Saturday, December 7, 2013

TV Director: Alan Berman



It’s Hard Work Becoming a Star
   A few choice gems to start off with from an interview with television and film director Alan Berman:

   “The more prepared you are for this business, the greater your chance of success when someone discovers you.”

    “Be on time, be prepared, be professional and love what you do.” 

    “You think you can become a movie star in a few easy lessons, the fact is just because somebody hits the lottery, it’s no reason for you to risk your rent money!” is how Berman encourages actors to continue to study, no matter what their perceived talent level or how much experience they may have on their resume.

    “There is no wrong type,” Berman told Nevada Actors,  “Somewhere, sometime, some place there is a part for you. Just keep working and you’ll find that part.” 

    Berman’s many credits as a television director include episodes of “Night Court”, “Barney Miller” and “Laverne and Shirley”. His aspiration was to direct feature film, and his roots that of a working actor.

    “I made the mistake of accepting a job directing an episode of a sitcom and I have been typed as a situation comedy director ever since. You see, it happens to us too! Type cast!”

    Berman’s face is familiar from many films, adventure series, situation comedies and, “If you are real lucky, live theater.”

Click on "read more" below to continue and find out why "being discovered is hard work."

Being discovered is Hard Work

     The key difference between LA and New York, believes Berman, is that “many LA Actors do not want to work at their craft. They think they will be discovered that all that is needed is a look, being at the right place at the right time and a little bit of luck. Unfortunately, sometimes they may be right, but more often than not they face a rude awakening.”

   Berman says that there is life beyond Hollywood, in fact he has discovered talent throughout the country, “a country where they still see acting as an art and not as a job.”

   “This is your art, your craft and your profession.” Berman goes on to add that ”this is a profession you should approach with as much honor and respect as you would approach becoming a doctor or a lawyer. Take your classes seriously, do them seriously, work your scenes as if the patient’s life depended on it.

    “Do not butterfly from class to class, instructor to instructor. Audition instructors, audit if they allow it and pick one that has the right chemistry for you, then make a serious long term commitment to a good class.”

    “Read plays, scripts and books. If you are a serious actor, you’ll read the great dramatic works: O’Neill, Miller, Chekhov, Ibsen, Shakespeare.”

   Berman is always open to new talent “But I do fall back on a collection of actors whose work and depth I know I can rely on. I am always open to new talent, to taking chances.”
Comedy is Truth

    Comedy has become his profession, and comedy is what he uses in helping actors develop their audition skills.

   Truth is the essence of playing comedy, timing is an instinct but character and reality comes from truth.” 

  “Ask yourself what the scene is all about, what your character is coming in to do and what is the truth in the scene. What is the relationship between the characters, at what point does it change.”

   “Words are crafted, with meaning and undertones of their own. Use the words as written, unless directed to do otherwise, because words are as much a part of your craft as what comes from inside you.”

    “Every scene is written for a purpose. In half hour television, writers do not have the time for long exposition and development, often the actor inherits the job of bringing that with them to their performance.”

   “Know the back story,” advises Berman, who explains, “back story is television jargon for what has gone on before, both in the script and in the characters life prior to the script.”

   “Always have something underneath. It is good if it is based on the full script, but if you have to, invent it! Use it in your scene. “

On Auditioning

   “An audition is your time. Don’t feel rushed or pressured, just use it to your advantage.”

   “Be on time, or early, develop your skills before you walk through the door, know what you want to do but be ready and willing to let go of it, let your inner life show through and always be professional.”

   “Make strong choices, even if they are the wrong choices. If they are, at least they’ll know you’re an actor! If you’re gonna lose that job, lose it going down fighting!”

  “Listen to the other actor, really listen. Cues are not the end of a written line; they are ideas, reasons for reaction and the motivation for your line. To pick up your cues on a cold reading you have to really listen.”

    Stand whenever possible because standing gives you a greater strength “and energy flow. Sitting drains energy and covers conflicts. Scenes are about conflict, so let that conflict flow.”

   Avoid props unless they are absolutely necessary to assist you in your character or in the action of the scene. If they are needed, use props if you can, because improvising or miming takes away energy and concentration you will need for your scene. Be ready if there are not props to do whatever is absolutely necessary, including mime objects. Do not do what is not needed, because the action is in you not in your movements.

   “If you are reading with another actor, make eye contact with that actor. If you are reading with a director, make eye contact with the director. Acting is about relationships and eye contact is an important part of the communication in relationships.

   “It’s OK to pause in an audition, but be aware that comedy is pace and any pause must make sense in the scene. It’s also OK to wait to start, let the moment happen.”
   “Act as much and as often as you can. Do workshops, classes, study at the university, do plays, just keep on doing. The more you do, the more you will learn.”

   “There is no wrong type. Somewhere, sometime, some place there is a part for you. Just keep working and you’ll find that part.” –Allen Berman.

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