Acting Advice

2 TIPS for Musical Artist on How to Act on Screen

Acting in a musical comes with its own set of challenges and obstacles. It has a specific technique and training that is unique to the medium, as does acting in front of the camera. 

Musical theaters artist tend to forget that acting in front of the camera does not need the large gestures and actions that you need to communicate intention as when you act in a musical. You don’t need to push with your body or large hand gestures, and you certainly don’t need heavy breathing and big rolling eye gestures. When you make these large gestures in front of the camera, you are overacting.

How to Handle Failure

 How to Handle FailureBeing an actor unfortunately means that you will experience failure.  I have experienced failure, stars have and you will also as you move along your journey as an artist.   It’s part of the game and if you’re not failing, then you are not trying.At the end of the day failure is simply feedback. You will experience rejection and you will have tough moments in your career when you feel like you royally messed up. Maybe you lost your lines at an audition or simply didn't’ perform well, however you should always remember that it is never as bad as you think it is.  It never is.  As an artist we always focus heavily on our failures rather than on the positive aspects of our careers and performances. However, our goal as performers is to develop the ability of thinking extraordinary, not common and normal.  Thinking extraordinary means having the ability to experience failure and have the discipline to ignore those failures, move past them and immediately focus on the next audition or performance.  What separates those we admire in any field is their ability to ignore their failures, to learn from them and to move past them. A more normal way of thinking is to ponder heavily on our failures and to only see the negative in our performance. That’s normal because that’s how our brains are wired. They are designed to think of the negative first so that we are able to survive. There isn't a performer who has not experienced failure and had a massive disappointment. It is important for you to remember you will get another opportunity to perform and make up for it.  Here are some exercises to help you get over the failure:

  • Write down two or three actions you could have taken to prepare differently and that might have helped you improve your performance.   Ask yourself, honestly:  Did I prepare enough? Did I go to bed at the right time? Did I drink too much the night before?  
  • Write down two or three actions you feel you also did well. It is critical to focus on the positive so that you can ingrain what you did well and give yourself a better chance of repeating it. Train yourself to focus on the positive even if you feel like you did nothing well.  It can be as simple as how you walked in and out of the room. Or how you marketed yourself to get the audition. Train yourself to always focus on the positive.

Also, make it a part of your mission statement as an artist that when you feel tired, or feel too stressed for whatever reason, you will not give yourself the excuse to not be fully prepared. You won’t use the excuse, “I’m just too tired to work on this material”.   The thing that separates elite performers from everyone else is their ability to prepare when they don’t feel like preparing.   Your job is to hammer away at all cost at your craft even when you are exhausted and don’t have the energy.  That is what will separate you from everyone else and it will change the course of your career. 

How to Find Happiness As an Actor

 

Success and happiness come to us when we remove our egos and focus on our effort and to do the work: becoming better storytellers, being prepared and creating as many opportunities for ourselves as we can. When we do that, that is enough and success will follow.

We tend to let our egos dictate how success is defined for us. Ego has us comparing ourselves with others, hence IMDb’s star meter. When we let go of our egos and only judge ourselves by the amount of effort we have put into our careers, we begin to take control of our careers and begin to take risks. And taking risks is what leads to success.

Ego stops us from pursuing our goals because we fear we won’t be appreciated or we will be criticized too harshly.  Ego prevents us from making that call to the agent or attempting the project that we have been so longing to create. We focus on the applause that it will or won’t receive instead of being happy with the fruit of our labor. You will be unappreciated, you will experience surprising failures and your expectations will not be met at times, but how you pick yourself up, carry on and how you see your failures defines the character in you which will lead you onwards and upwards.

I find that feeling depressed about our careers comes when we feel helpless and judge our success by only the praise we have (or have not) received from our parents or from friends back home. Remember that in life there will be times when we do everything right, but the results will somehow be negative and you will experience failure, even a resounding yawn from the world. I believe that if you focus on your effort and take pride in your effort, you will have the confidence to keep moving forward towards your goal in the good times and tough times.

