Advice and Tips for Actors Helpful thoughts on acting from someone who wasn't the least successful actor of all time.

March 3, 2010

REVIEW: Margie Haber Cold Reading Classes

Filed under: classes,reviews — Eitan @ 10:09 am

UPDATE! 12/13/2012 UPDATE!

Why am I updating a two and a half year old post about a eight year old experience? I wonder that myself.

Instead of answering I’ll tell the story of what happened this last weekend. If you look below you’ll see a comment from the Margie Haber Studios. Basically it says “We have no record of you attending this school, please remove the comment.” Delightful. I would have responded to them, giving them the dates I attended the school and helped clear up this mess.

But before I could respond they also called my agent and talked to her at length. For those of you not in the business, this is not standard practice. If you have a problem with me as an actor or on a job call my agent to complain. If you have a problem with a blog post I wrote, you don’t. It’s unprofessional and drags her into a conversation she doesn’t need to be part in. Trying to get her to chose a side against her client or an acting school is dumb.

I reached out to the school and got a phone call the next day from Margie Haber (the “world famous Margie Haber,” as she introduced herself). Apparently this past weekend at an orientation session someone brought up my blog post and mentioned they would prefer not to attend classes with Barbara Gannen based on what they read. I learned that if you Google “Margie Haber Review” my website is one of the first few to come up (cool).

Margie told me over and over again that in the past few years how Barbara has changed, how Barbara has gone through things and is now a better teacher. I can’t vouch for this and in all honesty I declined the offer to go observe her class to see how she’s better and Margie offered no specifics addressing my experiences. Margie asked me to take this review down and I declined, offering instead to post an update.

So this is my update. I’m going to assume Margie never read my review because she only focused on the stuff about Barbara while I brought up a bunch of other points about her school and the way they handle their students. At the time Barbara was the worst acting teacher I ever met. It’s still true, as I haven’t taken an acting class in a long time. Is she better now? It’s possible. Did other people like her class? Probably. I suppose the standard your mileage may vary disclaimer applies to this as it applies to every review since the beginning of time. I don’t think this is necessary to say but if it makes Margie happy then I’m glad to say it.

I’d like to offer a few counter points to this conversation because it’s my blog. If Margie wants to review me on her website she’s more than welcome.

People do change. I’ll admit that. Sometimes they even get better at their jobs. However, Barbara was already teaching for years and years when I attended the school. That was part of my problem, she felt stuck in her rut and obsessed with what was “right” and “wrong” with each scene. The general structure and method of teaching was horrible and irresponsible. You can’t change my experience there even though it was years ago. It’s not invalid because it’s old just as those headshots sitting on Margie’s wall aren’t invalid because the student attended the school years ago.

Also, the way this situation was handled was amateurish at best. When I felt I was being placed incorrectly in the school I was brushed aside with barely a cursory conversation. Now that they disagree with my opinion, years later, I’m accused of making up my attendance and they call my agent before calling me. I’ve heard elsewhere that they treat actors (the people who pay their rent) with disrespect and I can vouch for the fact that this still happens. Nothing changed in that department. Margie was nothing but polite in our conversation but she didn’t see anything wrong with their methods of communication. I was hoping she’d at least apologize to my agent for wasting her time but it was not to be.

So there’s my update. I may get another phone call from Margie, I probably won’t. Read the review, make your own decision.

 

Original Post: 3/3/2010: This is a review of Margie Haber’s Cold Reading Classes at the Margie Haber Studios.  Margie (and her teachers) offer classes on cold reading for the Los Angeles actor, although I’ve heard Margie travels around and does seminars out of LA once in a while.  Margie also has a book on cold reading and has coached countless of celebrities and work-a-day actors.

Before a review of the studio, what is a cold read?  A cold read is an audition where you are not given a huge amount of time to prepare.  Typically a cold read is an audition where you are only given the sides (short part of the script with your lines) when you show up to the audition and you aren’t given the option or time of downloading your audition materials off the internet.  The idea behind studying this technique is that you will be confronted with this scenario where you will be required to create a fully realized character and deliver lines perfectly with nothing but a few minutes to read a short section of the script.  In reality this tends to happen most of the time with commercials and even then there are not going to be many lines to learn or deep characters to create.  Still, it happens.

