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Everyday Is Halloween For An Actor

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When somebody asks me what I do for a living, I usually say, " I drive around town and change my clothes".

That is what it feels like most days. I leave the house with a variety of outfits and hair products that enable me to transform from audition to audition. I can go from an uptight CEO in a business jacket and pencil skirt, to a relaxed stay-at-home mom, in a layered sweater and blouse combo draped loosely over khaki pants, cooking a yummy meal for her family.

Oddly enough, I have always referred to my audition outfits as costumes, not wardrobe! So it really is like Halloween every time I dress up for a role.

Image and Branding Specialist, Tom Burke, says clothing can “make or break an audition”, and I thoroughly agree with him. Even a little bit of effort will help casting better imagine you in the part and can give you the competitive edge you need to book it.

If you are one of those people who doesn't have a clue what to wear, make Google your new best friend. Search for images of the types of roles for which you’re auditioning, and you will get a sense of wardrobe essentials.

Also, start watching TV for the outfits. And don't just look at the stars or leads. You will gather fantastic costume ideas watching the day players and guest stars.

Lastly, make sure to remember that branding and costumes go hand in hand. Once you know who you are, you will know how to dress, and once you know how to dress, casting will know who you are.

What are you waiting for? Pack your costumes, start booking...oh, and make sure to have a Happy Halloween too!

Judy Kain is an actress who has appeared in over 400 commercials and over 100 film and television shows. Her most notable recurring roles include Mad Men, The Odd Couple, and Hand Of God. Judy is the owner of Keep It Real Acting Studios. Her newest workshop, What’s The Plan?, is being offered Sunday, November 4th!

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How To Film A Fantastic Self-Tape

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Times have changed in the Theatrical audition world: over half of the auditions actor go on are self-taped. This means that either your agent sends you a request to self-tape or you go into the casting office and they send your takes on to the producers. The days of walking into a room filled with producers and writers and directors are few and far between.

I personally love it when I have the chance to audition in a room full of people. It feels alive and I always feel like I do my best work.

So today’s question is: how do you act your best when you’re taping from home, and it’s just you and your reader?

I know everyone hears the obvious tips from their agent or casting:

  • Know your lines.

  • Use good lighting.

  • Make sure the reader is not too loud.

  • Focus towards the camera but not into camera.

  • Stand in front of a plain background.

  • Etc...

But to me, the most important thing to do in a self-tape is to truly immerse yourself in the scene. To create a vivid world in which you can honestly act and react.

I will give you an example of two self-tapes that won the job to illustrate my point.

One of the self-tapes I filmed, was for a television show, and the actor was playing a  Beverly Hills country club gal. It was a luncheon setting, so I had her sit in a chair with a table that held her drink. A pretty scarf slung over her shoulders, which gave her an air of sophistication.

The table was not visible in the taping, as I always frame from the chest up, but it made it more real for the actor. She used a champagne flute, which she used only for 1 moment in the scene.

At the top of the scene, I had her laugh lightly in response to jokes said by her fellow luncheon goers before she began her line.  All of this gave the illusion of the actual setting, which created a sense of reality for the actor. It was a great take and she booked the job straight off of it.

The other actor had an action scene in which he was being attacked and killed.

Scenes like that can be so challenging to self-tape and almost impossible to do unless you go all out.

I had the actor use a butter knife as the bayonet he was holding against a hostage’s throat. Then, he was supposed to be charged by an incoming soldier, so he pivoted to indicate surprise. He delivered his lines back and forth with me, the reader, and then reacted to being shot. I had him grab his stomach and fall out of frame.

This audition took several takes, but we mastered it and it looked as real as possible in a studio setting. More importantly, the actor was fully engaged in the scene.  He booked the role and shot the production the next day.

Most props and actions used in auditions like these are never seen on camera, but they allow the actors to become more involved in the scene.

Those are my suggestions for a filming a successful self-tape at home. Try it and see how your next one goes.

Judy Kain owns Keep It Real Acting Studios. In addition to teaching commercial and business courses, Judy has successfully coached and filmed self-tapes for years.

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Taking Class When It's Busy

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Acting is the one art form that is challenging to practice on your own. Artists can paint or create alone; musicians can play instruments solo, hone skills or write songs unaided; and writers most definitely can create in the solitude of their own home.

However, actors need others to be able to perfect their craft.

Many actors shy away from class when they are busy with film, television and commercial auditions, but

for my money, this is the best time to be in a class. Ensuring your skills are sharp on a moments notice is essential to becoming successful. Being prepared will always beat rushing out to get coached and feeling stress and pressure about the prospect of the audition.

I have heard countless stories of actors who were going to quit acting before an opportunity presented itself that changed the trajectory of there lives forever.

  • Chrissy Metz was about to give up acting when This Is Us came in.

