The Learning Lab: A New Acting Model In Asheville, NC

The Process is actor training based on the theory that learning should be living and ever expanding. It is the culmination of the training journey and personal professional experience of Screen Artists Co-op founder Jon Menick. The Process came to fruition due to the inspired exchange between Mentor and students in the Learning Lab.

The courses are divided into four paths. First, The Process Series, to inform the imagination and breathe inner life into the character. Second, an intense series of classes on the Art of the Audition. Third, Persona, an immersive technique into the depths of character acquisition. And fourth, Skill Building, a variety of classes designed to eliminate actor craft deficiencies.

Blocks & Fears

Your fears and blocks cause you to reject the character in ways that they differ from you, or in areas you will not accept. They keep you from going all the way. This class explores the layers of blocks and fears that lie within the actor. You will learn to let down your guard, strengthen your impulses, reveal your true self, and leave space for a character to enter.

Sense Streaming

You cannot execute a planned scenario and be present at the same time. If you are acting from pre-planned choices, you have cut off your natural impulses and the ability to react believably to the circumstances that arise in the moment. During this class, you build the foundation to break your dependency on thinking your way through a performance, by focusing your mind on what your senses are receiving. You will achieve a state of physical neutrality that is open and accessible to impulse and free from anxiety.

Image Streaming

This course explores your dreams and memories in order to inspire your creative center. You will learn to surrender your decision making apparatus and strengthen your intuitive sensibilities, by traveling through your memories with the intent of reliving the emotions that occurred therein. The purpose of this technique is not to use your past for performance, but rather to demonstrate that emotion lies dormant beneath your memory. At the conclusion of this class, you will have developed the skill to experience believable emotions generating from exploration of the sub-conscious.

Audition I: Stillness & Connection

An advantage for any actor is to be able to create the impression of a believable performance while working in front of a camera. Since many taped auditions are shot in a close up or medium close up, it is prudent to be able to hold your work in a still body. It is also important to be free of a plan so the audience witnesses the performance as though the character was living it in real time. The camera techniques of a non self conscious actor who is free to connect are the challenges we confront in this class. Just the work one must do to control blinking is profound, much less the trust one must have to not indicate, but to rely on stillness and connection to carry the burden of understanding to the audience. This course has an immediate impact on Casting Directors perception of our actors screen savvy.

Audition II: Process Script Analysis

Upon receiving the sides for an audition, it is not unusual for an actor to be stricken with fear. This fear to please, to want, to have, causes us to extract the character out of the context of the script before we understand the story. Consequently, we act out of context. We begin to make cognitive choices that do not fulfill the obligations of the script, but rather the imposed obligation of success. The Script Analysis course has an objective of short circuiting the tendency to scuttle our own work. Our aim is to be fully cognitive until we have carefully broken down the script and have done it without attachment to the character. In fact, we learn to become a script detective. Once achieving an intimate understanding of the material, we are free to fully immerse into our imagination and create choices that are grounded in our subconscious. The result is undeniably superior to the alternative.

Audition III: Auditioning For Series & Film

An intense study of television series filmed in the Southeast region and application of audition techniques that repeat the precise style of each show are examined. This class is invaluable if you are currently in the agency. It is especially relevant during Pilot Season.

Audition IIII: Auditioning For Commercials

An intense study of commercials in the Southeast region and applying audition techniques that repeat the precise style of each type of commercials that we examine. This class is valuable if you are currently in the agency. Audition Process and Script Analysis are prerequisites.

Persona I: The Voice In The Body

This course will probe the details of character acquisition. We will focus on the voice and learn the principles of changing vocal placement, learning how to strengthen vocal flexibility and range. The second part of the class will work to break down the body through isolation, rotation and inclination. The goal is to create a language of voice and body to understand the differences between our behavior and that of our character’s physical and vocal characteristics.

Building A Character

In this course, we will examine the process of full immersion into a living, believable, human being. This process begins by dissecting a well known individual’s voice and mannerisms. After attaining the attributes of this individual, you will learn to morph into a new character. At the end of the course, we you will know the steps to become a new person.

Character To Script

This course coalesces the previous courses in Script Analysis, Image Streaming (to discover character) and Persona, to acquire our imagined character through the process of imitation, mannerisms, vocal specificity and integration. We culminate the work by allowing our new Persona to discover moments in the performance that are fresh and directly connected to the person we created.

Finding Your Funny Bone On Film

How do you make a scene funny? How do you ferret out the setups, rhythms and buttons contained within the lines? What is a Zinger, wet or dry delivery, an undercut? How do you maintain character when you have to be funny? What are the different styles in sitcoms and comedy films. What are the essential skills that an actor must have to be funny on film? What if you aren’t funny, can you still deliver humor?

As the Southeastern Film opportunities continue to grow, more and more comedies, sitcoms and funny commercials are hitting the market. This course begins with in depth analysis of comedy scripts with the objective of identifying and performing the humor contained within the scene. A variety of styles will be examined. The formulas of comedy and the ability to pull them off in an audition and performance will be dissected.

Building A Believable English Dialect

It is an essential tool of any series actor to have a number of dialects that they have mastered. In our region there are any number of television shows and films that require believable British accents. This course strives to perfect the dialect and train the muscles to be able to maintain it for life.

Building A Standard American Accent

Replacing a regional dialect with a Standard American dialect is required by all actors in order to consistently be hired in the Southeast region. We can no longer get away with southern dialects as our only way of speaking. Our market is national and the roles that are cast require a non regional accent. We strive to eliminate any evidence of “home speech.”

Series & Film Scene Study

Advanced Actor/Mentors conduct this course. Current Films and TV series scripts from the Agency are worked on in a traditional Scene Study format.

Set Savvy

Hit your mark? Don’t trip over the stingers! Find your light! Continuity please. So you arrive on the set, who do you report to? What’s first, your trailer or your make up? What do all those forms mean? What the heck is a First AD and what do they do? There are hundreds of little things an actor needs to know in order not to look like a “talking prop?” After over 20 years of professional work on sets, Ms Gatti is ready to share knowledge with our SAC actors. It’s the little things that mean the difference between producers and directors wanting you back on the set or wanting you to disappear. This four week Practicum will definitely give you the edge on the former and eliminate the latter.

Improvisation For Television/Film

Improvisation inspired from the Method is applied to uncover the subtext of film and television scripts. Bringing reality to the inner work of the actor is stressed. The ability to work the “moment before” and the “moment after” is examined. Also creating metaphorical improvisation to enlighten the actor to the soul of the scene is stressed in the course.

Voice Over

Learn the art of voiceover and what is needed to be successful in this competitive and fun industry. Learn to make technical and emotional choices that will help you effectively deliver commercial and narration copy. Learn the basics of digital audio recording and editing.