How do you get in the room for Film/TV auditions, do you have to have an agent? Can theatre training alone prepare you for Film/TV?
Thanks for your amazing questions. Yes, in NYC, you definitely need at least an agent to get TV/Film auditions and in LA, both an agent and a powerful manager. But here's the good news, I have an amazing video that talks about how to do just that. Click here and let me know what you think:
I think the one thing you can use from theatre training is the listening and responding truthfully skill that Meisner clarifies so simply. Beyond that, TV/Film acting (especially given the new variety of genres) is a completely different world from theatre acting.
Please take it from me: I have tons of Shakespeare, Regional theatre, broadway and off broadway credits, plus an MFA. It wasn't until I hired a coach to teach me how to use the camera in the audition room, but also how to work on set that I started booking TV/Film which is now my primary medium.
There is a stillness that comes from the reduced language and psychology of the character that film/tv requires that the theatre does not. The theatre gives you language, the camera only wants the subtext of your soul which lives in the eyes. The minute, you start acting, or working from your homework or your emotional preparation that the theatre teaches you, the camera reads that as too much. The stillness on camera comes (not from just saying to yourself "be still"), but rather from a clarity and self confidence in the idea that if you meditatively put all of your focus on the other person and what they're saying and respond moment to moment truthfully, in the present, then the camera reads that as true. It's a skill and I've yet to have any theatre training or experience prepare me for it. Theatre training, the method, Uta Hagen, Meisner, Strassberg, Michael Chekhov, etc...all of those were created in a time when theatre was where TV/Film stars were discovered and the sets of Hollywood studios worked in the theatre format. Now we have half-hour single-cam mockumentary, indie film with it's simplicity and stillness, major primetime episodics with reduced psychological language and fast paced camera moves that has changed the nature of the acting dramatically.
The only way to learn that skill is to get in a room with a coach who knows how to act for the on-camera genres most prevalent now in the industry, who has major credits and tons of experience teaching. Otherwise, you do yourself a disservice because the industry is changing so rapidly that anyone not currently working in it is not teaching the most up to date forms of acting and styles. That's all I got!
Good luck and godspeed!
April Yvette Thompson