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The Corporate Video Spokesperson

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The Corporate Video Spokesperson

In corporate video, sometimes it’s beneficial to have a person talk directly to the audience.  They look right at the lens to tell the story.  This is called being a corporate video spokesperson.  In today’s article, we talk about the skills necessary for a spokesperson on camera for your corporate video.  In decades past, most people were unaccustomed to performing in front of the camera, looking directly at the camera.  But thanks to today’s selfie culture, there’s quite a few budding “spokespeople” at every company.

The Non-Professional and the Professional Actor

Spokesperson for corporate videoHowever, this article is not limited to just non-professional actors (company employees).  The professional actor can benefit from a review of proper tips and techniques of being a spokesperson.  The non-professional actor is one defined as working for the company, has not had acting lessons, and does not work as an actor.  The professional actor is someone who has had training and routinely works as an actor in the industry.

Here’s a sample of a non-professional spokesperson.  And here’s a professional spokesperson.  Done right, you can’t really tell the difference.

Top 5 Tips for Being a Spokesperson on Camera

  1. Relax.  Standing in front of the camera and talking to a lens instead of a person’s face is unnatural.  It’s important to not get tense or self-conscious, but to just exhale and be natural.
  2. Know Your Material.  Maybe you are reading off a teleprompter, or you have to wing it, make sure you have a great grasp of the content.  Being in a unnatural environment, you don’t want to have to think too hard about your material.  So be prepared.
  3. Be Technically Aware.  Where’s the camera frame?  Did you move to close to the key light?   Are you under the boom mic?  These are questions you need to be aware of.  Large arm movements, pacing or swaying, and other blocking can ruin a take.  Most spokes roles involve standing on a mark.  But occasionally, the director might have you walk and talk.
  4. Slow Down.  For the non-professional company employee who’s being asked to be the person in front of the camera, being nervous usually leads to talking too fast.  Waaay to fast.  Slow your speed down and make sure you enunciate clearly.
  5. Energy Up and Have Fun!  Don’t forget that being in front of the camera can be fun.  If you’re having fun, you’re also relaxed (see point #1).  And having fun shows in your delivery.  This keeps your energy up for the performance.  If you aren’t having a good time, it’s easy to drag in your delivery.  People are used to fast-paced, high energy videos, so keep your energy up, even if the content might be on the dry side.

Last Words

Here are some other good things to know about being the corporate video spokesperson.  The crew will need to light and get the camera ready, so you might have to stand on your mark while adjustments are made.  When they start rolling, they might slate right in front of your face– this is normal.  You will either have a lavalier mic placed on you, or a boom above you.  Sometimes both.  Make sure when you finish that last word, you keep looking right into that lens.  Don’t quickly turn away when you finish presenting.

Okay, you’re all set to step in front of the camera.  Remember to be prepared, relax and have fun.

5 Worst Actor Auditions

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Actor Auditions from the Director’s POV

As a director, I have sat through some really powerful actor auditions.  And we’ve discussed important things to do when auditioning, whether for a feature film, corporate video or a commercial.  But today, I’m going to mention five things you should never do when auditioning.  I could play you some pretty incredible audition videos, but I don’t think I could ever get the talent releases.

actor auditions rising stars5 Worst Actor Auditions

  1. Face Covered By Sides – I have one audition tape where the whole time, the actor is covering up.  I don’t know if it was his first time, but I hope so.  An egregious error like this from someone with any kind of training is a hope killer for new work.
  2. Trouble Reading – A real painful to watch audition, is the one where the actor isn’t really prepared (hasn’t looked over the sides or it’s a blind audition) and they just can’t read words on the page.  For the Learning Disabled, I recommend that you prepare and memorize if you can and avoid reading.  If you have a genuine disability and I ask you to read something cold, go ahead and tell me you have difficulty.
  3. The Angry Actor – Yes, auditioning is hard.  It’s stressful.  And as a director and producer, I’m not going to make it easy for you (part of what I want to see is how you handle the stress– being on a set is stressful).  I’ve had actors who definitely woke up on the wrong side of the bed and kicked the dog.  Then showed up for their audition.
  4. Tardy Tammy – Never be late to an audition.  Never.  Ever.  Don’t do it.  Be early.  ‘Nough said.
  5. Round Peg/Square Hole Actor – The script calls for a 300 pound black guy and a small 90 pound Asian actor shows up.  Yes, it’s not politically correct in this day and age, but casting for a feature film is a bastion of prejudice.  It comes with the job.  We need a matronly grandmother, we can’t tell the story with a 28 year old tattoo riddled stoner.  I’ve had many auditions where the actor ignored character/race/age descriptors and felt they’d be perfect for the role.  Usually the Casting Director will weed these out before they get to me, but sometimes a few slip through.

