This is a short narrative about how I could achieve a small goal without “classical” training. This isn’t a shortcut method; this is more of a “Beginning, Middle and Can Continue If I Want To” kind of story. This is more of a case study of how to proceed in the world of acting with no experience.
At the time, I was seeking this out as a hobby, to begin with therefore a lot of effort would have to be placed in to learn the craft away from what I thought I knew. I was looking for something to do in the city of Toronto and I decided to pick up acting by going into beginner classes. I found Sears and Switzer to start and found the curriculum to be easy, understandable and fun. I meet a lot of people in that class that ranging from beginners, like me, to expert. There were a lot of exercises and conversations about being an extra among the classroom attendees. I learned some acting techniques to do a scene, create character and mood. I remember feeling like this was a going to be a great start in performance because it was informative to process. I had a chance to take a lot of notes in class in between exercises.
After the introductory classes were over, I started to study types of acting methods that I found interesting. I read and watched videos about the Meisner technique, a technique that has actors response and interacts with the environment around them and to stay present within a scene. I started to study at the Fraser Studio for a while. I learned basic techniques of listening, reacting and repetitive exercises. This technique is something I would recommend for anyone making a character to be more believable and realistic. I didn’t get to stay that long for other reasons but I did end up learning some ways to create a character.
The other course I took for acting was VoiceWorx. I studied voiceover work and narration at this studio. When I was there I learned how easy and fun voiceover work can be. I was able to keep the recordings of my sessions that I did at their studio. There were a lot of welcoming suggestions, readings, exercises and comments about my voice in the recording.
I started to look for acting work in the city to start. I looked for acting outlets from Mandy.com, the Toronto library community theatre board and Facebook groups that focus on acting in the Toronto area. But before I started with all those things I got a headshot. I didn’t want to spend that much money on a headshot so I went to Sears Portrait Studio to get starter shots that came out great. I still use the photos today for audition work and for my portfolio site and social media network with some Photoshop blue filters I did on them. Photos like those last for a while so unless I completely want another look, more selection or an updated look. I wrote what I had already done in acting in an acting resume. I used a template as a guide to know what I was supposed to have on an acting resume.
My first audition was for a short film. When I heard I got an audition with only acting courses on my resume it felt good. I was happy that someone gave me a chance to audition. I went to Second City Toronto for the audition. I brought my headshot and my resume for the audition but I also brought with me a monologue that I found online. I didn’t get the part.
After a few weeks, I found some acting work as extra work. It’s beginner level and the most comfortable of my abilities at the time. First acting job, I did was a long busy day. This was a day I considered to be my most “actor”-ish like the day I ever had. It coincided with four auditions and then the acting job. I was auditioning for an annual acting summer festival, InspiraTO. From what I remember, I had a few auditions, two for a supporting role and the other two for extra roles. The time I had to audition started from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The first audition was okay. The second audition was the hardest since I had to warm up and the novice part of me popped through. The third audition was flat but the last audition was more of the director having a feeling about a role I could be good at but I didn’t get the roles I was auditioning for.
I had a two and a half break from a full day auditioning for work. I ate a quick late lunch and went to the other side of the city for my extra work. My role was as a fan for a boxing match cheering on for the boxer fighting. I arrived early for work by 6:30 p.m. but my role didn’t start until nighttime. I had some fun talking, hanging out and getting to know the other people at the outdoor green room. There were some people from the audition place I was at earlier which was fantastic to know that they were there as well. When I was waiting, I was sitting down and watching what they were doing it looked interesting to see the behind the scenes look of film production and to be apart of filming. The filming lasted until 11:30 p.m. on the industrial side of town. There were some moving of the camera around a few times, some close-ups and a crane shot. When it was all over, I wasn’t travelling alone I continued the conversation with the rest of the extras that were a part of the film shoot.
The other filming that I did was for a music video that I did for the artist, Andria Simone. The music video is called Do What I Want by Andria Simone. I first auditioned for the extra role at their studio. It was mostly to try on some costumes for the production with one request of black block out tights which went well with the costume. When it was filming day, it was a full ten-hour day for a two-minute spot. A lot of work went into this production. It was only the few times I ever had someone do my own makeup ever. It was exhausting and interest and fun at the time. When I think back to it the pyrotechnics and the one-minute dancing I did were my best memories of that day.
I tried again with the summer theatre festival with the Facebook acting group I was in. They had a “fire sale” style callout for a last-minute entry for a play. I replied to the email posted and got another chance at acting. It was for a ten-minute play called “Elephants Lie Human”. I went to rehearsals when necessary and I studied my lines and I placed a lot of effort into remembering lines and my approach to a character that was a background character with lines. The day of the theatre production, a lot of people were having first day jitters or were just warming up. Some of the other actors were instructing me to warm up but I found that just warming up my body was enough. I found that other people telling me what I should be doing made me feel nervous. This was what it’s like backstage. Being on stage for the first time in front of an audience was exciting without being hyper. I liked performing in front of an audience for the first time.
In the fall when I came back from being on a break from acting, I got a role as an extra playing a zombie in a short film. I had to buy props for this production, one pair of blue pants and one shirt. It was all the way in Oakville for the shoot which I stayed there for the whole day on site. Getting ready has a zombie was (in little words) fun and gooey. I was covered in chocolate syrup with red food colouring. The day went from sunny and cold to rainy and windy.
When I was waiting inside a Tim Hortons waiting for a ride to take me back to the Toronto, I decided to stay in acting for a while because even though I had other stresses in my life and wanted to boost my acting skills and comfort. Once again just an activity in acting I was just trying out.
I signed up for improv classes at Second City. I was there just to have fun more than the acting. There were five classes they offered for improv which were fun and easy when you’re in a good group that you connect with. It’s hard when there’s indifference in the group classes. It’s always good to remain open, personable, quick-witted. There are jerks everywhere. The classes were fun. You create scenes, characters, scenarios and situations for small moments of time. It’s interesting to see what people create from different perspectives in life. I grew some skills as an actor but I made some friends within the programs. I had two performances for two classes with Second City that are apart of the program at the John Candy Theatre. The performances were the same tasks you do in class, therefore, that was graduation twice. Afterwards, everyone goes for a drink at the local bar, the Charlotte Room, all the instructors recommended.
I did a writing course instead of the last level which still turned out good. I learned more about the writing process for script making. All the courses are informative, engaging and fun. I studied at Second City for almost a year, one day a week classes for the improv program. But I should really finish level E just to complete the improv program and get my certificate in improv.
During my time at Second City, I did an improv play in which my lines were all condensed to applauding. That video series is called The Burden of Genius. I was an art show patron in the background. Other places I practised improv in Toronto was at the Wheel of Improv. It’s fun. Everyone can be on stage at least once and spin the wheel for more games.
In conclusion, I would do acting again just with a different viewpoint of how hard the craft is when you are trying to start acting and have a hobby that keeps you engaged in the community. I will try to do this hobby in the future for myself but for now, I’m a little busy. At least I have some skills and experiences that would help me do another acting job slightly easier and better because of perspective. I would try to do some acting jobs outside of the city next time.
It’s always best to keep trying and be open.