Monday, October 1, 2012

Finding Your Character

"When a famous person like Jamie Foxx does a great job portraying another famous person like Ray Charles, academy members think, 'Wow! That's acting!' "
-Film Critic Pete Hammond 

When portraying a celebrity, you have something to measure your actions against; and when portraying that person the actor must embody the characteristics that made that person notable in the first place. You have to find your character. This is exactly what Jesse Adams asked the team to do in the "Bus Stop" exercise. The first actor sits at the "bus stop" and his/her character is determined by the actor who enters the scene. The second actor must give "clues" helping the first actor determine who he or she is; once the second actor has found his character he must then play the role! Actors are encouraged to use mannerisms and catch phrases so that there is no doubt in the audience's mind who the second actor is. The first actor should pick a well-known person which requires the actors to be abreast of popular culture and willing to push the envelope to over-emphasize known characteristics.

Following the warm-up exercise we rehearsed the 3 stage performances that we will  present for the freedom series on October 15th. The 3 performances are as follows: "Wedding Wows", "In-Flight Entertainment", and "The Honeymoon is Over". In "Wedding WOWS!" a couple takes it upon themselves to edit the traditional wedding wows to suit their selfish needs; watch the mayhem unfold!


"In-Flight Entertainment" portrays an established couple who hit a little unlikely turbulence  on their way to a marriage conference.


In "The Honeymoon is Over" newlyweds face the inevitable task of redefining certain familial relationships.

So be sure to come to the Freedom Series kick off of Love Your Marriage: you'll laugh, you'll learn, and you'll love it. Be sure to click here to like our Facebook page to keep up with our ministry!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Writer's Block

Wendell Burton stands in as a "blushing bride"
Writer's block is a condition, primarily associated with writing as a profession, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work. The condition varies widely in intensity. It can be trivial, a temporary difficulty in dealing with the task at hand. At the other extreme, some "blocked" writers have been unable to work for years on end, and some have even abandoned their careers. (Wikipedia) In this week's meeting the Lakewood Players discovered a cure: find your muse. By muse we mean actors good at improvisation. After a wild warm up courtesy of  Mariel Yera-Smithwick a few pieces were practiced for upcoming performances for the Married Life Ministry at Lakewood Church . Then we moved on to the piece currently in the works thanks to this improvisation.

Improvisation requires all the skills of acting with the notable exception of remembering what comes next. In improv actors don't have to stress over remembering lines or cues which if your scribe has writer's block doesn't matter! There’s always the risk of it being bad, but there’s an equal chance of it being brilliant. Look for this and other plays on a stage near you.







Monday, August 27, 2012

Stop Acting!


Wendell Burton
on
Method Acting


"So we're going to rehearse and then shoot for like 2 days and...the girl that's playing my sister was a very good actress but she was very...standoffish and [a] very private kind of person...when we weren't rehearsing she'd go back to her trailer so there was no real connection...I'm not a great believer in using your job to do exercises, that's what we do exercises for so that when you show up for your job you're ready to do your thing. But it occurred to me that I had a good relationship with my sister. Good in that everything's on the table. We yell, we hug, it's very intense and very honest so I just started talking to her like she was my sister. It was an immediate connection on her part as well. It completely broke through all the acting stuff. It was really fun. Since then [personation has] been one of my favorite exercises to share because it's such a simple one. There was no acting, it was just me talking to my sister. That's really what we're supposed to be doing and whatever we can find to help us do that that's what method acting is all about it finding a method to get through all the acting stuff and to connect and to make something really great. Because when it's real to you, it's real to the people watching."



Personation

In personation, everyone was asked to think of a REAL person in his/her life and then think of something that we had always wanted to say to that person.


For information on the upcoming screenplay click here.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Get Your Best Shot!



