Training for Now: What Degree of Acting School is Right for You?
By Glenn Kalison, Chair of Acting for Film Program, New York Film Academy
Ultimately, people come wired with different degrees of natural talent. This is true in every pursuit, from anything involving math or science to the arts, athletics and everything in between. This certainly is true of performers, be they actors, dancers, singers, comics or musicians. Natural talent is only a part of what’s required to be a success.
For everyone who likes to cite Bryan Cranston (the talented multi-Emmy winner for his work in Breaking Bad), who holds an associate degree in political science, we should also consider how many others devoted their life to studying drama. Meryl Streep studied as an undergraduate as Vassar College and earned her masters in fine arts degree from the Yale School of Drama. Talent provides a good foundation, but education doesn’t hurt.
On a practical business point, the actor who has invested years of his or her life to training may be more attractive to managers, agents, and casting professionals at the very beginning. On the resume, solid training represents a commitment. This is a meaningful signal to send in a field such as acting, which has a very high attrition rate. If industry professionals are considering a new relationship with an entry-level actor, they will want to know that you are not going anywhere. Additionally, there is a confidence associated with those individuals who are trained to perform to the technical and artistic needs of productions. This does not replace the importance of talent, but may increase the number of opportunities to apply that talent.
Of course, not everyone has the time or wherewithal to follow Meryl Streep’s path. The programs at the New York Film Academy (http://www.nyfa.edu/) range from one week acting school workshops through summer camps, one-year conservatory, associate (two-year), bachelor (eight-semester) and masters (eight-semester) degree programs.
It might seem attractive to take several years off from life to get another degree, but that may not be realistic for many people. But a concentrated one-week intensive program can be a smart way for a working person to spend a week off from a regular job. This program (offered at the school’s Manhattan, Los Angeles, Orlando, Harvard/Boston, Queensland/Australia, Florence/Italy and Paris/France campuses) is completely immersive, including an intensive introduction to relaxation (tension alleviation), “method” (acting truthfully), scene study (dramatic beats, needs of the characters), movement (expression without words), voice (as it reveals character) and acting for the camera. A single week of training has its limitations, of course, but anyone who takes it emerges far more skilled than before.
A summer camp is another means by which younger people – teens and kids – get a taste for acting and consider where they might focus their career aspirations. In a similar vein for adults, 4-, 8- and 12-week acting and comedy programs provide technical training for the skills required of actors. Longer programs convey an understanding of film craft, the language and grammar of filmmaking. The actor is far preferred by directors if he or she understands shot language, screen direction, camera movement, eye lines and lighting.
In a multi-year degree program, the student is clearly committed to this profession and what it takes to be a solid performer on stage and screen. The course of study includes literature (vocabulary, history and industry writing trends), production, kinesthetic expression (the expression of movement, the voice and gestures), synthesis (becoming a unique artistic product) and business (the practical nature of identifying one’s marketing niche and the creation of a business plan to meet career objectives).
Some training beats no training. Training is available for different level performers, time commitments and locations so all students of performance, young and not so young, should be able to find something from which they can benefit.
Glenn Kalison received his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of California at Irvine and has since worked as an actor, director and producer on films that include Clutter (with Carol Kane and Natasha Lyonne), The Good Shepherd (with Matt Damon and John Turturro) and Mystery Team (with Aubry Plaza and Donald Glover), a Sundance Film Festival selection; and on television productions that include Law and Order: SVU, Law and Order: CI, Lights Out, As the World Turns; and many off-Broadway and regional stage productions. He is Chair, Acting for Film Program at the New York Film Academy.
MIPCOM at Cannes is the yearly anticipated film, TV and digital market for co-producing, buying, selling, financing and distributing entertainment content. It provides the people involved in the TV, film, digital and audiovisual content, production and distribution industry a market and networking forum to discover future trends and trade content rights on a global level. Increasingly present are new media players such as Facebook, and MIPWORLD is the event’s online matchmaking community used before, during and after the main event in Cannes. MIPJunior, a two-day screening and conference event for kids’ TV and multiplatform content, normally is held right before the MIPCOM event which this year runs October 8-11. This year, Canada will be in the MIPCOM spotlight, as the festival collaborates with Telefilm Canada and the Canada Media Fund (CMF) to present Canada Country of Honour, an immersive celebration of the best of Canadian TV, film and digital entertainment.
