Acting for the Camera

Maria Mayenzet has twenty-five years experience in Film,Television, Radio and Regional and International Theatre. She has conducted classes and workshops for California State University, Long Beach, Saddleback College and Eckerd College, Florida. She has also been a guest lecturer at Pepperdine University, Chapman University and Women in Film. Her original work, Women of the World will open at Saddleback College, Spring 2008.

Acting for the Camera will provide the student with:

  • A guide on how to build a career as a working actor.
  • Individual Demo Reel.
  • The craft of film acting and effective communication skills.
  • Development of individual strengths and confidence.
  • Working knowledge of the Hollywood Casting Process.
  • A comprehensive diagnostic on the studentís scene work and interview process.
  • How to get a Screen Actors Guild Franchised Agent.
  • How to market yourself in Hollywood or in Business.
  • Nuts and bolts of working in Film, Episodic Television and Daytime Television.
  • Overview of contracts, billing, managers and publicists.
Contact Maria at mariamayenzet@hotmail.com for more information about workshops and private coaching.


Maria's Practical Survival Tips for Work in Hollywood

You all bring something unique to your work. Discover your gift, nurture it, enhance it and make it your calling card. All actors are typecast based on physical type, relationship to the camera, relationship to their partner, personality, quality, energy as well as talent.

Working on your craft, being a keen observer and sensitive listener can ensure that with hard work and perseverance you can have a long term career. Serendipity is a big factor. Being the right commodity at the right time and the right place is a big factor. Always being prepared and presenting yourself at your best is another huge factor. Good representation and marketing of your self will bring more opportunities to your door step. Always be prepared and punctual.

You can be fired at anytime from after the first day of shooting to the third week of shooting (feature film) Day One in episodic or first week for a movie of the week. If you are focused, pleasant, hard working as well as talented, the word will get out and you'll get more auditions. You will invariably be cast for what you are right for. Don't forget that there are many other actors who are also right for the part and your whole package: talent, discipline, professionalism, attitude and generosity of spirit will make you stand out next to all the other actors that are right for the part.

Sometimes a part is already cast and they have an open call for a back-up (they won't tell you this). Sometimes they have to match you with someone to play your husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend and it becomes an issue of blonde, brunette, tall or short, thin or average, do you have chemistry together? are you hot together?, are your personalities and energy well matched? Unless you blow an audition, 99% of the time external factors make the ultimate decision. Don't ever take it personally or feel rejected. Use every audition as an opportunity to celebrate your art and your passion. If you falter in an audition, learn from that experience and take that with you to the next audition.

THERE ARE NO EXCUSES such as: I had a bad day, my car broke down, I have a cold or my partner broke up with me. YOU MUST RISE ABOVE AND GIVE THEM YOUR BEST. You may be wrong for a project but you'll be called back for something else that best suits you. Be happy to be there, gracious, truthful and simple.

Film and T.V are about the experience of being the character versus performing the character on stage. Your eyes on film are the windows of your soul, active listening in a scene can draw the audience to you in a compelling and memorable way. Love what you do and others will take notice.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:
In film, you'll spend two whole days on a two page scene. Keep your work alive, fresh, spontaneous and conserve your energy.(One camera used).

In episodic television, you'll film 7 ½ pages a day. Usually everything is done in one or two takes plus extra coverage. Be prepared. (One camera used)

In soaps, you'll film up to 20 pages a day (1 hour soap). (Three cameras are used)

In sit-coms, you'll film or tape in front of a live audience, one performance only. (Three cameras used)

Films and episodic are shot out of sequence:
1. Write a history for your character: Where did you just come from, where are you     going and what do you want.(for each scene)

2. There are tons of people and commotion on the set. Tune them out, be a Zen Master.

3. Conserve your energy in your trailer.

4. Use music from I-Pod or Walkman to get you into the mood of a scene.

5. Be kind and courteous to everyone on the set. Make it your business to remember names etc. Positive energy will bring good things to you. The crew will watch out for you and make you look good. Film and T.V, like theatre is a collaborative process.

6. Film and Episodic: 16-18 hour days. Soaps: 12 hour days. (If you are only in the first two scenes, you may have an 8 hour day. Sit-Com: Eight hour days except on taping day.

ACTING FOR FILM:
1. Relationship to role, partner and camera

2. What are you fighting for? (Shurtleff 29) (dynamic of objective and goal with ever-changing tactics)

3. Opposites. The Yin and Yang of motivation in a scene makes for a captivating performance.

4. TRUST YOUR INTUITION AND INSTINCTS.

5. In Episodic work, be unaffected and straightforward (Shepard 207). You'll be cast for who you are and how you embody the character

6. ACTIVE LISTENING AND DISCOVERY.

7. Emotional importance in a scene. Find it, use it.

8. You can improvise with your scene partner to get warmed up for a scene Check with the 2nd A.D about when your shot is up so you can take some time to focus before they are ready for you.

9. Don't ever stop if you've messed up a line or moment, keep going until the Director says CUT. Sometimes the camera will still go on rolling after the dialogue has been completed, stay in character until your hear "Cut".

