Monday, October 1, 2007

A Different Type of Acting

On Saturday, I attended an all-day workshop taught by famed casting director Jackie Burch. I've linked to Jackie's IMDb page so you can see her massive amount of movie credits.

Jackie is moving to Wilmington, NC and wanted to see an array of talents that she may one day cast in TV, film, etc. Unfortunately, I had absolutely no idea this was what would take place! I honestly thought this was just an acting class that would contain a few students and we would learn some beginning techniques. Imagine my surprise when I arrived and about 100 were in attendance! Oh, and did I mention they were obviously experienced? [Que nerves please]

While I've been in a couple of small budget movies, acted in a few school plays, and host infomercials...I really do not know a ton about acting. (Voice acting, sure, just not much about acting in film.) Jackie answered many questions and then explained we would be broken into pairs and given a scene to go over. We would then act out the scene for Jackie to review. What was fantastic about this, is that we would be able to see every critique and learn from them as well!

My partner's name was Brian and we were given a cute scene in which I was a waitress and he had to awkwardly hit on me. When it was our turn, Jackie began by critiquing our headshots and resumes. She said she liked my headshot a lot, but was disappointed I hadn't attached a resume to the back. Duh! What was I thinking? I know better than that. Oh well, she asked me about my acting experience, and I told her I was a full-time voice actor. She then had me do the voice of a 5 year old girl in front of the class. If I wasn't nervous by then, I was petrified after that display! When you spend all of your time in small, sound proof booths...performing character voices in front of a room-full is quite an experience!

We made it through our scene despite my shaking hands and pounding heart. Jackie was incredibly kind. She told me I had good comedic timing, a fun and quirky vibe, and if I could learn not to bug out my eyes while acting I would be set!

After everyone finished their scene, Jackie had us come up one by one and act out a script with a line reader. At the end of the scene, she would give a few critiques and then say whether that particular actor would have received a call back or not. Fortunately, I had worn out my nerves with my first scene, so I was good to go. I gave it my all...and Jackie said I would have received a call back!

All in all, I had a glorious time. I learned a ton and made some new friends. After class, I performed a few voices for Jackie and even sang part of a song from the Little Mermaid (by request)! Jackie encouraged me to give acting a go, take a few more lessons, and start going out on auditions. It's advice I will take to heart!

Now, I don't want this post to only be about me, especially considering how much I learned! Here are a few things Jackie taught that are relevant to any business...

1. Never lie on a resume. If it says you know sign language, you better know sign language. It can cost many people time and money if you aren't truthful on your resume. There were several people who weren't able to do what their resumes said they could. Don't put 'good at impressions' if you can only do one impression! When you are able to back up your claims, it instills trust in those who hire you.

2. Find what makes you interesting and showcase it. Whether with your headshot or on your voice demo, find a way to stand out and be intriguing. Jackie's favorite headshots were not the ones with big happy smiles, they were the ones that told a story. The pictures that made you want to learn more stood out from the rest. It's the same with your demo...what can you do that no one else can? Why are you interesting? Showcase it!

3. Don't be afraid to be different. When watching the same scene performed over 100 times, there were only about 5 that really stood out. Those were the ones that brought something different to the table. When auditioning, do what feels natural, but bring something special to the table. In this day and age with voice over, we are taught there is a right way and a wrong way to read copy. Dare to be different, it just might get you the job!

I truly enjoyed my day with Jackie. It was refreshing to see someone so successful be so encouraging. There are many lessons from this weekend that will stay with me for quite some time!

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