This is Our Story

We're the Sprayberrys and we moved to Los Angeles about four years ago to have our go at Hollywood. When we met the folks at Children In Film, they thought it would be a great idea if we documented our story. After all, our failures and successes (hopefully more the latter than the former) can be your lesson book.

So here you have it - Dylan and Ellery working through the ups and downs of being child actors - their mother and I working hard every day to ensure their success not only as actors, but also as well-adjusted members of society.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Improvisation: It Can Make The Difference

When we talk with experienced film experts - writers, actors, directors, etc - we often hear about how critical improv is and how it brings out the creative abilities in an actor that can make the difference.

It occurred to me just last week as I watched Dylan and Ellery audition for a feature where they would be playing fraternal twins just how important the ability to improvise really is.

First off, I must give major credit to our very talented and insightful manager for her creative thinking in submitting the kids for this role. Because she is very aware of their abilities and personalities, she made the audition opportunity possible. We are so grateful to her!

So we received the sides (pages of a script containing only the lines and cues of a specific role to be learned by a performer) which appeared to be a fairly easy preparation for Dylan and Ellery. When we got to the audition, we signed in as usual and the kids were taken into the audition room. As a parent, you always seem to study the faces and reactions of the children as they come out of the audition room. Because parents generally are not invited into the auditions, the first reaction is usually the indicator of how things went.

When they came out, they were laughing and jumping up and down. I could feel the energy in the room.

Both of the gentlemen in casting came out smiling and having a fun time with Dylan and Ellery; I'm thinking, "What is going on here? They are having a blast!!"

I became excited and didn't even really know what was so exciting!!!

The gentlemen waved goodbye to us and I was thinking, "Wow, they must have knocked this out of the the ballpark!!"

Dylan and Ellery couldn't wait to tell me how great they did; they immediately showed me their scenes and I was thinking, "If they did this for those guys, a call back is for sure on its way - no doubt about it."

We get to the car and they once again perform the scenes for their mother - she and I were both laughing and enjoying watching the enormous amounts of energy exuding from the kids.

Then it occurred to me: These lines were different!!!

I confirmed this fact with Dylan and Ellery. "Guys," I asked, "these are different lines. You're not saying the same things you said before when you first got out."

"Yeah Dad," they returned as if the explanation was obvious. "We had to improv and it was soooo fun!"

It was at that moment that I knew the improv classes, training and many hours of coaching and teaching had truly paid off. Improvisation, though spontaneous, is still a skill and a technique. It takes work and dedication and training even for the best of improv performers. The kids' training on the subject had come to great use!

Improv is something we continue to work on as part of our resume of acting skills. It will always remind Dylan and Ellery that the ability to react successfully to a curve ball thrown their way is only possible when you are thinking creatively and confidently.

The great thing about improv training is that it teaches spontaneity, creativity and confidence - skills that the children will use in their acting careers, but also in everyday life. A person that can think on their own, outside of the box and on their feet will experience great success in many areas of their life. I highly recommend improv training as 'brain-train' for any child, especially those looking to act.

When asked to improv, Dylan and Ellery didn't hesitate. They ran with it!

Three days later we received a call back and two days after that we received the call alerting us that Dylan and Ellery had booked the job!

The real bonus for us is that Dylan and Ellery will appear in a feature together as brother and sister - what a very special experience for our family!

Improv - it can, and did, make a difference!


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