January 2012 - S-Films
Screenfighting Series Instructor

Meet Screenfighting Series Instructor Doug Williams

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This is our series on Screenfighting, taking place in Dallas-Fort Worth on March 24-25.  Cost is $49 per class (four classes total, with a discount if you sign up for all four). For registration, go to http://s-films.com/store .  Space is very limited. Doug Williams Doug will be teaching on Saturday March 24, both classes.  He will be teaching weapons basics in the morning.  This involves safety on the set, difference between military and law enforcement regarding weapons use, and handling of hand guns.  This is a hands-on workshop, so you’ll be handling real weapons (please do not bring your own or have any live ammo on premises). In the afternoon, for Weapons 2 Intermediate, Doug will teach about rifles and how they’re used and carried.  If time allows, we’ll workshop movement as individuals and teams. Doug has trained at some of the best facilities in the world, including Valhalla and Frontsight.  He has taken and completed weapons courses with the FBI as well as trained with military.  He understands that today’s filmmakers are requiring accurate…

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Learning to fight for the camera

Screenfighting Workshop is Back!

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The most feedback we’ve ever gotten with the seminars and workshops has been for the screenfighting one.  So we’ve scheduled a full weekend course for the Screenfighting Series.  Coming Feb 18-19, time to get your fight on and come on down to the Studios121 for some workshopping.  Class size will be limited (we had too many the first time), so it’s first come first serve. Weapons for Actors Police officers do not hide behind the corner pointing their pistols up into the air… that’s not where the bad guys are.  They don’t have a tea-cup hold on the gun either.  Unless they’re idiots.  In today’s television and film, the quest for authenticity is in full gear.  And if you look like you know what you’re doing in that audition for the law enforcement character or the military character, you’ve got a better chance of landing the role. In Saturday’s first class, our weapons master will teach you how to properly handle a pistol.  He’ll go into the why’s so you know what backstory to build…

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actor auditions rising stars

Credits on your Actor Headshot Resume

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Director to Actor I like to address the most common questions I get in the seminars and workshops.  This past Saturday, we had the Acting: A Director’s POV Child/Teen acting class, and while talking about the headshot and resume, I had a couple of recurring questions.  If you find this useful, please feel free to retweet or facebook forward this page. Extra Work Do I post all the extra work I’ve done or should I leave it off?  Does this turn off a director? Generally speaking, when I flip over the headshot to look at the resume and it’s chock full of extra listings, I mentally downgrade you at that point.  You haven’t been able to land any real roles.  And I know it’s the easiest thing in the world to be an extra on a film.  So as a guideline, don’t list extra work.  But, if that’s all you’ve got, then that’s all you got.  It is a small step up if you were a “featured extra.”  Especially in a large Hollywood film. I…

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Mixing Color in Lighting– An Example

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Lighting For Video and Film Production A Study In this picture, it’s a simple, standing interview.  A first glance, it might seem like it’s what we call “news style” interviewing.  This technique is where you catch somebody in their environment, maybe a single light coming from atop the camera.  This technique is used for quick, “man on the street” type interviews where you need it and don’t have time to light it. But this is actually more the “documentary style” lighting.  And this is a rare case where the subject is standing rather sitting.  It’s preferable to sit because a person tends to shift and sway.  It’s also why it’s best not to put them in a swivel chair if seated.  I chose this location for the lines– I really liked the long throw which added to the depth of field. For the lighting, I hung a 500 watt incandescent inside a large china ball, using a dimmer, knocked it down to maybe a 250 to 300 effective watts.  Then I used a daylight balanced…

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Lighting Color Temperature

Lighting Color Temperature

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A Primer on Light Color Temperature for Film and Video In film and video production, a common mistake for amateurs is to ignore the color temperatures of various light sources.  I had a filmmaker show me his film, asking for input.  The opening scene was a night time exterior with one instrument and shot wide.  The next was a daytime scene shot inside the back seat of a car.  The director of photography lit them with an incandescent.  The result was a very yellow look. Light is not necessarily “white.”  Light changes color when it burns at different degrees.  Our sun provides light that is burning at 5600 kelvins.  A tungsten light bulb in your house might be at 3200 kelvins.  In the old days, this was pretty much it– either your light sources were 3200 or 5600.  If you look at a white object with the camera balanced for daylight, and the light source is burning at 3200, the resulting picture will be extremely “warm” or yellow/orange.  Conversely, if you balance a white card…

