Nearly every word out of Margie’s mouth was a pearl of wisdom, but none affected me more than the one I chose as the title for this blog. I know I mentioned it in my last post, but it’s still my favorite. I am back home in Montreal now, getting back to my day job, at least for a little while, but there is still so much of my trip I haven’t shared with you, so here it goes, my last few days in Hollywood!
Day 2 with Margie was intense, to say the least. It involved ‘living a life’, learning the Haber Phrase Technique, and singing. And the singing of course included dancing. So that was interesting…The singing actually had to do with learning the phrase technique, kind of a fun way to remember that you can stay down on the page as long as you don’t stop living the life. It’s a very secret process though, so I won’t be doing any repeat performances.
We were all given slices of life and told to work on them by ourselves, without trying to figure out who we were having the conversation with (I know, it would be easier if I said scene partner, but we’re trying to stop acting, and start living, remember?) I had the Marathon Man, and decided to take in what I had been told since the beginning. Instead of making myself vulnerable, I decided I would be empowered. This was my intention, but actually doing it took some work. Which I got to do in front of everyone. Kyle and I went up and were stopped almost immediately, like everyone else, so Margie could help us through it a first time before going on camera. I might have wanted to be empowered, but Margie explained, or demonstrated, that I don’t look so powerful when I’m standing crooked and fidgeting and so on. She had me dance with her, which seemed slightly ridiculous at first, but I trusted her, and was slightly amazed at how much more confident and free I became when I was in my body. Which is not like being in your head, which is a bad thing. What it means is that I didn’t just say the lines in an ’empowered’ way, I stood tall, I was grounded, and I wasn’t afraid to move around, to occupy the space. It was scary and felt strange at first, sort of like a caricature, but once I accepted the change, I was OPEN! I stopped being overly conscious of my body, and how I looked, and I let myself be in the moment, to listen to Kyle and let his responses alter how I carried on the conversation, to let something in him push me to move a certain way, or say a certain thing. We put part of the slice on camera, and I can truly see a difference between the lives I lived the days before, and the one I was living on the screen.
Once everyone had gone through this process, we watched ourselves on film, got some slices for tomorrow, then all 14 of us went to supper together. Even Kane 🙂
Friday, our third day with Margie, was also our last day all together. We got right into doing the slices in front of the camera. I can definitely see how much I have improved since we started, but I also have a lot of work to do. I am getting a better hold on the Phrase Technique, and although I did often find myself losing my empowered/grounded stance, I checked myself. So I spent a lot of time sort of slouching, then re-positioning myself to stand tall. While it was good that I was catching myself, this meant that I couldn’t be completely in the moment, because I was judging myself. The relationship was lacking, and I need to remember that it is the thoughts that feed us, so I shouldn’t rush through transitions. I am taking it all in, and am truly realizing that it is not enough to be a shy person who comes into her own when she’s living someone else’s life, because I need to use myself. So, making myself more confident in my own life will greatly help me with living other lives.
Margie treated us all to lunch, and we discussed our level and whether we were planning on coming back in January for weekly classes. I was told to try the fundamental level, and the one with Zak Barnett works best with my schedule, which I think is good, because he is the one who does the Teen Intensives, and I am told I should be playing teenagers, so he might be able to offer some insight!
After lunch, we watched ourselves on film, then we redid the second slice, one on one with Margie. Every time I started, I looked away before speaking, which Margie says is a way of apologizing for what we are about to say, and it means we are uncomfortable, which I don’t want to be. So, I have to stop looking away, and focus on the other person.
We finished off our two week intensive by standing in a circle and talking about our experience. I have to admit that it was a lot more emotional than anything I could have imagined. Throughout this intensive, we watched each other grow so much, not only in our acting, for which our transformations are incredible, but also as human beings. Most of the advice or critiques I was given were things that I can use in every day life. I will truly miss each and every single person of our ISP group, and will see all of them again someday. They are all amazing! xoxo
After class, (and some tearful hugs goodbye) I rushed around North Hollywood to get my headshots and the CD with all the shots from the shoot, then to Downtown LA, for a goodbye supper at Bottega Louie’s. It was delicious and beautiful, but the company was the best part. We ate, had a birthday dessert for Kyle, then sat around and talked until we had no choice but to head home. I am definitely going to miss my fellow ISPers!
Although the ISP was done, I still had work to do in LA. On Saturday, I woke up early to get to the California Market Center for Actorfest! I went all out and got the VIP package, so I was able to explore the booths and drop off my headshots at 9, then spent the rest of the day attending focus sessions. A lot of the information was the same, but some of it was completely different, and each speaker was incredibly interesting.
