Frequently Asked Questions & Information

1. Is the Film Actor's Studio an agency/management company?

The Film Actor's Studio is definitely not. We pride ourselves on being a professional school that is reasonably priced. Not one that appears to pressure you and promise fame, glory, stardom - charging large amounts of money upfront. These are two completely separate entities. We believe in practice, practice, practice first. Can you join the Olympics after ten weeks of training?

Most people think acting is easy and doesn’t require training. They are often humbled when the see how very difficult it is to “act” and how much studying is involved. When you've gained experience we'll gladly provide the tools with our Actor's Business Information packet to help you to become a working actor in Hawaii and beyond.

2. "You say that Level 1 Acting is a 'Technique' class and not 'Scene Study.' What's the difference?"

In a scene study class the actor chooses a scene to do, or is given one, and they rehearse that scene and then present it in front of the class and are given notes. This would be much like learning architecture by building a specific building and then being given notes on that job and watching other students do likewise. You can learn that way, but it takes a long time.

A technique class teaches the basics for how to build any building internally, or in this case, any scene. Starting with the most elemental steps and leading eventually to the most sophisticated performances possible. By improving your technique, you improve yourself as an actor forever. This work highlights the issues you must address with every scene, and will reveal particularly those things that you personally need to work on, which can often be masked by doing certain kinds of material.

There are many excellent scene study/ school drama classes available in the U.S but once an actor has the FOUNDATION and the ability to operate with self-sufficiency, then they are able to understand and make use of the wonderful insights these teachers and directors have to offer.

3. Why do talents agents require training before they represent you?

Agents earn income based on your success in getting bookings. It is very unlikely for untrained clients to book work or book work regularly.

4. At what age can you begin ?

Whether you are 5 or 85 years of age it's never too early and never too late. We offer courses for children, teens and adults including: Acting Level 1, TV Commercial Acting, Self-Development, Modeling, and Advanced Acting classes.

5. How do I avoid SCAMS?

The SAG Hawai'i Branch has issued the following statement on the SAG website.

"BEWARE OF SCAMS BEING PERPETRATED IN HAWAII
There are people out there who are selling dreams and union memberships to people who want to be in the film business. Beware and remember performers are paid to be in productions. Performers do not pay to be in movies and television productions (unions & non-union).

We have to be vigilant and protect our industry. Please tell your family and friends. And, if you are aware of any scams report it to the Consumer Protection Agency and the Police. " With so many dreamy-eyed hopefuls trying to break into the acting business, scams abound. Remember, an agent or manager only takes his fee (about 10 percent) after he's procured work for you — never before. A legitimate agent will never ask you for an agency fee, a processing fee, a class fee or any other fee up front.

It's perfectly acceptable though for an acting agent to ask you to have new headshots made or suggest you take an acting class. It's even okay for him to recommend a handful of photographers and teachers. But if he strongly suggests you work with a particular photographer or acting class, it could be a rip-off. Walk away. Same thing goes if he promises you work and stardom or if he tells you he usually charges a fee, but he's making an exception in your case. Most importantly, if you show up for a photo shoot or audition and feel uncomfortable in any way, don't walk — run! Trust your instincts and get out of there. Your safety is more important than your career.

This also includes ALL fee-based websites which are all a rip-off. Be especially aware of fee-based websites advertised on Craigslist.org under "gigs -talent" or "T.V/Film/Video". If you've been scammed or abused by phony agents, managers or casting people, contact your Attorney General's office or the Better Business Bureau. Then hit the online acting forums and warn your fellow actors! The only way to stop these criminals is by exposing them for what they are. For more information, check out the following link:

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/services/model.htm

6. As an actor, how involved should I be in the Hawaii acting community?  

Keep in touch with the industry and the creative community. They will be your peers, your support group, and hopefully your connections to better acting gigs. Go to film festivals and watch your friends plays where you can get to know the cast and crew. Invite the casting directors, producers, and directors to your performances and screenings too. There are several seminars you can attend to meet agents, casting directors and managers. Go to as many as you can in order to network and learn the names of important players in the film and/or theater community.

7. How do I advance my career?

When starting out in an acting career, take as much work as you can get. Of course, you should shoot for prime roles from the start, but expect to be rejected in the beginning. Do extra work and do non-union work until you are able or wanting to join SAG, AFTRA, and/or Equity. If you can only get in to student films, then do as many as possible. As long as you are working, learning, making connections and gaining exposure, your energy has not been wasted. The good acting jobs will come with time, and when you encounter them you'll have more experience and insight to offer.

8. Should I join a Union?

Acting unions offer great benefits, such as contract negotiations, minimum fee guarantees, health and retirement benefits, and more. But if you join a union, you'll also be bound by its rules. That means you can't take any non-union work.  You can’t do that non-union film no matter how great it will look on your reel, or that non-Equity play no matter how important it is for your resume.

So take an honest assessment of your career and think carefully before joining. To help you decide, visit the websites of the three major actors' unions listed below. Check out the eligibility requirements, the membership benefits, and the initiation fees and dues. Done all that but still need more information? Give them a call! Phone numbers can be found on the websites:

The Screen Actor's Guild (SAG), representing over 120,000 working actors in film and television, including commercials, industrials, video games and more. http://www.sag.org

The Actor's Equity Association, representing 40,000 actors and stage managers working in live theater.
http://www.aftra.org

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) with a membership of over 70,000 performers, journalists and other artists in entertainment and news. http://www.actorsequity.org

9. How do I join the Screen Actor's Guild?

If you want to be a top film and television actor, membership to the Screen Actors Guild is critical to your career if you live in Los Angeles or New York.  Hawaii is a smaller venue for union work so the decision is up to you. Membership insures that you will receive the optimal wages, as well as payments from producers to your pension and health insurance accounts. As a member of the SAG, you will also be able to collect residual payments from your work. There are several ways to get into the union. Visit their website at www.sag.org for membership information.

10. Do I have to keep taking acting classes throughout my career?

If you think acting classes are just for beginners, think again. Many working actors, including some well-known stars, continue taking classes despite their successful careers. Acting is a skill. The more you hone it, the better you will be. Acting classes help keep you active between jobs so that you don't get rusty, but more importantly classes are a great way to stretch yourself as an actor. You can take the kinds of risks in a class that you'd hesitate to indulge in on a set. If you bomb in the safety of a class, who cares? Nobody's losing precious daylight or loads of money while you play around with different possibilities. A class is all about exploring and learning.

One of the best things you can do as an actor is allow yourself the freedom to fall on your face. The lessons learned from being a beginner are priceless. Feel the fear and do it anyway! Go ahead and have some fun.

11. What is the Meisner Technique?

 Sanford Meisner (1905-1997), together with Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg, is generally regarded as one of America's most brilliant acting teachers. now practiced today. Meisner aimed to break an actor's dependence on easy tricks and to get him to respond truthfully to a given moment. He taught that a performer's attention should remain on his partner — on what the partner is saying and doing — and not on what he himself is preparing to say or do. The result: a far less self-conscious performance that resonates with authenticity.

The Meisner Technique owes a debt to the great Russian acting teacher, Constantin Stanislavski, who steered his students away from the stiff and affected acting that was common in his day. The interdependent series of exercises developed by Meisner expand on Stanislavski's teachings. Each exercise builds on the earlier ones and increases in complexity. Improvisation, emotional truth, and an actor's personal response to the script are all important aspects of this approach.