MIPCOM schedules a special workshop addressed to creators and producers to learn more on how to launch and grow a channel on YouTube, web broadcasting powerhouse, with more than 4 billion video views per day, on October 11. The MIPCOM 2012 World Premiere TV Screening of new period drama, ‘The Americans’, will have gala screening and MIPCOM’s red carpet Opening Night Party on Octobern 8, attended by the series’ leading couple actress Keri Russell and Welsh actor Matthew Rhys. BBC Worldwide is bringing actors Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn and Adam Rothenberg to Cannes to present the British period crime drama produced by Tiger Aspect and Lookout Point, ‘Ripper Street’. Palme d’Or and Oscar-winning writer/director Jane Campion will be at MIPCOM to present her new series, Top of the Lake, executive produced by See-Saw Films and internationally distributed by BBC Worldwide.
The Ghent Film Festival in the province of East Flanders was first established in 1974 as a student’s film festival, but has since evolved into a broader film event with its focus on film music. As this year’s nearly month-long festival gets underway October 9 the opening gala screening will be melodramatic love tale: ‘The Broken Circle Breakdown’ directed by Felix van Groeningen. Every year along with screenings the festival organises film music concerts providing composers of film scores a showcase of their own. And each year since 2001 the best soundtrack composers are honoured with the World Soundtrack Awards. In addition to the screenings, the Ghent Film Festival also organises film-related exhibitions. For instance, the Stanley Kubrick exhibition, which was previously shown in Berlin, Melbourne and Frankfurt-am-Main, was brought to Ghent before other world cities such as Rome, Paris and London.
On October 18, the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the very first James Bond film and the Belgium release of the new James Bond film ‘Skyfall’, Ghent Film Festival presents “007 in Concert: Flemish Talents Sing James Bond”. This program of famous Bond songs will performed with Flemish artists and the Brussels Philharmonic, conducted by Dirk Brossé. Guest artists will share their personal interpretation of legendary Bond songs including pop and rock artists like Natalia, Koen Wauters and Eva Jacobs, Jasper Steverlinck, Noémie Wolfs (Hooverphonic), Pieter Embrechts, Lady Linn, Barbara Dex, Marie Daulne (Zap Mama), Lola (AKS) and Stryrofoam who are confirmed for attendance and other to be added. Another 007 themed concert is scheduled for October 21.
The music of award-winning composer James Newton Howard will be celebrated in concert at the Ghent’s 12th World Soundtrack Awards on October 20. Howard — who has received eight Oscar® nominations — most recently scored the blockbuster film ‘The Hunger Games’ and other credits include ‘King Kong’, ‘The Sixth Sense’, ‘The Fugitive’ and ‘Pretty Woman’. VIP tickets are available for most all special concerts. In the “Artists On Film” festival showcase, October 10, Director Dheeraj Akoilkar examines the fruitful artistic collaborations between Liv Ullmann and Ingmar Bergman in 2012 documentary ‘Liv & Ingmar’ before, during and after their romantic connection. The official closing program is “Passion” an erotic thriller in the tradition of ‘Dressed To Kill’ and ‘Basic Instinct’ directed by Brian De Palma.
At a time when all players in the TV and entertainment ecosystem face numerous challenges in keeping pace with quick paced technological innovation, introduction and adoption of new devices, platforms and evolving consumer demands, the Social TV ecosystem drives “what’s on”, and PayTV services are increasingly virtualized and seamless across multiple connected devices. That’s where the Sixth Annual TVNext 2012 Conference in Santa Clara brings together the hundreds of media, technology and entertainment companies starting to chart a course for the Future of TV and Multi-Platform Entertainment Services and Platforms. The two-day convention starting October 10 has an agenda format that offers resources to help key decision-makers adapt their products, services and content to most effectively follow the paradigm shift happening right now. Jesse Redniss, Senior Vice President Digital – USA Network, delivers the conference keynote: “The Perfect Pixel – Portable, Shareable, Social”. The Diffusion Group will lead a pre-conference workshop on October 9 titled: “TV’s Great Migration” which looks into how the existing TV experience is migrating online, new OTT services, how broadcast and VOD TV services are adapting to the connected world and how they are transitioning online with TV.
