“The Best Tools and Techniques to Succeed in Los Angeles”

Why You Should Watch the New 2011 Pilots

Posted: September 22nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Acting Advice | Tags: | No Comments »

It’s that time again folks. The 2011 pilots are premiering, and it’s your chance to see what the new flavors are. If you booked something – congratulations. If not – then maybe there’s a guest star on one of these shows in your future. What is important is to keep up with what’s going on, and make a few mental notes.

Those TV pilots that we were all consumed with from February through April are blossoming into first episodes before our very eyes (can I please have a tissue?). If you kept your ear to the ground during those intense winter/spring months when pilot season is in full swing, you may have a bout of mild (or obsessive) curiosity as to how these shows turned out.

I, for one, believe it’s important as an actor to have a complete understanding of the TV climate – how it’s changed – stayed the same – and all of the above. To be true competitors in this fierce industry, we cannot just be artists, we must also be shrewd business people.

Finding out “who got what” (part) is actually fascinating if you can put your ego in check for a minute. This year, as has seemed to be the trend for the past few pilot seasons, big names have taken the leads in many of the new shows. Christine Ricci (PAN AM), Time Allen (Last Man Standing), Kerry Washington (Scandal), Kristen Chenoweth (Good Christian Belles) to name a few. And then, there are the less known actors who’ve been in lots of shows but have yet to become household names… like Kristen Ritter (Apartment 23), or Bruce Greenwood (The River). And then, there are the breakthroughs. The ones who will be new faces on our TV screens and will give us hope for next pilot season. They prove that it is possible to book… it really is. To me, these are some of the most exciting people to watch. What did they do that proved they were worthy of a network’s trust?

Another reason to watch the new shows is so you can see the trends. Whereas the last few years vampires have been taking over, this year the shift has been made, if only slightly, to witches (The Secret Circle) and dark secrets (Revenge). Comedy seems to have some edge to it now with Work It and 2 Broke Girls.

The show I guess I’m the most excited for this year is Apartment 23. This is partly because I love a quirky comedy, but mainly because Kristen Ritter kind of blew me away as Jesse Pinkman’s drug addicted girlfriend in Breaking Bad. I can’t wait to see what she’ll do with this delightfully bizarre pilot season 2011 new role.

So my two cents would be to pay attention to what’s happening out there. Getting a feel for what’s current is only going to help know where you fit in in the current TV world. Good luck!!

To Meisner or Not to Meisner… And If So, Then Who is the Best Meisner Acting Teacher in Los Angeles?

Posted: September 5th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Acting Advice | Tags: , | No Comments »

As a working actress who’s studied at countless schools, and as many different teachers, I’ve noticed the “method” that keeps showing up in various forms is the Meisner Technique. Sometimes it’s very true to form, taught just as Sanford Meisner himself would have wanted. Other times it’s been evolved, manipulated to conform to what a certain teacher is trying to get across. I’ve listened to some of my very talented peers swear by this technique, professing it’s the only one to bother learning. I usually sit there (on the fence) nodding but secretly wondering if I’m missing something.

Don’t get me wrong, when I was a very young and inexperienced (green) aspiring thespian, I was totally taken by Sanford’s legacy. I loved how freeing it was, how honest. But as I learned the technical aspects, the absolute mandatory left brain thinking that comes with professional acting, I began to roll my eyes more and more when I’d hear Meisner disciples pledging their allegiance.

sanford meisner technique los angeles

Repetition exercises (the most notorious part of Meisner training) are all good and well (I guess) when “exploring” in theater school. But how does this truly fit into hitting your mark on a film set? Making sure you stay out of your co-stars light? How about learning to talk as if there’s music blaring when you can’t hear the faintest bit of a tune? Where is the “truth” in that? What was more was that I quickly realized that many of the students who excelled at the repetition exercises fell extremely flat when they’d actually have a script in their hand.

I was quickly loosing faith. But why then, did so many fantastic actors stand by this technique? I don’t think I’ll ever completely surrender. What I can say is that Meisner can teach good listening, good observing skills. It can loosen up the “heady” actor, the ones who over-plan and are married to their choices. It can help you learn to “play”. But I would recommend studying with a teacher who has adapted the old style technique to fit modern needs. A teacher who has students who are thriving in the business. A perfect example of this would be Sandy Marshall who teaches out of Los Angeles. She has some really talented students who have leaned to apply the technique to the actual reality of the business.

All that said, my belief is to study as much as you can, don’t take any of it too seriously, and figure out what works for you. Good luck!

