After having labored through the intellectual subject matter of “Script Breakdown” in my last blog I am ready to get messy, have a little fun and talk about us crazy actors and our emotions. Yes, it is invaluable that you know your script inside and out and intellectually dissect every thought your character has in order to play the role adequately, but it is just as important to understand and bring to life the emotional side of your character.
Many an acting teacher has tried to break down the art of acting into a series of usable skills. The intent is to first identify the various tools necessary in order to learn them and thus become a highly skilled actor. The idea is to have a set of tools we can keep in our “actor’s toolbox” that we may use whenever needed. Of course, it makes sense. We all want to be highly skilled and most of us have at least one tool we’ve mastered, but most of us still have more to learn. The easiest way to teach an art, like acting, is to break it down into its basic components and then one by one teach how to master those components until finally you have a mastery of them all.
Our next show at Cella Gallery titled “ Femme Fatale” features the work of 35 artists hand picked by curators Nicole Bruckman and Stephanie Chefas.
Every year at about this time there is a significant number of new actors coming to Los Angeles to try their hand at a career in acting. Somehow, just about everyone across the country has heard at one time or another that January is the beginning of pilot season (although that is not necessarily true, things generally don’t really pick up until after Sundance at the end of January). For that reason, I felt it appropriate to make a few lists and talk about the things that I think an actor 1) absolutely must have, 2) probably should have and 3) it would be nice to have if they hope to make it in LA.
It’s all very well trying to analyse the brain’s response to a painting, but you can’t choose a Turner Prize winner by giving the judges an MRI scan IT SEEMS as if every other week there is a news story about how scientists, with the help of magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography, are “unlocking the mysteries” of art. It has even spawned a hideous new neologism – “neuroaesthetics”, formally defined in 2002 as “the scientific study of the neural bases for the contemplation and creation of a work of art”.
Happy New Year, everone!
As we discussed last time, headshots are a very important tool for the actor. In fact, unless you are a star or well known within the industry they are probably THE most important marketing tool. That said, let’s take a look at some of the more important technical aspects of getting a great headshot.
I mentioned it before, but let me emphasize it again, headhots are all about casting. That means your shots need to address these three questions: 1) what’s your look, 2) what’s your personality and 3) can you act? If your shots are done right we see all that in your eyes. Your eyes are the windows to your sole. They tell us all about you, which is after all what casting is all about. For more of an explanation of what that means and how to get all that in your headshot see my previous blog.
It goes to reason that if a great shot is all about your eyes then clearly your eyes need to be the focus of the shots. Everything has to help draw the viewers focus to your eyes. That means your clothes, your jewelry, the lighting, the background, the focus of the camera lens, etc. Let’s explore these thoughts.
What should you wear? Most photographers like to shoot a basic package of three “looks” (or wardrobe changes), and for good reason. Agents usually define looks by using these three basic catgories: 1) Professional, 2) Casual and 3) Casual Nice.
Professional is usually a nice suit or professional looking button down shirt (whichever is more appropriate for you) or something of that ilk. Pick an outfit that makes you look successful. Casual is just that, casual. It is anything from a tee-shirt to a hoodie to a jeans jacket to an old leather jacket to a casual layered look, to a polo, etc. Again, think what most expresses “you” in that category. Casual Nice is best described as every Olive Garden commercial you've seen in the past few years. It is not overdressed or underdressed, but what you'd wear if you went out with friends or family to a decent, but not fancy, restaurant. It could be a nice layered look, a sweater, a button down over a nice tee or camisole, etc. If you do decide to shoot a fourth look, it should be something that is uniquely you. If you are athletic that might be a sports outfit or something that shows off your body. If you are a comedian it would be something that shows your comedic side. You get the idea.
Bring to your session a couple of options for each of the looks. Hopefully your photographer will go through your clothes when you first arrive and work with you to choose something that works well on film but also expresses who you are in each of those looks. It should also be outfits that you are comfortable in. Don’t bring an outfit if you wouldn’t wear it to an audition. When you shoot the plan is to get both theatrical and commercial shots for each of those three looks, as well as all of your types in each.
Stick with simple clothing. No big patterns or stripes or florescent colors. And avoid whites if you can (although a white button-down under a suit, cardigan, etc. is fine). Remember, you want all the attention to go to your eyes, not to the logo on your shirt, the brightness of your clothes, etc. The same is true for jewelry. Little and subtle is fine but anything distracting will ruin it for you. Now that online casting is the norm and casting directors look mostly at thumbnails (1 1/4” tall) to cast from, the standard shot is chest up. Clothing is not nearly as important as it used to be for that reason. The neckline is what is most important.