Think of Steve Jobs, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger Jerry Seinfeld, Oprah, JK Rowling, Bloomberg, Spielberg, Emily Dickinson—all these amazing individuals were either fired, laughed at or given resounding rejections. But they never let their egos get in the way of what they wanted to achieve.

Start the project you have been wanting to start, without worrying about whether people will think it is stupid. Make the call to the agent without the fear of him/her hanging up on you.  As the new year rolls around, focus on letting go of your ego and on being content with the quality of your effort without looking for approval. Your effort is sufficient and is where success and happiness lies. Take risks!

"Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming"–John WoodenRead how to accomplish your goals

How to Find Clues in a TV & Film Audition Scene

While there are many ways to break down a TV & film audition scene, I want to walk you through a few quick and easy things to spot, circle and focus in on that will help unlock the scene for you and provide a roadmap for how to play it.

When you see the words, butifandokorsowhich or what, notice them, focus on them and circle or highlight them. Why? When you see these words, think of them as gear changers in the scene and indicators of how the writer is having the characters think. These words unintentionally provide insight into how we should speak. They are like the green lights and stop signs of our language and when we pay particular attention to them on the page, they give us a road map to what is actually being said by a character in the scene. It is an easy way to help ground yourself when you are trying to break down the scene.

The red lights, or stop signs in the scene, are but, if, and, ok, or, so, which or what. Make sure that you see them and don’t run through them.Ask yourself why the character is saying but or agreeing with the word ok or giving options with the word or and adding to his thoughts with the word and. Don’t minimize these words. By slowing down and paying attention to them, you can unlock clues in how the scene can be played and what it might be about.

Let’s take a film audition scene: I have changed the character names and the words a little to protect the rights of the scene, but this is from an actual script.

INT: Squad room/ police station

Detective: We’ve canvassed every house with a view of the mountain. No one saw the man with the hacker or saw David with the hacker.

Jennie: Which doesn’t mean John Redford did the murder.

Detective: No. But why wouldn’t he mention it when we spoke to him. Did he really not remember or did he choose to lie. And do we think the money and drugs in the car are connected.

Notice the words I have mentioned in the above excerpt of the scene. Highlight these words and focus on them very closely. We have an idea of how the Detective is specifically thinking by the way he uses or in the first line. No one saw the hacker or David with the hacker, which obviously is very important to him because the word or acts to emphasize to his point.

READ: "How to Make the Most Interesting Choice in a Scene"

Jennie disagrees with the Detective and says not so fast when she uses the word which as a way of defending John Redford: Which doesn’t mean John Redford did the murder. The Detective then confirms his point of view by using the word But in his last line, confirming that he thinks John Redford is guilty because he never mentioned anything to him when they spoke to him: No. But why wouldn’t he mention it when….

By focusing on these words, we notice conflict and intentions in the scene by the two characters. And now we can use our imaginations as actors in making a choice in how we want to play the scene. Making a choice, not making the right choice because making a choice is always more important than making the right choice.

Another big clue is always the word sorry, because when a character says sorry, that is an immediate beat change or transition in the scene. You have to play the scene differently immediately after you hear or say sorry or an apology. The behavior in the scene can’t be the same as it was before you said it or heard it. That wouldn’t make sense in life or in acting!

These may be easier to pick up in a two- or three-page film & TV scene, but they can also apply to a theatre scene. In a film & TV audition scene, you have less words on the page and so they pop more, but they definitely are there in theatre scenes. Take a look at the second scene in Streetcar Named Desire when Stanley questions Blanche on the sell of Belle Reve.

Easy Tips to Unlock a TV & Film Audition Scene

  • Circle all but, if, and, ok, or, so, which or whats in the scene.

  • Circle all questions and all forms of apologies in the scene.

  • Ask yourself what the POV might be for each character in the scene because the use of these words.

  • Always behave differently in the scene once you say or hear an apology. It will show that you are listening.

  • Make a choice on what you have deduced and don’t second guess it. Making a choice is more important than making the right choice.

