Silly Shit Your Typical Theatre Hating, “Veruca Salt”, Shortcut Wanting L.A. Actor Says!

Recently some nobody named Nhan Le asked me about these 4 particular “acting classes”. These were either gimmicky short cut on-camera classes or some overrated flavor of the month class that discourages memorization and script analysis. I replied back with much more serious schools that taught a legitimate technique and here were some of the many silly things he replied back with:

1.”Jennifer Lawrence never took an acting class”


Jennifer Lawrence was the best in her acting classes and currently gets some of the top coaches on the Larry Moss level. She also was a child actor before she did Winter’s Bone, X-Men, Hunger Games, Silver Linings Playbook, etc. She did NOT just come out of nowhere without any training.

2. “You never rehearse or shoot a movie from beginning to end like theater”

True, you don’t get to rehearse in film and t.v., BUT you better come to set as if you did rehearse!

The thinking that you don’t have to rehearse in an acting class because you don’t on set is like saying you don’t need to rehearse with the L.A. Philharmonic and can just come to a concert and expect magic to happen.

You rehearse in a GREAT acting class so you can can slowly learn how to be properly prepared. As you become more experienced, being prepared takes less time, eventually preparing you for the fast pace of film/tv.

3. His rebuttal to why traditional and long term training is not important. “I do see MMA fighter who trained for 6 months beating the crap out of 3rd degree black belts in karate. So is film training to methods acting is like MMA training to Karate?”

This is probably the dumbest analogy with acting.

In a traditional martial art like Karate, Kung Fu, or Tae Kwon Do, you abide by rules and an codes of honor. You get penalized in sparring matches and tournaments for hitting the face or below the belt. These martial arts were designed for self-defense.

MMA was designed for beating people up and for sport. What you’re taught not to do in a traditional martial art is encouraged.

An MMA tournament also has fewer rules so of course an MMA fighter could beat up a traditional martial artist regardless of years.

4. “How do you explained kids getting an Oscar and are always more believable than adults? Don t you think an actor s process is to be simpler again?”

True, kids don’t have inhibitions and thus, when they play “cowboys and Indians” there’s no judging. It’s just “let’s play”. But the reality is that as we grow up, that sense of play disappears. But AS AN ADULT, saying “let’s play” isn’t as simple to do as it sounds. If it were that simple, more people would be doing acting and actually succeeding.

Also, child actors don’t deal with deep monologues or scripts like Meryl Streep, Denzel, or Tom Hanks. That’s when more advanced acting technique becomes required.

5. Attacking Larry Moss. “Moss is a scientologist who is known to imposed it on others”

Moss is NOT a Scientologist! If you’re talking about Milton Katselas, yes, he was a Scientologist, but he didn’t force his students to become Scientologists.

6. His rebuttal to why script analysis isn’t important. “Spielberg and DePalma is anti-script analysis”

They may be, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t properly break down your script to bring depth to the work. Memorizing lines and relying on the other actor is NOT enough!

Being able to understand the story is a critical component to why you say your lines. You have to have a moment before, the relationship, a justification to why the conversation exists in the first place, etc. You get those answers with script analysis!

7. “I have hit many monologues out of the park with beats & transitions by not using any traditional methods.”

Then why aren’t you out there working or have an Imdb?

8. “But for most people who have a smaller roles (by tomorrow), scene study classes hurt greatly”

WRONG! Yes, in a scene study class you work more on lead roles and spend weeks on the same scene.

The importance of most great scene study classes is to slowly and systematically teach you how to be prepared so you can get a job. As you get better, you become faster in the preparation and rehearsal time becomes less. Like in music, you learn a piece slowly to workout any difficulties before you can play it a full tempo.

And even if you have a small role, it doesn’t mean you do less work!

9. His defending a class that discourages learning your lines. “Speaking of memorizing lines, they changed writings all the time and your pre-planned/blocking can go out the window in a heartbeat”

Yes re-writes happen, but you can’t predict them. If you practice breaking down the script and come initially off book you’re better off for doing that. And if rewrites happen, so what? You’ve done the script analysis and know the given circumstances and can easily adapt v.s. not doing any script analysis or work and struggling to memorize.

10. “What I am afraid of is being in class for 10 years without credits”

If you’re in a class for 10 years and not working, you either should find a better class or be realistic and quit.

