Many people say ‘I make resolutions, but never keep them’. As an actor, your resolutions don’t have to just be about the regular New Year’s promises, they can be goals you set out for your career or even starting your career! No matter where they are in their career, Actors need to set themselves goals for their skills, CV and creativity. It is the setting and accomplishment of goals that will allow you to find breakthroughs and maybe even that life changing role. Having a goals set and in mind provides a consistent motivation for an acting career. Here are a few small tips on how to set your goals this year.
Make appropriate and reasonable goals. We all want to be the top of our field, but when you are starting in the industry or building your CV, your goals need to be within reasonable reach. If your goal is something that you cannot take steps to achieve or is something that is completely out of anyone’s control, you will not reach it. Set yourself up for a successful goal to grow that confidence. Once you reach your first goal, you will set more and keep advancing and see yourself building a new range, skill or even just getting something creative accomplished.
These tips are just the beginning of making and accomplishing your goals. Start with something small today and keep your goals growing and moving forward for your career and you will begin to see the results! The most motivated and active actors are the ones who feel the accomplishment in themselves and their career so go and make one goal today, no matter what the size of that goal may be for your acting career!
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Having a specialisation in the Television and Film industry is a great thing to have, from sports to accents, your specialty skills can get you recognised for some exciting projects and be that first step in the door that many actors search for in their career. But just specialising in a few skills can be a limiting factor to what you get cast as in the industry. Having a RANGE as a performer is what gives the chance to open up more opportunities for you in the industry. IPM's team has looked at the benefits of having a range for your acting profile and career.
This doesn't mean that you can't master a certain specialty or really harness your niche. It is good to keep your skills at a peak state for your specialisations, but this means that you need to be open to the possibility of stepping beyond your regular casting type. As an actor you are there to fill the role with what is needed/wanted by the director. When your range broadens you begin to form into those roles and the more opportunities begin to arise.
Beginning to broaden your range doesn't have to be a daunting task. As an actor, you will always be growing and always finding something new to learn. Especially in the fast paced growth of the film and television industry. Start with something small, try to work on your improvisation or start learning the accent you have been putting on hold. Little steps can turn in to something big!
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Everyone has those little traditions to bring in this time of year, with one of those top celebrated pastimes being able to kick back with your loved ones and enjoy the groups’ favourite flick. Happy December from the team here at IPM, that last month of the year and the time known for the hustle and bustle, the rush to meet deadlines and bring ourselves closer to family and friends. These can range from energetic musicals filled with numbers guaranteed to get the family in singalong, a good old children’s animated feature or a classic Hollywood blockbuster with the heart-warming fairy tale ending. Whatever is your family’s guilty pleasure, or in this case, Christmas tradition perhaps you will find some new treasures from our “naughty and nice” list to add to your own. Our team has had a look at some traditional film choices as well as film inspirations for you this holiday season!
‘Home Alone’ trilogy
Boasting two successful sequels- small spoiler: we get to go to New York at one point. Con? It’s not entirely as fun as it sounds- there’s always a good chance that not only the first one will broadcast on your local screens, so you get to enjoy the full trilogy from start to finish. Let the tears of joy and laughter ensue.
It’s hard to say what exactly draws the viewer into this hauntingly beautiful visual of childlike wonderment and festive spirit- we imagine it to be the minimal dialogue that allows the whole family to pay attention to non-verbal clues. Perhaps in that it was adapted from an acclaimed 70s children’s book, then released to a new generation of 80s babies, who in turn encouraged that fascination with their children, etc…IPM thinks it may lie in the central song “Walking in the Air” performed by young schoolboy Peter Auty, who’s ethereal vocals complement the climax of the short film’s adventures. The fact of it being a young child being both the vocal emotional core for the film, and it’s main character combined with the overall whimsical tone of the film makes it even more fitting as a movie to captured both children’s and adults hearts.
'The Wizard of Oz'
One aspect that will stand out to audiences is the amount of effort gone through to craft this world: not a munchkins’ clothing without detail or a brick out of place on the famed street.When watching it back, filmmakers can’t help but feel a mix of admiration and sadness; firstly, for the level of cinematography and production work gone into delivering what is frequently listed as one of the greatest films of all time. Secondly, the sadness in knowing that however far we have come technologically, there is nothing filmmaking wise that can recreate the raw magic captured on film to the level of The Wizard of Oz. Sometimes we wish we could click our ruby red socks together and get a chance to experience that movie magic again for the first time. That’s why it is important to stimulate the knowledge of the influences such as the Golden Age of Hollywood and its impact on modern cinema today, and why it so innovative to the point of being aesthetically appealing many decades on. Boasting a musical standard “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, this era of filmmaking was aware of the impact a score has on the emotional reaction of the audience. Judy Garland is the film’s bright light of hope in its initial setting of bleak Depression Kansas lamenting her troubles to her uncaring guardians, she emphatically croons the lyrics of the now renowned ballad, almost outrightly conjuring up the ensuing tornado with her siren-like call. “We’re not in Kansas anymore”, stresses Dorothy to her trusty furry sidekick, Toto. No, we are certainly not and after diving deep into the world of Oz, you will never want to be again
Some Honourable Mentions...
