Saturday, September 21, 2013

Acting Tips: Important new feature at Actors Access

Actors Access, the casting section of Breakdown Services, has an important new feature for actors that is likely to fundamentally change the tools we make available for casting. Each headshot on your Actors Access profile can now include a 7-second clip of you slating to camera and in effect creating a "moving picture" of you for casting purposes.

Another option, however, and one that I've taken instead, is to take a 7-second clip from a past film and simply slate it on screen in print. You can actually grab quite a bit of dialogue and convey what you really look like in different roles and from moody interiors to sunny exteriors.

If you have a profile at Actors Access you should take advantage of this. They charge $5 per clip (first one is free) but you can upload but yourself, which is a big improvement over their arduous process for reels.  (My Final Cut Pro X editing software is again proving invaluable.)

I wonder if the broader pool of actors available because of video audition capability means that casting directors have less time to look at reels (rats!) and at the same time are too wary of relying solely on stills, which are often overly photoshopped.

In any case, below is one of my drama clips so you can see what is possible in 7 seconds. I'm going to post one slate to camera just to have it available, but my other 5 "headshots" are going to be screen grabs illustrated with the 7-second clips.

I think this is an exciting development as I've always thought my headshots were attractive but too limiting. They never seem to fit the role I'm submitting for.

Have any of you already taken advantage of this new feature and posted clips?  What is your view on this feature?  Is this going to make $500-$700 headshot photos obsolete? We can only hope.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fame and Patricia Bright

I'm a great fan of old radio shows (the acting is wonderful!) and sometimes I hear someone who's so good it makes me think "Whatever happened to......?" Such was actress Patricia Bright, who I heard for the second time yesterday on a January 12, 1941 broadcast of a show called Behind the Mike. She was only 19 at the time, and an up-and-coming actress with stars in her eyes.

The bit for the show was an audition for two well-known talent scouts. She presented a dramatic monologue and then did a very funny routine demonstrating how to play ladies of different nationalities, using the appropriate accents – English Cockney, Scottish, Russian, etc. She was terrific and, not surprisingly, the talent scouts praised her performance and said they would have no problem submitting her for work.

Patricia Bright's "Oscar"
I always wondered what happened to her. She was so talented. But there is little beyond her IMDb listing of a few roles in early TV (and a couple of old photos being auctioned this week on ebay).

But the Internet is a wonderful tool for finding things and as it turns out Bright's daughter-in-law, Cindy Waitt, has a blog where I found a lovely retrospective on the actress's life. (You can read it here.)

I learned that her only Oscar was a prop from the Janet Gaynor/Frederic March version of A Star is Born, which she had won in a contest. That she had filmed a scene for Woody Allen's wonderful 1987 film Radio Days, a favorite of mine, only to have it cut. (At least he wrote her a nice note.) I learned that she was a funny lady who had a stage act and could do a drop-dead impersonation of Katharine Hepburn.

I also learned that she extended her career doing voice work. In fact, Waitt tells a very funny story about Bright leaving "a recording studio furious about a bad audition.  In the days of pay phones, she picked up the receiver, deposited a dime, intending to call her agent and chew him out, and was startled to hear her own voice, telling her to deposit more money.  Bright had done the recording for the phone company."

Sadly the talented young actress did not have the big screen career one would have hoped for. Marriage and children intervened, and in a field that requires full focus and determination, it's hard to retain both a marriage and a career. She retained the former. Still, I would have loved to have seen her impersonation of Hepburn. It must have been priceless.