And if you’re not submitting yourself nor getting agents to submit your for bigger stuff while you’re training, YOU STOOPID! How the hell are you going to apply what you’re learning by being a slave to academia. Acting is NOT like Medical School where you have to finish before you can perform surgery.

11. “I am never going to do Shakespeare just for the sake of showing that I can.”

You’re seriously robbing yourself if you blow off Shakespeare! Trying to understand Shakespeare is the P90X of script analysis. If you can breakdown and fully understand Shakespeare, any film and t.v. script is remedial work.

Also, Shakespeare is STILL relevant because almost every good story comes from Shakespeare and has been told again and again.

There’s a reason why the Brits and Aussies are kicking our ass in taking American made projects.

Take it away Charlie Sandlan of The Maggie Flanigan Studio:

Lies Your Acting Teachers Told You

1. “Rehearsing isn’t important in class because they don’t rehearse for film/tv”

Yes, it’s true in film/tv that they don’t have time for rehearsals, BUT if you’re working on a  film/tv set, you better come fully prepared!

The thinking that you don’t have to rehearse in an acting class because you don’t on set is like saying you don’t need to rehearse with the L.A. Philharmonic and can just come to a concert and expect magic to happen.

You rehearse in a GREAT acting class so you can can slowly learn how to be properly prepared. As you become more experienced, being prepared takes less time, eventually preparing you for the fast pace of film/tv.

2. “Scene Study doesn’t help you get the job, cold reading classes do”

The importance of most great scene study classes is to slowly and systematically teach you how to be prepared so you can get a job. You are normally taught script analysis so you can understand what is going on and bring depth to the work. You rehearse to make sure what you’ve gleaned is properly executed on a consistent basis. Like in music, you learn a piece slowly to workout any difficulties before you can play it a full tempo.

Most cold reading classes DON’T teach you how to act. They either assume you already have a solid foundation or tell you that you don’t need a foundation to get your money. Cold reading classes normally give you 20-30 minutes to prepare and expect you to magically bring the script to life.  How can you do that in 20-30 minutes if you haven’t learned to do that over a few days or within a few hours first? Does a pianist magically play Chopin’s “Fantasie Impromptu” at the written tempo without having learned the basics or having played it slowly? NO!

3. “Script analysis and memorization is not important”

Any teacher who tells you that “left brained stuff” like script analysis and memorization is bullshit should be put in jail. Acting is BOTH a left and right brained art form.

You can’t walk onto set or even on stage and say “line” every time because you didn’t learn your lines. You’ll get fired!

Yes in performance mode, you want to be in the “right brain” and not be thinking about the “left brain stuff”. How do you let go of the “left brained” stuff? By practicing script analysis and being off book on a constant basis in class so you gradually learn to stop thinking about that stuff when you’re in the real world! DUH!

4. “Improv is about making up your lines and being funny”

Improv is just as valid of a technique as Meisner, Adler, Strasberg, Chekhov, etc. Like the major methods, it teaches you to listen, react, be in the moment, not be self conscious, etc.

Yes, it’s important to respect the lines, but if you have a “brain fart” and forget a line, it’s better to adapt to the situation than to just say “oh fuck, I messed up! Let’s do it again!” Maybe the “beautiful” mistake might be the one that ends up on the final cut. If they don’t like it, then you get to do it again with the right line.

Top Commercial Agencies in L.A.

Here is a list of some of the top Commercial Agencies. It’s a work in progress and will be updated as much as possible. If you happen to know any personnel changes, let me know!

Abrams- Peter Novick
AKA- Doug Ely
Amatruda, Benson, and Assoc. -Kimberly Gola
Amsel, Eisenstadt, Frazier, and Hinojosa -Gloria Hinojosa
Angel City – Mimi Mayer
Aqua – Lawrence Har and Blake Viglione
Arlene Thornton and Associates – Janet Tscha
Avalon Artists- Craig Holzberg
Beverly Hecht -Teresa Valente-Dahlquist
BiCoastal – Greta Hanley
Bobby Ball – Christine Tarallo
Brady, Brannon, and Rich- Judy Rich or Pat and David Brady
CESD- David Ziff or Adrienne Berg
Clear Talent Group – Allison Sweeney or Raynard Pearson
Coast to Coast-Hugh Leon
Commercial Talent- Neil Kreppel, Blair Taylor
Daniel Hoff- Daniel Hoff
DDO – Marlene Sutton, Matt Taylor
DPM – Daniel P. Mulheran
Flick Commercials- Tina Kiratsoulis
Henderson Represents, Inc.- Michelle Henderson
Imperium 7 – Tracy Mapes
Independent Artists- Laura Fogelman
Innovative Artists- Marcia Hurwitz or Cher Van Amburg
Jana Luker Agency- Jana Luker
KMR-Alicia Ruskin
LA Talent – Rick Ferrari and Brian Brenne
Lemon Lime – Robin Harrington or Chaim Magnum
Luiciano and Reeves – Nancy Luciano
LW1 – Sean Robinson
Mavrick – Brad Diffley and Samantha Daniels
M. Greene and associates – Michael Greene
Momentum – Garry Purdy
Osbrink – Angela Strange
Pantheon/Tag Models-Patricia Dawson
Prestige- Stephen DeCayette
Reign-Laura Soo Hoo
Special Artists Agency – Alix Gucovsky
Sutton, Barth, Venari- Pam Sparks
Talentworks – Brian Duensing