An array of plotlines, intermingling the lives of young lovers to the Prime Minister of the UK, the modern holiday classic was directed and written by Richard Curtis. With an ensemble of great UK names headlining this holiday film, there is a familiar face for everyone to identify. The initial release of the film actually received mixed reviews from audiences, but once it hit the UK Box Office it was welcomed with great praised and became an audience favourite for the Christmas season. Who doesn’t fall in love with the young bright eyed Sam’s trouble with his first love as the holiday’s come around as his newly widowed father navigates single parenthood!
Though it is debated whether Gremlins is a Christmas film, the original release of the Horror-Comedy and memorable 80’s classic was during the summer period, but has since become a go-to for the holidays. It follows the story of struggling inventor Randall Peltzer who buys an unusual, furry creature as a Christmas present for his son. However the strange pet Gizmo soon spawns other creatures which transform into little gremlins, and wreaks havoc across the town during the festive period. Gremlins was produced at a time when combining horror and comedy was becoming increasingly popular and to this day is still a classic.
Another debated film for the festive season, Die Hard originally was released in 1988 and takes place on Christmas Eve. People around the world stand together to say it is a Christmas film. With great lines like ‘Now I have a machine gun, ho-ho-ho’ it is a great film for those who prefer the fast-paced action genre instead of something a bit more sappy!
What are some of your Favourite Festive Films?
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Film and TV has developed so much in the production department over the last couple of decades, that it astounds audiences how they managed to achieve what we thought was the impossible. Crazy stuntmen flinging themselves from buildings, explosive gunfights between characters and car chases that have you biting your nails and hanging off the edge of your seat. After the credits have rolled, and you and your viewing party trade your favourite lines and scenes of the film, the moments that stand out to you begs the question: “But wait… how’d they do that?”. Well, we cannot reveal all the tricks of the trade can we (got to leave some things a mystery)? But to find out the top 5 industry “secret” props, keep on scrolling…
Sugar glass (also known as breakaway glass and candy glass) is a prop used in many different forms- and is simply made from mixing dissolved sugar, water then heating to an extremely high temperature (about 150˚C!) until it can be formed into its desired shape (e.g. a bottle or thin sheet). To ensure it does not (re)crystallise, corn syrup is often used to aid the consistency. Because it resembles glass both in look- and when broken in a scene shatter similarly- and is unlikely to cause any harm, it is considered an effective and inexpensive prop to manufacture. The downside? Due to the chemical structure of its main ingredient sugar, it must be used quickly after it is made as the brittle quality that is achieved only last so long.
Considering the strict laws surrounding money, its distribution and usage, even the material (cotton instead of paper), lack of watermarks and security numbers all serve to make sure the illusion stays intact. If you notice, we never tend to see money in an up close shot whenever it is shown, sometimes even just being printed on the side the audience is viewing- all these add to the “authenticity” of the fake money. Ironic right? The faker the better as any attempt that may be viewed as duplicating real currency is seen as counterfeiting and is met by strict government investigation- ouch.
“Are they really driving…?
I know I am not alone in the thought of watching a scene of characters in a car travelling through the streets of a metropolitan area, casually engaging in conversation…but their eyes leave the road a touch longer than is deemed safe or their hand movements on the steering wheel don’t quite sync up? Come on I know we have all wondered: “Are they really driving and delivering their lines that perfectly?”. To answer your burning question, sadly no. Ahh but do not despair as it is really the safest option when filming a simple driving scene compared to a stunt driver commandeering a high-octane car chase.
Add to this that the actor must mime the driving process, it saves time and money compared the traditional (and slowly disappearing) use of green screen with a stationary car. With today’s technological advances, it sure is nice to see that we have moved away from the days of repeating background and bad “driving”- I am looking at you Knight Rider.
Drop your (Prop) Weapons!
