Acting

Acting Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

Being an actor in New York City (where a constant score is playing) can feel overwhelming for musical theatre performers and actors who need to warm up for their next auditions. While rushing from point A to point B, you may feel self-conscious about exposing your skills or making more noise in an environment that you feel doesn’t allow it. Wrong! No need to feel obligated to book a studio or a room to warm up. Why? Outside, whether on the busy streets of Manhattan or in a quieter borough, whether waiting for your train or commuting in your car, there are acting exercises you can do anywhere. We’ve rounded up some exercises that can help you get the most out of your time by keeping you in shape and warmed up.

Check out these acting exercises that you can do anywhere!

Lip Trills

On your way to the subway, put on some headphones and listen to your favorite music for some lip trills. You don’t even have to stop walking! Simply relax your face muscles and exhale softly through your lips to the beat and tune of your music, letting your lips vibrate and buzz. Fun, right?

All actors and singers know how important it is to be fully relaxed and breathing at all times, and lip trills help you bring that awareness and sensation to your face, lips, mouth, and throat. This easy exercise could become your favorite, and you may just find yourself doing lip trills everywhere. Perfect!

Yawn

That’s right — a simple yawn is an important vocal warm-up!

After your lip drills, open your mouth wide, imagining that your skull is split in two, lifting your back palate, and yawn once or twice. If more yawning happens naturally, let it come and don’t hold back! Yawning and finishing on an “E” is fun and very relaxing, and a great way to relax your muscles and reset your energy before an audition.

Tongue Twisters

As you know, the New York Film Academy is a unique school that gathers artists from all continents in our world together to learn and create. So celebrate that international diversity in your warm up.

For this tongue twister, make your job easy and fun by doing two tongue twisters in your native language (if you’re an international student) or a friend’s language, and then finish on three English-language versions. You can find some great ones in Speak with Distinction by Edith Skinner.

Whatever language you’re speaking, do your tongue twisters very slowly at first. Articulate carefully to place your tongue and voice properly and, most importantly, to feel the placement of your voice.

Don’t force it! Our muscles have to awaken gently. If you can do your tongue twisters fast, fantastic, but the speed doesn’t matter. The point is to stretch your mouth muscles, wake up your articulators, and find the vibration of your voice. After all, you’ll need them for your monologue or song at your audition.

Hum

Here’s an acting warm-up that you can do literally anywhere. Close your mouth, smile without showing your teeth, and hum any song you know — all the way through. If you have time, hum another song or two, and have fun!

If you are a singer, you will know if there is a certain part of your voice you’ll need to focus on warming up for your song or monologue. If you are about to sing from your head, your chest, or your mask, warm that specific part accordingly by placing your hand there while humming. Use your humming to tell your brain that that placement has to wake up so it will be ready during your audition.

Take it easy and be kind to your instrument.

Water

A very important and often-overlooked step in preparing your instrument to perform is staying hydrated! Lots will move as you wake up your instrument with these exercises, so be sure to have a sip of water handy when you need it.

Try to work through these exercises at least three times a week. Used consistently, these tools can help you unlock a deeper understanding of your craft and, most importantly, your technique. With time, you will adapt these exercises and find new ones too — and maybe create some of your own. Who knows?

Ready to learn more about acting technique? Check out Acting for Film and Musical Theatre programs at the New York Film Academy.

How To Find Your Acting Mentor

Current “it man” of acting, Michael B. Jordan, said of his mentors, Forest Whitaker, Ben Affleck, and Oprah, “As an actor, a solo mission doesn’t really happen that often … somebody that’s been through it before that’ll reach back and give you some sound advice is so valuable … and I’ve been pretty lucky to have some good people.”

Jordan is a great example of how having a mentor, in what is easily the most competitive business in the world, can be an incredible resource, perhaps even helping aspiring actors navigate from waiting tables and getting a big break. So, here are some helpful tips on how to go about finding your own acting mentor:

Connect with your teachers.

The advantage of being in NYFA’s Acting for Film School is that you already have access to a vast number of skilled instructors who are active in the industry and who are there to guide you through the ins-and-outs of what to expect in the “real world.” NYFA’s professional faculty provide their students with exceptional training, and students have the opportunity for additional guidance through private consultations with their instructors.     

Enthusiasm begets enthusiasm, so every teacher is at their best when their students are eager to learn. Always be present, don’t hesitate to ask as many questions as possible, sign up for extra workshops, and make sure to stay in touch with your teachers beyond graduation.

Reach for the stars.

‘90s singer and songwriter Lisa Loeb, most known for her number one hit song Stay from the classic film Reality Bites (1994), got that gig with just a little faith and a lot of courage. She lived next door to the star of the film, Ethan Hawke, and took the incentive to hand him her demo tape — which Hawke then passed on to director Ben Stiller. Now, this may deviate a little from the narrative of budding actors finding acting mentors, but it’s a great example of how simply asking can go a long way. Make a list of your heroes, do a little bit of research, and find out what events they may be attending next — Q&A’s and discussion panels are ideal. Prepare the most compelling question(s) for them. You might even consider asking your hero to be your mentor!

Anything is possible, so long as you try.

Network

Networking isn’t just about building contacts to find work, but is also a great way to find people even just a few steps ahead of you to learn from. Attend acting workshops, conferences, screenings, join an improv group, and use social media to your advantage. Facebook has an infinite number of groups you can join, and you’ll be sure to find multiple mentors on discussion boards alone.

Read Books

The next best thing to being mentored in person by your heroes, is being mentored through a book. Whether it’s an autobiography like Bossypants, by Tina Fey, or more along the lines of a step-by-step guide like Sanford Meisner on Acting, every actor can improve their craft with the pearls of wisdom in the pages. The best part about this is there’s no security, agent, or even time getting in the way of you and your mentor.

The main takeaway from all of these points is that as a mentee, to be successful, the key is to always be open to learning and to never stop asking.  

5 Ways an Acting Degree Can Help You Outside the Acting Industry

While our favorite film and television stars make it look easy, acting for film requires a variety of skills few ever come to master. It’s why an acting degree is so important at an early age— there’s no better way to start learning the ins and outs of the industry before diving in.

Whether you make a career out of acting or take another route later in life, here are several ways an acting degree or conservatory program prepares you for more than just acting.

  1. Confidence under pressure.

Most careers out there will put you in a high-pressure situation at some point. This can be an intimidating thought if you’ve always been a naturally shy person or simply don’t work well under stress. Becoming a good actor is impossible without developing self-awareness and confidence, since you’re tasked with embodying human emotion, character, and memorizing lines to deliver them later in front of either a live audience or film team. Acting skills can be used in all kinds of daily situations.

Experience performing everything from silly to emotional roles will leave you with a stronger sense of confidence that’s perfect for taking on auditions, interviews, meetings, and more.

  1. Teamwork.

If there’s one thing you can expect to do throughout your acting studies, it’s working with others. While individual skills and roles are important, how well a group connects to overcome hurdles often influences the impact of the performance. This is why actors are taught to become strong team players in order to collaborate better with others and build off each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

It goes without saying that almost every industry outside of acting is looking for people who can become an effective, positive contributor into their team.

  1. Public speaking.

They say almost three out of four people have some form of glossophobia — the fear of public speaking. However, being able to speak in front of people without stuttering or panicking is a valuable skill almost everywhere. Since acting is all about talking and performing in front of an audience, an acting degree is a great way to build skills that can directly translate to public speaking and help you overcome any anxiety about presenting yourself in a diverse variety of professional settings.