Let me start my (first ever) review by saying that in hindsight I think this class was pretty worthless.  When I took the class it was incredibly expensive but recommended to me by dozens of people around LA.  There are only a handful of “audition technique” teachers around Los Angeles and Margie is usually listed near the top of the heap.  This may be because of her famous clients, her book or the thousands of students she’s taught but either way she is usually one of the first ones mentioned.  Now, I’ve said this before but I think most acting classes are a waste of time.  In a future review I’ll have some nice things to say about The Groundlings but for now let’s just say I think that there are few classes in which you can learn anything useful to your career as an actor.  So there’s that problem.

Second, the quality of teaching at Margie’s is very hit and miss.  I was unfortunate to have Barbara Gannen as a teacher.  She was, bar none, the worst acting teacher I have ever experienced.  Let me explain.  Every class (except one) was run the same way.  The actors came in, were given a script to read and then sent out.  A few minutes later the actors would come in and do the script in front of a camera.  After everyone emoted we would take a short break and then watch the tape together.  The first thing Barbara did after showing the tape was to ask the class if they had any opinions on the matter.  Let me skip to my third point and then I’ll come back to the second point.   This would make more sense if I wasn’t numbering my points.

Third, there were no real standards as to what an “advanced” or “beginner” were at the studio other than having had the experience of paying huge sums of money to go through one class, then an “ongoing” class and after an amount of time be moved into a higher up class.  I was placed in the “beginner class” which sounded fine to me because I had been in LA for a few years, had a few professional gigs and had been acting much of my life but only the past few years professionally.  By any rational standpoint I was a “beginner”  in the professional world.  From what I could gather from my “beginner class” a beginner at Margie Haber’s was a person who had never acted in any capacity before (but woke up one morning and decided they would be a professional actor) or someone who had acted only in theater for a few years in high school/college.  If there were three people in that class that had ever auditioned for a professional job in their lives I’ll eat my hat.  After two classes I realized this and asked to be switched to a more advanced class.  I explained, “I know how to act, I am not being challenged or even educated at this level.”  Margie herself said, “no.”  This was the only time I talked to or even looked directly at the great Margie Haber.

Back to class.  After watching a tape of our audition Barbara would pause the tape and ask the class what was right and what was wrong.  This was a class of people who had never acted before and certainly weren’t being well paid for their opinion.  So that was a waste of time.  After the students had their say Barbara would announce what was “right” and “wrong” with these scenes.  That sounds like a point four.

Point four, she had been using the same materials for the past half-decade (at that point) and had decided exactly how each scene should be done.   I’m not saying that I’m such an amazing actor that I always take a piece someone’s seen a billion times and blow their minds with a totally new rendition but there was no wiggle room.  Often times she didn’t actually know the source of the material.  If it was a sit-com and you played it like a sit-com she’d tell you that you needed to pause dramatically at certain points because she seemed to think it was a drama.  The process would then repeat.

The little good I took out of this class were technical points.  I learned to hold much stiller than I had on my earlier auditions and saw how much the camera amplifies little shifty movements.  That’s something I could have done on my Flip.  I didn’t need to fork out hundreds of dollars for this experience.

Let me pause here and say a few wonderful things about Margie Haber’s studio, since at this point everyone must think this place is a death trap.  When I tell people these stories they all told me the same thing, “of course, Barabara is awful.  You need to take classes with Jim Gleason or Annie Grindlay.”  You’ll note from those links that both Jim and Annie have since left to coach on their own.  I know Jim personally and have met Annie before and they’re both wonderful people and anyone looking for an audition coach/technique teacher could do no better than them.  I haven’t taken classes directly from either so I can’t write full reviews, but let me say I’ve heard and experienced nothing but amazing things from them (mostly Jim, but that’s because I know him better).  Most people told me these two teachers were better than the legendary Margie herself.  Even though I took this class years ago and everyone says horrible things about Barbara, I was shocked today to find out she still works at Margie Haber’s.

At this point I could tell the story about how Barbara used “The Method” as she saw it to demand actors relive horrible memories and tragedies from their past for the benefit of a single pretend audition (where each person could only say one word) but I think I’ve made my point.  The best way to learn how to audition is to audition.  There’s no real substitute for it.  The next best thing is taping yourself auditioning and then watching it and looking for technical things you can be doing better.

