"Working Actor Gives MMAS His Secret To Success"
As Mel always says, preparation and flexibility are keys to a successful actor experience and it doesn’t end when you book! In fact, in some ways it’s just beginning. Take, for example, a recent job of mine; After shooting a days worth of Doctor stuff for an industrial production company, I was on the train home that night when the producer called and said they wondered if I could return, day after next, to fill in for another actor who had a medical emergency. Never one to turn down work I said sure and to send me the script which they did the next morning giving me a day to work on it. I was cast as a father, who along with his daughter, is learning the results of his wife’s surgery. It was 5 pages but I knew if I knew the story, had strong opinions about what was being said and done, knew my moment before and personalized my relationships with the other characters, I could just play with any direction the director threw at me. It worked and by the time I got on set the next morning I was good to go. But let’s back up a bit to my other preparation for the day, selecting my wardrobe for the shoot. I knew it was casual so I had nice jeans and a shirt on and packed an extra casual shirt if they didn’t like my initial choice. Then I had a thought. What if they wanted something not quite so casual? So I packed a button down shirt and sweater vest for a dressier option and headed for the train. After breakfast the three of us in the scene began to run lines and by the time the lighting and sound people were done with us we had the scene down pat. Then the director decided they had to recast the scene due to the fact that this was part of the same series as the doctor stuff I had shot 2 days earlier and he thought seeing me as a civilian might destroy the suspension of reality for the trainees viewing it. So I was given a 2 page script and an hour to learn it for an entirely different series, in which I would again be playing a doctor, this time in a lab coat (I was in a suit on the 1st day) which would have looked very unprofessional over either of the two casual shirts I had but ended up looking great over the dress shirt and sweater vest! The new script was not very difficult with only one prescription name to learn and when the director looked over at me and asked if I was ready I gave him a thumbs up and less than an hour later I was done for the day! I passed along the active listening idea to the actor who was trying to learn the father’s part and he seemed to appreciate it (especially since he only had a few hours to learn it) and recognized immediately how helpful it was. To wrap this up; I’m sure showing my flexibility and preparation will get me more work from this group in the future. And isn’t that the idea?