Screenwise Diploma of Screen Acting (10065NAT) students attended the ADG awards, and ten of them also assisted in the presenting of the awards. Many producers and directors during the dinner afterwards made mention on how beautifully the students conducted themselves. Screenwise couldn’t be prouder.
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Original article at The Sydney Morning Herald by Neena Bhandari
Published 30 December 2013
Neena Bhandari from the Sydney Morning Herald visits a Sydney Acting School and discovers a course that prepares actors for the special demands of a screen career.
Acting has been Jordan Hinck’s favourite pastime but, as a country kid growing up on a Western Australian farm, he had not envisaged a career in the glitzy, glamorous world of film and television. It wasn’t until the pressures of an engineering degree took him away from acting that he realised how much he missed it. The two-year, full-time diploma of screen acting at Screenwise in Sydney’s Surry Hills became his obvious choice.
Jordan says, “I was attracted to the screen and wanted to learn and master something new as all my previous acting had been for stage. This diploma covers the full spectrum of creative and technical skills required to become a professional screen actor.”
Applicants are assessed on their talent, aptitude and storytelling skills. Level of experience in the industry is not a consideration.
As Screenwise director and chief executive Denise Roberts says, “The film industry isn’t made up of beautiful people alone, there are ample opportunities for actors who have something different to offer, something special that lights up the screen. However, an individual does need to have the passion, intelligence and drive to succeed as an actor.”
In this highly competitive industry, where budgets are low and schedules tight, producers want talented actors who are technically sound, too.
“With the majority of renowned acting schools in Australia focusing on theatre, this diploma gives students the crucial skills and knowledge required to pursue a career in the film and television industry,” Roberts says.
“Earlier, if you weren’t a theatre actor you weren’t really considered an ‘actor’. Today, the worm has turned and without a strong screen profile, it is difficult for actors to progress in any facet of acting.”
Roberts, who has worked as an actress and director in theatre, television and films for over three decades, says acting for the screen requires the same tools as theatre, but application of those tools is very different.
“For example, voice is still an important instrument in both mediums and both mediums require resonance and control. However, voice projection required on stage is not needed on a set.”
This diploma is designed to teach screen performance and screen presence. While the course includes theatre as a unit and the graduates do perform live on stage at their industry presentation, students are continually recording their performances on camera and use the technology in class on a daily basis.
Hinck says, “The camera captures every moment and nuance. The camera can be locked on your face and you have to put your entire body’s emotion in your eyes. Also, when performing in a play, the actor is required to perform each scene consecutively, but on a set the actor is required to shoot out of sequence over and over again, stopping and starting and often picking up the dialogue at different intervals. It takes great skill and discipline to create the same performance each time and perform the exact same tasks for each take.”
For aspiring screen actors such as Hinck, the course provides in-depth theoretical and practical knowledge of the industry.
He says, “We are groomed in not just the skills we need, but also how to confidently handle various aspects of the film industry in the real world. We work closely with leading and current professional actors, directors and casting consultants, which provides us with rare networking opportunities. So by the end of two years, we would have learnt the ropes of show business.”
The course comprises 14 core units, including screen combat, character building, movement and voice for screen, accents, and business management.
“Acting is a unique occupation,” Hinck says. “As an actor you never stop learning and you are always being critiqued so you must be open to learning and improving.”
The film industry is arguably one of the toughest industries. Very few succeed and there’s no fixed income. Hinck says, “An actor is paid on the basis of the work you get and that is the reason why it is so important to be the best in your field. I have 18 students in my class who will be completing the diploma end of 2014 and we will all be looking for work.”
Hinck would like to work in the Australian film industry before moving overseas to enhance his prospects. Screenwise alumni who have moved to the US include Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Todd Lasance (Spartacus), Stef Dawson (Hunger Games) and Ashley Cummings (Puberty Blues).
