QUESTION: How can you tell if your kid really wants to act or is just going through a phase?
ACTOR: That’s a question I hear from parents all the time, so I spoke with my dear friend, acting coach, speaker, and acclaimed actor, Mike Kimmel, to get some insight into child actors and their childhood dreams. Mike is the author of two scene books geared toward younger actors, Scenes for Teens and Acting Scenes for Kids and Tweens.
Karen Ann Pavlick: Congrats on releasing your second scene book. What made you want to write the first book, Scenes for Teens?
MIKE KIMMEL: I decided to write a scene book for teens when I couldn’t find anything out there I liked. The scenes were either too short, so I would have to add on, or they were filled with bad language. Parents are able to work with their child without covering words up or explaining things they don’t want to explain at this time. I think that has contributed to its success.
QUESTION: My daughter loves to act and I want to encourage her, but I also would love for her to stay humble; is that even possible in the world of acting?
ACTOR: Not only is this possible in the world of acting, but also in a world that is often tainted with big egos and a “me generation.” It does start with “Me”—not the Me that wants everything for me, me, me, but the one that wants to give everything away in spite of Me—for what we give, we get.
True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. – C.S Lewis
I absolutely love this quote and feel that especially with where our world is today, humility is a lost art. Yet I stay hopeful, for all good things come to those who are humble. I’ve witnessed it in my everyday life and on reality shows like The Voice, American Idol, and even The Bachelor. Humility wins over ego every time, hands down!
The Four Agreements For Actors
“Every human is an artist. The dream of your life is to make beautiful art.” – Don Miguel Ruiz
As I was thinking about this past year, I found as actors we all deep down have one common goal: to make beautiful art. Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements, came to mind and I felt compelled to share as a beautiful way to start off the new year. By following these simple, yet not so simple, agreements, your life as you know it will transform, you will no longer feel stuck, make excuses or complain; you will live the life of an artist.
1st AGREEMENT: BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD
For me, this has been so powerful, not only in how I live life, but how I live the life of an actress. LISTEN to what you are saying and what you are hearing. We truly speak things into existence! Don Miguel Ruiz states that being impeccable is not going against yourself, you don’t blame or judge yourself for anything, and this goes for auditions! We don’t criticize and we don’t gossip! We do our best, we prepare, we get to the audition on time and walk into that room with confidence that we are what they are looking for, and if not, than it wasn’t meant to be . . . this time.
QUESTION: How do you not self-sabotage your own auditions? I always feel like I do a better performance en route to the audition than I did at the audition, self-critiquing my performance all the way home!
ACTORS: This may be one of the hardest challenges to overcome, at least it has been for me. There have been times when I truly felt I did an Academy worthy performance en route to the audition, real tears and all, and on the way home, felt worthless for not getting even close to my car version!
If you haven’t read my blog, “Desperation Caught on Tape,” check it out: http://blog.castingnetworks.com/8363 “What you bring to the table depends on what you are hungry for; If you are starving for attention and recognition, guess what, that’s caught on tape, if you are full of love and light with an appetite for life, well, that’s what shines through.”
I had a friend who was a regular on the TV show Baywatch. She was beautiful, could act, was married and had a brand new baby. I believed she had it all… but she didn’t, because if she did she wouldn’t have sabotaged every audition by telling herself before she stepped foot into that audition room, that she wasn’t going to get a callback, as if preparing herself in advance, so she wouldn’t have to face the truth later. Guess what, she got exactly what she believed she was getting… no callback.
I believe we sabotage so much in life that doesn’t feel comfortable to us on the outside, simply because we are not comfortable inside with who we are and why we are here; whether that be a relationship, job or an audition. Just look at the media, they’d rather shine a light on darkness, highlighting all what’s wrong with society and relationships than put a spotlight on the good that gives one hope and inspiration.
When you walk into that casting room the casting director is rooting for you, the real you, that’s why you often hear, “be real,” they don’t want to see the striped down insecure, fearful version of you.
How you walk into an audition makes all the difference in the world. One of my all time favorite auditions caught on tape is Rachel McAdams reading with Ryan Gosling for The Notebook.
Yes, she is adorable, but she is also real and confident; not at all showing her hunger to get the part.
Even is she was nervous on the outside, which I can’t imagine she wasn’t, inside she had the strength to trust all of her hard work would pay off and it surely did… the rest is history. Bravo Rachel McAdams!
We have no idea going in what the producers or writers are really looking for, so why not believe they are looking for you? I don’t believe in playing it safe, that’s what the majority do; take a chance, a calculated risk to be different, instead of trying to figure out what you think they want? That’s a waste of time, use your time to prepare wisely.
Then on your drive home, instead of self-sabotaging, self-indulge! Buy a chocolate shake or a brand new pair of shoes, or walk along the beach, knowing you came from a place of truth and authenticity not a place of trying to get somewhere, like crying a bucket of tears.