If you can learn to speak clearly in front of people, including delivering moving monologues, then giving a convincing speech or leading a meeting elsewhere will be no problem.

  1. Learn how to listen.

The ability to respond based off of what we hear, as opposed to how we feel or what we were thinking while others were speaking, is a skill worth improving. In acting classes you are taught to pay attention in order to perform on cue, improvise a line if someone messes up, etc. Acting is all about listening, timing, and responding to others, which means those who don’t listen will fail to deliver a moving, believable performance.

An acting degree or conservatory program will leave you with refined communication skills that are important for finding success in showbiz, other careers, and even in your relationship with friends and loved ones.

  1. Building strong friendships.

Speaking of relationships, a great way to form bonds with people is by working together on something you all share a passion for. Even if you don’t become bffs with everyone in your acting classes, you’ll gain respect for each other and connect while learning in a dynamic and intensive educational environment. But more often than not, a long-lasting relationship is formed between students who worked toward a fun, challenging goal together.

Learning to act puts you in touch with your own inner humanity, which helps you build empathy and form connections with other humans. Never a bad thing!

No matter where you find yourself in life, your level of happiness will probably be much higher if you learn to form friendships with other employees and bosses. Learning to build character relationships while playing roles with varying viewpoints can also help make you a more empathetic and understanding person. Ready to learn more about acting? Check out our acting degree and acting conservatory programs!

 

Tips on Finding the Perfect Monologue

by NYFA Instructor Denis McCourt, MFA

So you’re taking an acting class, have a general audition, or just want to hone your craft, and are looking for the perfect monologue. The search is really a three pronged approach:

What type of monologue are you looking for?

As you begin your quest for the words you will spend a large amount of time and energy working on, first, it is best to consider what you are trying to accomplish.

In the world of monologues, you have many broad categories — contemporary-comedy, contemporary-dramatic, classical-comedy, classical-dramatic … and even more broadly, plays versus film/television/online-content (web series).

If you are intending to work on a monologue in an acting class, you should select one from a play. These words have been written to be performed live by an actor on stage. That idea might sound obvious, yet many actors use film and television for their source material. That great dramatic monologue you saw in the latest blockbuster film has music, sound, camera angles, lighting, reaction shots and editing (just to name a few elements) to help make that overall dramatic or funny impact for the audience — plus, you will be perpetually compared to that Oscar-winning performance.  

When you find material written to be performed on the stage, it will fare better in your acting class and/or general audition. So, if you have now bought into the idea of plays, you have narrowed your content down from hundreds of thousands to only a few thousand possibilities.

How do you find your connection or hear your voice in the monologue?

This next step is very important in your quest for the perfect monologue.

Let’s say you want to expand the work you are doing in your acting class. You are very funny, which everyone around you reinforces in your work, so now you want to explore your more dramatic skills. One of the hardest concepts about acting that everyone struggles with is the idea of “connection,” or “your voice.” The best way to define this for you is to look back over your lifetime and ask questions.

In the years that you have been on this earth, what has mattered to you? Where did you grow up? Are you a member of the LGBTQ+ community? What cultural and gender identity speaks to you? Are you involved in any social issues or causes? Do you feel drawn to victims’ rights, or religious beliefs? Are you an animal rights advocate? Were you raised on a farm or in the city? In sharing these questions, and by you answering them, you begin to feel a connection and find your voice.

The next step would be for you to find a playwright that shares your connection and voice. If, as in our example, you have already decided that you want to work on a dramatic monologue, the exclusion of comedic writers has narrowed your search from thousands down to hundreds. And if you know you’d like to focus on a woman’s point of view, you have now narrowed that down even further.

The good news is that you are now looking for writers that share your voice and perspective, and once you find them there will be a body of work for you to tap into for source material.

I would strongly encourage you to become an avid reader of plays. In your quest for the perfect monologue, you can also develop your skills as a cold reader by reading the plays out loud –honing yet another skill you will need as an actor!

Where do I begin to look to find the perfect monologue?

Let’s face it: acting is already hard enough as it is to do the work well, and in your career you will sometimes be asked to work on material that is not that great if not bad. If you are paid to do it and are at that stage of your career, you will do it. But when developing your craft, the suggestion is to ride a thoroughbred.

What do I mean by that? If you find the best material, it will help you develop the skills you are working on developing. So, how do I find the best material that matches my voice? Although many are looking for that “golden monologue book written just for you,” you need to know that such a thing does not exist.

Most published monologue books are not good source material, because they are not attached to any story or character development — they are random words written for the purpose of actors, like you, in search of the perfect monologue. And, like you, there are thousands of actors buying that book and working on that same monologue which every casting professional and acting coach has heard over and over and over again. So, all of your efforts are thrown out the window as soon as they hear the first sentence because their inner monologue is; oh, no, not this one again.

So, if you get anything from this article, don’t buy the monologue book.

If you put a little more effort into the quest, it will pay off for you in spades. So, where should you look to find this thoroughbred? There is another three pronged approach: check out theatre awards, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and go see live theatre.

  • Theatre Awards:

If a writer has won or been nominated for a Tony Award or an Olivier Award, the material is a thoroughbred. When an actor has been nominated for or won a Tony Award or an Olivier Award the material is a thoroughbred. Here is the link to the Tony Award past winners.

If you go to that site, it lists not only the winners but the nominees as well, since the inception of the awards. All of this is great source material. You then can even target playwrights that write about content you are searching for in your perfect monologue. You can even target famous actors that you have been following that are “your type.”

You will find this a very rich resource of great material. Plus, you have narrowed down your material from thousands to hundreds or less.

  • Pulitzer Prize for Drama:

This award is a very high benchmark for playwrights, and exploring the winners will provide you with an international selection of original voices of today and years past.

The site not only shares the winners, but also provides you with all of the finalists in any given year. You will see that this list will share some great thoroughbred possibilities in your quest, though you will most likely see some duplicates between the Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize sites.

  • Live Theatre:

As you can probably guess, live theatrical plays are the best source material for finding the perfect monologue.

If you go see lots of plays, you will find material you will want to work on. The great thing about plays is that they are done all over the place.

You can spend big money and go see major New York and/or Los Angeles productions. You can go to great regional theatres in Chicago, Minneapolis or Atlanta. Or you can go to the many local professional and/or community theatres in cities and towns around the world. Other great resources are colleges and universities.

By seeing actors working on the craft you are developing, you will learn. Even if it is the worst performance you have ever seen, you will be hearing the words of the monologues spoken out loud in the context of the story and character arc.

If you see many plays, especially stories that appeal to you, your chances of finding that monologue increases. You have now narrowed the search from hundreds of thousands down to a few hundred or less and you have some practical steps to make in your quest to find the perfect monologue.

Ready to learn more about acting and deepen your craft? Check out the New York Film Academy’s Acting School offerings.

 

4 Ways Movie Casting is Different From TV Casting

With television’s creativity and talent blossoming in recent years, it’s becoming more usual to see A-List actors and big budgets gracing the small screen. In terms of production value, there’s not a lot to distinguish a show like Game of Thrones from major theatrical releases. Even so, casting for film and television can make different demands on an actor. Just as on-camera acting differs from stage acting, television acting (and hence casting) is different from that of casting for film … and even within television, there is a are a variety of factors casting directors have in mind.

We’ve created this list to help you make intelligent decisions when you get called for your next big audition.

  1. In film, the script is complete.

Sure some films will demand improvisation and require some rewriting during production, but in general the outcome of the film is determined long before an actor is called to audition, which means that the director and producers have a good idea of what they want for the part.