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Shooting Actor Demo Reels

Demo Reel Hints from a Film Director

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What Goes Into a Good Actor Demo Reel Today, an actor needs a good demo reel. Many agents won’t even look at representing an actor if they don’t have one. So what are the elements that need to go into a demo reel to make it effective? Brevity. Us directors and the casting directors don’t have a lot of time. I’m not going to sit through a 6 minute demo. I will make it through a one minute demo. And that might even leave me wanting more. Which is what you want. Quality of Acting. I want to see beats or turns. Not just effusing drama. So you can cry. What caused your character to start crying? That’s what I want to see. Quality of Production. I understand that many actors use what they can get– that the filmmakers have been too busy to give the actor a high def quality clip. But when you do have a high quality clip, it does give a stronger impression. But bottomline– use what you’ve got. Does Slating…

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New Demo Shoot

New Demo Shoot

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Actor Demo Reel FEB 21 We are tentatively scheduling a new actor demo scene shoot for Tuesday Feb 21.  We usually shoot in the afternoon and evening (to allow for those who can’t get out of work or school).  Go to the store to register.  We need to have a minimum for the shoot to take place.  The cost is $350 per person.  But brand new– if you do two, we will give a $50 discount (use coupon code “doubledemo”) so that 2 is $650 and not $700. Go to Store. Here’s how it works: You register I contact you for headshots and to discuss your demo reel needs. I write a short scene, pairing you up with another actor who has signed up.  I try to give you 20 to 40 solid seconds and same for the other actor in your scene. A few days before the shoot, you get your call time.  We also talk about what props and wardrobe you need.  I usually supply a makeup artist. At the shoot, we’ll talk…

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Ron Gonzalez Headshots

The Actor Headshot

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Yesterday we discussed the resume (read it here).  If you’re coming to the Acting: A Director’s POV for Child/Teen actors on Jan 21, bring your headshot and resume and we’ll discuss it right there and then.  To register, go to the store. The Headshot As the director, the majority of headshots will come to me in the audition room.  Yes, throughout the year, people will hand them to me.  At church.  At industry events.  At my house unannounced and uninvited.  To my wife when I’m not there.  The truth is that outside the audition room, I don’t have a system for collecting headshots.  It might go in a folder that I forget all about.  Your best bet is to cozy up to casting directors. So you’ve appropriately handed me your headshot as you walked into the audition room (or the casting assistant handed it to me moments before you were ushered in).  I will study the picture ont he front for a moment and then flip it over to read your resume (which we covered…

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Actor Resume

Actor Resumes

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For those coming to the Acting: A Director’s POV for Teen and Children actors on Saturday Jan 21, bring your headshot and resume and we’ll talk about them.  (Register for the morning or the afternoon session here). The Resume Most of the time, I get handed a headshot as I sit behind the table about to hear your audition.  I might have been handed the headshot by the casting associate or given when you walked in the room.  I will glance at the headshot (more on the next blog) and then turn it over and read. Here’s a bullet point of things I see: SAG or SAG eligible — A very common question is whether a non SAG actor who is eligible should put “eligible” on there.  I’m fine with that.  It tells me you’ve worked on a SAG set above Ultra Low contract.  Go ahead– adds a little more credibility.  If you are neither, leave blank.  In the Dallas and Texas market, many actors choose not to join SAG because a lot of commercials…

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What’s a Parent of a Actor To Do?

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We’re going to be having another seminar on Saturday January 21.  This one is Child/Teen Acting: A Director’s POV.  To register, you can go to the store.  When I’ve taught this seminar before, I’ve gotten some very interesting questions. “The Director wanted to take my child into a different building, pretty far away from me and wouldn’t allow me to come.”  Although on the face of it, this seems a simple “hell no.”  But there are a lot of conflicting thoughts that run through the head at this moment.  You want you and your child to be a team player.  You want the director to like your child actor so that they won’t get cut.  Or their part lessened.  Or maybe the thought flitters through your head that maybe in this industry, it’s just the way it’s done… that it’s perfectly normal. Well, from this film director, let me tell you my perspective.  While it is extremely true that for many child actors, the presence of the parent within sight can mess up the performance,…

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