6 On-Camera Improv Secrets

Imagine landing a role in a new Paul Thomas Anderson, Spike Lee, or Martin Scorsese film (like several students I’ve known and taught).  Film directors, myself included, are known for letting their actors improvise on certain takes. I cast out of my scene study classes almost exclusively now, so selfishly, I created a new way to prepare my students to make it up as they go on set. This form of improvisation is very different because the goal is feature film and television work, not live comedy.

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Philip Seymour Hoffman Acting Advice

Philip Seymour Hoffman Acting Advice

Here’s a video of Philip Seymour Hoffman Acting Advice. “Act wherever you can… it’s always about the work at the end of the day.”

Film and stage actor and theater director Philip Seymour Hoffman was born in the Rochester, New York, suburb of Fairport on July

Philip Seymour Hoffman

23, 1967. After becoming involved in high school theatrics, he attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, graduating with a B.F.A. degree in Drama in 1989. He made his feature film debut in the indie production Triple Bogey on a Par Five Hole (1991) as Phil Hoffman, and his first role in a major release came the next year in My New Gun (1992). While he had supporting roles in some other major productions, his breakthrough role came in Paul Thomas Anderson‘s Boogie Nights (1997). He quickly became an icon of indie cinema, establishing a reputation as one of the screen’s finest actors, in a variety of supporting and second leads in indie and major features, including Todd Solondz‘s Happiness(1998), Flawless (1999), The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), Paul Thomas Anderson‘sMagnolia (1999), Almost Famous (2000) and State and Main (2000). He also appeared in supporting roles in such mainstream, big-budget features as Red Dragon (2002), Cold Mountain (2003) and the upcoming Mission: Impossible III (2006).

Hoffman is also quite active on the stage. On Broadway, he has earned two Tony nominations, as Best Actor (Play) in 2000 for a revival of Sam Shepard‘s “True West” and as Best Actor (Featured Role – Play) in 2003 for a revival of Eugene O’Neill (I)’s “Long Day’s Journey into Night”. His other acting credits in the New York theater include “The Seagull” (directed by Mike Nichols for The New York Shakespeare Festival), “Defying Gravity”, “The Merchant of Venice” (directed by Peter Sellars), “Shopping and F*@%ing” and “The Author’s Voice” (Drama Desk nomination). He is the Co-Artistic Director of the LAByrinth Theater Company in New York, for which he directed “Our Lady of 121st Street” by Stephen Adly Guirgis. He also has directed “In Arabia, We’d All Be Kings” and “Jesus Hopped the A Train” by Guirgis for LAByrinth, and “The Glory of Living” by Rebecca Gilman at the Manhattan Class Company.

Hoffman consolidated his reputation as one of the finest actors under the age of 40 with his turn in the title role of Capote (2005), for which he won the Los Angeles Film Critics Award as Best Actor. In 2006, he was awarded the Best Actor Oscar for the same role.

On February 2, 2014, Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in an apartment in Greenwich village, New York. Investigators found Hoffman with a syringe in his arm and two open envelopes of heroin next to him. Mr. Hoffman was long known to struggle with addiction. In 2006, he said in an interview with “60 Minutes” that he had given up drugs and alcohol many years earlier, when he was age 22. In 2013, he checked into a rehabilitation program for about 10 days after a reliance on prescription pills resulted in his briefly turning again to heroin.

– IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Screen Actors System Blackmagic Camera

Screen Actors System Blackmagic Camera

Blackmagic Cinema Camera Rig

Say hello to Screen Actors System’s new little friend, the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. This is the new rig we will be shooting reels and in-class exercises on. Finally a camera that is manageable in class and shoots in a full cinema format! And I am super excited about the new DaVinci color correction system that I got to go along with it. THAT is a huge game changer. Same system that Hollywood uses and now, Screen Actors System has it!

 Here’s the description from Blackmagic’s website…

“Elegant, sophisticated and jam packed with the latest digital cinema technology, Blackmagic Cinema Camera gives your work that timeless feature film look! Blackmagic Cinema Camera features an amazing 2.5K image sensor with a wide 13 stops of dynamic range for a true digital film camera. You get a built-in SSD recorder, popular open standard uncompressed RAW and compressed file formats, compatibility with quality EF or Passive Micro Four Thirds lenses, LCD touchscreen monitoring plus metadata entry, all packed into an exciting hand held design! There are two exciting models to choose from depending on the lens mount you prefer!”


DaVinci Resolve Color Correction System

DaVinci Resolve Color System

“Invented in partnership with Hollywood studios, DaVinci has been the standard in post production for over 30 years. DaVinci Resolve is the real time grading system that’s been used worldwide on more feature films, episodic television productions, commercials, independent films and music videos than any other. DaVinci color correction is the difference that makes high end work so breathtaking!”


Screen Actors System Is Back!!!

SCREEN ACTORS SYSTEM IS BACK!!! See you all at the Hampton this week.

Read all of this GOOD NEWS BELOW…how to make up missed class if you are not back from winter break / TWO FREE CLASSES FOR EVERYONE [Past and present members both included]!

WEDNESDAY NIGHT class your reels from last cycle will be passed out this week (remember it is the first week of your new cycle and payment is due for WED NIGHT class this week as well).

MONDAY NIGHT class, its on tomorrow. You guys need to bring it strong.

I know my most hardcore and dedicated students will be in class this week and I wanna see some copy that’s on this post!

The good new is about Wednesday day class (2pm at the Hampton this week).

GOOD NEWS IS Wednesday day class is free for all past and present members this week and next. Bring your scene partners. Use them as make up classes or as extra time on the path. No excuses for those of you who are tight on money. These next two Wed day classes are FREE! (Wed day regulars you are on week 3 in your cycle–so you got a free week as well).

Now let’s all make a new years resolution to not let excuses/laziness/lack of focus and proper training steal another year.

Its time to live the dream guys. It does not get any closer. You have to run to catch it now.

Sprint. Like its getting away. Because in this race if you are not running…the dream is going to pass you by.

You can afford to be in this class because you can not afford to waste any more time.

HERE’S TO 2014! The year Screen Actors System becomes legendary!

Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa.