10 Talent interviews Acting Coach Jane Moffat
Welcome to the 10 Talent Blog/Vlog! A bit about myself… I am Sarah Matton, Founder and Director of 10 Talent Management. Over the past decade I have worked professionally in the field of musical theatre. I’m also the Co-Creator of the only temp agency for dance teachers in Canada, Quick Ball Change. I’ve been inspired to start a mini series blog to share my knowledge as well as speak to those who work professionally in the industry. This is just meant to be an informal chat so we can hopefully all learn something and I hope you enjoy!
This Blog is for every Actor who questions themselves, feels stagnant in their craft or is just interested in more training! I believe it always goes back to the training and putting in the work. I was lucky enough to interview Actor and Coach, Jane Moffat. I especially appreciated her tips on self tapes!
YOU CAN FIND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT JANE MOFFAT AND HER CLASSES AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS BLOG POST!
Jane Moffat has been a professional actor for 41 years and an acting teacher/coach for 25 years. She studied acting at The Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute in Los Angeles and was fortunate to work with Lee Strasberg himself. She then went on to work and study at The Actors Studio in New York for four years. In 2008, Jane received a Chalmers grant to attend a Method Acting, Teaching and Directing workshop in Asolo, Italy to further refine her studies.
Jane is now based in Toronto where she continues to act and audition in the industry. “I love being able to bring back to the classroom what I do on set and to practice on set what I teach in the classroom!”
Jane’s approach to acting is influenced by Lee Strasberg’s Method and draws from other seminal teachers as well. “I focus on relaxation and emotional release in order to identify and act on impulse as well as some script analysis and imaginative work.”
1 | What do you notice most actors are lacking today?
I would say that would be trust in themselves. It’s not about actors today in particular though. Trust is something I believe we innately have but when we try something and we “fail” enough or if we are shamed or misinterpret formative feedback as a shaming, then we start to watch, control and second-guess our thoughts, feelings and impulses. We no longer trust that we and our choices can be truly great.
2 | Common mistake Actors make walking in the room?
In my opinion the biggest mistake is not believing the people in the room are rooting for you! They want you to be the one! Think about it: you’ve been chosen to audition for a particular role by the person holding the audition-the casting director. That means they think you are right for the role. So you’re on the courts! The people in the room hope it works for both you and them.
Sometimes we don’t give the best auditions in which case you get a few more chances to prove yourself capable. However, MOST OF THE TIME it has nothing to do with whether you nailed the audition or not. It comes down to whether you look enough like the lead to be cast as their sister or son or whether you have blonde hair or dark curly hair. In some cases you just remind the producer of their Ex. and until you no longer remind them of their Ex. they’ll never cast you.
3 | The importance of a demo reel
Huge. You must have one. Sometimes casting happens off a demo! Because we are in the digital age it is easier than ever to get or make material for a reel. If you’re looking for representation and out of five submissions yours is the only one lacking a demo, the other four actors have an advantage over you and as we know, acting is a very competitive business. They get seen, you don’t. .
4 | What are some tips for a good self-tape
- IF it’s a big shot at something pay for a coaching/self tape. I do this for folks all the time. It’s worth the money as you get a coach, reader and camera person all in one! On average, though I’d say you can do at home with your phone or tablet.
- If you’re doing at home you still need someone to shoot it and read for you. Your reader ideally should be someone who reads well-can connect a little bit and can get through a scene clean. Your reader should not be so loud that it distracts from your audition.
- If you are doing a lot of self tapes, go online and order a light with a stand and a tripod for your phone or tablet. It will immediately make your tape look more professional. Depending on the color of your walls you can also get a backdrop screen in mottled blue or gray like they have in casting studios.
- Shoot your audition tight from just above the chest and leave just a little room up top above the head. We should be able to tell the color of your eyes! Film the rehearsal and then play it back to check the level of the performance. When you watch it is the tone right? Is it naturalistic? Is it compelling? Then you can make adjustments before you do takes.
- Know where the scene takes place and look around. You don’t have to eye lock the reader-it’s unnatural. I place an imaginary door on one side of the room and a window on the other and I find a place during scene to look at one or both. Different eye lines for different folks in the scene-make the reader the character you interact with the most and then choose where the others would be.
5 | How Do Actors learn their angles for film?
I’ve personally never been concerned with that. If you think you have a better side then you can try always to favor that side. The rest comes from experience. You start to become more aware of the camera (in a good way) and you do need that but in the beginning showing you are present and able to listen really well is more important. Rule of thumb is if you can’t see the camera it can’t see you.
6 | What are some things actors can do on their own to hone their skills?
Take class! Take technique class and scene study and on camera! My class is a combination. Also, read everything you can on acting and actors and technique and acting history-please! Watch films and great series-as a pro! You are watching to learn (and yes you can still eat popcorn ).
Everything you learn in class along with what you read and watch has to be implemented-constantly. Otherwise you won’t develop yourself and your artistry. .
7 | What courses do you offer that could be most beneficial for Film Actors?
I have an on camera scene study class Thursday night at 7 pm at Milestones casting. I also do a Method intensive occasionally. The next one will most likely be in October.
This class is a must if you find you watch yourself when you are performing, that you always feel the need to indicate feelings rather than actually be emotionally available and if you are chronically nervous in auditions or when performing.
7b | When?
The next On camera session starts October 3rd and folks can sign up anytime at https://janemoffat.org/
This class will fill up quickly as there are only 12 spots and a number of those who are in the current session will be signing up for the next one as well. So if you are interested I would suggest enrolling soon. I had a waiting list for September.
8 | What are your recommendations for Musical Theatre Actors who want to do commercial work?
Remember commercials are about look and personality. Look the part and have fun in the room. Don’t stress about lines. Learn them conversationally by doing out loud so you don’t surprise yourself when you open your mouth at the audition! If you blow a line nobody cares-it happens. They just want you to let it go and do another take. If it’s seen on camera only-no lines, then just go for it! But as though it were for real. .
9 | What advice would you give Actors who are up and coming?
Keep focused on the work. Nobody ever arrives. If you start thinking you don’t need to learn anymore, other people will pick up on that and it’s a big turn off. It will get in your way if you really want to be a fine actor ( and Human). .
10 | What advice would you give actors who you feel they have hit a plateau?
Question why that is? Get feedback on your work and auditions. You may have got yourself into a pattern and are not inspired.
If a plateau is about not getting bigger roles or auditions for bigger roles than it has to do with your acting. You have come up against your limitations-which is exciting because you can “fix” that by working in a class or with a coach privately.
If the plateau is about not booking. Again, if you’re not booking small roles it’s most likely your acting. If you have recently moved up to supporting lead and lead auditions congrats! But here’s the thing-you may now have a booking ratio of 1 out of 30 instead of 1 out of 3 because everybody you’re competing against is just as good as you or better and some of them may be more established. So then it’s a matter of letting go of the audition immediately after and making sure you have other things in your life other than acting or you will lose your mind waiting for a booking. I speak from experience. I now meditate daily and do spiritual! and personal development in the morning. I also volunteer with an environmental action group. I do as much as I can that is outside of the acting world now in my life so that when I am not acting don’t feel like I cease to be.