Pick a color that brings out your eyes. How do you do that? A wonderful little secret is to look at the iris in your eyeball. Whatever color is on the outside ring of your iris is almost always the best color for your eyes. Once you try this little trick you’ll use it forever.
Jewel tones are always best on camera (and almost always matches the outside ring of most people's iris). A jewel tone is the rich color of jewels (emerald, jade, garnet, sapphire, etc.). Basically it is the darker shades of red, blue, green, purple, brown and even black. Pick the ones that work best with your eyes, skin and hair.
Next, a few words on make up. Most guys don't need it (unless you have bad acne or are oily all the time). Most women do. Because natural light or natural studio light is very popular right now your on-camera makeup should look like it does in person, everyday. It is okay to go slightly heavier but for the most part I recommends doing it as you would if you were going out on an audition. Remember, Rule #1 in headshots is you have to look the same way you do in your shots as you do in person. If you have any concern about doing your own makeup for camera, please get a professional makeup artist. Unless you are brilliant at doing your own makeup, it is worth the investment.
If you choose to do your own makeup, the only real concern is mineral makeups. Mineral makeup lines generally DON'T look good on digital cameras. They are fine in person but digital cameras are sensitive to highlights so they enhance your flaws thanks to the shiny minerals they contain. So avoid makeup lines like Bare Essentials, L'Oreal Bare Naturale, Colore Science, Glo Minerals, La Bella Donna, etc. If you must use a mineral line (or if you are a guy who is shiny all the time) I recommend getting a decent "blot powder” of some kind to bring the shine down. Mac makes a very nice, camera friendly, affordable line of blot powders. Just go to any Mac counter and ask for one that matches your skin color (you too, oily guys!). Or if you want to upscale it, Bobbi Brown makes fantastic powders.
Make sure your eyes are alive in the shots. Avoid drinking the night before (the dehydration is definitely noticeable through the lens, believe me!). Make sure you get plenty of rest and come prepared to have FUN!! Nothing sells a headshot better than a person who is relaxed and having a blast!!! It makes you “likable!"
And now a few important notes on post profuction. One of the biggest mistakes many beginning photographers make when they process digital shots is they lack good contrast. When casting directors look at a page of headshot thumbnails on a casting website like Breakdown (Actors Access) or LA Casting they are looking at multiple rows of five to eight thumbnails, roughly 1 1/4” tall. Your shot needs to catch their attention in a good way in order to get called in for an audition. If your shot lacks contrast and is muted in color and/or tone it will fade to the background and never get noiticed. Trust me on this. Make sure your photographer knows what they’re doing and add contrast to your shots. The image a digital sensor produces is generally flat by nature (for good reason that is well beyond the purpose of this blog). And, good photographers know that they need to manipulate the shots in order to get the optimum look for a computer screen. Have a discussion about this beforehand with your photographer. If they give you attitude or tell you the shots coming out of the camera are fine then it might be time to find another photographer. The one exception is if they are brilliant at lighting then the shots right out of the camera might actually be fine. Either way, pay attention to the final shots. Look at their book. Do their shots have good contrast? If not, and you love them or your agent really wants you to shoot with them then ask your lab to add a little contrast later for you.
Once you get your final shots from your photographer and you’ve had some time picking the ones you like, resize them on your computer screen to 1 14” tall. This is generally the size of headhots that most casting directors are looking at when they cast. Pick the final shots based on which ones look best at that size. Pay special attention to your eyes. Do they grab you in thumbnail size? If so, you got a winner.
Finally, as a word of caution, don’t let your friends or family pick your shots unless they are an agent, a casting director or someone in the business who knows how to pick a great headshot. Friends and family can’t be objective enough and will always tell you what they think you want to hear, what they want to see or something they want to say based on silly dysfunctional family stuff. Get professional and objective help from someone you can trust, someone who can look at your shots from a pure business standpoint. Enough said.
I hope these tips will help you get that great shot that works! Since headshots are almost always your most important marketing tool, it is worth the effort to get the best shots you can. Take these points to heart, spend what you need to spend and get shots that grab our attention in a good way, tell the casting world who you are, show us how you cast and give us an idea of how incredibly likable you are. You’ll be glad you did!