  • Stephanie Courtney was down to her last few dollars in the bank when she auditioned for Flo in the Progressive Commercials.

  • Bradley Cooper was ready to leave the business before he booked Wedding Crashers.

Had these actors not been studying, they would not have been prepared when the opportunity knocked.

Class reaps so many benefits beyond the obvious necessary training and technique skills. Class:

  • Surrounds you with a community of like-minded people.

  • Creates awareness of the projects and work others are doing.

  • Sends energy in a positive and proactive direction.

  • Builds confidence that is intoxicating in the audition room.

So go ahead: Jump into an acting class and see what it does for you and your career.

Judy Kain is an actress known for The Odd Couple. Hand Of God and Mad Men. She is the owner of Keep It Real Acting Studios. Work with Judy in A-Z Commercial Technique, Intermediate Commercial Intensive, and Advanced Callback Class.

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How Improv Can Help You!

If you want to lose weight, you should probably hit the gym as part of your weekly routine. If you want to be a working actor, you should definitely make Improv Class a regular part of your weekly activities.

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“Why, Lisa?”,  you might screaming,  “I’m not a COMEDIAN, I’m an ACTOR. What could I possibly get from taking an IMPROV class?”

A common misconception is that Improvisation is all about trying to be funny - in many places it is, but that was not the original idea. Viola Spolin, who taught at “The Young Actors Company” in Hollywood in the 1940’s before heading to Chicago and changing Improv’s trajectory forever, is largely credited for coming up with many of the Improvisation games and exercises that are still taught today.  They were her creative answer for getting students to listen better, to look at each other, to connect deeper, or to be more truthful on stage. The games ended up being very entertaining because they were inherently ‘alive’. Leaving the scripts behind gave the actors the freedom to explore their characters and create entire worlds in a way that had not been explored before.

Good Improv is funny because it’s honest. It was never Viola Spolin’s intention for the word “Improv” to be synonymous with “Comedy” or “Stand Up”.

SO, after all these years and iterations of what Improv has become, is it still a helpful tool for an actors’ belt?  YES!!! AND…here is how I use it every day as an actor and auditioner in Los Angeles:

  1. I am able to make all kinds of offers at an audition or on a set:  I see far too many actors waiting for the director to do their job for them.  I know I can come up with an endless amount of ways to say this line and I’m not scared to try them all out. A director knows that I can take direction to an extreme and not worry about doing it wrong or too big or too weird. Improv class is my gym where I practice being ridiculous, I make ‘bad pancakes’, I find out where my own edges are - how far I can go.

  2.  I remain still inside of chaos: No matter how crazy an audition gets or if the set is crumbling behind me - I have a leg up on others because I’ve practiced just being alive in this moment and keeping my wits about me.

  3. I know its a waste of time to apologize to directors for ‘mistakes’:  I know to just move on and do it again the way it needs to be done. (I see this a lot at auditions and on set where an actor is so apologetic it makes everyone nervous.  Just move on!)

  4. I have an array of tricks at the ready in my basket: You want me to sing? You want me to go really slow? No facial movement whatsoever? Be uptight? Be Shakespearean? Do an accent I am no good at? I’m up for anything.

  5. I make an offer to you, you offer back: It’s ping pong. That’s how I work with a director, I can give her lots of choices - even if she doesn’t like each one I know it might help her to narrow down what she’s looking for.

  6. I have an innate sense of story and ensemble: I play well with others and know how to find the fun. Improv, like Acting, is not a competitive sport. We all make each other look good.

  7. I say “Yes” to whatever or whoever comes my way.: I don’t have to be defensive of my choices, I can find a way to work with anyone to make a win-win situation.

I have taught literally hundreds and hundreds of Improv games in my lifetime. I have also made up hundreds of games because I need to solve issues with students everyday.  I know, because of Improv, that I am endlessly creative. I love helping anyone see that they have a never ending font of creativity inside them as well.

Improv has made me a better teacher, a better actor, a better poet, a better wife, a better human, and a better listener. So go ahead...sign up for an Improv class and see what is does for you!

Lisa Fredrickson is an actress who has appeared on The Guild, Desperate Housewives and Greek. She currently teaches Youth Improv Intensive at Keep It Real Acting Studios. Sign up now to work with her in our July Sessions!

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Commercial Tune Up

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As actors, we tend to have considerable downtime. You know, those days between jobs. 

But just because you’re between jobs, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be working on your career.

Smart actors make good use of that time. It’s a great opportunity to give your career  a commercial tuneup.

What’s a commercial tuneup? It’s updating your materials and keeping your skills sharp by practicing them.

For instance, when was the last time you got a new headshot? Do you still look like the person in your current headshot? If not, time to get new ones. 

