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By Faith Hibbs-Clark



Hello, lovely actors! I've heard from many of you who are understandably concerned about the ongoing writers' strike and now the SAGAFTRA strike. Let's take a moment to reflect on the previous strike and discuss some proactive measures you can take to navigate these uncertain times successfully.


I have compiled a list of 40 things you can do during the strike, complete with links to keep you busy during the strike, so roll up your sleeves and let's get started.


I have been in this industry long enough to remember the last major WGA strike. It took place from November 5, 2007, to February 12, 2008. Disputes over compensation for digital content distribution and residuals for reruns, among other issues, caused the strike. This strike had a significant impact on the entertainment industry, with many television shows experiencing shortened seasons, delays, or cancellations.


Fast forward to now, as the SAG-AFTRA union joins the fight. I believe it is crucial for the SAG-AFTRA union to support the writers' strike, as they share a common goal of fair compensation and working conditions within the entertainment industry. Solidarity between unions can send a powerful message to studios and producers, emphasizing the need for equitable treatment and valuing creative talent.


SAG-AFTRA hasn't initiated a strike since before the union merged in 2012. However, its previous components, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, have participated in multiple strikes over the years. The most recent action, a joint strike lasting six months in 2000, marked the longest entertainment industry strike in history.


To get the latest information, I would recommend visiting reputable news sources or the official WGA website for updates and statements from industry leaders. The most important thing you can do right now is to support the union and this cause.


40 Things Actors Can Do to Stay Busy

Complete with Links 🖇️

  1. Network with industry professionals: Join professional networking sites like Stage 32 or attend virtual events hosted by organizations such as SAG-AFTRA to connect with fellow actors, directors, and producers. Here are some independent film organizations that actors may consider joining to expand their network, access resources, and gain support. IFP (Independent Filmmaker Project) A member-driven organization that supports independent filmmakers through mentorship, networking, and educational programs.Film Independent: Dedicated to promoting and supporting independent filmmakers and artists, offering various resources, including industry events, workshops, and mentorship programs Sundance Institute: Known for its annual Sundance Film Festival, the institute also provides year-round support for independent filmmakers through grants, labs, and Raindance: A UK-based independent film organization offering training courses, networking events, and organizing the Raindance Film Festival. Women in Film: An organization focused on advocating for and advancing the careers of women working in the screen industries, providing resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities. Austin Film Society: A Texas-based non-profit organization that supports independent filmmakers through grants, screenings, and various educational programs. New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT): A membership organization that supports women in the entertainment industry by providing networking events, workshops, and seminars. The Directors Guild of America (DGA): A labor organization representing the interests of film and television directors, offering support, resources, and advocacy for its members. (https://www.dga.org/) The Producers Guild of America (PGA): A non-profit trade organization representing, protecting, and promoting the interests of producers and the producing team in film, television, and new media.

  2. Create self-produced content: Follow the example of web series like The Guild or High Maintenance and create your own short films or web series. Use platforms like Vimeo or YouTube to showcase your work. "The Guild," created by and starring Felicia Day, gained a large following and helped launch her career. Some actors are even able to utilize these projects to get union eligibility.

  3. Volunteer for student projects: Look for collaboration opportunities on film school websites such as NYU Tisch or USC School of Cinematic Arts or AFI Conservatory or LFS: London Film School or NYFA: New York Film Academy or VFS: Vancouver Film School

  4. Work on your memorization skills: Memorization is a skill that has to be worked on. Try my 28-day self-paced Science of Memorization Course.

  5. Participate in script readings: Join virtual script reading groups on platforms like Meetup or Facebook Groups.

  6. Engage with your fans: Utilize social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to interact with your audience and build a supportive community.

  7. Research upcoming projects: Stay ahead of the curve by researching projects in development on websites like IMDbPro and Production Weekly. Find out what is IN DEVELOPMENT.

  8. Read plays and screenplays: Access scripts through resources like New Play Exchange or SimplyScripts.

  9. Stay connected with your agent or manager: Maintain open communication with your representation using email, phone calls, or video conferencing tools like Zoom, depending on their preference. Ask them for a talent report and analyze the types of jobs you have been getting.

  10. Develop a podcast or YouTube channel: Use podcast hosting platforms like Anchor or Buzzsprout to create audio content, or upload videos to your own YouTube channel.

  11. Attend film festivals and industry events: Participate in virtual or in-person film festivals like Sundance Film Festival or Cannes Film Festival.