Mark Atteberry is an award winning actor, teacher and photographer. As an actor his work includes films like Miranda July’s "The Future” and Ang Lee’s "The Hulk” and his recent TV work includes "House M.D.," "The Closer," “The Mentalist,” “Big Love,” "Dexter." "24," "Nip/Tuck," “Criminal Minds,” and “Justified.” Mark is internationally known for his advertising, documentary and headshot photography. His clients include NBC, CBS, A&E, Bravo, CAA, ICM, WME, and Big Lots. Mark regularly teaches and lectures on the topics of "Branding, Marketing and Type" and "How to Succeed in the Entertainment Industry." He has authored or co-authored several books on the subject including the best selling, "Working Actor's Guide to LA." For more of Mark’s acting credits see: www.imdb.com/name/nm0040992. For Mark’s headshot photography see: www.idyllicphotography.com. And, for Mark’s classes see: www.beaworkingactor.com
The recession reminded me of a valuable lesson. Every artist I know fell into one of two camps. Some told me they have not sold many paintings since the economy began to go sour in 2008. Others have told me they are having their best years yet.
With the coming of a new year, actors will no doubt find themselves in need or want of new headshots and a good acting class. Let’s face it, we all want to start the new year “armed and ready.” Since I recently addressed acting classes in a previous blog, I thought it appropriate to discuss headshots in this one. This topic will be a two-parter. First we’ll discuss the essence and focus of a good shot, next time we’ll look at wardrobe, makeup and the technical aspects of getting a good shot.
The Mighty Squirm T-Shirts and Art http://www.themightysquirm.com
Do I have any business trying to do steampunk art? You might wonder why I’d even ask. If it’s popular, why not at least try? Well, the truth is that I probably will try, since it feels like a natural segue from what I’ve been doing already. But my hesitation has to do with my lack of mechanical aptitude and interest.
With the state of the U.S. economy hardly booming, how have Los Angeles' art galleries weathered the storm, and how has the credit crunch affected the rest of the country's and the world's art communities as a whole? When consumers see their pay checks having to stretch further than ever before, it's hardly surprising those little extras we might usually splash out on fall by the wayside. Perhaps you now make your coffee for the commute at home instead of popping into Starbucks - every little counts, after all. So if we're all tightening our purse strings on even the smallest of items, those higher-priced pieces like artwork that we'll occasionally buy must really be suffering.
I'm often asked, “who do you think the best acting teacher is in Los Angeles?” My answer is always the same, “It depends.” But, let’s be honest, that’s not a very satisfactory answer and certainly not one you’d want to hear if you asked the question. So, let’s get right to the heart of the question. What we should be asking is what do the best acting teachers teach?
So, what are the three steps of acting?
Fashion- The Fashion Design program of the Art Institute of California- Hollywood will showcase fashion designs of advanced students as well as recent graduates. Designs will range from the sublime to avante garde and everything in between. The fashion shows will take place in front of the Ai Campus on Lankershim Blvd. Two show times: 2pm & 5pm.
Interior Design- The Interior Design program of the Art Institute of California- Hollywood will showcase three dimensional computer renderings of hospitality, restaurant, and loft spaces. The architectural interiors utilized 3D Autocad and Revit computer programs. The department will also showcase examples of student work from Lighting Design. The interior design gallery will be showcasing at suite 131 loft on Weddington Blvd. The gallery will be showcasing from 2-6pm.
Set & Exhibit- The Set & Exhibit Design program of the Art Institute of California- Hollywood will be showcasing student work at the Magnolia address. The promotion of Set & Exhibit Design will be showcased from 12-4pm. Photography- The Digital Photography program of the Art Institute of California- Hollywood will showcase images of students from all levels of the program. Images will range from basic photo classes to advanced techniques in imaging and photo manipulation. The gallery will take place in front of the Ai campus on Weddington Blvd. The gallery will showcase from 2-6pm.
Film- The Digital Film program of the Art Institute of California- Hollywood will be showcasing student work with a 60-minute film festival of student shorts (all under 10 minutes) with a Q & A afterwards with various student directors and their crews. The Film Festival will take place at the Ai campus in room 108/109 at 1pm. The digital film program will also conduct a demonstration of the TV studio, demonstrating multi-cam recording and the Green Screen techniques used to create some of the visual illusions seen in everyday TV and film production. The demonstration will be given by TV Studio instructor, Nicole Block at 3pm in room 108/109 at the Ai campus.
Culinary- The Culinary program of the Art Institute of California- Hollywood will be showcasing culinary cuisine in the VIP area of the festival from 3-6pm.The Art Institute of California- Hollywood will be showcasing the restaurant Fifty2Fifty with appetizers at 4pm inside Fifty2Fifty Restaurant at the Ai Campus.