  1. Television scripts are waiting to be written.

On the other hand, television — and in particular television pilots — are an opportunity for actors to create a role, and your personality will at least in part determine the arc of the character as the show enjoys years of success! The viewers will be tuning in to see you, and the writers will be writing for you, so your personality needs to shine through in the audition.

  1. Not all television casting is created equal.

Of course, even casting for pilots in prime time shows is different than for a recurring role in an established show and different again for casting for a guest in a single episode.

Casting director Marci Phillips lays it out in The Present Actor: “One And Done Episodic roles are trickier. When we’re casting Series Regulars, we’re looking for Stars. This usually isn’t so when we’re looking to cast the rest of the episode. With an Under-5 or small Co-star TV role, you are usually there for exposition. You are there to serve and support the story, so they don’t necessarily want someone unique or fascinating unless that’s what the role specifically calls for.”

  1. Network casting vs. cable.

Cable shows have become increasingly filmic in recent years, and hence the performances of the actors more nuanced. Scenes are allowed to unfold without regards to commercial breaks, so it’s important to think about the kind of show you’re auditioning for: network or cable.

As this article at Cast It Talent suggests, network performances tend to be more condensed: “Television programs are built around commercial breaks, and to make sure you don’t change the channel, that’s when the victim tells the detective they know who the killer really is. A dramatic pause, music cue, and the camera slowly inches closer to the detective’s astonished/puzzled/worried face. Cut to commercial.”

Sound confusing? The only way to really grasp the differences is to perform many scenes and practice auditioning for a variety of roles. The New York Film Academy (NYFA) is a great place to learn the subtle and not-so-subtle differences in technique required for film and television acting, so that, when you get to your big-break audition, you will nail it.

Ready to learn more about acting for the screen? Check out our acting programs.

Unexpected Places for Finding Your Next Monologue

Whether you act primarily in theatre or on camera, there will come a time when you are asked to perform a monologue. Instead of dusting off that old piece you’ve been performing for years, or turning to a book of monologues that every other actor you’re up against is also clutching, why not look for something fresh? Not only will it be more engaging for you, but an unexpected monologue will be more likely to impress and delight that important casting director or agent.

How to avoid the expected:

Of course there are no hard and fast rules in auditioning — what works for one actor, casting director, agent, and so on, will likely vary vastly. But in general, it’s probably a good idea to steer clear of overdone monologues. If the person you’re auditioning for starts mouthing the words with you, it may prove disheartening.

So perhaps you might check in with the lists of overdone monologues at MonologueAudition.com, before you commit.

Look to your favorite films:

Sometimes actors pick monologues that are overdone because they feel like only a classic scene will prove one’s talents. But pretty much every movie has a scene when someone talks for a minute or two — and that’s a monologue. It’s often an important moment in the story when the character is wanting something desperately from the other character and in the process they reveal their most private feelings.

We often don’t notice monologues as such because they are in the context of conversation. If the conversation is interesting, you’ll not notice that one person has had center stage for a minute or two. Try it! Watch any movie you love, and pay attention to the key scenes. There will likely be a monologue in there!

And never fear, if the interlocutor interjects with an “mm hmm,” or “right on,” you can just accept that kind of encouragement as nonverbal, or simply cut it out completely.

So the first thing to remember is that monologues can be buried in plain sight, and the second thing to remember is that you can often find a good one simply by doing a little editing.

 

Don’t limit yourself to plays and screenplays:

In this persuasive article called Why You Should Have 20 Monologues, Karen Kohlhaas offers some examples of unexpected places to look for monologues — including interviews with famous writers, artists, astronauts, or even everyday people who might be in the news or interviewed over the course of a documentary. But she reminds us, “Make sure you end up with a clear beginning, middle, climax and end.”

Importantly, Kohlhaas urges actors to embrace the challenge. “Looking to someone else to choose material for them puts actors in a passive position — which they are in too often in this business!”

It might take a little more work to look for monologues outside the monologue sites and books, and to do a little editing to make them right, but the process will likely make that monologue meaningful for you and special for your audience.

In what unexpected places have you found your best monologues? Let us know in the comments below! Ready to learn more about acting? Enroll at the New York Film Academy’s Acting School today.

Self-Care Tips for Actors from New York Film Academy

From your physical health to your emotional well-being, not taking care of yourself as an actor will make it hard, if not impossible, to give your best performance. And if you are acting in front of the camera, every stress and strain will show! Here, we compiled a few tips to help you look and feel your best — great for your career and your psyche!

What goes in must come out.

Eating unhealthy foods or using substances and alcohol can all wreak havoc on your skin, damage your body, and make emotional stability and clarity on set or on stage very difficult.

To keep fit and healthy, this Backstage article suggests you eat a good breakfast, and keep your energy level up by eating small healthy snacks throughout the day. And as for exercise, “The most important thing is to move your body at least 30 minutes a day minimum.”

Photo by Kate Trysh from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/adult-blur-close-up-daylight-241456/

Rehearsals and long shoots are not always conducive to getting the rest you need, but you should try to unplug and put yourself into bed at reasonable hours whenever possible. Not only will sleep help you avoid unsightly dark circles, but it’s necessary for emotional stability.

Speaking of emotional stability, ABC Entertainment Executive Director, Casting (NY) Marci Philips’ book “The Present Actor” is full of wonderful advice that ranges from the practical to the esoteric. Perhaps none is more important than what she has to say about the use of alcohol, drugs and other self-destructive behaviors that “may be a quick fix now but will inevitably and viciously bite you in the *ss.”

Empower yourself.

Let’s face it, being an actor sometimes feel very disempowering, which is why so many actors turn to producing. In every actor’s career there may be busy times and not so busy times. You may not always be booking jobs, or not the jobs you want.

So why not give yourself your dream job? Create a web series with your friends, write and produce a play, put together a short film, or find a new way to evolve new media entertainment.

As this article suggests, “Don’t just wait for the phone to ring. Submit yourself for projects through online casting sites like Backstage,” and “Find out if any films are shooting on location in your area. Do some digging. Your local film commission will have all this information.”

Perfect your craft and find a community.

Acting classes and workshops will of course help you to rock that big break when it comes, but they will also get you out of the house and meeting like-minded people.

As this article puts it, “We are in this together, and without a community, it is not only harder to find a job, it is too isolating. Face it, we don’t ‘act’ alone unless we only want to be in one-person shows.”

Self-care does not equal selfishness.

Sometimes the best way to care for yourself is to care for others. Volunteering to serve in your community is a great way to get out of your head and stop fretting about your own woes. It will also give you the opportunity to practice compassion, which will help you be a better actor and human being.

Ready to take care of your dreams and learn more about acting? Check out our acting for film programs at the New York Film Academy.

Social Media Mistakes Actors Make

With 2.07 billion active users on Facebook, 330 million on Twitter, and 467 million on LinkedIn, many aspiring and established actors are promoting their work on social media sites.

If you’re hoping to utilize your social media accounts to make new connections and build a fanbase as a professional actor, you’ll have to engage with people on one or more social media site.

With that said, many of us are warned about the potential pitfalls of social media As an aspiring actor, you’ll want to be on top of your game when promoting yourself on social media because each decision you make can impact your acting career significantly.

Want to be ahead of the game? Follow these seven tips and tricks to help create a lasting social media presence.

1) Start Small

There are many different social media platforms, but that doesn’t mean you need to have a presence on all of them. Start with one or two you are familiar with and build your presence on those accounts.

For example, start off by creating your Facebook fan page or Twitter handle. Take the time to learn tricks and techniques that will help you grow a following on those sites before adding another.