Taking a class where you’re told the “right way” to audition for a part isn’t helpful to anyone.  It doesn’t allow you to learn how to figure out a script on your own for future auditions which may be the point.  All the teachers could also coach your privately for your auditions and help you make the “right choices” for a fee.  No thanks.

May 14, 2008

Lying On Your Resume

Filed under: classes,eitan's writings,film,theater,TV — Eitan @ 12:40 am

Lying on your acting resume? You think this would be a really short post. I’d say something like “don’t do it” and run off for another month or so without posting. Sorry, it’s way more complicated than that.

Some of the stuff I’m going to talk about is risky, some of the stuff is safe as a Volvo. It’s all about your comfort level and how honest the lie actually is.  Mostly these are white lies that actors are expected to tell.  But they can get pushed too far if you’re trying to be sneaky.  The biggest rule I can say is don’t get caught lying.  Even if it’s minor.  You don’t want to have to start justifying your whole resume to a casting director in the middle of an audition.

Lying On Your Resume Can be a Good Idea – In a perfect world everyone’s acting resume would be a list of parts they’ve played and casting people could easily look at the resume and see where the actor is in their career and if they could possibly be a good fit for the part they are currently casting. Problem is, it’s just not possible. No one’s going to recognize every item on an actor’s resume. Credits don’t always mean the same thing in different contracts. School plays can be really hard to sell as “legitimate experience.” And the list goes on and on.

The First Lie Every Actor is Told To Tell – Let’s get this one out of the way. I’ve read this in books and on other websites so this is the least risky thing in the post. If you did a play at Xavier High School and you played the part of the Fiddler in The Fiddler on the Roof you don’t need to list the production company as “Xavier High School,” you can list it as “Xavier Theater.” Or if the theater has a name you can list it. “The Herbert Einstein Memorial Theater.”  Whatever.  Because no one really cares.  It’s a play in a theater they’ve never heard of.  They’ll ask about the play (if at all) and that’ll be that.

Don’t Upgrade Yourself –  I’ve seen a fair number of actor resumes in my life.  I can’t even calculate the percentage of which have obvious attempts at upgrades but it’s a high number.  Suddenly that guy with one line has a “Major Supporting Role” in the film.  Or the guy who passed by the star in the hallway is a “Guest Star.”  Well guess what, the bigger the lie the more likely someone’s going to catch you.  Saying you had a Guest Star part on a very successful show when you had a one liner is typically pretty obvious.  I’ve seen resumes listing multiple large parts and when you type the name into IMDB maybe one of the parts comes up… as “Waiter #3.”  That’s no “Starring” role.  And do you know who’s going to catch you every single time if you list that extra work as principle?  The casting director.  They remember people they hire.  And they’ll never be hiring you.  And if you say you were a guest star someone just might try to check your quote, they’ll find out you were lying and you’ll get fired before you were even hired.  That’d suck.

Move Laterally –  Look at my resume and you’ll see the Final Justice part listed as a “Co-Star.”  My contract doesn’t say “Co-Star.”  In fact, I have no idea where my contract is so I can’t read the actually billing.  But I was hired as a “Principle” and that’s the only billing I had.  Problem was, it just stood out on my resume as a weird thing next to my other two actual “co-star” roles (as of this writing, just for the record).  So I moved myself laterally.  I changed it to “Co-Star.”  It’s not really a lie, it’s equivalent.  If I were hired on any other AFTRA show I’d be billed as a “Co-Star” with that part.  I just didn’t know to ask for that when I was starting out.  Also, they never ran credits on that show.  Uch.  How do you know what your billing is supposed to be?  Read your contract.  The other great time to move laterally is on a feature when you’re booked as a “Featured” part.  Technically this means you got paid a day rate and had a line or two.  In resume world, this means you were an extra who thinks they could pick themselves out of a crowd.  “Featured” is a term that is dead and gone on resumes.  It’s been ruined.  You’re now a “Principle” or “Featured Principle.”  That means you had a line otherwise people think you’re making stuff up.  Isn’t that ironic?