Misconceptions of Meisner

This was inspired by a recent ad I saw by a teacher claiming to not teach a “bastardized” version of Meisner (IT’S BASTARDIZED!)

Here are some of the common misconceptions to help you figure out for yourself if a teacher is teaching a bastardized version or not:

1. All you do in Meisner is Repetition


Repetition is normally a month long to 6 week thing. It’s only a tiny portion of the first year Meisner training.

2. Meisner is not effective for auditions


True, in the 1st year of Meisner, you are not taught script analysis and are only taught how to play moments off of the other actor.

In an audition, you normally do not get another actor to work with but some reader who is reading monotonously and with his or her head down on the page.

HOWEVER, you are taught to REALLY listen during your 1st year and even as you listen to monotonously said lines, you can still have thoughts and opinions about what is being said to help you say your lines during your audition.

During the 2nd Year, you are taught script analysis as well as dealing with pre-set actions-two important tools for auditioning. I know “pre-set” sounds kind of counter to what most people believe Meisner to be, especially the first year, but pre-sets have their place in situations where why you say your lines doesn’t come from the other actor.

3. You don’t do enough scene work during your 1st Year


You may not do scripted scenes in every class, but you are constantly improvising scenes while doing the various exercises taught throughout the first year be it repetition, independent activity, relationships, etc. As you’re going through the exercises you are periodically given scripted scenes from plays that incorporate what you have learned so far.

4. Meisner actors are only taught how to play themselves


Yes, the 1st year is meant to teach you how to be the best you in the given circumstances, but the 2nd year is much different.

The second year, however, teaches you to play characters who are DIFFERENT than you. You are taught how to make impediments (intoxication, drug use, mental/physical disabilities, etc.) and externals a TRUTHFUL part of you. The scripted scenes you’re given during the 2nd year will not be scenes where you can get away with just playing yourself, but scenes where you’ll have to dig even deeper and be someone who is different than your real self be it in personality, beliefs, etc.

5. Meisner actors cross out every stage direction and punctuation


This is often times suggested during the 1st year, namely during the first round of scripted scenes because the main focus is playing moments off of the other actor and using what they give you to tell you how to say your lines.

BUT as you progress, you’re taught to read everything to help you understand the whole piece of work and then discard what you don’t need.

Making up IMDB Credits is FUCKING STUPID!

I remember someone who used to tell people to lie on their resumes and going as far as telling people to add themselves to old soaps or shows that only lasted one season because that’s what the “working actors were doing”. He even showed interviews of actors and directors saying that they lied on their resumes starting out. BUT none of these people were lying when the internet was around!

So here’s why lying, today, on your resume is stupid:


With Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, cable, etc. it’s become easy to find old shows and verify. “Where are you?”

2. “I Cast this Show”

What the hell are you going to do if you audition or go to a CD workshop and a CD says “I cast this show”?

Or here’s a funny dialogue I’ve seen multiple times:

Casting Director: “Have we met before?”

Actor: “Nope”

Casting Director: “Are you sure? I cast this show.” (Pointing to the phony credit on actor’s resume)

Actor: “Umm…”

3. “Do You Have Footage?”

What are you going to do in an agent meeting when the agent says “do you have any clips from this show?”  If you truly were in that show, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t have any footage. The whole “the show got cancelled”, “they refuse to give me footage” bullshit can only take you so far.

4. The Embarrassing (Uncredited)

When you add yourself to something that you’re not really in, expect to see the embarrassing (uncredited). IMDB is good at finding out the truth.

