With major motion pictures being shot in and around the Chattanooga-Atlanta area, acting classes are in demand more than ever. The Academy of Mutual Interest in Motion Pictures will present a two-day acting class, “Access to Effective Acting,” Nov. 17-18, from 1-5 p.m. Saturday, and 2-6 p.m. Sunday at the Mountain View Inn in Cleveland. The class will focus on method acting, improvisation and how to take advantage of film and TV opportunities.
Three instructors will teach different sessions of the class. Teresa Molinari, a member of the Screen Actors Guild and veteran actress who recently finished working on “Scary Movie 5,” starring Lindsay Lohan and Kate Walsh, will teach what to expect on a set, how to get noticed as an extra by casting directors and how to stand out as a background performer in her course, “Lights, Camera, Action!”
David Youngdahl, a native New Yorker now living in Cleveland, who attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts to study acting where screen legends Spencer Tracy, Grace Kelly, Robert Redford, Edward G. Robinson and Lauren Bacall attended, will focus on putting into action the techniques of method acting in his session, “Get Real With Acting,” where students will have the opportunity to perform their scenes on camera and receive direction.
Mark Rodgers, a motivational speaker for 30 years and certified in teaching public speaking with special emphasis on mastering improvisation, will teach “Empowered by Improv.”
Molinari, who lives in Atlanta but taught acting in California, has been in films with Robert DeNiro and Tommie Lee Jones, and worked on several TV series like “Star Trek Voyager,” “NYPD Blue” and “ER,” said, “This will be a wonderful course for everyone who attends because it’s designed for beginners and experienced actors. This is the best way to meet other actors and actresses who can tell you what this lifestyle is truly like. It’s also an excellent way to work on the skills that need improvement and help you decide if a career in film, television or the theater is right for you.”
Youngdahl, who went on to perform live at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in New York before moving to Cleveland, said, actors will not be taught to memorize lines by heart but will work to understand the dramatic structure of a scene, and his or her motivations.
“My course will teach you how to use your experiences to enliven the character you are playing,” he said. “I will be discussing the science of the mind to help students become familiar with the nuts and bolts of the inside work that prepares them to bring more realism to any part they play.
“The primary problem amateur actors have is trying to ‘play the feelings’ as opposed to understanding the motivations the character has. If you learn how to choose the right motive — for example, if you want a cookie for yourself but someone in the script cuts across that motive and they suddenly eat the cookie — then the feelings you have can be real instead of ‘acted.’ People can see the difference. In that sense, we don’t teach ‘acting.’ I teach you how to get real in a performance. The trick is learning how to take your stand earlier in the process — at the ‘motive point’ rather than at the ‘feeling after point.’ The original scripts we use will play into that.”
Rodgers, the public relations director with The Academy of Mutual Interest in Motion Pictures, said his techniques will demonstrate how anyone can think on their feet and take charge of the moment to become a more effective actor with the confidence to handle the unexpected.
“The reason for improv is real simple,” Rodgers said. “In your life — your business world, your marriage, your kids and as a professional in acting — you have one thing that is always true, you will be asked questions that will smack you right between the eyes. You may not have an answer. But the way you respond will be based on three things. First you need to have love and caring in your voice for the person, because they don’t know they just hit you between the eyes. And if they ARE trying to throw you off, you don’t want them to know it. You want to show concern, respect and honor. You then have what we call ‘segues’ (pronounced: seg-ways) which gives you about 10 seconds to ‘reframe.’ Anytime you don’t know the answer to something, you can take part of what was said and reframe it. Then you can take that information and answer what you just reframed. That way you always have control of the question. That’s one way to describe what they do on ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’ I can teach actors how to segue and reframe.”
According to Molinari, more seniors are in demand as extras for movies and commercials due to the popularity of actress Bettie White in the film industry.
“Right now they’re looking for senior citizens because they’re spontaneous and fun!” Molinari said. “They’re really bringing in the senior group. I’m looking forward to giving them my tips to success as a background performer, which calls for taking directions to complete the picture in the scene.”
Acting classes has been proven to help slow cognitive decline in the elderly and improve memory capabilities immediately after a class ends. It also improves the social life of those involved as well as opening the door to a new source of easy income, according to Molinari, who is in her 70s. Research shows a statistically significant improvement in short-term memory, comprehension and problem-solving skills, as well as perceived quality of life.
Rodgers said the whole point of attending acting class is to become a better thespian, which requires work to see improvements.
“An acting class is a safe environment where you can try new things, learn new things and grow as an artist,” he said. “Everyone is there to learn and everyone has room for improvement. We’ll grow together. I’m really looking forward to this.”
“The class is really worth twice as much,” Molinari added. “Plus we have a few surprises for our students.”
The specially designed acting class by The Academy of Mutual Interest in Motion Pictures, LLC., a Cleveland-based company, features original scenes for students as they learn how to identify objectives, obstacles and tactics to create better performances. The two-day class is $100, which covers both days. For ages 18 and up only. Space is limited. There is a $10 student and senior discount. To register online, visit www.academymimp.com or mail a check or money order to: The Academy of Mutual Interest in Motion Pictures, LLC. P.O. Box 5992 Cleveland TN 37320-5992. For more information, call 423-716-5409.