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Hitting Your Mark: Making a Life & Living as a Film Actor [Paperback]

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Item description for Hitting Your Mark: Making a Life & Living as a Film Actor by Steve Carlson...

Hitting Your Mark explains how to make it as a film actor and, more importantly, how to conduct your life as a working professional in a very competitive business.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   266
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.9" Width: 5.9" Height: 0.6"
Weight:   1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 15, 2006
Publisher   Michael Wiese Productions
ISBN  1932907122  
ISBN13  9781932907124  

Availability  0 units.

More About Steve Carlson

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Steve Carlson has been a professional actor in Los Angeles for nearly forty years. His career has run the gamut from films, television, soap operas, announcing, and writing to performing in over 400 commercials. He has currently retired to the wilds of Southern Oregon.

Steve Carlson currently resides in Los Angeles, in the state of California. Steve Carlson was born in 1943.

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > Communications > Film Studies
2Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Performing Arts > Theater > Acting & Auditioning
3Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Movies > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Hitting Your Mark: Making a Life & Living as a Film Actor?

excellent guide to screen acting  May 19, 2007
Over the years, whole libraries have been filled with books teaching the principles and finesses of acting. Yet the specifics of acting for the camera, which requires a totally different technical approach, have rarely been documented in great detail. Enter actor Steve Carlson, a veteran of film, television, infomercials... you name it. He's done it all, seen it all and now tells it all in Hitting Your Mark.
The book consists of two parts. Part one begins with some technical information, and teaches the reader all about the importance of marks, camera awareness in several different types of set-up, how to handle close-ups and share the frame with your fellow actors. But he also talks about using cue cards and teleprompters (essential in infomercials and daytime soaps), the challenges of doing love scenes well (including several types of movie kiss). The importance of lights, sound and editing are explained in detail, and it finally becomes clear how much of your own stunts you're allowed to do - and why.
The second part of the book is about having a successful career. For Carlson, this means more than getting jobs: it also means creating a positive frame of mind, both on set and off, and managing your emotional and financial life effectively.
Written in a friendly, clear style, this book is a good read and contains tons of excellent information. Carlson's wealth of experience makes this a must-read for anyone who intends to get into acting for the camera.

Provides the information to allow an actor to make the most of his or her experience  Aug 6, 2006
Now in a newly updated and expanded second edition, Hitting Your Mark: Making A Life - And A Living - As A Film Actor is a 266-page, hard-hitting, factual, complete reference and how-to book for the aspiring media actor. Hitting Your Mark should be required reading for all would-be film actors. All imaginable Actors' 101 questions are dealt with up front, and some that are tough to imagine. Author Steve Carlson has drawn on his thirty eight years of experience TV and films to create an excellent textbook for actors. Because it is a second edition, it is divided into Book one, which deals with introductions to the basics of camera, set, and stage, technical areas, marks and blocking, camera awareness, working to 'please' the camera, love scenes, editing, teleprompter and cue cards, light and sound, and unique situations and positions, plus auditions on camera. Book Two contains more information about the actual life and experiences of a media actor and the requirements and expectations that make a professional actor successful, or at least, likely to be rehired. The author refers to learning that all production is a team effort, to developing professional POV, or point of view, by which he means "Attitude." Attitude can be all-important in determining an actor's level of success and even whether or not they will enjoy their success. The following statement sums up much of what the author believes: "A seasoned professional uses his experience to anticipate problems before they occur and help others on the set who may not be as comfortable as they (p. 191)." Carlson goes on to cover readiness, competing, success and failure, finances (or show busine$$), life off the set, and wrap-up. Some of his closing Thoughts to Live By are priceless: "Do not act like a 'star... Be good and true to the people who are being good to you... Keep your word...Keep your personal life as simple as possible...Keep good care of money matters...Never be in a position where you 'have' to have this part. Do not borrow money from anyone except the bank and even then, only in dire necessity or when buying a house. (After your career is off and running.) Don't ask, or even permit, someone to do for you what you wouldn't do for them...No one was ever hired out of pity and never will be. You have to be good to play this game (pp. 259-260)." Hitting Your Mark is an actor's friend. It does not pretend to be an actor's teacher, that will be experience, but it provides the information to allow an actor to make the most of his or her experience.
Not just for actors...  Jun 28, 2006
This book is not just great for actors, it's great for anyone in the film business who takes their career seriously. Part career management and inspirational guide, it's the kind of no nonsense advice that anyone entering the business needs to know.
Are you an actor? Read this book.  Jun 19, 2006
It was hot on this summer day. I was standing in the middle of an old Airport, Seattle's Original International Airport with conveyor belts for luggage and open areas and ticket counters and I was watching the set-up of the scene. I was still a Junior in High School and I had gotten to be a paid extra for a "Made-For-TV" film entitled: "Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy" starring the beautiful and talented Jaclyn Smith.

