As a professional director, I tend to approach teaching from more of a directing standpoint, creating actors that directors prefer to hire. Sometimes, the difference between getting the part or being passed over is learning how to make strong choices in the moment and commit to them. My diverse actor training background including the techniques of Stanislavski, Lee Strasberg, Sanford Meisner, Uta Hagen, Stella Adler, Viola Spolin, and Anne Bogart’s Viewpoints gives me the toolbox to give actors individualized exercises to help them have their very own “Aha!” moment that can subsequently be recreated from take to take on camera. The technical aspects that differentiate living truthfully on the camera from a stage performance take a great deal of practice. The exercises and activities we will do in my classes will make learning new techniques and skills more natural and fun.
My Perspectives on Training for the Industry:
First and foremost, training for the Industry should be fun and enjoyable. Putting yourself out there to be told “no” significantly more than “yes” can really take its toll. But if you can learn from every experience, positive or negative, and enjoy the ride along the way, the definition of success will take on a whole new meaning. Striving to be “discovered” is not something that should be considered as a vehicle to success, but rather being prepared with an entire bag of tools when the opportunity arises to prove yourself is truly the way to make it happen. I tell my students that if being an actor is what they want to do with their lives, then they need to do something every single day that gives them the right to call themselves an “actor.” Whether you’re reading a script, breaking down a scene, watching a film or television show with a critical eye, or people watching to analyze character and behavior, training and growth does not only occur inside the classroom but in daily life.
Meet Francine Michelle:
Francine Michelle is an independent filmmaker who has directed, shot, and edited projects big and small, including a documentary of the making of Ice T’s rap album, Black Ice, Urban Legends. Her narrative feature film, Desertion, which she both wrote and directed, garnered much attention at the LA Femme Film Festival in Beverly Hills, took home the top feature award at The Valley Film Festival, and was nominated for best feature by a first time director at The Heart of England Film Festival. Always up for a challenge, Francine was the Director of Photography, camera operator, and editor on the independent feature film, The Miracle Man.
Francine has directed a number of short films, music videos, an entire web series entitled BernThis, and after the birth of her first son, and founded a documentary production company that helped families capture and document their stories. After a few-year hiatus from Hollywood to raise her boys, she has written a number of projects that she is in pre-production on.
Training and education-wise, Francine was selected to be a part of the inaugural class in Directing at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In addition, she studied acting at the Lee Strasberg Institute in New York, and was accepted as the youngest ever Director Member of the famed Actor’s Studio. She taught acting for over a decade at the New York Film Academy, the Lee Strasberg Institute, and a number of smaller schools throughout Los Angeles, and was invited to teach a special Acting for Film course in Salerno, Italy. Throughout the course of her teaching, she directed students in scenes and short films with professional crews and equipment.