2) Stay Away From Controversy

Don’t post anything lewd, crude, or otherwise inappropriate. You are trying to be marketable and professional. Causing controversy results in neither of those things.

Stick by this golden rule: if you wouldn’t want your grandparents to see it, you probably shouldn’t post it. If you’re not sure about a post, get a few opinions from friends and colleagues

3) Remember to Do Basic Grammar Checks

Everyone occasionally makes mistakes, but constant misspellings or incorrect grammar could distract from your acting chops. Remember, if you want someone to take your acting seriously, you have to consider every post you make as a reflection of your professional self.

Remember to carefully proofread your posts and have another person take a glance as well.

4) Mix It Up

Don’t just post all text posts or constantly show off videos. Give your audience variety with text, picture, and video posts. All fans like something different — some may enjoy videos, some pictures, and some may like a little bit of everything.

Make sure you take the time to create fun and engaging posts of all types for the best results.

5) Make Your Posts Meaningful

Don’t post something just to post!

First, consider how meaningful your post is to your “brand.” Does it benefit you or your target audience? Does it contribute something unique and essential to your brand? If not, then don’t post something as filler.

6) Don’t Leave People in the Dark!

While you shouldn’t post something for the sake of posting something, you also don’t want to abandon your social media presence for weeks or months at a time.

Make a regular schedule to commit yourself to and make sure your followers are aware of when new posts will appear.

7) It’s Not All About You

Believe it or not, it’s actually helpful to not talk about yourself all of the time.  Sure, you need to be comfortable with promoting yourself, but you also don’t want to come off as egotistical. People enjoy seeing actors who are compassionate , hardworking, and human.

Brag about your latest role, but also praise fellow actors and productions you recently enjoyed.

 

Looking for a more permanent boost to your acting portfolio? Browse our acting program and other areas of study.

Acting Without Talking: How to Make a Big Impact — Without Lines!

The New York Film Academy knows that acting isn’t just about conveying emotion through spoken words. It’s also about posture, facial expressions, movement, and body language. Mastering techniques like the ones previously listed will help you become more present, more emotionally available, and genuine. As a result, you’ll feel more confident, natural, and you’ll be able to be present in the moment of your scene.

Here are some tips to help you improve certain aspects of acting without having to speak any lines. Once you master these, you’ll be well on your way to perfecting your craft.

Eye Contact

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Direct eye contact can convey a score of thought and emotion. Your acting coach has probably drilled into your head that listening to a partner is key. However, if excessive, direct eye contact may come off as too intense and ruin the emotion of the scene. Conversely, if your eyes dart around to other places during a scene without focusing on your partner, it can convey that you’re not invested. When it comes to eye contact, it’s all about achieving that equal balance.

Body language

Body language can be a driving force in expressing emotion and visual storytelling for an actor without having to speak. The first step–literally–for an actor is to determine where they need to stand, especially in relation to other actors in the scene. Don’t stand too close but don’t stand so far away that your co-stars can’t hear when you speak. Once you have determined where you are going to stand for your scene, you will want to set up your launch stance. A launch stance is the way you stand that keeps you relaxed, comfortable, and confident. Both feet on the ground with head up, shoulders back, and knees slightly bent is a common launch stance.

If you want the director or your scene partner to feel like you are listening to them, point your feet and torso in their direction. It shows that you are open toward them, and will help keep tensions low.

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Don’t underestimate the power of microexpressions; facial expressions and gestures can make or break an act. Directors want to be around people who are positive and happy. Try to smile genuinely while you are acting out your scene. In order to smile genuinely, think of a thought, joke, or scenario that makes you smile.

As an actor, you should be aware of the seven universal microexpressions. Knowing and understanding microexpressions will help you better prepare for scenes. The seven micoexpressions are: disgust, anger, fear, sadness, surprise, contempt, and happiness. They can occur from 1/15 to 1/25 of a second, so it’s important to be aware as possible when it comes your body language.

To learn more about decoding microexpressions, watch Vanessa Van Edwards discuss them one by one, and how to detect the hidden emotions from other actors.

At NYFA, it’s important for us to offer students a hands-on approach to help students prepare for performing both in front of the camera or on stage. Some classes that we offer students include: voice and movement, movement, and advanced movement.

Do you have any methods for acting without talking? Sound off below! We would love to hear from you. Learn more about acting at the New York Film Academy.

3 Ways Acting For Film Is Different From Stage Acting and How to Adjust

Are you finding it difficult to make the transition from theatre to film and TV? If so, it may be that your training for the stage is getting you into trouble. From auditions to final product, stage and screen acting make different demands on actors.

Here are three major differences with tips on adjusting your performance.

1. Distance matters.

If you’ve been on stage, you’ve probably heard it said that you must play to the back of the house. In your movements and your voice, there is not a lot of room for subtlety. Small facial expressions and soft voices will probably not reach beyond the first few rows.

Conversely, when you are acting for the camera, you must be as contained physically as possible. As this Theatrefolk article puts it, “Because of the close-up perspective, actors on film must use more subtle, controlled, and natural expressions and gestures. Large, exaggerated ‘stage acting’ can look awkward and silly on screen.”

Nearly every emotion conveyed on screen is done through facial expressions. Your eyes can betray you. If you are thinking about your lines or your hair rather than about your character’s situation, the camera will see it and the audience will disconnect from you even if they don’t know exactly why.

2. Preparation and performance.

If you’ve been in a play, you know that a lot of time goes into rehearsals. Once the curtain rises, there can be no do-overs. You need to know your lines perfectly and perform them with energy every time.

Often in film and television, you’ll probably not get more than a cursory run-through before cameras start rolling. It is also not unusual to have script changes at the very last minute, so flexibility is important.

No matter what, you have to work on memorizing lines, so that when you hit the stage or set you are not the one wasting everyone’s time! In this article, we offer tips to help you nail your lines whether you have months to prepare or merely hours.

But keep in mind that in theatre, the play runs its course linearly and it is likely that there will be an emotional pull to the end. In film and television, scenes are shot out of sequence. This means that different challenges face the screen actor, who must move quickly between emotional frequencies with little time to prepare.

3. Familiarity vs. originality.

When people go to a play, they are often already familiar with the characters and plot. They are there to see an actor bring Juliet or Willy Loman to life. As this Backstage article puts it, “The audience and critics will compare you to past versions of the same show. Because many stage characters have been played over and over, there is only so much leeway an audience will accept before they start to complain.”

In casting for film and television, it is often the case that the script will be wholly original and brand new for everyone, and its creators are looking for an actor to bring herself to the role. Especially in television, a part will grow and change with the actor. This means that when auditioning, it is important to be as natural and authentic as possible — something much easier said than done!

Ready to learn more about acting for film? Study acting at the New York Film Academy.

 

Fan Favorite Performances From Blockbuster Season

There’s no better time to be a movie fan. This year there were plenty of fantastic films released during the summer, which means a number of notable acting performances that will have us talking throughout this awards season.

In case you missed them, this is your call to catch up on recent stand-out blockbuster performances:

Gal Gadot in “Wonder Woman”

These days there’s no shortage of movies based on our favorite comic book heroes. In fact, it’s now normal to have several superhero movies release during the summer. But if there’s one actress who many thought didn’t have what it takes to become the next DC Comics superstar, it’s Gal Gadot. Of course, the Israeli actress and model proved everyone wrong by impressing with her performance as one of the most iconic female superheroes we know.

While Chris Pine’s performance as Steve Trevor was praised, Gadot proved she was the perfect fit as Wonder Woman by making the heroine feel strong yet genuine and compassionate.