Honorable Mention

The Stalker – Not really an audition, but this one gets a mention.  On my first feature film “The Keyman” (shameless plug: available on iTunes and Amazon Prime starring Adam Baldwin), an actor found my home address and drove out to deliver his headshot personally.  I wasn’t home, but my pregnant wife with a three year old child was.  Not good.

What to Do

There are lots of materials out there for how to audition.  Read, study, learn.  If you are working on the craft of acting, spend a significant time on the audition skills.  It will pay off immensely.  Actors get better with experience.  To get experience, you need to land the part.  To land the part, you need to know how to audition.  Let the dominoes fall!

the keyman adam baldwin acting tips

Top 3 Acting Tips – Movie Director to Actors

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Acting Tips from a Movie Director

There are many acting tips from actors to actors.  Not much from directors to actors.  I have directed five feature films and have worked with hundreds of actors. (My first film “The Keyman” starring Adam Baldwin is available on iTunes and Amazon Prime).  Some of them famous, many of them local to the locations and cities we shot the film in.  But there are a couple of things I wish every actor knew on the set.  Things that could save me time and money in production.  Time and money allows me to spend more on areas I need it to tell the story.

Director’s Job

First of all, let me tell you what my job is as film director: Guardian of the Story.  Every decision I make should go through this filer– does it help or hurt to tell the story?  Unfortunately, we are all human and all have ego.  So I can look back and see some decisions made as director were not always for the benefit of the story.  I have to get ego out of the way and let the storytelling be the purpose.  Likewise, you the actor need to push ego out of the way so you can hit your purpose on the set.

Top 3 Acting Tipsthe keyman adam baldwin

What is the actors purpose?  Theatrical Truth.  Tip Number 1: Pursue theatrical truth in every aspect of your performance.  Doesn’t matter to me as the director if you get there by method or some other acting technique.  Just get there.  When I watch the monitor, do I really believe you are that person, reacting to that particular environment and situation?  Or do I see someone pretending to be that person?  That’s the difference for me.  Now as the director, I will do whatever I can to help you achieve theatrical truth.  But the faster/easier you get there, the better.

My second tip is: Know Your Lines.  It’s not enough to have them barely memorized.  The lines for the day need to be engrained– where you can say them without thinking about the lines.  When you can do that, you can think about all the other decisions you need to make as an actor.  If brain cells are having to try and recall the words, other cool decisions aren’t being made.  So when you get the sides the night before, memorize your lines.  While sitting in the makeup chair, memorize your lines.  While waiting between takes, memorize your lines.

The third tip today: Consistency in Performance.  This is a big one for actors who have not had a lot of movie experience.  What I mean by consistency is blocking, gestures, movement, etc.  It’s a world of difference when I’m directing an experienced movie actor– he or she will pick up the glass at the same time with the same hand in each take.  And in each new setup.  It’s a real pain in editing to find I can really take a shot I really like because the actor is doping something different than the master.  Many local day players end up on the cutting room floor– not for lack of acting chops, but because the continuity errors were just too great.

Keep Learning!

I might only have to do two or three takes with an experienced actor– because they know these acting tips.  But for inexperienced actors, I might have to take twice or thrice as many takes, just because of the technical aspects of the performance.  Learn these acting tips and keep getting better and we’ll see you on the set!

dallas video production company

Acting: A Director’s POV

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dallas video production company

“After the third time this actor approached me, I decided I would never cast him again.”

