August 11, 2014

LA Casting Director Jeffery Passero Offering Acting Intensive Class In Duluth, August 16

"Acting is not about being someone different. It's finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there." -- Meryl Streep

Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to audition for a feature film being cast by Jeffery Passero, a casting director based out of Los Angeles. His experience and passion were immediately evident and his willingness to work with me on the character for whom I was reading gave me insight beyond what I picked up on my own. It was exactly the kind of interactive audition I appreciate.

Talking with Mr. Passero after reading my audition sides, he said something that took me by surprise. Having been in Minnesota for several days trying to cast the remaining roles in Jim Ojela's feature film, Strange Nature, he was surprised by the lack of preparation by so many auditioning.

I was embarrassed for us. We Minnesota actors take pride in being a talented group. Our theater community is widely recognized as one of the best in the nation. Therein lies one of the problems.

Stage acting is drastically different than screen acting. Only a small percentage of actors can truly excel in both arenas. Many auditioning for Mr. Passero may have been projecting to a live audience that just isn't a part of movie production. Stage actors are often too big for the camera.

Still, Mr. Passero's comment was specifically aimed at the lack of preparation actors brought to their auditions. Stage or screen, preparation is necessary for any audition.

Then it hit me. We're a theater community, for sure. But we're also a commercial and industrial video community. One can make a career in commercials and industrial films by simply being themselves. Auditioning for a 30-second commercial requires familiarity with a page of story boards and maybe a few lines of dialogue. Rarely is there much real acting involved in a commercial.

So when a feature film comes to town, perhaps many who find success in commercial auditions simply don't know how to make the transition from one-dimensional archetypes to layered characters with a history. A great smile, great voice, great energy can take an actor a long ways in commercials, but it takes authenticity to bring a movie character to life.

Some readers of this are rolling their eyes right now, maybe even angry at this pretentious Justen Overlander claiming to know this and that. Rest assured, this is only a theory, one that I only developed recently after meeting Jeff Passero. Agree or disagree with my conclusion, one can't argue with Mr. Passero's observation that too many actors he saw were unprepared.

On Saturday, August 16th, Jeffery Passero will be teaching his one-day acting intensive workshop from 10am - 5pm at the Duluth  Playhouse (The Underground). The workshop consists of two classes in which students will do a memorized scene and at least two audition sides which will be prepared as if students were auditioning for Mr. Passero. The memorized scene will be provided before the class.

Fee for the entire day is $150, which includes two 3-hour sessions. Students also have the option of enrolling in just the afternoon session (audition skills) for $75.

For more information about Jeffery Passero and his classes, visit his website:

To enroll in his August 16th Duluth class, please call 818.506.8400.

Casting Director/Acting Coach Jeff Passero