Is your resume up-to-date? Both on the back of your head shot, and at all online services. Did you list that movie you shot with your brother-in-law? Make sure it’s on there.

And get into a good class. Your skills won’t stay sharp unless you keep them sharp.

Think about it: athletes, musicians, dancers, singers, performers of all kinds  practice their art even when they’re not being paid for it.

You should be no different.

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Introducing The Business Of Acting Online...

I am so excited to have The Business of Acting Online Course launch on my birthday. I can think of no better present for myself than to share the tips and tools I've acquired during my 40+ years in the business with actors across the country.

For years I have been teaching commercial and theatrical acting technique to Angelenos at all stages of their careers. During this time, I have noticed that the acting skills and techniques students were learning did not necessarily translate to the business skills requisite to land acting jobs.

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I started taking time out of class to tell actors how to make connections and get themselves noticed. I even started reaching out to agents to suggest they meet certain stand out actors in class. As I worked to champion each student's career, the gap between acting training and business training became more and more transparent.

I have had and continue to have a very active career, partly because of a great team of agents and managers, and also because I continue to market myself and find ways to stay on people's minds.

In the beginning of my career, I did all kinds of things to get known in town, such as writing letters to producers, handing my headshot to personal assistants and dropping my Film Studios just to say "hello". Of course, the film industry has evolved since I first arrive in Los Angeles, and I have had to adjust to the ever changing business while maintaining the creativity and drive I needed to originally grow my business. With hopes that my students could do the same, I started teaching my Business Of Acting Class.

The first time I taught the course, I spoke out of a two and a half inch folder for four and a half hours, but still felt I hadn't covered all the material I needed to cover. Throughout the years, the folder grew thicker as the material grew larger, and I soon determined that the best way to share as many acting business insights with as many actors would be to create an online Business Of Acting Course!

The information in the online course is streamlined to target actors' exact needs. It covers everything from resumes to getting an agent to cultivating the relationship with the one you have to effective marketing tools.

I love helping actors and seeing how they apply these tools towards a big win. It happens daily! Emails and phone calls from actors who acquired new agents or took the perfect headshots or were called into audition for a casting director after sending them postcards...


Nothing feels better than hearing THIS STUFF WORKS and I look forward to hearing how THIS ONLINE COURSE WORKS FOR YOU!

Judy Kain is an actress, acting and business teacher in Los Angeles, California. She has appeared in over 400 commercials. Her theatrical credits include Hand Of God, The Odd Couple, Mad Men and The Fosters. Learn more about The Business Of Acting Online HERE and her book, I Booked It HERE.

 

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The 3 BEST Ways To Stay On Casting's Radar!

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Actors always wonder “Why am I not getting more auditions?”

And I always wonder"what are you doing to make that happen?"

The truth is most actors work very hard to get an agent, but once they do, they rest on their laurels and wait for auditions to pour in.

 

You certainly can do this, but a more proactive method is to develop relationships with casting. I am not suggesting you become their best friend, but DO get your photo, name and work in front of casting as often as possible, and believe me your auditions will increase.

 

How?

 

Here are the 3 most effective ways to get your work in front of Casting Directors:

1. Postcards: Inexpensive and effective way to announce, introduce, inform or stay in touch. The postcard should have a photo of you, contact information and news that they should know. Examples include:

  • I am working

  • I am studying (Where and with whom)

  • New agent ( within a year is new)

  • New manager  ( within a year is new)

  • New headshots  ( within a year is new)

  • Great achievement ( hiked a mountain, Graduation, Baby, Marriage etc)

For more info regarding postcards, check out I BOOKED IT

2. NOTECARDS-

Actors always ask if they should send a thank you after an audition, and I say NO!

It looks too desperate. You want to create the illusion that this was one of many audition you had this week. However, you can send a thank you to the CD office and let them know how wonderful the session director ( name them )was for the audition ( name it ) and congrats on having a wonderful casting team.

 

Always include your photo in the form of business card or postcard so they remember who you are.

 

3. Social Media

Social media is another excellent way to be seen. Many CD’s have public accounts on facebook, twitter, and or instagram.Here are a few tips on how to stand out on social media:

  • Be a real person: Post about your dog, your kids or your baseball team on your personal page, and find ways to relate to castings’ posts on their public pages.

  • Be supportive: Share a photo on a set with another actor and talk about how wonderful it was to work with them rather than talk about how great you are.

  • Respond to posts in lieu of “liking”. Likes will go unnoticed, but casting may remember a funny or sweet comment on their page.

  • Congratulate CD's on their good work: Check out there websites for new commercials and let them know in a tweet or message how artful there casting choices were.  Acknowledge their accomplishments rather than constantly asking for auditions. Say something supportive, but do not be a suck up!

Commercial heavy events like the Superbowl and the Olympics are the perfect times to congratulate. Find out who cast the top 15 spots and get busy.

