Monday, September 29, 2014

Know Small Parts by Laura Cayouette

TLaura Cayouette. Know Small Parts: An Actor’s Guide to Turning Minutes into Moments and Moments into a Career. San Bernardino, CA.: LA to NOLA Press, 2012.

The author notes if one loves acting, one may make a living acting even if one’s career is all small parts. Independent films are more apt to hire unknown actors whereas huge studio films are more apt to seek well known actors. Even big stars will take small roles or “cameos”.

It is often easier to get roles in smaller regional markets than in more competitive Los Angeles.

Cayouette observes her two lines in the movie “Kill Bill” led to more work. She nots Suzanne Somers had a memorable role in “American Graffiti” despite having no lines. She notes “every small part is a big opportunity.”

An actor should always be prepared and do one’s best at an audition. Even if the actor is not chosen, an impressed director may know of another role the actor could portray.

When receiving a script for an audition, the actor should learn what the scene is about including its genre, mood, time period, etc.

The actor should consider what the characteristics of the role are, what are the motivations and objectives of the character, how the character relates to others, what the character wants from others, whether there is someone the actor knows who is similar to the role and could serve as a good substitute to how that character reacts, and consider details from one’s own life that may add to the role.

An actor should consider what obstacles face the actor’s portrayal including nerves and  worries about timing. The actor must learn to face obstacles and find how to overcome them.

An actor must focus on acting while acting. An actor must know lines and must ignore distractions until the director yells “cut”.

It is an actors job to play a role as it is written. An actor should not refuse to act in a role because that is not how the actor would behave in real life.

Auditions are job interviews. An actor should remember that one “gets” to audition and not that one has to audition and that opportunity should be embraced. the author did not get a role in his first over 100 auditions.

One should take a head shot to an audition. One should have an acting reel online.

An actor at an audition is expected to know how to pronounce and understand the words in the dialogue. If there is a pronoun with a questionable pronunciation, the actor should ask how it is pronounced before the audition. If an actor doesn’t have any questions, the actor should demonstrate the actor knows the materials, perhaps with humor.

An actor should listen to and follow instructions and directions. An actor should mentally prepare ahead as to how the actor will perform.

Am actor should be even more prepared for a callback.

An actor should have an updated passport in case the actor is hired to film in another country.

When an actor is called to a callback, this means those evaluating already like what they have seen. It is advised to wear the same outfit as worn at the audition at the callback. This will help the evaluators remember the actor. An actor should keep a record of what is worn to auditions.

Props taken to auditions should be limited to what one normally carries.

Actors hired are advised to arrive early, check in, check that the contract is correct, have proper ID, wear easily removed clothes to quickly change into costume, and check the 
“minis” which state what is being shot. An actor should be prepared to sit around a lot. An actor should be prepared to be called upon earlier than expected. An actor usually signs out at the end of the day. An actor should not leave personal items behind.

An actor is advised not to bring anything personal to the set. Personal items can be moved at will without regard to them. The only exception to this is actors with personalized chairs with pouches may put items in the pouches.

Any item that is brought to a set by an actor should be labeled with the actor’s name. Nothing irreplaceable should be brought onto a set.

An actor who is married should consider the microphone is always on. Conversations can be overheard A mic on a person can be asked to removed for bathroom breaks.

It is good for spirit when actors with spoken lines introduce themselves to stunt actors and background actors.

An actor during filming should learn to reach one’s marks, be on camera, be where lighting requires the actor to be, and to adjust if the actor notices the actor is casting a shadow on another actor

It is common that a shoot will begin early in the morning and lost 12 to 16 hours.

Rehearsals are often to assist camera, sound, and lighting people practice where they need to be. An actor should be prepared for changes.

An actor should roll with problems. The author worked while having laryngitis which she used to make her voice sound sultry.

The author warns against actors who are saboteurs against other actors on sets. She advises remaining professional and “the best defense against a saboteur is to deliver an amazing performance no matter what crap anyone pulls.”

It is illegal to ask an actor’s age except to ask if an actor is over age 25 for liquor commercials.

When an actor is asked to “slate” it means the actor is to state his or her name on camera.

THe suggest profile shots be taken with the hand and shoulders turned to one side and the eyes facing towards the camera.

The author recommends “as a general rule, keep everything positive.”

In commercials where a product is lifted by hand by an actor, the actor should keep the label facing the camera with as little obstruction as possible on that label.

When an actor eats on camera, it is often best to take a small bite and chew as if it is a big bite.

The SAG-AFTRA initiation fee (circa 2012) is $3,000 with semiannual dues of $99. One has one day to pay the dues. To become eligible to join the union, one needs to work in a union job or work at least three days as a background actor on a union job. A principle in ACTRA, CAEA, AGMa or AGUA may also join SAG-AFTRA.

A credit for work done may be claimed regardless of the final product. One may list a credit for a part that is cut from a film.

IMDA Pro costs $124.95 annually (circa 2012). It allows credentials on IMDb to be updated. An actor should make certain there is at least one photo available on the actor’s IMDb page.

An actor should have a reel of work available online.It should be at least three minutes long up to 10 minutes long.

Websites such as Actor’s Access and LA Talent allow any actor with a headshot and resume to register with them.

Agent and manager contracts are usually for one to three years. The best time for an actor to get an agent is when the actor is working. The author recommends a commercial agent is a necessity for getting commercial work. An actor should never pay an agent upfront.

The most publicity excitement occurs before a movie is released or before a new TV series starts.

A publicity usually is hired for at least three months. A publicist is best used in the months prior to a film’’s release.

It is possible for red carpet events to allow an actor to find a new clothing company that wishes the actor to promote their clothes while on the red carpet. These clothes can be borrowed from such a company.It is considered as wrong for an actor to ask for photographs or autographs at red carpet events. These events should be considered as work for promoting films. An actor should not drink to excess or cause embarrassment.

It is good for actors to keep good company and make good industry contacts.

95% of actors (circa 2012) make under $5,000 annually, 4% make a bit more but can’t live on it, and 1% made enough to live. The author advises “know what you can control and what you cannot and focus your energy only on the things you can change.”

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