood came. We were inundated with gang crime, ‘urban’ life, drugs, violence, sex, poverty, guns, slang, addiction, more sex, disease, rebellion, hate, anger, more sex and we eat it up fast like a Sunday roast.
We loved it, we yearned for it, it was fresh, it was funny, it was ‘in your face’, it was shocking, and it was - depending on your background – our everyday life!! So we fed and they fed us and we fed until we got fat and the film industry got rich. But how constructive was it?

As an Actor your damn right the best roles are the horrible, mean, nasty, gritty roles. Who wants to be the romantic lead? Boring! So even I am not sure I could have turned down a role in either production. A) My Bank Manager wouldn’t allow it and B) no gonna lie – it would have been fun! But how constructive would it have been?
To break the illusion of cinema for just a quick minute. MOST of the Actors are not from the background they’re portraying. They’ve never been in a gang, they are middle class and never lived on an estate. They talk fairly posh normally and have never sold drugs, their body or anything else. Again it’s ACTING – PLAY. And most of the time they play it very well! But nonetheless it’s playing a fictional life very removed from their own or anyone else’s for that matter. The writers – not always, but often – are also middle class. Never actually experienced this kind of lifestyle themselves, but do a great job in research and produce sometimes brilliant pieces of heightened reality – drama.  But to what end?

Usually there is a storyline where the protagonist is in a world of hell. They have to assert themselves in some way, end up losing everything and learning a lesson and moving on. Many young people can relate to that and a positive end message leaves the audience fulfilled. But how true to life is this positive ending?
These past few years young people, especially the lower classes, have been demonised, targeted and stricken off by the Government and the Media. I’m no sociologist but I would say that this has in turn lead to the old self fulfilling prophecy thing. I don’t know, was it the chicken or the egg? Did our kids become bad 1st or were they pushed? Either way this constant barrage of negative representations in the media can’t be helping. Do I contribute to this as an Actor by taking roles that are negative representations? Probably. Is my bank balance at a level where I can take the moral high ground and refuse roles? Absolutely not! We all have to work, were all just trying to get by.


As an Actor my life is complete when I act so whatever the role I guess I’m going to be happy as long as I play it authentically and I’m sure the Actors in Sket and Top Boy feel the same. Is there blame to be dealt? Yes I guess so, on ALL sides. Actors could choose better. Writers could write more positively. Production companies could commission other types of writing. Audiences could demand other things and educate children on the difference between real life and screen life. I think we all have a part to play.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Change Your Accent Part 2


iphonewzealand
 
(This post was imported from an old blog):

So a strange thing happened after Part 1 of ‘Change Your Accent’. There was a HUGE controversy over a new children’s programme called ‘Rastamouse’. for those not in the know, Rastamouse is a mouse who happens to be Rastafarian) and he and his pals solve mysteries using intelligence and intellect. The programme is an offshoot from the original books, written in fact by a real Rastafarian.

Now there was a huge debate over how, if in fact at all offensive this mouse was to black people (which got my goat a bit since it was in fact written by a black Rasta) and whether it was poking fun. But what also came from the controversy was the fact that popular Presenter Reggie Yates was the voice for this mouse.

It seems that Reggie is of African decent and the fact that he was changing his accent to play a Caribbean role infuriated some people. . . . At first I wasn’t sure where I stood on this issue and then I began to think about my 1st ‘Change Your Accent’.

As an Actor I know that it is imperative at times to indeed change your accent. We are Actors and within this definition we pretend to be someone else. I myself have played and spoken with Caribbean, RP, American and Scouse voices. Did this make me a fraud or a phoney because I am a native Yorkshire lass? I believe not! I’m an Actor and the part required me to PLAY, to PRETEND.


I then began to look at other Actors, Naomie Harris (Tia Dalma in Pirates of the Caribbean) is Native London, Aml Ameen is in the US playing an American in Murphy’s Law, Idris Elba, Eammon Walker, Miss Joselyn Comedienne (in fact all comedians), Sean Bean, Ewan McGreggor, the list is endless!! These people all change their accent depending on the roles and have NEVER had as much stick as poor Reggie.

It’s a strange phenomenon and I’m not sure if it is a universal ignorance or one restricted to just the black community? I completely understand a need for a culture to be represented authentically and there are possibly a million Caribbean Actors who could have given Rastamouse an authentic voice, but I think this controversy answered my initial questions in ‘Change Your Accent Part 1′.

