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Frequently Asked Questions

You say that this is a "technique" class and not "scene study". What's the difference?

In a scene study class the actor enters the class and finds someone to work with and chooses a scene to do, or is given one, and they rehearse that scene and then present it in front of the class and are given notes. They then bring it back, usually after several classes of watching other people’s scenes, and do it again. This would be much like learning architecture by building a specific building and then being given notes on that job and watching other students do likewise. You can learn that way, but it takes a long time.

A technique class teaches the basics for how to build any building, or in this case, any scene, starting with the most elemental steps and leading eventually to the most sophisticated performances possible.

By improving your technique, you improve yourself as an actor forever. You don’t become good by doing one specific scene, starting over and hoping you were fortunate enough to have learned something useful for your next scene. This work highlights the issues you must address with every scene, and will reveal particularly those things that you personally need to work on, which can often be masked by doing certain kinds of material. And you work every class.

The studio offers an excellent scene study class but virtually everyone who has been to the studio says: “Do the Meisner training first!” Once an actor has the foundation and the ability to operate with self-sufficiency, then they are able to understand and make use of the wonderful insights these directors have to offer.

Is the technique you teach better for television and film, or stage plays? How about comedy vs. drama?

The course of study taught at the Joanne Baron/DW Brown Studio is designed so that at its conclusion an actor is capable of meeting every situation they might encounter: whether half hour comedy, feature film or a theater piece, from “kitchen sink” to Shakespearean. Because the work is based on a consistent, simple level of truthfulness, and yet develops to include the most demanding requirements of a theatrical presentation, it can be adjusted for use in any medium, in any style.

Is this technique what's called "The Method" or "Method Acting"?

If by “The Method” what is meant is that the technique is based upon the original precepts of Constantine Stanislavski, then the answer is yes. Unfortunately, the term “The Method” has come to be used imprecisely and is identified erroneously with several specific schools of acting. “The Method” is best used as a general term for an emphasis on “internal acting.”

What is the difference between "internal" and "external" acting techniques?

External acting is acting that emphasizes the representation of behavior, “to show” or to indicate behavior, and stresses the technical requirements of acting, such as speech and movement.

Internal acting emphasizes having the performer actually live through the experience, engaging their own emotional life and relating in such a way that it produces behavior consistent with the character.

External acting is associated more with the stage which requires a performance to reach to the back row of a large theater. These techniques still predominate at most university drama departments, as well as several prestigious academies.

I've heard that in some acting classes you have to talk about your personal life. Is that true with this school?

No. While internal acting does require an actor to draw upon their own true feelings, this program is not per se psychological. The instructors know nothing of the students’ private lives. It’s true that many acting schools are open forums for this kind of thing, but we think our job is to train actors to function as performers, not psychoanalyze them.

At the same time, it’s nearly a universal response among people who attend the training to say: “Everyone should do this. Not just people who want to act.” That’s because, through the process of being in the moment, getting in touch with the emotional life (even under fictional circumstances), asserting yourself and losing self-consciousness in front of an audience, there is a transformational payoff in entitlement and the tranquility of being in one’s own skin. In this way the work is not “therapy,” but it is highly therapeutic. Internal acting tends to be more intimate and grew out of a desire to represent average people in a naturalistic style. It became especially popular with the filming of performances where subtlety could be appreciated.

In truth, there is no such thing as a completely internal performance in that there must always be some accommodation for theatrical demands. Most successful external actors enhance their performances by engaging themselves emotionally.

If I start this program, will you tell me if I have any talent, or if I shouldn’t pursue acting?

We don’t talk too much about talent at the studio. We teach craft. There’s a lot of uninformed opinion about acting, and how it can’t be taught, and you either have talent for it or you don’t. That’s silly. Can you think of any other pursuit in which that’s true? Acting can be taught, just as anything can be taught; and anyone through hard work can achieve a certain level of competence.

Another problem with answering this question concerning whether someone has talent or not is you never know when someone might blossom. The cultivation process (if the talent is the seed, the craft is the cultivation) can be indefinite and, as long as someone is applying themselves, it’s possible for that seed to germinate and a huge, fruit yielding plant to emerge. Part of the excitement of teaching is you never know when this is going to happen. A student might not excel immediately, their classmates sympathetic to their initial efforts; then suddenly something kicks in and they are among the best in class, causing envy for the tremendous power of their imaginations. You never know.

Can you recommend any resources for actors?

As the leading institution specializing in preparing people for careers in acting, writing, directing, and producing, the Studio has always had a strong commitment to the success of its students.

While the Studio cannot guarantee placement or bookings, we are committed to providing useful and up-to-date employment information whenever possible.

