GUEST TEACHER | An intensive 5-day bootcamp to test your set-ready skills as an actor.
Work with partners on different scenes and develop your on-set relationship with the camera. Demystify casting and marketing.
What as a difficult challenge for you as an actor?
After graduating from drama school, I was launched into the industry and auditioned for just about everything. I got close to a few things…the famous “pencilled in” line from my agent. Then one day, I received a call with an offer! It was amazing, and it paid! It was my first professional role.
I loved the character because it was totally the opposite of who I was: I played a terrorist who was part of a global crime syndicate.
And the money was great. I couldn’t believe I actually got paid to do what I love. It’s a funny feeling, because getting that role was the best and worst thing that ever happened to me as an actor.
Let me tell you why it was the worst thing that happened to me.
When I finished that project, I became very entitled. This was my mentality towards my agent: “We need to step up our game. Don’t send me out for any more terrorist roles or Bartender #5.”
I was so naive. If I could go back, I’d slap that version of me. I couldn’t book an opening to an envelope after that. The issue was this, and I feel it’s the case with many actors: I call it the “curse of the first gig you book.”
You think you’re amazing, and then you start to believe your own hype and forget about your craft.
Fast forward six months. I’m sitting at home without a penny, and I’m thinking: “What’s going on, Yas?”
And then it hit me. I didn’t get that role because I was the best thing since Brando…I got it because I looked, walked and talked like the character.
It broke my heart to realize how the world perceived my exterior. Broke my heart. I wanted to be an actor that touched people and brought them closer together—not one that added fuel to an ever-burning flame.
So I had two choices, quit acting—because I did not want anything to do with these types of roles—or, hone my craft, and be the best evil bad guy I could possibly be. I chose the latter. Because, of course, once you play enough of those roles, people start to see talent rather than your exterior.
Moral of the story is that, as artists, we are so hungry and caught up on getting that “bigger and better role” that we can lose focus on being the artist.
It was also the best thing that happened to me: learning and knowing what my “unique selling point” was empowering. I was lucky to figure that out early on in my career.
What is the most important quality and skill for an actor in the audition room?
In the early stages of my career, I auditioned like crazy. 4–6 auditions a week. Sometimes three a day!
I was on my way to mastering my craft according to the “10,000-hour rule” (which I firmly believe in). But it actually had an adverse affect on me, and this ultimately broke me as an actor.
Why, you ask? Surely I should be seasoned by this point.
Let me give you an example that I’m sure many of us actors can relate to.
So, I waltz into auditions feeling confident in my preparation: “my choices are solid and I know my lines inside out”. In the UK, you must ALWAYS be off book. Later, I learned that this isn’t always the case in the States.
The casting director and I get to know each other in 12.7 seconds and then hit the scene.
CASTING DIRECTOR #1: That’s great, could we do it again, but give it more.
YAS: Sure thing.
CASTING DIRECTOR #2: That’s great, but could you do less.
YAS: Yeah sure, no problem.
CASTING DIRECTOR #3: That’s a really good choice, but could you raise the stakes.
YAS: Raise the stakes, absolutely.
It felt like this conflicting redirection would go on and on until one day when I’d finally say, enough is enough, and throw in the towel.
“This industry doesn’t really want anything to do with me!”
Ironically, I was booking work.
But I was never satisfied with the audition process because I lost who I was.
One person would say, “you’re acting!”
Another would say, “please, for dear life, can you act?”
AGGGHH, JUST STOP!
Thanks to my Dad, I have resilience in abundance and choose to see everything as a challenge rather than a chore. I went back to the drawing board and asked myself a few questions:
The key thing here is the word process. It’s very important for us to treat it that way, otherwise you, too, will get lost in the sauce.
My Conclusion: I was asking myself the wrong questions all along!
It wasn’t that I was the world’s worst actor or that my interpretation was way off. It was far more simple than that.
All writers are different, and so are the people in their stories.
No director has the same approach when guiding an acting performance. Some directors like the small and subtle approach of a Ryan Gosling, and some directors prefer a Viola Davis approach, where you know exactly how she feels and all is on the line.
And casting directors! They are trying to juggle all of the above, and sometimes even they don’t know what on earth to look for.
So the ultimate key is this: it doesn’t matter if you come in with the wrong choice and interpretation, and it doesn’t matter if you are very theatrical or super subtle and specific.
THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS IS THAT YOU ARE REDIRECTABLE. THAT’S IT!
This, my dear friends and colleagues, is our fail-safe.
This is what we practice in our classes together…to equip ourselves with tangible skills in order to be free and independent.
Yasen Atour, founder of Film Club, is an actor/director and producer, known for Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Ben-Hur, Marcella, The Dead Sea, Robin Hood, and The State. Founder of Palikuku Films.
“As an actor, I’ve always been obsessed with film and what makes someone compelling on screen. A number of masterclasses and workshops I took throughout my career have more or less alluded to the same things: ‘act through your eyes’ and ‘internalize more.’ As I became more comfortable and grew in experience as both an actor and director, I couldn’t help but think that there must be a clearer way to master screen acting, because at the end of the day, what does ‘acting through your eyes’ even mean? So with the actor in mind and empowerment the goal, I constructed a simple, tangible, and (importantly for us artists) affordable six-day process called Film Club.”
—YASEN ATOUR – Actor, Director & Film Club Founder [IMDb]
Yasen is a tremendous teacher! I adore his passion and care for actors. His student reviews are always so incredible and I trust him to really continue the work of launching and supporting our community (you!) out into the professional world of working on film and TV. You’ll be stretched and pulled and come up against yourself and you’ll have some incredible insights and openings in your work. Everything gets challenged, revealed, rebuilt, and refortified. He’s a gifted and inspired teacher.
*Prerequisite: Film Club London Intensive [PART 1]
This is for actors who want to deepen their on-camera confidence and skills!
Whether you’re a working actor searching for the final piece of the puzzle, a musical theatre artist ready to take the leap into film and TV, or someone that has had limited training and is keen on becoming a professional in the industry, Yasen’s class is for you. Yasen has an extraordinary skill at meeting you where you are at in your process and bringing out the best in you.
4-hour classes each day of the intensive. In this 5-day intensive, you’ll focus on the following:
Classes are limited to 8 people so Yasen can better gauge individual strengths and weaknesses. This allows for a much more intimate and tailored approach teaching.
Yasen offers a methodical and practical way for students to analyze and improve their own performance with the goal of becoming self-sufficient. You will work through:
You’ll be watching your own performances each class, and you’ll develop a highly trained “camera lens eye” for what works and what doesn’t on screen. By the end of the course, everyone can expect to be able to identify when something doesn’t translate on camera and efficiently make the adjustment.
Full disclosure—please note that we do not guarantee that actors in these workshops will be hired for any project that we might direct or cast. We do guarantee my supportive honesty and my open sharing of knowledge. We teach and coach because we enjoy supporting actors as they develop their process of working within the audition room. We seek to build their knowledge about the business of auditioning.