More and more we are getting requests for talent to have improv experience. They may not specifically say it – but read between the lines in the audition specs. Did the client ask for “something unique”, “facial reactions”, “fun personalities”, “good timing”, or a “comedy background”? They are really asking for someone to be comfortable with IMPROV!

In commercials, most of the content is said by the VO talent, that means the majority of ON-CAMERA talent is acting through facial expressions and reactions. The more comfortable you are with your body, face and movements… the more comfortable you will look on camera.

Some of the key principles of improv are:

Be Prepared, Warm Up: Even in commercial work, it is important to take a minute to prepare for your audition. Make sure you have read all the information well in advance, have memorized your lines if need be, have your headshot and resume printed in advance, and have your wardrobe ready to go. Once in the audition space – take a few deep breaths – shed the stress of the drive in traffic and don’t think about the rest of the crowded room. Only think about what is needed for YOU.

Listen: Listen when the director/casting director gives you a suggestion. Take a minute, process it, and react. Listen when your partner is speaking – actually speak back to them, don’t just recite lines to them.

Action Beats Inaction: Don’t just stand there and say/do nothing!! Act and react. Make specific choices for your character.

Be Honest: Don’t censor your initial thoughts. If you have a gut reaction, it is likely the most natural reaction for you… try it!

Trust: Trust your impulses and your choices. Also – trust those of your scene partner. Build off them, weave them together… make up a great story!

YES AND… The most commonly known principle in improv is “yes, and…”. You never say no. Accept what is happening and make it part of your reality and create around it.

Improv doesn’t mean you are a stand up comedian or the guy with the best one-liners. The talent who are great with improv can see comedic timing in a script and they can feel the places where a reaction can be placed.

If you are interested in learning more about improv – we are lucky to have some AMAZING improv theater groups in town that offer classes. Take a peek at:

Brave New Workshop Student Unionhttp://studentunion.bravenewworkshop.com/

Huge Improvhttp://www.hugetheater.com/classes/

Stevie Ray’s Improvhttp://www.stevierays.org/improv_comedy_classes.html

Comedy Sportzhttp://www.comedysportztc.com/classes.php

 

 

 

This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of teaching one of the classes for Talent Poole – The Dos and Don’ts of the Biz. The talent and I went out into the courtyard to soak up the sun while we got down to business. The class was filled with talent that were brand new to Talent Poole to folks that had been with us since we opened our doors 16 years ago. We spent the afternoon talking about the quirks of the entertainment industry, here are some of the highlights!

  • The Hierarchy of the Advertising Industry: Do you know how many people have to approve the decision to hire you? A TON!
  • Resume and Headshot Pointers: What makes a headshot stand out? Comfort, friendliness AND I should recognize you the instant you walk in the door. Your headshot should look like the best version of the “everyday you.” Resumes – highlight the most important and interesting jobs – get rid of the clutter. Make an impression!
  • Treat this as your BUSINESS (even if you have 2 or 3 other jobs): Remember names, keep track of your progress, and always work at improving.
  • Be the easiest person in the world to work with: Be available, be prepared, read emails completely, answer promptly, be polite and gracious, be kind.
  • Keep us updated – send us reminders of what you are working on, what classes you are taking, when you are going to be out-of-town. Not only does it keep us informed, it keeps your name on the top of my mind!
  • Don’t do anything you have to apologize for – on set, in an audition, or at our office!

What I liked best about the class was that I got to spend the hour getting to know 10 talent, that I may not have known very well. The more I know about our talent, the better I can represent them. And… in this business you have to constantly work on the business and the craft. You are never done learning.

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