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Character Development

What is a Character Breakdown?

Hey everybody! Welcome to the Green Actors Guild. This week, we are talking about Breakdowns, again. No not mental breakdowns but Character Breakdowns. Let’s get it!

Character Breakdowns…

Ok, so we have gone over slate details and we have gone over Audition Breakdowns, but what about the Character? More specifically, the Character Breakdowns. Most of the time with auditions, you have a short turnaround. This means you have a limited amount of time to submit your audition to Casting Directors. Because of the short turnarounds, you have a small amount of time to develop a solid character to portray. How do you handle this? Here are a few tips and tricks on Character Development, with short turnaround times.

How to Develop a Character with the Moment Before

The Moment Before

When it comes to your auditioning scene and the character you are assigned to play, I LOVE the technique of “Moment Before”. What is a moment before you ask? It basically means what happened before the scene.

With audition, you are given your slides, your character description, the character description of your scene partner and that’s it. You won’t know the scene before you, so make it up! Ask yourself questions, on your character’s behalf.

Questions to think about:

  • Was she running late before this scene started?
  • Was it raining and she missed the cab or train?
  • Did her car stop working?
  • Did she run into an ex?
  • Did she like this ex?
  • Is the character mad, sad, or happy in your assigned scene? Well, why are they mad, sad, or angry. The list goes on and on.

To help guide you, I created a Moment Before Journal to help you practice, process, and develop each of your characters. You can find this guide here, on Amazon.com.

Moment Before Journal
Moment Before Journal – Amazon.com

The Backstory

Whenever you book a gig, you end up getting the full script to read. This provides a more in-depth detail to the character and Backstory related. For audition’s sake, you do not have this option. So, you need to create a backstory for audition purposes! More specifically the Who, What, When, Where, and Why.

  1. Who:

The questions to ask related to Who:

  • Who am I?
  • Who is this Character?
  • Who are the people in the scene with this character?
  • Are they parents?
  • Are they Siblings?
  • Are they enemies?

2. When:

Examples of questions to ask about When:

  • When is this scene taking place?
  • 1920? 1980?
  • October?
  • Afternoon? Morning?
  • When was the atraumatic event for this character?
  • When was a pivotal moment for this character?
  • How did these moments change them?

3. Where:

Some questions to ask when it comes to Where:

  • Where does this character live?
  • Where does this character work?
  • Do they work?

4. Why:

  • Why is it a beast of its own, so I want to break WHY down in more depth of explanation?

But Why?

Why has three moving parts. The goals, the risk, and the obstacles of a character. All of these contribute to the reasons why a character acts the way they do and why they are driven to be this person…well that and everything else you created.

The Goals – basically what is the intention of the character? Are they trying to find a child? Trying to find a mother or father? Are they trying to grab that dream job? Are they trying to save someone?

The Risks – What are the stakes for the character? What do they stand to lose or gain, while on this hunt for a goal? Will they gain notoriety? Will they lose their sanity? Will they gain a parent or lose a parent? Will they gain a child but lose a lover? Remember these do not have to be physical things or even people, characters can lose emotions, too.

The Obstacles – Finally, what is standing in the characters’ way to achieving their purpose? Do they have a stalker? Did their first love show up the day they were supposed to move for that dream job?

Ending Credits

WE DID IT, GREEN ACTORS. This was a long one but a much-needed talk on Character Development. When you use these tips, you are on your way to building a solid character for every audition.

Like I said before, check out the Moment Before Journal found here on Amazon.com.

I’ll see yall next time!

The Green Actors Guild

Audition Breakdown - Actors Access

Audition Breakdown

Hey everybody! Welcome back to the Green Actors Guild. This week we are tapping into breakdowns. No, not mental breakdowns or character breakdowns (yet) but Audition Breakdowns! More specifically those EcoCast that come from Actors Access.

What is an Audition Breakdown?

What is an Audition Breakdown? Well, when a Casting Director releases a casting call and starts to request auditions, the production description is called a breakdown. It basically outlines all the required details needed for your audition and the essentials of the whole production.

What does an Audition Breakdown look like?

Below I have included an example of a recent Audition Breakdown I received from a Casting Director via AA (Actors Access). Let’s dissect the points and their meanings.

Audition Breakdown
Actors Access EcoCast Example

Eco Cast Title: Production Name:

  • The Casting Call title within Actors Access.