The diploma requires 20 hours a week attendance and costs $32,000 in fees. It is accredited with the Australian skills quality authority (ASQA), and approved for VET fee-help for domestic students and by the Commonwealth register of institutions and courses for overseas students (CRICOS). Applications open on August 31 and close on November 15 each year.
Image courtesy of Sydney Morning Herald
Original article at FilmInk written by Eden Caceda
Edited on 10 January 2014
Aussie Thriller Wraps
A low-budget local thriller – taking its cues from classic eighties flicks – has just wrapped shooting in New South Wales.
Written and directed by Tom Danger, Lead Me Astray takes cues from the atmosphere-heavy and synth-driven horror films of the 1970s and 80s and transports them to a modern day thriller.
Danger’s film follows a young veterinary student, Alexis Willard (Jace Pickard), as a single act of violence causes his life to come crashing down around him, exposing his mysterious past and putting the love of his life Lacey (Alannah Robertson) in unspeakable danger.
Taking stylistic and thematic inspiration from classic thriller films like to John Carpenter’s 1976Assault On Precinct 13 and Dario Argento’s 1977 Suspiria, Danger also quotes Carpenter’s 1981Escape From New York as huge influence on the upcoming project. “Many films of the 1970s and 80s took a lot of risks and tried a lot of new things,” the filmmaker says. “Argento’s Suspiriautilised a wide variety of abstract lighting and a lot of primary colours that made the entire film look like a waking nightmare and so surreal. There’s a lot of that inspired kind of lighting in Lead Me Astray.”
Having graduated from the Screenwise Acting School, lead actor Jace Pickard has appeared inCIA: Crime Investigation Australia, Deadly Women and Sailor Moon fanfilm Dead Moon Circus, but scores his first feature lead turn with Lead Me Astray. “When Tom first sent me the script and asked me to audition for Alexis, it was very late at night and I thought, ‘Okay, I will read the first half and then read the rest tomorrow.’ But once I got into it, I just couldn’t stop reading. I had never portrayed a character before with this much baggage and really wanted to be this ticking time bomb of a man that could snap at any moment.”
Another chilling aspect of the film comes in the form of Alexis himself, a protagonist who isn’t entirely good either, facing his own personal demons. “He’s a very bright man but there are a lot of skeletons in his closet. He has been running from his past for most of his life and has spent half of his life in therapy,” Pickard says.
Talking about the feel of the film, Pickard believes the appreciation of old horrors is being lost. “I absolutely loved John Carpenter’s Halloween growing up. It was just something that audiences had never seen before and being a 90’s kid, I still prefer that film over stuff that we see nowadays.”
With Lead Me Astray currently in post-production, Danger sees a bright future for the film. “The wonderful thing about genre films is that the fan base is so passionate and festival organisers cater to people who have those tastes,” says the filmmaker, who hopes the film will have a successful run on the festival circuit. “There’s a lot of film festivals directly targeted at films like this, for example A Night of Horror right here in Australia and After Dark in Toronto, so you can see your film go to a huge amount of different places and find its audience.”
Original article at news.com.au
Published 6 January 2014
Nine has teased this explosive telemovie over summer, giving viewers some insight into what looks set to be one of the most controversial programs of 2014. Krew Boylan is mesmerising as Schapelle Corby, while Denise Roberts gives a master class in physical transformation as Corby’s mother Ros. Directed by A Better Man’s Khoa Do, it is yet to be scheduled (with programmers hoping to time their run with Corby’s parole release).
Krew Boylan will play convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby in the Channel 9 telemovie Schapelle.
Image courtesy of Channel 9
Original article at Sunraysia Daily written by Terryn Whiteoak
Published on 13 December 2013
JD Pinnington, a former St Joseph’s College drama student, is now at the Screenwise Acting School in Sydney.
WIELDING weapons in front of a camera might be daunting for the average Joe, but for former St Joseph’s College student Jayden “JD” Pinnington, it’s an exciting opportunity.
JD has spent the past 12 months getting his hands dirty at Sydney’s Screenwise Acting School, where he’s been educated on choreographing fight scenes and engaging in on-screen combat.