“I got a real inside peek into what this actor was really thinking.  She forgot she was still mic’d and I was wearing my headsets.”

“This actor was extremely talented.  But he hosed me in post with his performance.”

These are thoughts of a working film director.  You can learn to save time, money and heartache in post, while cementing your reputation as a seasoned, veteran actor.

Announcing a new workshop for Acting: A Director’s POV!  Join us Saturday April 12, 2014 for a 3 1/2 hours, hands-on workshop, from a director to an actor.  Register here.

Daniel Millican, writer/director for five feature films has worked with Adam Baldwin, Lou Diamond Phillips, Sean Patrick Flanery, Joey Lauren Adams, Mimi Rogers and more.  On casting his last film in NYC, he realized there is a huge bias against using local actors.  As he explored the reasons why, he discovered some acting industry keys that can help local actors land the bigger film roles and avoid the mistakes that would leave them on the cutting room floor, or worse.

In this workshop, Millican will take the actors through exercises to illustrate these performance keys, concentrating on what they mean from the director’s point of view.

Cost is $89 and you can register for a morning session (8:30 to noon) or the afternoon session (1pm to 4:30).  Class size is limited to 15.  Click here to register and save your spot.

Serendipitous Films reserves the right to cancel.  If the workshop is cancelled, you will receive full refund.

Dallas Corporate Seminars and Conferences Video Production Service

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Corporate Seminars and Conferences


Dallas Event Marketing Video Production Services from S-Films

Part of our specialty is covering corporate seminars and conferences.  We’ve been asked to do everything from a one camera in the back of the room setup, to a live webcast through Google Hangouts, complete with multi-cameras and a switcher.

Conference video coverage usually breaks down into these categories: Simple one-camera record and run; multi-camera coverage; shooting for iMag (image magnification); and broadcast.  We have shot and handed footage over to our clients to take back to their in-house department to edit, and we’ve provided turn-key, all the way to finished edit for some clients.

The simplest approach is the one person, one camera shoot.  The videographer sets up in the room and shoots the speaker.  Audio is patched through the in-house sound, or a wireless lav mic from the videographer is put on the speaker.  Occasionally we’ll be asked to provide a video out so that iMag can happen, but generally, that’s not asked for in a simple one camera shoot.

Multicamera shoots provide a much more interesting finished video.  Now you can cut between angles.  One camera is usually “centerfield” and the other is on the side, able to get the speaker, but also able to get cutaways of the audience.  For three or more, you can have the centerfield camera stay wide, another camera relatively center is tight (or the “hero” camera) and the third is front of the room to shoot the audience.  We’ve done as many as 8 cameras and it all depends on what is happening (roundtable events, etc).  Sound is fed from the board into one camera.

For broadcasting, on television or the internet, multiple cameras and a video switcher is used.  The cameras are fed into the switcher, and a technical director calls up different cameras for the main feed– the video output from the switcher.  This might go to the iMag screens, or sent to a live feed (like the Google Hangouts scenario) or just recorded, already pretty much edited.  If you do record the main or “program” feed, usually you can also record each camera’s feed or “iso” (isolated recording).

Lately, we are rarely asked for DVD’s– instead, clients are asking for video files they can add to their corporate library for training and education.  We may be asked to send a smaller video file, or the client may ask for the high def version.  We are well practiced on delivering whichever– all events and shows are shot in HD video these days anyway.


Greenlight Your Own Film

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I break the phases of filmmaking into six distinct areas: The Idea; Development; Pre-Production; Production; Post Production; and Distribution.  Most new filmmakers spend most of the research and education in the production phases.  But the biggest hurdles are in the two “D’s”– Development and Distribution.

Development is where you raise the money and build the right team.  Distribution is where you make money to pay back the investors and enough for you to keep going.  These two areas are woefully lacking.  That’s why I started teaching the Greenlight seminar several years ago.

Sean Patrick Flanery and Dan Millican

Sean Patrick Flanery and Dan Millican on the set of "A Promise Kept."

