Film acting is a difficult business. It’s not for the faint of heart, or the weak-willed. A career can be made or broken in a single incident. But for those who are willing to dedicate their lives to making it on the silver screen, the potential rewards are vast.
As an modeling, dance, vocalist, and acting advice blog, we talk a lot about what it takes to make it. But this time, we thought we’d hunt down acting advice from the best – Meryl Streep, Ellie Kemper, and Will Smith.
Castivate is the first app (iOS & Android) in the US and Canada to send local, matched castings right to your phone. We also host the headshots of our users, putting their faces in front of hundreds or potential directors. And best of all – the app and our services are completely free!
So let’s get right to some acting advice for beginners!
Hollywood is littered with stories of almost missing their big break – from Kit Harington (Game of Thrones’ Jon Snow) getting in a fight the night before to Kristen Stewart almost bailing on her last big audition (her mom had to call her to task!). Meryl Streep recently opened up about her experience in The Devil Wears Prada.
Ms. Streep stresses that inspiration for a character can come from anywhere. Her character Miranda Priestly was largely inspired by a man – Clint Eastwood. The indomitable Man with No Name exudes absolute confidence and control with a simple trick – never raising his voice.
With this small thread, Meryl Streep was inspired to create one of the most commanding film characters of all time. But there’s always a risk when an actor creates a strong, dynamic character – as Ellie Kemper faced with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
Kemper discusses how hard it was to portray her character’s innocence – and sometimes outright stupidity – in a way that doesn’t turn off viewers right away:
“In Terms of playing Kimmy’s naive side, there is always a danger of that being grating or obnoxious for people to watch.”
But people want to watch real characters; they want you to pop off the screen and seem realistic. And let’s be honest, real people aren’t perfect and can often be “grating or obnoxious.” So the trick is to find a balance between a character that is entertaining to watch (but not over the top) realistic (but not annoying) commanding (but not overwhelming).
It’s not easy, as Ms Kemper herself knows. She’s been in the game since High school and has worked her tail off for years. She’s a master at creating awkward characters – but not too awkward!
Unfortunately, however, those years worth of experience might also result in you being stuck in the past. Legendary Star and Fresh Prince Will Smith himself warns of the dangers:
“Back in the ’80s and ’90s you had a piece of crap movie you put a trailer with a lot of explosions and it was Wednesday before people knew your movie was shit. But now what happens is 10 minutes into the movie, people are tweeting ‘This is shit, go see Vin Diesel.’”
Smith goes on to state that he considers himself a marketer and his acting as a commodity. But where once you could market a bad movie and still have it be successful, now you need to provide what you promise.
The acting advice is not to water down your work; in the digital era, people not only find out immediately but they remember that crap work you did before. Don’t sell out to a bad role because you think it will make you famous. It might – in the short run. In the long run, it can be a death knell. As Smith states,
“Smoke and mirrors in sales and marketing [for film] is over.”
Of course, you can’t turn down any role if you spend hours combing over audition websites only to not actually find a good casting. Which is exactly the situation we at castivate found ourselves in a little over a year ago.
That is, until one of us had the idea “hey, why isn’t there an app that does this for us??” And thus castivate was born. Our app combs those audition sites for you, matching each audition to your custom profile and to your location. So acting advice quotes aren’t enough, Castivate is here to put the right auditions at your fingertips.