The Tyrolean Independent Film Festival set to open for a run from October 12-15 curates quality films that are between art house and Hollywood block buster movies. It selects entertaining movies that have the potential to reach a great international audience. The Metropol Kino — which will house most of the screenings — is a movie theater with a long tradition that is situated at the Riverwalk near the old town of Innsbruck in the heart of the European Alps — the alpine-urban city of Innsbruck. The Festival will screen films in cinema halls 3 and 4, as well as in the lobby. All festival parties start at 10 pm, or after the last screenings.
The Visual Effects Society (VES) is an organization representing visual effects practitioners including artists, technologists, model makers, educators, studio leaders, supervisors, PR/marketing specialists and producers in all areas of entertainment from film, television and commercials to music videos and games. Comprised of a diverse group of more than 2,500 members in 29 countries, the VES strives to enrich and educate its own members and members of the entertainment community at large through a various domestic and international events, screenings and programs. Their upcoming VES Summit in Marina del Rey on October 13 will be used to examines the intersection between creative content and the business bottom line emphasizing how social media impacts decision making on all levels. Back by popular demand are the Breakfast Round Tables. Albert Cheng, EVP and Chief Product Officer, Digital Media, Disney/ABC Television Group, follows George Whitesides, CEO and President, Virgin Galactic at the morning speaker sessions. The Visual Effects Society (VES) as a non-profit professional, honorary society is dedicated to advancing the arts, sciences, and uses of visual effects and to improving the welfare of its members by providing professional enrichment and education, fostering community, and promoting industry recognition. The Summit closes with a cocktail and mixer reception for all to attend.
Now in its 32nd year, CMJ Music Marathon and Film Festival functions as a platform for the discovery of new music with showcases that are held in over 80 venues throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. In addition to keynote speakers and an exhibition area with a live performance stage running October 16-20, it features dozens of panels covering topics of universal importance to the music industry. Attendees have access to over 80 panels, seminars, Q&As, nighttime parties, meet and greets, mixers, special events and exclusive areas like the Exhibitors’ Loft and Artist Lounge. In conjunction with CMJ’s commitment to educating as well as entertaining, registrants can sign up to have one-on-one sessions with professionals in a variety of capacities across the music world for insight and advice on thriving in the industry. On opening day a panel with Elias Roman, CEO and Co-Founder of Songza, Sami Valkonen, Esq., Head of International Music Licensing, Google Play, Larry Kanusher, Esq., Greenberg Traurig, Matthew DeFilippis, Vice President New Media and Technology, ASCAP discuss some of the open issues facing streaming media, including copyright and licensing concerns, and later that day in another panel, Mark Piibe, Esq., Executive Vice President, Global Business Development, EMI Music, Tyler Lenane, Esq., Senior Vice President and General Counsel, MOG, Gene Rhough, Esq., Independent Media Consultant, Larry Miller, Managing Partner, Miller and Company address financing innovation in entertainment.
With an emphasis on learning, talent assessment and job placement, the MIA Animation Conference and Festival conference at Miami Beach that focuses on Computer Animation, Gaming, Visual Effects and Motion Graphics, Film, Web Design and Visual Arts. It will offer master classes along with software demos and multiple panels focusing on new technologies. There will be a job fair onsite bringing employers from major animation and gaming studios, Post-Houses, TV Networks, to interview and hire students onsite. Interested applicants should check job postings on the Job Fair Page (http://www.miaanimation.com/Job%20Fair.htm) on a regular basis. The Festival will be holding a Pitching Contest onsite, and all content creators are encouraged to submit their projects for consideration. The top submissions in both categories will be invited to pitch their ideas in person to a panel of animation industry experts and professionals. The top pitch overall will be set up with three meetings with relevant buyers and/or talent representatives, enabling a start to getting the pitch sold. For planned competitive event, “Animation Wars,” four competing teams of computer graphics artists will be chosen to participate in the competition to be held at Miami International University of Art & Design. The competition starts at 12 pm on October 19 and ends at 12 pm on October 20 — a day before the conference officially begins and a day before it ends. During this time the four teams will compete against each other to create the best animation sequence through creative use of technology to tell a story, based on a theme to be revealed at the day of the competition.
