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On-Set Tips For Kids, Parents and Newbies Part II

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By Marci Liroff

I recently spent a few weeks on the set of CBS’ “Extant” with my 10-year-old client. It was his first project of this scale after working in commercials and short films, and as I watched him, I observed a few important lessons being absorbed. In my July 8th blog, I wrote about on-set behavior; here are a few tips as they relate to performance.

Bring a bag of toys and books.
There can be a lot of downtime on a set—it could be hours sometimes. Your child needs to be occupied both mentally and physically. Don’t let him get bored while waiting to shoot his next scene because that could affect his concentration when he’s finally called to set. Bring his favorite toys, electronic devices, DVDs, books, and a football or softball to toss outside (if there’s room). Make sure you check with the assistant directors and the wardrobe supervisor before he plays wearing his costume!

Listen up!
When the director is talking, pay close attention. Although he or she may be giving direction to another actor, that direction may include you, and this way you’re always in the loop.

There’s so much to learn while you’re on set if you keep your eyes and ears open.

Continuity/matching.
Continuity is crucial. The scenes my client did were very complicated. They shot lots of coverage with several different camera angles and setups; he probably did each scene 30 times and they had to be repeated exactly each time so they would match when the editor cut them together. My client had to learn the blocking (where you stand and when to move and say your line) and do it consistently each time or the scene wouldn’t cut together properly.

You must be completely off-book.
On the first day of work, my client’s first two scenes were one-on-one with the lead actor. They were very emotional and heavy on dialogue. The writer was taking out lines and adding new ones as we were shooting. If you don’t have your lines down cold, your head will explode from these lightning-fast changes!

Ask questions.
If the director gives your child a direction she doesn’t understand or for which she needs clarification, it’s completely acceptable for her to ask questions until she fully understands what is expected of her in the scene. Have her pick a quiet moment when the director isn’t giving instructions to the crew.

No, your other left.
The director, A.D., and camera team will be continuously giving stage directions so they can get you in focus and exactly where they need you to be in frame. It can feel tedious but once the project is completed you’ll be grateful you were able to understand their explicit directions. Learn stage directions; know your left from your right. When they say “camera left” it means what the camera sees—which would be your right.

Costume continuity.
Since you’re being covered from several different camera angles, your clothing, hair, and makeup need to be consistent. For example, once the wardrobe assistant sets your hat, collar, or hoodie in a certain way, be sure not to wiggle around and misplace the specific way they’ve arranged it on you. Kids need to be especially conscious of this.

What other handy tips can you add to this list?

Make sure to check out my new online course “How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp”. You can view it on your laptop or your mobile device and your subscription gives you lifetime viewing privileges for this course. I’ll be adding lectures throughout the year.

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9 On-Set Tips for Kids, Parents and Newbies

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By Marci Liroff

Having just spent the last couple of weeks coaching my 10-year-old client on the set of the new CBS series “Extant,” I got a bird’s-eye view of the issues that kids face when working on set for the first time. My client had only shot short films, music videos, and commercials and was somewhat new to a project of this scale. There was so much to learn!

These tips are great for young actors (and their parents) just starting out.

Shhhh! Keep your voice down!
Kids get very excited on set and like to tell stories in a loud voice. It’s hard with all that kid energy! Remind your child that even though it looks like lots of fun, everyone around him is working intently and needs quiet to concentrate. You will always hear the first A.D. (assistant director) yelling, “Quiet on set!” Be aware of your surroundings, as there will constantly be heavy equipment being moved near you and you could get hurt.

Where are you?
Let the second A.D. and/or welfare worker know where you are. Even if you’re just going to “crafty” (the craft service table), check in and let the A.D. know where you’re going at all times.

Be respectful and polite with crew members.
The phrases “thank you,” “please,” and “excuse me” go a long way with the adults your child is working with. Be polite and make friends with the crew because you will see them again on other sets and you want them to remember you fondly and professionally.

No playing on set.
No playing on “hot” sets because they are prepped for a scene and things should not be moved or tampered with. Plus, some things (ladders, walls, windows) are not “real” or fully secured. Even though that couch looks comfy, you shouldn’t sit on set furniture.

