Today we’d like to introduce you to Loren Chadima.
Loren, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
As a kid, I always wanted to act, but my teachers always asked me to be the Director. This started in 4th grade. I auditioned for Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz” and they asked me to be the student director and then in 7th grade I wanted to be Hellen Keller, but I was asked to direct. In high school, I auditioned and was asked to direct and choreograph the musicals. So by college, all I wanted to do was to direct – which was my major at UC San Diego.
For graduate school, I went to Trinity Repertory Conservatory in Providence Rhode Island. I wanted a practical conservatory setting which was aligned with a working professional theatre and that’s what I got. Now an academy award nominee, Richard Jenkins, was our Artistic Director and academy award winner Viola Davis performed in a play about Billy Holliday.
Even though my focus was directing, I was fully trained as a classical actor as well. We studied Shakespeare, Ibsen, Moliere, as well as, contemporary plays; Linklater Voice; Alexander Technique; various dance and movement classes, Improvisation and I directed a play every quarter. I loved it.
While working on my Master’s thesis and building my directing resume, I paid the bills by teaching acting, writing and directing at children’s theaters and summer camps in New England. At one of those camps I taught and directed Chris Evans – who grew up to be Captain America. Another student of mine at the time, was asked to audition for the movie “The Crucible” with Daniel Day Lewis. I coached her for the audition and she was cast as Sarah Pope.
A couple years later, I moved to Los Angeles to direct television and film. I made my first film, “Surprise” as one of eight women chosen to participate in The American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women. I then produced and directed my second film, “Cries from Ramah” which went on to win several awards at festivals and qualify for the Academy Awards in the Best Short Film Category.
Meanwhile, I had started teaching and coaching child and adult actors. I have worked with actors from the age of 5 to 75. Originally, it was just my day job, but as I taught, it became my second passion and eventually I created a studio. I found teaching to be so exciting when I saw the lights go on in an actor’s head. And so rewarding when I watched an actor slip in the “Zone” of acting: where the real world disappears for the actor and the actor feels lost in the scene and living the life of the character. That “Zone” feeling was the addicting part of acting for me. But at the same time the “Zone” feeling it was so elusive. How do you get back to that zone every time you get up to act? Even more difficult – how do you drop into the zone with a camera in your face and when the director calls “Action!”? I kept those questions in my mind as I continued to direct and teach actors.
Over time I developed a technique – Intentional Acting. I chose “Intention” because my experience had been – as an actor and in my personal life – that when I had an intention, that was specific, personal and important to me – then my body, face, eyes, voice and being all knew what to do instinctively. If I had to learn lines, they came easily. And intention was a key element in all times I had achieved the “Zone” as an actor.
While teaching one day, I remembered a time when I was 13, in San Francisco, ABC television was holding a casting call. I submitted a picture and resume and was beyond excited when I got an audition. But, at the audition I didn’t know what to expect, what to do with the sides, or what to even say to the Casting Director and I didn’t get a callback. This is why I am now so committed to giving actors actual specific, tangible, practical skills to succeed in the audition room and in front of the camera. So I know that when anyone of my Certified Intentional Acting Teachers or myself work with an actor, the actor will learn the tools to achieve their dreams.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
No my journey has not been easy or smooth or without obstacle or challenges.
In the summers during college, I remember working long days in summer stock theatre as a Stage Manager paying my dues, wondering if I’d ever get to direct. When I first came to Los Angeles, I wanted to direct on “General Hospital.” I had watched the show all my life and I wanted to direct live action multi-camera – it married my skills as a director and a stage manager and it would pay much better than theatre. I successfully created a relationship with a producer and director at “General Hospital” and then was given a six-week opportunity to train with and follow the director. I was lucky to have that opportunity, because I had never directed anything on camera, and it was rare to let a director with “no tape” direct.
My directing mentor prepared me to direct two scenes for national television. He was going to give me my shot and the crew was very supportive of me as well. However, that was the same summer that Disney bought ABC and cut GH’s budget. I was told it would cost too much for the producers to give me my shot at directing. So my four year goal of pursuing directing on “General Hospital” disappeared instantly. I was devastated. So close. But that led me to wanting to direct a short film, which led me to the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women where I found my true love of film. Once you’re a soap opera director, it is practically impossible to get the opportunity to direct anything else – which is ironic because it takes more planning and a soap opera director plans for and shoots 88 pages in a day versus a film director who shoots 3-4 pages day.
But, if I had gotten my shot on “General Hospital,” I may have never directed “Cries from Ramah” and qualified for an Academy Award.
I also tried to break into the world of directing episodic television. I observed quite a bit, but I was told by my mentor that it was just too locked up and particularly hard for women to direct at the time. Thank goodness that is changing and women are starting to direct more episodic television.