Do you really want to join the League of Career Extras?

Silly Shit Acting Teachers Say!

On our journeys, we’ve all met teachers either whom we respect or think are full of shit who are guilty of saying things that made you either scratch your head, question, totally disagree with, or just plain annoyed the hell out of you.

Here is some of the stuff I’ve heard and written down throughout my journey:

-“Hold your sides with both hands and no talking with your hands or the rest of your body”

-“I gave Meryl Streep a set of my (insert teacher’s merchandise)”

-“You don’t need improv for film acting”

-“Memorizing is not important in my class” (this is a SCENE STUDY class!)

-“Back when I used to rep (insert “Friends” cast member)…”

-“I invite casting directors to come to my classes at least once a month (they never came…)”

-“My school is the 3rd best school according to (insert a website that talks about pornstars and other guy stuff)

-“Tell me (by me, the whole class) what your substitution was”

-“There are 7 universal facial expressions”

-“It’s okay to lie on your resume. McDonald’s lies in their marketing”

-“You are required to rehearse with your scene partner for x hours based on how many minutes are in the scene, so a 5 minute scene will require at least 5 hours of rehearsal a week”

-“Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg BOTH studied with Stanislavski around the same time but came back with completely opposite views” (Strasberg NEVER met Stanislavski!)

-“Lee Strasberg taught Marlon Brando” (Marlon only claims Stella Adler as his teacher)

-“You must come up with a detailed backstory even if your character only says one line”

-“There are no dumb characters, just dim”

-“Only look at your lines and don’t read the other person’s lines nor the stage directions/descriptions”

-“If you’re breathing deeply and fully, you should feel this sensation around your asshole”

-“I’ve done just about every drug there is. The moral of the story is DON’T DO THEM!”

-“I taught Brad Pitt” (Then why doesn’t he endorse any of your books/schools and only cites Roy London?)

-“Take this teacher off of your resume! He’s a joke!”

-“When you audition and have other people in the scene, just have one eye line.”

-“Acting is NOT living truthfully under imaginary circumstances!” (From someone who claims to have studied with Meisner)

-“You spend the whole first year of Meisner training doing repetition. In the second year, you finally get scenes and hit the wall” (From someone who said they studied with Meisner)

-Student: “Don’t you need to know the objective, relationship, moment before, environment?”
Teacher: “NO. YOU. DON’T!” (Apparently sitting in a chair and whispering lines to the other person is good enough)

-“Only working actors are the best teachers”

-“If you don’t have any credits on your imdb, look up old soaps and shows that only lasted one season and add yourself!”

-“People go to Lesly Kahn to learn how to be funny”

-“Strasberg (his teachings) is not (derived from) Stanislavsky”

-“Film acting and stage acting are different mediums…like canvas and marble…the tools learned from stage acting have no use for film acting”

-“The working actors add credits on their IMDB and lie on their resume. Look at (insert famous actor/director’s name).”

-“We work on our muscle of the moment in class”

-“Only the ‘sheeple’ are taking improv classes”

-“Good acting is a lot like good sex! If you’re thinking too much during it, it’s going to suck!”

-“We teach a very avant-garde/cutting edge approach…which is really dangerous and powerful”

-“What do Stanislavski, Strasberg, Meisner, Adler, Chekhov, Hagen have in common? They’re all for stage!”

-“It’s (acting and improvising is) like jazz…he’s riffing on a C# triad…then I’ll react and go up and down an F Major scale…” (An F Major scale theoretically would not sound good over an C# major triad)

-“This is a Chekhov exercise…now imagine you’re flying…you land on an island and a seal pops out of the water and talks to you. Remember what it tells you…”

-“I never studied with Stella Adler nor her technique, but she was all about being nice to her students” (NOT according to what people who DID study with Adler said…)

-“Improv isn’t about listening and reacting. It’s the battle of the wittiest and trying to outdo the other person”

-“Tom Cruise used to tell his agent to not send him out on commercials or tv shows and ONLY send him out on films. Tom Cruise didn’t do student films either, so why should you?”

-“Okay, let’s take a 15 minute break!” (The break literally ends up being 45 minutes!)

-“Script analysis is bullshit!”

From teachers who have never booked a commercial:

“Commercials aren’t worth pursuing unless you have a ‘commercial’ look”

“You normally have 4-5 callbacks for commercials”