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Taking Action

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJ6Y61VNlt8There are times when we don’t feel like we have the motivation or the energy to get the things done that we need to get done. The way you find energy and motivation on the days that your lagging is to take immediate action. Taking action, and finishing a task (no matter how small), will give you a sense of accomplishment.It can be as easy as making a phone call or sending an email or making your bed. It could be organizing all of your emails so that you can feel less overwhelmed. Once you feel a sense of accomplishment, you begin to feel motivated to get more things done.Success will lead to more success.1. Put yourself in situations that will help you get motivated. If you need to do some writing tomorrow before you go to bed, leave your laptop on and open with a cup of cold coffee on your desk so that you can simply wake up, drink the coffee, and get to work. If you need to work out, go to bed with your workout clothes on or leave everything, shoes included, right next to your bed so that you don’t allow your brain to talk you out of what it is you need to do.2. Change your environment. Working from home can be one of the hardest things to do when you are lacking motivation. Change your environment; go to a hotel or coffee shop and take your laptop to work there. It is far too easy to get caught in a meaningless task or turn on your TV and get sucked into “House of Cards.”3. Stop social media from distracting you. Don’t check your cell phone for 40 minutes and turn off email notifications, social media notifications, and definitely turn off your TV.4. Don’t focus on the end goal. Focusing on the end goal can leave you unmotivated—especially when you have absolutely no idea how you are going to get there. Instead, focus on two or three small actions you can take today that will move you towards the end goal.5. Don’t have a never ending to-do list. Focus only on two or three tasks you can quickly accomplish. You will significantly increase your energy and motivation for that day. More importantly, you will go to bed with a sense of accomplishment and that you have had a good day, which will lead you to wake up the next day feeling confident and motivated to accomplish more things.6. Be realistic. If you decide you want to accomplish 10 things in one day, you will set yourself up for failure. It is far better to set yourself three tasks for the day and to aim to accomplish them all by noon, and then decide to accomplish one or two more things in the afternoon. That is far more satisfying and achievable.7. Be a nice coach to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for not being motivated. Being harsh and calling yourself lazy tells your brain to focus on all the negative things on which you shouldn’t focus. Instead, close your eyes for two or three minutes, breathe in through your nose and out your mouth, and tell yourself, “It feels great working on this project and I can’t believe how easy it was.” By re-focusing your mind on positive feelings, you are programing yourself to create that reality.8. Pat yourself on the back for tasks you accomplish each day. We are all wired to enjoy positive reinforcement, so when you accomplish one of the tasks you have set yourself for the day, congratulate yourself on taking action and moving your projects forward. Learn more about my projects here: http://bit.ly/IMDBDouglasTaurelYoutube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCez-sSqIrowC5pxQrth8X3AFacebook:  https://www.facebook.com/DouglasTaurel/Twitter: https://www.facebook.com/DouglasTaurel/Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dtaurel/

How to Realistically Accomplish Your Goals

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There are times when we don’t feel like we have the motivation or the energy to get the things done that we need to get done. The way you find energy and motivation on the days that your lagging is to take immediate action. Taking action, and finishing a task (no matter how small), will give you a sense of accomplishment.

It can be as easy as making a phone call or sending an email or making your bed. It could be organizing all of your emails so that you can feel less overwhelmed. Once you feel a sense of accomplishment, you begin to feel motivated to get more things done. Success will lead to more success. 

So how can you find the energy to accomplish your career goals?

1. Put yourself in situations that will help you get motivated. If you need to do some writing tomorrow before you go to bed, leave your laptop on and open with a cup of cold coffee on your desk so that you can simply wake up, drink the coffee, and get to work. If you need to work out, go to bed with your workout clothes on or leave everything, shoes included, right next to your bed so that you don’t allow your brain to talk you out of what it is you need to do.

2. Change your environment. Working from home can be one of the hardest things to do when you are lacking motivation. Change your environment; go to a hotel or coffee shop and take your laptop to work there. It is far too easy to get caught in a meaningless task or turn on your TV and get sucked into “House of Cards.” 

3. Stop social media from distracting you. Don’t check your cell phone for 40 minutes and turn off email notifications, social media notifications, and definitely turn off your TV.

4. Don’t focus on the end goal. Focusing on the end goal can leave you unmotivated—especially when you have absolutely no idea how you are going to get there. Instead, focus on two or three small actions you can take today that will move you towards the end goal. 