  12. Attend the CMFA Film Acting Retreat in France: This is a great time to travel and learn The Acting Science Method without guilt. September 11-19th 2023.

  13. Explore screenwriting: Try your hand at writing or producing by submitting work to competitions like Austin Film Festival Screenwriting Competition or The PAGE International Screenwriting Awards, or The Nicholl Fellowship or Scriptapalooza to gain exposure and recognition.

  14. Practice accent and dialect work: Use resources like IDEA: International Dialects of English Archive to learn and perfect various accents and dialects.

  15. Learn the Acting Science Method: If you have studied other methods, this will be unlike any other method and it is specifically designed for auditioning for films. The Acting Science Method is all about science and is best for actors with high emotional intelligence.

  16. Seek out commercial modeling and print opportunities: Search for commercial modeling and print modeling jobs on websites like Casting Networks or Model Mayhem. Print and modeling work is not in the union's jurisdiction.

  17. Produce and star in your own films: Follow the example of successful self-produced films like Blue Jay or Tangerine, using platforms like FilmFreeway to submit your work to film festivals.

  18. Utilize free filmmaking resources: Take advantage of free online tools like DaVinci Resolve for video editing or Incompetech for royalty-free music.

  19. Attend free industry workshops and panels: Participate in virtual or in-person workshops and panel discussions hosted by organizations like SAG-AFTRA Foundation or The Actors Fund.

  20. Create a demo reel: Compile your best work into a demo reel using video editing software like Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro. Showcase your reel on your website or social media profiles.

  21. Develop a personal brand: Reflect on your unique qualities and strengths as an actor, and create a consistent image and message across your online presence and promotional materials.

  22. Create a mailing list: Build an email list of industry contacts, fans, and supporters using services like Mailchimp or ConvertKit to keep them updated on your projects and achievements.

  23. Get involved with local arts organizations: Volunteer or participate in events organized by local arts councils or theater companies to stay connected and contribute to your community. The Actors' Gang Prison Project or Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

  24. Create a professional email signature: Design a professional email signature using tools like WiseStamp or Newoldstamp to include in your correspondence with industry professionals. Be sure to put a link to your IMDB score to boost your ranking.

  25. Research acting grants and scholarships: Explore funding opportunities from organizations like The Princess Grace Foundation or The Actors Fund. The National Endowment for the Arts or Theatre Communications Group to support your acting projects.

  26. Write a personal mission statement: Craft a personal mission statement that outlines your values, goals, and vision as an actor, guiding your decision-making and career choices.

  27. Learn about entertainment law: Familiarize yourself with legal aspects of the industry, such as contracts and intellectual property, through resources like Entertainment Law Resources or The Pocket Lawyer for Filmmakers.

  28. Explore international acting opportunities: Research acting opportunities in other countries or markets, such as the UK or Canada, and consider expanding your career globally.

  29. Subscribe to industry trade publications: Stay informed on industry news and trends by subscribing to trade publications like The Hollywood Reporter or Backstage.

  30. Learn about film financing: Educate yourself on film financing strategies and resources, such as crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, or explore books like The Film Finance Handbook.

  31. Explore opportunities in animation and motion capture: Research job opportunities in animation and motion capture, using resources like Animation World Network or Motion Capture Society.

  32. Create a one-person show: Write and perform a one-person show, showcasing your unique talents and perspectives, and share it through virtual performances or local venues.

  33. Develop your personal style: Cultivate a personal style that reflects your personality and acting brand, ensuring you make a memorable impression at auditions and industry events.

  34. Participate in 48-hour film challenges: Take part in time-limited film challenges like The 48-Hour Film Project or Four Points Film Project to collaborate with fellow creatives and produce short films.

  35. Create a press kit: Compile a digital press kit containing your headshots, resume, demo reel, and any press coverage to share with industry professionals and media outlets.

  36. Explore opportunities in educational and industrial films: Research job opportunities in educational or industrial films, which can provide valuable experience and income during periods of limited mainstream acting work. You can find out who does them by reaching out to your local production association or film office.

  37. Collaborate on social impact projects: Partner with non-profit organizations or social impact initiatives to use your acting talents for raising awareness or advocating for important causes.

  38. Update and improve your IMDb profile: Set up an IMDb profile to showcase your acting credits and make it easier for industry professionals to find and research your work. Self add any missing projects.

