Sunday, November 19, 2017

Interview with Jay Chapin

This is an excerpt from an interview I did on Skype with Jay Chapin of Dragonuk Connects about branding and marketing for actors.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Action/ReAction: Examples of responsive reactions

This scene from my movie Point of Departure shows responsive reactions in a completed scene. Notice that I purposely removed her reaction before she says "Why is that?" and again before ""Where is he now?" so the next reaction would have more force. In the next two exchanges, using the responsive reactions escalated the emotional tension and amplified the impact of the scene.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

An actor's job is not to be in the moment...

An actor's job is not to be in the moment but rather to put the audience in the moment. If you have ever been upset and no one realized it, you see that actually feeling an emotion is not an effective way of making the audience feel it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Let me give you a roadmap...

In this Skype session with Buggsy, we are working on branding via the foundational element of Action/ReAction--phrasing. The unique way he phrases dialogue I've written for him says as much about the brand identity as the words spoken like with Christopher Walken, Joe Pesci or John Malkovich. Even before the additional layers of emphasis, interstitials and tonalities have been added, the brand has already made quite an impression on us and has become memorable in a few short sentences...

Friday, March 6, 2015

Admission to The Club

Rehearsing with James Poole a section of the one-man show I have written, The Club, during a Skype session yesterday...

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

An exercise in nonverbal communication

Anyone who enjoyed Bob Hoskin's performance in the final scene of The Long Good Friday or Annie Girardot's similar scene in Claude Lelouch's Un homme qui me plaît (Love is a Funny Thing) will recognize something in this exercise of nonverbal communication recorded during a Skype session with James Poole. All that is missing is a score from Francis Monkman or Francis Lai.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What Rembrandt can show you about acting

Actors would be well served to study the faces in the paintings of Rembrandt to see the degree of unspoken thought and profound emotion in them and bring those to each performance...

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Creating a demand for your brand via resonance

As we go into this subject, let’s get clear on the concept of resonance. Merriam-Webster defines resonance as:

A vibration of large amplitude in a mechanical or electrical system caused by a relatively small periodic stimulus of the same or nearly the same period as the natural vibration period of the system.
This means that a relatively small input of a wavelength provokes a relatively large response in the receiving entity if it shares the same wavelength. How do we use this natural fact to create a demand for an actor’s brand?

We must recognize that emotions—like colors—are wavelengths. Each one has its own properties and will affect the people who perceive them differently. An angry person with resonate to anger but others, too, will have a reaction even if it isn’t resonance.

The task of an actor wishing to grow an audience for his or her brand is to resonate as many of the 'emotional groups' in an audience as possible rather than stirring up his or her own anger (for example) and playing an entire scene in that one emotion thereby resonating only the one group of angry people. Showing a multiplicity of emotions will make the performance more nuanced and fascinating but, of prime importance, more involving to the audience as a result of resonating a greater number of groups in the audience...

Monday, August 25, 2014

Feedback from Joy White

This is feedback from Joy White following her first session of Action?ReAction instruction with me:

Dear Professor Mitchell,

Hope that gave you a laugh. 

I really enjoyed today's lesson. I truly appreciate the one-on-one training I received from you today. I felt like you ushered the topics and class along perfectly. I was surprised to learn how all the inner stitching of emotions come into play. I feel you have a plethora of knowledge and I am excited to learn your technique. 

I can't wait to sing and dance next week.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Orchestrating a monologue with Action/ReAction

I wrote this monologue tailored to Phil's brand signature as an actor. He orchestrated the piece nicely using his own phrasing, 15 interstitials and 4 tonalities--very nice orchestration and use of the technique.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A review from my new student Louella

Stephen Mitchell is a great teacher for me.

He is intelligent, insightful and perceptive, as well as generous and patient with a great sense of humor. Add to these great qualities that he is full of experiences and knowledge of how to be a great actor and how to maneuver in this business. I feel so grateful to have found him as my teacher!

For such a green person in this media business of being an actress is quite challenging. I know talent gets me to the first meeting or audition. I was going in with a feeling of trepidation and not knowing what to do to best show I can get the job done. I knew I needed professional directions. Now with only three individual sessions, I feel I can perform like an actress with some legitimate schooling, with some know-how.

Stephen's non-judgmental personality gets right into teaching me the mechanics of how to perform right away from the first class. I only recently got into acting because I was approached by casting agents so this is a brand new world to me. I was stunned it only took him about 10 minutes to come up with a branding statement for me as an actress. He was able see what I have been trying to convey to others, the kind of actress I'm most capable of being.

In the next few minutes he even crafted from scratch a monologue! That's a seasoned professional I'd say. 