We applied with “Cries from Ramah” to over thirty film festivals and got rejected. (That’s about $50 an application!) It was the 31st application – The Palms Spring International Festival of Short Films that we got accepted. Then at the festival the film was seen by the programmers for the next two festivals, Sedona International and The Rochester Film Festival for which “Cries from Ramah” won Best Short Category. So don’t give up! What if I hadn’t applied to the 31st film festival?
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Intentional Acting story. Tell us more about the business.
Intentional Acting is a training program for serious actors: kids and adults, who want to take their acting career to the next level. Whether it be getting their first agent, booking their first role or upping their game and going from a recurring or supporting role to the lead in a feature film, Intentional Acting can help each of them.
Intentional Acting is a three pillared acting technique: The 8 Keys to Intentional Script Analysis, The 9 Questions of Intentional Acting (www.The9Questions.com) and The 10 Tools to Intentional Comedy. Whether in an intimate class setting or in a private coaching, Intentional Acting teachers work very individually with each actor, defining what the next goal is for the student’s training and career. They then design the student’s work to assist them to meet that goal. We believe that acting class should work in conjunction with the actor’s career. Class should give the actor what they need to start working or keep working. Therefore, students are encouraged to bring in audition material and report back on what is happening in their auditions, on set and in their careers so that their teachers can help them transform their acting opportunities into successes. Each class includes a warm up, an on-camera cold reading, scene work and the children’s classes also include improv. Each student progresses at their own pace – which is dependent on the effort put in by the actor.
Intentional Acting is a very specific, systematic, repeatable technique which can be used for commercials, theatre television, film and vocal performances. We don’t just coach or direct an actor into a role. We teach an actor how to find, create and deliver a scene on their own. We teach actors “How to fish.” We don’t “Give them the fish.” So that an actor eventually – as many of our students and alumni do now – can prepare their role efficiently and effectively without their teacher. We also teach the parents of young actors along with their child, so that a parent is also capable of understanding the needs of the script and can assist their child on their own.
All Intentional Acting teachers are actors themselves who have or are currently studying with the founder of Intentional Acting, Loren Chadima. All teachers must undergo extensive training and testing of the Intentional Acting techniques, as well as, act as an assistant in class for up to a year. They must adhere to the specificity and language of Intentional Acting and teach in a positive and empowering style. Gillian Bellinger, actor, writer, and master improver from Second City, is currently teaching the children’s and Adult Level I classes. Gillian brings her own auditioning experience along with a great intermingling of Improv and Intentional Acting technique to the classes.
I had also been listed as one of the”Best Acting Coach in the United States” by the American Federation of Performing Artists.
INTENTIONAL ACTING CLASS OFFERINGS:
Tuesday evenings: Adult Actors Level II – Loren E. Chadima, teacher
Wednesday mornings: Adult Level I – Gillian Bellinger, teacher
Wednesday evenings: Teen Actors ages 13-18 – Loren E. Chadima, teacher
Saturday mornings: Child Actors ages 8-12 – Gillian Bellinger, teacher
Actor’s younger than 8 years old work in private one-on-one sessions.
Parents are encouraged to attend the private sessions as well.
Online we offer Skype and Facetime coachings, as well as, an online course for adults: www.ConfidentColdReadings.com
Private in person and online coaching for auditions is available.
We also love to include and work with the parents of young actors. We are happy to consult and assist parents in learning how to support their child actor’s careers.
All students undergo a personal interview with Loren before being asked to enroll in class.
Anyone can read about The 9 Questions of Intentional Acting at www.theninequestions.com
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
This is how Intentional Acting works. We start with breaking the script down and looking up words we might have a question about. We start with the facts.
Here’s the dictionary’s definition of luck: success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.
Everyone in Hollywood is looking for their “Lucky Break” that opportunity that is brought on by chance rather than by their own actions. But if an actor hasn’t been studying, practicing their craft, and they aren’t prepared “through one’s own actions” they won’t be able to fully take advantage of the “lucky” break.
This is the formula we use at Intentional Acting:
Preparation + Opportunity = Success
Intentional Acting’s goal is to teach the actor how to prepare, so that when the opportunity comes – that “lucky” break – i.e. the audition for a role in a Steven Spielberg film – the actor is prepared, knows how to deliver, and therefore turns their “luck” into a success.
- Address: Lankershim Arts Center/Gallery 800
5108 Lankershim Blvd.,
North Hollywood, CA 91601
- Website: IntentionalActing.com
- Phone: 818-325-5752
- Email: Loren@IntentionalActing.com
Photos by Kerry Norman and Chris Mclean