CONVERSATIONS with Yasen Atour
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 with my agent: “We need to step up our game. Don’t send me out for any more ‘Terrorist’ roles, or ‘Bartender # 5s’.”
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 “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: “Whats 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 li
It broke my heart to realize how the world perceived my exterior. Broke my heart. I wanted to be an actor to touch people and bring them closer together – not add 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. Of course, because 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.
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 ten thousand hour rule” (which I firmly believe). But actually it had an adverse affect on me which ultimately broke me as an actor.
Why, you ask? Surely I should be seasoned by this point.
Let me give you an example, as I’m sure many of us actors can relate…
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.
CASTING DIRECTOR 2
That’s great, but could you do less.
Yeah sure, no problem.
CASTING DIRECTOR 3
That’s a really good choice, but could you raise the stakes.
Raise the stakes, absolutely.
It felt like this conflicting redirection would go on and on until one day 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 is a challenge rather than a chore. I went back to the drawing board and asked myself a few questions:
- Who Am I?
- Do I have any talent or am I wasting my time here?
- Why is this “process” dragging me into places I never knew existed?
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 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, it doesn’t matter if you are very theatrical or super subtle and specific.
…THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS IS… THAT YOU ARE RE-DIRECTABLE… THAT’S IT!
This, my dear friends and colleagues, is our fail-safe.
This is what I practice in our Classes together… to equip ourselves with tangible skills in order to be free and independent.
WHO IS THIS CLASS GOOD FOR?
This is for actors who want to dig deeper into their confidence and skills of working on camera!
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 will invigorate you. Yasen has an extraordinary skill at meeting you where you are at in your process and bringing out the best in you.
WHAT YOU GET
Twenty-four hours of class time spanning six days. It’s an Intensive! It will launch you in to the next audition season with gusto.
In the 6 Day Intensive you’ll focus on and work through:
- Expressing how you feel physically
- Blocking for camera
- Internal monologue
- Finding the beats
Using imagination and empathy
Physicality of character
What are you selling
How to market the product (you)
On set skills
Relationship with agents/manager
Creating your own lane
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 to 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:
- Translating emotion on screen
- Breaking down scripts using imagination and empathy
- Efficiently identifying and making performance adjustments
- Demystifying the industry
You’ll be watching your own performances each class and will 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.
Simply put, this class demystifies performing for the camera. It covers Yasen’s unique three-step process to acting on screen and also explores:
- Script Analysis
- Scene Work
- Working on Set
- Finding work and representation
- Marketing yourself and furthering your career
Film Club founder, Yasen Atour is an actor/director and producer, known for Mission: Impossible –Rouge 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 had taken 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. “
WHAT THEY SAY
What before felt like WORK now feels more like PLAY. His tools are very clear and he did a fantastic job revealing to us how we are already capable of said tools. Once again, I’m walking away from Heidi Marshall Studios feeling empowered, inspired, and excited for the future!
- Jim deProphetis www.jimdeprophetis.com/
I will run with gusto to do my homework and crack that script instead of shying away or feeling inadequate. It was amazing! I am looking forward to practicing, and adding sense memory as well as other techniques I’ve studied to this wonderful technique!
- Callie Jean calliejeanlewis.com
Yas’ approach has taken out the mysticism of acting. There are things that I can do to make the scene make sense. I finally feel like I have a tangible process to approach scripts that will land me in the truth of what is going on with the character. I am excited now to analyze scripts and figure out how to play with a character. This has changed my understanding of acting as a whole, but has also given me answers on how to prepare for auditions. I think it will be a game-changer in my preparation. Yas has re-inspired a desire within me to be a craftsman. I love the technique in all of this, and I love the idea that I will always be able to get better. However, he’s given me the tools to go into the real world and just do my best. It’s humbling but also extremely empowering. I’m ready to hit this fall for auditions because I’m no longer asking the question, “How did I do?” I’m asking, “Did that make sense?”