10. Always have a sense of wonder, spontaneity, humor and grace.

11. Carry a secret for your character. Keep your inner life going.

12. PAY SCALE: SAG DAY RATE: $617.00. This can go up to $1000 a day. If you are on a new series your pay scale could be $10,000 to 30,000 a week for the first season. I worked in a T.V movie where the Name actors made $250,000 a week. Kelsey Grammer (my former room-mate), of Frasier ended up earning one million an episode in his last season. He deserves it. He's a great actor and a wonderful guy.

GETTING AN AGENT:
1. Submit picture and resume with cover letter to SAG franchised agencies.

2. Send postcards of your picture to agents and casting directors when you're in a show.

3. Go to agency open calls.

4. Go to theatre company open calls.

5. When auditioning for an agent, make sure your scene or monologue is short.

6. Make a demo reel with footage from any student film that you've been in.

7. Go to casting director and agency workshops.

8. Practice cold reading every day.

9. Go to movies, watch T.V.

10. Unless you are signed by C.A.A, I.C.M, William Morris or United Talent, you will need one agency for theatre, television and film and another agency for commercials, industrials, radio and print. 10% of your gross pay goes to your agent. Only your theatre film and T.V agent gets the 10% when booking the job, not your commercial agent. Only your commercial agent gets 10% when booking the McDonalds commercial.

Best of luck to all of you!


Philosophy of Teaching

I believe that each student brings an individual gift to his or her work. It is my responsibility to develop and enhance a student's strengths and to guide them towards self-discovery as an artist. I subscribe to the belief that learning is a collaborative experience and students thrive when given an environment of support, trust and celebration. I also believe that it is imperative to inculcate discipline and respect for the craft of acting as well as respect for fellow company members.

The classroom should become a company of actors who appreciate the value of the ensemble. I derived my livelihood from being a professional actor for over twenty-five years and I understand what it takes to work consistently in the industry. My job as an instructor is to prepare a student for the rigors of the industry while giving them compassionate support and individualized tutelage.

I have a passion for film and I've found that Acting for the Camera is an excellent and invaluable tool for theatre majors and non-majors alike. The camera never lies; students grow and evolve through their experience working in front of the camera. The difference between acting for the stage and acting for the camera is the "distance of communication." It is this essential adjustment that the actor must make and focus on, in addition to all other acting demands for the stage.

As a teacher I have been inspired by the students with whom I have worked. They both have reinforced my love for the arts and have moved me with their idealism and honesty. The journey of teaching is never-ending, I therefore believe in continuing my own education and edification as pertains to new methodologies and theories. I also subscribe to supporting the philosophy and tenets of a department while facilitating their implementation.


Maria's Guide to Hollywood

  • Get The Working Actor's Guide to Los Angeles by Aaron Blake Publishers.
  • Use Samuel French, S.A.G, A.F.T.R.A, A.E.A, the Internet, Variety, Dramalogue, Hollywood Reporter and Backstage West as resources.
  • Go to Google and type in talent agencies of Los Angeles. Once you have the list go to the respective agency's web site for more information.
  • Practice cold reading daily.
  • Go to open calls. Some agencies have them monthly.
  • Have a dynamite scene and monologue prepared. For film and T.V, avoid the classics.
  • Always look fantastic. Stay well groomed and well dressed. Look sexy/hot at all times (even if you're a character actor). Always project sincerity, commitment and optimism.
  • Network with other actors and alumni.(I got two series that way)
  • If you're interested in a theatre company, write to them and call them. Make an appointment or drop by.
  • If there's a show that you like, write to the casting director. Send postcards, letting them know what you're doing (i.e: an equity-waiver show, a stand-up act, a student film).
  • Some Talent and Casting agencies allow drop ins. Bring a flower with your resume and address it to a specific agent. (I got a meeting at ICM doing that).
  • Take a class with a master teacher.(I got a movie out of that)
  • Attend Casting director workshops. (I was called in to Universal from a workshop)
  • Unless a manager can guarantee you an agent, don't bother.
  • If an agent doesn't get you work within ninety days you have a contractual out, to go with a better agent.
  • No agent or manager is enough. You must always be marketing yourself creatively.
  • Research who cast, directed and produced your favorite movies and drop them a line.
  • Make online submissions to independent film projects.
  • Always check with S.A.G on the legitimacy of any agent, manager, casting agent, director and producer. Trust your gut as well. If it doesn't feel right, it isn't right.
  • Go to A.F.I, Sundance Institute, U.C.L.A, and U.S.C, sign up for auditions. If you get cast, you will then have some film of yourself for a demo reel.
  • A decision is made about you the moment you cross the threshold, so have something active in mind. Make a note of whom you met and whom you liked. If you have time to research the writer and director of a project, do so.(It can't hurt)
  • Always stay in touch with people that you've worked with. Other projects may come their way.
  • It's a business. Don't take it personally. Let your interview or audition be an opportunity to share your love of the craft of acting. Always be energized, ready to improvise, open to your scene partner, and look sexy (even if it's for the role of a policewoman or man or a nuclear physicist.

Phone: (949) 235-3919
Email: mariamayenzet@hotmail.com
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