Learn how to read a call sheet.
I taught my client (along with his mother) how to read a call sheet and now they know exactly what is expected of them each day and the coming day. Start focusing on scene numbers rather than page numbers from now on.

You said what about the lead actor?!

Please remember, you’re wearing a mic! Be careful what you say on and off set, because the sound department and everybody else who has earphones on can hear your every word!

Careful where you sit.
If it has someone else’s name on it, don’t sit in the chair. You’ll be very embarrassed when the executive producer asks you to get out of her chair. Only sit on chairs marked “cast,” or, if you’re higher up the food chain, with your name.

Who’s got the kid?
Kids can’t just walk off by themselves while on set. Minors must be with an adult at all times while on a film set, whether it’s their guardian, welfare worker–teacher, or sometimes the A.D. or wardrobe person.

Leave your entourage at home.
Would you bring your friends to your place of work? Probably not. Don’t bring family or friends to the set either.

These are but a few of the things I observed during my time on the set; I’ll be writing about more in my next blog.

What other handy tips can you add to this list?

Make sure to check out my new online course “How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp”. You can view it on your laptop or your mobile device and your subscription gives you lifetime viewing privileges for this course. I’ll be adding lectures throughout the year.

Like this article? Help spread the word!
Click to Tweet: 9 On-Set Tips For Kids, Parents and Newbies via @MarciLiroff http://bit.ly/1r6QJ4T
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Is Your Acting Teacher Making You Sick? – Part 3

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By Marci Liroff

In my May 29 and June 12 columns, I spoke to some acting teachers and coaches about some of the horror stories I’ve been hearing from actors about their classes. But what happens to these actors when they finally come to the realization that those classes are hurting them? How would other teachers describe these walking wounded?

Acting coach Jeffrey Marcus responded, “For me, the walking wounded are the people who come to me depleted of all their self-esteem and confidence from, sometimes, a word said or a hope or dream dashed by their last teacher. Actors are sensitive. When they put their trust in a teacher, pay them their hard-earned dollars, pour their heart and soul into the work, and then get trashed because the teacher taught a famous actor who became a star…they must know.”

“There is a teacher in town…and I can always tell from the dead look in their ex-students’ eyes where they just studied when they come to me.”
Jeffrey Marcus

With so much bad behavior running rampant among teachers, what kinds of relationships are healthy? Marcus gave a thoughtful reply, saying, “It is my job to be of service. I am there to challenge, support, encourage, enlighten, and expand limitations. I am there to send them out with more joy and confidence with which to face the travails of the industry. Hollywood is tough. Class should be a safe haven from which to drink from the well and get replenished for the week ahead.”

“Acting can be a brutally difficult craft,” actor and licensed marriage and family therapist Julie Carmen told me. “Coddling students can set them up for a crash when the business rejects them, but abusing, humiliating, ridiculing, and insulting an acting student is totally unethical, dangerous, and counterproductive. Ideally, actors grow when they join companies, attend class daily, and do their inner work to discover the range of their personal palette. The most valuable trait is courage. Nurturing, attunement, and secure relationships breed courage.”

As for his part, actor and teacher Jack Plotnick thinks teachers and therapists aren’t that different. “I believe that an acting teacher should have the same relationship that therapists have with their clients,” he says. “I try to create a safe space where they never feel judged. I make sure that no one but me comments on their performance. I am always sharing with them that it doesn’t matter what I think about their performance. What matters is what they think. Acting runs on ‘empathy,’ which means that an audience can only experience what you experience. That’s why I tell actors they must be selfish and only interested in their own experience in the scene. Because any part of them that is trying to impress the teacher or deliver a good product is a part of them that is not having a rich emotional experience, thereby giving the audience a rich emotional experience.”

What about you? Have you ever experienced what you’d call inappropriate or cult leader behavior from your acting teacher? Why did you stay in the class?

Make sure to check out my new online course “How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp”. You can view it on your laptop or your mobile device and your subscription gives you lifetime viewing privileges for this course. I’ll be adding lectures throughout the year.

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