Breakdown Title:

  • What is the audition called. This can change at any point in pre-production.

Breakdown Left Heading:

  • Union Status -Union, Non-Union.
  • Shoot Window – How long production estimates to shoot & when the week will be to shot.
  • Run or Usage: How long this project will run within it’s designated markets ( local, regional and/or national), and any conflicts associated

Breakdown Right Heading:

  • Casting Director – Who’s encharge of finding talent for the production.
  • Start Date: When the project will start.
  • Rate of Pay: If it’s a national or regional project. The pay rate for this specific character. Typically, a day rate. This also includes buyout. A buyout is what the production will pay for the rights to your footage, i.e no residuals.
  • Location: Where this production will film.

Additional Notes: 

  • Typical logline or storyline, aka a short production summary.

Role Name: 

  • The character title you are requested to act out

Role Description: 

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Physical features – Tall, short, color hair desired, thin, heavy, athletic, etc.
  • Brief emotional detail of your character – brooding teenager, spunky best friend. This is a brief look into the character.

Casting Director: 

  • Name of Casting company and/or Casting Director

Audition Instructions:

  • Normally Slate specifications are listed here. If you need a recap over proper slate instructions, recap our previous discussion here.
  • Small script hints are added in.
  • Lines can be input here, but in most cases, you will find Sides.
  • Presence on background and camera angles will be added.

Audition Deadline:

  • When the audition is due.

Instruction Detail:

  • Acting sides – or better known as the script for your audition.

Short but Sweet!

That’s it for this week, pretty short yet pretty sweet. Audition Breakdowns are one of the most common things Actors will be sent, and knowing how to interrupt the long list of details is important for a talent’s success.

Until next week Green Actors, get in a solid acting studio and start laying the foundation for your career!

See ya next time!

Audition Breakdown – Actors Access – YouTube
How to Slate

PLEASE SLATE – What the?

Welcome back! Let’s talk about slating. Well for starters, what is a Slate? In simple terms, when actors a slate, they are providing a brief introduction of themselves before diving into the audition. Here is what I mean.

You Booked an Audition…Now What?

So you booked an auction? Perfect! That is the goal, right? Out of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of submissions you were picked by the Casting Director to shoot your shot at the role.

What do you do next? Most of the time audition requests are extremely detailed and will provide all information the CD (Casting Director) is looking for, this includes slate requirements. (Just an FYI’ll talk about Audition Breakdowns at a later date).

However, there are instances when a CD does not specify their slate needs, in this case, you will stick to the industry standard of slate. Make sure you sound welcoming! A slate is the first impression for a Casting Director. Be relaxed, comfortable, natural, and avoid sounding robotic.

How to Slate for an Audition – Basic Industry Standard:
  • Name
  • Location
  • Representaion
  • Height
  • Age (IF under 18 years of age)

Casting Director Slate

Ok, so your audition request includes specific slate instructions. What do you do? In short, you do them. Sounds cheeky but true. As I said, I will address Auditon Breakdowns at a later time but for now, I cannot stress enough READ EVERY SINGLE DETAIL FROM YOUR CASTING DIRECTOR.

Below I have included an example of a recent audition I received.

Casting Director Slate Example:
CD Audition Slate Request
CD Slate Request

As you can see, this request was straight and to the point. The CD requested Name, Agency, City, if you have an At-Home recording studio, and what type of equipment you use.

Although her requests might seem strange, the last two bullet points pertain to the project and were needed for the production company.

Other Common Request on Slates

Local Hire:

It is not uncommon to see local hire status requests within a slate. This just means the Production Company wants to know if you’re willing to work as a local hire.

What is a Local Hire? When talent is willing to work as a local to filming locations. In other words, if talent does not live in, let’s say Dallas, then they are willing to pay for transport, hotel, and food throughout production.

Vacicination Status:

Let’s face it, we are in a post-pandemic world, and unfortunately, that means Production Companies have to keep the cast and crew protected throughout filming. This includes, but is not limited to, continuous Covid testing regardless of a vaccine.

With that being said, I have seen many requests coming into identity vaccine status within slates. All this means is to state:

  • “I do have the Covid Vaccine”
  • “No, I do not have the Covid vaccine”

If you are not vaccinated, and it is because of health-related issues or religion, make sure to include this within your statement. 

