Archive for Jodi Rothfield

Apr 13 – Acting for the Camera

Posted in Acting, actor, Theatre with tags , , , , , , , on April 13, 2010 by actingchick

So I’ve been a little remiss in my blog updating, mostly because not much has been happening on the acting front these days, that is until recently.  Nothing super exciting, I haven’t gotten any great acting gigs, but at least these things are acting related and will hopefully further my career.

First of all I got new headshots.  I chopped my hair off a few weeks ago, and adding to that the fact I’ve lost some weight, I don’t really look much like my old headshots.  And since you are supposed to look like your headshot (or your headshot is supposed to look like you) to avoid pissing of the casting directors when you walk in the door, I had to get new ones taken.

I went back to Mark Brennan.  I think he does good work.  My only complaint is that my headshots look like me.  I know there supposed to, but somehow I keep hoping that I will suddenly get 25% more attractive, and my hair will get thicker, and my nose will get, well I don’t know, less like my nose I guess.  But those are my hang-ups and Mark does make me look pretty good.

The second thing I have done is to take a more  in-depth Acting for the Camera class.  This time from Tony Doupe, who was recommended by Jodi Rothfield, whose one day class Auditioning for the Camera I had taken and wrote about in a previous post.

I’m really liking it so for.  It is sort of an extension of Jodi’s class in that it covers some of the same material, and even more.  Tony talks about auditioning and the things you need to do for that, but the class goes further in terms of types of work you would be doing.  Industrial videos, commercials, film and television.  It’s sort of a sampler class, a little bit of this a little bit of that.

The first class we did an industrial training video.  The sort of things company’s show their employees.  Our subject happened to be sexual harassment.  We broke into pairs and were given short scenes to perform.  We were given about 20 minutes to work with our partner and to run lines.

Then Tony set up the camera and we shot the scenes.  We did multiple takes with one person in the camera view and then reset the camera so the other person was in camera.   We also brought video tapes on which our performances were recorded and we could take them home and watch them.  I don’t have a VCR at the moment so I haven’t watched it (and I’m not sure I could bring myself to do it anyway if I did).

We were also given commercials to memorize for the next class, where we had to do a walk and talk.  You see it all the time on commercials and news type segments where the host or actor is walking and telling you whatever it is they have to tell you.  I would just like to say that this is a lot harder than it looks.  A lot.

The set up was to pretend to be leaving our apartment, then “naturally” start talking to the camera, saying our commercial spiel,  as we started to walk down the hallway.  There were three points we had to hit marked out with yellow sticky notes on the floor.  At each of these points we had to pause, say some of our text, and then natural move onto the next point.

When I see these people on TV doing this now I have a lot more respect.

We practiced a cold reading like it would be in an audition circumstance.  We got a partner and a scene, had about 10 minutes to run through it and then we were up in front of the camera.  Tony directed us a bit, critiqued us a bit.  Then for the next week we were to memorize those scenes and do them as if we were doing a film or television episode. More on that later.

Overall I really like the class.  It is an interesting mix of people.  We have teenagers to people in their 50’s.  More women than men, which seems to be typical of acting classes.  Some people hadn’t done any acting before, some had done it in high school and college many years before.  In fact I am probably, with one possible exception, the most trained person there, which is an oddly incongruous feeling,  since I feel like a newbie to acting.

I like learning about camera acting, which is different from theater acting.  Not that the actual acting is so different, it’s  that you have more constraints on you when the camera is on you.  You can only move so much or you’ll be out of frame. You have to take into account how your physical actions have to be repeated the same each take to facilitate editing.  You have to know how to hit your marks and stay in your light.  You sometimes have to pretend the camera, an inanimate object made of plastic and metal, is a person you have to connect with.  It’s challenging, and fun, and challenging.  And fun.

Feb 20 – OK, um, let’s try that again.

Posted in Acting, actor, Theatre with tags , , , on February 22, 2010 by actingchick

Since I’ve been doing rather badly on my auditions lately, I decided to take Jodi Rothfield’s Auditioning for the Camera class. I’m glad I did.

Jodi Rothfield is as highly respected casting agent in Seattle.  I’d been wanting to take her class for a long time.  She was endorsed by one of my teacher’s at Freehold, George Lewis. I can’t remember his exact words, but it was something to the effect of, she is an ethical and real person in a business not known for that.  Because of that comment, I was looking forward to meeting her.  I was not disappointed.

Jodi is a boisterous, passionate person, in that way that people from New York can carry off.  For those of you who know Robin Lynn Smith, I’d say there is a similarity of energy that I found comforting.

I showed at up her office.  She was efficiently handling conversations with the people already there, while informing me that still owed her $75, and telling everyone to ignore the signs that said that everything in the fridge was a dollar, and that really it was free for the class, and to sit down and make myself comfortable, and that bathrooms were around the corner.  She sat at her desk in the ping-ponging conversation with everyone.

When everyone arrived she ushered us into the casting room.  The first part of the class was lecture.  She tells you what you need to have and to do to show up as a professional for an audition.  Very helpful.  Some of it I knew, but the questions you are supposed to ask when you get called by a casting agent for and audition was great.  Not only did she tell you what you were supposed to do, but she gave you the reasons why you did them. Most of which distilled down into “this will make your life easier, and the casting director’s life easier.”

One of her main points of the day was that “Auditioning is the most unnatural thing you will do as an actor.” She stated this over and over again.  All her tips and tools presented that day were to help you survive this crazy process.

Another point she made is that acting for the camera, and acting in general, is about connection.  But how do you connect with an inanimate assembly of plastic and metal?  It’s not going to give you any feedback or respond to your demands. You can play your action at it all day long, it doesn’t care…it can’t.

She gives you three simple questions to ask when you do a cold read, and a process to answer them for yourself, so that when you go in front of the camera, you have something to work with.  For the second part of the class she gave us some text from commercials she’s cast.  She gave us some time to work through her process on them.  Then we went in front of the camera.  The rest of the group got to watch you on the TV.

I went first, because I like to get the painful experiences over with as soon as possible.  I got worked over a lot, but that was OK, I didn’t expect less, and it was handled humourously and compassionately.  My big issues were trying to read my lines from the paper, while also trying to have them somewhat memorized.  It doesn’t work real well.

We would do readings in acting class where you would look down at the paper, get a chunk of lines, then look up at the person you were reading with, say your chunk of line, then look back down. Repeat.  This doesn’t work for auditioning for the camera.  You need to be able to read lines and remain connected at the same time.  Your script has to become and extension of your body so you can glance at it and move it naturally at any time you need to.  This is very hard.  Did I mention that auditioning is the most unnatural thing you can do as an actor?

We watched each other as we went up.  She corrected and encouraged.  After lunch we did the same thing again.  It was amazing how much better everyone was with just that one earlier session.  Not that we all couldn’t improve a lot, because we could all use a lot more work, but everyone was improved.

After the second round, Jodi opened it up for questions. She is very actor friendly and very supportive.  If we had questions, or needed recommendations for things, she offered herself up to being called and emailed.  You really got the vibe that she wanted to help you and was in your corner.

Anyway, I’d recommend her class.  Sign up at her site at World Perc to get on her email list, or call her office to find out when the next class is.