When it comes to Art and Play, I think we have to be a little flexible. For an Actor/Performer it may sometimes be necessary to change our accent, but as long as we do it as truthfully and as representative as possible, does it really do any harm? Answers on a postcard . .

Quintessential Britain

sherlock-holmes

The wonderful world of Twitter presented a slightly uncomfortable, yet relevant question that I had to get to the bottom of. I follow a shed load of people. When I say ‘follow’, (for those who don’t have Twitter) I mean I subscribe to their tweets. I’m not a slightly imbalanced fanatic hiding in bushes. I follow a lot of people for both work reasons and for variety and I seem to follow a lot of ‘Industry’ types in the US.

There was one particular guy I followed from the States, he was a writer – mostly for screen, but as I’m TRYING to become a Playwright I thought he might have some tips I could use. Anyway! This guy has worked both in American and England, apparently so I thought he’s be very knowledgeable. Turns out this guy had a huge chip on his shoulder about our Film industry. He seemed to have very odd views that we somehow copy the American way of film making (poorly in his opinion) or somehow aspire to BE the American Film making industry. He thought it would be best if we did our own thing . He also wanted to know why we don’t promote our modern Films in America and why we only showed England as it was in the 1800′s.

I neither have the time or the patience to name the endless list of amazing and modern Films we've created in this country and this is certainly not a lecture, but one question came to mind. Does Hollywood only entertain English Films if we are the ‘Quintessential Britain’ that they hear about in the story/history books?

If we look at Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia, Young Victoria, blah blah blah all of these are set in a time faaaaar gone by, so to a certain extent if you only watch big Hollywood blockbusters, you would think we still ride in Carriages and wear corsets over here. But is this what Hollywood wants from us? Why don’t we/they fund modern Films to reach that big budget status? Is this our commodity that we sell to stay relevant or even involved in the Film making industry?

Talent Boost Blog - Story so far

bbc+talent+boost+2011


The following blog was written when I was on the BBC/Actor Centre Talent Boost course:
Ok I’ve left it a bit late to start blogging about the Talent Boost course but, today is the end of our time with the lovely Sue Dunderdale and it seemed right to surmise the first half of the course.

To be honest I never expected to get onto the course, simply because I knew I had quite a bit of camera experience. However I was extremely happy I did. To a certain extent I felt guilty that I was taking a place from somebody else who had less experience. This is possibly still true but I had my own questions I needed answering and my own learning to be done.

I knew for example my technical experience may be more than some of my peers within the group but it was like I’d forgotten how to act. Working in a Soap is like no other Acting job you will ever do. As I mentioned somewhere before, the pace of a Soap is so fast its very easy to lose your way as an Actor.

I have now been able to take a step back, take a breather and allow myself to re-address both script and character work. I’ve re-learnt to not be scared of silence between characters. I had gained a tendency to speed through speeches, I learnt I was scared to slow down and allow the words to breathe.

We had the luxury of rehearsals and it was great to re-learn how to make those connections between characters that aren’t necessarily said in words. Having time to dissect a script was just brilliant. To discover every thought and meaning. Every journey and shift of authority. All these things are taken for granted.

Learning to SLOW DOWN was essential for me. It’s allowed me to relax again and actually enjoy myself when I’m acting.

Another extremely important thing I’ve taken from the first few days is a severe reality check! This Talent Boost course was created to enable minorities to gain experience for camera work – as they may not have the same opportunities an ‘non’ minorities. Right?

Now I’m a clever girl and its VERY obvious in the TV and Film industries that minority actors are NOT represented enough at all. I’ve been carrying the burden of being a short, northern, black/mixed-race actress. There are politics even within that description – the politics being – am I ‘black’? Am I ‘mixed-race’ – whatever? I am at a disadvantage for work because of how the leaders of the industry view those points. I’ve ground my axe, I’ve bore my cross, I’ve made use of every ‘minority’ opportunity I could. HOWEVER – I still get work. Be it sparse, crap, bitty, un-respected parts that just tick the ‘Equal Opportunities’ box - whatever – I still have bits of work.

The SEVERE REALITY CHECK of this course is THERE IS NO DISCRIMINATION LIKE THE DISCRIMINATION OF DISABILITIES! Full stop – The End – go home!

On this course I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with people who NEVER get cast. I have heard their stories and this area of the industry is the darkest! One of my peers described the discrimination of disabled people as being akin to the discrimination against black people before the civil war – This I have come to agree on and here’s why:

There are still to this day, buildings that not all people can access. They may have made ’adjustments’ for SOME disabilities – but possibly not ALL disabilities. Now just imagine – if there was a building today that didn’t allow black people to enter . . . .

