Read Howard's Blog and Keep the Passion Burning
Get to know Howard better as he responds to questions posed by the Network Talent Community. Gain insights into the industry, the craft and what inspires Howard through his own unique voice.
'Hello, I'm Acting Coach and Author Howard Fine and I'd like to
welcome you to one my blogs for The Network Community, 'The Craft of
Acting.' I am honored to be a part of the Network Community and I want
to commend Paul Fisher for putting this together. The majority of my bio
can be read online so let me share some things that are more personal
I grew up in the smallest state in the country Rhode Island. My dad owned a gas station and was a mechanic. Unfortunately I got none of his ability. My mom, who was a Holocaust Survivor, stayed at home and raised 5 children. I am the youngest of 5 by 8 years. Although I was a mistake, Lol, they were happy to have me. I believe in personal transformation because I have experienced it. I came from a blue collar family, went to public schools and did my undergraduate work at Rhode Island College. After leaving RI, I went to graduate school in Boston and then made the move to New York. I started teaching at 23 at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy and at the ripe old age of 24 was promoted to head the acting department.
I moved to Los Angeles in 1985 and began working with actors in my living room. I got a job teaching at an acting studio and an agent happened to sit in. She was checking out an actor in my class. She didn't like him but she loved me. She represented Paul Stanley of the rock band KISS who was looking for an acting coach. She gave him the names of the top 3 coaches in Los Angeles as well as mine. Paul brought the same material to each of the coaches so that he could compare the quality of the advice. After 30 minutes he looked at me and said "You are my guy."
Paul got a great response to our work together and soon invited me to his (Bowling) birthday party. There I met numerous celebrities and soon I was in that circle. Over the years I have worked with a who's-who of Hollywood actors and written a book, “Fine on Acting”.
I love teaching acting as it is a comprehensive art form. I feel that teaching is a calling and I have devoted my life to it. It is a particular joy for me to watch someone take their first steps and then, with guidance, eventually fly. I will be answering questions on the craft of acting as part of this column. Please send them in. I will try to get to as many as possible in the coming months. I look forward to hearing from you.'
The Craft of Acting
Talent and Insecurity
Network Talent Community | November, 2011
Q: You have worked with so many famous actors throughout the
years. Have you identified any particular traits that talented people
have in common?
Thanks so much for your question. I think that my answer will surprise many. In my almost 30 years of teaching and coaching actors I have found that the truly talented are humble and insecure, and that the ungifted think that they're brilliant. With great talent comes great insecurity!
I remember a conversation that I had in the 80's with an icon in the music industry. She confessed to me that she threw up before every live performance. You would never know this from the air of confidence that she projects when performing. In the years since, I have witnessed numerous examples of this – including actors freaking out after they have won some of the biggest awards at the Oscars, Emmys and Tonys. They worry that the great performance was a fluke and that they will never work up to that level again.
Let me explain the positive benefits of self doubt. Those who question their talent work harder. The doubt translates to a work ethic. The insecure actor will not take anything for granted. Read More »
Not Self Made
Network Talent Community | September - October, 2011
Q: Who has been your greatest inspiration/s and why?
Thanks so much for your question. I heard a sermon years ago at Thanksgiving that really stuck with me. It was on the topic of gratitude. The point was that no one is entirely self-made. Everyone who has experienced any amount of success has done so with the support of family, friends, mentors, teachers, etc. This is certainly true in my case. There have been many sources of inspiration in my life, but I want to focus on three women in particular who each inspired me for different reasons - the first being the subject of this blog, the next two, in blogs to follow shortly.
The dedication in my book, Fine on Acting, reads "for my grandmother Julia Brandt who defied the odds." My grandmother was a survivor in the figurative and literal sense. She survived Nazi Germany by escaping to Shanghai, China. There, she managed to feed and care for her children as she and my grandfather struggled to make ends meet. She was able to get my grandfather out of Buchenwald concentration camp by selling everything she owned and bribing the right people. Read More »
Network Talent Community | August, 2011
Q: What do you think about people in your classes who have
been studying for years but never make any money acting? Do you tell
them not to give up?
Thanks so much for your question. I have come across numerous variations of this problem over the years and I think that it is important to make some distinctions. There are actors who get work off and on. There are actors who book low-paying, equity waiver theatre projects and non-paying student films. There are actors who never book anything at all, and lastly, there are actors who call themselves actors but do nothing to pursue their careers, except take class. This group is the saddest, and - I'm sorry to say - quite delusional. Read More »
Why vs How - Q&A with Howard Fine
Network Talent Community | July, 2011
If I had to define my approach to the work, it is in the difference between WHY and HOW. In life, we have thoughts and feelings and then we find the words to express those thoughts and feelings. This is why language was invented. We needed words to communicate our desires. In acting, we start with the words. Using technique correctly, the actor should back up and find the thoughts and feelings that produce those words, The WHY. What is the acting mistake? HOW. Instead of getting inside the WHY, the actor focuses on the HOW. They are thinking about how to ‘play’ the moments, how to say the lines. If you supply the WHY, the HOW takes care of itself. Unfortunately, there is good deal of training that focuses on the HOW. Actors who are petrified of making mistakes seek out teachers who promise to show them how to do scenes well. Incorrect technique is nothing more than a road map of the HOW. Read More »
Emotional Freedom - by Howard Fine
Network Talent Community | June, 2011
Q: I love acting but I’ve
noticed whenever I have the opportunity to really “let go” emotionally
in a scene, a kind of fear seems to take over and shut me down. As a
model, I feel very free in front of the camera. I love acting and want
to make it my career, but I’m sometimes self-conscious in front of the
(video) camera while I’m acting out a scene. As an acting coach, can you
address this problem?
Thank you so much for your question. Since I don't know your background in terms of what technique you are using to stimulate emotion, I will endeavor to cast a wide net in the hopes that what I offer will help you with your specific issue. The problem could be coming from incorrectly attempting to generate emotion or from misplaced attention causing you to become self-conscious. Read More »
Network Talent Community | March, 2011
Q: I’ve been told that it’s important for an actor to do
theatre. But I don’t see the point – I live in Los Angeles, I want to do
film and television, and I want to make money as an actor. What is your
opinion on this subject?
Thank you for your question. It is not an uncommon question and I think that it would be wise for anyone considering the pursuit of a career as an actor to take stock of the reasons that led them to make this unusual choice. Read More »