Wednesday, February 17, 2016

POV -- Jeff Salazar on Acting

We are proud to introduce a new series of student posts we're calling simply, POV. 

Jeff Salazar is earning his BA degree in our Acting for Film program. Each week, he'll share his experiences at Seattle Film Institute and talk about his passion for acting. In his first post, Jeff tells us how he got to SFI and what he's looking forward to next.

On Acting
By Jeff Salazar

I would like to start this series of posts with a thanks to the folks at Seattle Film Institute, who at all times encourage in me and every student a sense of creativity and promote humility of actions.  

Why this Blog?

Seattle Film Institute asked me to write a series of posts about my experiences and progress in their Acting for Film program. Like so many people, I found myself lost at the helm in a sea of education and life paths. As students, we see so many paths in front of us. Which one do we choose? Sometimes it seems as if there is no end in sight with no guarantee of work in the end along with a stack of insurmountable debt.

I was caught in this wave, too. But I decided to break with tradition and move towards a path that some people might view as reckless or unattainable.

Let’s Start at the Beginning

Like so many people, I came from a home of two parents, multiple displaced siblings and a budding high school education that I did not appreciate at the time.  This led me to a life and career within the United States Armed Forces. My time in serving in the military was fraught with situations that could have dictated the end of my days. In the end, I decided to leave service, but leaving the military was no easy task. All of a sudden, I was confronted with differing views on what was important and how I should be spending my time. A clash of ideals began to spread as the fight to identify who I truly was took hold, leaving me even more confused and disoriented.

I took control of the situation and decided to enroll in my local community college, settling on attending Tacoma Community College to complete my Associate’s Degree. I focused my studies on my strengths: Business Management and Statistical Analysis (I am a math-geek, I confess). When I was well into the final the program, I asked myself, “What else should I do?” Somehow when I saw a glimpse of my future life, it didn’t sit well with me.

The math geek in me did some numbers crunching and I realized with certainty that I wanted to take a different path. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the idea of being a statistician.  It’s still a passion of mine, just not a profession. 

My time of retrospection and introspection led me on a spiral of discovery that pushed me into a world that I didn’t understand at all. I found that there was a common thread that wove together my previous experiences throughout life.  As people, we find ways to blend and cope with our surroundings.  We sometimes force ourselves to “fit-in” to certain social groups or situations in order to survive the foreseeable future.  When your boss makes a joke that you don’t find funny, you sometimes find yourself laughing because you know there is an upcoming raise that you want.  When working in a team, you support the group by listening and reacting to the given circumstances in order to produce a successful outcome.  We find ourselves… acting.

I let this all sink in for a day or two before making an announcement to my wife. I wanted to be an actor and so, I began my research into acting programs. And it was scary. I have a family to think about, and I’d like to think that I’m not that reckless Believe me, I gave this new path a good deal — a great deal — of thought. I had never been involved with acting before — I wasn’t involved with the drama club in school and I hadn’t been to a community theater in ages. But nevertheless, I began calling schools in Seattle and landed on Seattle Film Institute.

Choosing the Right School — Do Your Homework

Here’s my advice when choosing a school. Look before you leap and ask before you jump. There is nothing wrong with calling a school directly and sitting in on a class or two before you decide to enroll. SFI encouraged this. Get to know the school and make sure you feel comfortable in the environment. An acting program takes time, energy and commitment. Acting is a very personal and intimate discovery process, so you need to make sure you are comfortable

Through all of my research and interviews I finally settled on Seattle Film Institute ’s Acting for Film BA program. One thing that impressed me was their practical approach to the business of acting.

My Blueprint

My goal to get you up to speed on the ideals this school has to offer in this series of blog posts. And a big one is this: treat your craft as a business and one that can make you enough money to live comfortably.  

I also want to introduce you to the ethical approach towards Method Acting using the key fundamentals presented through
  • Constantin Stanislavski
  • Lee Strasberg
  • Anton Chekov
  • Leo Tolstoy
  • and so many other great masters that I cannot put them into a single post…
Seattle Film Institute’s program not only teaches you to hone your innate abilities as an actor, but fine tunes the degree of acting necessary to survive within the current film industry. The variety of instructors provided gives you the ability to focus on the many tools which can make-or-break your acting career such as:
  • Basic Acting
  • Text Analysis
  • Movement for the Camera
  • Speech and Dialect 
  • Improvisation 
  • Audition success factors
I’m now in my second quarter at SFI and so I will be providing a retroactive view of my time spent here at the Seattle Film Institute, along with real-time knowledge as we are introduced to great ideas that can help you become a professional actor.  The goal of this school has been to show us how to succeed and become successful.  

In my next post, I’ll talk about how I got to SFI and the steps I took to make this dream happen.  

Enjoy the week, and I will see you on the other side.

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