Since I am still just a Canadian citizen, and not allowed to work in the States, a lot of the advice wasn’t so useful for me right now, but I absorbed it all and took notes for when I will actually be involved in all of these casting processes in the Hollywood market.
Jeremy Gordon gave us his take on how to nail the casting process, which includes controlling the things you can, falling forward, and being the best person, not just the best actor. He also recommends Knowing Who You Are. Not everybody is right for everything. And he reminded us that it takes time, and even if you don’t get this project, there will always be more opportunities.
Next, Marci Liroff told us about the importance of social media. She introduced some interesting concepts about talking 80% about other things that interest you and 20% about you, as well as not posting the same thing on facebook and twitter (different voices). I had been planning on waiting to have more material before making a website, but after that session I will try to start it over Christmas break, complete with a link to my blog, and I will be starting a Facebook page.
John Frank Levey didn’t quite cover the topic he was supposed to, but he gave us a lot of advice about acting careers in general. I have a whole page of tiny pearls of wisdom, such as progressive goals, getting out of your comfort zone, expanding your horizons, doing extraordinary things to advance our careers, and not judging ourselves.
Cathy Sandrich Gelfond shared her knowledge of feature film casting. Be true to yourself and who you are seems to be a recurring theme, in a world based on pretending to be someone else. We should look past the words and see what is underneath, and we need to be good enough in our market to be able to beat the people auditioning in LA.
Fellow Montrealer Risa Bramon Garcia’s session centered more around surviving the world of acting and Hollywood without losing yourself. She said we should do something every day to define ourselves as actors, but also develop other parts of ourselves. Above all, we should be able to stand up in a room and tell everyone “I AM AN ACTOR” (when it’s appropriate of course).
Sarabeth Schedeen and Todd Rohrbacher stated that what it takes to make it as an actor is to be nice and get along with the acting community. The only way to have a career is to be hired back. Persevere and Believe in Yourself. Make a list of the roles you could play. I have pages of advice from them, but again, they said to wake up every morning and make the choice to do something to further your career. And if you do nothing, then that is a choice as well. Finally, don’t wait until you’re ready, Go Forward!
The session I was most looking forward to was Win the Room, not the Role, by April Webster. I have watched youtube videos of her advice to actors, and love pretty much every show she has cast. Not to mention, she has a lot of the same philosophies as Margie, about living a life instead of acting. She started out by reading a showbusiness contract, which was a set of agreements you should make when you decide to become an actor, some based on keeping your sanity, others on taking responsibility and being easy to work with. Every one made sense and was worth writing down. In addition to acting, she hopes we lead full and rich lives, and that we are consistently learning something new. LISTENING is what actors do. I need to accept myself in order for other people to. Use Your Power. She was a wealth of knowledge, and was encouraging when I talked to her afterwards. I would love to be a reader or somehow volunteer for AW Casting, to see how the other side of the casting process works, and I believe, to learn so much more!
The last focus session was about getting cast in films, again, but this time by Michelle Lewitt. For her, headshots are probably the most important part of your package. It was during this session that I met Charley, who I would hang out with for the rest of the evening. There weren’t so many Casting Directors as there were other actors at the cocktail part after Actorfest, but I hung out with Charley and Jake and had a great time. I even got a ride home and possibly a friend to watch the Superbowl with when I am back in LA! All in all, Actorfest was definitely a success!
My last two days in LA were mostly spent tying loose ends, such as picking up stuff for my dad, having a chili cheese dog at Pink’s and one last trip to the Grove (sprinkles) and Millions of Milkshakes! I also dropped by Margie’s to drop off some headshots and to sign up for the Fundamental Intensive with Zak Barnett in January. When I got home I gave a deposit to secure my spot in Anthony Meindl’s Introduction class, and found a place to stay with Atlee in January and February!
I learnt so much during my short time in LA, about acting, about living, about myself…I made a bunch of new friends and am so invigorated and excited for the rest of my life doing what I love! I can’t possibly put into words just how much this whole experience has meant to me, and although I am so happy to be home, I without a doubt recommend doing the Intensive Studies Program with Margie, because it truly changes your life!
To finish off, this is a kind of compilation of the most prominent critiquing I received, which hasn’t deterred me, but has encouraged me to work on it so I can do better and make all my dreams come true!
-Be empowered! Stand tall and look the world in the eye!
-Take the time to think thoughts and actually feel things. Don’t rush through it.
-Focus on the relationship with the reader, find it in them. Connect to the other person.
-Be specific. Find at least 3 events in my history with each person (first time we met, first fight, first kiss, etc)
-And most importantly, or perhaps to sum it all up, Trust That You Are Enough. No one brings what you bring. Speak to be heard.