ED'S NEWSLETTER for ACTORS
RECOMMENDED LA ACTING WORKSHOP:
If you are a Los Angeles-based actor, you have a unique opportunity to learn something new about acting, especially if your previous training is anchored in Strasberg's Method or the Meisner Technique. As you probably know, Stanislavsky revised and recalibrated his approach to acting throughout his professional life. In his later years he favored an improvisational on-your-feet rehearsal technique in which learning lines is the final thing the actor does, not the first. This approach, which he named Active Analysis, helps the actor get emotion into sync with physical action, resulting in a deeper and more solid performance. By the time he came up with Active Analysis, however, the Giant Elm of American acting training was Strasberg's Method, based on Stanislavsky's early work at the Moscow Art Theatre, Few American actors were much interested in learning about Active Analysis at that point in time, and so Active Analysis remains largely out of sight to this day. But here is the good news: Sharon Carnicke, author of the essential book Stanislavsky in Focus and a Professor of Theatre at USC, is teaching Active Analysis in small, private LA classes. Ms. Carnicke is arguably the most knowledgable teacher of Active Analysis in the United States, and I enthusiastically endorse her work.
On March 25th, a new 6-week Active Analysis workshop will begin. The cost is only $25 per class (Monday nights in Eagle Rock), or $120 for the whole six weeks, which is practically a give-away price, IMO. If you live in LA and can fit this into your schedule, it is a solid opportunity to grow your art. For more information, go to sharoncarnicke.com. Or communicate directly with Ms. Carnicke, firstname.lastname@example.org.
ACTING FOR ANIMATORS CALENDAR
March 25-29 GDC 2013 San Francisco, California
April 20 Catholic University Porto, Portugal
April 23-26 FMX 2013 Stuttgart, Germany
April 29-30 Filmakademie Animation Institut Ludwigsburg, Germany
THE CAREER VIEW FROM 35,000 FEET
One of the most useful advantages of having been in show biz for so long is the broad view of the industry you get. If you liken an acting career to the flight of an airplane, the early years are crop-dusters. You are trying so hard to stay aloft and not choke on the dust that you can only see the rows of new plants growing down there. Later in your career, if you manage to make enough money to refuel the aircraft on a regular basis, you start flying the New York - Los Angeles route. Now you can see the changing landscape, mountains and fields and cities, each one inviting you to land and try the local fruit, but you can't do that because you are committed to the east coast - west coast red-eye. You are getting small roles on TV shows now, in addition to commercials and the occasional play. There is not going to be a revision to the flight plan at this point.
If you are lucky, the red-eye schedule eventually transitions into international trips, and the view becomes more global. From 35,000 feet, which is where I fly these days, the curve of the earth is occasionally visible, and you notice that there are relatively fewer aircraft at this altitude. That's because most of the pilots simply run out of fuel somewhere along the way.
Air travel may be a silly metaphor for a career in the arts, but it works for me because I think a lot about the challenges facing a new career-oriented actor trying to get herself off the ground, launched. How exactly does an actor make a living and graduate from crop dusting to flying the red-eye? The entire income model for an actor in the U.S. is changing and is barely recognizable to actors of the previous generation. Just a few years ago, SAG members were earning more from commercial residuals than from television and movies combined, but an actor today cannot count on that. Advertisers are migrating from the TV networks to the Internet, and the pay-for-play residual format is not going to work. It is virtually impossible to track advertising on a per-use basis in this digital age that includes pop-up ads and "dynamic (airline style, revise hourly) pricing". Some Internet giants, such as Amazon.com, Netflix and Hulu, are starting to look similar to the 1950's commercial model in which an advertiser is the actual producer of a show. Check out Texaco Star Theater and Kraft Music Hall for examples of what I am talking about. Nobody can reliably predict where this is heading, but we do have a few pieces of the puzzle clearly visible. Upwardly mobile actors should take heed.
1. Television networks are modern day dinosaurs. Pay-for-Play is endangered. Advertising is moving to the Internet. Union contracts on Internet use are still primitive to non-existent.
2. The big movie and television studios are losing their monopoly control of production and exhibition. It is possible now for you and three like-minded friends to make a movie in your garage. If you have a script, two or three Apple computers and some digital equipment, you are good to go. Need financing? Check out Kickstarter.com. Need distribution? Talk to the folks at Netflix.
3. "Motion capture" technology is maturing, and actors are going to have to live with it. Acting schools will soon be including instruction about what to do in the odd-looking mocap suit.
4. Unusual and innovative forms of entertainment are sprouting, often hybrids of several forms, like re-mixing music and bringing Tupac back to life at Coachella. Take a quick look at this 2009 Israeli-made video that turned up on YouTube. Don't you love it? Cool! Here is how it was made. But there are no established pay scales for this kind of work. Until and unless the performing unions get contracts in place, the actor is pretty much on her own in negotiations.
5. Acting on stage never changes. It is life blood for an actor, and it is almost impossible to make a decent living by doing it. You do it because you love it.
The career view from 35,000 feet indicates that Shakespeare got it right in As You Like It: "All the world is a stage." Everything changes, and nothing changes, right? There never has been a rational reason for pursuing a career in the arts. Acting more closely resembles religion than a profession. You jump in and then figure out how to pay the rent. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. Amen.
Until next month...
"Actors are Shamans!"
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