Thought about it? There would be uproar and it would be changed instantaneously! But disabled people STILL to this day face these base level issues and IT IS ACCEPTED!

Yeah – just think on that for a while . . .

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

BBC/Actors Centre Talent Boost, London Intensive with Acting Coach Mel Churcher


im-acting
Last year, as part of the BBC/Actors Centre Talent Boost scheme we had an intensive weekend workshop at the Actor’s Centre with Acting and Voice Coach Mel Churcher and all I can say is . . . . Oh My God! This is what I’m talking about! The meekly, mild (suffering with a winter bug) Mel Churcher blew me away with her wealth of knowledge. In the space of a weekend, she taught me all the technical ‘stuff’ I wanted - no NEEDED to learn. All of the little things I never got to learn, because I never went to Drama School and didn’t study the Alexander Technique. All of the breathing stuff, the posture stuff, the opening of the voice/throat stuff.


Mel gave us a piece of information that above all I will never EVER forget! I would have gladly given the woman £350 or more, just to have had this golden – no platinum piece of information at the start of my career! The piece of information that I guarantee from now on will improve my chances in any audition for the rest of my career. . . A piece of information that I am NOT sharing on this blog (what am I stupid?! I got a business to run!) But I will advise that you buy her book 'Acting For Film', all the secrets can be found in there and this woman knows her shish! Not only does she teach at RADA, but she freelances on many Blockbuster movies and has worked with a number of (without name dropping) A list Hollywood Actors.
I applied for Talent Boost for a number of reasons, but mainly to learn those skills that enhance natural talent and luckily I learnt more than I ever anticipated.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Biz Tips No.1

gapingvoid
I often get asked how to get into the acting industry and sometimes get asked by those fresh into the industry, how to get further. The first basic rule is training. As you know I never went to Drama School because I was 'fortunate' enough to go straight into work. That is not to say I have not had training over the years. A dedicated Actor must learn their craft, just as you would for any other career.

Because I never had those 3 years of Drama School intensive training I am constantly playing 'catch up', to those that did. I regularly take classes, workshops, read books, and watch DVD's. Anything I can to learn technique. It's all well and good to be talented but talent alone will not sustain you in this industry.

For example, stage work requires an Actor to be able to project their voice into the auditorium as far as the back seats. This can cause strain and after a few performances can even lead to a lost voice - if you don’t have the technique to do so safely. This must be learnt. Even in TV and Film, you can be doing take after take of an emotional scene and your voice must stay strong. This applies to everything: posture, breathing, relaxation, diction, character work - everything.

So the very start or your foundation must be built upon some form of training or experience of acting. (E.g. Amateur Dramatics, National Youth Theatre, Stage School).

 Headshots

When trying to get an Agent or work you must have a decent headshot of yourself. The price can range from £60 to £500. This may sound expensive but the reality is - you get what you pay for. Your face (shallow as it may seem), is your money maker. Without a decent headshot showing your 'type' an Agent or Casing Director will not give you a second look. A cheap headshot suggests an unprofessional Actor. There are a number of great Photographers in the UK - they can all be found in Spotlight.

Read

There is a wealth of advice on line some good - some bad but these following sites have helped me personally:
The Stage 'How To Guides' to find out about Agents etc:
http://www.thestage.co.uk/connect/howto/

John Byrne Career Advice: http://showbusiness-success.com/default.aspx

Spotlight website: http://www.spotlight.com/

Ideas Tap website: http://www.ideastap.com/

Buy

If you're serious about the industry, expect to have to pay for certain things like books, promotional items, your Spotlight page etc. (Never pay an Agent! Your Agent takes commission from work you obtain through them only).

These items will help you:

Contacts book (The Actors Bible!! it’s a complete listing of Agents, Casting etc):
http://www.spotlight.com/shop/contacts

Agent e-book http://showbusiness-success.com/agents.aspx


Get On:

A professional Actor must be on Spotlight if they intend to book professional castings. It is the main Actors Database that Casting Directors use. IMDB is not enough!

If you are starting out Casting Call Pro is also good to try out - it’s FREE and you can apply for jobs as well as be chosen: http://www.uk.castingcallpro.com/.This can help you get more experience and add to your showreel.

Also TWITTER!! An Actor/ creative person cannot have an elitest attitude towards social networking. The old saying "It's not what you know, it's who you know" definitely has some stead in the Entertainment world so get networking and get yourself out there!

Yorkshire specific stuff:









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