Fionn Whitehead & Harry Styles in “Dunkirk”

If there’s one thing the industry can agree on, it’s that Christopher Nolan knows how to make good movies. His latest, a World War II epic about the British military’s celebrated evacuation, already has more than $166 million in box office and nothing but positive reviews. One of the most remarkable things about “Dunkirk” is that it was the film acting debut for two of the main characters.

Although it was their first major acting gig, both Fionn Whitehead and Harry Styles impressed with their roles as young Allied soldiers. Like many celebrities who reached stardom in another industry, there were low expectations for Styles. Instead, most reviewers praised his convincing performance.

Andy Serkis in “War for the Planet of the Apes”

Ever since his critically acclaimed role as Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings” film trilogy, Andy Serkis has become the top motion-capture actor on the planet. Working on big films like “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “The Avengers: Age of Ultron,” Serkis’ movies have grossed more than $8 billion dollars worldwide. Did we mention you’ll also see his work in the upcoming “Black Panther” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi?”

Reprising his role as Caesar, Serkis once again blew audiences away with his performance as the leader of the apes.

Tiffany Haddish, “Girls Trip”

This summer was not good for fans of R-rated comedy. From “Trainwreck” and “Snatched” to “The House” and “Baywatch,” several movies that promised to keep us laughing during the hottest months of the year ended up underwhelming. Only “Girls Trip” delivered thanks to its many comical situations and well-chosen cast.

Despite working alongside renowned co-stars like Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall, and Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish managed to steal the show and keep viewers laughing throughout the film. Her role in the film is considered Haddish’s breakout role and one of the reasons the R-rated comedy has earned more than $100 million

Tom Holland in “Spider-Man: Homecoming”

There will always be skeptics when a new actor takes the role of a beloved superhero. Considering that the last film, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” underperformed at the box office and received mixed reviews, there was even more pressure on Tom Holland to bring Peter Parker to life in yet another attempt at a Spider-Man film reboot.

Tom Holland received acclaim for his performance as the Webslinger in “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” which is considered by many to be the best film in the franchise to date. Holland’s good looks and acting abilities also helped him win “Choice Summer Movie Actor” and get nominated for Choice Breakout Movie Star at the 2017 Teen Choice Awards.

Kumail Nanjiani in “The Big Sick”

It just wouldn’t be summer without a few romantic comedies thrown into the mix. On paper, “The Big Sick” sounds like the many other movies in this genre that you’ve already seen. There’s the nice guy falling in love with a girl he thinks is too good for her but goes for it anyway, resulting in a rollercoaster of emotions.

But what makes this movie unique, hilarious, and worth watching even if you hate romantic comedies is Kumail Nanjiani’s performance. His excellent chemistry with co-star Zoe Kazan and knack for melding humor with heartwarming moments is one of the reasons “The Big Sick” is seen as a revitalization of the genre.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Actors Influencing the World

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National Hispanic Heritage Month takes place from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, and according to the official website is a time for “celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.” In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we have outlined three Latino or Hispanic actors who have done positive work for their communities outside of Hollywood.

First, a brief history of National Hispanic Heritage Month. In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson started the observation as Hispanic Heritage Week, and President Ronald Reagan expanded it in 1988 to cover a 30-day period.

Now, let’s join in the celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month and get to know some incredible people making a positive impact on the entertainment industry:

Eva Longoria

You may remember Eva Longoria as Gabriel Solis, the sultry housewife on ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” which aired from 2004-2012. The actress has won a Screen Actors Guild Award, an ALMA Award, and has been nominated for a Golden Globe.

However, Longoria is more than one of Hollywood’s hottest Latino actresses. Hollywood Reporter named her “Philanthropist of the Year,” and she was selected as an honoree for Variety’s “Power of Women Awards.”

When Longoria isn’t filming, she is working with one of her many charities. She founded “The Eva Longoria Foundation” in 2010, which helps Latinas build better futures for themselves through education and entrepreneurship. She is also a spokesperson for PADRES Contra El Cancer (Parents Against Cancer), a nonprofit committed to improving quality of life for Latino children with cancer and their families. She also co-founded “Eva’s Heroes,” a nonprofit dedicated to assisting those with developmental challenges.

Longoria is currently working with United Farm Workers, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Dolores Huerta Foundation, and the National Council of La Raza.

Dascha Polanco

In late 2016, Dascha Polanco, who you’ve seen as Dayanara on Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black,” was honored at the K.I.D.S/Fashion Delivers annual gala and The DREAM Project (Dominican Republic Education and Mentoring Project). Polanco helped The K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers annual gala raise more than $1 million to help those affected by poverty and natural disasters.

Polanco is developing a theater and arts program for youth in the Dominican Republic, in collaboration with DREAM. For her contributions, the DREAM Project recognized Polanco as its “DREAMer of the Year.”

In an interview with Latina, Polanco said she did philanthropy work because it made her feel good: “This work enriches my soul. Some people think money and status are everything. Not me.”  

Tony Gonzalez

Anthony David Gonzalez, who goes by Tony, is a former tight end for Kansas City Chiefs and the Atlanta Falcons. Since retiring from the NFL, Gonzalez has been a sports analyst on Fox’s NFL pre-game show. When Gonzalez wasn’t playing football, he appeared on television shows such as “One Tree Hill” and “NCIS.” In 2017, he appeared in Vin Diesel’s “XXX: Return of Xander Cage,” as Paul Donovan.

Gonzalez adopted Marty Postlethwait’s nonprofit Shadow Buddies, and made it a main program of the Tony Gonzalez Foundation after his rookie year with Kansas City Chiefs. The organization represents different conditions ranging from heart defects to cancer, and diabetes to burns.

According to the Shadow Buddies website, the foundation creates and distributes customized dolls to children struggling with serious health issues to send them a message of hope and support: “Crafted from muslin and carefully researched to represent a child’s medical or emotional condition, Shadow Buddies offer seriously ill or medically challenged children the companionship of a friend ‘just like me.’”

Recently, the Tony Gonzalez Foundation has expanded the Shadow Buddies program to include senior citizens, with dolls customized to reflect familiar issues related to heart, vision, and day surgery. These dolls are aimed to provide comfort and companionship to senior citizens. More than 5,000 dolls have been delivered to senior citizens since the start of the program.

Do you know a Latino or Hispanic actor or director that has made a positive difference or influence in their community? Let us know below!

 

How to Make the Most of a Part with Minimal Lines

Every aspiring actor dreams of one day playing the lead roles. But whether you went through an excellent acting school or spontaneously gave it a shot, you’ll usually have to start at the bottom to reach the top. This means taking on small roles where, if you’re lucky, you’ll get to say some lines.

1. Remember that small parts are still important!

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Before you even show up to an audition or start practicing your lines, it’s good to keep one thing fresh in your mind: every part matters. And whether you have one line or one thousand, it’s important to do your work and know your part inside and out.

You don’t have look far to find A-list stars who began with bit parts, knocked it out of the park, and slowly worked their way up to build a strong reputation as a professional artist. For example, Robin William and Tom Hanks, two of the best ever to grace our industry, played various minor roles (both of them on “Happy Days”) before making it big.

Even as a day player, delivering excellent craftsmanship and making a good impression on set is always an actor’s first and foremost priority. Remember, any role can lead to future roles.

2. Prepare for the role.

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A big mistake many burgeoning actors make when given a “small” role is thinking it’ll be a piece of cake. Since they’re only reading one or two lines, they don’t take it as seriously as they should and fail to prepare. Whether you’re saying one line or many, a good actor always does the work to make sure their character has originality and depth.

