One on One with Michael Bean

by Patricia Cullen on February 25, 2009

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Whether you have kids or teens interested in acting or you are a young adult looking to get into the business, Vancouver is a great place to get a head start. In addition to joining a drama class in elementary school, young actors can get a leg up on the competition through the many studios offering classes and coaching geared toward the 17 years and under crowd.

One such place is Biz Studio. Since 2002, Biz Studio has been providing professional screen acting classes for kids & teens. We caught up with Founder & Head Coach, Michael Bean, to get to know him and Biz Studio better.

How did Biz Studio come to be?

My talent agent at the time knew I had experience with kids and asked me to come in and help coach her clients on tape. I went from that to running some classes and getting a website together. It was such a perfect fit because it just came to me and now everything I’m passionate about is working together.

Why did you choose to focus on kids & teens?

I have a lot of experience teaching kids & teens, before coaching I used to run improv workshops in high schools, and I am very animated. I can absolutely be myself and kids dig that. It’s such a good fit that I’ve never really thought of branching out to adults.

Are there any notable difference between how adult and young adult actors approach their work?

Only about 2% of those I coach are adults. As a general rule, kids & teens will approach coaching in a very open way, because they know I’m experienced and trust my direction. But with adults you say, “Try it this way,” and they say, “Why?” Whereas kids & teens are more willing to take risks and try new things. That’s why we focus on a simulated audition, because you have to train as close to the environment you are going to be in. Under pressure and on-camera.

bizstudio

How many students are in each class?

I only teach classes of 8. I taught classes of 12 students for years. Then I took it down to 10 because I wasn’t getting enough time with students. Then I took it down again to 8 students with 2 teachers; myself and Julie Patzwald, who just won her 2nd Leo Award.

Would we recognize any of your students currently, or recently in any popular productions?

Yeah. You’d probably recognize Brett Kelly who was in Bad Santa, Unaccompanied Minors. Brett has a very specific look and he’s a very talented actor. He works a lot in LA. Just finished a feature called High School. Twice now he’s booked a role in a major US feature straight off of the tape we made together. Megan Charpentier, she works a lot and just recently shot Frankie+Alice with Halle Berry. And Sean Roche just booked a role on the Guard.

What resources do you recommend to your students? Books, DVD’s etc?

I have a 32 page handbook available on my website including an audition checklist and stuff like that. I often send people to vancouveractorsguide.com because of the message boards and regularly updated info. Aside from that, just practice. Acting is 1% theory and 99% practice.

What excites you about being a part of the film and television industry? As an actor or otherwise?

I’ve been acting since elementary school. When I was going into grade four, they built a fine arts school 2 blocks from my house. If it was a trade school, I’d be a very different person right now. How do you explain the why of what you’re passionate about? The more time that I spend acting, the more I learn about it, the more it feels like an art. It feels like the kind of thing that I could spend my life getting better at. I’m kinda hooked on the adrenaline of getting auditions. I love balancing the technological requirements of Film & TV with bringing in psychological realism. You can just get better and better at it.

If you weren’t an actor or coaching actors, what would you be doing?

(Michael thinks) I’d probably be teaching, public speaking, group facilitation, mediation, conflict resolution.

For a guy who has dual citizenship, why Vancouver and not L.A.?

In L.A., there’s 10x as much work and 100x as many actors. The SAG has 100,000 members. At least 2/3 based in LA. I’m already doing really well here. So why go down there and gamble. Sometimes gambling pays off, but because I’m already doing well here, where I’m established, and I love it here, why go down there? Once you get to the point that you’re competing for guest star roles up here, then you go down there. But I’m not there yet so I’m not willing to take the gamble.

You can find out more about Michael Bean and his services at www.bizstudio.ca

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mike Harmon February 25, 2009 at 1:30 am

I found your site on Google and read a few of your other entires. Nice Stuff. I’m looking forward to reading more from you.

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