Below are some online portals and websites you can peruse for acting jobs and helpful knowledge:

Actor’s Access – Online casting and submission website that submits your headshot and resume to projects posted by casting directors.

LA Casting – Online casting and submission website that submits your headshot and resume to projects posted by casting directors.

Backstage.com – Website for the indispensable actor’s newspaper.   Has news, casting, submissions, and more.

SAG-AFTRA – The primary screen acting and performing union in the United States.

CastingFrontier.com – Provides casting notices, Hollywood news, and more.

CAZT.com – Provides casting notices and feedback from casting directors.

YouCanAct.net – Official website for D.W. Brown’s acting manual entitled “You Can Act: A Complete Guide for Actors”. Contains Excerpts, videos, blog, and more!

Sam Christensen Studios – Sam Christensen has over a decade of experience teaching actors how to define their image.

Creative Actors Alliance – Free Industry Network Event held the 1st Saturday of every month.

SkyTown Entertainment – Self-tape auditions shot and edited.

Women in Film – WIF recognizes the importance of developing pathways and opportunities to encourage current and future generations of women to explore and pursue careers in all fields of the entertainment industry.

Daily Actor

2500 years – by D.W. Brown

We Audition – Online rehearsing, general meeting, and auditioning platform.

Can filmmakers (directors, writers, producers, etc.) attend Baron Brown Studio?

Yes! Many filmmakers have been through our program.

DIRECTORS learn to develop the skill to help actors access their deepest emotions and create the clearest, most specific characters. The Meisner training encapsulates all the specific technical information required for any written scene.

WRITERS such as David Mamet have trained in this technique and credit it with their writing skills. The initial improvisational scenes, combined with the subsequent character- and script-analysis work, cover the principles of all great writing.

PRODUCERS develop the skill to analyze a script and identify its strengths and weaknesses. Learn how to most effectively cast and interface with actors. Connect with others in the Studio community to build artistic and professional relationships and create projects. Many Baron Brown producers have created award-winning works and collaborated with other Baron Brown alumni.

Below is a partial list of Baron Brown alumni who work as filmmakers:

  • Michael Rymer (Jennifer Jones, The Man in the High Castle, ‘Hannibal,’ ‘The Killing,’ ‘American Horror Story, Battlestar Galactica,’ Queen of the Damned, Angel Baby)
  • David Rogers (‘The Mindy Project,’ ‘Parks and Recreation,’ ‘The Office’)
  • Tom Shadyac (Ace Ventura, Liar Liar, Bruce Almighty, Evan Almighty, Patch Adams, Nutty Professor)
  • Martha Coolidge (First Woman President of DGA, ‘CSI,’ ‘Angie Tribeca,’ ‘Madame Secretary,’ ‘The Night Shift,’ Real Genius, The Prince and Me, ‘Sex and the City,’ Rambling Rose, Dorothy Dandridge, Valley Girl)
  • Andrew Fleming (‘New Girl,’ Michael J Fox Show,’ The Craft, Nancy Drew, Dick, Hamlet 2)
  • Jason Hall (Thank You For Your Service, Oscar Nominee, BAFTA Nominee, and Writers Guild Nominee for Best Adapted Screenplay: American Sniper)
  • Adam Simon (Man Down, starring Shia LaBeouf, Gary Oldman, and Kate Mara, ‘Blacklist’)
  • Anthony Yerkovich (Emmy Winner – 111 episodes of original ‘Miami Vice’ and also worked on the remake, 31 episodes of ‘Hill Street Blues’)
  • Rachel Sweet (‘Hot in Cleveland’)
  • Tom Shadyac (youngest staff joke writer for Bob Hope, Nutty Professor, Ace Ventura, in development for HBO project Kinison with Josh Gad)
  • Bob Oschack (comedy writer for over 962 episodes of ‘Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,’ ‘Best Damn Sports Show Period,’ 58 episodes of ‘Mind of Mencia’)
  • Brian Wankum (‘Once Upon a Time – almost 100 episodes,’ ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer,’ ‘V,’ ‘Firefly’)
  • David Rogers (‘The Mindy Project,’ ‘The Office’)
  • Doug Claybourne (Nights in Rodanthe, North Country, Fast and the Furious, Mask of Zorro, Jack, Money Train, The War of the Roses, Apocalypse Now)
  • Ron Taylor (Former Vice President of Development and Programming – Colombia-TriStar , Former Vice President of Diverse Programming and Content – FOX)
  • Mickey Liddell (The Grey, The Details, The Collector, Go, ‘Everwood’)
  • Rachel Sweet (‘Hot in Cleveland,’ ‘George Lopez,’ ‘Dharma and Greg’)