- Sarah Sawyer www.sarahesawyer.com/
Fantastic experience. A great opportunity to get past my ego, let go (temporarily) of my past training and go back to zero with an open mind. Yasen gained our trust, kicked our asses in a positive way, and gave us tangibles to enhance our work. He was a breath of fresh air, coming from abroad, and a different kind of life experience than many of us. I feel like not only do I have a better structure to approach scenes but feel like I turned a corner in embracing learning experiences as growth in acting. I feel so much less fragile. I will also, sit down and do this work on every script that I work on. I have a clearer and deeper respect and understanding of the value in honoring the story (and not self indulging). This has been extremely freeing. This class has transformed my approach to my work both in the room and beforehand in my prep. It has given me a concrete toolkit both for better understanding what is going on in a script and then translating that to the camera/audience. I signed up for this class because I was feeling frustrated. This class has given me super actionable tools to help me close that gap and deliver the performance I want to. It has put me back in the drivers seat and empowered me to feel more in control of how I show up in the room and/or on set. It’s also given me a different perspective on how to use the other tools in my toolkit (like emotional prep and techniques like Meisner) in a way that offers me more freedom and fluidity. I loved the emphasis on storytelling and the building blocks of how we as humans understand and parse a story. The intensive format gave me the opportunity to fully immerse into what we were doing and give it all my focus.
- Drew Valins www.drewvalins.com
This class has impacted me on so many different levels. I am already preparing material differently, feeling more confident, and looking at material in a whole new way. I’ve actually gotten more excited looking at scripts and working out all the different emotional beats, making sure I know my inner monologue throughout, monitoring my voice and making sure there is change (as we found I have a tendency to keep the rhythm the same), allowing my physicality to exhibit what the character is really feeling, allowing “bridges” to bridge the beats as needed, and really allowing the time for those emotional shifts to happen (aka don’t rush it!). Needless to say, preparing material has become much richer and more specific for me. Class with Yas was absolutely fantastic! Truly, it was a game changer. He has so much knowledge, and he is able to readily break down that knowledge into a “process” or “technique guideline” which we can then apply ourselves and see immediate results. He is an incredibly generous individual. The class was challenging, fun, moving, educational; he always had us on our toes. And he has me excited about the future.
- Jen Bendick www.imdb.com/name/nm8947959/
I feel very jazzed by Yasem’s workshops. It was an excellent experience all the way around; time to try new things, games to get us on our feet, individual and group practice time with the new concepts. It was the jump start for my “back to school” season of tidying up my game. Yasem brought a new spin on traditional concepts as well as presented some useful tools I had not thought about before. Yasen recommended that we do our work and most importantly have fun, remember we are actors and creators for life. Love that.
- April Armstrong www.aprilarmstrong.com/
This class has been a game changer for me! It helped me connect deeply to the range of emotions within and how to utilize them while creating my character.
- Joanie Whelan joanmariewhelan.com/
Yas is such a generous teacher, and also refreshingly honest. Film Club felt like a very safe space in which to fail… something that ironically brought out some of my best work. Highly recommend to anyone who works on-screen – even if you’re a seasoned pro, Yas will no doubt find ways for you to grow and evolve. Thank you, Yas!!
- Steph Jack www.imdb.com/name/nm7674587/?ref_=nv_sr_1
We see many talented actors who fall a little short when it comes to acting for screen. After watching the radical transformation of our clients who attended (Film Club), this is an absolute game changer.
- GAVIN MILLS, Olivia Bell Management pro.imdb.com/company/co0122967/?ref_=fn_al_co_1
Great class – very specific to film and tv which you don’t get in many other courses with lots of on screen practice. Helps you create in depth, interesting and nuanced performances for screen – highly recommended!
- Diana Carolina Bermudez www.imdb.com/name/nm6946524/
It was the very craft-heavy class I needed after loosing a big gig.
- Jessica Krueger
Being rusty from having left the biz, I feel empowered having this training. I’m much more confident in myself than before class. Would highly recommend this class to everyone!
- JJ Choi
I signed up for this class because I knew I had a weakness in the area of camera technique and I hoped it would help me solve the question of why I wasn’t able to fully translate the work I was trying to do in a way that read for camera. This class did that for me, but it also was so much more than I’d hoped for. I got new insight into the art and the craft of acting, inspiration to create more and a rich understanding of film as a medium for storytelling. I also made friends in the class who I hope to continue to work with and build community with – Yas helped us go from a group of strangers to a real team. I will definitely be recommending Yas’s work to any of my friends who are able to study with him, whether here or in the UK.
- Bridget Randolph