Times gone by a trick like this was semi-difficult to pull off, making the use of quick cuts of the camera or miming the shot with the intended actor. Nowadays, like the prop mentioned below, it can be a combination of visual effects mixed with postproduction touch-up and image editing. It all is dependant on the budgeting, tone of the scene and action that is being performed, for example if it just a simple extra being killed by our hero without any consequences, it most likely will be shot in one quick wide shot with a blood pack being added to bolster the legitimacy of the gory death. However, if the scene is to depict a vengeful, violent killing meant to be shown in close up detail, there is a combination of a retractable blade (practical effects), with the squib (small, explosive device filled with fake blood- again practical effect) setting off, then if required adding those extra details in CGI to add to the illusion. This one remains somewhat of mystery to most, as there is a method called impalement illusion, wherein the actor wears a corset (or frame) around their body with “entrance” and “exit” slot for the blade to fit through. Again, this is something that screen productions have utilised over the years and even stage magicians as a popular act but there is still some secrecy shrouded around this technique. Hmm, I guess a magician cannot reveal all his tricks.
Either using practical effects such as elaborate prosthetics being produced by special effects props specialist to fit the scene, design and body of the actor it will be fitted on or the detail given in post-production VFX; the desired look can be achieved easily with todays options. In Marvel’s Iron Man, the iconic chest arc reactor worn by lead Robert Downey Jr was achieved without the need for CGI; accomplished by constructing a replica of the actor’s chest spray painted with makeup to match his skin tone, whilst holding the main design piece in the middle. In other more meticulous scenes, CGI may be needed to add an additional layer of legitimacy to the screen. This can be seen in 2014’s RoboCop, featuring a scene of detailed operation that looks so real you can see pieces of brain matter on the surgeon’s tools- but you will be potentially shocked to know that that was all CGI. I know blew our minds too.
So there you have it, our Top 5 industry tricks for the special effects and technically derived moments in filmmaking. There are many more industry tricks that create the wonders of film and television. From make-up to props, film has created these techniques way before CGI. It has always been one of the greatest parts of the industry is bringing together the tricks. What are some of your favourite film moments using these techniques?
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Have you ever been sat down glued to your favourite cartoon as a kid, hearing the vibrant voices of its characters that make them feel almost real? Voice acting is a diverse and changing industry and it’s not enough to just have a “good voice”- you have to offer some versatility the same way a screen actor would have to show their visual emotional range. From video games, cartoons, animated films and television advertisements these actors have had long running careers in the voice-over industry that spans over several decades. Read below for our top 10 voice actors to find out some of the names behind the voices: you might just be surprised and a little inspired…
Perhaps one of voice overs best kept secrets, Baker has voice acting credits to rival the greats despite being only 44 (arguably one of the youngest prolific voice actors in the industry); and he is steadily adding to his résumé. Typically working within the field of video gaming, Baker has shown a confident approach to the leading action man role in combat, fighting based games. However the role that brough critical acclaim and international attention was his role as Joel, the protagonist of zombie horror survival game The Last of Us, which incorporated the use of motion capturing in its development process, in order to fully capture the psychological core of the main characters. With this role, Baker epitomises the lone wolf persona, simultaneously offering emotional depth unseen in games before then. Baker’s Joel became a standout character and a landmark in the storytelling aspect of modern gaming.
Armed with a powerfully intimidating voice fit for kings and gods, Cummings is another staple in the voice acting community having played countless roles over the years. Alongside the legendary Mel Blanc, Cummings is the only other actor to portray the iconic Tasmanian Devil; a character known to communicate in growls and snarls instead of actual speech tells us that sometimes being a voice actor is being able to access those primal, animalistic sounds. Although another anthropomorphic cartoon character, Jim Cummings has portrayed the lovable Winnie the Pooh (and his energetic friend Tigger), demonstrating his skill at harnessing the cadence of his voice to suit the softly spoken Pooh (The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh-1988).
Long-time fans of the iconic animated series The Simpsons will know the man responsible for breathing into life our lovable, drunken patriarch Homer Simpson is none other than Dan Castellaneta. I would confidently say that Castellaneta’s Homer is one of the hardest voices to perform, as he achieved a voice quality into the Duff loving family man that few can replicate. Other fan favourites Castellaneta voices include Homer’s elderly father Abe “Grampa” Simpson, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, Homer’s perpetually inebriated cohort Barney Gumble, and hundreds of others spanning over his 690-episode credited appearances in this show.
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Aside from taking part in incredible fun, and acting in some professionally filmed material, we believe that there are many reasons to join acting classes! IPM team member, Katherine, has put together this latest blog post from her perspective of a training actor to help you make that first decision of joining classes today!
They looked so confident and I wanted to feel like that. I wanted to do something about my pesky nerves! I remember mustering up the courage to walk to my first acting class, having persuaded a friend to come along with me. I was shaking with nerves and curious as to what would be expected from me.