UPDATE

Wendell Burton

For some major productions, the process of selecting actors for sometimes hundreds of parts may often require specialized staff. While the last word remains with the people in artistic and production charge, a Casting Director or "CD" (and sometimes the Casting Associate) are in charge of most of the daily work involved in this process during pre-production. The "CD" remains as a liaison between director, actors and their agents/managers and the studio/network to get the characters in the script cast. Some Casting Directors build an impressive career as has the casting director on board for "The Call", Barbara Brinkley! Barbara Brinkley has been responsible for the casting of several acclaimed local productions and a few names you may recognize such as Walker, Texas Ranger! Though Wendell does hope to use as many of the Lakewood Players as possible, casting is open to ALL!


WARMUP

Mariel Yera-Smithwick

Pass Clap is a classic warm-up. Everyone is in a circle and the leader starts by throwing a hand clap to her right neighbor, and the neighbor passes the clap to his right neighbor. Once the clap is flowing nicely around the room the leader added other actions including a bear growl and a "wooo" complete with hand throwing. The goal is to keep it smooth and even in sound. This helps build concentration and cooperation. Even though different things were going on around the circle, each actor had to concentrate on his/her partner for this to work. The actor should be sensitive to others and flexible in their thinking. This activity helped the group gain self-confidene and acceptance.


YOUR BEST SHOT

Jesse Adams

Casting directors: buyers of talent


Agent: seller of talent


Tools of the trade:headshot, resume, business card, phone, transportation, internet




Resume...
Here are the handouts that were passed out:








The important difference between an acting resume and a professional resume is that you don't want to detail your experience. Not only will that take up too much room, but you want to leave as many opportunities for conversation as possible. Print your headshot on the back of your resume, this way casting directors can IMMEDIATELY connect a face with a name. Be sure your headshot is current.

When choosing a photographer for your head shots, here are a few things to consider.


First, you should narrow your choices to photographers who shoot in a style that you like, and whose photos attract you. Don’t shoot with your friend (or your friend’s photographer) just because the price is low, or because your friend likes the photographer.  Make sure that casting directors and agents like the photographer’s work.



Next, you need to find out if you get along with the photographer. Schedule an interview, and do more that just look at the portfolio (you can always do that online). Your photo shoot can last a few hours, are you going to be nervous around this person? Do you like them? Can you hold a conversation with them? Rapport leads to better photos–shoot with a photographer that you enjoy being around and your photos will show it.  



A note on price: never choose a photographer based on price.  Your headshots can make or break your career–you want to make sure you are picking a photographer for the right reasons, and price (expensive or cheap) is not necessarily one of them.


Before taking head shots...

Define your style. Be as natural as possible. Get plenty of rest. Drink a lot of water. Dry clean your clothes. Don't be cheap. Show up early, bring music, let the photographer do his/her job, be relaxed, bring a friend.


This has been your backstage pass! Visit the Lakewood Players Facebook Page for more updates!


Monday, July 23, 2012

Make A Decision

The Lakewood Drama Team has been created to produce dramatic presentations that reach the lost, edify believers and effectively communicate the full Gospel of JESUS CHRIST with artistic excellence and spiritual integrity. Each week the team meets to hone their acting skills through participation in a few warm-up exercises, a "lesson", and a more concentrated exercise. The warm-up exercises were "mirror drill" and "park bench". Jesse moved on to discuss the 6 stages of production and ended the session focused on making choices in a scene.


Mirror Drill is an activity that requires concentration and cooperation. Two people face each other, and one takes the lead in making slow movements. The other person tries to copy that person's actions as if he were a mirror. This means paying attention to and anticipating the other person's actions while trying to move in perfect sync with the partner. It also means that the person leading the mirror must choose motions that can be mirrored. For example, jumping is almost impossible to mirror, because it's unexpected. The leader should keep the movements wide and slow. After a few minutes, the two people should switch roles. This activity helps actors learn to be in tune with each other. They must carefully anticipate the other person's actions. They also must see how their actions can be picked up and repeated by others. The exercise also develops focus and concentration. Jesse Adams remarked that he enjoys watching the "natural choices" that each participant makes.