What you will bring to the table, especially this Thanksgiving, will be conversations filled with love and peace, an appetite for life with plenty of left over gratitude!
DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION FOR KAREN? SHE WOULD LOVE TO SHARE IT IN HER NEXT BLOG!
MEMORIZING VS TRIGGERING A SCRIPT!
At first, learning to “trigger” a script instead of memorizing it can feel like you’re falling off a cliff!
Yet, the freedom that comes with not knowing where you will land,
Is not only exhilarating, but, what I believe every actor strives for,
To live in the moment.
QUESTION: How do seasoned actors memorize pages of dialog for rapid shooting schedules?
ACTORS: I touched a bit on this in my last blog and would love to elaborate more on the difference between memorizing vs. triggering a script; one clutters your mind with words to say and the other opens your mind with words to respond. Big difference! At least, it has been for me.
Over the years, I have met many actors who’ve claimed to have photographic memory, where they can SEE entire pages of dialogue in their mind, and other actors who are scared out of their mind because they can’t see how they’re going to memorize one page, let alone an entire script of dialogue!
If you don’t have any order with who you are and why you are here, it will feel all out of order, this I know for sure!
QUESTION: When filming a large film, how do you keep character when the scenes film all out of order? – @KarenRoberge
ACTORS: Great Question! Sounds like chaos, and can be if your character is not in order! Have you ever watched a film and when the ending came, it felt like the “characters” just met? Well, most likely they just did and the ending was the first day of filming. So, how do you keep your character IN order when you’re filming OUT of order? Simple, but not always so simple: stay true to who you are and why you are here, while having an overall intention, will guide you to what you hope will take place in each particular scene.
My very first feature film was with the beloved Robin Williams in PATCH ADAMS. Can I say I was just as excited as I was nervous when I heard, “You booked the role of Peter Coyote’s Wife!” Yikes!
Question: What skill can we cultivate in real life that helps us out on set or in rehearsal?
Actors: The one skill that has not only changed my life, but my craft, is without a doubt the art of meditation. I became aware that it’s not about having a life outside of acting, but having a life that includes acting.
I will never forget my very first agent interview in Los Angeles. I was sitting with a potential agent talking all about my acting when out of the blue the agent asked this question, which has never left me, “What else do you like besides acting? Because it will be those skills, those passions, that keep you fresh and exciting. It’s so important to have a life because that life is your acting.”
I have to be honest, that question threw me off. I had just moved to Los Angeles from San Francisco to act, and all I heard was I had to eat, breathe, and drink acting; I can’t count how many times I heard that. As I sat there, it felt like I had put my “life” on hold so I could act, instead of creating a life that included acting.
BACK IN THE DAY…
GETTING AN AUDITION DIDN’T FEEL LIKE WINNING THE LOTTERY!
QUESTION: Why is it more challenging to get an audition these days? When I first started out in SF, it was different. You needed a headshot, resume and an agent and I thought that was challenging, but I was auditioning all the time. Nowadays, it doesn’t seem you need to be an actor nor have an agent to get an audition, it’s a whole new kind of challenge, and now getting an audition feels like winning the lottery!
ACTOR: That’s funny, yet I’m in agreement! I’ve been down this road many times and walking into this past audition, once again, confirmed I won the lottery when I read this congratulation sign posted on the casting director’s wall.
The reason I believe it feels more challenging is because the market has been opened to everyone and anyone.
QUESTION: My daughter is nine and was approached by a woman at the mall who said she could help her get into acting, that she had the look and a great smile, but they wanted her to use their photographer and take their classes and it was very expensive. What’s your advice? From a very concerned mother who now has a very excited daughter!
ACTOR: My biggest advice to parents is DON’T PAY TO PLAY. Yes, you do have to eventually pay for great headshots and acting classes, however, be aware of companies approaching you in the mall or anywhere. I have heard this story over and over again. Even after I have given my two cents, I have had parents come back and say they wish they would have listened, now that they were out thousands of dollars. It saddens me to this day, that there are companies that hire excellent sales people to convince young adults that they have what it takes, when all along the company has one mission: to get you in their door, so you can be sold. I only know this to be true, because I was asked to do this at a modeling agency and I left in a sprint! Honestly, I don’t know how these people sleep at night.
QUESTION: I submitted myself for and booked a job that I thought was merely an online skit, but turned out to be branded entertainment. Which of my agents get the commission: theatrical or commercial?
ACTOR: Great question! First, lets look at how Wikipedia defines branded entertainment: Also known as branded content or advertisement, “branded entertainment” is an entertainment-based vehicle that is funded by, and complementary to, a brand’s marketing strategy.
More and more when I am watching a movie or TV show, I see actors holding or drinking a certain brand, and it’s very obvious that Apple or Coke or some other product is using this vehicle to advertise to million of viewers. When I’ve worked on a commercial, I’m usually selling the brand in a 15, 30, or 60 second spot.