This is what I found by taking an acting class and what you can find too!
2. Become More Body Confident
I distinctly remember a presentation I did in front of the class. I had no idea what to do with my body, how to stand, what to do with my hands, where to look. The more I focused on what people were thinking about me, and the way I looked, the more awkward and nervous I undoubtably looked. It felt like an endless cycle. I was not used to having all eyes on me, but practicing speaking in front of people at acting class, I began to feel more comfortable with the spotlight on me.
We focused on relaxing the body. Inspired by yoga practices, we took time to feel in touch with our bodies, ready to focus and set our minds to the class or performance ahead. We would also experiment with movement exercises. This would be an opportunity to let lose, throw some energy around and have a laugh with group. When you begin to film your performances and watch yourself back on camera, you can see how important it is to relax and be aware of how you use your body when approaching a character.
4. Learning it is Okay to be Vulnerable
I mentioned I was an insufferably shy child, and I wanted to change that. I realised that pushing myself out of my comfort zone in acting class was really good for me. It was a safe space for me to experiment and tap into my emotions, directing them towards a creative goal.
Performing in an embarrassingly funny scene, a romantic storyline or an outburst of tears and terror, can feel scary. You are putting yourself in a vulnerable position, allowing yourself to express these raw feelings with all eyes on you, in front of the camera. As this became a regular exercise, I learnt that it’s ok to feel those emotions in real life. It is ok to be vulnerable. I continued acting classes throughout my entire education and beyond. As I continued to grow up and experience new things and feelings, acting has definitely made me feel more comfortable expressing my emotions - incredibly helpful as you navigate your way through life, and healthy for friendships and relationships.
5. Make New Friends & Have Fun
So, there you have it. 5 Reasons Why You Should Join an Acting Class. As you can tell, taking an acting class really did change my life around for the better. Now, I am not afraid to speak up, I can confidently express my opinions and make positive connections in social situations, and let's not forget that eye contact. My friends and co-workers today cannot believe I used to be a shy child!
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When training actors who are starting their career, the team at IPM often hear the first thing that people want or need to work on is their confidence. Building your confidence is not an overnight process. Many great names like Chris Evans, Hugh Jackman and Jennifer Lawrence all have bouts of nervousness and anxieties before performing. We are human, it is normal to feel nervous. But how you choose to overcome those anxieties will help boost your self esteem, open new opportunities and help you grow as a performer. Our team has put together some tips on building confidence for your performance.
Taking the first step to build you confidence may not be easy, but with time you will feel the positive changes in yourself. It takes time and practice, but it will get easier the more you keep practicing!
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Animals are a recurring element in cinema, and often roles will require interaction with them. It’s important to know what to expect and how to treat your furry (or feathered, scaly, chitinous etc) co-stars with respect and professionalism. Our team has put together some great animal performances on screen and tips on working with them on set!
Capuchin monkeys are intelligent, personable and easy to get along with, making them the most commonly utilized primates in film and television; see Marcel from Friends or Crystal the Monkey, Hollywood’s go-to tree dweller who has starred in films such as George of the Jungle, Night at the Museum and The Hangover Part II (incidentally, the highest paid animal star!). Chimps are also intelligent, but more erratic and less friendly; generally having them on set is a risky proposition, and for this reason chimps have become rarer in film recently. Put bluntly, when mistreated they can get violent. Pound for pound, chimps are much stronger than humans. Do the math.
The second thing to remember is to have patience. Animals, as intelligent as they can be, aren’t human beings; they don’t have a concept of what ‘film production’ means, and I can guarantee you that (with the exception of well-trained dogs) they won’t do what the director wants them to do in the space of a few takes. Be calm, and take it as an opportunity to observe your co-star; realise that they have their own intentions and interests, and learn to work with those to make the process more expedient. If you have a pet dog or cat, you’ve probably experienced this process yourself, so draw upon that.
The final tip for working with animals is to always be professional and ethical, small or large, these are living creatures with their own intentions, thoughts and way of seeing the world and we must respect that. We love our furry friends on set and on-camera. Who are some of your favourite animal performances?
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When starting out in the industry, knowing the name of the role you are going for isn't always just the character's name, production has titles for roles to help the production team know scheduling, placement in the scene and even how many lines you may have. Our team has put together a break down of the 'Walk-on' roles that will become a regular term you will hear in your career.
As your career moves forward and your CV grows, this is when your opportunities can be bigger. You get the chance to have larger roles on multi-episode bookings which are called Supporting Roles (not to be mistaken with Supporting Artist) or even Co-Lead roles. It is a great progression that an actor can make if they put their mind to it and continue to grow their skills for the screen.
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