Often people have a story they want made into a movie and they either write the screenplay or commission the writing of the screenplay.  Then it’s an upward climb to get the script sold to a production company.  Then it’s an uphill battle for the production company to actually go into production on it.  I heard one screenwriting teacher say that if you stacked all the scripts floating around Hollywood on top of each other, they’d reach the moon.  That was ten years ago.

On Tuesday June 12, we’ll take an evening to go through these hard parts of making a movie and we’ll talk about the number one question I get asked: How do I get started?  And the second: How do I get distribution?  Sign up for your seat here at the SFilms store.

Shooting actor demos

Demo Reels for Actors

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Next demo reel shoot is June 5, Tuesday, with afternoon and evening times available.  Go to the SFilms store to register.

The actor demo reel has become extremely important for getting auditions and landing roles.  Often times, actors work for little or nothing to get the resume credit and to get a scene or something they can drop into their reel.  But time and time again, actors would talk with me about not being able to get the filmmaker to send them the scene to use.  The filmmaker just wouldn’t have time or resource.

On the set of Rising Stars

So at that point, I decided to help out the actors– what if we could do an original scene that looked as if ripped straight from an indie film and featured the actor the way they wanted to be featured?  Of course there’s some serious cost involved– I bring a real film Director of Photography and crew along, and I use high def cinematic cameras and equipment.  So I priced it as if we’re shooting for the day and split the cost between the actors, which has been $350 a person, minimum of 6 actors.

When you register, I contact you and we discuss what type of scene you need.  Our goal is a kicking 20 seconds, but usually it will be 40 sec to a minute total.  Everything we’ve shot is original.  That’s why I need you to sign up earlier rather than later– I’m going to write it just for you.  The shooting takes about 3 hours or so.  And when we’re done, I usually send you a high def quicktime file in about a week.

I’ve noticed since then, there are some others now shooting demo scenes for actors– but from what I’ve watched, it’s all a glorified audition scene.  Clearly staged, with locked off cameras and little to no editing or sound design.  I want scenes that look like they belong in a movie.  Shot with camera movement, cutting, sound design… music when needed.  This is what we do.  It’ high quality and a little mroe expensive.  But actors need to lead with their best.  Us directors aren’t going to watch much more.

But decide for yourself… checkout previous actor demos we’ve done.

Here’s one we did with teenagers Teanna Rose and Grant Griffith.  Both did a great job.

What To Bring to Screenfighting Workshops

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I’ll be sending an email out to all registered students… but thought I would post this first to let you know what to wear and bring to the screenfighting seminar this weekend.  (If you haven’t registered, click here to sign up).

Weapons Classes (Saturday)

First of all, do not bring any actual weapons to this workshop.  Our weapons master, Doug Williams will supply all equipment.  And especially don’t bring any live ammunition whatsoever.  If you have a concealed carry permit, please leave your weapon in your vehicle, locked.

Next, you will need to wear pants and a shirt you can tuck in.  This includes both male and female students.  You will need a solid belt you can clip a holster to.  And wear shoes that you can move around in.  Think about the role you might audition for– is it a police detective?  Wear what they would wear.

Screenfighting & Special Effects (Sunday)

Wear clothes you can easily exercise in.  You’ll be throwing punches and moving around.  And for special effects, for those purchasing a squib hit, you need to have layers– if you want a upper torso hit, wear a tee shirt and then a shirt you don’t mind throwing away over that.  And then bring an extra shirt and towel to change into after the hit.  Or you can wear the fake blood home, but don’t have the police officer who pulls you over call me.  (And it’s happened, btw).


Looking forward to seeing you this weekend!

Theatrical Truth

Theatrical Truth

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(This is for all my actor friends… one film director to actors.  I see a lot actor to actor, but very little from directors to actor.  BTW– we’ve got the screenfighting workshop coming up in a few weeks– click here to make sure you get your seat.)

The Quest

Theatrical TruthConstantin Stanislavski– often referred to as the father of modern acting, defined acting as the quest for theatrical truth.  I believe this is a great starting place for the craft you’re working in.  It all boils down to this– is your performance as close as possible to theatrical truth?  Personally, I believe that truth cannot be achieved in a theatrical performance (you’re performing, pretending– it’s not truth, but theatrical truth).  Does your performance ring true with the audience?