Having been a film buff for years, I knew what they were setting up, where the camera was, who the "players" were: The assistant directors who would tell us where to stand, the lighting guys moving large deflectors, the director and the producer. This wasn't my first day on the set - and my knowledge served me well.

How? By watching. I watched as an assistant director made a mark on the floor and focused the camera. "That's where she's going to stand." I said to myself. And scooted my way over to stand right next to the mark. Moments later my hope was dashed as ANOTHER assistant director setting up the extras, came over and had me switch with the woman I was standing next to. But then the FIRST assistant director came back and told me to switch back. This was my moment.

Within a couple minutes Jaclyn Smith, all decked out in period garb, came out and stood next to me. She clenched her fists, going over her lines, took some direction and waited for the next move.

With a lull in the moment I turned to Ms. Smith and said: "You're doing a really good job." There, I said it. I talked to a CHARLIE'S ANGEL (and the best looking one at that - IMHO) and she smiled at me and said: "Thanks." SHE TALKED BACK TO ME! I shut up. No need to say more. Don't want to get kicked off the set.

"Are you an actor, too?" She asked me.

Not realizing she was going to speak to me I stammered over my words, barely making a coherent sentence, something about High School and plays and yeah, actor, someday. Then they started shooting the film.

"Hitting Your Mark" is what Jaclyn Smith did. Observing and shutting up is what I did. I got paid. So did she.

"Hitting Your Mark" is an excellent book for anyone on the cusp of starting a career in acting. Okay, maybe not as you are driving off to your first audition for the "Smith County Players" but for when you are about to pack up your car and head to L.A. (or New York).

There's an obviousness to this book that I do not want to discount. The obviousness is that you are about to make it big - or are about to partake on making it big.

Much like the author states (at least a couple times), this is not a book about acting. This is, really, a book about what it means to be a paid actor. Getting the job, keeping the job. Working with professionals, dealing with the aspects of the various jobs, etc.

Just like the title says: "Making A Life - And A Living - As A Film Actor."

Now, I know what you're thinking: "You are a screenwriter - you write about screenplays - what are you doing reviewing a book about making a living as an actor?"

Simple! As a screenwriter you should be aware of ALL the aspects of the business. From the Gaffer who is stringing cable to the Director (who is stringing the Gaffer for not laying the proper cable).

Why? Well, first, what harm does it do? None! Second, what benefit does it do? Tons! Let me explain:

Knowing a film set and who is on it, and what they bring to it, gives you a better understanding of how the system works. If you write a love scene that could very well have been in an erotic film - reading about actors and erotic love scenes - and how they are filmed - may give you and understanding of the difference between your hot erotic love scene in the back seat of a car turned into a confused, awkward, 12 hour shoot that lacked chemistry and energy. Is that your fault? No. But if you knew going in what was involved...maybe it would have been far more erotic (and easier to write) about two people stealing a kiss behind a church.

Oh, and what of that kiss? How have you written it? Passionate? Tonsil hockey? A slight peck on the cheek? Each one has its own issues when it comes to being photographed.

Same goes for other scenes you set up. Do you understand "coverage?" Do you have an understanding of what the actors are looking for in a scene? What about dialogue, editing, the look, the feel of the scene. Are you writing a scene an actor is going to chomp into like a hungry pit-bull? Or are you writing a scene an actor will likely sleep through?

Cutting into the psyche of an actor (as Mr. Carlson enables you to do in this book) you have a better understanding of what THEY bring to the table when it comes to your written words. It also gives you a better understanding of why they may change your scenes, change your words or, even, change your characters.

Mr. Carlson's book is broken up into two books. Book one is all the technical aspects of an actor's life. From the "Hitting Your Mark" of the title to "Love Scenes" and "Working With a Teleprompter." The chapters are relatively short and to the point and they usually end with a "summary" of what was just said.

Book Two deals with the life OFF the set. "Competing," "Success and Failure" and a chapter actually titled: "Life Off The Set." It is in this 2nd book where the lessons of life in Hollywood can be just as important for the writer of a screenplay as they can be for the actor.

Most of these lessons fall into the category of common sense but it's always important to remember them:

Be professional
Treat people with respect
Be ready
Learn your lines
Be on time, if not early
Do not take rejection personally
Ask questions
Pay attention
Be nice
Make friends
(and many others)

There are other aspects of this book that relate directly to a professional writing career in Hollywood. Taking meetings, working with professionals, holding yourself to a higher standard, understanding (and reminding yourself) that Hollywood is a business and working with creative (and sometimes difficult) people.

The only issue that I really have with the book is that I would have liked to have read more stories from the "trenches." Having been an actor for 40 years, Mr. Carlson could have liberally sprinkled many other stories of out-of-control divas, stunts gone bad, drunken directors, crew member initiations (if they have them), craft food problems, etc. Maybe he will save those stories for the third edition.

Bottom line: As a screenwriter, it's important to have a grasp of all the aspects of film. Steve Carlson's book takes you into all the things an actor has to deal with in an interesting and fascinating way.

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