  • “No, I do not have the Covid Vaccine. I have a medical condition preventing this, and will provide documentation as required.
  • “No, I do not have the Covid Vaccine due to my religion. I will provide documentation when required.
Profiles & Full Body Shots:

In most slates, facial profiles are requested, along with full-body pictures. You can film these as requests are submitted or have them done professionally each time you update headshots.

In short, profiles are filmed like this:

  • Turn to the right and hold for 3 seconds.
  • Turn to face the front and hold for 3 seconds.
  • Turn to face the left and hold for three seconds.

See the photo sample below. Remember this will be filmed, not still shots.

How to Film Slates

When it comes to camera angles and direction with slates, make sure your shot is Close Up. This is an industry-standard technique unless stated within your Casting Directors notes. 

Close Up Slate
Close Up Slate

That’s A Wrap

That’s it for Slates. Pretty straightforward. A slate is an introduction to who you are before having to dive into a character. Pay attention to your CD’s notes, read every word sent your way and do the best you can! Natural is best, followed closely with welcoming.

Be sure to check out my Amazon Picks for my favorite at-home recording equipment!

I’ll see yall next week!

– Green Actors Guil

Headshots

What Makes a GREAT Actor HeadShot?

Headshots are one of the most utilized marketing tools for actors when promoting their brand and networking within the industry. Headshots are used for online casting profiles, such as Casting Networks and Actors Access (we will discuss these at a later time), submitting to Talent Agencies, Social Media Branding, and other marketing tools.

Let’s Talk About Formats

There are two types of formats for headshots, Digital and Print.

Print Details:

  • Keep your print headshot format is 8 X 10
  • Your print headshot must be in color.
  • Make sure your print headshot includes your name on the front of the photo.
Headshot Print Sample

Digital Details

  • Digital headshots should be in high resolution. At least 300dpi.
  • Make sure your digital headshot does not include your name on the front.

What Defines a GOOD Actor headshot?

So what defines a good headshot? Well headshots, as previously mentioned, are designed to showcase your looks and the brand you want to be known for. You do not want a super theatrical headshot when your brand is Girl Next Door or auditioning for a National Commercial. A true professional headshot photographer will have all these details for you, and more but let’s take a look at the key details for making a successful headshot!

**Note: Theatrical Headshots: These are headshots that are a bit “moodier”. They contain dark colors and add dramatics.**

Theatrical Headshot Sample

Lighting!

When it comes to a great headshot, lighting is one of the most important things. I personally prefer natural lighting, to studio lighting but a great Headshot Photographer can utilize both studio and natural looks. By having great lighting, regardless of the source, it will allow accentuations on key facial detail. See below for examples.

Studio Light Sample

Makeup

Always stick to minimal makeup when shooting your headshot. These are not Glamour Shots! Casting Directors want to see the real you, not the Red Carpet version of you. Portraying yourself one way in headshots, and showing up to a casting call looking another way, is a fast method to being blacklisted with Casting Directors. Always be truthful and start with minimal makeup.

NO HEAVY MAKEUP

Clothing

Solids are best! With a wardrobe, you want to wear solid colors and avoid all patterns. Natural colors are great choices as well. Having busy colors and patterned clothing will distract from the main event…YOU! For example, I tend to wear green in my headshots, any shade really (aside from neon). I do this because my eyes are green and green clothing helps emphasize one of my most favorite traits.

NO DISTRACTING CLOTHING

Background

Similar to clothing styles, background details should follow these same criteria. You want to ensure your backgrounds are not busy but rather have solid colors. When working with natural lighting, photographers will blur background images, to help deter facial diversions.

Professional Photographer

As previously discussed, Professional Headshot Photographers will have detailed aid before and during your sessions. They will send sampled color pallette suggestions, for your wardrobe, and who they recommend for makeup artists.

Wardrobe Sample

**TIP**

I suggest you find a headshot photographer who DOES NOT over-touch-up photos. If you have freckles, keep them, they are unique! If you have wrinkles, keep them, they are unique! Overly touched-up photos are deceitful, remember what I said? You want to be truthful to your image and brand. Casting Directors want to see you, not the red carpet version.

SUM. IT. UP.

That’s it for this week! Just to recap

  • Maintain great lighting.
  • Maintain minimal makeup
  • No patterns on clothing or backdrops

You can find my suggested Headshot Photographers for Texas, LA, and Atlanta markets here.