Good luck and see you on set!

Judy Kain is an actress, author and acting teacher in Los Angeles, California. She has appeared in over 400 commercials. Theatrical credits include recurring parts on The Fosters, The Odd Couple, Hand Of God, and Mad Men. For more information on networking and marketing, sign up for Judy's Business Of Acting Workshop.

 

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Resolutions For The New Year

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 Judy Kain is an actress in Los Angeles, California.

Judy Kain is an actress in Los Angeles, California.

Happy 2018! For many actors, the the New Year and New Year’s Resolutions go hand in hand. Starry eyed hopefuls will imagine networking more, plan to nail every audition, and decide to look into that commercial class they have heard so much about. Unfortunately, keeping these resolutions is not always as easy as dreaming them up...not without the proper guidance.

 

The first step to keeping your resolution is to treat acting as a business and yourself as the CEO of said business. With this in mind, I have developed a system that enables actors, like myself, to accomplish small manageable goals in a clear and concise manner. I call this the Actor’s Business Plan. Give it a try and see how it works for you!

 

How to Write An Actor’s Business Plan:

 

Trim down your business plan to the absolute minimum. Do your best to omit unnecessary words and communicate your objective and strategy with minimal clutter.

1.    Describe The Struggles/Challenges You Are Having Right Now (no agent, not enough bookings, etc) Aim high, but also be realistic.

2.    Your Solution Where do you see your career going? What is the best case scenario? (to save money as I make my living acting. Or to get a recurring role on a hit sitcom)

3.    Business model Create a plan to accomplish your goals. (I will need to make $10,000 a month to live the way I want to in 5 years)

4.    Target Market With whom do you you need to network? Come up with a list of industry professionals (agents casting directors, producers etc) who could help you attain your goals and the ways in which you can meet them.

5.    Competitive Advantage What makes you special? Do you speak Spanish? Are you very funny?  Find ways to let your target market know you have these skills. (Skill clips, Video, website etc.)

6.    Management Team Who is helping you achieve your goals and do you need to gather more people on your team? Teams may include teachers, coaches, publicists, web designers, etc.

7.    Financial summary What does it look like now and where you want it to be? This is a cost breakdown of what you need to invest in ( classes, tapes, etc), and how you expect to make it back.

8.    Funding Required Establish a way to make the money requisite to fund your plans for the business. (Get a job, find donors, etc.)

Once your resolutions are set and the Actor’s Business Plan is written, start tracking your results. Compare the number of auditions you had before and after your new headshots, write down the casting directors you have met and the amount of times that have called you in, and make a list of interactions you have had with your agent.

Endeavor to be all that you can be in 2018. Create your Actor’s Business Plan and you will be a whole lot closer to making your resolutions a reality!

 

About the author:

Judy Kain opened Keep It Real Acting Studios in 2012. She teaches The Business Of Acting, Wednesday Workouts, Advanced Callback and A-Z Commercial Technique. Judy currently plays Lauren on The Fosters.

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The KIRA Bunch: Meet Judy Kain

Here's the story of a lovely Judy who was running a Studio of her own! She had booking tips like no other, which she shared with all boys and girls...She truly is the Alice that keeps our KIRA Family together. Right on! Before you book it out of here, let's learn more about the groovy booking queen who has starred in over 400 commercials, movies and television shows. Can you dig it?

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Name: Judy Kain

Classes: Advanced Callback Class, A-Z Commercial Class, The Business Of Acting, Wednesday Workouts

Favorite Class Memory: Running into a student at an audition, and having him tell me he booked 9 commercials after taking my class. I love seeing my students succeed!

Favorite Holiday Tradition: Walking around tree farms with my son and cutting down our tree.

Hopes For The New Year: That my students continue to work hard and up their booking rates!

Follow Judy (and KIRA) on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram, and learn more about Judy HERE!

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The KIRA Bunch: Meet Hannah Cooney

Here's the story of Hannah Cooney...she has golden hair like the Brady Mother...she's truly a far out girl. Golly, this actress and social media coordinator sure is cherry! Want to learn more about her? We'll clue you in...

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Name: Hannah Cooney

Classes Taken This Year: Advanced Callback, A-Z Commercial Class, The Business Of Acting, Castable Actor

You Know Her From: Wednesday Workouts, Kids Commercial Class, Teens Commercial Class, Next Step

Favorite Class Memory: I loved applying what I learned in class to auditions and meetings. Right after taking classes, I signed with my commercial agent! My favorite memory from the kids classes is singing, dancing and improvising with the kids. 

Favorite Holiday Tradition: Opening one present and then watching A Child's Christmas In Wales with my family on Christmas Eve, cooking with my mom, sledding with my friends and family.
 

Visit IMDB to learn more about Hannah!

 

 

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