Needless to say, you should definitely arrive to the job able to play your handful of lines without looking at the script.

3. Show up knowing you’re not the star.

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It’s easy to get excited about any role, but remember that although you did all your homework and are completely wrapped up in your character’s backstory, you’re there to collaborate. You will be supporting the work of the entire crew and fellow performers, including the stars. So forget about impressing the director, or worse of all, ditching the script to say your own lines. The last thing you want to do is put your ego first: do a great job, know your work, and support the story. That’s the surest way to make a great impression, after all.

4. Don’t ruin an opportunity.

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A minor role is a good way to sharpen up your skills and improve your own work ethic while showing you’ve got what it takes to create success in the industry. Small parts are a part of building a career, and it’s important to take them seriously. As actress Laura Cayouette, author of “Know Small Parts,” puts it: “One reason small parts are a big deal to me is that I make a living playing them.”

No matter how minor your role is, your work is an opportunity to not only strengthen your own professionalism, but to build relationships. Show gratitude for the opportunity by playing your role well, sure, but also by showing professionalism in how you handle yourself off-camera. This is your opportunity to build a reputation as being an actor everyone wants to work with. Don’t be the one slowing things down or giving the crew headaches.

5. Be present and connect.

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Every actor approaches their work differently. Some will want to connect and chat in between takes, some will want to remain in their process. One of the best ways to connect with other characters in your scene is respecting your fellow actors when the camera isn’t rolling, whether that means carving out space for yourself to do your necessary preparation or whether that means breaking the ice socially.

Either way, it’s important to make an effort to be respectful and acknowledge not just your fellow actors, but everyone you interact with throughout the project’s process — from the casting director to the crew. Listen to instructions and incorporate new ideas or directions when requested. Note that people who get called for another role in the future may have not been the “best” actors — rather, they were more enjoyable to work with and showed they can have good chemistry with others, functioning well in the environment of the set.

6. Give it your all.

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There’s a big difference between trying your best and, as we’ve already covered, overdoing it. Your work is not about your ego, so let those worries fade and focus on your craft. In fact, you’re less likely to get the part in the first place unless you truly commit during a reading and transform into the character. Even if it wasn’t the role you initially wanted, showing passion and enthusiasm both on and off the set can make a lasting impression and generate more gigs down the line.

What are your favorite tactics for developing your work in “small” roles? Let us know in the comments below! And study acting for film at the New York Film Academy.

 

6 Movie Ad Libs that Became Classics — And What You Can Learn From Them

Some of the most well known lines from movies, and even scenes, are actually ad libbed, or improvised. Improvisation actually has many benefits for actors.

Below are six famous movie scenes that you may have not known were improvised.

“Here’s looking at you, kid.”

“Casablanca,” 1942

Most people are familiar with Humphrey Bogart’s line from the 1942 movie, “Casablanca.” Bogart was teaching actress Ingrid Bergman how to play poker between takes when Bogart first said the famous line. Once they were back on camera, the line came out spontaneously during one of the flashback scenes in Paris.

“Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”

“The Godfather,” 1972

Everybody loves cannoli! Francis Ford Coppola, the director of “The Godfather,” added the line, “don’t forget the cannoli,” last minute to the script. But Richard Castellano decided to take Coppola’s line and make it his own.

“Are you talkin’ to me?”

“Taxi Driver,” 1976

One sentence in the screenplay, which reads, “Travis looks in the mirror,” led to Robert De Niro improvising the entire scene in the movie.

“You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

“Jaws,” 1975

After Roy Schneider encounters the Great White shark, the scene was supposed to close. Instead, Schneider made up this line to help bring closure to the encounter.

“Son of a b****, he stole my line.”

“Good Will Hunting,” 1997

When Robin Williams goes to the mailbox to read a note, Williams said a different line for each take of the final scene in the movie because nothing was scripted. Co-star Matt Damon, who co-wrote the script, told Boston Magazine in 2015 that after Williams said the well-known line, “It was like a bolt, it was just one of those holy s*** moments, where, like, that’s it.”

Heeeeere’s Johnny!”

“The Shining,” 1980

Nothing is scarier than Jack Nicholson, who portrays Jack Torrance, busting a door down with an ax. During that scene, Nicholson’s character sticks his head through a hole in the door, and says, Heeeeere’s Johnny!” Nicholson’ joke, which referenced Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show,” was almost cut because director Stanley Kubrick, who is from England, didn’t know the reference.

What are some of your favorite movie ad libs? Let us know below! Want to learn more about acting techniques? Study acting at the New York Film Academy.

5 Reasons Why Major Movie Stars are Taking Their Acting Chops to Streaming Services

Aspiring actors dream of being on the big screen, just like their favorite movie stars. Or do they? More major actors are creating and starring in exclusive projects for various streaming services. So what is going on? Today, we explore five different reasons why big name actors are flocking towards streaming services for new movies:

Reaching a wider audience.

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There are people who go to midnight premiers of movies. Others wait until the movie is on their favorite streaming service. Some people do both. Having movies appear exclusively in theaters and exclusively on streaming sites means more people who are likely to see a movie starring a major name.

Streaming is not going away anytime soon.

Mainstream television viewing and movie theater attendance have been declining. Meanwhile, streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu are growing in popularity. Why?

For one thing, consumers are finding that it’s simpler and more cost-efficient to pay a set price each month for unlimited streaming than it is to physically go to the movies. Netflix alone added over a million new subscribers in 2016, and it has been projected that over half of the American population will have more than one streaming service by 2018.

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Add to that, the personalized control of streaming services allows media lovers to choose their content, and their timing in watching it. Want to binge-watch an entire series? Go ahead. More in an action-movie mood? Got that too. Streaming allows everyone to tailor their media consumption to their own tastes and timeline.

The money’s streaming in…

Netflix makes $504 million per month off of regular subscribers. That means they have plenty of income to pay actors. For his role on “House of Cards,” Kevin Spacey makes $500,000 for every episode, just $25,000 less than Mark Harmon makes for his role on NCIS. And that’s just for their popular television series. “War Machine” starring Brad Pitt had a $60 million budget, and while no one has disclosed Pitt’s salary for his role, we are certain he was well compensated.

Film success on streaming services are not strictly determined by views.

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Traditionally, a movie’s success depended on the amount of people who came to see it opening weekend. With a streaming service, a film’s reputation depends on both viewership and user-assigned ratings. This means that original films released on streaming services have two different chances to impress, and feedback can be generated even faster with the option to instantly review a film at the conclusion.

There are more opportunities to grow creatively.

When major studios decide not fund new and daring ideas for movies, streaming services may take more of a risk. For example, former NYFA Guest Speaker Kevin James starred in Netflix’s “True Memoirs of an International Assassin,” an action-packed comedy with a very different tone than his sitcoms “King of Queens” and “Kevin Can Wait.” Thanks to the creative freedom allowed by streaming services, the actor was able to demonstrate a wider range of acting skills that never would have been seen otherwise.

What are your favorite original films and series on streaming platforms? Let us know in the comments below! And learn to make your own original content at New York Film Academy.

Helen Mirren & Sandra Bullock’s Most Iconic Performances

Over the last few decades, Hollywood actresses Helen Mirren and Sandra Bullock have starred in so many diverse roles that’s it’s hard to typecast them, but we bet you didn’t know they have something else in common: a birthday!

Mirren, from west London, got her break at the age of 22 in “The Extravaganza of Golgotha Smuts,” a television movie. As for Bullock, her career kicked off with the movie, “Hangmen,” but it wasn’t until “Speed” in 1994 that Bullock had the chance to shine in her breakout role.