  39. Learn about film distribution: Educate yourself on film distribution strategies through resources like Film Distribution: New Rules for Selling Your Film or Distribution U.

  40. Explore opportunities in virtual reality and immersive theater: Research job opportunities in emerging fields like virtual reality or immersive theater, which can provide unique acting experiences and expand your skill set.

Want to connect with me one-on-one? Schedule a private session so I can help you form a plan to navigate these uncertain times.

In the words of the legendary Sir Michael Caine, "Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath."

Remember this powerful quote from this legendary actor. Like a duck, we may need to appear calm on the surface, but underneath, we're tirelessly working, pushing through the currents.


It's okay to feel worried or anxious. But don't let these feelings deter you from your passion. Keep learning, keep growing, and most importantly, keep acting.


Your dedication and perseverance will see you through these troubled waters. Stay strong, keep paddling, and let's face the future together! 👊



Faith is a body language expert who specialized in deception detection before becoming a casting director and working in the film industry for over 25 years. She is the founder of the Communication Method for Actors, LLC & the creator of the Acting Science Method ™. www.cmfatraining.com 





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by Faith Hibbs-Clark


Have you ever been so moved by an actor's performance that it felt like reality? Chances are, their captivating portrayal was powered by the subtleties of body language. Non-verbal cues account for as much as 85% of communication, making body language an indispensable tool for actors. In this article, we explore how understanding and utilizing body language can elevate an actor's performance to the next level.


Believe in your performance: that's a golden rule for any actor. Words can only take you so far. Body language, on the other hand, is an actor's secret weapon for delivering a believable performance that captures the audience's heart. In this blog, we will delve into why body language is crucial in acting and how you can use it to create a compelling performance.


"Acting is the art of storytelling, and body language is its lifeblood." says Michael Fassbender, a German-Irish actor known for his roles in films such as "Inglourious Basterds", "X-Men: First Class", and "Steve Jobs".

When an actor communicates genuinely through body language, the audience connects more strongly with the character. An actor's facial expressions, posture, gestures, and movements all speak volumes in conveying emotions, making their performance more convincing. In a world where only 9% of communication is the meaning of words, mastering the fundamentals of body language is of utmost importance for any actor.


What is Body Language?

In simple terms, body language is any communication done without using words. It can include facial expressions, hand gestures, posture, or gaze. Our brains process visual information much faster than verbal information, and our bodies constantly send signals about how we feel in any given situation. By utilizing these signals in your performance work, you have the potential to create incredibly authentic characters that viewers will connect with on an emotional level.


As I always say, "All acting is a lie!" - In the CMFA "Acting Science Method" I call it the ENTERTAINMENT LIE, but the trick is making that lie a believable lie.

So how do actors go about doing this? The key is drawing from your own body language indicators and not mimicking others - after all, no two people express themselves in precisely the same way! That being said, there are some basics that every actor should be aware of when performing.


The Science of it

It is often said that our actions can reveal more about the emotional journeys we take than our words alone. In character development, this notion holds true; the choices we make define us far more than mere utterances. Nonverbal communication plays a more crucial role than spoken words in human interaction. As an actor, expressions, hand gestures, and postures are equally, if not more, significant than lines from the script. What is left unsaid often conveys more than what is said. Therefore, as performers, your body language and nonverbal cues carry enormous weight in expressing the intended message and emotion.


How Body Language Contributes to Performance Work Through Reverse-engineering

Body language can be used to control what the brain is feeling and make it easier for performers to believe in the role they are playing. While many actors may look outside of themselves for inspiration—studying other people’s body language or mimicking others' mannerisms—it’s important that each actor finds their own way of expressing feelings through body language. The best performance work happens when an actor draws from their own body language when creating a character's movements or behavior.


In fact, body language can do even more because it has the power to influence our own brain chemistry and behavior; studies have shown that by adopting certain poses and facial expressions, you can actually induce physical changes in your own brain – such as releasing endorphins chemicals into your LImbic system – which can help you better embody the character you are playing.


Actors must also be conscious of how their body language impacts their overall performance. For example, if an actor needs to portray a sense of sadness, they may need to adjust their posture and facial expressions accordingly. They may also need to think about how much physical space they take up in order to convey certain emotions like fear or intimidation. All these adjustments help create a more believable character that resonates with the audience.