A Real Serious Lie – Ok, this last one is beyond anything I’ve ever done.  I’ve said time and time again that no one really cares about films and plays they’ve never seen and never heard of.  They just see lines on your resume and assume you know something about being on camera or being on stage.  There’s nothing that’s going to excite them unless they recognize something from your resume.  That means you can completely make up student films, short films, original plays, acting classes and cast yourself in plays you’ve read and know well enough to pass a quiz on.  You can, but you shouldn’t.  This is where you really can play too much with your resume and head down a dark and dangerous path.  I did a few student films in college but how does someone know I didn’t do three more in which I was the lead?  Heck, I was in a few plays there that I know like the back of my hand.  Who’s to say I didn’t play the lead instead of the guy carrying suitcases?  No one would ever catch a single one of those lies and they’d pad my resume quite nicely.  Or at least they would have back when that was all I had on my resume.  But know I’ve seen directors ask about a random part, just to make conversation.  Just make sure you could make something up if need be.

Don’t Do That! – I hope you read this paragraph after reading the one before it.  Don’t do it.  Don’t completely make stuff up on your resume, even if you’ll never get caught.  It’s useless, no one cares about these projects.  Why be a liar for something unimportant?  BUT I’m totally down with making things look as good as possible on your resume.  Let’s say you did a staged reading for a class of an original play your friend wrote but never did anything with.  Why can’t that part be on your resume under theater?  You did the part, it just wasn’t a full show.  That short fillm that you shot with your buddies?  Put your friend as the director and put that on your resume.  You shot it, it’s a film.  No one judges an actor by how small the font size is on their resume.  A List actor resumes only have their latest, greatest and most famous roles listed anyway.  B and C list actors don’t even have their theater listed most of the time.  It’s only us working class stiffs.  If you only had one liners in student films no one’s going to be upset if you make one of those a lead.  The director might get annoyed but if he’s teaching 5th grade in Kansas now, how does that affect you?

Lie as Little as Possible – What we can take away from all my examples is that you should lie as little as humanly possible.  Don’t go for any lies that can be caught or pointed out easily (See that guy with an iPhone at your audition?  He’s checking your IMDB page and knows you’re lying).  Lies should be used only to very lightly massage your resume, never to try to bump it up to the next level.  Nothing I’ve suggested here will land you a single extra audition.  None will make any perceptible difference in your career.   They’re small and they just smooth the way towards getting some real credits that you don’t have to work to pretty up.

August 20, 2007

Acting Class is a Waste of Time

Filed under: acting philosophy,classes — Eitan @ 4:32 pm

People spend thousands of dollars of their hard earned money, take years of their lives off to enter acting conservatories and toil countless hours in black box theaters studying acting… and it’s all for nothing.

When someone in the industry sees an actor who’s just bad they say the same thing, “You need to take more classes.” After a few dozen classes they’re simply bad actors with another line on their resume and a big hole in their checking account. And no matter how many classes they take, it never seems to further their career or noticeably improve their “craft.” Why is this?


Acting can not be taught. There, I’ve said it. You can not learn how to be a good actor. You can learn the technical skills that allow your actual abilities to shine through (on camera work), you can learn new styles of acting (Kabuki, Improv) and you can learn how to read a script and look for things that are important. But you can not learn how to act.

Take the most tone deaf person you’ve ever met and give them a few singing lessons. Do you honestly think they’ll become a good singer? If they’re lucky they’ll learn that they have no business singing and quit. Singing requires a natural ability to move your vocal chords in a certain way and the ability to hear when you’re doing it right. Acting requires a face/body/voice that can show emotion and an ability to know when you’re doing a good job.

Most actors have a warped sense of the second part of that requirement. It’s very easy to know when someone else is doing a bad job, it’s hard to tell if you’re doing it yourself. No amount of acting technique or class is going to help. And you think your teacher’s feedback is useful? Read on.

Acting teachers are in business to teach acting, not make you a better actor. An acting teacher needs to pay rent. They’re not going to do this by telling their students that they’ve, “learned everything they need to know” or that they have a “natural ability that doesn’t need more classes.” No, they need to tell their students that they must stay in class. Even big names like Larry Moss have bills to pay. For every drop of positive feedback you get, you’re going to get more requiring you to do further work. I studied with a teacher that had students with him for decades. Do you think they were honestly still learning anything?