Lesly Kahn’s Non-Technique Acting Classes in Los Angeles

Posted: September 4th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Acting Advice | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Lesly Kahn is something of a legend in Los Angeles. Many actors even think of her beloved “kahnstitute” as “cult-ish”. Her approach is loud, in-your-face and tell-it-like-it-is. One thing is for sure, and everyone agrees on this, Lesly is a full on genius, and her methods have been proven to work time and time again.

What does that mean “work”? Very simply, it mean’s that students of Lesly’s know how to deliver in auditions, and ultimately, book jobs. It’s certainly true that acting is about the craft and techniques like Meisner and Stanislavsky and all that jazz, but what does that have to do with booking jobs? Not as much as you might think.

The bottom line is that you need to know how to interpret a writer’s words, make strong choices, develop a back story, and develop the “moment before”. In the audition, you need to know how to take direction, without losing sight of the character you’ve embodied. It’s these things that she’s based her life’s work on.

You may wonder about your acting teacher (or school, or coach) and their commitment to the task of preparing you for the highs and lows of the business. You may doubt their capacity to give you the individual attention you need. You may doubt that they have your best interests in mind, and not their own pocketbook. With Lesly, there can be NO doubt. This woman literally sleeps at her acting studio during the weeknights, and is prone to mini-breakdowns if she feels she hasn’t delivered the goods to you. Well, perhaps “mini-breakdown” is an exaggeration, but my point is, she is so invested in her actors, it’s as if she were auditioning for the part herself.

Which brings me to a final point – Lesly Kahn is as much about support, community, and family as is it about booking the gig. Living in Los Angeles, trying to make a career in “The Biz”, and constantly market yourself, is exhausting, emotionally and physically. You want to puke your guts out, quit, cry, smoke, scream! do drugs, self destruct… just to cope with the stress and rejection that is part of being an actor. Lesly helps you put it all in perspective, and provides access to all types of support directly through her school. The actors there are a tight knit community, you’ll benefit from the comaradry and encouragement of your peers.

So, in closing, I have to take you back to the brass tacks of why Lesly Kahn Actor Training is at the top of our list. Well, one of the main reasons is that Lesly is so respected in the business by her peers. I’m talking about agents, managers, casting directors, producers – all the people that will ultimately decide your fate. Lesly herself is committed to staying current with what is hot, what types of shows are selling, which actors are breaking out, and trends in television and film. Her years of experience, ivy league education (Yale School of Drama), her own acting experience, and her distinguished alumni say the rest.

Lesly Kahn Actor Training offers intro level acting classes, master classes, workshops, audition coaching, and more right in the heart of Hollywood, just north of Sunset on LaBrea. If you want to find out more, go to Lelsy’s website at www.leslykahn.com. If you want to get to know her, and start getting regular acting advice, tips, and inside info on the goings-on in the biz, subscribe to her blog at Lesly Kahn Actor Training Blog.

Steve Braun’s Acting the Truth Classes, Workshops, and Coaching

Posted: September 3rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Acting Advice | Tags: , | No Comments »

“How are you feeling?”

“Fine. How are you?”

Strange though it may sound, the above exchange, played out millions of times a day in various languages all over the world, is one of the main causes of poor acting. It’s true. The habitual description of our emotional state as “fine” gets us in the habit of ignoring how we feel, adapting our emotional expression to fit societal norms and losing a connection with our truth and with others.

If we are being truthful we’re never fine. Ever. We’re happy, sad, angry, irritated, nervous, anxious, excited, among other feelings. Yet we’re told at a very early age that expressing those feelings is unacceptable. So, we hide them. We push them away. We respond with a “good, you?” or “not bad”, which, while fulfilling some forced language of “civilized” society”, often has nothing to do with how we actually feel.

As it relates to acting, its very difficult to have a truthful emotional experience on stage or in front of a camera when we are so deep in the habit of hiding or disconnecting from our truthful feelings and our active point of view.

Acting The Truth acting classes, coaching and workshops with Steve Braun reintroduce you to your unique voice within the world of a play. Meisner-based exercises and cold reading scenes clean out your emotional pipes and force you to make strong personal choices in the world of your play.

Ongoing, weekly Acting The Truth classes Tuesday and Wednesday nights are more like going to the gym than to a theatre school. Acting The Truth audition coaching weaves all your truthful feelings about the audition, the casting director, the project, etc into the world of the play. Acting The Truth workshops bring the spirit of Steve’s weekly LA classes to cities around the world.

Visit www.actingthetruth.com today to find out how to audit a class for free.