I partner with performers and producers alike to support their creative visions. I have been fortunate to lecture at Universities, Performance Unions, Corporate engagements and privately for the beginners and the tops of the industry. Past client’s have included: Kevin Spacey, Siegfried and Roy, Jeri Sager, Jai Rodriguez, Shayna Steele, NYU, CBS Scripted Development, UCLA, National Event Producers Association, SAG-AFTRA and hopefully you in person or via webcam sessions.
Whether the problem is the actor, director, writer or casting, I think bringing in a neutral supporter levels the egos out. Plus I can say what needs to be said, then I get to leave!
“When I was brought by the EPs in to sit around a table with their head writer and director, it was important for them to realize I was not there to place blame or get someone fired. They had little time before the network would pull the plug so there was little time for “pissing contests”. Everyone was clearly in an agitated state and egos needed a firm hand. I made it clear that the goal was for everyone to make adjustments so everyone’s talent serves the other. I explained that their biggest problem, which I knew would not be corrected, was casting. They had five, second and third string character actors but not one had that special something to anchor the group. The second problem was that all of the actors would either play a scene at completely different performance levels and genres OR they were all playing the exact same performance style. It was just all over the place. Sometimes a weak scene is the writing and sometimes it’s the directing. You can have one or the other to cover, but not both. Presenting these choices along with some cleaner and specific dialogue and joke writing stylings gave the show (as of now) a season pick up.”
“Many film and television celebrities want to go back to, or find their performance roots in theatre because doing Hollywood so long makes them feel they are no longer “organic” or respected as true “artists”. Of course theater insists upon the most unedited, raw, honest participation with your audience regardless of playing a character or being yourself. Be THE MOST yourself, is every celebrity’s greatest obstacle when I am brought in. This particular actor was no doubt extremely talented. Not only in performance ability but in how to break down the work, taking notes and integrating the adjustments automatically. But he could not just speak to the audience without sounding like a host or a presentational figure. The funny stories had inflections like your local weatherman. It was all too polished. I was brought in two days before the premiere, so like being in the army, I broke him down and then we built him back up. I may have also slapped him around a little!”
I rarely tell the artist, writer, director, actor what to do but guide them to specificity and clarity in the work. You do not want to taint their voice or style when participating. Of course time is money. So the hard part is getting them there without bankrupting the production!
– Michael Paul
“She was preparing to make a come back. The first problem was that she just wanted to sit on a stool and sing for an hour and a half. What she needed to understand was that people hadn’t seen her in a while and no one is going to pay $75.00 to watch her sit on a stool song after song. They wanted to know her. Some singers are only singers, while others are performers. This is what she needed to integrate. Her self-defined comfort zone wasn’t comfortable at all. It was my job to show her the payoff of working just a little outside the box. We did.”
“She is a club comedian on a syndicated show. I was originally asked to be on set with her and write jokes, tags, and over-all produce her. She was very attractive but her humor or style did not telegraph for television or the format she was working under. I discovered that she was not funny when her bits were scripted. So I created bullet point formats for her which allowed for riffing. Some might think this creates an editing or timing problem for production (ie, wrap-around, bumpers) but the truth is, it allowed her to be so free, she was quick and able to keep it much tighter. Later during tapings, I would create mock circumstances (unbeknownst to her) between her and a co-host to get spontaneous banter for the cameras.”
“It’s not enough to be a great actor, singer or dancer. One great talent does not give any free pass to puppeteering with lesser skill. The human body gives an artist countless tools to project the story they tell. To telegraph those layers through an inanimate object, creating a legitimate experience of reality for the audience is much more difficult if you want the audience to forget about the puppeteer. Many times, puppeteering short circuits the performer’s other skills they are use to accessing.
I have been fortunate to coach actors as well as puppeteers which has allowed me to bridge the gap and drop breadcrumbs for the performer to have a pathway from the source to the output emotionally as well as technically.”
“… such a pro and so fun to work with. The pleasure was all ours.” Carter Swan, Executive Producer – Trigger Street Productions