For more of this story, purchase your copy of Friday’s Sunraysia Daily 13/12/2013.
Are you blocking your creativity? For the past 25 years, John Cleese (Monty Python), has been doing research on the subject of creativity. Every actor who strives to produce great work needs to know the answers to two important questions: 1- How do creative people produce their stuff ? 2- How can you be more creative? The following is an excerpt taken from his talk at Video Arts in London, in which he reveals the key elements to becoming more creative and what you can do to stop blocking your creativity.
Brian Bates, a researcher and psychologist on creativity confirmed what Dr. Donald W. McKinnon, a researcher in human personality at the University of California at Berkeley stated back in the 60′s, “Creativity cannot be explained! ” But, he did discover precisely what creativity isn’t. “Kind of like when a famous sculptor was asked how he carved such a beautiful elephant, he replied, ‘He took a big piece of marble and carved away everything that didn’t look like an elephant.’” John cleeseCleese continues to explain that contrary to belief, creativity is not a talent, it is a way of operating. It is not an ability that you either have or don’t have and it is absolutely unrelated to a person’s IQ. McKinnon showed that those people regarded by their peers as being the most creative had acquired a facility for simply getting themselves in a particular mood which allowed their natural creativity to emerge. To put it simply, they had the ability to play. To be childlike, play with ideas and explore them for enjoyment. They operated in an open system vs. a closed system. Creativity is not possible in the closed mode. The closed mode has lots of stress, anxiety, impatience, and tension. It is a humorless place where only the the pressure of getting things done exists. Whereas, the open mode is relaxed, expansive, humorous, and playful. Curiosity is operant, not pressure. One of Alfred Hitchcock’s co-writers described working with him on a screenplay when they were up against a block. “When discussions became very heated and intense, Hitchcock would suddenly stop and tell a story that had nothing to do with the task at hand. At first, the coworker was almost outraged, but then he discovered that Hitchcock did this intentionally, because he mistrusted working under pressure. He would say, ‘We’re pressing, we’re working too hard, relax and it will come.’ And of course it always did.”
Cleese elaborates that the open mode is relaxed and easy so that your creativity can flow, but once you have your ideas you must go into closed mode to focus, be decisive, and move forward. “Open mode when pondering a problem, but when you’ve come up with a solution switch to closed mode to implement it because once you’ve made a decision, you are efficient only if you go through with it decisively, undistracted by self-doubt or correctness. After it’s carried out, switch back to your open mode to get feedback and to discuss the course you have chosen. You want to evaluate if your course was successful and you should continue with your plan or create an alternative plan. To be the most efficient, you need to switch backwards and forwards between the two modes. We too often get stuck in the closed mode and mantain tunnel vision when we need to step back and get a wider view.” Brilliant, clear advice on how to manifest creativity and then be able to put it to work for you. This is so important for actors, especially when they get stuck with a creative decision that is not working and cannot let it go easily beause their egos are tied into it. Rather than sulk and feel hurt, jump back into the open mode and through curiosity and playfulness, another creative idea will come to you. Let go of what isn’t working and get into the open mode for something new to emerge.
There are 5 conditions that will get you into the open mode so creativity will occur:
SPACE- Create space away from pressure. Seal yourself off in a quiet place where you will be undisturbed.
TIME- Decide on a specific period of time when your open mode will begin and a specific time it will end. You are creating an oasis of quiet for yourself by creating boundaries of space and time. Now creativity can happen. Unplug your phones and gadgets. When the mind starts wandering off back to your to-do list or the plant that needs watering, catch yourself doing it, let it go and come back to the moment. Expect that your mind will start racing, it’s not used to being still. Eventually it will quiet down. Practice mindful meditation to help with your focus. Remember, the mind likes to think of little things to do because they are easy, the big things, you’re not so sure about. Usually 90 minutes is a good chunk of time to put aside, not too much, not too little.
