The Green Room's On-Camera Training Program

In Short

A comprehensive 5 level training program that takes the experienced actor and modifies their skills to master the demands of today's on camera styles. Some students opt to only take one class, some take a few over the course of a year or two, but many choose to complete the entire program. Whatever best fits your schedule, you will find it to be the BEST on-camera training around.

The Roots

The purpose of The Green Room's On Camera Training Program is to not only educate actors in the skills required in on-camera acting, but to bring the actor to a place of full ownership of these tools. The training program is founded on the experiences of Casting Directors and their inside view of the on-camera acting profession. The classes are taught by professionals in the field who have extensive experience behind the camera in both auditions and production. We are a unique group of teachers who bring professional acting experience to the table, and more importantly ALSO bring the perspective that only comes from years of experience as Casting Directors, Directors, and Producers. We acknowledge the depth and scope of the art of acting and how the lines may bleed between styles, from venue to venue, stage to film, drama to comedy. We strive to help bring depth, reality, and inspiration to all of the work our actors do. The training program focuses specifically on on-camera skills, but never fails to keep the fundamentals of honesty and creativity in the performances of our students.

The Program

Due to the cumulative and unique nature of the program's approach, all actors begin in Level One regardless of whether they are SAG, AFTRA, have had previous On-Camera training, or hold an MFA in acting. One of the most common questions we get is "What level should I start in? I already have on-camera experience." These classes were designed based on our experiences directing professional actors in real life on-camera commercial, film, and TV auditions; actors that we had called in time and time again, who give decent, believeable performances, and actually get some work. These actors we have based the work on have talent agents, get called in for auditions, and have seen the inside of a callback session. But there are basic principles that they simply fail to bring to their work on a regular basis that keeps them from working nearly as much as they could. Because we find that the work that most seasoned actors need to focus on to take them to the next level is a fresh examination of some very basic principles, many of our students who have less experience than most actually thrive right alongside the actors who have been doing this for years. We do allow students into the program who have limited experience in their acting careers as well. We've seen many a success in the fresh, honest approach of those who come to the table without the baggage of an indellibly ingrained acting process.

Level 1: Simplicity, Specificity, Change, & the need for Real AND Raw

Level 2: Rules of Improv in on-camera settings, "The Where" & other "Events"

Level 3: Styles, Switches, & Personality

Level 4: TV & Film

Level 5: The Callback


Along with the On Camera training program, we will continue to strive to create and/or offer elective courses for a more well rounded acting educational process for the students.

Why a year long program? It is our goal to produce "On-Camera Actors" as opposed to "Actors With Some On-Camera Training." All to often actors will take an on-camera class or two at various institutes, and never walk away with a cohesive set of tools with which to approach their on-camera work. As such, their approach ends up having little difference from their general acting approach, and fails to fit into the styles and requirements of professional on-camera roles. Instead of the"smorgasboard" approach, we provide a 5 level on-camera training program that takes the actor through a unique approach which presents every aspect of on camera acting step by step, and works to instill the principles into the actor's on-camera instincts. We also have strong relationships with the city's talent agencies so that we can keep them informed of their talent's growth as well as provide ourselves with feedback on certain topics and classes agents would like their talent to have access to. The actor will graduate equipped with skills in all areas of on-camera acting including technical, stylistic, and strategic skills in Commercials, Television, Film, and Industrial mediums.

FAQ: "Which Program should I take- the On Camera Training Program, or the Green Room Professional Program?

For info call 312-685-2774, or email us.

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Recent Blog Posts

By: Courtney Rioux

Courtney’s first day as EMT #1.

As a recurring character on a network television show and an acting coach, I get a lot of emails from people asking what they can expect from their first day on set for an episodic.

I remember my first day on a network TV set, as “EMT #1” on Chicago Fire. I was excited, but mostly nervous. It was a hot Saturday in July. Most people I knew were at Lollapalooza and I was on 290 in an ambulance.

At lunch, I was eating alone and my background EMT partner sat at another table alone. I called him over. He told me he wasn’t allowed to talk to “1st team”, which is why he didn’t automatically sit by me. It wasn’t my first time on set ever, but it felt like it and I could have used some company. I hope I can shed some light for you here on a day in the life on set, so you can be less nervous than I was on day one.

The night before, you’ll get a call time from the Key 2nd AD (assistant director). Don’t ask your agent about your call time. They won’t know. This is because your call time depends on when the crew is wrapping for the evening before your shoot. They need 9-12 hours of turnaround time from one day to another (depending on actors and crew turnaround times.)

When you get on set, find the 2nd AD and get their name. They’ll sign you in and get you to your trailer/honeywagon. There you’ll read, sign and take a picture of your contract. Make sure your rate, your name and everything is correct. If not, reach out to your agent or SAG-AFTRA.

If your name is incorrect, that’s how it will show up in the credits of the show. If your rate is scale, check and see that there’s a + 10% for your agent. If not, your agent can’t take money out of your scale pay. Look out for them, too. If it’s above scale, they’ll take the 10% out of your pay, or have your agent negotiate 10% on top of your above scale pay.

