Welcome to my Blog!

Welcome to my Blog!
I created it so that I could share acting tips with you; things I've learned over the years, working on set, teaching classes, coaching actors, auditioning actors, etc.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The huge opportunity most actors miss

Coaching actors on TV shows and teaching 3 or more acting classes every week, allows me to see certain commonalities that others may miss.  One of these commonalities is that the vast majority of actors pay way too much attention to the words and not nearly enough to what I call "the invisibles".

These invisibles are, in reality, where the REAL acting can happen.  But, as I said, most actors rush through these moments and many miss them entirely.  Even though these are the moments that not only win actors roles in auditions but also win them great reviews and yes, Oscars, Tonys, and Emmys…

So, exactly what are these "invisibles" that can win actors great roles and even greater acclaim?  They are the "Beat", and "Moment" and "Pause", and "" (ellipses) that are marked in the text but are not DEFINED in the text.

Am I exaggerating?  Can these things really make that much of a difference?  HELL YES!  In fact, these things make ALL the difference.  Consider the following text from a generic medical TV series:


  • "Her airway was compromised, she was actively hemorrhaging, and she had third degree burns on her chest.  I did what I needed to do to save that girl’s life.  (a beat)  No offense, Doctor, but we don’t always have the luxury to go by-the‐book in ER".

Now I've got to tell you, most actors (not you of course), would read these lines at an audition and  would take a brief pause where it says "(a beat)".  Many wouldn't even slow down.  Out of 50 to 70 actors auditioning for this role, perhaps one to three would actually fill that beat.  Seriously, one to three! Sure makes it easy to decide who to call back…

So exactly how do you go about "filling a beat"?  SPECIFICALLY, how would YOU deal with it when you see (beat) or (pause) or (a moment) in the text of your audition scene?  What steps would you take?  My guess is that you'd either pause for a second or just skip over it, right?  Come on, I'm right aren't I?  

If you answered "yes"then Kudos for being truthful and you're going to LOVE this tip!  EVERY time you see (beat) or (pause) or (a moment) in the text, say something SPECIFIC without speaking.  Now actually write in what you would say, in words, where it says (beat) or (pause) or (a moment) in the text.  So, in the dialogue above, where it says "(a beat)" you might write in something like "Please don't fire me" or "I am NOT going to hit you" or "you dumbass!".  Then, you simply say one of those exact phrases in your head when you reach the part of the dialogue that says "(a beat)".  You must use the exact words that you wrote, but don't speak them out loud.  Only in your head.  It's that simple.

In fact, try it!  Right now, with the dialogue above.  Choose one of the examples I just gave you and read the lines.  As you get to where it says "(a beat)", say the phrase to yourself. Even better, try all of the examples I just gave you, one at a time and then make up some of your own.  Note how the (beat) changes according to which silent phrase you use!  You're taking what most actors throw away and making it potentially become a stand-out moment in the scene.

Now, every time you see, (beat) or (pause) or (a moment), in the text, you can make a real moment out of it!

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