TIME- The best way to use this time is by sticking at it until you come up with something original. Don’t grab at the first thing that comes to you. Be prepared to tolerate the anxiety that comes when you don’t solve the problem right away. Don’t take the first idea just to make yourself feel better. The most creative people learn to tolerate the uncomfortableness much longer than most. The more pondering time, the more creative solutions. Stop trying to be right and confident, those feelings will stifle your creativity.
CONFIDENCE- When you’re in your space and time oasis, getting into the open mode, nothing will block you more than the fear of making a mistake. When you’re in play mode everything that happens is okay. You cannot be playful if you’re frightened that some direction will be wrong. You’re either free to play or not. Alan Watts says, “You cannot be spontaneous within reason.” Any drivel may lead to the breakthrough.
HUMOR- Will get you from the closed mode to the open mode quicker than anything else. Laughter brings us relaxation. Humor makes us playful. Humor is an essential part of the kind of creativity that we need to solve problems. Cleese mentions, “The two most beautiful memorial services I’ve ever been to both had a lot of humor and it somehow freed us all and made the services inspiring and cathartic. Humor is an essential part of the creativity we need to solve problems, no matter how serious they may be.”
Remember to keep your mind gently around the subject; be friendly, but persistent. You will get rewarded with a creative solution in an hour or a couple of days. Pop, it will appear, a new thought, a new solution. It’s also easier to be creative if you have others to play with. But if there is one person that makes you feel defensive, you will lose the confidence to play…and good-bye, creativity. So, make sure that you play with people you like and trust, and never say anything to squash their creativity. Never say, “no,” or, “wrong ,”or, “I don’t like that.” Always be positive and build on what’s being said. Try to establish as free an atmosphere as possible.
Begin your giggles now:
How many American network TV executives does it take to screw in a lightbulb? answer: Does it have to be a lightbulb?
The Conscious Actor – Casting Networks
Bonnie Katz is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice. One of her specialties is working with artists in the Entertainment Industry. Her skills and training as a psychotherapist and mindful meditator enable her to work with clients in an atmosphere of warmth and understanding. For more information on Bonnie’s psychotherapy practice, visit her website.
Original article at The Sydney Morning Herald written by Christopher Niesche
Published on March 4 2013
Denise Roberts’ acting school teaches students the finer techniques of the craft.
Faced with selecting new staff, managers can use a multitude of methods – is the candidate suitably qualified, will they fit in, are they reliable, do they perform well in the interview. Drama school boss – and Packed to the Rafters actress – Denise Roberts likes to treat hiring as a casting call.
‘‘When I’m employing people I consider casting them because we’ve all got to get on really well together and it’s got to be a fun place to work, because if they’re not looking forward to coming to work then they’re not going to be very productive,’’ says the actress who founded Screenwise, the Sydney-based acting school a decade ago.
Roberts employs several actors in the office: Sarah Chadwick from GP and Flying Doctors is the administrator and Di Smith from Puberty Blues is the co-ordinator.
‘‘I surround myself with people that I’ve worked with in the past, that I know and I can trust – but at the same time, they’ve all got contracts,’’ says Glasgow-born Roberts.
Roberts is best known for playing nurse-receptionist Julie Winters in ABC medical drama GP and as Bonnie Bright in Packed to the Rafters. She got the idea for Screenwise – which teaches acting specifically for TV and film – when she started appearing on GP in 1989 and struggled to adjust to working on a TV set because she’d come from a stage background.
‘‘It was alien to me because everything’s so different. It demands a whole lot of different disciplines and skills and you’re not taught that in theatre school,’’ she says. ‘‘That was one of the things that really planted the seed for me, because there were no screen schools around that were specifically designed to teach acting for camera.’‘
Roberts, who also teaches at the school, makes a point of hiring working actors as tutors as well as for behind-the-scenes roles, and has employed people such as Colin Friels, Gary Sweet and Lucy Bell.
‘‘It’s good, because an actor or a director would rather teach than drive a taxi,’’ she says.