Always take a picture of your contract and keep it for future reference! Don’t feel rushed. You’ll have time.

Get dressed in your trailer. They’ll call you to hair and makeup so you’ll be ready to head to set for rehearsals. First you might have a private rehearsal for the actors, director, DP (director of photography), script supervisor, and writer. There will definitely be a marking rehearsal for the crew. After that you’ll get wired (your mic) and sit around to wait until the crew sets up the shot.

You’ll be on 1st team, and they’ll use a 2nd team (stand-ins) to get lighting and shots set up.

On set, the director and the 1st AD will be running the show and giving you direction. The script supervisor will let you know if you’re getting your lines wrong. Make sure you’re matching up where you say your lines on each shot. This will help in the editing room.

There will be a lot of “hurry up and wait”. You’ll film your scene from multiple angles and shots with lots of set up in between for the crew. We get paid to sit around and wait!

SAG-AFTRA actor, Ilyssa Fradin, is often asked how long an actor will be on set for the day. She says to expect 8-12 hours. Just come prepared. Bring your chargers for your electronics, some work and reading materials. Fradin recommends bringing your own food in case you can’t get to Craft Services or have specific nutritional needs or food allergies.

My advice to you is to know your lines and your mark, and LISTEN!

Have a good attitude. Have fun and be yourself, but read the room. Know when to talk and when to stay quiet. Take direction and listen to everything being said to you and around you. When the director yells cut, go closer (but not too close!) to the conversations if you can.

Nicole McGovern, 2nd 2nd AD (no, that’s not a typo) on Chicago Med says, “Observe what’s happening. Be self-aware, but not in the way.” McGovern also says to be prepared for anything. Scenes get changed and moved to different days. “If you’re working multiple days, we may add another scene if we are ahead of schedule. A set may not be ready or an emergency may come up.”

When someone tells you their name, listen, say it out loud back to them, and write it down so you remember it next time you see them. Get a call sheet and study the names of the crew. They are making you look and sound good. They are awesome. Be friends with them. Thank them for their hard work!

Be aware of where the cameras are at all times, but of course don’t look into them.

Be prepared, but flexible.

Be willing to fail, and be willing to succeed.

Know that one mistake will not get you fired. Let it go, take a deep breath, and fix it in the next take. I can’t tell you how many times I thought I’d never be called in again, and four years later, I’m still there!

Don’t stop acting until someone yells cut, even if you think you’ve messed up and you want to start over. Keep going unless you’re told differently. They might be getting someone else’s coverage, and don’t need your lines to be right in that take. Keep going!

Never leave set without telling anyone. Find a PA (production assistant) or a 2nd AD and let them know where you’re going (ie: your trailer, the bathroom, to makeup etc). If you’re going to the bathroom, just ask, “Can I 10-1?” They’ll know what you mean.

If you’re like me, you’re probably worried you don’t know what you’re doing. No one really does his or her first day on set. Just pay attention to the veterans and learn on the job.

Sean Bradley, SAG-AFTRA actor and owner of The Green Room Studio says, “You don’t need to know everything. Feel free to ask questions.”

McGovern agrees, “You can ask the AD’s or PA’s questions. You might think it’s a stupid question, but it’s probably not.” (Fear not, there are a ton of PAs whose job it is to take care of you like you are a baby.)

Bradley adds, “Stay away from the dessert table. It’s a dangerous drug that will make you very sleepy for the rest of the day.”

Speaking of energy for the day, I always meditate beforehand. It helps me stay calm when action is yelled. I’m more focused and relaxed, and I find it helps me be best self in a stressful time. Need a guided meditation? Reach out to me and I’ll send one!

Finally, one of the stars on Med gave some great advice to a day player the other day. She was telling him there was food available for the cast and crew. She told him to go get a container and put it in his trailer before the food was gone. Then she yelled as he was leaving, “Act like you belong!” The first few times you are on set, you might not feel like you belong. You do. Act like it. Don’t be a jerk, but act confidently. You’re worthy of being there. Like the old saying goes, “Fake it ‘til you make it”!

And at the end of the day, find your 2nd AD who signed you in and sign out properly!

You got this!!

Check out our latest video in the series now!

We’ve just launched our new series of videos about The Acting Business in Chicago!
…where we will explore all sorts of business aspects of the acting world to help actors make more informed and strategic decisions – both in their business decisions AND in their audition performances.

We’ll release a new video each week. The first video is an introduction to the series- and the educational info starts next week – – so subscribe to our newsletter now!. Upcoming topics include:

– How the commercial business is structured
– How Casting Directors Prep the auditions for commercials
– How the actual commercial audition process works
– How the Prep for a TV & Film audition differs from commercial
– How the actual TV or Film audition process works
– Who’s the best talent agency in town
– Headshots
– Resumes
– Marketing
– Unions
– Bookings
…. and loads more!!!

Here’s the video below, and check us out at www.thegreenroomstudio.tv and sign up for our newsletter now!

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