Greetings ALL... Heidi Eklund here owner of Hudson Valley Casting
It is always my intention to blog as a CD. I almost never have time to do so. There is so much to do and there is so much that actors need to know. Many know lots about acting, and the business side of acting, and other's have just begun. I am going to try to blog regularly from now on, so that those who are just getting started can have a reference to check on while they are growing in this career.
This blog post is focused on a brief pep talk about getting inspired to practice the art of acting ON YOUR OWN and eventually creating useful clips to show what you are able to do as an actor.
WHY? Here's WHY!!! There are so many actors...some who are doing a lot of theater (almost NO theater clip is useful to see if someone can act on camera), some who finally decides that they are going to pursue their dream, others who start off doing background work and then realize that they want to do speaking roles. No matter what your path it all leads to the same place ... WHERE/HOW do I get to the place where I can compete for, book and sucessfully act in a speaking role in a film or commercial?
Sometimes it occurs easily and naturally for actors... others have to practice... yes PRACTICE... The best way to practice is by DOING. HOW DO WE DO? Get out there and DO... grab your smart phone and some text or dialogue and WORK on it... do it... memorize those lines and work on it until you believe yourself, until the words seem like you are saying them for the first time.... try it , and work on it over and over... just like you would a song on the ukulele or piano or driving a stick shift or typing ... you practice... once again PRACTICE!
THERE IS SO MUCH COMPETITION FOR SPEAKING ROLES. We as casting directors receive THOUSANDS of submissions and we as CDs are looking for a way to winnow down the masses of people who submit. So... we look at clips and reels to see if this actor could fit into our project... We can't really tell that from a photo, so we have to dig deeper, see the person actually acting... so... getting at least one clip you can confidently share with others to show what you can do can really help you get more speaking roles.
Doing your own mini movies or scenes is so helpful because it can be focused on you, and it gives you the opportunity to star in something and shine in that starring role created just for you. AND you WILL learn even if you fail in getting it accomplished. And if you do end up failing, like with anything else, if you stick with it, you will eventually get it and accomplish it if you want it badly enough.
So with all that said here are a few things I personally learned when creating our own scenes with family and friends:
THE BASICS, You need:
1. A GOOD SCRIPT with at least YOU and one other person. For the first one... keep it short, be sure there is conflict. WRITE your own script with a character YOU can play. A character that challenges you and inspires you... write it and then share it with others ... read it aloud so you can make it better and better. BE HONEST with yourself... is it good? does it work? you can do a little research about writing a good scene ... with the internet you can find lots of resources to help you.
2. A person who knows how to work a video camera well. HINT... your smart phone is a video camera and it has become easier than ever before for you to video yourself with some simple tools.
3. A single location that can be dedicated to your filming without interruption.
4. TIME: with the right team, a single scene can be filmed in one day if you stay focused and keep it simple.
5. Lighting: hint... outdoor lighting is easiest and free... the sun, some shade on a sunny day... play with it and figure it out
***remember... you have a smart phone and you can test everything right then and there... if it doesn't work... adjust and try again... benefit is that you LEARN about making film by doing it... and therefore become better at the WHOLE process. There are also very inexpensive lighting kits you can get online if you do some research.
6. A DIRECTOR
So... this can be ... you... or someone with experience, or your camera operator... an audience of one who helps you make adjustments so the whole project has what it needs to tell the story.
If you are just starting out I recommend finding someone to help you who has experience. Here in the Hudson Valley we have several colleges where students are studying filmmaking... SUNY NEW PALTZ, SUNY DUTCHESS, ALL THE SUNY's, VASSAR, MARIST and there are programs for high schoolers like THE ART EFFECT https://feelthearteffect.org that show these kids how to make film and video... find them... they are eager to help you and they are good at what they do. It is a win win for both sides.
7. A way of cutting the material together ... this is a decent computer with some kind of editing software. That filmmaker student will likely have access to this... and be able to do it. I have edited on an IPAD or even my iPhone... with IMOVIE though I don't recommend working on a small device.
We do a lot of research before doing the work so we can learn more and more...and get better at the whole filmmaking process...
This is one of our favorite YouTube filmmakers D4DARIOUS
He gives amazing tutorials about making low and no budget shorts... I highly recommend his YOUTUBE channel for reference and many many tips!!!
Below are some examples of self-produced work... check them out!!!
Menja and Bjorn in the Wylde Woods
This is an experiment with two child actors we did with friends early Summer 2019 with no budget and a bunch of eager participants. The goal was to gain clips for the young actors and give them the equivalent of an on set experience in leading roles.
ON THE RUN
This was a family effort that was completed from concept, to script, to production and launching on YouTube all in ONE DAY. Less than 12 hours was spent on this and the kids had a huge input to the process. It was a blast and we all learned a lot!
Rob Figueroa and his two daughters did this one...
"So, I showed my girls the movie Paranormal Activity. They were scared and thought it was real. The three of us made this movie 4 yrs ago. Still good today. Only iPhone and iPhone headsets used. Check it out. It’s short." -Rob Figueroa
***If you have a scene that you filmed on our own or produced with friends or family that you would like to have considered to be an addition to this blog, please send a public link along with a still photo from the scene to firstname.lastname@example.org subject: self produced scene... please note that not every scene that is sent in will be featured.***
Heidi K. Eklund is the owner of Hudson Valley Casting and has been in the entertainment business for over 30 years.