The business has grown steadily, moving three times, each time to larger premises.
‘‘It’s about seeing that there’s an opening somewhere and being the first to get there, because if you’re the first to get there you’re always the original, and as you develop and grow hopefully you’ll always stay two steps in front of your competitors,’’ says Roberts .
Screenwise teaches a range of courses, with a focus on screen acting, but also covers other skills, such as dialects and how to put together a show reel. Its graduates include Chris Hemsworth and Isobel Lucas.
Now in Surry Hills on the edge of the Sydney CBD, the school has five separate TV studios where the students are put through their paces. The current premises will be big enough for about another year, then the school will likely move again, Roberts says.
When Roberts started Screenwise in 2000, acting schools focused on teaching stage craft, and only provided cursory attention to screen acting, which they looked down on. But appearing in front of three cameras, hitting the right marks, filming out of continuity and saying the same line again and again while keeping it fresh are very different skills to those needed to appear on stage. And with filming budgets and schedules becoming increasingly tight, actors who know what to do on set from the outset are increasingly important.
Roberts set out to make her acting school a government-accredited training organisation and able to award the country’s only Diploma of Screen Acting (10065NAT), which she achieved in 2010. Her students are entitled to Austudy and other government support.
‘‘In those five years I had to work so hard because I was trying to build up the business,’’ she says. ‘‘I did everything, the marketing, the teaching, so for me the difficult part when I started to expand was doing the delegating and handing over to other people,’’ she said.
Although Screenwise has grown to the point where Roberts employs several staff, it remains very much her business. ‘‘I don’t have a partner and I don’t have any intention of taking one,’’ she said. ‘‘I don’t believe in silent partners or anything like that because I think that if you’ve got a great product and you truly believe in it and you’re passionate about it, then if you bring other people in purely for the money side of it then it’s not going to be the same product.’‘
Image Courtesy of SMH
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The moment Screenwise Grad Stef Dawson was told she had the role of Annie Cresta in Hunger Games Mockingjay 1 & 2
Denise Roberts – Hayes Gordon
|Denise Roberts – Hayes Gordon|
Unknown Aussie actor Stef Dawson has been cast in upcoming Hunger Games movies.
The Canberra native will play District 4 victor Annie Cresta in Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2, which sees the action fantasy’s heroine, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), lead a rebellion against the corrupt Capitol.
Taking its cue from both Harry Potter and The Twilight Saga, the third book in Suzanne Collins’ best selling young adult series will be filmed in two parts by director Francis Lawrence.
Fellow Australian Liam Hemsworth will reprise his role as resistance fighter Gale Hawthorne.
Cresta, love interest to Sam Claflin’s Finnick, could well be the breakthrough role Dawson has been looking for – the first film in The Hunger Games franchise took $765 million at box offices around the world.
Until now, the Los Angeles-based actor has been honing her craft in guest roles on TV, short films and a handful of low or no-budget features in Australia and the US, including the NSW thriller Wrath.
The casting news follows last week’s announcement by Lionsgate that Natalie Dormer, currently starring as Margaery Tyrell on HBO’s Game of Thrones, would play Cressida.
The second Hunger Games film, Catching Fire, opens in Australia on November 21. Mockingjay Part 1 is scheduled for release exactly 12 months later and Part 2 opens on November 20, 2015.
Lionsgate Entertainment has just revealed that Screenwise’s very own Stef Dawson has been cast as Annie Cresta, Finnick’s (played by Sam Claflin) love interest, in the final two chapters of the Hunger Games series, The Hunger Games: Mockinjay – Part 1 and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2.
View the official trailer:
The first Hunger Games film was the 13th highest-grossing North American release of all time on its way to generating nearly $700 million at the worldwide box office. This is a huge break for Stef Dawson, congratulations!
Stef wrote to us recently to share her big news:
“I hope this just inspires everyone at Screenwise not to give up on their dreams!!! Tell them to hang in there!! I booked a lead in an indie and Hunger Games in one month!! Life changed forever.”