Jun 1, 2011

Matt the Actor

After I came home from my LDS Mission back in 1995 (wow! that really dates me) I was unsure of what I wanted to do and what I wanted to be. I wanted to go back to school and I was thinking of either Sociology or Broadcast Journalism but I was unsure if school was right for me at the time. I had a steady job working for MotorCargo but I wanted to do more in life than just working for a paycheck.
I saw an ad in the paper from the Eastman Agency that was looking for models and actors. So I thought what the heck and decided to go down for an interview. I met an agent names Jenny and we talked about modeling and acting. The company was more into modeling and it wanted to branch out into acting and I was one of the first applicants to come in for acting. The more that we spoke the more that we both thought I should give this a good try. So I signed up to take some acting classes.

The acting classes were taught by actor Bruce Ackerman and we met once a week for about two months. The classes were fantastic. There were about ten of us that took the class and we really got along and bonded. Bruce taught us a lot about acting for the camera and how to get over being nervous and how to really get the best emotion out of all of us. Then it was up to us to reenact a favorite scene from a movie. And the one I chose was "one of the more interesting and gutsiest" actors to follow. I chose the opening scene to Army of Darkness with Bruce Campbell. Bruce advised me that this would be a hard act to follow (not sure if he meant the pun) and said that this would be a make or break it type of audition. But I did it anyway.

We were to practice and then audition if front of everyone and then he would critique it. I have to admit that it was a little nerve wracking to perform in front of him and my peers. I do recall that I volunteered to go first so I could get it out of the way. I was glad for it to be done with and he said that I did very well especially considering the source material. He said that my facial expressions were some of the best he has seen. The next project was to partner up with a few other classmates and pick another scene to act out at a recital to finish the training.

But first we had the awesome opportunity to go down to Salt Lake a few times and work with an agent that worked for LDS Productions. These were audition workshops and they really taught me a lot. We did this four times during the course and they were the best part. Our instructor would first introduce us to the audition world and then we dove right in. He would hand us a partial script and tell us who our character was and what he wanted and then we would practice for about fifteen minutes and then head in for a live audition. The first two times we went they were singular auditions, so you were really on your own. The third week was acting together in pairs. He would pair us up together and hand us a script and told us to work it out how we thought it should go.

I remember one audition in particular. I was paired up with Alina and we were a married couple. The script came from Field of Dreams. The more we practiced it the better we felt we got but it seemed like the audition was still missing something. So Alina came up with this idea that if we were married, we should act like we were married and be more affectionate physically. We didn't know if this was frowned upon in the audition process but we didn't have anything to lose. So we went ahead and threw ourselves in these roles. It was an amazing experience. We were these characters and it got to the point that we forgot our lines and just ad libbed the rest of the scene. But it worked because we were in sync with each other. Our instructor stopped us before we got to the end and he was speechless. He said that was the best audition he has seen so far and if we were auditioning for real, he would have hired us right on the spot! It didn't matter that we forgot the lines. It was more important to capture the feeling than the words. He then asked everyone that was watching if they noticed that we were making up our lines. And none of them said they did because they were absorbed in the scene. He then said "There is no such thing as overacting when it is real."

We continued with these workshops and classes and finally it was time to graduate. We put on a show at a fraternity hall at Utah State and we invited our friends and family. I teamed up with Alina again and also Trudy and we chose the Miracle Max scene from the Princess Bride. We also met up together and practiced and practiced for this recital. And we knocked it out of the park! We had such a good time throughout the evening and we were told that ours was the best.

My handwritten script of the Princess Bride

The next week we took pictures for our portfolio and then it was time to begin auditions. Unfortunately the Eastman Agency was not properly equipped for handling acting as it was for modeling and they packed their bags from Logan and moved back down to Salt Lake. I didn't get to audition anywhere like I wanted too but the class and experience was still worth it.

While the Eastman Agency didn't land me any jobs, my class instructor did. Bruce called me twice and got me two acting gigs. They were both voice over work for some local businesses for the radio. It was a lot of fun to get into the studio and perform. Bruce thought I was the most talented of the bunch (and I am not just saying that because I can) and said that I had a lot of versatility. But that was the last professional work I did. Like I said, I don't regret it at all. In fact, this class helped me land a spot in the musical Chess.

I still would like to get into acting. There is just something neat about nailing a scene and selling it to an audience. I guess acting around the house for Kristy and Logan will do for now.


  1. Matt.
    I loved acting too. We are so good at it. Life is just one big stage. Your mom and I were just talking about how we all put on a different face for different things, like men act like things don't hurt and some women act like they are dyeing. The real you is better than anything I have seen in all the people you may have played, I love you just like you are.
    Aunt Margo

  2. I never knew you were so versatile ... but I suppose when I think back on all our younger days we sure acted the part of boys playing with GI Joes andthe like. Very fun read!