Graphic Design- The Graphic Design program of the Art Institute of California Hollywood will be showcasing student art work at suite 113 loft on Weddington Blvd. The gallery will be showcasing from 2-6pm. Multi Media- Media Arts & Animation, Visual Effects & Motion Graphics, Game Art & Design, Visual Game Programming departments of the Art Institute of California- Hollywood, will show a Media reel of student work from the following departments: Media Arts & Animation, Visual Effects & Motion Graphics, Game Art & Design, Visual Game Programming, the reel is a combination of student work submitted for festivals. The showcase will be showing the student reel from 2-6PM, in the Mariposa room at Ai Campus on Nov. 12th
The Student Services department of the Art Institute of California- Hollywood will offer “Creating Tomorrow’s Artist” – kid’s workship 1-5pm taking place in front of Ai Campus on Weddington Blvd.
If you would like more information about Ai, visit the booth for The Art Institute of California- Hollywood by the main stage to get your photo taken in the photo booth with friends!
If you’ve been in the acting business for any length of time you’ve no doubt heard the phrase, “If there’s anything else you can do, other than acting, then do it.” Do I believe that sentiment? Absolutely, I do. The odds are against us, we’re faced with rejection just about every day, we start over with every project we do and the pressure to be “endlessly entertaining” is incredibly difficult at best. Only a handful of people actually make a life long career of acting. It’s ridiculously tough. So, why do I do it? Partly because when I finally get the chance to act, I love it. I love every second of it. It’s always worth the wait and the struggle. Besides, it beats following in my father’s footsteps, repairing broken down cars every day of my life.
Daniel DeBevoise, Guest Blogger
During the summer, NoHo Gallery LA exhibited a series of photographs highlighting past NoHo Arts District Festivals. I was impressed by the number of people frequenting the gallery who appreciated this retrospective and expressed strong desires to see a revival of the festivals. The festivals did so much to benefit the NoHo theatres, galleries and small businesses,in general. Fortunately, the Experience NoHo Arts Festival coming up this November 12th is a much needed boost to the NoHo community.
I know it has been awhile since I have been the one writing my blog. I hope you enjoyed all of the amazing artists that filled in for me. I know I did.
Now I can tell you where I have been and what I have been up to. I have been knee deep in creating a comprehensive Arts Festival for the district! It is a long story as to how we got here but one I think that is worth sharing.
Today, the splendor of Graffiti is at an all-time high, vying for its share of the white cubical space of “Fine Art” galleries and public space in general. However it is the misuse of the term Fine Art that is acting as a negative charge towards something as positive as Graffiti. I have heard the term used to describe art other than Graffiti, in hopes as to separate styles of art and hinder its positive impact on both the “Art World” and our cultural fabric as well.
Self-supporting aerosol art organization promises to continue giving artists the materials and a chance to shine in a world of wasted potential and unyielding politics
ArtStorm – THE ART OF KINGS – founded in Los Angeles in 2001, is celebrating ten years of dedication to providing free canvas, paint and safe and legal locations for young people to pursue the aerosol and marker urban art form.
Oscar Wilde said “Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist not the sitter.” I may not have agreed with this when I first started creating, but now, almost 20 years after I first picked up a camera, I can see its truth looking back on my body of work and its evolution.
In my continuing quest to unravel the super graphics laws that are currently restricting murals in Los Angeles I have come across the key issue that continues to plague City Council. How do you distinguish Art from advertisement?
At first glance this seems to be easily done. One is created to advertise a product, the other is created to ............... You see where I am going with this. The reality is billions of people through out time have devoted countless hours trying to understanding the meaning behind the Art they are confronted by on a daily basis. From the Romans who would use Art to “ advertise “ their patrons social status to the Catholics who have created Art to propagate christianity. The lines between Art and advertisement have always been blurry.
With the success of MOCA's current exhibit "Art in the Streets" the flood gates have been opened to the many complex issues of the street art movement. A movement that has taken every major city in the world by storm.
My hope in this series of blogs is to open a dialog, take you through the issues one step at a time, and shed light on how other major cities have handled the issue of street art. I think the best place to start the discussion is with "murals" commission by private property owners on commercial or residential property.
I have heard the question raised over and over again " Why don't street artists just ask permission from the property owners? ". In reality many artists do ask, however in the city of Los Angeles, artwork murals on private property that is in view of the public is ILLEGAL regardless of whether or not the artist has permission, or if the property owner has commissioned the work.