If Mirren and Bullock’s longevity and diverse roles aren’t enough, they both have taken home several awards.

Mirren has won one Academy Award, one British Academy Film Award, two Critics’ Choice Awards, one European Film Award, one Golden Globe Award, one Satellite Award, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, three British Academy Television Awards, and four Emmys.

Bullock has won one Academy Award, three Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, one Golden Globe Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and several audience and critics’ awards.

Whew! That’s quite a list of accolades!

To celebrate these remarkable actresses’ shared birthday, we’ve put together a list to reminisce and celebrate some of their most iconic performances.

Helen Miren (1945)

“Prime Suspect” (1991-2006)

Mirren starred as Jane Tennison in “Prime Suspect,” a British police procedural television drama series. Mirren’s character, Tennison, is one of the first female inspectors in Greater London’s Metropolitan Police Service. Tennison also faces institutionalized sexism as she rises through the ranks to Detective Superintendent. Mirren’s performance on the television series led her to win two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie, and three British Academy Television Awards.  

“The Madness of King George” (1994)

Children’s history books claim that George III was the “mad king who lost America.” This film was a biographical historical comedy-drama based on the story of the king’s deteriorating mental health. The film also focused on his declining relationship with his son, the Prince of Wales. Mirren played Queen Charlotte and won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, and the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress.

“Calendar Girls” (2003)

“Calendar Girls,” was a British comedy directed by Nigel Cole, and produced by Buena Vista International and Touchstone Pictures. The movie is based on the true story of a group of women from Yorkshire who produced a nude calendar to help raise money for Leukaemia Research. Chris Harper, played by Mirren, was the driving force behind the creation of the calendar.

“The Queen” (2006)

“The Queen,” directed by Stephen Frears, was a British fictional drama portraying the British Royal Family’s response to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, on Aug. 31, 1997. Mirren starred in the title role of Queen Elizabeth II. The film received general, critical, and popular acclaim, and Mirren won numerous awards for her role, include the Academy Award for Best Actress. HM The Queen herself invited Mirren to dinner at Buckingham Palace — but Mirren was not able to attend due to filming commitments in Hollywood.

Woman in Gold” (2015)

The story of Gustav Klimt’s painting “Adele Block-Bauer I” is an intriguing one. The mesmerizing gold-flecked painting, worth more than $100 million, was seized by the Nazis in the midst of World War II. Mirren portrays Maria Altmann, a relative of Bloch-Bauer, in her fight to retrieve the family heirloom from the Austrian government.

Sandra Bullock (1964)

“Speed” (1994)

Bullock portrayed a charming woman, named Annie, who helped SWAT agent Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) drive a booby-trapped bus through the streets of Los Angeles. Her believable portal of Annie launched Bullock’s career on the silver screen. Bullock’s chemistry with Reeves helped imbue the action-adventure with a mix of intelligence, humor, and humanity.

While You Were Sleeping” (1995)

In Jon Turtletaub’s charming romantic comedy “While You Were Sleeping,” Lucy, played by Bullock, pretends to be the fiance of a man who is in a coma, but ends up falling for his brother. Bullock brings out the true potential of the film with her endearing performance.

“Practical Magic” (1998)

Who doesn’t want midnight margaritas? Bullock plays Sally, a woman with magical powers who just wants to lead a normal life, in “Practical Magic.” The film follows two sisters who band together to confront the past and end a curse that condemns every man that they have ever loved to death. The supernatural comedy is a mixture of romance, slapstick, magic, and drama. One of Bullock’s most iconic moments in the film comes while drinking margaritas at midnight with costars Nicole Kidman, Stockard Channing, and Dianne Wiest: a family-centric, positive scene played out by true powerhouse actresses.

“Miss Congeniality” (2000)

 

What happens when you send a female FBI agent undercover to a beauty pageant? You get Gracie Hart. Bullock’s character, Hart, infiltrates the beauty pageant to prevent a bombing. Hart doesn’t work well with her coworkers, kicks back with her pageant costars, and even has a shot at love.

“The Blind Side” (2009)

Bullock plays Leigh Ann Tuoghy, adoptive mother to Michael Oher, a homeless young black man who earns a college scholarship and eventually is drafted by the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens. While the real Michael Oher had mixed feelings about the film, Bullock’s endearing performance earned her the SAG, Golden Globe, and Academy Awards for Best Actress that year, and is a testament to her ability to find humanity in any character she portrays.

What is your favorite performance by Helen Mirren or Sandra Bullock? Let us know below!

6 Simple Tips for Memorizing Lines

If you are a current student – or alumni – of NYFA, you understand that auditions are a normal part of life. But, what if your audition is tomorrow and you have a ton of lines to learn? We’ve compiled some tips to help you memorize your lines.

1. Write your lines out.

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Try writing your lines out by hand — do not type them. This method works well for long scenes with speeches. Writing your lines out by hand forces your mind to connect to the action of writing the lines down and seeing the lines. Make sure you focus on writing your lines out and your lines only. It will let you focus on you without having the distraction of other actors’ lines.

2. Run lines with someone.

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Running lines with a partner is one of the most well-known methods for memorizing lines. The key is to run lines with another actor — not your friend from down the street. Running lines with another actor holds you accountable. Allow the person to coach you and read stage direction to you. During the first run, you’ll want to listen to the words and absorb the script.

If you can’t find someone to help you run lines, try using the app Rehearsal 2. While the app is $19.99, it allows you to highlight lines in the app, record other characters’ lines, and use it as a teleprompter.

3. Quiz yourself.

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Use a scrap piece of paper to cover up everything but the one line you are trying to memorize. Continue to read the same line over and over again. Once you feel comfortable, try reciting the line without looking at it. If you can, move on to the next line and start the process over again.

4. Go for a walk or take a nap.

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In an article published by “Chicago Tribune,” Cindy Gold of Northwestern University suggests that after looking at lines, it is helpful to either go for a walk or take a nap. While you rest, the information your brain just processed moves from short-term memory to long-term recall, where you will be able to recall things easier. Also, when you walk, you are exercising muscles and that helps with memorization.

5. Use a mnemonic device.

You can use a mnemonic device to help you remember your lines. Try writing down the first letter of every word in your lines. When you look at those letters, it will help jog your memory and you’ll remember your line a bit easier. Think of the mnemonic device as a short cut.

6. Learn the cue lines.

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Not only should you learn your lines, but you should learn your cue lines as well — these are the lines that lead into yours. By knowing the cue lines, you will be more prompt and you’ll be able to deliver your lines in a timely fashion.

Interested in learning more than your lines? The New York Film Academy offers a variety of degrees — such as Master of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, and Associate of Fine Arts — and programs for students who are interested in acting for film. 

Do you have any tips that help you memorize your lines? If you do, let us know below! And learn more about acting at the New York Film Academy.

 

Acting for Film: How to Put Together a Fantastic Demo Reel

Like most aspiring actors, you’re probably torn on whether you need a demo reel or not. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “No reel is better than a bad reel.” However, demo reels are an industry standard, considered more effective than head shots and resumes alone. Here are a few tips on putting together a great demo reel.

Get By With a Little Help From Your Friends

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If you’re just starting out and you have no footage to draw from for a demo reel, you can create your own footage! Try filming three short 1-minute scenes featuring yourself and a few actor friends, and be sure not to skimp on a professional microphone, camera, and lights if possible. This will give you some footage you can edit into a demo reel, ideally between 90 seconds and 3 minutes. Make sure to include your contact information at the end of your reel. It can be expensive to rent professional equipment, but if you can use the footage from the demo reel for multiple actor friends, the cost will be split.