The Power of Authenticity

When utilizing body language to enhance your acting performance, it’s important to remember that authenticity is key. Rather than mimicking another actor’s movements or trying to force yourself into a certain pose, draw from your own personal experiences and feelings when crafting your character’s physical presence onstage or on camera. Taking the time to really understand how various emotions manifest themselves within your own body will help you communicate those feelings more accurately and believably onscreen in character.

Body language plays an integral role in any actor’s performance work - but it takes practice and dedication in order to master this skill set. By taking the time to understand how different emotions manifest themselves within their own bodies, actors can learn how best to express these emotions through their physicality - creating more believable performances that move audiences around the world. For more information on using body language for professional acting work, visit www.cmfatraining.com today!


In conclusion, mastering body language is just one part of the "Acting Science" that is essential for any professional actor who wants to bring a character's story alive on camera in a believable way. By understanding how body movements affect emotion and overall performance work, actors can ensure that every scene resonates with truth and authenticity—and ultimately helps them create characters that their audience will truly connect with.



Faith is a body language expert who specialized in deception detection before becoming a casting director and working in the film industry for over 25 years. She is the founder of the Communication Method for Actors, LLC & the creator of the Acting Science Method ™. www.cmfatraining.com 





I would like to show you how to improve your audition booking ratio. I have others to do it and I can teach you too.


What are others saying?



What is your learning style?


Best for actors who need fast results but who have limited time



Best for those who want more time and resources with more personalized attention



Best for those who need one-on-one personalized attention and feedback at a time that suits you




By Faith Hibbs-Clark, CMFA Founder


As a casting director and body language expert, I've always been fascinated by the power of emotions and how they can shape your performances in auditions and on screen. One skill that many actors struggle with is the ability to cry on cue in a believable way.

I once had an actor audition for a day player role that was named in the script as "CRYING MAN,"

but when he came into the audition, he couldn't muster a tear to save his life. After the audition, he defensively told me that he just doesn't cry and gave a list of reasons from his childhood that it just wasn't easy for him. After listening to him go on and on for over 10 minutes, I finally stopped him. I told him I completely understood the psychology of what he was telling me but that the role is literally called "CRYING MAN" in the script and, as such, required him to shed a tear. "Ohhhhh," he said as if he had had an epiphany moment: he then left and came back with tears running down his face. "What did you do?" I gasped, "I rubbed Vicks Vapor Rub under my eyes." He did his audition, and although his face was stained with tears, his performance lacked the genuine emotion that was necessary to carry the scene. Needless to say, he didn't book the job. This actor had activated "reflex" tears which are the type of tears that come from irritants in our eyes like when we cut unions, or in this case, rub Vicks Vapor rub under the eyes.


In this blog post, I'll compare acting methods and show you how CMFA's Acting Science" differs.

 

The Stanislavski System

The Stanislavski System was developed by Russian actor and director Konstantin Stanislavski. It is an acting method that encourages actors to draw upon their own experiences and emotions to bring authenticity and depth to a scene. One of the key components of the Stanislavski System is Emotional Memory (also known as Affective Memory), which involves actors recalling personal memories and experiences that evoke similar emotions to those of their character.


The Stanislavski System, though widely popular, has its limitations. Relying on personal memories to evoke emotions can be problematic for several reasons:

  1. Scattered memory storage: Our brain stores memories in multiple areas, making it difficult to fully relive a memory to a believable extent. Accessing all these areas simultaneously is like trying to access blockchain technology – designed to be secure and inaccessible for human survival.

  2. Desensitization to trauma: Over time, our brain desensitizes to traumatic experiences as a coping mechanism. This means that even if you could access a particular memory, its emotional impact might diminish over time, leading to inconsistent performances.

  3. Emotional exhaustion: Continuously accessing and reliving your personal traumatic experiences can take a toll on your mental health, leading to emotional exhaustion and burnout.

  4. Limited emotional range: Relying solely on your own experiences may limit your emotional range, as you may not have experienced all the emotions required for various roles. This could hinder your ability to portray characters authentically.

  5. Lack of universality: Since each person's life experiences are unique, using personal memories may not always resonate with the audience or convey the intended emotion effectively.

However, dragging up old memories from your past not only doesn't work, it can be quite traumatizing.
 

Method Acting

In preparation for a scene where his character had been awake for several days, Dustin Hoffman, a Method actor, reportedly stayed up all night to appear genuinely exhausted. When Lawrence Olivier noticed Hoffman's disheveled state, he asked him why he looked so tired. Hoffman explained that he had stayed up all night to get into character. That's when Olivier responded with the now-famous line, "My dear boy, that's why they call it acting."


