ACTING SCHOOL BLOG–LEE STRASBERG-AARON LUSTIG
So, during the summer I had a revelation. For those of you who read my previous posts you may have seen my complaints about recent University graduate job prospects, recession etc. I was finding myself doing the same, practically minimum wage bar and restaurant waitress work and I was tired of it. I wanted to do something creative, something I enjoyed, and was proud to be doing, and also something that financially compensated all the hard work and dedication I knew I had. It was probably my boyfriend who planted the seed of an idea. He asked me, what do you want to do? Why don’t you do something related to what you studied? Now, I am not alone in the predicament many young people find themselves in today: What do I want to do? Half of my friends with graduate jobs have job titles that a) their friend’s dad invented for them and b) didn’t exist ten years ago – Assistant marketing manager, Head of Social Media? See??
So what did I want to do? What was related to what I studied, (English Literature) and an old dream reared its head. I always wanted to be an actress, and I never focussed on doing it. Some small desire in (as my teacher MJ likes to call it, the deepest place in your heart) called to me, and, for some reason, I had to listen to it, I simply had to.
Even though the entertainment industry is notoriously cut-throat and difficult to break into, I wasn’t keen on any other industries, nor was I finding any way into them so it was a case of, trying to follow my dreams, and seeing what happens. I thought to myself, if it’s this hard trying to find a nine to five, which I won’t like anyways, then I’d rather be struggling, but headed towards somewhere I actually want to be. And, you never know until you try, and even if you fail, at least you tried. That was my logic anyway.
I applied to an acting course in Los Angeles. I wanted to leave London and I thought, well, you want to be in TV and films, go to Hollywood! The School accepted me and off I went, full of hope and anticipation. The things I learnt during those three weeks of intensive training, and my time in the states could cover many different posts, so I am going to go through my teachers one by one. There are four of them. I’ll start with my favourite. Aaron Lustig.
Aaron took us for a class called Acting for TV and Film which one could also translate to Acting for Camera as a skill in itself. From the first day the school surprised and shocked me. But Aaron took us on the Tuesday. After that first crazy Monday (we had 2 different classes and it was the longest day of the week) I was ready for anything.
So Aaron walks in, Mr. Charisma and Jokes, and introduces himself and we go through and introduce ourselves. Then he gives us a pep talk ... something along the lines of “So you want to be actors ... well, it’s a tough business, but with dedication, skill training and talent you can become liberated artists free to play any role you want; which is why I always play Lawyers and Doctors and audition with a bunch of bald Jewish men who look just like me. (rolls eyes ... que laughter all round.)
Then he proceeded to call us f***ers ... Sorry Aaron had to put this up there! He was demonstrating his like for swearing. All jokes aside he gave us some valuable advice, some funny stories .. (all the teachers had famous actor stories .. someone would mention Brad Pitt and they would say .. oh here’s my Brad Pitt story ... He smokes loads on set! It’s disgusting!) And he did some really interesting exercises with us.
The exercises on camera can be cringe worthy, when you watch play back you can see everyone thinking: Wow, did I not wash my hair today? Why do I frown so much? Why do I blink so much .. Oh my god my face is wonky, one eye is bigger than the other ... ect! Especially when you are under ECU (Extreme close up). The first exercise we did was the I love You exercise which worked on subtext. Saying the phrase I Love You whilst being filmed, in front of 10 people you only met yesterday, plus your acting teacher, with a subtext of I Hate You was no mean feat. Aaron did a lot of camera work with us including monologues, both being filmed full body and close up to teach us the difference between these two, and an elevator scene we had to put our own subtext to. We also watched back and learnt from others work in the classroom. The conversation exercise was also interesting. Having a normal conversation, recording it, and then having to have the conversation again, learnt off book and in front of the class.
Acting for TV and Camera was one of my favourite classes. Aaron is full of practical advice and probably the most coherent teacher to help you actually find work and give industry advice. He is also a sweetheart, and a well established and working actor himself, who has taught me a world of things about the subtleties and nuances of on-camera acting. Thank you Aaron, it’s time to put your work into practice.