Sure, many factors go into you achieving theatrical truth in a film role.  The writing can be decidedly “untrue”.  The directing.  The production value.  The editing.  All these have to work together to achieve theatrical truth.  but as the actor, you can’t control many of these other factors.  You can only strive for theatrical truth in your performance.

Does this ring true?

The question as a director I ask myself constantly when watching the take… does this ring true?  The best demonstration of theatrical truth in an actor is when it comes across as not acting.  That it’s real.  And having acted as well, for me, I can usually tell when something felt real– mainly because it’s rare.  I think as I become a better actor, it becomes less real.

The bottom line to the question above is when you as the actor stop acting and simply become.  To Be, not to Act, is the answer.  And “to be,” requires a heavy study into the backstory of the character, the environment, the story.  Maybe researching people that are like your character.  When we hired Tom Wright to play “Popeye” in The Keyman, he went and studied homeless people.  He told me later some of the things he observed… homeless people were very respectful of other homeless people’s blankets and carts.  He looks for the “walk” of the character.

Costuming, make-up, props and sets– these can all help you get to the place where you can “be” and not act.  Theatrical truth.  Method, substitution or other acting styles and philosophy don’t really matter– only in the sense of what tool helps you get closer to theatrical truth.  For some, Method might be the route they need, others find another way.  The path to Theatrical Truth isn’t a solitary lane– I believe there’s many routes.

And yes– Theatrical Truth is largely subjective.  Look at it from the science of communication: the actor is the sender, the audience member the receiver.  To “ring true” it needs to touch on the reality of the receiver.  But reality is based the individual’s experiences.  So yes, theatrical truth can be a bit akin to nailing jello to a tree.  But there are some universals.  So just because your research into the character brought you to a link to the Weird and Rare Instances– your receiver may not have that knowledge or experience to relate to your performance.  For them, it doesn’t ring true– it’s not theatrical truth.

In the audition room, theatrical truth is an extremely difficult thing to achieve.  The audition room is incredible unnatural– “un-true.”  Your training needs to be focused on the methods you need to get to the place of “being” as quickly and seemingly effortless as possible.  On the set, you’ll have more time– in some regards, it’s a lot easier to shoot for theatrical truth.

So my actor friends– what tips and techniques do you employ to achieve theatrical truth?  I’m curious.

In the audition room

One Director’s Biggest Advice for Local Actors

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If I could say one thing to local actors to immediately help their performance in film and give them a much better chance for landing that role in auditions, I would say this:

Big is Bad.

My advice to feature film and television actors is to bring it down.  In some cases… way down.  Now this advice is not without controversy.  I’ve had one agent tell they think I’ve got it wrong… that it’s better to be too big than too small… that a director can bring a performance down to the right level more easily than bringing it up.  Not in this director’s experience.

You see, in the audition room, using a 0-9 scale on “bigness”, I have many local actors coming in at 7, 8 or 9.  I’m looking for 1.5.  Now we have to go from an 8 to a 1.5?  Sometimes on the second read through in the audition, they come down to a 6.  But you see the problem– I don’t have time to keep this up.  However, if the local actor comes in too low (a 1.0), it won’t take much to bring them up.

I think the bigness comes from the actor’s desire to show the director everything he or she is capable of.  But may of the roles available are dayplayer roles… it might be “here’s your coffee sir.”  And the local actor puts everything in it to show what an outstanding talent she is.  Too big.  Or even if it’s a principle role or a lead, film acting is so much different than theater acting… and theater is what’s available locally a lot more than film.

There have been moments in the audition room where I think if they just read the part flat with no emoting, it would be better than what they’re delivering.

Having said all that, please do remember that every director is different.  And that especially with low budget indies, often first time directors– so you can throw out the rules.  One director might be from a theatrical background and be looking for you to project to the last row in the house (heaven forbid!).  But alas, it’s the reality of what’s out there.  Do your homework before you go to the audition.  Check out the director’s background.

I believe local actors have every bit the talent of the NYC/LA actors.  What they lack is simply experience.