Dustin Hoffman was trained in Method Acting, which is an acting technique derived from the teachings of Lee Strasberg, who was heavily influenced by Stanislavski's work. Method Acting emphasizes using personal experiences and emotions to create authentic performances, similar to the Emotional Memory aspect of the Stanislavski System. However, Method Acting takes this idea further by encouraging actors to fully immerse themselves in their characters' lives and experiences, both on and off stage or set.


While Method Acting, as practiced by Dustin Hoffman and others, has produced some remarkable performances, there are potential drawbacks and limitations from a scientific perspective:


  1. Psychological well-being: Fully immersing oneself in a character, particularly one with traumatic experiences or mental health issues, can blur the lines between the actor's own emotions and the character's emotions. This may lead to negative psychological effects on the actor, such as increased stress, anxiety, or even depression.

  2. Emotional exhaustion: Continuously immersing yourself in a real-life experience for the sake of a role can be mentally and emotionally draining for actors. Over time, this may lead to burnout, reducing the effectiveness of the Method Acting approach.

  3. Neurological implications: Method Acting immersion aspect can evoke intense emotions, which can result in changes to your brain function and structure. For example, immersing yourself in a traumatic situation can strengthen neural connections associated with your own painful memories, potentially exacerbating the emotional impact of those experiences on you.

It is important to note that these potential drawbacks do not negate the successes and powerful performances achieved through Method Acting. However, they highlight the need for you to be aware of the potential risks and consider employing various acting techniques to maintain a healthy balance in your craft.

 

The Meisner Method

Sanford Meisner, the creator of the Meisner Technique, emphasized honest and genuine emotions in acting. He believed that an actor should not force crying on cue but rather focus on truly experiencing the emotions the character is going through. According to Meisner, if an actor is genuinely connected to their character's feelings, the tears will come naturally when needed.


The Meisner Technique is based on a series of exercises called repetition exercises, which aim to help actors develop an emotional connection with their scene partners and respond truthfully in the moment. However, I would argue that this method may not always work from a scientific perspective for the following reasons:


  1. Lack of repeatability: Since the Meisner Technique relies heavily on actors being "in the moment," it might be challenging to consistently reproduce the same emotional response, especially in long-running performances or when shooting multiple takes in film and television.

  2. Individual differences: Every actor has different emotional experiences and ways of processing emotions. The Meisner Technique might not be equally effective for all actors, as some individuals may struggle to connect with their emotions or their scene partner's emotions as easily as others. From a scientific perspective, these individual differences can be attributed to variations in brain structure and function, as well as hormonal and neurotransmitter levels. For instance, the amygdala, a key brain region involved in processing emotions, can vary in size and connectivity among individuals, influencing how easily they connect with their own and others' emotions. Similarly, the levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which play crucial roles in regulating mood and emotional responses, can also differ between individuals.

  3. Emotional authenticity vs. character portrayal: While the Meisner Technique encourages actors to experience genuine emotions, this approach might not always align with the specific emotional responses required by a particular character. However, portraying a character's emotions might demand a different set of neural activations and cognitive processes.

It's important to note that the Meisner Technique has been successful for many actors, and its effectiveness can vary depending on the individual actor and the specific circumstances.

 

The Acting Science Method

In this science-based method, I harness the power of body language and other behavioral science concepts to focus on what is communicated in your audition.


For instance, you may need to engage your mirror neuron system, a network of brain cells that helps you understand and empathize with others' emotions and actions in order to cry on cue. This employs what I call "body language coding," which will trigger mirror neurons in your brain to make you feel the emotion for real. This can then flood your limbic system with natural reactions consistent with the body language trigger. Body language coding utilizes different aspects of nonverbal communication, such as hand gestures, body posture, or proxemics (the study of personal space), to trigger mirror neurons in the brain allowing your brain to believe the emotions are real.


In my Acting Science Method, Crying on cue is as simple as knowing what body language will trigger this natural reaction.

This is one of the many fascinating aspects of crying on cue that you will learn in this month's special topics class. You will not only be able to learn about it, you will be able to try it for yourself under my guidance.


All of the acting methods discussed in this article have produced amazing performances. Still, it is important that you explore various techniques and approaches to find what works best for you in delivering authentic and versatile performances that can help you cry on cue when needed.






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