Until next week Green Actors!

Networking

5 Social Media Apps For Actors: Networking

Hey Everyone! Welcome back to the Green Actors Guild! This week we are talking about my Top 5 Social Media Apps for Networking in our industry.

It is easy to be intimidated by the plethora of apps that all claim to be the best. However, since starting in this industry, I have found golden gems that have boosted my network capabilities. Let’s break these down so you can start your best networking potential!

1. Facebook. Instagram. Twitter.

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. SHOCKER! My first three recommended Networking Apps have all been around for some time. These three Social Media platforms are great for networking and branding yourself. Without going into extended detail, I will make a few tips on making your profile THAT much better.

  • Profile Pictures: This goes for every app I talk about today, honestly. Profile pictures should be your professional headshot and your most recent at that. If you do not have a headshot, a nice, clean, picture of yourself will suffice. Make sure it shows your whole face head-on, and how you want to be represented. I will go into more details on Headshots at a later date.
Professional Headshot Example
  • Bio Websites: Within each profile, there are options for personal websites. I suggest utilizing platforms such as Linktr.ee or InstaBio, especially when first starting out. These apps allow the consolidation of multiple links under one dashboard and link. (See below for an example). Users can personalize their InstaBio and Linktr.ee profiles through profile pictures (I used my company logo), a simple saying or bio summary (I summarized my business platform), and customizable icon links (I made sure all my Social Media titles were colored “Green”). By using the likes of Linkr.ee or InstaBio, those who visit your Social Media platforms can find all your related links with just one click.
InstaBio Example
InstaBio Example

2. LinkedIn

LinkedIn! Like Facebook, LinkedIn allows users to Like, Share, Follow, and Comment on other users’ platforms. LinkedIn focuses on professionalism, it truly centers on networking within the industry. Profiles on LinkedIn follow a resume structure. Users can add their Work Experience, Education, and even have Endorsements on Skills, from current coworkers and former colleagues, added to their profile. (see below)

LinkedIn Example
LinkedIn Profile Example

3. ClubHouse

Let’s talk about Clubhouse! This specific app has not been established long, but its benefits in networking are fantastic! This audio-only app hosts live discussions with the potential to engage in said live discussion through “raising your hand”. Users can connect with Casting Directors, Producers, Writers, other Actors, and so many other industry professionals, through hosted group meetings. NOTE: This is an invite-only platform. This means that a current member MUST provide a code for someone to join. I have many codes to offer, just shoot me a comment under my YouTube video if you need one.

Clubhouse Groups
Clubhouse Group Example

Clubhouse Profile: Profile Picture

Let’s review my suggestions for Clubhouse Profiles. Make certain, just like your other Social Media Apps, your profile picture is a headshot or a flattering photo. You never know who you will meet and the doors that could open, you always want to look your best!

Profile Picture Clubhouse
Profile Picture Example: Clubhouse

Clubhouse Profile: Details

When it comes to contact details, add your Agent Representation. If you do not have an agent yet, do not stress, just add your most used form of contact UNTIL you gain that representation.

Ensure to identify which specific talent you are interested in becoming. This includes, but is not limited to, Author, Actor, Writer, Producer, etc.

Add in your education, if applicable. Though it is not mandatory, I do recommend adding in your Alumni, as this type of information opens more networking windows for your future.

For instance, you could say: “I see you are an ASU Alumni, are you part of any ASU Alumni Groups?” to initiate a conversation without seeming like that “weirdo” of the group. It has worked wonders for me already!

Finally, your BIO. Make your bio short, sweet, to the point but yet allowing other users to see who “you are”. (see below for examples)

The Wrap

That’s it for this week on the Green Actor’s Guild. Just to recap on the major points of this week’s tips!

  1. Top 5 APPS for Networking: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn & Clubhouse
  2. Profile Pictures: Have a strong profile picture on all platforms. I recommend a headshot.
  3. Website Links: Each platform offers website links, use LinkTr.ee or InstaBio for these options, versus one person website.
  4. Bio: Create short-to-the-point bios that represent who you are and the brand you are trying to build.

REMEMBER! Only you can make your goals and dreams a reality. NO ONE can do this for you. Start today, get into a local acting class, and begin building the path for your future. Until next week!!

The Green Actors Guild.