Stephen is generous because I can tell he does not hold any information back when it comes to teaching a person to be a better actor. He has quite a few tricks up his sleeves and he is happy to teach with patience. I say this because I have gone to other acting classes where you know the teacher is not telling you all that they know because they fear their students getting better then they are.

I am so happy my teacher cares about my acting career!


Thursday, June 5, 2014

A successful audition

This note is from Erin Nordseth who is studying with me. I tell my actors that a successful audition is one in which they upgrade you to a larger role:

"Hi Stephen,

Here is my audition recap for you: Actors didn't get the sides until they called your name. Basically would have about 5mins with them. Turns out my character didn't have any lines so no sides for me.

Went in and after usual pleasantries, they asked if I could do a monologue since there weren't any sides. No problem, did the one we worked on last week. Then they asked me to read for another character (much larger part). So I had the sides for about 30 seconds but, and this is HUGE, I felt so much more confident using the techniques we discussed and I practiced with you and I was pleased with my reading, no rushing through, got phrasing etc. so we will see what happens."

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Being a hero onscreen...

The trick to being a hero on screen is to work in strategic moments of ineptness...

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Ashana Jones comments on Stephen Mitchell's Action/ReAction

I had the honor of attending a six week intense acting course with Stephen Mitchell and all I can say is wow!!!  Stephen Mitchell taught me so many valuable (and original) techniques that I was able to implement in auditions immediately! I was more comfortable and confident in the auditions right away.  The tips and techniques that he shared with me are priceless.  Stephen Mitchell is extremely knowledgeable and experienced yet he was down to earth enough to get on my level and assure that I grasped each and every technique… I would highly recommend Stephen Mitchell's six week intensive course to any actor looking to improve their skill set!!!!!!

Ashana Jones

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Junior Rodriguez Molina comments on Action/ReAction

Wow! This is the word that comes to my mind every time I think about Stephen Mitchell's  "Action/ReAction" classes. What a wonderful way of teaching! What patience! Every minute, every second is enjoyable and gives you confidence. Really wonderful techniques. Stephen helps you to discover your brand and how to work with it. You've got to take these classes; you won't regret it, believe me.  Stephen is bringing to the table something different and I assure you, it works, "no doubt, no doubt" like Key & Peele say!

Viva Stephen Mitchell! Viva Action Reaction!

Thank you very,very much,
Junior Rodriguez Molina

Friday, April 18, 2014

Michelle learns about the 'Earring'

In this Skype lesson, Michelle has just learned about the 'Earring', something to accessorize a scene with a display of emotion played in four stages that goes unexplained and makes an impact on a scene...

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Why Action/ReAction?

Q: Why do you think it is important that actors learn your technique and put it to use?

Stephen: What an actor learns in the six-week course comes from over twenty years of my developing and refining the technique. Those attending the most recent class learned an element of Action/ReAction that was entirely new--no one had ever heard it before--which gave them something even long-time students of mine haven't received.

Perhaps the most important reason to take the course is that you cannot make up time lost in creating your career. It took me ten years from the time I knew I wanted to make films until I finally made my first film in Paris. That's just too long to wait for something that is so important. The most frequent feedback I get from actors about the course is that it is the best class they have ever taken.
(Artwork by Tom Gurnee)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

I've been taking Stephen Mitchell's 6 week Action/Reaction course...

I've been taking Stephen Mitchell's 6 week Action/Reaction course. Four weeks into the course I had an audition for a short film. In the workshop we were working on performing emotions and using them as interstitials. We had also just talked about using an emotion as an "earring", an emotional show-stopper, to make a point. When I was in a cold read for the short film, I used these techniques and they worked great. In the script, one of my directions was to laugh. So instead of just laughing, I used grief as an interstitial and enthusiasm (laughing) as the earring. Because I did this, it changed the performance and added a deeper meaning to my emotion. Because of this, at the end of my audition the director told me what a powerful performance I gave and I ended up getting the part.

Charles Gilbert

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Another comment about the 6-week course

Stephen Mitchell taught us so much about branding, actions/reactions, emotions and how to work through even impromptu auditions. He has a way of explaining things that even someone new to the business would be able to learn from these techniques.

My daughter now has a monologue, a brand statement, a brand style, she has learned the things she needs to do to make herself a more memorable actor/model. I feel that she can now take charge and have strong audition, with or without my presence.

I recommend this course for anyone that is in the business or is thinking of going in the business, that wants to succeed. You will not find a better teacher than Stephen Mitchell. He is honest, understanding, will take the time to make sure that you are learning what he is teaching you. You will have the opportunity to practice with him and with the other students that are taking the course. If you miss a class, he will make sure that it is made up. He actually works with you, until you get it right for you.

Sarah and Barbara-Hope James