Acting class is about pleasing the teacher, not putting on good work. I’ve seen this one a million times. The students pour their hearts and souls into the piece, finish and turn to look at the teacher wondering if they did a “good job.” And for the reasons above, we know they’re going to say, “no” more times than they said, “yes.” That’s not what acting is about. Acting is not about pleasing one person who isn’t motivated to putting up good work. You want to please your director while doing a movie, but the guy is also looking for the work to be good, not for something to criticize.

It never mimics real life experiences. Scene studies classes are the biggest culprit here. You get a scene to work on, you go home and have a week to work on the scene, you show up and do it once. Then the teacher tells you to go home and work on x,y,z. You come back the next week and do the same thing. This never ever happens in real life. If you were rehearsing a play you’d just do the scene again until you did it to the directors satisfaction. You wouldn’t get a week between takes. Some classes require you to meet with your scene partner on the days between your classes. That’s absurd. Do you know how often you get to rehearse with someone before an audition or shooting? Maybe if you’re the star of the movie the director might work with you and your co-star for a few days but don’t plan on that happening more than once or twice in your career. Most of the time you get a script a couple days before or show up on set and are told what you’re doing. You get no feedback prior to shooting and you never meet your cast mates until you’re on set.

There are auditioning classes out there that try to mimic the audition process. They give you the sides at the class and have you step out for a few minutes. Often times you get more time for real auditions but this is quite common at commercial auditions. The best thing you’re going to learn in these classes is how to best show your work in front of a camera. But you can also learn this with your own camera. Tape yourself auditioning, and watch it. If you see stuff that interferes with your read, change it.

No one cares where you took classes. That’s a bit harsh. Going to a “name” acting school is the only way for a first-timer to get something recognizable on his resume. I’ll go into my whole “recognizably of resumes” thing on another post. But if you just stepped off the bus from Kansas City, MO (home of one of the worst airports in the country, even factoring in the free WiFi) you’re going to need something that someone in casting will recognize and a class is your best bet until you book something. Anyone who’s ever held auditions can tell you they’ve seen some pitifully bad actors who’ve studied with Stanford Meisner, Uta Hagen and Lee Strassberg. Just because your check cleared at their acting school doesn’t mean you’re good. Also, that line on your resume could mean you studied with them for a weekend… or an hour long seminar.

And if you think anyone cares which celebrity “studied with” those teachers… you’ve got another thing coming. Celebrities are like other actors, they struggled for a while at first. And like many struggling actors they took many different classes. When they hit it big every one of those teachers buys ads in Backstage West saying, “Eitan studied with me!” Which may be true but it’s also true for a thousand other actors who didn’t hit it big. Daivd Mamet said it best when he said that an acting school that claims that they’re a good place for actors to study because actor X studied there is like Corsica saying they’re a good place to raise a future Emperor.

If you want to hone your craft, do a play. You’ll get to work on your scenes in a nurturing environment and at the end of it do it for people who matter, an audience. And better yet, you won’t have to pay a penny.

Classes are good for one thing: to fail. When I’m at an audition I can’t be bad, I can’t try out something absurd and off the wall. When you’re on set there’s rarely time to experiment. When I’m in a class, I can do whatever I want and not care. My teacher’s not going to fire me because I took some weird pauses or did the character ten times more intense than the script calls for. This is the only purpose of a class. But depending on your director, you can often get away with experimentation in rehearsals. After trying something completely off the wall and zany during the rehearsals of a play I got my favorite note ever from a director: Eitan: WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?! I still have the original notes somewhere. I should get them framed.

You can probably find a better use for your $325 a month than an acting class. Heck, doing 5 workshops a month is cheaper and you might get some work out of it.

And don’t get me started on classes that let the students critique each other’s work…

June 26, 2005

Ray Charles loves Eitan, Ankling the Agent and a New Class

Filed under: agents/managers,bookings,classes,TV — Biographer @ 10:13 pm

Live, from the brand new Eitantheactor.com offices in glorious West LA… here’s Eitan! *sarcastic slow clapping*. Yes, after months of silence Eitan has finally contacted his biographer with an update of his life. Exciting? Not especially.