In Park Bench one person decides the character for both participants. The other participant has to react to this while trying to determine their character.  The person on the bench has no character until the second participant enters. The second participant has decided who he or she is, and who the person sitting on the park bench is. For example, the person entering could decide, "The person on the bench is a famous singer, and I am a great fan of their work." In this situation, the actor would recognize the person on the bench, react to seeing their favorite singer in person, ask for an autograph, and tell the author about which songs she likes best. The actor on the bench, meanwhile, has to adapt to the situation, developing their character bit by bit. The improvisation ends when one actor exits, hopefully after everyone figures out who they are. The "park" was visited by Michael Jordan, Beyonce, and a host of other celebrities.

After these activities, in the spirit of the upcoming movie project, The Call, Jesse discussed the 6 stages of Production

1. Development

All you have is an idea and you need resources.

2. Preproduction

Preparations are made for the shoot, in which cast and film crew are hired, locations are selected, and sets are built. The Development stage, in which the ideas for the film are created, rights to books/plays are bought, etc., and the screenplay is written, occurs before Pre-production.

3. Production

The raw elements for the finished film are recorded. This is the easiest part.

4. Post-production

The film is edited; production sound (dialogue) is concurrently (but separately) edited, music tracks (and songs) are composed, performed and recorded, if a film is sought to have a score; sound effects are designed and recorded; and any other computer-graphic 'visual' effects are digitally added, all sound elements are mixed into "stems" then the stems are mixed then married to picture and the film is fully completed ("locked").

5. Distribution

Delivery of the product. Know why it's being made. Create a marketable product.

6. Exhibition

Consumption of the product.

We ended the session with an activity based on making choices. Oftentimes actors receive a script and forget about all the elements that impact why we say the things that we say the way that we say them. For example, if your line is "everyone wants to be me" and you don't decide the "5 Ws" then your character will have very little depth. Are you jealous? Are you drunk? Are you at home? Are you at work? These types of questions can help you build a character. This especially helps if you are an extra; it can help you stand out!

Well this has been your backstage pass! Be sure to check out the Lakewood Player's Facebook page to get connected!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Love

This weekend, we had the privilege of ministering to the 1st-4th grade students who attend Lakewood Church! This month's Kidslife core virtue was Love and the bottom line was that we love others by putting them first! Under the direction of Farand Scott, The F-Troop took on the task of putting Love in the spotlight. 

The piece opened with the Credible and Comic host played by Barbara Johnson and Grace Fuhrman respectively. Barbara struggled to keep things in order but determined "to put everyone first" Grace proceeded to sing and perform several disruptive antics.  Next, Kathy Bonner and Jeanicia Elder took the stage Mrs. F and Sam. Ms. F had won prize money for her tomatoes; the prize amount matched the financial need that Sam and her family had.Through a bit of situation comedy Kathy and Jeanicia got the message across that if you have what someone else needs it isn't a coincidence; that person was placed in your life for a reason and you should put that person first! The final piece of the sketch featured Holly Dacke as the clueless detective "Sam Shoval" who set out to investigate James and John, played by  David Bowman and Schubert Huang. The exchange focused on Mark 10:35-45. Both disciples asked to be at Jesus' right and left hand. Jesus told them that anyone who wants to be great must be a servant.

When asked by the Ministry Leader how the drama ministry did, Mission Control responded with a resounding "Fantastic". As one child left she remarked that the drama team did, "a really good job".

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sing a Song



Update on the Call


At the meeting a few of the actors who inspired some of the characters will be in attendance! Someone asked why "The Call" is not a Lakewood Church project and Wendell said that "...even though 'The Call' is not a Lakewood project it has the blessing of the Church". Wendell then shared Psalm 133, making the point that even though it is not a Lakewood Church project, the project will have favor because of the church.


Psalm 133

A song of ascents. Of David.

How good and pleasant it is    when God’s people live together in unity! 
It is like precious oil poured on the head,     running down on the beard,running down on Aaron’s beard,    down on the collar of his robe.It is as if the dew of Hermon     were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing,     even life forevermore.