Keep It Short and Sweet

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A demo reel should be two to three minutes, maximum. Casting directors don’t typically watch demo reels longer than that, and if you go any shorter you risk losing the chance to capture your talents accurately.

Film a few different scenes and edit them together; one scene alone may not entice a casting director, especially if you want to show your range and diversity as an actor. You may want to use one dramatic scene and one comedic scene to show off your skills and prove your versatility. Whichever you choose, make sure not to overdo it with your editing; splicing too many short scenes together creates a choppy reel that will turn directors away. Instead, focus on choosing scenes that convey a strong sense of your presence and skills.

Gather Footage from Current Projects

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You don’t always need to film your own reel. You can use material from current and recent acting gigs. Understand that if you are currently performing in a film project that you would like to include in your reel, the material will take a few months at least to receive: You have to wait until the film goes through post-production. Stay in good standing with the director, editor, and producer of the project; write down their contact information and save it somewhere important. When the film is finished, write or email the director to very politely ask for a copy of your footage. The footage can be delivered over Dropbox or even through a jump drive.   

Update and Don’t Reuse

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Ensure that you consistently update your demo reel with your latest projects. This demonstrates to casting directors that you are constantly challenging yourself as an actor. It also shows willingness to persevere in a tough industry. Furthermore, don’t reuse the same project for multiple clips in your reel. Each project should yield one scene: otherwise it looks like you haven’t done anything else in your career.

Market Yourself

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Once you have your demo reel, it’s time to promote yourself as an actor. Create your own website, which is relatively easy and inexpensive; you can register your domain name for under $30 per year. Link your website to your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram accounts and post updates on projects regularly. Embed your demo reel on your new website so casting directors can get a quick glimpse of your skills in addition to your headshot and resume.

Do you have any insights on best practices for creating a great demo reel? Let us know in the comments below! And learn more about acting for film at the New York Film Academy.

Happy Birthday Al Pacino: The Best Lines From a Legend

Al Pacino is one of the Hollywood’s best veteran actors and a past NYFA guest speaker, with a successful career spanning over five decades and a host of awards under his belt including the Oscar, an Emmy, a Tony and the Golden Globes. Whether it’s “The Godfather” film series (1972-1990), “Donnie Brasco” (1997) or “Cruising” (1980), his films have been immensely popular. While some have been controversial and others have gone on to achieve cult status, most of them have been critically and commercially acclaimed. With his 77th birthday coming up on April 25, we bring you some inspirational titbits from Al Pacino’s long and glorious career.

1. His Inch By Inch Speech from “Any Given Sunday”(1999)

There’s something too powerful in hearing Pacino deliver these lines:

I’ll tell you this/ in any fight/ it is the guy who is willing to die/ who is going to win that inch./ And I know/ if I am going to have any life anymore it is because, I am still willing to fight, and die for that inch/ because that is what LIVING is./The six inches in front of your face.If this isn’t motivational, nothing is.

2. Be Different and Learn to Think for Yourself

As his character says in “Glengarry Glen Ross” (1992), “I subscribe to the law of contrary public opinion: if everyone thinks one thing, then I say bet the other way.” In other words, don’t just blindly follow the herd. Assess the situation critically and don’t be afraid of having a contrary opinion. There’s nothing wrong with being the minority.

3. Turn Your Weaknesses Into Strengths and Be Yourself

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As he says, “My weaknesses… I wish I could come up with something. I’d probably have the same pause if you asked me what my strengths are. Maybe they’re the same thing.” So don’t let your weaknesses define you nor let your talents get into your head.

4. Don’t Just Think in Terms of Winning and Losing

This is what young Pacino’s got to say on the subject: “When I was younger, I would go to auditions to have the opportunity to audition, which would mean another chance to get up there and try out my stuff, or try out what I learned and see how it worked with an audience, because where are you gonna get an audience?” So take every moment as a learning opportunity and be grateful for it.

5. Make The Most Of Whatever You Have

There’s a very poignant moment in “88 Minutes” (2007) when Al Pacino’s character says, “I’ve learned that time does not heal the wound. It will, though, in its most merciful way, blunt the edge ever so slightly.” So live in the present moment, take the right decisions and try to live without regrets.

Whether you’re a struggling actor or someone wondering what the meaning of your life is, realize that you’re here for a purpose. Al Pacino’s parents divorced when he was only two, he sacrificed his baseball dreams to be an actor, dropped out of school and did a variety of odd jobs before he made it big. And his life just goes on to prove that chances are out there for talented artists who work hard and relentlessly pursue excellence. And if you’re feeling inspired enough, maybe you can do an Al Pacino movie marathon and pay close attention to the maestro.

Coachella 2017: 5 Most Beloved Musicians-Turned-Actors

People in showbiz tend to be rather multi-talented, or perhaps that’s just a survival strategy. Either way, if you can sing, dance and act, chances are you can make it big. Elvis Presley’s enduring legacy may have much to do with the fact that he not only revolutionized music, but also starred in several films that were quite successful.

Many musicians have turned to acting. Billie Joe Armstrong, better known as Green Day’s frontman, did cameo roles in some films but received critical acclaim when he played St. Jimmy in the Broadway adaptation of the band’s concept album “American Idiot.” And on the other end of the spectrum, there are talented actors like Johnny Depp, for whom music is a parallel pursuit, side project or hobby.

So, while you gear up for Coachella 2017, we bring you a list of our favourite musicians-turned-actors for inspiration. Who knows, you may end up liking their films as much as you adore their music!

1. David Bowie

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The quintessential icon of androgyny and experimentation, Bowie’s artistry not only included innovating within several music styles and fashion trends, but also within acting as well. Two of his most well-known films have achieved cult status: “The Labyrinth”(1986) and “The Hunger”(1983). In the former, he plays an attractive but subtly evil Goblin King and in the latter, he’s an unconventional vampire. In recent years, he’s also played Nikola Tesla in Nolan’s award-winning film “The Prestige” (2006).

2. Madonna

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An enduring legend who’s been working in the music industry from the late ‘70s, Madonna is also quite the charming actress, especially when it comes to romantic movies. Although most of her films weren’t that successful, she earned a Golden Globe for her role in “Evita” (1996), and “Desperately Seeking Susan” (1985) was listed by the New York Times critic Vincent Canby as one of the 10 best films of the year.

3.  Jared Leto

Most artists tend to be successful at one particular area. But Leto’s made a name for himself not only as the lead singer of the band 30 Seconds To Mars, but also as a dependable Oscar-winning actor. He’s a method actor and is very selective in his choice of roles, such as playing a transgender woman in “Dallas Buyers Club” (2013) and the Joker in “Suicide Squad” (2016).

4. Will Smith

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Smith was initially the MC of the hip duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The French Prince, who won their first Grammy way back in 1988. Now he’s one of the most successful African American actors in Hollywood, with hit films like “Independence Day” (1996), “Men In Black” (1997) and “The Pursuit of Happyness” (2006).  

5. Jon Bon Jovi

The lead singer of one of the most popular rock bands out there, Jon Bon Jovi has experimented with a variety of acting roles, both in film and television. One of his earliest film roles was playing the painter in “Moonlight and Valentino”(1995). He also played a vampire hunter in “Vampires: Los Muertos” (2002), a teacher in the horror film “Cry Wolf” (2005), and a rockstar in “New Year’s Eve” (2011).

Are you someone who loves singing and acting, and can’t choose which one to focus on? Then be inspired by these artists who have the best of both worlds. Study musical theatre or acting for film at New York Film Academy.