All of Eitantheactor.com’s Japanese readers are in for a treat. Eitan has acted as the narrator for two episodes of the show “Memoirs.” He can be heard on the Willie Nelson and Ray Charles episodes. It’s seriously an hour and a half of Eitan talking, so this is only for the most extreme Eitantheactor.com fans.

“I’m not representing Eitan anymore, I quit!” This may or may not have been the parting words of Barbara Divisek as she left Conan Carroll and Associates (probably not actually). But either way, Eitan is no longer repped by her commercially. Eitan is fielding various offers from other offices (or trying to get offers from other offices) before he makes any decisions.

Eitan thinks he’s funny. So he’s taking the third class at the Groundlings (writing lab). On July 17th some poor fools will have to watch Eitan and his classmates perform a sketch show of their own writing directed by Roy Jenkins. If by some accident Eitan is funny, please laugh. It’s good for his self esteem.

October 14, 2002

First Bio Entry

Filed under: bookings,classes,film,theater — Biographer @ 11:51 am

Eitan Loewenstein was born in Tel Aviv, Israel on August 12th oh so many years ago (mustn’t reveal my real age) to Avrum and Fredda Loewenstein. He lived there for only a year and a half before his parents moved back to the states. They moved to the lovely city of Sharon, Massachusetts (quite near Boston). It was there that his sister, Shira, was born. Lest they get comfortable, the whole family moved again to glorious Los Angeles, California. But quickly they moved once again to Bethesda, Maryland (right near NIH and the Naval Hospital). It was here that Eitan’s life started to get interesting.

While being educated at the Hebrew Day Institute in Rockville, Eitan was introduced to the dramatic arts. He spoke his first lines on stage, “So did we.” In front of an awed and hushed crowd (Eitan swears the theater wasn’t empty, but no one believes him). He performed in various productions under the guidance of Dr. Ruth Newhouse until his graduation from 6th grade. There he left for the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School. He only performed in one play at this school, an all Hebrew version of “Oliver!”, before his parents whisked him away once again to sunny California (Eitan is not a military brat, his father simply moved to wherever construction was going on).

A concerned observer would wonder if all this moving around would have some sort of negative effect on Eitan’s psyche, but I digress.

For two years the Loewenstein family lived in glamorous and glorious southern Beverly Hills (it isn’t glamorous or glorious). Eitan was lucky enough to attend the Beverly Hills Public School “Horace Mann.” He was lucky because he realized quite early on how much he hated this school. His 8th grade year was spent hiding in corners and crying, sometimes literally. Upon his graduation from this school, home of one of the worst graduation ceremonies ever, he left for the shelter of Shalhevet High School in Los Angeles and soon after this his family moved to their current house in West Los Angeles.

He was a regular in the SHS plays, all directed by the brilliant and radiant Emily Chase (HAIL CHASE!). He also learned a bunch of Jewish stuff which he will always keep in his mind and heart regardless of what he does (he made me put that in there for his parents who put him through private school, you can ignore it). Eitan also played basketball in high school (not well at all) and was told by his coach Marty Beagle, “Eitan, there are two types of men in this world. There are ball players and ladies men. You are not a ball player.” That stuck with Eitan for quite a while.

It was during his Junior year that Eitan made a serious life choice, this is a pattern, which will repeat itself. Eitan was in the middle of a physics lab at his school when he decided on his collegiate major. He was playing with some electronic circuitry and decided that was what he wanted to do. Clearly Eitan was a moron.

With a good showing on his SATs and a less than stellar GPA in his hand Eitan began searching for a school in which to pursue his dreams of becoming an electrical engineer. He dreamed of years in a cubicle, building some chip that no one would ever hear about, while basking in the riches brought forth by his stock options as the stock market was doing well back then. Senior year came around and Eitan decided to attend the University of California at Santa Barbara a mere 100 miles from home and right on the ocean (not that Eitan ever went in it) to study electrical engineering.

During Eitan’s freshman year he was a diligent student (compared to later in his academic career at least). He did well in all his core classes and was allowed to take only one elective his entire freshman year. He couldn’t get into a drama class, so he took a religious studies one instead. Due to whatever luck, Eitan had an early registration time for Fall quarter of his Sophomore year. Eitan got into a class that was difficult to squeeze into, Intro to Acting (DA 5). It was there that he was told about the school’s audition system. This is where that whole engineering thing started to go downhill. Winter quarter Eitan auditioned for, and was cast in, a one act directed by graduate student Anna Jensen. That quarter he missed both physics and engineering labs to attend rehearsals, something that would repeat quite frequently over the next few years. Eitan was hooked to theater once again.