Warm-Up

After a bit of improv the members of the Lakewood Theater were in concert! At the point of a finger each member took the stage and sang the first song that came to his or her mind! We heard a wide range from popular music to show tunes. Nothing surprises a casting director more when the an actor, not known for his singing breaks out into a song (hint hint). There are those who can actually sing, those who think they can sing, and those who just should stick to acting.


video


Kidslife

Every month the Lakewood Players have the privilege to minister to the 1st-4th graders. This month the core virtue is LOVE: giving someone your friendship no matter what. Through a dramatic presentation we will teach the kids that if they have what someone else needs, it isn't a coincidence and if you want to be first in God's eyes you have to put yourself last!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Lakewood Players Present...Sunshine


The Lakewood Players presented Sunshine, for a compass class on July 15,2012. Sunshine displays a woman's realization of God's love from an unusual situation. The class was touched by the presentation and we provided an excellent springboard for the class discussion!

video










Monday, July 9, 2012

Change Your Breathing, Change Your Mind

Wendell Burton opened the meeting discussing the upcoming film, "The Call". The Call is an "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou" meets "Sister Act" story that reveals the power of hope, faith and sheer desperation to transform the human heart. 

"The Call is a project that has been years in the making with the Lakewood Church drama team in Houston, TX. The screenplay was not only written FOR the actors on the team, it was inspired BY them. We have a really deep supply of talent and an even bigger supply of heart." 
-Wendell Burton
WARM-UP EXERCISE

A lot of times actors get so excited/nervous that they forget to breathe, but if you think about life we usually we take several moments to breathe. When someone asks you a question, upsets you, excites you, etc...you never immediately respond. So, our warm-up exercise was  "Change Your Breathing, Change Your Mind"


The team got into a circle and each participant started with resolves solution, such as, "I am not going to eat." Next the person exemplified a natural thought process with a series of statements taking a deep breath after each statement. 

A good place to practice this breathing technique is in an audition!
Auditions: Jesse Adams
When going in for an audition, look at it as an invitation to a party. The casting team already took time out to pick  the "best people" for the job and since you made it to the interview that includes you! In most cases you know what type of interview you will face, however make it your business t be prepared for whatever happens.
If you're new to the auditioning process, here are the five most important tips for a successful audition.
  1. Show up on time. Lateness reflects badly on you as a professional. (How will you make rehearsals/shoot dates if you can't even arrive on time for the audition?)
  2. Bring your headshot and resume. Have it readily available.
  3. Be prepared. Whether you have to read a segment of the script (called "sides") or perform a monologue, be sure you are ready to go from the moment you step into the auditioning room.
  4. Be respectful...even when the auditioners aren't. The fact is that some auditioners are downright rude. It may seem to you that you're not holding their interest or even you're being ignored. Do not let this affect your performance.
  5. When you're finished, say thank you...and then leave. Do not linger and discuss your life, the piece, how much you enjoy the character, etc.
THE INTERVIEW
Remember that the reason you got called in was because they liked you. You may be good for a role simply because of your background. Consequently, the casting team may interview you so have a story for EVERYTHING on your resume!
THE COLD READ
Auditions for which you are handed a script and asked to perform a scene are called "cold reads. Though you may not know anything about the story or the character, remember you got the call because they liked YOU! Consequently you should do your best to capture the mood and interpret it as yourself.

MONOLOGUE
Nothing is more important than choosing the right monologue for your type and skill level. Remember, monologue auditions are your moment to shine. They are perhaps the only time an actor has complete control of the situation
IMPROV 
The casting team may give you a sentence or a situation and leave it up to you to create a situation and/or character.

If you go in for one of either 4 types of interviews, be prepared to do something else. After you read a script, they may ask you what else you have; therefore, it is good to have a monologue prepared. If you are in the situation and you do not have a monologue prepared, then become comfortable at improvisation. You may miss an opportunity if you are not prepared. Proverbs 29:18 says Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.