Each year the New York Television Festival showcases the work of artists around the world bringing its audiences the creations of independently produced television. The NYTVF has hosted these independent initiatives leading to opportunities for guaranteed development deals with a number of networks, studios and brands including FOX, ION Media, Microsoft’s Bing, Sony Pictures Television, Lifetime and Procter & Gamble Productions. In addition to those stand-alone initiatives, Independent Pilot Competition partners have included FX, IFC, MTV, USA and FOX Television Studios. Festival artists have also gone on to sell Festival-premiered content and projects to a number of outlets including NBC, Sundance, A&E, Versus, IFC, Comedy Central, truTV and Spike. The Festival which opens October 22-27 this year in downtown Tribeca is supported by William Morris Endeavor (WME), Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and the United Talent Agency (UTA).
In West Hollywood the Hollywood Billboard/Hollywood Reporter Film and TV Music Conference will address the connection to, and music’s role in, film and television amid an assemblage of composers, directors, key studio, network, record label and publishing professionals, VIPs from the advertising, gaming and commercial fields as well as music supervisors in the business. Five-time Grammy Award winner Christina Aguilera headlines the conference with the Keynote address. Aguilera will discuss her musical journey — beginning with “The Mickey Mouse Club,” up to her present stint as a coach on NBC’s “The Voice.” — an upcoming album, and the role television has played and continues to play in her life and career. Then there will be a Keynote Q&A with Epic Records Chairman, “X Factor” judge and three time Grammy winner Antonio “L.A.” Reid who will discuss his career as a producer, songwriter and label executive at Epic. Other conference highlights will include a Q&A with two-time Academy Award winner Gustavo Santaolalla who will talk about his award-winning work on ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ ‘Motorcycle Diaries’ and ‘Babel,’ as well as his latest score, ‘On the Road,’ and a panel session titled Breaking Bad: Storytelling Through Music Supervision and Composing where the creator of the hit series on AMC, Vince Gilligan, will discuss the increasing importance of music on the show with composer Dave Porter and music supervisor Thomas Golubic. Evening one (October 24) ends with a cocktail reception and the closing night on October 25 finishes with a Billboard/The Hollywood Reporter Conference Closing Party hosted by John Anderson and PJ Bloom at VANGUARD located at 6021 Hollywood Boulevard.
Casual Connect is produced by the Casual Games Association and is an industry event for the casual games industry — which are largely played on digital and/or mobile devices. Casual Connect brings together the experts of the casual gaming field to further the casual games industry through networking and learning and convention events held in both North America, Asia and Europe. On day one of the conference, Paul Thelen, Founder and CEO, Big Fish Games delivers a talk on “Making Money with Games – What’s Real Today”. Casual games are often found on a variety of platforms including personal computers, video game consoles, mobile phones and handheld devises. Because of their ease of distribution, varied monetization methods and mass appeal, casual games are distributed in a wide variety of locations including retail stores, major online portals such as Yahoo! and MSN, social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, and specialty online retailers such as Big Fish Games and GameHouse.
Aside from the conference and other learning agendas, Casual Connect will feature an Innovation Showcase that will take place near the entrance to Elite and Azure hall, and will showcase new entries such as: Botanicula, a point’n'click exploration game created by the makers of award-winning Machinarium, studio Amanita Design and Czech band DVA; Mad Acorn, a music rhythm game that gets you to pay attention to and interact with the rhythm; Nihilumbra, a videogame that panders to the existential dread within the player and that utilizes five different colors which give the player various abilities to change the physics of the world. Just one of the official Casual Connect parties to be announced is the Big Fish Games Presents Disco Stars! at venue D*Lux. The theme of the party for this year is 80′s Disco. Check the convention agenda for more engagements which are sure to come.
The above events are only a sample of what is fully listed. Complete details are on the “Media, Entertainment and Performing Arts Industry News and Events” page at: http://www.actorschecklist.com/news.html which now has a language translation button to convert page contents into most widely used international languages. A special guest article sidebar from New York Film Academy weighs in on selecting the right program for actor training By Glenn Kalison, Chair of Acting for Film Program, NYFA. This month’s photo composite heralds the upcoming Bond, 007 flick ‘Skyfall’, the 23rd adventure and the 50th anniversary of the series, opening in UK Cinemas October 26 and in US theaters November 9. Looking ahead into the next month, be aware that… American Film Market will run along the beach in Santa Monica, AFI Fest opens in Hollywood, the ALTER-NATIVE International Short Film Festival opens in Mures, the Oaxaca FilmFest will be in Oaxaca, Brisbane International Film Festival will be in Brisbane, Content and Communication World will be in New York City, The Billboard FutureSound Conference will be in San Francisco.