He noticed fliers hanging around the drama department for people casting student films. He responded to one hoping that they were not planning on making a snuff film and was cast in his first student film. I’ll not mention the name here, because there’s no need to tarnish the name of the director. Production was not a smooth process, to put it nicely. The actress playing opposite Eitan was recast halfway through forcing re-shoots at less than friendly locations (Eitan is very allergic to poison ivy). Thankfully it was finished so Eitan could recover from his skin irritation and return to his studies (which he still took seriously at this point).

He auditioned for many things over the next few quarters at the school, but with little luck. Perhaps his dreams of bright lights and brighter marquees would have died out, if it were not for a student drama group called the “Sherwood Players.” By some odd coincidence Eitan’s DA 5 teacher had previously told the class about the company as they had produced a script she had written. He saw a flier advertising auditions for a show being directed by Matt Weinglass called “Dark Rapture.” Eitan was cast as the smart ass waiter and the drummer in the cheesiest night club act ever. Eitan’s performance was met with rave reviews (some guy told him he was great and it went to his head). Since he wasn’t cast in anything else through the school (except a few student scenes) Eitan performed in the next Sherwood Player production too. He also shot another student film, this time with the visionary: Kenny Krauss.

The spring quarter Eitan gets a call from Kenny asking if he wanted to be in another one of his projects. Eitan had nothing else to do that quarter so he responded with an enthusiastic “YES!” It’s weird for a student film to actually be as good as this film was. You could even say it was as good as gold (it was called “As Good as Gold,” the biographer simply has an odd sense of humor). It went on to play at the UCSB Reel Loud film festival (it didn’t win, but people told Eitan it should have) and a few other venues since.

To retrogress (and to work that great SAT word into the story) for just a second, let us go back to the winter quarter of Eitan’s junior year. Eitan had been performing in some student directed scenes and was enjoying having up to six hours of rehearsal a day so much that he decided to become a dramatic arts major (Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting to be precise). He did lots of research, and even picked up all the forms to change his major before his spring vacation. He was planning on auditioning in the spring for the program and extending his graduation date by two years. He, thankfully, sat down with his parents to discuss this proposition. They responded with a resounding “NO WAY.” They didn’t oppose his choice of careers, mainly his staying in school for an extra two years to get a degree that really didn’t mean that much in the real world (no offense you BFA folk). So they made a deal with him. If he finished his electrical engineering degree he could live at home (which later became “live at home for a year”) while he pursued his dream (of being a professional actor, not the one he has where he’s being chased). Eitan agreed and went back to school to graduate while doing as little engineering work as possible. He succeeded.

The next year was met with much more success in his department of dramatic arts. He was cast in one of the big shows (Hotel Paradiso), which was very cool as he was one of only two people from completely outside the department, during those three years he auditioned, to accomplish this feat. He was cast again the next quarter in another one act for which he again got rave reviews (same guy as before). By the end of this last year he had convinced many students and even a faculty member, that he was a student in the drama department. Even those who knew the truth accepted him with open arms or the paraplegic equivalent. Meanwhile he managed to graduate with a B.S. in electrical engineering by taking the “Intro to..” course load. Pretty much every class Eitan took was named “Intro to” something, and was therefore not very difficult. He was quite amused when one of the engineering professors recognized him from a show on campus. By time he graduated Eitan was so fed up with engineering that he didn’t even attend his graduation. Instead he left for Los Angeles to seek his fame, fortune, his parent’s house and his mother’s good cooking.

Eitan quickly began taking classes at the Groundlings school with Ted Michaels, Ben Falcone, Davide Jahn and Roy Jenkins and scene study with Harry Mastrogeorge. He managed to hold down a real job (9AM-6PM + transit time to Northridge) for around two months before he left so that he could actually pursue his acting career and not just tell people he was doing it. He recently got his headshots done and is excited to get them printed up so he can start going on auditions and things like that.

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