5. Don’t have a never ending to-do list. Focus only on two or three tasks you can quickly accomplish. You will significantly increase your energy and motivation for that day. More importantly, you will go to bed with a sense of accomplishment and that you have had a good day, which will lead you to wake up the next day feeling confident and motivated to accomplish more things.

6. Be realistic. If you decide you want to accomplish 10 things in one day, you will set yourself up for failure. It is far better to set yourself three tasks for the day and to aim to accomplish them all by noon, and then decide to accomplish one or two more things in the afternoon. That is far more satisfying and achievable. 

7. Be a nice coach to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for not being motivated. Being harsh and calling yourself lazy tells your brain to focus on all the negative things on which you shouldn’t focus. Instead, close your eyes for two or three minutes, breathe in through your nose and out your mouth, and tell yourself, “It feels great working on this project and I can’t believe how easy it was.” By re-focusing your mind on positive feelings, you are programing yourself to create that reality.

8. Pat yourself on the back for tasks you accomplish each day. We are all wired to enjoy positive reinforcement, so when you accomplish one of the tasks you have set yourself for the day, congratulate yourself on taking action and moving your projects forward.

3 Tips for Overcoming Bitterness

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Letting go of trying to be in control and focusing on enjoying the process is the key to allowing us to feel successful, happy, and helping us overcome the bitter actor syndrome. This is true in an audition, with a project, with our careers, and even with our lives. Not being focussed on a specific result and instead focusing on taking action allows us to be relaxed and happier as actors. The more relaxed and happier you are as an actor, the more creative you will be in your work, leading to more success in your career. 

It’s really hard work trying to impress other people, especially when we usually have no idea what it is they want in the first place. The irony is, they, who we are auditioning for, usually don’t know what they want until they see it. Second-guessing what a casting director, director, or producer wants is ultimately pointless. Trying to impress others will lead to resentment and bitterness. 

Natalie Roy, co-founder of C.R.E.A.T.E., a workshop series designed to break artists free of limiting beliefs, said, “You are entitled to your actions but not entitled to the fruits of those actions. Can you place the value in the action? Can you say, I took this action because I’m the kind of person who enjoys taking action. We become bitter because we want control and we expect a specific result.” The bitterness comes when the desired result does not follow the action.

When we let go and only focus on the action that we are taking for our careers, not only do we overcome being bitter, but we become fulfilled as artists. Being fulfilled leads to us feeling more confident. You enter your audition far more open, creative, and present when you are fulfilled.

The actor that we most want to hang around with and who casting directors enjoy calling in is that actor who is relaxed and isn’t trying to impress because he/she is confident that he or she is enough. He/she is in the room to inspire us with his/her art. We love being around people who are confident, relaxed, and who inspire us. People ultimately want to be inspired; it touches who we are as artist and gives us power. 

So, how do we become that person? By letting go. Letting go of that control stops us from taking things so personally and stops that voice in our head that tells us that we are being rejected. Rejection is something that we actors make up. It’s not actually really true. As Roy puts it, “When you don’t get an audition, you’re not actually being rejected. The industry is not saying something is wrong with you. What they are saying is that you are not right for this project.” By understanding all of this, we come across more confident. 

What all of this means is that we have to have a leap of faith of letting go and trusting that what we do is enough—a leap of faith that your preparation for the audition and role is enough, that you are in the right place for your career.

A few strong suggestions to help you to let go, be happy, and overcome being bitter. 

1. Meditate. Each morning for three-to-five minutes before you start your day (and definitely before you check your phone), sit quietly and tell yourself two or three great things for which you are currently grateful. One minute of mediation can be extremely powerful in starting your day in positive way. 

2. Visualize. Spend a minute telling yourself what an amazing audition or day you are going to have. Visualize that your day will go exactly that way you want to go and give thanks that it did. You are sending out positive waves into the world that will reverberate positive waves back. 

3. Be around positive people. Surround yourself with people who are goal-oriented, mature, optimistic, kind, and who celebrate and validate you. This includes your agent, your manager, and your acting teacher. You are an average of the people you with whom you surround yourself.